In the past couple of years, I have noticed a marked increase in the number of young people at CBA events, and this is a terrific turn of events.
I’m not just speaking of kids were are accompanying their parents to these events – although most of the pre-driving-age youngsters probably came with their parents. The young folks aren’t just here, they’re actively participating, playing and singing.
And, most importantly, the playing and singing is not just “Isn’t it cute these youngsters are trying to play bluegrass?” No, these kids can really play! No longer do I assume when a child of 8 or 10 joins the jam, we’ll have to slow down to encourage the little beginner. Instead I have worry about if I can keep up!
I know the aging of the CBA Membership has long been a topic of concern, for obvious reasons. We can’t continue or grow the CBA just by adding more senior citizens. Not that we don’t want them – heck, I AM one, but the future of the organization, and indeed, the music itself, requires an influx of younger people.
Some of these young people coming through the CBA have actually gone on to be professional musicians, and that’s amazing and wonderful. But the CBA is not just a professional musician’s club – it includes ANYONE who loves bluegrass, whether they play or not. And among those who play, most of us are not going to turn pro.
The heart and soul of bluegrass is that it’s a folk music than friends can share – for their entire lives. And it does my heart a lot of good to see that we are passing that gift on to a growing number of young people. It is my hope they will enjoy bluegrass all their days, and in 20 or 30, they can fret about how to bring more your people to bluegrass. Darby Brandli, Frank Solivan et al – are you writing your secrets down for them?