When I read the “Hooked on Bluegrass” stories, I am struck by how many different ways we come to know and love bluegrass music.
For some, it’s very direct – they grew up in a bluegrass-soaked environment, and it was part of their lives for as long as they remember.
For others, there was a “lightning bolt” moment. Rick Cornish’s story is a good example. He goes to a music festival, not knowing what to expect, but is immediately affected by what he hears and it becomes a part of his life from that point on.
For me, it was a little oblique – I was slightly aware of it as a child, and then as a matter of convenience (finding an acoustic based music I could enjoy and improvise with friends), and it became a genre worth exploring and turned out to be a very worthwhile pursuit.
In popular music now, more than any time I can remember, save the big folk scene of the early 1960’s, there are very popular bluegrass analogs out there. The Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons, The Heart and the Head – all these bands have huge followings and their music is often pretty close to bluegrass.
It presents a unique opportunity to welcome these fans to the CBA and see if true bluegrass resonates with them – I think it will, in a lot of cases.
Am I suggesting the CBA get Mumford and Sons to headline Grass Valley? No, I’m not – I think that would dilute our message too much (there are many other practical as well!). But for the big fans of these almost-bluegrass acts, the notion of going to a festival where they can see other fine musicians, and jam for hours on end (while camping!) ought to be pretty attractive.
So spread the word to your young neighbors, your young cousin, sons and daughters – the CBA events will expand their enjoyment of the music they like. And when someone in a jam calls a song they love that “ain’t quite bluegrass”, don’t roll your eyes or wander off – give them their chance in the jam circle. We need to do everything we can to emphasize that the CBA, and bluegrass is inclusive.
From these seeds of attention and kindness will spring the very future of this organization and this music. It isn’t always a direct path!