By now you are probably aware that I have a particular passion for all things music. Friends and family taught me long ago to appreciate all types of music from classical, to rock, folk and bluegrass. It is easy to slide in a CD and listen to any genre’ you may like today, but it is so cool to actually get in there and pick and sing with other folks. And it is nice to visit alongside the truck bed when you have the chance.
Every summer there are many opportunities to meet up with friends you may not have seen in months, or even years. One such event would be the California Bluegrass Association’s Bluegrass Festival at Grass Valley, CA. The Nevada County Fairgrounds is a beautiful place this time of year. I always enjoy the tall pines there in the campground. I think that campground pickin’ may be my favorite way to share the music because you can walk around and visit all day (or night) and re-kindle relationships with so many great musicians. Thousands of people come out every year, and have done so for decades.
It is always great to get into a jam session with a group of people who just happen to know many of the same songs as you do. It is kind of funny though. Many times you pick with folks and never even learn their name. Sometimes there is just not an opportunity for introductions because the music is already happening when you walk up and join in. You don’t just stop the music and start yakking. This situation can repeat itself year after year. I think because there are only so many hours in the weekend, people tend to center on playing as much music as possible, with little or no regard for names or occupations.
You can’t really tell much by looking at people either. I am frequently surprised to learn “the story” about someone after playing with them year after year. It is totally possible to share the love with a virtuoso fiddle player who just hooked a ride to the festival directly from a homeless shelter. Tent camping in the pines is a step up for him. I have also sat down in front of a high-dollar motor home and taught a few chords to a beginning guitar player who turned out to be a brain surgeon! My point is, none of that matters much.
What does matter is that you get that dusty old instrument out of the case once in a while and get out there and pick! If you see me weavin’ through the pines, just snag me aside and let’s play a tune! Oh, and if you must, wear a name tag that shows your occupation, not that anyone cares!