Sunday, August 19, 2007

What is Bluegrass Anyway

This is Texino. Sometimes I post to a List-serve at the University of Kentucky that is meant to be entirely devoted to bluegrass music. I title my posts "Looking through the F Holes." Every year about now a discussion flares up in regard to the International Bluegrass Music Association or IBMA because they hold a convention in September where awards are given for best this and that. Well the balloting is presently underway and things are heating up to the point where people can not agree what bluegrass music is. The following is a bit I wrote in an effort to explain what bluegrass is or might be.  I'm putting it here because I am too lazy to write another article today and also because there are a couple of people who drop by this blog who are into music.  I quote myself:  Some people have asked how I can see from "The F Holes"? Good question. The answer is, I'm inside of a big bass fiddle*. That's right. A German model from 1939 with a trap door in the back. Instruments can be used as hiding places both in real life as well as metaphorically.
Today, I sense a bit of panic within the community because people who love and live Bluegrass are suddenly hard pressed to define it. Well, as we all learned in our youth, the answer to any question is ,"Look it up." My dictionary says Bluegrass is: " a kind of country music influenced by jazz and blues and characterized by virtuosic playing of banjos and guitars and high-pitched, close-harmony vocals." Another definition is "... grown for fodder." While the first definition would satisfy most people , I believe the second might serve our group better. Why? Because one use of the word fodder means food, another is to feed and still another one is an excess of the expendable, i.e. "cannon fodder. Although I like to think we use our fodder as grist for the mill of discussion, others may seize a clump and fire it off in defense of a position and some people just eat as much as they can but can never get enough. Then we have this. A long time friend and some time band mate tells a humorous story which ends with a man saying "David, Bluegrass is a hard, driving music." Through the years when one of us might be a bit off track, the other could just drop that line out of the blue and all would be better. It got to the point where almost anything, from angry words to hurt feelings or even an awful showing on stage, could be set aside by someone striking mock serious and quoting that old saw. Didn't even have to have a Dave present; just the words would do it. The music has that power.
So there, Bluegrass is a hard, driving music that you can live, eat and use as a weapon. The IBMA shindig? Well that's like the flu season, or a Texino broadcast; you know it's coming, but you can't really judge how deadly it was until it's over. My advice ? Sea por favor tranquil mis amigos and smile when you see a big German Bass.

*note  I don't know if this instrument is real or as a French person might say, " de de la tĂȘte"
It does exist in a story I have where the "double bass" is used to hide a small child or move other things around wartime Europe, and I have been inside and all through the instrument in such detail, I might as well have made the thing in real life.


1 comment:

Ms. Moon said...

I like this very much. Things always get twisted and bunched and lose their meaning when religion gets involved.
Know what I mean?
I think you do.