July 30, 2008

Texas pickin' park
Bunchafolks, young and old, pickin

I took my 6 year-old to the 5th Street Bluegrass festival this weekend, (which is really just a big ol’ porch pickin’ in midtown) and it occurred to me: Bluegrass is the model for goverment moving forward…and perhaps the only road to world peace. Pickin’ circles occur in every community in every state in the union. They don’t discriminate on sex, age, race, religion, or instrumental orientation. Conservative traditionalists blend beautifully with new age progressives. Young pickers admire and commiserate with older pickers, each admiring the other for their stage in life. There are rules that govern the pickin’ circle, but they are self-policed. Nearly without incident, everyone abides and peacefully coexists. It rewards merit but doesn’t exclude those less fortunate (like me) who can’t keep up. There’s a place for everyone. There are loosely defined classes,to be sure, but based on effort and practice, one can move up easily if one so desires. Those who go on to greatness and fame are still accessible to the masses, and still represent the interests of what is core to the group. At a rock concert or blues concert or classical concert, there is a clear distinction between those who entertain and those who are to be entertained. At a bluegrass festival, it’s an all-skate. Some of the time is spent listening and admiring the bountiful talents of the featured bands on stage, but lots of time is spent pickin’ with or listening to others in attendance. Pickin’ communities sprout up all over, and people move freely from one to the next. At most festivals, the artists are completely accessible and, at some point in the day, are likely found pickin’ with the festavarians or giving instructions on how to become a better picker…giving back, as it were. All for the greater good of the bluegrass community. There is little rivalry and spitefulness among the bands themselves. Even in structured competition, (like the TBF band competition we were in) bands mixed and mingled, shared experiences and genuinely wished the others well. Magic is made at “All-Star Jams” when musicians from different bands come together for a delicious pickin’ gumbo.

Maybe Obama or McCain should pick Ralph Stanley as his running mate. That’s the ticket I’d pull the lever for. “A Pickin’ in Every Pot!”


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