Friday, December 30, 2005

Jen's Bluegrass Hotties

Well, I've been thinking about this for a while. I'm not one to blog in this manner, and I'm not sure I can actually get away with it. But since I missed out on that trendy "Seven Things" ... thing... that went around blogs before I began blogging, I'm going to take a moment to indulge in some mindless tripe about myself and pay actual homage to some of the finest men in bluegrass.

For the record, none of this homage has anything to do with whether they have perfect butts. That just ain't where the magic is for me. My tastes in what constitutes a "hottie" run a little different.

1. Intensity. A man who can meet my own intensity without backing down or flinching too often. Drive, determination, a real capacity to actualize intention, and an excitement surrounding possibility.
2. Intelligence. Lord knows if I'm lucky enough to make it to 80, the man sitting next to me on the porch swing had better be able to engage my brain, since most everything else will have been decommissioned.
2. Commitment. What does a man believe in , and how does he show it? Does he even KNOW what he believes in? Is he committed to being kind, to growing as a person, to something that matters outside of himself?
3. Talent. A man who knows what his gift is, and takes the time and effort to nurture it, and use it.
4. Humor. No man can have me who can't make me laugh, including at myself, in the best possible way. And, he has to forgive my self-deprecating sense of humor.
5. Strength. Ooh, this one is tricky. After 40 years, I finally figured out that I do need a man who is stronger than I am, but capable of expressing that with gentleness and love and respect. It takes a lot to reign me in, to calm me down, and to get me to think differently without feeling that I'm compromising. The man of my dreams will meet me at the center of the Mandorla, or that place where both "this" and "that" coexist.
6. Music. It's gotta be about the music. If he's not all about it, then he'll let me live in it, love it, pimp it, and still find a way to love me despite it.

All that said, I don't think the list here would be much different for any bluegrass fan. And being bluegrass, most of these men who are old enough are family guys. And that's a wonderful thing, too. Bonus.

10. Chris Thile (mandolin). Ok, this dude is just too young for me. But Nickel Creek is a force to be reckoned with and he is a leader in the discipline of mandolin. Just look at his face as he and Sara kick it. (For the record, Sara will be on the Top Women in Bluegrass that eventually will turn up on this blog.)

9. Mark O'Connor (fiddle/violin). Not just your everyday fiddler, Mark O'Connor has composed for and recorded with the best classical performers of our time. He would get my obsession with Bach and the Beatles. His work with Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Bela Fleck (see below) gets me at my winsome foothills, classically-trained heart.

8. Bryan Sutton (guitar). Another young master. I love his energized playing. Like most bluegrass talent that makes it to the studio, it's been a part of his family for generations. Keeping it alive and sharing with the rest of the world is a wonderful thing to be committed to.

7. Jerry Douglas (dobro). Apologies to Phil Leadbetter fans, Jerry simply edges out Phil on the hottie list. I love to watch him play this instrument which is simply like no other. A dobro player in a tux? BABY.

6. Tony Rice. Say it with me: not a wasted movement. Listening to his playing is ritual; watching him play is transformative. He leaves no listener untouched.

5.Bela Fleck. A beautiful man with a banjo, crossing over into Jazz, classical (his Perpetual Motion cd...oh my GAWD, BACH on the BANJO, it's like BUTTEH...) and everywhere in between. Oh, extra points for appearing on Sesame Street. Love him.

4. Sam Bush (mandolin, vocals). I've rarely had as much fun at a show, and felt as good when it was over. Something about Sam just bursts with hope and goodwill. And he can jam. (Note: Sam and Bela appear without any connection whatsoever to their former days as New Grass Revival colleagues.)

3. John Cowan (bass, vocals). Sorry, still working on the photo of Cow ( A giant of a man in stature, talent, and soul. He makes the most of everything. (Yes, another New Grass alum. I guess I came along a little too late, eh?)

2. Dirk Powell (fiddle, bass, banjo, clawhammer style banjo, accordion, vocals). One of the reasons I do what I do. He has dedicated his life to the performance and preservation of the music that runs through his veins. He doubles the option by working side by side with his wife, Christina Balfa, making a contribution in the arena of traditional Cajun music as well. One of the best moments of my life was meeting him at the top of a hill in upstate New York, and telling him how much his work meant to me and my children. I am grateful for Dirk Powell.

1. Tim O'Brien (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals). The reason I do what I do. His music came to me at just the right time in my life. Born and raised across the river from where I grew up, we stomped around in the same dirt, a few years apart. His work and writing tell me he's tread the same path, too, ahead of me a few paces. His work inspires, motivates, guides, and teaches me what I need to know -- that the answers are all lyin' there, for the seeking. His singing voice is one of the most resonant and riveting I've heard, a clear, honest sound without that over-the-top high-lonesome thing. Working with him in some capacity before my number is up is a serious goal. I adore Tim and am grateful for him and the work he does.

So there you have a few of my favorite men in Bluegrass. There are many more, and I hope to get around to introducing you to all of them and hopefully new talent as the blog rolls on.

If you have a favorite, share it here and tell us what you like best!


At December 31, 2005 6:20 PM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

"Bluegrass Hotties?!" You know, I've gotta say that I've never thought those two words could go together. ;-)

How 'bout "Blogging Hotties?" Of course, I'd better figure into that list or I'M OUTTA HERE!

Happy New Year. See you tonight!

At January 01, 2006 9:40 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Point is, many folks probably wouldn't put those two words together. But part of my mission in life is to get people to think differently about a lot of things, particularly in music, so I gotta start somewhere!

I'm not sure I'm as qualified, however, to go down the Blogging Hotties path. But if I were, of course you'd be on the list. ;-)


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