Saturday, January 28, 2006

Is it...or Isn't It, a Documentary?


Over the last few days, I've chimed in on a discussion on www.timobrien.net about a film that, while enjoyable, I'm not sure measures up to its nomer as a "documentary."

So once the kids were in bed and I was done keeping them awake with my mando playing, I put Mando away, opened a bottle of Zin, popped in Bluegrass Journey, and am trying to take a look.

Maybe it is more of a documentary than I remembered. When I brought it home from Grey Fox in 2004, it felt more like a Greyfox souvenir than a film about the genre. But there is definitely something missing, like, WRITING.

Now, I'm not trying to be a snob. There is great footage, great interviews, great music. And ok, it is kind of real time. And Grey Fox is a tremendous experience, and for me, being there was a real turning point in my life. But in the film, where are the foot-stompin' jamboree-ers in Kentucky, North Carolina, East Tennessee? Grey Fox is like, a ten-hour drive from Cleveland. It's a SNAPshot, for crying out loud, of an enormously complex, embedded, indigenous artform. Something about that just rankles someone who doesn't want others to miss the point.

HOO boy, I'm on a ramble. I guess I feel like working on the stuff I love tonight, and you poor readers are the victims of my mind opening up and turning over the compost that's been there a while. But the deal is, I have a thing. And the thing is, this music damn near saved my life, and just has gotten into my blood and under my skin and my fingers and everywhere else. I want it to go as far and deep as possible, I want people to love it and get it and play it and give it credit and respect and make a little room for it in their lives. Because it's not just about music, it's about a way of life that has all but vanished except for this music. It's about the story, about where it came from, who made it happen, what they believed (and being mostly Southern, I'm guessing there were ugly parts to that part of the story, and I don't deny it, I look right at it every time I'm at IBMA and acknowledge that the ONLY people of color are the ones serving up the soft drinks), and why. And why does it still matter so much today?

This music has taken me like a secret bride, and no matter what other daydream I live to work and pay bills, this is the real deal.

Thanks for putting up with this little visit into my psyche. Back to figuring it all out, so good night, good luck, and if you get a chance, make welcome a little bluegrass in your life.

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