Thursday, August 09, 2007

And then, it dawned on me

Maybe location is irrelevant.

Maybe leading thought doesn’t require a front porch.

Maybe ideas will travel farther if they don’t require packing.

Maybe they won’t come just because we build it in Virginia, or Kentucky, or North Carolina.
There is bluegrass music, and people who care about it, all over the world.

We’re all busy playing it, promoting it, learning it, listening to it, dragging our friends out to hear it. And yet being here in the ‘sphere is like all 120 million of us sharing an office, or a dinner table, or a picking circle. If we wanted to, we could make the best use of all our great ideas, high hopes, and best intentions without ever having to change out of our jammies.

As I’ve mentioned here recently, I’ve been enjoying some of the good work being done in the classical music industry blogosphere. From musicians to critics to administrators, people all over the world are connecting and dealing with serious issues affecting the music industry. Of course there is a different sense of purpose. Where two or three bluegrass musicians are gathered in Bill's name, there's bound to be a little pickin' going on. But I've never been to a festival or in a parking lot and watched a 35-person chamber orchestra just -- "poof" -- materialize and start jamming on their favorite Bartok. Maybe the degree to which the classical industry pursues its online community seems more vital because the risk of orchestras disappearing over time, with no place to play -- or, more likely, fewer and fewer live listeners to play to -- seems more real. But I've been to the Kent Stage when there were maybe only two dozen other people there to see a show and have worried that a few too many shows like that and there won't be a Kent Stage anymore.

Yet with the possible exception of collective bargaining, I can't really think of an issue that doesn't also affect bluegrass musicians. There is always something to talk about in terms of refining a technique, recording, sound mixing for bad spaces, working with venues, audience development, bookings, sales, education, songwriting -- you name it.

And we don't have to be together on a hill or in a barn to talk about those things. We don't have to wait until someone else builds anything. Even though nothing can replace the electricity of interacting and playing together, maybe we don't have to wait for those moments few and far between. Maybe the best place to work together to address future of the music we love isn’t just in Nashville or Asheville or any town in between.

Maybe, it’s right here.


At August 10, 2007 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might you feel like a junket to the Kent Stage sometime soon?


At August 10, 2007 11:48 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Always, Shadow! I seek the Duhks are coming on Sept. 7 -- I saw them last year and they are hoot -- and Canadian, too! Hm, could be a fun outing!

At August 13, 2007 4:52 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Geography's not so important anymore if you just want a listen. To hear something live or get yourself an audience may require some travel.

I guess home is where the heart is, even if it's not a geographical place.

At August 13, 2007 8:24 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hi Blueberry,

Well home is where the heart is, but that's not to say the music is always just in my heart. I do feel like getting out and moving about the country is critical to hearing the music -- lord knows it ain't gonna happen here! -- but there seems to be something of a dearth of good online bluegrass forums. At least, I haven't found one that looks or behaves like, say, the feisty classical blogs. Bluegrass Blog doesn't come close -- there's never any discussion. So maybe home is where the work is but my heart can still follow the road to music when the rest of me can get away. Or something like that.

Austin is ON the LIST.


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