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HAPPY NEW YEAR! ….. I hope. Either way, it's here and we're still here, so let's make the most of it. What have we got to look forward to? Your guess is as good as mine. For starters we bluegrass neighbors can look forward to the coming, slow as it might be, festival season. Just a couple of hints I can think of right off – Tommy Brown's festival at Paraquet Springs, Shepherdsville, in February and Forest Fest in May.
Jams, bluegrass jams, go on year 'round. Good bluegrass jams can fill that void of live music between festivals and other shows. They are good gatherings, especially for beginning pickers who need encouragement, a little help and maybe somebody to play with. Jams can also serve the need for an introduction to bluegrass music and people. I have said many times that bluegrass festivals are probably the only type of concert you can attend and see three generations of a family together and they are all there because they want to be. Many people's attitude toward bluegrass and its pickers may undergo quite an overhaul if they looked beneath the surface. Some would be very surprised to learn that a lot of bluegrass artists' "day jobs" run the gamut of surgeons, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists and other professionals. Bluegrass music and the music makers are much more respectable than some folks seem to think. OK, 'nuff of that.
Here is an excerpted bit report on the success of the Holiday Pick-Inn Benefit on November 26:
"The 2011 Holiday Pick-Inn Benefit bluegrass show and jam was held on Saturday, November 26, at The Holiday Inn Hurstbourne. The Louisville Bluegrass Music Association, Bluegrass Anonymous, partnered with The Holiday Inn to host this second annual event. Admission to the event was toys and/or a monetary donation, and all proceeds were split among The Home of the Innocents (a home for abused and seriously ill children), The Center for Women & Families (a shelter for families who find themselves in an abusive situation) and The Salvation Army Toys for Tots drive.
"Attendance at this year's event increased over the 2010 event by one-third, with at least 300 in the audience. A total of $2,340 was collected from donations and raffles, plus 3 truck-loads of toys. The doors opened at 3:00 p.m. and the halls of the hotel were soon filled with music from two jams. Stage performances began at 5:30 p.m., with Matt Phelps and River City Bluegrass, which included Alan Phelps, Murrell Thixton, Robin Thixton and Dennis Talley. Storefront Congregation, which always provides top-notch talent, included some of the new music from their latest CD, "Kaleidoscope." The Lexington band NewTown made the drive to introduce their new music project titled "NewTown," and wowed the audience with their high-energy performance. The evening's staged performances were closed out by Kentuckiana's own Michael Cleveland & Friends, including Steve Cooley, Jeff Guernsey, Glenn Gibson, Josh Richards and Bill Wolfe. What a night of music!
"Area businesses donated various prize packages, including an acoustic guitar from Music-Go-Round, a 3-day pass to the River of Music Party (ROMP) from the International Bluegrass Music Museum, coffee baskets, music packages and so much more. Drawings were held between the band breaks. Keep all of these things in mind and look forward, plan now for these and any other of special events that come up through the year. Thanks, Sonya."
That's a thought for the New Year. All of you bluegrass folks might give consideration to joining up with Bluegrass Anonymous and add a little promotion to America's Music – Bluegrass. If that has a familiar ring to it, think in terms of a big book on the subject. Barry Willis, a good friend of mine, put this very good book together a few years ago. Did I say a few years ago? I guess that depends on your point of reference; I just looked and there is a copyright for 1989.
Well, here we are, almost to the bottom of the page – OK, this page I'm typing on. Renew a New Year's resolution you may have made, repeated in one way of another over the years, to get out to more bluegrass events this year. That's support.
Remember, WFPK 91.9 continues to let me bring you "Sunday Bluegrass" every Sunday night. It sure doesn't seem like it but this June it will be 23 years. It just sort of makes you, me, shake your head a little bit and wonder where it all went so fast – to come from a start of one hour to three hours. One thing that sticks with my memory like a fly on flypaper is the first meeting with the then -tation manager. He told me the station had very little bluegrass. I replied, "That's okay, I'll just use my own stuff." With that he looked me right in the eye and asked, "Do you think you've got enough to sustain a one-hour show?" I think so. Where do we go from here? How about sticking with what's been done for 22+ years and see how long the ride will last. It has been a blessing to me in so many ways. Thanks to you, friends and bluegrass neighbors. Let's call it a Happy New Year, remember the past and look to the future. Sunday Bluegrass 91.9 FM, each Sunday 8-11 p.m., and streaming audio to the world. Please, play it safe this holiday and new year and do everything you do in a responsible manner.