There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label bluegrass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bluegrass. Show all posts

04 July 2017

Bluegrass Underground

The bands had finished their warm ups, and it was time to let us in to the stage area to get our seats. It was first come, first serve, and I was nervous about getting a rotten seat as there was quite a few people ahead of me in line. I thought about sitting on the rocks that were stage right, but then thought better of it and made my way down to the front...
One of many luxuries of solo traveling is you only need one seat for concerts. People have a natural tendency to give others space and not crowd perceived personal areas. This works to my advantage as two front row couples have left a single chair open between them, front row and center.

I excitedly grab it and get to know my neighbors before the show begins. The couple to my right drove down from Michigan. It was a birthday gift from the girlfriend.

The older couple on my left are from the South. She immediately questions me, wondering if I'm a "northerner?". We don't talk much after that comment.

Soon the lights go down in the cave, and Bluegrass Underground is about to begin. First up is Haas Kowert Tice
335 feet below the surface of the earth, the fiddles and banjos fly, the familiar plucking of strings and down home lyrics fill the cavern. Next up is Town Mountain, and they figuratively bring the house to it's knees, especially with their classic rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on fire".
Without a doubt, if you love bluegrass music, seeing it a cave in the South is a must.

02 June 2017

Printers Alley

Back in the early days of Nashville, the printing and publishing industry was thriving in the downtown area. Between 3rd and 4th avenues and stretching from Union to Church streets, Printers Alley was born.
Today the work of this industry is only a remembrance in the signs and victorian architecture that still remain. It still has that Bourbon street feel though as you walk along the bars and restaurants. 
I find open art galleries and street singers during my wandering that delight my fancy in the cool Spring of the evening. Hearty beers and crazy women celebrating upcoming wedding nuptials seem to be on Nashville's menu tonight.

I disappear into an old bank building, find a bar stocked with library shelves of old books stacked from floor to ceiling.

I order a moscow mule, then another, finally melting away to the sounds of country music.

16 February 2017

The Pickin' in the Pines Festival 2016

For three glorious days up in the cool pines of Flagstaff, Arizona, you can hear some of the greatest bluegrass music our country has to offer at the Pickin' in the Pines festival.

Held in September each year, last years festival was my first time attending. From camping with a village full of bluegrass lovers to the bands playing at the Pepsi amphitheater to the workshops and classes being offered, it is a full bluegrass experience.
I'm salivating just thinking about it, and hope to return each and every year. Until September rolls around again though, I'll settle for this reminder of the great music to be found,

Enjoy the steeldrivers, just one of many great acts to be found last year. Long live Bluegrass!

09 February 2017

Pickin' in the Pines - the camping experience

Just outside the town of Flagstaff, Arizona, there is a little festival that happens each year in September.

People from all over come to camp for three nights, playing their banjos and other stringed instruments in what is affectionately called the Pickin' in the Pines festival.

Last year was my first time attending, and I went all out with a three day pass that included camping just outside the arena.
After making quick work of setting up my campsite, it was time to just relax under the tall pines, sip whiskey, and listen to the music and good times all around.

Many of the bluegrass acts playing in the festival were also camping in the same area as the attendees, which meant you could hear great bluegrass music all the time!

Hiking trails galore start from the campgrounds as well if you need to get away from it all for a bit.
It was here that I heard some great local music, new bluegrass bands from other parts of the West including Durango, Taos, and Moab.

I hope to make this a yearly event for me, but we will just have to wait and see. Until then, I'll strap on my cowboy hat, let my hippy flags fly in the breeze, and enjoy the sweet sounds of Bluegrass Americana.

12 April 2016

Bluegrass at the Boyce

I wanted to get back to the Boyce Arboretum after going there for the first time with my parents a couple of weeks before so I could take some time to get quality pictures, and hike the upper trail.

Then I found out that with the ten dollar admission price, a bluegrass concert by a couple of local musicians would be playing that day.
Billy Parker and Ron Rutowski played to a relatively small crowd under the shade of some of the Boyce's magnificent trees. Their laid back style was infectious, their melodies perfect for an April day.
I sat on a small rock wall, laid back against a tree, and took in the sounds of bluegrass. My personal favorite was a cover of "Summertime", as requested by the wife of one of the banjo players.

Give it a listen.

09 April 2016

a night with Bela Fleck & the Denver Symphony

I want a banjo playing bluegrass music as my ashes are being carried by the wind over a cliff.

I hope the people there will raise a glass of vanilla beer and cheer.
Let the turn table spin Bela Fleck and the Denver Symphony as my wake continues.

Try on a gas mask, see how it makes you feel.
Everyone dies, but not everyone lives to see a giant bear in downtown Denver, the beauty of painted cows lining the streets, the simple elegance of an antique bar sign.
Remember when people used to write personal posts that one could relate to, or at least recognize as a human emotion?

I will never shoot for high rankings or SEO status. I prefer the raw, untouched manuscript of thought.

28 August 2015


You've heard the story...someone pulls out a map, points their finger blindly at a place, then decides to go there...

I do that, but with music.

I'd never heard of Yonder Mountain String Band before, but a Friday night summer concert in Colorado's infamous Red Rocks amphitheater is something I can't pass up.

The bluegrass strings of Yonder electrified the night air.

I'm already pointing my finger on the proverbial music map to see them again. For now though, I'll keep listening to snippets from the show that night.

09 July 2015

The Punch Brothers

Five guys walk out onto the stage, nonchalantly with their instruments of choice, and start to play.
Once the strings started plucking, the banjo's began to wail, and the night of bluegrass music from the Punch Brothers commenced, I was captivated.

From seemingly humble roots these fellas played with a down home Southern enthusiasm my ears hadn't heard before. Then I learned they all are from Brooklyn, New York.

It just goes to show how deep the roots of bluegrass music are in this country, from the northern coast of Maine to the purple sunsets over Alabama, from the crag rocks of Oregon to the humid Cincinnati riverfront, bluegrass music speaks deeply to us all.
Let the Rye whiskey flow down your soul, and enjoy the mellow pickin's of The Punch Brothers.

03 July 2015

Abby & Fleck

A typical Sunday morning. I turn on the TV for company as I work on my first cup of coffee. The screen shows a a couple of bluegrass players, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn.

I've never heard of them, but bluegrass music is something I've always been interested in. Their story is intriguing, and once they start playing, I'm hooked. Their love of bluegrass music led to a love for each other, and you can feel that love when they play together.
I found that they were playing a Saturday show in Cincinnati, a town I had yet to visit. With a couple clicks on the internet, I found myself sitting in the Taft theatre, ready to listen to my first live bluegrass concert.
I simply have no words to describe how perfect the night was. From Fleck's stories of traveling across Africa to trace the roots of bluegrass influence and introducing his music to African musicians, to Abby's infectious personality and stories of corporate greed, her grandma's roller skating rink in Illinois, and how she loves murder ballard's where the woman doesn't die, it was an opening act for the ages.
I've never seen an opening act get such high praise from an audience, let alone a standing ovation that lasted forever, which led to an encore performance full of dancing and revelry.
The banjo playing was incredible, and solidified my love for bluegrass americana music.