I want to take this time to toast a long-forgotten American pastime: bluegrass. As I was waiting for my next post inspiration, I realized I was listening to it (specifically, I was listening to the Tillers who are fantastic by the way). Listening to bluegrass just sort of makes you forget all your problems for the moment. The banjo and the fiddle transport you to a familiar yet unknown world. It’s a time that often gets overlooked but is rich in cultural history. I think about the old American West where times were simpler but drought, famine, and disaster was abundant. They needed songs to lift their spirits as we do today.
My taste in music has changed a lot over time, as is the case for most people. I remember as a young girl listening to the Spice Girls and N’Sync (don’t judge me, it was the 90s). Then it was R&B and hip hop during the junior high and early high school years (I realize I’m being very vulnerable with you right now). Later, I began listening to heavier stuff, you know the kind where they scream a lot? From there it mellowed out a lot and I began listening to indie / folk music like the Avett Brothers, Alexi Murdoch, and the Album Leaf to name a few. Now, it’s bluegrass.
I owe my love of bluegrass to Andrew and his talented musician friends who decided to get together and start something different. At first, I was skeptical. So was Andrew for a little while. Like I said, my taste in music has changed dramatically. I never dreamed bluegrass would be at the forefront. I will say I think bluegrass is an acquired taste – like coffee or beer. But after attending numerous practices and show upon show, it began to grow on me.
I know very little about bluegrass and its roots (only because I haven’t yet taken the time to do some research). With my limited knowledge I do know of some big names like Bill Monroe and John Hartford. But nestled here in the Hocking Hills of southeast Ohio, we enjoy local bands, local friends, and local venues.
I would have to say besides the music, my favorite part to this has been the friendships. Bluegrass brings people together. There’s a certain amount of camaraderie in the crowd when we throw all our preconceived notions aside and dance (or maybe that’s the beer, could be ;))!
Most of all, I like bluegrass because it’s simple. And musically, it’s good listening. None of this vulgar bump and grind stuff and maybe my dog died so I’m going to sing a sad song about it. We’re singing about the good ol’ days, a train going down the tracks, or the hills of Tennessee. It’s simple and it’s wholesome. For a girl who would love nothing more than to be shut up in a cabin with her thoughts and a pen and paper (and maybe a hot tub for added luxury), it works. Bluegrass fits in just fine with the simple life.
If you want to know more about this band I started talking about earlier, they are called the Hocking River String Band. Originating out of the Hocking Hills area, they are excellent musicians who know how to put on a good show! I’ve never danced my hardest with any other band! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these guys. It starts to feel like a family after a while. You can visit their Facebook page, or search for them on instagram (hockingriverstringband). You can also find their music on iTunes and Spotify!
If you live in Ohio and you’re in the Columbus, OH or Athens, OH areas, Hocking River String Band hosts a bluegrass festival in the Hocking Hills. The Duck Creek Log Jam festival is one of the most laid back festivals I’ve been to. Camp out for the weekend and you can expect good music, good food, a relaxing atmosphere, and beer that is always flowing. If you want to know more or want to reserve your spot for the spring campout you can visit their official page.
So here’s to you bluegrass! May you never lose that spark of simplicity and authenticity!