Well, on a recent walk-about I found myself thinking about the “icons of ‘grass”*, which of course includes the father of us all, Bill. What started the whole thing was the thought that almost everybody I know on the bluegrass beat is defined by the instruments they play and not the jobs they do for the other 100 hours a week.
It’s exactly like a family: you see a small number of them almost every day, then a few times a year you all get together and do something wild and then talk about it for the next ten weeks or months. Who wastes time talking about Chuck, the actuary, when he is also the guy that grills the best venison in the universe or the only one that ever survived a tumble down a large hill in a Porta-potty during some heavy weather?
So there’s a guy that trains ferrets or something, and another one that works in the death room at the local hospital where they wait to hear lil bells ring when an almost-dead guy twitches his big toe, but we don’t call them “Ferret-trainer boy” or “dead-ringer”. They’re “Al, the mandolin player” or “Moe, that guy that used to play bass but is playing guitar now. But he should go back to the bass.”
That’s because, in the bluegrass world, you don’t really care what a person does on the outside.
In the military, they would call that “being in country.” Forget about CAT scans and stress ratios; forget about the number of paperclips in a gross. What you want to know is, “What year is that Martin? And, oh, you guys got a can opener? I got some Vienna Sausages here that are just beggin’ to be fried up, and a jug of syrup to go with ’em!”
So I seriously know a guy that is an advise councillor for iguanas, and another guy that makes motorcycles from recycled beverage containers, and a gal that makes 20 foot-tall “installations” made of those blown out truck tires you see laying all over the roads. They are, respectively:
mad dobro man
the spoon-playing spooonster,
and the yodeling gypsy.
Maybe all these nick-names started with our “Father of Bluegrass”, Bill. Hell, every sport and genre has it’s nick-names: The Splendid Splinter. The Master of Disaster. The Minister of Defense. The Bear. The Lion, the witch, and the…no..wait. Scratch that last one, that there is the movie list from last Sunday hehe.
Anyway, in bluegrass we have the Father of Bluegrass, Bill, and the King of Bluegrass, Jimmy, (rest their souls!) and I suspect that if you hunted around you could find out who were the Prince, Princess, Duke and Earl of Grass, for which I would nominate Del, Alicia, and then for the last two either Dan Paisley (with the entire Paisley/Lundy Court) or the Reno brothers, in either order.
Then, I guess you’d need some bluegrass knights, and a bunch of bluegrass peasants, and maybe even a Pope of bluegrass, if you were really going for historical accuracy. I’m not sure what that would look like, but since Doc Stanley looked pretty good in the movie with that hood and all, I think he might have the whole pope thing pretty well wrapped up.
I expect you could get the peasants pretty cheap—promise them a wrist-band, maybe some sausage gravy, and they’d come, I betcha.
The knights, though, have me a little concerned. First of all, when I was playing chess, I remember the knights and the cardinals never got on too well, so you might have to watch out for the way you schedule stage times and all that if you had knights and cardinals on the same bill. Then, too, knights often have horses, and you know what that means. Besides, we’re still trying to figure out what our policy is on dogs, especially those frisbee dogs with the bandana tried around their necks.
What are they on there for, anyway? Damn dog can’t wipe his own nose, and the only other guy in the room is the dog’s owner, so what’s up with that?
Anyhow, seems to me that, in an aristocratic sort of way, we’re all related in the bluegrass world. What village can operate properly without their very own idiot? After all, some of us were put here to make the rest of us look good. Every one of us fills our own little spot.
Sure, deep down I know I’ll never be the arch-Duke of grass, but I still have hopes. Maybe a small town needs a mayor to buck them up and raise their hopes–I’m your man! Or perhaps they’ll open up some new categories, like “Protector of ‘Grass,” or maybe the “Director of ‘Grass.”
I’d be good at that one.
I’d set in the gate when they had their festival, and they’d say, “Well, where’s that bluegrass music?”
And by cracky, I’d direct ’em!
Easy as pie, and I don’t think Directors need to get horses.
*I have no idea why I put that asterix up there. But that word asterix is pretty funny hhee.**
** I just remembered. That would be a good name for a bluegrass band.
You could even have uniforms or something!