The All-Thing

All stick and no carrot, since ought-three.

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八陣圖 (杜甫)

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Sun, 12 Oct 2003
Bluegrass Octoberfest Review

Yesterday I went to Bluegrass Octoberfest. In total, and in various fine-grained different ways, it sucked.

Allow me to enumerate:

  1. There were only about 100 people in attendance. With big names like the Nashville Bluegrass Band and Jerry Douglas performing, they should have been able to draw more of a crowd. How did they fuck up so bad in promoting this?
  2. Of those 100 people, roughly 30 were cops or security personel. And did I mention the entire thing took place within a barb-wire-enclosed gulag? Seriously, were they expecting the Crips and the Bloods to show up? It's a bluegrass festival for chrissakes. It's all old fat white guys.
  3. Of the remaining 70 people, about 5 were parking-lot pickers. The highlight of the festival was escaping from the concentration camp out to the parking lot for an hour or so to jam.
  4. No alcohol allowed in the fairgrounds. No coolers. Containers searched by the police. Your only source of alcohol was a beer garden conveniently placed half a mile from the stage, where you could choose from a selection of a) Coors Regular, or b) Coors Lite. You could not leave the beer garden with your beer. You could, however, sit there and chug your swill while peering at the stage in the distance.

Now I don't know about you guys, but it's hard to sit through seven hours of bluegrass without being pretty drunk. I was buying cokes, bringing them into the porta-potties and adding Knob Creek from my flask, LIKE I WAS IN FUCKING HIGH SCHOOL. No alcohol at a bluegrass festival? What kind of crack-addled dogfucker came up with this policy?

So overall the entire event was devoid of—in spite of the great weather—any semblance of a fun, festival atmosphere. The only mitigating factors were a couple of excellent performances, notably by Southern Rail and the Nashville Bluegrass Band. (Jerry Douglas, as far as I'm concerned, is hour after hour of formless noodling and semi-musical wanking. I did not stay for more than ten minutes of his set.)

After the Nashville Bluegrass Band set, I had the following charming conversation with Stewart Duncan:

me: Hi, Mr. Duncan. I just wanted to say you sounded great.

SD: Thanks.

me: I really liked your second break on the last song, right after the bass solo.

SD: Uhhh... [looks confused, looks down at the table]. Thanks.

me: [trying to draw him out] Yeah, I've been listening to a couple Hot Club de Nashville recording. I really go for that swingy stuff. Segue into Grappelli? Wonder how he feels about him, vs., say, Snuff Smith?

SD: You shouldn't be.

me: Huh? Oh really? And why's that?

SD: [Rambling and ill-formed rant about internet music. I inferred that there were some shows that got out that he didn't want to. Unclear: whether they are still out there; whether any HCdN shows are public; etc.]

me: [Considering whether to explain to him the difference between Kazaa and ETree, that the Bluegrassbox folks try their best to adhere to artists' decisions, and he could contact them if he really feels they've made a mistake, etc... fuck it.] Ok. Well. You sounded very good.

SD: [looking down at the table] Thanks.

me: No no, thank YOU for being yet another friendly and approachable bluegrass musician.

And that was the festival.

P.S. Got a ridiculous speeding ticket on the way home right by the NH/Mass border, by a charming young officer more than happy to meet his quota and fill his department's coffers with out-of-stater's money at the same time, at the expense of only justice and the thruth.

Posted at 12:17 | trackback | 1 comment | back

Comments

Re: Bluegrass Octoberfest Review
djd wrote on Tue, 14 Oct 2003 14:54

Aw man, how totally unbluegrass. Everyone could've come to Maine with me instead.


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