Back when I was a high school laddie, a friend of mine's dad was what you would call a bluegrass aficionado. Not only did he listen to lots of bluegrass, travel to bluegrass festivals, and own an awe-inspiring instrument collection (including seven or eight top-of-the-line Martin guitars, which you'd often find just leaned against the couch), he also declared every Wednesday night to be Bluegrass Night. I can close my eyes and see him now. He'd put on his pink blazer, break out his best mandolin, mix a Seagram's and water, and open up his house to anyone who played bluegrass. Players from all over Jacksonville would come to hang out, have a few beverages, and play bluegrass classics until the late hours.
I went on a fairly regular basis. While I initially went to hang out with my high school friends, I eventually learned to appreciate (and even got to play) the music...an unexpected development. Even now, there are still the occasional random melodies and lyric fragments which unexpectedly pop into my head.
But another part of the adventure was getting to know a wide variety of people from circles I wouldn't ordinarily enter. While time has eroded many of them from my memory (the banjoist, who was just blistering, is an exception), I remember one fun-loving guy in particular who always tried to crack us up. One time, upon hearing me moan about my long drive to work, this gentleman told me that he drove an hour each way to his job, but it his favorite part of his day...a time where he could be alone with his thoughts, with no demands on him, and it was the only time where he could play whatever he wanted on his radio without having to consider anyone else's preferences. At the time, I thought he was nuts, but that was probably because I was struggling to keep my 1973 Plymouth Valiant's monstrous gas tank full. 13 MPG is, after all, not exactly easy on the high school income.
Much has changed for me in the over 20 years. Instead of standing on a porch and trying to talk over the sound of G chords and pick noise, I'm waiting in my office for my last class of the semester and avoiding the inevitable end-of-the-term grading load. While there's a part of me that's gearing up for the zombie grading sessions, and another part of me is contemplating my stupidly optimistic summer research agenda, I also realized that today will be the last day for a while where I can pick a cd and blast it on the ride home. I will legitimately miss the ride.
If the interwub is to be trusted, the Wednesday bluegrass jams still go on. Right now, I kinda wish I was living in Jacksonville so I stop by. It would be fun to hear the music, but there's a bigger draw. Now that I'm more mature, who knows what further wisdom I might encounter?
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