This past Tuesday I was fortune enough to play with my band, as well as attend a concert myself. My gig was in the afternoon so by nightfall I was able to catch a show on the other side of Atlanta. A phenomenal string band. MilkDrive out of Austin Texas played at Eddie’s Attic. They have been a favorite of mine for years, seeing them live is impressive to say the least. They have embraced the string band for all it’s worth, all members playing guitar, mandolin, and fiddle. Music beyond genre classification. I had my mandolin with me so the guys were nice enough to play a few fiddle tunes with me after their show.
A humbling experience is almost always a good one, mandolin players are hard to find in Atlanta and all of a sudden I was surrounded by three. Not just any pickers, three master musicians with their own unique voice on any given instrument. I was way out of my league but, yet it sounded great. I also was taught some cool licks, and was reinvigorated to keep on practicing.
It seems, bluegrass musicians more than most tend to be inclusive not exclusive. A common understanding that music is not a pie eating contest, is an unspoken understanding in many circles. The allure of what I call, “contest thinking,” is done by all of us, and has it’s rewards, (serious concentrated practice.) The subtext understood is that even in contests subjective tastes dictate winners. Contests are judged by humans not computers or stop-watches.
Open jam sessions are a great way for someone to increase appreciation, and joy in music. It has numerous other benefits, including, forcing you to listen and make space in your playing. Play with others as much as possible!