Sunday, January 11, 2009

We're gonna sing and pick

Portland is hosting a bluegrass festival this weekend at the Oregon Convention Center. It started on Friday afternoon and goes through this evening. We went yesterday. It was $63 each just for the one day. I think that is why we didn't also go on Friday, when the only band that I heard of was playing. That was Robin & Linda Williams, and the only reason I've heard of them is because they were in the Prairie Home Companion movie and they are on the soundtrack and sing my favorite song, Old Plank Road. So they were at the festival on Friday, but we missed them. Since I knew of their caliber though, I guessed that all the other bands would be just as good.

When I saw the ticket price I was afraid we would have to turn around and go home. But PH is a State employee now and is enjoying a paycheck. He didn't even blink and just paid for the tickets. Everyone else at the ticket window was throwing a huge fit. I felt sorry for the people taking the money. PH made fun of the people throwing fits.

I don't really know what bluegrass is. I like banjo/fiddle music that is played really fast. And I know sometimes that is called bluegrass. I guess there are many different nuances in western music, and I have no idea what they are. A lot of the bands we saw said that they were happy to play the bluegrass festival, even though they "don't play bluegrass". But they all had banjos and fiddles and steel guitars and upright basses and no drummer, and I liked them all, whatever they thought they were playing.

We stayed for about 6 hours and watched the performers and looked at musical instruments. I had no idea that a tortoise shell guitar pick goes for up to $60. And supposedly it makes the guitar sound much better than a regular pick. The tortoise shell pick is thicker than a regular pick, and we were told that then you "shave it down" to the size you need. At that point I decided I was a stranger in a strange conversation and I walked away.

PH entered a raffle for a banjo for me. I said if I win it it will take me 20 years to get good at it since playing music doesn't run in my blood. But PH said it's just rhythm and math, which are 2 things required in swing dancing. And since I've already gotten past that hurdle with my feet (it took a year of practice, btw), then it would just be a matter of training my fingers the same way. I guess. The drawing is at 1:00 today.

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