• C.J.


Today is January 23rd, 2018. Just another day in Hopeless Holler. The day was gorgeous, so I took advantage of the sun and did a little mechanicing on the ole GM bus, and cleaned up a few things on the inside before the first trip of the year. Like I mentioned, a rather ordinary day at the little cabin house in the foothills of the Smokies that I call home at this point in life. This post isn't about my day, though. It's about what has been rolling around in my head all day today. It's not the first time that these thoughts have come to my mind, either. The main thought being Why....

I do a lot of pondering, especially when I'm in the comforts of home. It seems almost a curse that I can't turn my mind off from music when, for instance, I'm replacing a hose on the bus. My concentration drifts from the mechanical part of fixing the bus to how me doing this at this moment in time will help the band later, while traveling... how it will add to this great book of musical stories that I hope to someday get the opportunity to put together... how this old bus pulling into a festival adds to the image of the band. Always music, all the time. Again, Why? Why can't I concentrate on what I'm doing? I always get a task done, but there seems to be a subconscious always inserting the words: bluegrass, mandolin, banjo, harmonies, song, music, etc. It's interesting to me. There's that question again... Why? never ending cycle it seems like.

This evening, I was messaging a friend of mine who shares the same love of stories and history that I do. He had in his grasp what would have been an important piece of his Bluegrass memorabilia collection, but lost it due to unfortunate reasons. In my attempts to console my friend that there would be another opportunity, I made the comment that "in the end, its just another case. it is what it is." With that comment came a realization and another "Why?"

Here I am telling my buddy not to worry, it's just material, when I have 6 mandolin cases spread throughout the house, some owned by significant people in my life. I am proud to own these pieces and would have fought for them, even. Why am I drawn to these material possessions? Why am I consoling my friend when I have the same passion he does for these types of artifacts? Are they truly artifacts? Does anyone else think they are artifacts significant to Bluegrass music history? After all, I just said "It's just a case." It's not gonna change my mandolin tone if I carry it in my Lloyd Loar era case. Don Brown's licks aren't gonna rub off the case handle. Why am I collecting this stuff? Am I collecting for monetary value? no. Am I collecting to preserve? Yes. Why am I collecting to preserve? For whom am I preserving? What am I actually preserving,The Story? Is the story worth more than the physical item? What makes the story valuable? Is it truly valuable? Who values it? These are just a few questions.

We have a saying within the band. Well, there's a bunch of them, but I'm gonna mention two. 1) "That's going in the book." 2)"That'll make a good story." Again, "Why?" Why is the band, specifically me, so obsessed with a good story? Is what we do in our daily lives , as Bluegrass entertainers, really worth reading or are we just playing around?

All of these questions are swimming around in my head today with vengeance. I can't pick one and start there, for it brings up another question mid thought.

And here's another topic full of questions. Why am I so interested in people's history, specifically in the Bluegrass Music Industry. The way they talk, the way they walk. The instrument they hold near and dear. Who their influences are. Where they grew up. The facts and facets of their lives. Why do I crave to know as much as I possibly can about certain folks I admire and look up to? Is it really important? In my research; hours on the phone and internet, driving across the country to visit someone for a few hours, sifting through paper and recorded material; what is that getting me? While soaking up stories from these people am I taking time away from my own story? Am I adding to my own story? Am I wasting my time with others' time? Where are these stories gonna go? Again, WHY are these stories important to me and WHY am I even worrying this?

Some of these questions I can answer, which usually lead to more questions. Some of these questions I can't answer now and may never be able to answers. I'll just have to be somewhat patient. I believe this blog is a good start for the preservation of some of these stories and sorting out these questions I have for myself. I can't answer what makes stories important to me, but they are and I'd like to share them. So, I thank you, the reader for taking the time to soak up the stories passed to me from some of my friends and heroes, along with new stories I make every day. Not to say my path is special, but to say everyone's path is special. I can't say whether someone's history is more relevant than others. I just know that I'd like to keep the stories of important folks in my life alive, even after they may be gone. So, maybe the mandolin case in the corner will remind me of a story sometime. Who knows why we do what we do, but I'm glad I do what I do. So, I guess I'll go on collecting these material possessions and stories from days gone by to share with you folks. Heck, maybe that's my story....

Any questions?

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