A voice Crying Holy in the wilderness

Chris JonesBased on the wording in my contract (page 17, about half way down), I’m forbidden from commenting or expressing my opinion about the current preemption of Bluegrass Junction for Radio Hanukkah, which will continue for another five days. I can speak to you about it in person, but then only in hushed tones, and in Pig Latin or possibly Yiddish. If I were to violate this, SiriusXM agents would be dispatched to my remote “Northern Studio”, where they would beat me senseless with an Electro-voice RE-20. I hope you can understand this. Many other people in the entertainment field operate with similar contract restrictions.

I can, however, make suggestions about ways to get through this dark period in our bluegrass life. I realize that an article has already appeared in Bluegrass Today about listening alternatives, but I plan to take a slightly different approach.

Bluegrass Today has wisely offered tips on how to access Bluegrass Junction online through your computer or smart phone for free, because our programming continues there. For those that argue that they don’t have a computer or smart phone, the obvious question is “how are you reading Bluegrass Today?” If a friend or relative is printing it out for you, you might consider talking that friend into letting you listen through his or her computer or phone. This may require bringing this person back and forth to work with you, and on various errands, but I’m sure that can be worked out.

On a side note, on the occasion of the first-ever online-only Truegrass show (our weekly classic bluegrass show), I was originally going to play only classic bluegrass songs about the internet, until I realized that the show would be less than two minutes long (just time for the intro and outro). Instead, I’ll be going with the theme of songs about letters and phone calls. I thought that was more promising than classic bluegrass songs about anger, something I’d also considered.

Some have said they’ll resort to Spotify or Pandora for their bluegrass. Bear in mind, though, that for professional bluegrass musicians and their record labels, this is considered a very Grinchy alternative, the equivalent of sneaking into professional musicians’ houses on Christmas Eve and taking all their presents away (these services are known for simultaneously discouraging music sales and then paying artists and writers about 16¢ quarterly for the use of their creative effort)

Perhaps, rather than trying to come up with listening alternatives we’re not used to, we should instead view it as a rare opportunity for delayed gratification. Let’s face it, aside from waiting until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to open most of our presents, we tend to eat those tree-shaped cookies now rather than later. This is one of the reasons we all have to make those fitness resolutions we don’t keep in January.

Could we look at the next five days as a time of reverent anticipation, or sort of a mini-Advent? This could be a way to recapture the true meaning of Christmas in the process. The season of Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation, after all.

In some churches—mine included—Advent candles are lit, and the work of John the Baptist is discussed. Trust me on this, John the Baptist wasn’t figuring out how to download an app for music; he was too busy making the path straight, and trying to scare up some locusts and honey for his next meal.

In eastern Orthodox Christian traditions, this part of the Christmas season is a time for fasting rather than feasting, similar to Lent. Then you can cut loose on Christmas Day and for the next 11 days. I’ve never done this, but I imagine that it makes Christmas Day that much more special.

What if we took this approach to bluegrass music for the next five days? You could actually swear off bluegrass music entirely at first, choosing instead to listen to something soft and reverent, lighting a bluegrass advent candle while you do. For those that prefer a challenge, you could choose to listen to your least favorite kind of music—whatever that may be—for a few days. You can consider this the equivalent of John the Baptist wearing scratchy clothes made out of camel’s hair. Gradually you could move towards music you prefer, Then, Tuesday morning, you can turn on Bluegrass Junction and binge-listen for 12 straight days, pausing only to sleep a few hours each night.

Since we’ve been on the subject of John the Baptist, I’d like to offer this appropriate seasonal treat recipe for the next five days:

                                    John the Baptist Locust Squares


16-18 recently dead locusts (ones that have been lying around the desert too long are too dry and flavorless)
3 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup honey
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chop locusts into 1/2 inch pieces and combine in large bowl or urn with butter, honey, and salt. Mixture should be sticky and slightly repulsive. Add Rice Krispies and mix thoroughly with a spoon or large stick found in the desert. Spread into a baking pan and cut into squares.

Suggested listening while preparing this treat:

  • Jingle Bells by The Barking Dogs
  • Key Largo by Bertie Higgins
  • I’ve Never Been To Me by Charlene

In closing, let me just add that no matter how you spend the coming days, this too shall pass. Merry Christmas, Chag Chanukah Sameach, and happy Bluegrass Advent!