Bgrs txtng shrthnd

I realize this probably dates me, but I’m not a very good texter. I do have what is, technically speaking, a “smartphone”, but it’s a tiny secret agent-sized job that has no keyboard, therefore I rely on  the “predictive text” feature when I need to send a text.

I’m sure you’re familiar with how this works: you start keying in the word and the phone figures out what you’re going to say, based on probability. For example, if I’m wanting to type in “train,” I just key in the letters, and the phone magically suggests “train,” also giving me options for “training,” “trained,” etc., in case I planned to go further. It has a pretty big vocabulary, because when I key in “rhubarb,” “tantamount,” or “Drachma,” it recognizes my intent and suggests those words. By the way, “train,” “rhubarb,” “tantamount,” and “Drachma” made for a pretty strange sentence, especially when I added “Curly Ray Cline.”

This brings me directly to a serious flaw in this system: The predictive text became notably less predictive when it came to “Curly Ray Cline,” and, as I soon discovered, most other bluegrass-related words. For example, when I keyed in the first four letters of “mandolin,” it thought I was trying to spell either “name,” “mane,” or “oboe.” By the time I got to the fifth letter, it just gave up.

When I tried to spell “banjo,” the phone’s first suggestion was the richly ironic “banknote.” The biggest insult, though, came when I tried to write “bluegrass” into a text message, and my phone instead guessed that I was trying to spell “bludgeon” (perhaps it thought I was attempting to compose a murder ballad on my phone). I’ll admit that I got some entertainment value out of thinking of different ways of substituting the word “bludgeon” for “bluegrass,” e.g., “The Bludgeon Boys,” “Leadership Bludgeon.” and the delightfully simple “Bludgeon Now.” On the whole, though, I was offended by my own cell phone.

This was when I realized that I needed to abandon the crutch of predictive text, and go back to texting the old fashioned way, by hitting each key until I get the right letter. This can be slow, though, if you’re older than 15, so this is where those handy texting acronyms and shorthand come in.

This, alas, is not my strong suit either. I’m just now finding out what some of these acronyms mean, and I’m usually disappointed. Until this year, I thought that “ROFL” meant “Relaxation Of the Frontal Lobe.” I’m getting better, though. I’ve used these now a time or two, though it still seems vaguely undignified for a man to type “LOL,” so I haven’t,  plus I just don’t laugh out loud that much. If I ever send you a text that contains “SI,” it means “Snickering Inwardly.” On the other hand, if you ever do send me something that’s really really funny, I may respond with “ROMNRHFLU,” which stands for “Rolling On My Newly Refinished Hardwood Floor, Laughing Uncontrollably.”

Here again, I’ve run across a real shortage of commonly accepted bluegrass acronyms and abbreviations. Do we really have to type everything out longhand when we’re discussing bluegrass music in text messages? Who has time for this? We’re due on stage in 10 minutes.

It’s not like we don’t know how to abbreviate in bluegrass music. We shorten band names to acronyms like “NBB,” “LRB” and “AKUS.” The “Orange Blossom Special” is often just “OBS.” One of my favorites was coined by dobro players who were forced to use the acoustically correct “resonator guitar” term for their instrument: “TIFKAD” (“The Instrument Formerly Known As Dobro”). The IBMA World of Bluegrass is the “IBMA WOB.” Sometimes we just call it “The IBMA,” which as many people know is itself an acronym for “Incessant Bull****ing and Milling Around.”

This means to me that we’re more than ready for our own bluegrass text language. To further the cause, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be some of the most useful bluegrass phrases, abbreviated for texting. I’m hoping these will soon be widely accepted and understood. I at least plan to be using these, starting today:

TBG = Traditional Bluegrass

PBG = Progressive Bluegrass

TABG = That Ain’t Bluegrass

ANPON = Ain’t No Part of Nothin’

UBP = Unidentified Bass Player

TRC = Tony Rice Clone

BUL = Bluegrass Urban Legend

SSN = Semi-sacred Number

MGH = Major Gospel Hair

BGHNGP = Best Gospel Hair in a Non-Gospel Performance

UP = Uncle Pen

MCS = Man of Constant Sorrow

MAT = Molly and Tenbrooks

BGW = Bluegrass Widow

BGDB = Bluegrass Dirt Bag

WWJDD = What Would J.D. Do?

BMGSS = Because Melvin Goins Said So

KIO = Kick It Off

KIOS = Kick It Off, Son

TTT= Tune That Thing

JME = Jimmy Martin Ending

OMG = Old Martin Guitar

WTF = Why This Festival?

ROFL = Ripped Off Fiddle Lick

LMAO = Less Mandolin At Once!

ADE = Okay, this isn’t really an acronym; it’s the chord progression for “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” (BRCH) in the key of A.


Special thanks to Ned Luberecki and Jon Weisberger for contributions while driving back from Bean Blossom at 2:00 AM.

Til nxt wk, TTYLS (“Try Tipping Your Lead Singer”, or, if you prefer: “Talk To You Later, Sheepdip!”)