Today is Cyber Monday, the day that robots everywhere break Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and take over the world. But while that’s happening, let’s shop!
You may have already done your shopping on Black Friday (which started this year on Thanksgiving Thursday) or on Small-Business Saturday or on Dear-God-Make-It-Stop Sunday, but it’s not over yet because I’m declaring tomorrow Bluegrass Tuesday, a special day set aside to do all your bluegrass shopping for that special banjo player in your life.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for bluegrass musicians or fans it’s good to know that all we want is time to practice so we can play like our favorite bluegrass artist. I calculate I will need 835 years at 12 hours a day to play guitar like Tony Rice.
So, that’s my first suggestion for a gift (especially for your bluegrass partner, parent, or kid): a coupon promising practice time without interruption. I’ve even created special coupons for you to download and use:
It’s also good to know that bluegrass people do NOT want t-shirts. We have t-shirts from every festival we attended, every workshop, every band we wanted to support, and a few that just grew by themselves in the bluegrass petri dish known as the back of the van.
The only caveat to this rule is if it’s an especially dumb t-shirt such as this squirrel-playing-plugged-in-banjo-on-top-of-an-amp t-shirt:
Or one with an incorrect use of a semicolon:
Other than that, bluegrass people are pretty easy to please. Strings, CDs, picks, capos, etc., are just fine.
On Bluegrass Tuesday, think about walking into your local music store and buying a nice gift for someone. It doesn’t have to be a Lloyd Loar. Just something like a coupon for lessons, or a set of strings, or starting a layaway on that dobro someone you know really wants.
Without these local stores—the focal points for jamming, lessons, and information—we wouldn’t have the kind of grass roots that feeds the next generation of bluegrass artists.
But let me make a few suggestions for bluegrass holiday gifts in the over $500,000 range. Here’s a dandy tour bus just right for the up-and-coming bluegrass band wanting to impress promoters and fans:
It’s a steal at $682,400. And I bet you could talk them down to $681,999.
For those of you thinking more like under $20, here’s a stocking-stuffer banjo coffee mug from cafepress.com:
If you think about it, there are really only three types of gifts:
- Gifts you give others but you really want yourself
- Gifts that people have specifically said they want because you usually only give them gifts you really want yourself, and
- Gifts that are donations to good causes that neither of you want.
The first one is easy. If I were buying a gift for someone, what I would do is go to one of my favorite bluegrass websites, such as, oh, I don’t know, let’s say the AcuTab website, run by John Lawless of Bluegrass Today, my editor and boss. And I would buy the new Ron Block guitar DVD.
It fulfills the one requirement for the first type of gift: I want it. Whoever I give this to will surely like it because I would like it.
As another example of the “gift I really want myself” gift, let’s pop over to Roland White’s website and see his Roland White’s Mandolin Christmas book and CD.
For those of you who receive these gifts from me, I won’t be offended if you return them to me, as I really want them for myself anyway.
The second type of gift is also easy because you just ask that person what they want. This is almost always disappointing, though, because it turns out that other people want different things than what you want. This one pays off, though, in that the person you give it to is glad to have it.
Recently, someone told me they wanted this. It’s something called the “Stumpf Fiddle” or the “One-Man-Bluegrass-Band” by Hammacher-Schlemmer. At $299.95 it’s about $295.99 overpriced, but the person who wants it would really enjoy it. Don’t worry, there’s no way I’m buying it, but I thought you’d like to check it out:
That brings us to the third type of gift – the donation gift. This seems to me the perfect gift idea because it benefits some worthy cause, surprises the recipient, and you’ve given something to a cause that you like as well. It’s a win-win-win.
There are many worthy causes in bluegrass, but I’m going to mention one, the Foundation For Bluegrass Music:
This organization covers a lot of great programs such as Bluegrass In the Schools, Teacher Workshops, Bluegrass Innovator Grants, and many more. Making a gift donation in someone else’s name is easy and will benefit the next generation of bluegrass artists (some of whom may not be able to afford an $800,000 bus).
Other gift ideas might include a membership to IBMA or another bluegrass organization such as the California Bluegrass Association, or any of the recent wonderful books on bluegrass published by the University of Illinois Press.
I hope you’ll contribute more ideas for bluegrass holiday gifts because I’m barely scratching the surface. I know if I start listing more bluegrass items I’ll advertently leave a lot of good stuff out.
Just think of what artist or teacher you’d like to support and buy everything they have for sale.
Bluegrass Tuesday shopping starts now!