Bluegrass alternatives to Black Friday

We’ve just made it through Thanksgiving, and I chose the phrase “made it through” deliberately. Let’s be honest, for all people’s happy and thankful social media posts (“I’m so thankful for my kitty Snooky-wookums, and the humans in my family are pretty good, too!”), we all know this is a holiday that’s fraught with potential personal and family peril, no matter how loving and stable your family may appear to be. Yes, there’s Aunt Rose’s amazing gravy, and it’s lovely to see nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends we don’t see very often, but we’re also just trying to get through a big dinner without major fights about Trump or the proper way to play a G chord. Or we’re just hoping to avoid the usual annual family drama, whatever form that may take.

As if this isn’t exhausting enough, then we have all the consumer pressure of “Black Friday.” “Here’s an idea!” some bright marketing mind thought: “Let’s have a single day during an already stressful holiday in which we encourage everyone to shop all at the same time, chasing after bargains that are usually available at other times, too. We’ll name it after a stock market disaster!” And thus, our biggest shopping day was born.

That wasn’t enough, though, oh no. This has since been followed by “Cyber Monday” for online sales, “Small Business Saturday,” “Big Box Stores Sunday,” and of course “Credit Card Debt Tuesday.”

My personal preference would be for “Turkey Sandwich Friday,” “Turkey Soup Saturday,” followed by “Recovery Sunday,” “Nothing Monday,” and “CyberNothing Tuesday,” but since that’s unlikely to happen in this season of franticness, I’d like to reimagine these shopping days in a bluegrass music light. There’s a shopping element here, too, but it’s sure to be less hectic, because—how do I put this delicately?—there are just fewer of us.

Music Store Friday: This is the day on which you should shop at your local music store to help keep these places open. The stores will in turn participate by offering deals such as 40% off straps, picks, pennywhistle instructional DVDs, etc., 30% off all instruments, and, if it’s well-stocked with vintage instruments of interest to the bluegrass musician, “Buy one Gibson Lloyd Loar mandolin, get one free!” (I did say “reimagined”).

Hard Copy Saturday: This is the day to purchase actual CDs, LPs, DVDs, cassettes (yes, they’re coming back), or some other hard copy form of an artist’s music, whether or not you still have equipment to play these items. You’re doing it because giving a gift of a download or a free month of streaming to someone on your shopping list is about as exciting as giving a gift subscription to the online edition of Oral Hygiene Monthly (OHM). With a hard copy, you’re  giving a real tangible gift of music, with artwork and liner notes and everything.

Mind you, since you’re aware that the only way to really support an artist is to buy from him or her directly, the best way to celebrate Hard Copy Saturday is to drive (or fly, if necessary) to the artists’s house, interrupt his/her Thanksgiving weekend and make the purchase. This is also a chance for bluegrass artists to demonstrate that accessibility they’re famous for: They’ll participate in this scheme by making their homes available any time day or night for this purpose. Believe me, by Saturday, most people will be glad to see another face outside the family circle. You may even be invited to stay for pie and a quick round of argument about Trump and/or the G chord.

Streaming Sunday: I recognize this will be a controversial idea, but this is an acknowledgement of the current state of music delivery and trying to make the best of it. On this day, you will buy discounted gift subscriptions (one of the thrilling gifts mentioned above) to one of the streaming services. Because royalties are paid out to artists at a significantly higher rate when music is streamed through subscription services than when one of the free options is used, you’re at least doing a small part. You might take this opportunity to explain that streaming for free as an alternative to buying music is eventually going to sink everybody. After all, everybody loves a moral lesson accompanying their gift.

On this day, it’s also recommended that you stream your favorite bluegrass artists’ newest releases over and over throughout the day and night (volume may be left down). Self-serving? Perhaps, but isn’t that the nature and spirit of all of these holiday shopping days?

Book a Deserving Band Monday: This is a day in which event producers and other buyers will book bands that are trying to make a living playing music, and as a payoff, the bands will offer a discounted price, generally 20% off a price that was already padded by 20% (exactly how most businesses operate on Black Friday, so get used to it).

Banjo Swap Tuesday: At the end of every year, there’s usually a series of banjo player personnel changes, often creating a banjo domino effect (this can be very unsettling to people unprepared for it), wherein Banjo Player 1 leaves a band, creating a vacancy for Banjo Player 2, who in turn creates a vacancy for Banjo Player 3, etc. On Banjo Swap Tuesday, banjo players everywhere will offer their services to a new band for exactly the same money they were making with the old band, or less, thus encouraging all banjo player exchanges to take place in a single day. If bandleaders wait until Wednesday, they’ll end up having to pay more for the same banjo player, and banjo players will actually improve their financial circumstances, which would just be weird.

Last but not least, my personal favorite of all of these shopping holidays:

Blow Off All Shopping and Just Jam Tuesday (BOASAJJT). This one is self-explanatory.