John Santa is a songwriter, audio technician and sound designer in Chapel Hill, NC. He is also a newly-minted bluegrass picker, playing mandolin with the EightTwentythree band, a passion he developed after many years playing rock and blues music.
His discovery of bluegrass and his fascination with both the music and the people who play it has led him to his latest venture, a book of non-fiction based on his bluegrass experiences. Entitled Bluegrass Is My Second Language – A Year In The Life Of An Accidental Bluegrass Musician, Santa uses his mid-life conversion to the ways of bluegrass to demonstrate how suddenly your life can move in unexpected directions, and how being open to such changes can bring great happiness and wonderful new friends.
Coming in at more than 500 pages, complete with a glossary of musical terms and sheet music for some of the songs he discusses, the tale is one of Santa’s personal journey into what was at first an alien culture for him, though one that had existed alongside him in North Carolina all along.
Bluegrass Is My Second Language should be an interesting read for any bluegrass fan, and perhaps a helpful explanation for family or friends who neither share your addiction, nor even understand its attraction. It is written in a breezy, narrative style coming from the pickers’ perspective, but which also conveys the author’s deep respect for the traditions of the music he has embraced, and the people who have kept it alive for so many years.