Can I Be Frank?

Chris JonesRecently, I’ve noticed that band breakups, wholesale personnel changes, and other career developments once thought of as negative are being broadcast to the world in press release form.

Maybe this is a good thing, reflecting a new era of openness and honesty in the bluegrass community. After all, we do live in a time of blunt and impulsive mass communication, when celebrities tweet the very first opinion that enters their foggy brains when they wake up in their Beverly Hills villa. Others share details of the removal of their pre-cancerous mole to their 87,000 Facebook followers.

Perhaps this is better than the whitewashing we’d grown accustomed to, which often caused fans to scratch their heads wondering why successful bands would suddenly split up, or why banjo player A would go from band A to band B, right after leaving band C. 

Some of this may just represent a generational shift. Remember that while middle-aged users of the internet are in a panic over the fact that all of their communication and on line activity is being monitored and stored by some company or government, and may be sold to some other company or government, internet users in their twenties really don’t care that much one way or the other. “Wow, dude, Google is actually like noticing what I’m writing!”

It may take me a while personally to adjust to this new honest and open landscape. I still have a natural instinct to want to keep my negative career news to myself. For example, I’ve been blessed with stable band personnel in the last 10 years, but I certainly remember when that wasn’t the case. I especially remember the awful period when I had to fire 4 different people in the same year (including my own uncle, who, frankly, just wasn’t cutting it). I didn’t even want to talk to my own family about this, let alone issue a press release about it. 

If someone approached the stage and said, “what happened to that other bunch that was with you?” my response was, “what other bunch?” Now I know that was a much different time.

Below are some forthright stories we can expect to see press releases and subsequent Bluegrass Today articles about in the coming months (the names have been changed because I’m just not that brutally honest yet):

Almost All Of Lonesome Towne To Leave

Four of the five members of the popular quintet Lonesome Towne have decided it was time to move on, citing personal and creative differences. “We couldn’t agree on much of anything, and bookings were pretty scarce anyway” said banjo player Lonnie Horne. Band leader Clarence Fulbright will continue to lead the band, and is holding auditions this week for new members. “I’m looking for people who really fit with our sound, and are easy to get along with, but right now I’d take just about anybody. We have a show to play in five days.”

Marital Issues For Susan And Henry Willis

The husband/wife duo, Henry and Susan Willis of Henry ‘n’ Susan and Heartsong have announced that marital strife is causing them to take a step back from their career together, at least for the short term. “It isn’t working out very well, and it’s painfully awkward for our band members too,” said Susan. “We’ll play out the few dates we have thru this coming June and have cancelled all shows after that.” The pair are currently in counseling and aren’t closing the door on working together in the future. “Right now, we just need some time to figure things out,” added Henry. “No we don’t” interjected Susan, “we both know what the problems are right now.”

Wyndy Plaine Dealing With Substance Abuse

Following a DUI arrest for one member and a drug possession charge for another, the members of the Nebraska bluegrass band Wyndy Plaine have decided to seek substance abuse counseling for the entire band. They will be canceling  several dates in the upcoming month but will be back to a normal schedule after that. “We plan to come back clean and healthy” said band leader Johnny McComb, “though that didn’t work out so well the first time,” he confessed. Fans of Wyndy Plaine may write to them care of The Harbor Hills Center  P.O. Box 762, Lakewood, FL 32002

Lisa Lambert To Leave Grassworks Talent

Lisa Lambert is leaving her agency of three years, Grassworks Talent, citing the worst year for tour dates of her 10-year career. “There’s just hardly anything on the books, and what there is pays less than what we had last year,” said the big-voiced Virginia singer/songwriter. “It’s a mutual decision,” said agency head Peter Franklin. “There’s just didn’t seem to be much demand for what Lisa’s doing among our usual talent buyers. We wish her the best.”

Next week: reunion tours that won’t be happening, postponed album releases, and festival cancellations.