For the bluegrass picker on your list…

Chris JonesI don’t know if you participate in the relatively new Black Friday ritual or not, but if so, I hope you found what you were looking for last weekend, and more importantly, I hope you avoided any fatal trampling incidents. I guess I should assume you did, otherwise how would you be reading this, unless it’s being read at your funeral and you’re hearing it from beyond the grave (and how hard up for memorial service material would you have to be for that to happen?).

When it comes to Black Friday, I’m a convinced non-participant. Not only do I not seek out mobs for sport and deliberately try to get in the middle of them, I’m also a late Christmas shopper, and I’m okay with that. If I have to pay a little more, I figure I saved that money by avoiding idling my vehicle in Black Friday traffic. If items are sold out by December 23rd, that just makes my decision-making easier.

I suppose there’s an element of procrastination in my lax approach to the shopping mission. I can admit that. If so, I think I have some justification, because there are people in my family who are almost impossible to buy for. You probably have some in yours too. They’re the ones with plenty of means, who have already bought themselves everything they could possibly want, in some cases on Christmas Eve. You’re then left to come up with something they just didn’t know they wanted, or give them something you know they don’t want, because it’s the only way to be sure they don’t already have it.

What about the hard-to-please bluegrass fan or musician in your life? Most of the hardcore ones have also already bought almost everything they ever wanted, unless it’s a pre-war instrument that requires boatloads of cash. The only reason they haven’t bought that is because the closing on the house isn’t scheduled until January.

I thought as a holiday public service, I would compile a list of possible gifts for the bluegrass fan who has everything. All of these items are for sale on my web site (kidding), and almost all adhere to the TV commercial price standard of $19.99 (or four easy payments of same):

The Bluegrass Hair Kit This is for the man in your life who wants to emulate the hairstyles of his bluegrass idols. This kit gives you all the tools, gels, creams, and dyes to help you achieve styles like the Larry Sparks wave and widow’s peak, the Jim and  Jesse firm pompadour, the Ricky Skaggs’ flowing Elijah look, or the John Duffey flattop. (Note: Del McCoury’s hairstyle is $10.00 extra)

The Bluegrass Know-it-all app: Once downloaded, this app will provide a new and unique item of bluegrass music trivia every 10 minutes that will appear in the form of an alert on your smartphone or tablet. Examples:

“Before Doyle Lawson named his band ‘Quicksilver,’ it was called Doyle Lawson and Foxfire, and briefly before that, Doyle Lawson and Aurora Borealis”

“The original working title of ‘Rocky Top’ was ‘Clingman’s Dome.’ There was also an entire fourth verse about wild boars.”

“The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was only made possible by a last-minute cancellation by Hylo Brown.”

As a bonus, for those who take great interest in the beats-per-minute of a song, or whether or not a song is in exact standard pitch, the app will give you an exact readout of both pitch and tempo for any song you’re listening to (note: this app is also $19.99, but only to insure that not everyone will have it).

 – The Bus Cozy: Made by elderly craftspeople in Iowa, this quilted item will cover most artist coaches, helping to keep out light while holding in cool air or heat, depending on the season, and it provides extra privacy at a bluegrass festival (40 easy payments of $19.99)

The EZ-fold Mandolin: This uses some of the same principles as the folding basses, but goes even further, with a completely removable headstock, collapsable neck, and a body uniquely hinged to fold in on itself four times. This mandolin can be stored in a small briefcase or under a large hat.

Instrument Accessories your hard-to-buy-for person might not have bought yet:

 – The iCapo: Elliot Capos has partnered with Apple to develop the first ever capo-smartphone, with much of the same functionality as the iPhone 5, but with a much smaller screen and enough battery life to get through a three-set show, plus a workshop. The mic and speakerphone are effective enough for you to take and receive calls in between verses of Dark Hollow (speakerphone works best in the key of B or higher).

 – The Herringboner: This is an almost-life-like, guitar-shaped, Martin D-28 herringbone vinyl/polyurethane veneer that can be spread over your “designed in America” (made in Korea) dreadnought guitar to make it appear like a pre-war ‘bone.’ Your guitar can’t be played while covered with the veneer; it’s strictly designed to impress people while the guitar sits in an open case. Available in three styles: “Near Mint,” “Pleasantly Aged,” and “Previously Owned by a Drunk.”

The TastyStrap: The first-ever completely edible instrument strap, for when you just really need to eat something after a show. Delicious and high in fiber, they come in strawberry-rhubarb, chocolate, beef jerky, and zesty wasabi. Sold in packs of five (vegan straps also available).

For those on your Christmas list who would like to increase their repertoire in 2014, but who already have most available songbooks and instructional DVDs:

– 101 Bluegrass Songs About Organ Meats

Christmas Breakdown: An instructional video that shows you how to convert any Christmas song, from the soft and reverent “O Come, Emmanuel,” to the 6/8 time “O Holy Night,” into an uptempo 4/4 time bluegrass song with room for a G-run.

And, for the fitness-conscious picker:

Banjolates: Strengthen your core and increase your flexibility with these muscle-toning exercises, all performed while holding a heavy 5-string banjo in various awkward positions. The book includes bonus strength-training exercises using a banjo inside an even heavier flight case. Exercises include the “archtop plank” the “Calton lunge,” and the “RB-4 oblique twist”

But wait! If you order today, you’ll also receive . . .