From The Side of the Road… It’s the law! (part 2)

Last week we unveiled some of the bluegrass laws contained in recently discovered ancient scrolls from 1978. So as not overwhelm you with legalism, we’ve broken this up into two segments. I shall now, slowly, open the second seal, which appears to be some aging Scotch tape from a Dollar General store:

Side musician conduct:

  • If a musician responsible for kicking a song off is unready to do so when the song is announced, that musician must tell a reasonably funny joke to cover. If unable to, or lacking the comedic skill to do so, he or she must swear off all backstage snacks and drinks for one hour following the performance. 
  • If a musician is unready to start a song three times in a single show, or kicks off a completely different song, that musician will be made to walk barefoot into a Love’s truck stop after midnight later that night.
  • Tuning for more than a minute right into the microphone, then kicking off the wrong song—while still out of tune—will result in being left at a Love’s truck stop, barefoot.

MC work:

  • Any band leader/front person who tells the “Tu-ning” joke will be required to be silent for the remainder of the show, even if it means the mandolin player steps in and does his terrible Bill Monroe imitation.
  • Any festival or concert MC who gets a band name wrong must apologize to the band, then generate a phony encore for them and allow them to go five minutes overtime.
  • Any festival or concert MC who announces a band while they’re still setting up must resign his or her position immediately and become a parking attendant.

Sound relations:

  • Neither sound engineer, nor performer will deliberately antagonize the other based on bad past experiences neither are responsible for.
  • Sound check time must be honored by both parties. Any sound person who begins setting equipment up at sound check time, with the band having arrived on time, must purchase drinks of choice for every band member. Any band showing up more than 20 minutes late for a sound check, while equipment is set and ready, will reduce their sound check time to 10 minutes and will forfeit the use of monitors.
  • A musician blaming the sound engineer for feedback after asking for more guitar in the monitors three times or more will be prohibited from speaking to that engineer for the rest of the evening.
  • A sound engineer who treats musicians and singers like they’ve never played into a microphone before in their lives will be compelled to buy two copies of the band’s latest CD at full price.

Audience conduct:

  • Hecklers will be treated in “eye for an eye” fashion. Hecklers will be heckled back by the band. Security will be called after the third heckle.
  • Singing questionable harmony parts along with the band will be permitted quietly, and only in outdoor or barroom settings, unless the singer had previously recorded with the band or is a former band member.
  • Any former band member that had been unjustifiably fired without notice (and left barefoot at a truck stop) may sing harmony as loudly as he or she desires, including in a quiet “listening room” situation.
  • An audience member giving an unsolicited performance critique at the merchandise table will be compelled to also perform an a cappella version of Amazing Grace while the band pauses to listen. Any negative comments about the performer’s age or weight (“Put on some weight since I last saw you!” or “You sure have aged since that photo was taken!”) will be met with a critique of the audience member’s clothes or hair by each band member.
  • An audience member treated arrogantly or unkindly by a performer may say the following: “And who do you think you are? The second coming of Lester Flatt?”

For DJs:

  • If still using CDs on air, simply playing the first track of a new release on the air without previewing it must then be followed by playing the first track of a recent hip-hop release without previewing it, then taking every listener phone call.
  • All DJs must have a nickname, whether it’s used on air or not. That name will be arrived at using this formula: Start with “The”, take the last thing you drank, add the word “drinking,” then add the first animal you see out your window. Examples: “The RC Cola-drinking Chickadee,” or “The Guinness-drinking Hedgehog.”


  • When listening to bluegrass music in a car or other vehicle, any Bill Monroe cover by Del McCoury may not be skipped. Volume level may only be adjusted upward.
  • While any slow and mournful Stanley Brothers song, like White Dove or The Lonesome River, is playing, all conversation must be suspended.
  • Rank Stranger may not be performed in a jam session, everybody-sing-whatever-part situation.
  • Any band recording a bluegrass song about bluegrass must also record a song about a dead horse in a one-to-one ratio.
  • The following activities are to be performed in private:

The changing of strings, except for on-stage broken string emergencies

The firing of band members

The quitting of a band

The paying of a band

Banjo practice

Bowed bass practice

Good Woman’s Love practice