From The Side of the Road – Jeopardy style band introductions

Do you ever watch Jeopardy? Do you ever give answers in the form of questions? This is  confusing to people, don’t you think? Do you ever just get sick of questions? Are you hoping there’s prize money somewhere at the end of this paragraph?

I watch Jeopardy occasionally, and I enjoy it quite a bit, except when a contestant says, “let’s make it a true daily double, Alex.” That has the same effect on me as news pundits saying, “at the end of the day”” although if they said, “at the end of the day, Alex” I might appreciate it more. 

A side note of trivia (and I won’t phrase this in the form of a question): bluegrass musician Ira Gitlin was once a Jeopardy contestant, and a victorious one, though he lost the following day, due apparently to overly conservative betting in the final round. This was surprising, since that episode’s final Jeopardy category was “Bill Monroe’s horses.”

One thing that has always fascinated me about the show is the segment just after the first commercial break in which Alex asks each contestant to relate some story about themselves. Almost without exception, the story is a complete dud. This is further confirmation of the theory that nothing interesting ever happens to really smart people. They usually go something like this:

“So Jessica, you had a mishap with your cell phone?”

“Yes Alex, I was in a supermarket parking lot, and I realized I had misplaced my phone somewhere. Then all of a sudden someone came running towards me across the lot, and it was the CASHIER holding my PHONE! I had put it down when I went to pay for groceries and had just left it there. What a relief! Heh heh.”

“Heh heh. And Oscar, you were surprised by your cat giving birth to kittens?”

“Well, Alex, that part wasn’t surprising because we knew she was pregnant, but we were amazed when she gave birth to a litter of ONLY TWO! We were expecting at least four to six.”

“That is a small littler, and did you keep the kittens?”

“Yes we did. Heh heh.”

“Heh heh. Okay Jessica, you choose our next category.”

And they’re all like that, though I’m sure Ira was an exception. Being a professional banjo and bass player, he no doubt had several better stories from his last gig alone than have ever been told by another Jeopardy contestant.

I got to thinking, though, what if we used this introduction technique with band members at a show? What might the bluegrass music equivalent of Jeopardy stories sound like? The answer is . . .

“On the fiddle we have Carla Winston from Huntsville, Alabama. Carla, you have a very special fiddle case. Tell the audience about that.”

“Well it’s normally a very expensive case which I couldn’t afford, but it was being sold at our local music store for 75% off. When I asked why, they said it was because of a small amount of damage in shipment, but when I looked, all I could find was a tiny scratch on one side. I bought it right away. I figure a case is meant to get a little scratched up. As long as the fiddle is protected, right? Heh heh.”

“Heh heh. And on mandolin we have Joe Sloan from Poplar Bluff, Missouri. You had a bad experience with a car mechanic last year. What happened?”

“Well my truck was hesitating a lot, so I took it in, and they said I needed to replace the whole transmission at a cost of thousands of dollars. Instead of doing that, though, I decided to get a second opinion. The second mechanic told me I just needed a new fuel filter, which he replaced for about 35 BUCKS WITH LABOR! I don’t think I’ll go back to that first mechanic again. Heh heh.”

“Heh heh. I guess not! On bass it’s Darrell Granger from Sarasota, Florida. Darrell, you were surprised by your morning coffee a few years ago. What happened?”

“I was staying with some friends, and they handed me a cup of coffee. I usually add some sugar to it, which I did. When I drank it, though, I realized they had given me a cup meant for someone else, and it already had THREE TEASPOONS of sugar in it. PLUS CREAM! It was a big surprise when I took my first sip. To be polite, though, I drank it all down, but then I realized that someone else must have gotten a cup of coffee with NO sugar in it when they were expecting three teaspoons! But then I guess you can always add more. Heh heh.”

“Heh heh. On banjo it’s Teresa Langweilig from New Boston, Ohio. Teresa, you left your own wedding reception early?”

“Well we had already been there for a few hours, and my new husband and I felt a little exhausted by it all and were anxious to leave for our honeymoon, so we did. My mother was a little upset the next day, but I explained it to her, and she was pretty understanding.”

“And did you go somewhere unusual for your honeymoon, Teresa?”

“We went to Niagara Falls. Heh heh.”

“Heh Heh.”