From The Side of the Road – too early for 2021 predictions?

People love to make predictions. It’s not important that almost all of them are hit-and-miss. That even goes for Nostradamus, and that was what he was known for; that, and apparently he grew some very impressive spaghetti squash.

Usually people like to give their predictions for the coming year in January or late December, but this is no ordinary year (it’s 2020, in case you’re really behind and reading this a decade later, or reading it in 2020 but are just in denial). Let’s go ahead and make some hit-and-miss bluegrass predictions for 2021.

My approach in the past has been to play it safe with overly general predictions: some bands will break up, others will not; bluegrass bands will wish they were being paid more; CD sales will be slower than in previous years, rain will adversely affect some outdoor events, etc. This is not exactly daring stuff. A friend of mine, though, musician, radio host, and tall guy Orin Friesen, sent me some very specific predictions about 2021 recently, and it inspired me to come up with a few more.

One of Orin’s was that following the success of Merle Monroe’s country and bluegrass fusion, a few bands are going to be formed next year using a similar concept and naming system: Willie Stanley, Hank McCoury, and my personal favorite, Hazel Swift.

Orin also predicted that in order to make their house payments, the Farm Hands will actually resort to becoming farm hands.

Here are a few of my own:

  • With social distancing extending well into the summer of 2021, the most successful festivals will be those with the largest audience seating area. The startup bluegrass festival in northern Indiana, Bluegrass in a Really Really Big Field ’21, will report a profit in its very first year.
  • Facing audience burnout on livestream concerts, artists will start relying heavily on pet tricks, kid tricks, and striptease versions of Uncle Pen to generate larger audiences and more online contributions.
  • Capitalizing on the success of True Grass Again, Lorraine Jordan will release True Grass Again Again with special guest Sting.
  • Angry over inadequate streaming royalty rates, a group of bluegrass musicians will kidnap the CEO of Spotify and lock him in a room for 10 days with the ghost of Raymond Fairchild.
  • As idle bluegrass artists have been changing strings so seldom, 2021 will see the rise of different kinds of endorsement deals, including yeast, beer, and sleepwear.
  • The Black Mountain pick company, after successfully marketing the thumb pick/flat pick combination, will introduce the combination tuner/COVID-19 tester.
  • To contrast as much as possible with the 2020 IBMA Virtual World of Bluegrass, the 2021 event will be held in the smallest venues possible in Raleigh with crowds sandwiched in until the maximum allowed by the fire marshall is reached. The awards show will be held at The Pour House. There will be lots of sweaty handshaking.
  • The new scaled back house concert approach during the height of the pandemic will continue thru 2021, owing to its popularity with artists and hosts: no more than three guests are permitted to attend. Each guest pays $500 and brings food.
  • Bluegrass artists will sell more eggs than CDs at the merchandise table next year.