Usually at the end of the year, or sometimes at the beginning of the year, or now and then in the middle somewhere, I provide a summary of the year’s least interesting stories in the world of bluegrass music. It turns out that I missed the whole year of 2018, and you might be thinking it’s because there weren’t enough yawn-worthy events in that year to bother to write about, but not so. 2018 was just as full of unimportant happenings and stories written about said happenings; I just simply forgot to write a column about them.
To try to make up ground, then, here are the Top 5 Boring Stories of 2018 and most of 2019. As has been the tradition in years past, when I remember to do it, these stories will be listed below by boring category:
The unspectacular instrument find:
Man Finds 1975 Martin D-28 at Yard Sale
Ernest Crabb of Knox, Indiana picked up a guitar he never expected to find at a local yard sale, walking away with a 1975 Martin D-28 guitar for a mere $3,300. “I was just looking for furniture for my daughter, who’s moving out of the house this year,” said Crabb. “I know the mid-70s wasn’t a great period for D-28s, but it’s still a Martin, and I managed to talk the owner down from $3,500. And that’s with the case included.” The moral of the story is, always keep your eye out for vintage instruments; you never know where thy’ll turn up. “It’s in pretty decent shape, or it will be after a neck reset,” added Crabb.
The medical procedures of the bluegrass stars, part 87:
Bluegrass Entertainer Scheduled For X-Ray
Charlie Schinkenheiss of the band Lonesome Beach is having his shoulder looked at two weeks from this coming Thursday. He’s been complaining of shoulder problems over the past year. “It’s almost like there’s a crunching sound in there,” said Schinkenheiss. “The doctor wondered about my rotator cuff, and I said I thought only major league pitchers had those. Ha ha!” The pain is only occasional and Charlie said it hasn’t affected his playing yet. The X-ray appointment won’t interfere with any of Lonesome Beach’s shows. Their next appearance is scheduled for December 1st.
The non-break-up of a band you’ve never heard of:
Blue Pajamas On Hiatus
The Minnesota quintet Blue Pajamas has decided to suspend active touring after the coming season. “We’ll be playing all of our dates thru 2020 and some we have booked for 2021,” said bandleader Tanya Sunderlin. “We’re also going into the studio next month. This decision won’t affect those recording plans at all.” Blue Pajamas was first formed in late 2017. Longtime banjo player Danny Flood explained: “we’ve loved playing music together but have decided to go in different directions creatively. That just happens sometimes. There are no hard feelings at all, and we’re looking forward to our upcoming shows. Anyone interested in booking Blue Pajamas for 2020 can get in touch with our agency. That’s me, actually.” Tanya adds that she has an active real estate business, too. Anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the area can find Tanya thru the band’s website bluegrasspajamas.net “We’ll definitely miss playing together,” Sunderlin said. “It’s been a good ride.”
The old and obvious economic trend:
Bluegrass Artists’ Sales Down as CD Purchases Decline
Bluegrass artists, who have always relied on live CD sales after their shows, are finding those sales in a recession, as people rely more on digital delivery methods. “People just aren’t buying like they were. That’s led to a noticeable sales drop. Some don’t even have CD players anymore,” lamented Clayton Nummer, the leader of the venerable band Grass Pile. “The last rental car I got didn’t even have one. You’d think if it had one of those back-up cameras, they could stick a CD player in there, too. Honestly, if it wasn’t for hats and drink koozie sales, we’d be in a sorry state,” said Nummer. No reversal of this trend is likely, according to industry experts.
The painfully obvious social trend, #104
People in Bluegrass Music Community Have Political Differences
Whether it’s the advent of social media, the increase in talk radio, or a more divisive political atmosphere in general, fans, musicians, and industry people within the bluegrass world have discovered that not everyone agrees on political issues. “I used to think that bluegrass music united us all, so everybody who likes bluegrass must think the way I do about everything, but it turns out that isn’t true,” said one unnamed bluegrass event producer. “I was shocked.” One bluegrass bandleader said, “I pretty much keep my opinions to myself. Our fiddle player not so much, but then again nobody pays attention to him.”
Bonus Boring Story:
Bluegrass Band Releases New Moonshiner Song
Diane Norton & Rambling Estates have released a new song called I’ll Keep On Making Shine. Written by band members, the song is about someone’s grandpa who makes moonshine. “The law keeps chasing him, but he manages to keep making moonshine anyway,” explains Diane. “I guess that’s the little twist in the story.” The new single drops Friday.