Update on the electric bass follies at Galax

No electric bass in Galax campground?Here’s an update on story about the electric bass ban in the campground at Galax which we posted yesterday.

Officials at the 2009 Old Fiddler’s Convention shut down jams on Monday night which included an electric bass (and amplifier) in response to some campers’ complaints. Electric bass has never been allowed in the band competitions, but we had not heard of them being banned in the campground before this week.

Tracy Burcham, who first alerted us to the incidents on Monday  contacted us again today with some further information about the situation, one which caused great consternation amongst a number of participants this past two days.

Yesterday evening, a prominent member of the Moose Lodge graciously visited our campsite to discuss the matter. He was very understanding and helpful. He expressed regret about the way the situation had been handled. He also asked for us to understand and respect the position of the patrons who complained. He advised us to continue to do as we had been doing, but to be conscious of the volume at all times, and that we should be aware to tone it down even further during the late-night sessions. In the end, we all agreed that we would work with each other in such a way to maintain the spirit of the event for all.

I still don’t know what the future holds in regard to amplifiers. I guess we’ll have to wait and read the rules when they are published for the 2010 Convention. My hope is that nothing will change and this time-honored event will continue to be strongly attended by all musicians, who, by the way, comprise the very reason that there is such an event at all.

On behalf of all bluegrass bass players who choose to use an amplifier, thanks to Bluegrass Today for publishing the story, and to the many friends who immediately stepped up to show support for us during this mini-ordeal

Letters in support of continuing to allow the use of amplifiers at campsites in the park can be sent to:

Old Fiddler’s Convention
P.O. Box 655
Galax, VA 24333

It sounds as though cooler heads have prevailed. In truth, an acoustic band with an electric bass isn’t really notably louder than one with an upright, and some of the large old time jams can include dozens of players sawing away in a group. Besides, who goes to Galax to sleep?

Tracy especially wanted to make that everyone understands that his motive in bringing these incidents to light were based on his deep love for The Old Fiddlers Convention and the people who attend and camp in Felts Park each year.

“I think it is important to note that my primary purpose in bringing the incident to public attention was not an attempt to demean any person, event, or organization. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite is true. My intent was to bring realization to the Moose Lodge that future attendance at this event would would be greatly reduced if amplifiers were to ever be completely banned from campsites.This event is too precious to me (and many, many other bass players who use amps) in many ways, and I would hate to see it dissolve due to a lack of musician participation.”

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.