It’s time once again for our annual feature, The Most Boring Stories in Bluegrass. It’s a look back at the most uninteresting developments in our industry in the past year. This is published every year on whatever day I get around to it, but the first day of Lent seems as good as any other. Think of it as a time of fasting, a time to shun the interesting and stimulating bluegrass story. I present below, the bluegrass equivalent of unleavened bread and water:
The Medical Story That Wasn’t – What’s less interesting than reading about the minor medical procedures of bluegrass musicians? Answer: stories about minor medical procedures that didn’t actually happen, like this one:
Jerry McNulty Doesn’t Require Dental Surgery
Jerry McNulty, long time lead singer and front man for Oozing Creek has announced to his relieved fans, family, and friends, that he will not require oral surgery for a cracked tooth, as originally feared and reported last week.
Jerry’s dentist, who asked not to be identified, explained that what had appeared to be a cracked bicuspid, turned out, after closer examination and x-rays, to be merely a tea stain in the shape of a crack.
“That’s a great load off my mind. I’m not a fan of dental surgery, and this was going to force me to cancel our regular Thursday night show at Garcia’s Irish Pizzeria.”
The Predictable Prediction – The story that discusses trends in our music that we had already assumed were common knowledge:
Band Personnel Changes Likely in 2016
Bluegrass historian and archivist Peter Van Kip (now self-employed, and living in a place no one’s heard of) believes that the trend towards sidemen leaving their employers to form new bands, or going to work for new employers, will continue in the coming year: “We started to see this phenomenon in our music in the late 1940s, with the departure of Flatt & Scruggs from Bill Monroe’s band,” said Van Kip. The evidence all points to a continuation of this trend. Musicians at some point seek other positions, whether it’s a quest for greater pay, or sometimes greater independence. The reasons can vary.” Van Kip adds that some musicians are likely to stay in their current positions, too. “Some bluegrass musicians are perfectly content where they are, as Kenny Baker was for so many years with Monroe, and and we expect a number of them to make no changes at all in 2016.”
The Uninteresting Human Interest Story – When the relatively ordinary becomes news:
Woman Lives For Three Straight Days on Festival Food:
Katrina Carpenter, of Bellefonte, PA, attended a three-day bluegrass festival and ate only what the food vendors there had to offer. “Some people bring coolers full of their own food, but I just can’t be bothered. A lot of that stuff starts to smell kind of iffy by the third day anyway.” Ms. Carpenter reportedly suffered no ill effects, and she had positive words for the vendors: “The barbequed chicken was really pretty good, and at $6.00 for a plate with two side items, it was a good deal. I think I had some all three days. Thumbs up on the corn dogs and funnel cakes, too!” One festival food vendor returned the compliment: “Ms. Carpenter was a courteous customer, didn’t ask for any exotic condiments, and she paid in small bills. We wish we had more like her.” Carpenter is planning to do exactly the same thing next year.
Man Cuts Finger While Changing Strings
Chester Spurlock of Vine Landing, Florida, accidentally lanced the ring finger of his right hand while changing guitar strings. “You have to watch out for those things” said Spurlock. “I was trying to thread it through the hole, and ‘zap!’ it got me! It reminded me of the finger-prick when they draw blood at the doctor’s office. It hurt that much!” The semi-professional guitar player of 22 years washed the injured finger with soap and water, and applied an ordinary band-aid he had found in the family medicine cabinet. Spurlock, undeterred by the painful experience, vowed to continue to change strings periodically. “They just sound brighter to me when I put the new ones on. It’s worth the risk, in my opinion.”
The Bluegrass Non-Retirement – This has become a specialty in our business that would make Garth Brooks and Michael Jordan proud. It’s the dramatic announcement of someone’s temporary retirement, maybe:
Horace Jackson Announces Final Tour
In news that is sure to sadden the many fans of Horace Jackson and Lonesome Tent, the long and storied career of Horace Jackson will end its active phase with his last tour, announced by his manager Pete “Dash” Whittaker. “It’s the end of an era for one of the greats,” said Whittaker. The 35-year bluegrass veteran Jackson said, “well, it’s been a good run, but all good things must come to an end, I guess.” When asked if he was closing the door to a return to active playing in the future, Horace said, “Oh I don’t know. I’ve loved it all my life, so if I get calls to go play some shows, it might be hard to turn them down. We’ll see. Just check my web site.” Jackson’s final tour will wrap up two years from next January.