Old Fiddlers’ Picnic

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Old fiddlers … young fiddlers … everything in between.  Add a gazillion guitars and banjos, a heap o’ mandolins, a few upright basses and dobros.  Let’em loose within a shaded grove up the hill from the Main Stage.  That’s the Old Fiddlers’ Picnic.  Now in its 89th year, it was old even when my folks were courting teenagers from a nearby mill town.

Aside from the stage, no one is in charge.  No one is there to drink or fight.  There are no genre turf wars.  Just a peaceful gathering of people without anything to prove.  Playing for fun, sharing their gifts, enjoying the company of old friends.

Because Sunday’s Picnic was Saturday’s rain date, several acts cancelled.  Naturally I was roped into performing.  With only Hugh’s mandolin and nothing planned, it was the perfect opportunity to fail spectacularly.  Hugh’s Collings MT2 is *showing its age* (stage whisper).  The frets are getting low, and while she sings a tune better than most, it takes a lot of effort to put her in the mood.

Fortunately I ran into Glenn McNemar of Kennet Square.  Glenn both maintains the local mandolarium while making mandolins full-time, and brought a fresh build with him.  Not six weeks old, proud of fret, soft in demeanor but unconsciously vivacious, his mandolin was the star of my time slot.

Five hours of playing, bug bitten, dehydrated, sore, hungry, I again enjoy one of the finest small music festivals in America.  Just like the one next weekend in a county park near you.

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a related genre of country music. Influenced by the music of Appalachia, bluegrass has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish and English traditional music, and was also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements. – wiki

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