Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happiness is...a banjo festival.

That's right.  A banjo festival!

Ever since I got here I've been hearing great things about The Birchmere venue. It's small and intimate and they specialize in up and coming artists. I've been on the lookout for the perfect performance for months now and between Sunday performances and prior commitments I just haven't found anything that worked. But when I saw they were hosting a banjo festival I jumped right on it.

I'm a hillbilly at heart. I'm a sucker for a banjo and a good fiddle can make me weak in the knees. Put them together and I'm a goner. While the entertainment of the evening focused primarily on the banjo (with some information on the history and evolution of the instrument and the music) there were a few fiddles and basses and some drums and a washboard...good stuff!

Did you know there is such a thing as a bass banjo? It stands like a regular upright bass. How about a banjo ukulele? It's tiny!

I dragged my friend 'K' along with me and we basked in the enormous talents of Buddy Wachter and Bruce Molsky, two veterans of the banjo/bluegrass scene. They were amazing. They played everything from classic Appalachian tunes to Gershwin to Brahms. There was also a great band from Richmond called The Hot Seats.  Take a listen.
They weren't nearly as hirsute tonight when I saw them, but wow! I'm not sure how you can do anything but stomp your feet and feel fantastic when you listen to stuff like that.

What music do you listen to when you want to step completely out of yourself? What takes you to a higher plane and makes you forget about everything but the sounds seeping into your soul? Do you play an instrument or are you mostly a listener? What's your fallback favorite, the genre that is constantly playing on the soundtrack of your life?

I love this quote from the enormously talented Billy Joel:
I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music.
And this from Plato:
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. 
Take some time this week to truly listen to some music. Pay conscientious attention to it don't just have it playing on continuous loop as background noise. Soak up each note and be healed. Breathe in the rhythms and take flight.

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