Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I love traditional music.

Traditional music has pretty much been my life for the last 20 years or so. It's as much a surprise to me as anyone, since I had grand plans to be a rock star (hahahaha). And while I still love plenty of contemporary music, it's these old songs & tunes from before electronics that really have my heart.

Traditional music is honest. It's usually built around one voice or one instrument to tell the story or convey the melody. It's naked. It's not hiding anything. It's the product of several generations sharing music and passing it down so it won't drown mercilessly in a sea of autotuned, overproduced drivel.

When you get a group of musicians together, it's spontaneous. Anything can happen, and it often does. I've seen it. I've been part of it. And let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing in the world I would trade for that experience. All the full orchestration and five-part harmony in the world can't capture what happens at a pub session or around a campfire or in someone's living room. It doesn't need elaborate stage sets or fussy costumes. It doesn't need pyrotechnics. It doesn't need anything but people who love to play, and people who love to listen.

A friend once described traditional music as an unbroken thread reaching back to the musicians of the past. I hope to keep spinning that thread until I can't spin anymore, and I hope that along the way, I might inspire someone else to take up spinning as well. I believe in the importance of keeping the music of our ancestors alive, because you can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been. 

Till next time --- honor your traditions.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The drudgery of convenience.

This morning on Facebook, I found myself in a discussion on a neighborhood page. "What new business would you most like to see in our neighborhood?" one member asked. The answers were numerous, with Trader Joe's, Panera, and Starbucks being among the most popular.

Starbucks? Really? I said, "Y'all do realize there are at least two Starbucks in the next neighborhood over, right?" Well, yes, of course, but they're just not "convenient." Seriously? There are people in this country who don't have heat or running water and you can't be arsed to go five miles down the road for a gourmet coffee? When did we start believing that we were entitled to convenience?

Now, believe me when I say I'm just as big on convenience as the next person. I like to conduct my business with a minimum of hassle, as most people do. I hate traffic and I hate crowds. But if I absolutely positively have to get something done, I will find a way to do it, even if it's bloody inconvenient. Them's the breaks, kid. Convenience is a luxury most of us have some access to, at least to some degree, although convenience levels may vary. But that's what it is - a luxury.

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages, before inventions like The Automobile, people were pretty much restricted to the services available in their respective locales. Taking a trip across town with a horse & buggy might take you all day. Not convenient for most applications, but let's say you needed to see the doctor. You'd find the time to make that trip, because it was important. Then Henry Ford came along with his contraption, and people had access to services beyond a five-mile radius.

And now? Now we can go anydamnwhere we want in a minimum amount of time, and somehow, we expect everydamnthing to be in our backyards for the sake of convenience. We in the developed world are accustomed to having goods & services nearby, and now it's just a foregone conclusion that every neighborhood will have at least two major grocery stores, five or six fast-food joints, a couple of sit-down restaurants, and yes, one or two Starbucks.

We're spoiled. We really are. But life is not "convenient." Commuting to work is not "convenient," but I do it, because I like to eat, and I like to buy a pair of cute shoes once in awhile. Practicing the fiddle and going to lessons isn't "convenient" either, but I do that because I love music and I'm devoted to learning everything I can.

My point is, if you really need or want something, you'll forgo the inconvenience of getting it. If you really want it, quit kvetching about it and just go get it. You can figure out a way if it's that important to you. Convenience is not a guarantee. Don't give up on your dreams because they're not "convenient." The good stuff rarely is.

Till next time --- what's worth the inconvenience to you?