Bluegrass Youth Movement
Last night I was invited to a jam session. Marfar played some bass, and Moose Dooley picked the banjo. A few of the old timers were there. Wild Bill, whose straggly locks and tobacco stained snaggles once earned him a cover shoot with Pet Care magazine, sat in the corner, nursed a Mason Jar and stoked the fire. Every so often he’d rouse up and yell “play something peppy,” especially after the breakdowns.
Wild Bill looks the part, but he has an unexpected soft touch. The man can be half drunk (a perpetual state) and pick up a baby off the sidewalk with a front-end loader and not get a scratch on the child.
The night belonged to the young’uns though. Put the rumor to rest; bluegrass ain’t just for old people. There were boys in football jerseys and young girl friends with shy smiles and perfect teeth. The boy next to me played mandolin. He recognized me from some of our shows, and from years of hanging around jam sessions.
“Good to see you, Doc. Y’all still picking?”
“Yeah, we get out some.”
“Your boy doing good?”
I checked out his mandolin. It was a nice piece, but the action was a little high. I handed him mine. “Try out this one. I had it set up by a guy in Asheville named Randy Hughes.”
He struck a few licks. “Dang, Doc. This is butter.”
“Play it a while.”
They were all coming right along. Most of them were high school kids, part of the Darin Aldridge farm team. I’ve seen them around for years, but all of sudden they have learned to play. Darin deserves a lot of credit; I think he musically half-raised most of them.
At one point, the bass player took a rest. I played it for a while, but for my forearms the bass is akin to wrestling with a weedeater. The mandolin player in the football jersey handed my Gibson back to me.
“I like hearing you play the mandolin, Doc. Let me tug on that bass a while.” What a nice kid; it was a polite way to say Doc ain’t much on the bass.
I used to stay up until the last one went home, but as I get older, I need to turn into a Doc at midnight and get some rest. (At least on the week-nights) If I don’t it just isn’t fair to my patients.
“Guys, y’all are doing great. Lord, Audie, I had no idea you could sing like that.”
“Thanks Doc. I’m trying.”
“You keep working on a building, son. You’re making me proud.” I put my mandolin in the case. “Y’all take care.”
“Yes sir. Come back. You rock Doc.”
I’m gonna do it. Anywhere the kids are still kind (and smart) enough to say old Doc rocks is good by me.