The Difference in (Bluegrass) Men and Women

        Oh it’s not much really.  Bluegrass people are all the same.  I’ve played a lot of music with guys in my life.  Even the local pickers are serious about what they do, and most of them are excellent players.  I’ve noticed all lot of guys are competitive and driven.  If you miss a break they’ll scowl and say, ‘Study your instrument.”  Some of them chew tobacco, they might be late for practice ’cause they watched Monday Night Football, and they don’t smell all that good.

       The women are just as good a players.  If you don’t believe me go see my banjo buddies Kristin Scott Benson (the Grascals) or Alison Brown (The Alison Brown Quartet) play.  Both are tough banjo players and seasoned professionals.  They can pick as well as any man alive, as their IBMA award wins attest.  Still, no one could question they are feminine.  One is brunette, one is blond; both are petite women who look like they stepped out of your high school annual.  (Also both are long since spoke for guys.)

        But, playing music with women is different.  I had a gig with my wife’s band not long ago.  (She’s a fine bass player)  It’s not often in my usual picking circle anyone brings up what soap they have switched to, and I don’t recall the last time any of my guys commented on the quality of the center piece at the table.  Instead of ribs the chow was low-fat stir fry.  There was no beer though a small glass of white wine was optional.  I’m sure my banjo man never said any dessert was “to die for” no matter how good it was.

        If you miss a break somehow one of the ladies takes ownership of it and blames herself.  I was amazed by that, and said, “No ma’am.  I just missed my intro.  It ain’t your fault.”  Seems like they work harder to build consensus, and I’ve never done as many sing-alongs as I do with them.

        When it comes time to load up the sound equipment they are more than willing to help, but you feel like you ought to lift the speakers for them. (even though in reality they are younger and likely stronger than me at this point in my life)

        The biggest difference of all though is that this is the only band I’ve been in where I get to kiss the bass player good-night when I get home from the show.

        I don’t care if we get paid much or not; this is a good gig .

Dr. B

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11 Comments on “The Difference in (Bluegrass) Men and Women”

  1. newt221 Says:

    Dr. B.
    I have a friend who says that women make men more civilized. He says it a little differently though. He says if it weren’t for women, men would still be living in caves and wearing animal skins.

    We still haven’t completely civilized them though. I kinda like them that way. Seems if you tame them all the way, they lose that “spark” that is interesting!

    • drtombibey Says:

      Cindy,

      You touch on the secret, at least for me and my wife. She lets me be a little boy who can play all he wants as long as I am true to her.

      I love many mandolins but only one woman and it suits my style. The formula has worked great for many years now.

      Dr. B

  2. Simpkins Says:

    Dr. B,

    Thats just A truthfully awesome post. Thumb up !!!

    • drtombibey Says:

      Simpkins,

      You are a fine man and a great bass player; just not a kissable one. (I’m sure your wife sees it different)

      Dr. B

  3. danny fulks Says:

    Doc, you struck the chord of a writer when you used the phrase “spoke for.” That’s the way to write, what folks understand. Kristin told me, when talking about Wayne, her husband, she had become “sweet on” him. These parts of language that are organic will come out when we’re not guarded in speech. If fact, I think if you wrote a piece for the New England Journal and used vernacular the editor would look twice, think, “Where the hell’d this come from.? I’m going to pass this around the office.”

    • drtombibey Says:

      Danny,

      My agent has me at work on articles for some pretty high falluting magazines. They never know quite what to make of this old country doc or the bluegrass music he loves so much, but they always seem want to read more.

      Dr. B


  4. Aw, Dr. B, you’re an old-fashioned boy. I bet anything your Marfar tells you not to lift the speakers and that she and her girls smile at you indulgently when you insist on being the gentleman! I do hope that you manage to enjoy eating desserts with them, even if you don’t sigh over them like they do. It’s good to know you appreciate womankind, Dr. B! ‘Course, I wouldn’t expect anything different from a good soul like you.

    • drtombibey Says:

      You are so right, slightly. With that smile she has, I’d carry the girl’s books (or bass) to school any day.

      Dr. B

  5. TC Conner Says:

    If ever a female fingerpicker finds favor with us, I’d seriously consider doin it full time!

  6. TC Conner Says:

    (You have an agent??)

    • drtombibey Says:

      TC,

      There are a lot of good women players out there. (I married a bass player)

      Yeah, but my poor old agent is long suffering. His royalties from my work aren’t much to write home about.

      Dr. B


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