After reading Robert Owen Gardner’s The Portable Community: Mobility and Modernization in Bluegrass Festival Life I have learned a lot about how Bluegrass festivals display a sense of community formed of an unlikely mix. In his article, Gardner discussed the meaning of community and how that is reflected in the Bluegrass festival scene. Community is a very vague term. For some, community is a neighborhood or the small town they live in. For others, community is a group bonded by a similar characteristic or interest. Gardner showed a bias towards the idea of Gemeinshaft relations. Gemeinshaft is a German term meaning a “communal grouping of individuals defined in opposition to self-serving individualism”. I think this term is appropriate when discussing Bluegrass festivals, or even music festivals in general. If you’ve ever been to a Bluegrass music festival, you know that there is a diverse variety of people ranging from the “long-haired hippie” type to a more conservative-looking people.
Bluegrass music festivals are composed of many different types of people; all kinds of kinds! This is a great representation of Gardner’s “portable community” idea. These festivals create a space for people to embrace their individualism while also connecting with others who share their love for this music. Although not geographically rooted, this community can call itself such because it is a network revolving around a culture of bluegrass. Festivals present an opportunity for this unconventional community to come together, united through a love for music and culture.
^Above is a website listing some of the many upcoming bluegrass music festivals
Robert Owen Gardner’s “The Portable Community: Mobility and Modernization in Bluegrass Festival Life”