Through the discussion around festivals and the bigger scope of the bluegrass community, I have been thoroughly entertained hearing stories of community from other classmates. This aspect in itself is one of the reasons I enjoy Tech. The university has such far reaching boundaries that you can hear such different stories. The film, Bluegrass Country Soul was a documentary concerning a festival in the early 1970s in Camp Springs, NC. The comradery present at the festival in the film was awesome. People were jamming together that were a couple generations apart, geographically people were from all over the east coast and audibly there was just about any type of pickin’ you could imagine. The conversation then led to Robert Gardner’s journal article, “The Portable Community.” Gardner’s article was something new for myself. I had never read a peer-reviewed scholarly journal article about bluegrass. Continuing, the theme of the article was concerned with the idea of a community, specifically why people either purposefully or accidentally join a community. Getting away from the traditional community definition being a neighborhood that waves as you pass one another on the street, Gardner really looks into a community being associative. I have included below a few pictures from Anna’s Restaurant in Narrows, Virginia. Every Thursday a small group from the area gets together and jams. It is a very intimate setting with a cozy atmosphere and tons of “southern” cooking. A strong community even these people were from all over the New River Valley.
Separately thinking, I quickly became infatuated with this idea of community. The thought that no matter where you are, there will be someone in which you can easily associate with made me consider the roots of communities. Why do these groupings of people, often so different, come together for one event/thing? What causes people to remove themselves from the daily rut of life to go camp with people they have never met?
To me, the root behind communities is the human need for affiliation. This idea that everyone needs some type of relationship, and that it is physically impossible to keep to yourself is something I first heard in a course on Public Administration. David McClelland was the first scholar that really coined the idea that as a human some types of relationships are mandatory. He really focused around that if we join together then each person will feel this great sense of accountability to others and attainment. Connecting McClelland’s theories to bluegrass is not far reached.
When considering the festival crowd in a region, these people rarely see each other if ever. Yet, this scene fulfills something in itself. Moving away from the norm of relationships such as: work, school, neighborhood or marital, the bluegrass community functions differently. Conversation, something that is becoming a lost art with time, is very prevalent in this community. People care and want to communicate what is going on in your life. A personal experience of this comes from some of my late Great-Grandfather’s friends. Although I was just a child, these older gentlemen seemed concerned about my life. Even though I would rarely see them and could only sometimes remember names with faces, they would often ask about how baseball was going for myself as they picked on a back porch.
When linking bluegrass to community, I believe the uniqueness is the overarching factor. People want something that is different from every day, and bluegrass festivals, in particular, benefit from not being something that occurs often. These are weekends people use to get away from the rut of every day life. Plus the overall genuineness of people linked to bluegrass play an influence as well.