Young Writer's Learning Experience at the 2011 Milan Bluegrass Festival
Okay, I'm not going to sit here and lie to you all and say that I'm a big fan of bluegrass music. I'm not. (For reference, if I was writing this to a group of my friends its very possible I wouldn't say "lie" in the previous sentence, but instead say "front." Sorry.) But I also don't dislike bluegrass music. Its influences can be seen in some of the music I listen to in the terms of prevalent vocal harmonies and finger-picked acoustic guitar. See: Fleet Foxes, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Plus, I really like "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" That's a really great movie! And that was my first real experience with bluegrass, and some of those songs were really good! But as a I sat and walked around KC Campground on Saturday at the festival, there was something there that to an uninitiated observer hit me more than the music: the atmosphere and the people. I got a chance to talk with one of the bands that performed on Saturday, HeartTown, and they talked a lot about precisely that: the crowd at the Milan Bluegrass Festival is a group of people who love and really know their bluegrass. I've been to shows where there's people there who really care about the band, or at least appreciate their style of music, and then there are people there posturing or just trying to look cool. (I feel like the moral of this post is: Kevin is still kind of young.) For the record, at shows I'm usually near the front shouting along with all of the lyrics, so obviously not one of the people trying to "look cool."
But there was certainly nobody at the Festival who wasn't there to enjoy a long day (or weekend) of bluegrass music. Even when i asked people what acts they liked the best, no one could pick one. "I like them all," was a very common response. "We see these guys basically every week," said Tim Laughlin of HeartTown. "Bluegrass is like a traveling carnival, and we're the carnies," said HeartTown's Darren Beachley.