So ever since I heard “Country Boy” by Ricky Skaggs when I was just a kid, I’ve loved Bluegrass. My dad loved to listen to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights, even though it came through sounding scratchy and so far away on his old radio. He loved Bill Monroe and I remember sitting with him as we listened, watching his foot tap along to the beat.
I just love Bluegrass. It speaks to me. Maybe it’s genetic memory. I am, after all, descended from mountain folk; my maternal ancestors settled in Appalachia when they came to America. Bluegrass was the music of their people and time. And frankly, a violin never sounds better than it does when it’s used for fiddlin’!
Tonight, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a Bluegrass concert here in Indianapolis. And making it even more grand was the fact that I’ve been a fan of the star of the show since I was a kid, but through a very different medium: movies. You see, tonight I got to see Steve Martin bring his banjo to life. He played alongside Bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers, and folk singer Edie Beckell was along for the joyous, beautiful ride, as well.
There is no such thing as a bad seat in the Murat Theater, and that was never more obvious than tonight, when I was near the top of the balcony. Still, I could see everything and was simply swept away. Steve Martin is, first and foremost, a comedian. He had the entire audience laughing until we cried, and then when we were primed and ready, the music would carry us to an even higher place. Steve is phenomenal on the banjo – a true professional. I was in awe. And before tonight, I wasn’t familiar with Steep Canyon Rangers or Edie Beckell but, trust me, I’m a fan now!
There is so much power in music. I love being part of a crowd, all of us captive as the notes climb and swell around us. And Bluegrass is a real romp. There’s nothing depressing and lonely about Bluegrass. The banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and bass blend so beautifully, yet each are so distinct, that it transports me straight to another time and place. I feel the thick, humid mountain air, the chirping of the birds, and the smell of woodsmoke coming from the chimney of an old log cabin. Bluegrass is not only music; it’s history, too, and that’s one of the reasons that it’s so special.