Great Alpine Pick - 2013

I needed a break and this event is just what I needed, a weekend away with good music, great players, great patrons, held in the lovely little town of Harrietville at the foot of the North side of the Great Dividing Range.

I booked my accommodation and paid entry fee and I was off, well nearly, there was the matter of a clash of dates on the Friday. Let me explain. Every second Friday I man the mixer and play bass at the 'Our Kinda Country' club event at Morwell. The convention starts Friday night. What to do. I judged it more important to do the 'Our Kinda Country ' event and then head off to GAP. This involved me to do the club event, go home, unpack my gear, reload with the different gear and then drive all night to get to Harrietville in time for the Saturday morning workshops. I made it without having to stop for a rest and arrived at 5:30 am. My room won't be ready until 2:00 pm, so I parked in the Harrietville Motel car park and tried to get some sleep as it was still dark. As much as I think my Honda Jazz is a great little car it really does fail in the comfort stakes when you drop the seat back and have to cope with those stiff surfaces, most unforgiving.

I managed to get a few hours sleep before driving back to Bright for some breakfast and buy some bread, etc so I could have breakfast in my room, much more civilised.

GAP Mission Statement

The Great Alpine Pick is a Convention to be held annually in the Victorian Alpine town of Harrietville during the autumn months. It aims to invite Bluegrass and Old Timey Music artists and enthusiasts to come down to enjoy a great series of concerts and workshops and partake in many of the jam sessions that are bound to happen and have a ‘Great Alpine Pick’

The Workshops

Saturday morning the workshops were:

Sunday morning the workshops were:

Saturday morning started off a little awkwardly as the appointed teachers failed to show up and we were left to our own devices to have the workshop. That was all good fun as there was a lot of sharing ideas going on. Leonard Cohen took the Dobro workshop and that went off without a hitch.

Sunday morning I spent a happy(?) half an hour looking for the church. I checked every road and finally gave up and parked at the petrol station and there in all it's glory was the church adjacent to the station. There is a huge oak tree which obscures the visibility of the church from the road.
As usual the Gospel singing was conducted by the members of 'Old South', with little groups scattered amongst the church grounds learning their parts. I was quickly appropriated by one of these groups and learnt a tenor part. After about ten minutes we all went into the church and sang our parts. Sounded wonderful. I was sitting in the second pew from the front and was literally hit in the back of the head by some unanticipated harmony lines. Well done.


Had a sandwich lunch made at the petrol station. For some reason the owners hadn't planned for the weekend and rostered extra staff and were run off their feet. They were starting to get a bit grumpy responding with "Can't you see I'm busy?" to customer requests. No one was in a hurry except for the owners.

I had dinner at the motel I was staying in and they were very good.


I attended parts of the concerts when I couldn't find a pick happening elsewhere.

I found the sound most agreeable, you could hear just about everyone and the tone was very natural.


Whenever I could I would try and find a 'pick' and join in. To me that's the best part of the weekend. Just relaxing, playing and singing songs in gin good company. I had an interesting pick at the Pub where the song selection was decidedly non-bluegrass but we sang up a storm.

"Bluegrass Police"

At all of these events, there are some people who take it upon themselves to protect the purity of the convention and behave in a most unfriendly manner if a perceived breach is detected. I don't pretend to know a lot of the Bluegrass repertoire and mainly know the Old Timey material. I find that after a full weekend some of the patrons are just bluegrassed out and want to hear something different, that's where I come in. I managed to sail under the radar of the police until I was busted for a breach in the final minutes of Sunday night.
Let me explain. I was at a pick that comprised about twenty people around a very large table in block one of the Mountain View Retreat. I just played along with whatever was being played until there was a lull in proceedings and the next song just wasn't happening, so I took the opportunity to play a song that wasn't a Bluegrass song, but did involve everyone at the pick. That's when I was busted. Events went something like this and featured me and the policeman:

It is at this point that his rudeness in not participating is just a little too obvious, so I stop and pack up. I don't need to be subjected to this sort of behaviour.

Ever since I first met the policeman a decade ago, he has always displayed a superior behaviour and was not inclusive. He is a very experienced player and just keeps unimportant people (from his point of view) at a distance.

It is at this point that I would like to introduce the word hypocrite, whose definition is:

  1. a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
  2. a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

I don't use the application of this word to the policeman lightly, but an observed behaviour. In the Sunday afternoon blackboard concert, the policeman, with an accomplice, performed a piece of Bach if I'm not mistaken. Performed in a most professional manner, but is it Bluegrass? And at an official event, I think not. Why, I ask, is he exempt from his own rules? Most likely because he can. Enough said.


Most enjoyable weekend, glad I made the effort to attend. I'll be back!