Bluegrass Festivals/Conventions

It's Time!

Yes, folks, it's time.

I have been attending Bluegrass festivals/conventions (BFC), whatever you want to call them, since the year 2000 and I've reached the end of my tether. I'm not enjoying them and my stress level has increased after attending them. So it's time to disconnect I'm sad to say.

I have used these BFC's as a resource to become proficient on the Dobro, as this is the only place where you can see/hear Dobro players up close and even speak to them. BFC's usually have a Dobro workshop and I attend them whenever I can.

There is a goal to my endeavors, a project: Learn to play Dobro!

Ever since I was introduced to the sound of the Dobro, as played by Jerry Douglas, by a lead singer I used to perform with, I have become entranced by the sound. What a wonderful, pure sound.

I found the going hard, but persisted in gleaning anything I could from any source. I can remember forcing myself forward by busking at Yarragon for a number of years. Try and learn new songs, try and improve, after all, I am performing in public.

There was a clash however, I will never, ever, be able to play Bluegrass! I just can't play as fast as Bluegrass demands. My fingers just won't play at the required speed. Sure I learned Old Timey stuff which was slower, but that didn't seem enough. I don't have an encyclopedic memory of all of Bill Monroe's, the Stanley Brothers or any of the pioneers of Bluegrass. It wasn't my goal, I just wanted to play Dobro.
Jerry Douglas still inspires me with his music. Sure Jerry can play Bluegrass, BUT, he also plays a vast amount of NON-BLUEGRASS songs and that is what Jerry and I share: Not to be locked into a genre of music, but, just to play music with no restriction.

This has become a huge obstacle to me. Very few people think this way, it's one genre or non.

It's a standard joke that there are genre police enforcing the festivals hallmark. It's not restricted to Bluegrass, Blues have their own police.

Well these genre police have proved to 'rub me up' the wrong way for too long.

I'm the first to admit I don't/can't play Bluegrass, remember, all I wanted to do was to learn Dobro, that was my project, the festival/convention workshops where the means to my aim.

These last six months I have made a concerted effort to attend these festivals: Great Alpine Pick, Redlands and Beechworth and have been 'caught' by the genre police one time too many. In the end they make me feel most unwelcome by publicly drawing to everyone's attention that I'm NOT playing Bluegrass and it will not be tolerated.


One of the the organisers at GAP ridiculed me in front of a lot of people. One member of a band at Beechworth just played over me as I was performing a song because he deemed I wasn't doing the right thing.

OK. You win. The genre police have done their job to a 'T'. I have had enough and will not participate in any more festivals, it's just not good for my health and I really don't enjoy being picked out for ridicule.

I have tried to cope with this behaviour and to enjoy the comrade of other musicians and festival supporters. They have made me feel most welcome and it is a joy to catch up with them festival to festival. But, the relentless nature of the genre police has put a halt to that.

My project is now complete! I now play the Dobro to a relatively good standard, that was my primary aim. From a musical perspective I have achieved my aims.

I am sad not to catch up again with the many people that made me feel welcome, but, I just can't cope with the exclusiveness of the genre police and their arrogant, hypocritical, superior manner.

I may drop in from time to time as a non paying visitor, but I will never bring an instrument or attempt to perform in any manner.

My project is over!

Congratulations genre police.