I never tire of going to Floyd’s Friday Night Jamboree and hope I never do. While the town’s expanded music venue offers something for just about every musical taste, the Jamboree is — and should be — the area’s heart and soul. This is bluegrass country and bluegrass is what you get at the Jamboree.
Yet bluegrass, for all its tradition and roots, is changing — adding more and more contemporary tunes to the mix. Go to a bluegrass concert and you may hear music from The Who, The Beatles and even Simon and Garfunkel. At Whiskers Roadhouse Saturday night, Upland Express came out with a countryfied version of “For What Its Worth,” the Buffalo Springfield 60s protest song. Driving home from Friday night’s Jamboree, I listened to the bluegrass channel on XM radio and heard “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” complete with fiddle and banjo.
Some bemoan the introduction of contemporary tunes into bluegrass and I’ll admit the first time I heard The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” turned into a bluegrass tune it was unsettling but I got over it and just enjoyed the music. Legendary fiddleman Vassar Clements has a great album of the Grateful Dead’s music done bluegrass style. It’s not so much the title or the source of the music that’s important — it’s the music itself and the musicians who play it so well.
Walk Locust Street on a Friday night and you understand. You find some of the best musicians around playing great music for free on the sidewalks, playing simply because they love it and providing pure enjoyment not only for themselves but for those who flock to Floyd every weekend.
It’s all about the music.