There's something about listening to the sound of a harmonica that makes me feel so...American. One of my favorite Counting Crows songs "Mercury" features a slow, bluesy harmonica, and it reminds me of driving down a dusty road with the top down and wind blowing through my hair. (ok, so that's actually never happened to me in real life, but it makes for a good 'pretend' memory.)
Last weekend my friend Tiffany and I went to the Bluegrass on the Harpeth festival in downtown Franklin. On our way into town we stopped to get BBQ sandwiches on the side of the road, which just so happens to be the best place to buy a BBQ sandwich. A man with a trailer named Moe Better BBQ was smoking all kids of delicious meats in a big black barrell grill. Tiffany and I got free samples and settled on smoked ham sandwiches. OooooWeeee they were yummy. Just as messy as they were delicious, too. After sandwiches, it was down to the square to listen to fiddles, banjos and you guessed it -- harmonicas. This one particular man that played was a world-class harmonica player, winning something like 9 world championships. I've never heard anything like it in my life. I sure wish I could remember his name so I could at least point you to his website (assuming he has one). For now, we're left with referring to him as Old Hippie Harmonica Man..and WOW he was good! We were standing there in the street with our jaws hanging open, and I know for a fact this man would lay John Popper to rest. So, we were grooving to his awesome harmonica playing and I was loving every second of it. Usually I'm more into the banjos (for obvious reasons), but I think this year the harmonica trumped my finger-pickin' friends.
The very next day following the festival, I was in my car perusing the radio stations and I stopped on Mix 92.9. There's nothing wrong with light rock favorites, right? Unfortunately, what I heard made my ears want to bleed. It was a harmonica...but this time it was terrible. Have you ever heard Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?" That, my friends, is the kind of harmonica playing that Just. Shouldn't. Happen. Ever!!! eww.
Anyway, I really enjoy the bluegrass festival, but I wish it were -- well....just better. The festival has been going on for close to 20 years now, yet, the crowd is still small compared to what it could be. Growing up listening to bluegrass and hearing my dad play banjo gave me a great appreciation for this genre. And for the past 5 or even 10 years now, bluegrass has been growing in popularity. So why does no one come to this festival? It could be great...it could be huge! And there's nothing like gathering in the town square with your fellow friends and neighbors to listen to some good music. People live for that kind of stuff, right?....especially people with kids, and especially Franklinites (and Nashvillians who wish they were Franklinites, like me.)
I'm thinking about making it my business to better this bluegrass festival in the future. Stay tuned...and at least try to join me next year.