BluegrassSirWalterRaleigh’s “Wide Open Bluegrass Festival,” a two-day celebration built around the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual shindig, is a pot full of stories waiting to happen.

BluegrassSingersEvery bluegrass song tells a story, whether it’s a forlorn tale of star-crossed lovers, a ballad about a murder, or a tune about trains. Even instrumental selections are designed connote feelings about places or times and the stories that go with them.

I don’t typically listen to bluegrass, even the “Pine Cone Bluegrass Hour” on public radio, unless I happen to have some of my old Doc Watson CDs handy. Even so, I enjoy attending “Wide Open Bluegrass” and wandering the streets, even when they’re so crowded that walking is reduced to a shuffle.

BluegrassCommunionWhere else can you find barbeque sauce served up for tastes in communion cups, or encounter musicians jamming on every corner? And where else can you find so many untold stories? BluegrassWheelWhat’s the story behind this ruined and lonesome bicycle wheel, for instance? I’ll bet someone could write a bluegrass song about that.

And what’s the story behind this guy? BluegrassSleeperSome folks say that “IBMA” stands for “I be mostly awake,” since participants in the annual gathering tend to stay up to the wee hours in informal jam sessions.

I’m spending a couple of days this week with several guys whose stories have become important to me. Our long-running “Dead Preachers Society” is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a short retreat. No doubt there will be stories remembered as well as stories told. Stories are like threads that strengthen the warp and weft of friendships, something to celebrate, whether musically or not.

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