Music
1:03 pm
Sat June 23, 2012

Fresh Bluegrass For A Sultry Summer

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 2:20 pm

In many places across the country, summer officially blasted in this week, which means that musicians who've wintered in dark rehearsal studios — and the street players who've been toiling away in cold and damp subway corridors — can now enjoy playing alfresco.

This summer, Weekend Edition is presenting audio postcards from musicians out-of-doors.

This installment comes from a group of bluegrass players who gather every couple of weeks at Lyon Park in Arlington, Va. They're members of the Capitol Area Bluegrass and Old-time Music Association, or CABOMA.

"CABOMA was formed probably 30, 35 years ago by folks in the community who wanted to keep this music alive," says Bruce Day, the group's current president. "Some of these guys are pros, some of them aren't, but we show up pretty much every meeting and hang out together. And there's a canon of music we all know, and then there are some new ones that people bring every week, and we try some new stuff. So it's a great adventure."

Day says CABOMA's members appreciate the musical opportunities that summer offers them.

"Playing outdoors seems to be a very important part of this kind of music," he says. "Sharing it in the open air is very different from being canned in the building. In the winter, we play inside, and it's not as much fun. It's nice to have the fresh air and the bugs biting and the birds tweeting. It's all part of it."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Summer officially began this past week, and for musicians who may have spent the winter in dark rehearsal studios, or street players who toiled away in cold, damp subway corridors, this is the season to play outside al fresco.

(SOUNDBITE OF BANJO PLAYING)

GREENE: This summer on WEEKEND EDITION, we're going to bring you some audio postcards from musicians outdoors. And we begin this week by listening in on some bluegrass players who gather every couple of weeks in Lyon Park in Arlington, Virginia. They're members of the Capitol Area Bluegrass and Old-time Music Association. And their president is Bruce Day.

BRUCE DAY: Playing outdoors seems to be a very important part of this kind of music. It's just nice to have the fresh air, and the bugs biting and the birds tweeting and sharing it in the open air is much different than being canned in the building. In the winter, we play inside and it's not as much fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF BANJO PLAYING)

MIKE MEARS: My name is Mike Mears and I play the banjo and fiddle. I was president before Bruce there was. We've had up to 200 members at one point. The number of people that show up are a function of the weather and the Redskins games.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TARA LINHART: Tara Linhart on mandolin. I teach music lessons normally. And I try to get a lot of my students to come because you can actually - it's like, you know, music's a language and bluegrass is a really, like, user-friendly language. So, it's like, you know, you study it just like you're studying German or French or something. But you need to actually try practicing speaking it, you know.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) For the train's going by with a woman that I left. I hang my head down and cry...

BILL TAYLOR: Bill Taylor, I'm playing the bass. I mean, I learned here. Thirty years ago, I learned to play bass just by being here - here in the park, yeah. It's just a place where everybody can get together and pick. You've got seasoned musicians that's played for 20, 30 years, and you got new guys that's out here that's only been, you know, this is the first time they've picked up an instrument. But nobody runs anybody off.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) (Unintelligible) across the mountain, out on (unintelligible) way to go. It's spring...

BILL THOMPSON: Bill Thompson, mandolin. And I just want to say that this is Americana. You know, this is an important part of the musician history of America. And this old-timey mountain music, and it's great that people are still enjoying it, playing it and right here in Washington, D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, thanks for jamming. You sounded great.

THOMPSON: Always a pleasure.

GREENE: Members of the Capitol Area Bluegrass and Old-time Music Association play every couple weeks under the tall trees at Lyon Park in Arlington, Virginia. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.