From uncertainty comes promise, bluegrass

These are the times of great struggle, of either great victory or shameful defeat. The truth, one finds, is that one begets the other. There is no war without peace, and no peace without war.

But these are the times we should come together, rather than push each other away. We need to unite in defense of our humanity, to prove that we are not a cruel and callous folk. We must make the most of what we have. And what better way to unite under a common cause than that of bluegrass?

The story I will impart to you in an occasional series of stories over the next months will show the birth of a bluegrass band, first-hand. But lest I get ahead of myself, allow me to introduce a scenario: It is a cold night. Myself and a friend are walking and talking on an icy stretch of pavement.

The conversation is rather directionless until the friend poses a question.

"Do you know where I could find a bluegrass band?" he asked.

A light. In my head, a light flickered.

"I know where you can find a bluegrass band," I said. "I have one in the works already, matter of fact."

It was half true, to be honest. I do have some talented, yet admittedly unreliable friends who play various bluegrassy instruments. It was our intention to start a band but, alas, as I mentioned, they're unreliable.

My friend and walking companion, however, bought the half-truth.

"Well!" he said. "I need you by April 1st."

Now, I have never been a betting man. Gentlemen's wagers never really interested me. But this! This is a challenge, I thought. Something I could hold in my hand and prove that we have won. This great victory I could sense in our collective periphery was indeed attainable!

With uncharacteristic bravado, I said, "Sure thing." And we parted ways.

It is at this moment the battle between man and time, between man and man, was sparked. I was frightened, to be sure. How do I organize those who can hardly organize themselves? How will I rely on the unreliable, or count on the unaccountable? Many sleepless nights of stewing on this very problem were spent. I even toyed with scrapping the whole idea (which would mean fabricating this entire narrative).

And then, serendipity.

In the form of a girl wearing a skirt over jeans. It was a gray afternoon and who, out of the fog appeared, but the silken-voiced vixen herself, Chrissy Hassel.

She and I were vaguely familiar with each other, just in the middle-stages of sniffing each other out for friendship. Something brought us together. Something more than class or closed sidewalks. It was bluegrass, that sprightly wind that pushes the believers along their paths. She spoke first.

"I have a proposition."

"Yes?" I replied.

"Do you want to play banjo in-"

If I recall correctly, I didn't listen to the rest of the question. I was saved. Saved from journalistic immorality, saved from sure humiliation at my failing to deliver to a peer, saved from a crushing blow to my very spirit from having lost a battle with forces larger than myself, yet, I am convinced, certainly defeatable.

"Yes," I said. "I will happily join your merry band, and fashion a first-person account of our journey as a testament to the will and resolve of our youthful nature." Thus it was conceived in earnest.

And you, readers, will play witness to the birth and growth of a bluegrass band. And I, as both member and reporter, will give you an intimate account into the inner workings and life forces of this young beast.

Join me next time when I give you the skinny on the players, the songs and a brief history of this fine artform we call bluegrass.

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