I got my hair cut Tuesday. Every Tuesday night, there’s a local bluegrass jam there after the barber shop closes. I’ve written about that before but it took two years or so for me to go back.

Spectators are discouraged and so when one of the guys took a break to have a smoke outside he handed me his guitar and told me to play.

It was one of those oddly stressful but not in a bad way moments where I thought I wasn’t ready but discovered that I knew quite enough to chop my way along with them even though I didn’t know any of the tunes. By watching the left hand of the guy on my left I was able to muddle through.

It seems spectators are discouraged because of a group chemistry thing. With an audience there is a pressure to perform rather than just participate and enjoy. It all makes sense now that I’ve sat in once.

They don’t follow the bluegrass algorithm that I learned from a friend (and a book) where each instrument takes the melody line for one round and it passes around the circle. Instead, each guy picked a song, announced the key, and sang the melody.

Since I was new, they passed me by at my request although not without some pressure.

It was pretty exhilarating and good in the makes-you-practice sort of way. They’re all friendly but I wonder if this is the sort of thing I should set myself up for. The answer is undoubtedly yes; I had the same questions about my first job interview and that was obviously a no-brainer.

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