For me (and I imagine many others), social media and the opportunities it brings enrich my life. Everyone is more interesting than we probably give them credit for and if you listen to their story it will be hard not to like something about them. But that's not where this story begins...
Shortly after seeing Old Crow Medicine Show (pictured above sans one member too far left to fit in the frame) at the opening of the Oregon Zoo's 35th annual concert series, my wife and I were on a short road trip, reminiscing about the concert and the series of events that brought us there. I grew up on 60s hippie music (wearing out that Woodstock 3 record set) and came of age listening to 70s progressive rock of Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, early metal from Black Sabbath (no one really appreciates Sabbath bloody Sabbath as much as it deserves) and the hard-edge rock of early Grand Funk Railroad. I've played in a band the singer not-very-jokingly referred to as "post Roman death metal".
So I'm still surprised that I now seek out bluegrass and Americana and these are the live shows I'm most likely to attend. What the heck happened? It all started at an Eric Johnson concert. [Eric is considered one of the most respected guitarists on the planet, though I'm not sure he's strayed into my new genre much.]
This is where it gets social, where one thread leads to another until you are no where near where you started. I find this sort of thing happening a lot when I have the time to follow links from one place to the next -- though not always with such dramatic life changes. My wife and I put this chain together as we were riding along the Columbia river.
Tony Furtado opened the Eric Johnson show. I never heard of him before that night (but I'm one of those people that comes for the whole show, not just the headliner). He was amazing (and the main thing I remember from that evening). I went home and searched for more about him because I wanted to share it with my wife. I found a link to a performance he did for the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour. Given the name and my musical background, I was a bit dubious, but watched it anyway. Also on the same program was Adrienne Young and Little Sadie. I fell in love both with one of the songs they played (Home Remedy) and their upright bass player's amazing smile.
This led to two subsequent actions: purchasing the album the song was on (the Grammy nominated Plow to the End of the Row) and attending the Live Oak Music Festival near Santa Barbara, California where they would be performing. The Live Oak Music Festival turned into an annual trip, introducing us to many other artists along the Americana, bluegrass and Celtic path.
My wife gets all the credit for the next link in the chain that brought us to Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS). While we were enjoying the song Conestoga from the album, she heard a guy singing background vocals whose voice was interesting to her. A bit of research in the liner notes turned up the name Ketch Secor. Along with being a generally talented multi-instrumentalist, he's also the front man for OCMS (he was also Adrienne Young's banjo teacher). This, of course, brought us to OCMS who we saw for the first time at Stubbs BBQ in Austin, Texas (wonderful outdoor concert venue if you ever get the chance). Pretty sure this video was taken at the show we attended. Yeah, there were a lot of people there -- a lot of young people very into the high energy music of OCMS. We were hooked.
What has kept me hooked, weird as it may sound, is the teamwork of a good bluegrass band. Many bluegrass groups work around a single microphone, moving in and out to raise their volume when it's appropriate. You can tell that they are listening intently to each other, feeding off clues, reacting to what they hear. There's a case study in teamwork there that I may chase down some day. On the Americana front, the often deep and meaningful lyrics of the singer-songwriters keep me listening and wanting more. It's a shame everyone hasn't heard of Slaid Cleaves (we own all of his albums and have seen him at least a half-dozen times).
I'm hooked on social media and the opportunities it opens for everyone to find new things to learn about and cherish. Follow lots of different people, listen to their stories and see where it takes you.