My wife, Joan, and I just returned from the weeklong National Traditional Country Music Association festival in Lemars, Iowa. It is indeed tough to drive away from that fantasy land of country music players and enthusiasts. But alas, the demands of the real world awaits.
I back several good regional artists on stage when they’re singing and playing their songs and hyping their products, everything from pictures, caps, shirts, CDs and whatnot. Some of them are so good at the whole of it that I wonder why they didn’t hit the big time. That’s how it goes in the music business.
If you are a young musician dreaming about making it to the top, do as Terry Smith, the writer of the Johnny Cash song “Far Side Banks of Jordan”, told me: You must treat your efforts as though you are running a business to have any chance at all of being successful. There are many temptations along the way. If you get involved in the gut and passion of it all, odds are that you’ll fail. And if you do, that can be very ugly.
Visiting with other musicians during the festival was entertaining and revealing. The negative political sentiment was very strong this year. Most thoughts followed a theme of clearing the present folks in charge in Washington out of power. The national debt and the growing entitlement mentality of our nation seemed to bother the older folks the most. Those who offered opinions were adamant about President Barack Obama’s ability to run the nation or anything.
During a huge potluck dinner on the grounds, (there were five bowls of sauced cucumbers; I picked the wrong one. Terrible. The broasted chicken? Yum.) I visited with a singer/yodeler from Ireland. I ask her about that country's health system. She was generally in favor of the Irish system, but she said long waits for such things such as joint replacements are very common. Waiting your turn is the name of the game, I surmised. The message? If you like to pay the government premiums and then suffer while waiting in line sometimes for months and months, according to this woman, then that kind of system is for you.
Me? I’ll take the current American system any day.
Not watching the Republican National Convention bothered me. And yet the lure of the stage, of making music with the good ones, of spending time with Joan and our two Chihuahuas (most people bring a dog or two from home) tempered that concern.
We got home for the Democrats’ big bash. At the time of your reading this, that get-together will be history. What did we see and hear? Something new? Something innovative? Small chance.
My advice? Study. Consider what sacrifice we can make for our troubled nation and vote.
Perk Washenberger, Aberdeen, a retired real estate broker and business owner, now musically entertains people in senior living and care centers and at community events. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.