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Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals

Rabbi-Sol 04 May 04 - 06:56 PM
open mike 04 May 04 - 07:00 PM
Rabbi-Sol 04 May 04 - 07:05 PM
ddw 04 May 04 - 08:26 PM
Rabbi-Sol 05 May 04 - 01:23 PM
M.Ted 05 May 04 - 08:40 PM
ddw 05 May 04 - 08:49 PM
pdq 05 May 04 - 09:19 PM
Barbara Shaw 05 May 04 - 09:38 PM
M.Ted 05 May 04 - 10:13 PM
Joybell 05 May 04 - 11:04 PM
ddw 05 May 04 - 11:37 PM
Allan C. 05 May 04 - 11:39 PM
ddw 05 May 04 - 11:52 PM
GUEST 06 May 04 - 12:06 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 06 May 04 - 12:20 AM
ddw 06 May 04 - 12:31 AM
M.Ted 06 May 04 - 12:47 AM
ddw 06 May 04 - 12:52 AM
ddw 06 May 04 - 12:55 AM
GUEST,Bex McK 06 May 04 - 08:38 AM
ddw 06 May 04 - 09:45 AM
Rabbi-Sol 06 May 04 - 01:54 PM
ddw 06 May 04 - 02:40 PM
M.Ted 06 May 04 - 03:19 PM
Once Famous 06 May 04 - 03:26 PM
ddw 06 May 04 - 03:44 PM
M.Ted 06 May 04 - 05:13 PM
Pooby 07 May 04 - 11:14 AM
Barbara Shaw 07 May 04 - 12:30 PM
Rabbi-Sol 07 May 04 - 01:43 PM
M.Ted 07 May 04 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,tequilaron 07 May 04 - 06:11 PM
ddw 07 May 04 - 08:04 PM
Mark Clark 08 May 04 - 12:38 AM
M.Ted 08 May 04 - 02:15 AM
Mark Clark 08 May 04 - 12:49 PM
Once Famous 08 May 04 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,FRANK 08 May 04 - 04:28 PM
Joybell 08 May 04 - 06:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 May 04 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,Rubylox 12 May 04 - 12:52 PM
Rabbi-Sol 12 May 04 - 02:08 PM
Mark Clark 12 May 04 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Tequilaron 12 May 04 - 03:06 PM
JedMarum 12 May 04 - 04:26 PM
KateG 12 May 04 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,robomatic 12 May 04 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Rubylox 12 May 04 - 08:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 May 04 - 08:43 PM
GUEST,tequilaron 12 May 04 - 08:48 PM
Once Famous 12 May 04 - 09:33 PM
pdq 12 May 04 - 10:19 PM
Joe Richman 12 May 04 - 10:53 PM
Rabbi-Sol 12 May 04 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,swampman 28 Feb 06 - 06:02 PM
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Subject: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 04 May 04 - 06:56 PM

Can somebody tell me why the Confederate flag is so prominently displayed and often sold at Bluegrass Festivals, even here in the north (NY State & CT). I do not drive myself & I have a friend who drives me to these festivals. He is African American. He loves the music but does feel a little uncomfortable with the Stars & Bars. He is often the only black person at these festivals. SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: open mike
Date: 04 May 04 - 07:00 PM

I cannot explain why any one would fly that flag.
How does the rebel flag compare to the union jack from the U.K.?


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 04 May 04 - 07:05 PM

The Confederate flag has a red background while the Union Jack has a blue background. It is very insulting to a person of color much like the swastika is to a Jewish person like myself. SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 04 May 04 - 08:26 PM

Actually, RS, I don't see much difference between somebody flying a Confederate flag and somebody singing Irish rebellion songs. It's part of history. We can't change that, so why not remember it? That doesn't mean everybody has to agree with it.

You might also consider that the Stars and Bars is not the Confederate national flag, it's the CSA's battle flag. I see nothing wrong with remembering a group of fighting men who were defending their country in an illegal war (they had the right under the constitution to secede).

From your comments about your African-American friend feeling uncomfortable, I take it you think the Civl War was fought about slavery. It wasn't. Slavery was a side issue to most southerners (only a few were slaveholders). For the vast majority it was a war about economic disparity and states' rights (read political power). You should take a look at James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom,k an exhaustive study on the subject. Slavery was an issue used by some northerners to whip up public sentiment and it worked reasonably well, but to say it was the issue of the war is as thin as saying WWII was "about' Pearl Harbor or WWI was "about" the assassination of a Balkan prince.

And if all that doesn't satisfy your discomfort, you and your friend might put a positive spin on things and just steer around people flying the flags.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 05 May 04 - 01:23 PM

Hi David, My beef is not about the Stars & Bars being a historical battle flag of the CSA. Indeed many brave men died with honor fighting under that emblem for a cause that they felt was right. It is what that flag has come to symbolize in the 100 years after the war ended. The KKK cross burning rallies, lynchings, church burnings, segregation ,hatred and bigotry against blacks were all done in the name of that flag while it was prominently displayed. It became a symbol for hate mongers to rally around. This being a folk music site, is hardly the proper forum to debate the causes of the Civil War. My original question was "Why is it so prominently displayed at Blue Grass Festivals, particularly those held up here north of the Mason-Dixon line ?" There are many crossover fans that enjoy Bluegrass and consider it part of the folk process, who attend these festivals. Their political views are considerably more liberal than the traditional Bluegrass fan. They come for the pure enjoyment of the music, the same reason my friend & I do. Is there any reason to offend people who are paying good money to hear and support this music ? As far as steering around these people who display the flag, there is no need to. We have been seeing each other at least 5 times a year for the past 5 years and we are on friendly speaking terms. We talk about what we have in common; the love we have for the music. We never discuss the flag although they are aware that we notice it.
SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 May 04 - 08:40 PM

Slavery was the issue, and any one who thinks otherwise is beyond any hope--


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 05 May 04 - 08:49 PM

Hi Sol,

I understand what you're saying about the Stars and Bars being associated with some hate groups, but the same thing is true for the Stars and Stripes. Many of the largest chapters of the KKK were in northern states (Ohio claiming the largest, if memory serves) and the S&S was flown prominently at their rallies.

My point earlier — and still —is that many of the negative connotations associated with the Stars and Bars comes from northerners who don't understand a) what it means and b) why people fly it. Many, like me, consider it the battle flag of a proud people who have had their motivations twisted and degraded by the people who (I repeat) waged an illegal war against them and defeated them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as opposed to slavery as any human can be. As were my ancestors from the mountains of North Carolina. But I don't think anybody who knows anything about history can support such a narrow view of the entire society of the south — then and now — and condemn people for wanting to hold to part of their heritage. To most modern southerners (as well as those who fought under it) the Stars and Bars was not a symbol of approval of slavery. It was the battle flag — pure and simple.

For those who think it has come to mean that, I concede it has for some. But I don't think it has for most people who want to fly it, unless it's the northerners who have picked it up as their (misguided) personal statement of racism.

And as an aside on that, you should remember that it ran just as rampant in the north when the freed or escaped slaves arrived as it did in the south — possibly worse, since northerners were not at all familiar with blacks and let their fears dictate how the newcomers were treated. Even Abe Lincoln, so revered by modern African-Americans and liberals, fought signing the Emancipation Proclamation for as long as he possibly could and did so only when further delay would have been political suicide. And even as he signed it he advocated rigid segregation.

Finally, to the question of why it's associated with bluegrass festivals; maybe because bluegrass is basically southern music. It is a combination of old-timey Southern Appalachian and the jazz chord progressions Bill Monroe (born in North Carolina) heard along the Mississippi around Memphis. And, despite a strong and growing following in the north in the last couple of decades, most of the bands still come from and play mainly in the south and mine their southern heritage for whatever cache it brings.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: pdq
Date: 05 May 04 - 09:19 PM

Bill Monroe was born on Jerusalem Ridge near Rosine, Kentucky, in 1908. He considered what he played to be rooted in old Celtic and English folk music.

Bill Monroe had several Jewish musicians in his official touring band at various times. Banjo players Bob Black and Steve Arkin (Alan Arkin's cousin, I believe) are a couple of examples. The Greenbriar Boys were all Jewish kids from big cities. Bluegrass is understood by many people around the world, although black folks are conspicuously lacking.

Some people are bothered by national flags being displayed in the US, such as the Mexican flag that is being waved all over the West today on Cinco De Mayo. A flag is a flag, get over it.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 05 May 04 - 09:38 PM

Interesting comments here. I have to admit I go to 10 or 12 bluegrass festivals all over the Northeast every summer and have never seen the Confederate flag prominently displayed or sold at any of them. I'm from CT and consider the Confederate flag a symbol of pride in their homeplace flown by southerners. I do not associate it with slavery nor am I offended by it. But then, I'm not black, not southern, not usually aware of those kinds of issues when I'm typically immersed in the music at a bluegrass festival. There's also a whole lot of Christian gospel music at bluegrass festivals, none of it done to offend Jews or Muslims. It's about the MUSIC.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 May 04 - 10:13 PM

The Stars and Bars is closely associated with racist terrorism in the minds of blacks--and it is used to invoke those fears by the people who display it.

When you display the stars and bars, it evokes those feelings, and those who display it know damn well that is does--this business about honoring the proud past by displaying the stars and bars is about as sincere as the arguement that displaying a swastika is simply done to honor the German past--


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Joybell
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:04 PM

Confederate flags and caps are seen here in Australia at some Bluegrass gatherings. My American-born True-love finds them offensive for the same reasons as those given by M Ted and Rabbi-Sol. I also agree with this view.
Being an Australian I understand why they are popular here - we have always liked rebels, but I don't think we should adopt symbols like these unless we are ready to endorse what they stand for.
Aside from blues, ragtime, and jazz, the best-loved American folkmusic comes mainly from the Southern Appalachians, where the people often stayed right out of the conflict -- they didn't own slaves -- or supported the Union. Frank Proffitt's grandfather left his native mountains to join the Union army, and Lincoln's vice-president, Andrew Johnson, was from Tennessee. The bravest and truest rebels were the thousands of Southerners who left their homes to fight for the North. And no wonder,when the South was based not only on the hideous institution of slavery, but also on a semi-feudal class system which also oppressed the poor whites.
Joy


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:37 PM

pdq — thanks for the correction. A North Carolina bluegrasser told me Bill was born In either Yancy or Madison County, NC, but his parents moved to Kentucky just days after he was born. I don't think it's germane to our discussion here, but it would be interesting to nail it down exactly. Biographies (obviously) get buggered around by some people.

M.Ted — before you dismiss something so cavalierly, maybe you should show us you actually know something other than the usual bullshit you were taught in 5th grade American history. And if you don't understand some of these words, let me know. I'll rephrase it so you will....

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Allan C.
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:39 PM

I do honestly believe there are many who display this flag in a belligerent representation of their bigotry. At the same time, I feel sure that some display it only as a symbol of southern pride, perhaps even insensible to any other meaning it might imply. It is the feeling of many that bluegrass is inherently southern. Most southern bluegrass pickers I know are of the firm belief that it just isn't played quite right by anyone who isn't from the South.

Although I was born in southern California, I spent much of my life in Virginia and have a definite feeling of being Southern. For the record, though, I would never dream of flying the Stars & Bars for the very reasons oulined in the initial post of this thread. But come to think of it, I don't wave any other flag either.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:52 PM

Well said, Allan. I think your take on the matter is pretty much what I was trying to convey, albeit a little more verbosely. I do tend to get my dander up, though, when I run into the kind of reverse bigotry displayed by M.Ted.

Sol, I think, is truly puzzled and I thought he was looking for a real answer. MTed just wants to show everybody how stupid and "beyond hope" people are who don't buy his ideas.....

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 04 - 12:06 AM

Speaking of Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's VP, his wife (common law, I believe)was a black lady and all his kids were of mixed ancestry. The lived a noraml life, to the extent that any politician could or can. There's an interestin. book called "Creeks and Seminoles" by Leitch Wright that spends a couple of pages on Johnson. A popular man of his times, but that was then and now is vastly different.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 06 May 04 - 12:20 AM

It's really not in my nature to be a contrary, pedantic know it all, but the "Stars and Bars" is not the same as the Confederate battle flag. The "Stars and Bars" was the CSA's first national flag which closely resembled the US flag except that it had broad red and white bars instead of narrow stripes. It proved to be problematic as a battle flag because it so closely resembled the Union flag that troops, particularly on smokey battlefields, couldn't tell the difference and would sometimes "retreat" right into the enemy's hands. So, they designed a special flag (based upon the British Union Jack) for use as a battle flag only.

Subsequently, the CSA's national (non-battle) flag was redesigned twice and the third national flag did incorporate the battle flag's design in the same area where the US flag has a field of stars. But it was adopted so late in the war that few were ever made or flown.

The Confederate battle flag never acquired a nickname during the war and has not picked one up during the ensuing 140+ years.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 06 May 04 - 12:31 AM

I was just off poking around for confirmation it was Andrew Johnson (as stated above) who had a black mistress. My memory said "Andrew Jackson," but it's often wrong. I still have some checking to do on that score, but I did come across this quote in a site dedicated to U.S. presidents' views of blacks.

   

    Abraham Lincoln
    "I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, not to intermarry with white people; and I say in addition to this that there is a difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together in terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be a position of superior and inferior and as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 May 04 - 12:47 AM

I am not cavalier about anything, David. For instance, I know that, though I misnamed it above(because I was referencing the thread title, and didn't want to be called a flag wonk) the Stars and Bars is a different flag entirely than the one we are talking about here(it has three horizontal bars, red, white, and red, with a circle of some varying number of stars on a blue field in the corner).

The name generally used to describe the flag that this thread is really about is the Southern Cross, and it (or something close) was the Army of Tennessee Battle Flag, beginning in December of 1863--It was also used as a Navy Jack, but was never generally used as a Confederate Battle Flag--the army of Virginia battle flag was also a Southern Cross, but was, as were most battle flags, more or less a square shape.

My point if historical accuracy and pride of past is the object, the "offensive" flag is the wrong flag to display(unless you're from Tennessee) you should be displaying the real Stars and Bars, or one of many, many other colorful banners--they are more accurate aren't generally considered racially offensive, either--

Next, if you want, we can talk about Bleeding Kansas--


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 06 May 04 - 12:52 AM

BWL — thanks for pointing out another widespread fallacy — i.e., the names of the flags.   This site says your info isn't quite accurate re the nickname of the flag, but it does clarify that the name of the battle flag (Southern Cross) was not the Stars and Bars.

Thanks....

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 06 May 04 - 12:55 AM

M.Ted....

" Slavery was the issue, and any one who thinks otherwise is beyond any hope-- "

That's not being cavalier?

Point on the name of the flag being wrong, but on this quote you can still stuff it....

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,Bex McK
Date: 06 May 04 - 08:38 AM

Setting debates about names aside, I think there are some important issues coming up here. I tend to be of the feeling that the meaning of a symbol, like a flag, is in the eye of the beholder-- we all have the scope to interpret it according to our own experience and understanding of the world, and that's what makes it potent. That said, however, there are some symbols that have become such powerful markers of particular events-- like the swastika-- that it's almost impossible not to equate them. The Southern Cross isn't quite in that league, but for many people I know, it's not far behind. They are not wrong to understand it as a symbol of white supremacy and racism. And neither are the people who display it as a marker of a sense of Southern identity that is NOT connected with slavery or racism. But symbols that are used thoughtlessly-- and people who are not prepared to have a dialogue about them-- are asking for trouble. Try walking through the east end of Glasgow wrapped in a Union Jack on the day of an Old Firm game, and you'll see what I mean.

As an American bluegrass player living in Britain, I am very aware of this. I've lost count of the number of times people have asked me how I can reconcile playing bluegrass with my left-wing political views and ex-pat status. Because for a lot of people, bluegrass is the 'ultimate' American music, and America itself has aquired some fairly dubious symbolic meanings in recent years. But MY America represents possibility and diversity-- which is exactly, I suppose, what appeals to me about bluegrass. After all, it was Black music that made bluegrass blue, and I'm fairly sure that Big Mon himself would have agreed with that.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 06 May 04 - 09:45 AM

Excellent observations, BMcK. A week or so ago in another thread about I mentioned Noam Chomsky and his philosophical followers, the "general semanticists." One of their basic ideas is that the person who is most successful is the one who manipulates symbols best. I don't know if you were actually drawing on their ideas, but your post certainly dovetails with their thinking — on that score, at least.

That some people understand it as a statement of racism is certainly true. What I was trying to get across is that (in the south, at least) the vast majority do not consider it that.

And many historians argue that while racism was the hot-button issue used to march many northerners and some southerners off to war, the actual cause of the war was a clash between the economic needs and wants of the agrarian South and the industrial North. The South tried to exercise it's constitutional right to secede and the northern textile mills didn't want to lose their supply of cotton.

The slavery issue was used in the North to demonize southerners and whip up enough anti-rebel sentiment to get people to enlist in the army. In the south the issue understood by most was that the increasingly populous northern industrial states were beginning to dictate all kinds of terms (markets (domestic and foreign), movement of goods, currencies, political ideas, etc.) to the southern states, who were not willing to relinquish that degree of control to a completely different society. The average Rebel soldier understood the war to be about states' rights, not slavery (which was a small and meaningless part of the overall picture to people who were not slaveholders).

I would put all that forward with the caveat that "racism" is not interchangeable "slavery." Either can stand by itself; the slavery in the U.S. just happened to combine the two for a lot of economic, social and technical reasons.

What I find irritating now is that many who decry slavery and racism ignore the fact that while the North ostensibly fought a war to end slavery, the population of the North was a vehemently racist as any Southern redneck. Witness the demographics of New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, etc. about 140 years later.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 06 May 04 - 01:54 PM

There is now a black Bluegrass group called The Singing Conquerors. They played at a concert together with Ralph Stanley somewhere in Virgina last Summer. They have a website, www.singingconquerors.com
I heard a recent interview with them on the radio. One of the things they mentioned was that the banjo was originally based on an instrument that was brought over by Africa slaves. Can anyone on this forum verify the truth of that statement ? SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 06 May 04 - 02:40 PM

I think it's a pretty widely accepted truism, Sol. Many African instruments were based on hides stretched over gourds or something similar, so to view them as precursors to the banjo makes sense.

I'm sure some banjo enthusiast will jump in with more detailed info, so check back. Or you might do a forum search for past threads on the subject....

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 May 04 - 03:19 PM

The holding of slaves was a contentious issue from the beginning of the Republic--the founding fathers were compelled to move forward without resolving the issue--there was an uneasy balance of power between slave-holding and non-slave holding states, the proposed annexation of Misouri in 1820 nearly tore the Union apart--

When the Misouri Compromise(which basically disallowed slavery above 36°30') was repealed by the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854(which allowed territories to chose whether they would enter the Union as slave or Free states)the slave and free states were at each others throats once more--open warfare broke out in Kansas, where voters chose twice to be a free state, but were denied it by the Democrats in Washington, and the Republican Party was formed with the avowed goal of eliminating slavery entirely.

The first slave holding states to leave the Union did so in disgust after the election of Lincoln, a Republican, who tried (unsuccessfully) to softpedal his Party's objectives. The rest left when Lincoln called for the states to provide a militia to respond to the Fort Sumpter situation, which they regarded as an attempt at coercion--

To be fair(which I am, sometimes;-))in the North, actions tended to be precipitated by anti-slavery feelings, the states in the South had strong feeling that their sovereignty had been and would continue to be violated by the Northern states. Most Southerners did not keep slaves, and often, if not generally, didn't believe that it was right to keep them, but they also felt that it was their legal right to deal with the problem, and not that of the Union.

It would be wrong to say that the war was about whether slavery was acceptible or not, but the question of slavery was the fundamental aggravation in the conflict.

Without wanting to seem like I am backtracking on my original statement(and, at the same time, doing it), I will say that issues, whether they are slavery, reproductive rights, prohibition, free soil, BiMetalism, or any of the other things Americans have ended up at each others throats about, are merely aggravations of conflicts between competing powers and interests that we've never figured out how to reconcile.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Once Famous
Date: 06 May 04 - 03:26 PM

Elderly Instruments sells a gourd banjo based on the original African influenced instruement.

As a bluegrass playying Jew myself, I just consider the confederate flag a part of southern history. I would not display it, but neither would I get in a politically correct fervor about it.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 06 May 04 - 03:44 PM

M.Ted — Thank you for recognizing almost every point I was trying to make and, as far as I can see, not having to harm a single crow. I'm not sure we're in total agreement, but at least I think I've been allowed out of your "beyond any hope" category. Hope it wasn't too painful.

I agreed all along that slavery with the rallying point, but I did and still maintain it was not the reason qua reason
cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 May 04 - 05:13 PM

"Beyond any hope" is probably a good thing;-)--as for being in total agreement or not, I revise my opinion on things a lot, so it isn't always good to agree with me.   The lines drawn in the Civil War are still big factors in our politics--the conflict between industrial and agrarian is pretty much the same--and will most likely remain the same, as it is built into our system of government--


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Pooby
Date: 07 May 04 - 11:14 AM

Dave:

The other day you wrote "I see nothing wrong with remembering a group of fighting men who were defending their country in an illegal war (they had the right under the constitution to secede)."

Bad news, my man: There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that assures the right of states to secede. You may be thinking of the passage in the Declaration of Independence about "the right of the people to alter or abolish" the established government, but the DoI has no force of law -- now, then or ever.

I might be inclined to grant the point about an "illegal" war, but would argue about who gets the rap for the illegality. (Try looking at the provision in the Constitution about treason, for starters.) The Constitution makes several references to states being bound together as a union, and the obligation of states to honor and support that union. Setting off a cannon barrage in the direction of a U.S. military installation doesn't seem to qualify as supporting the union. The U.S. government, even prior to the Civil War, had no problem suppressing insurrections (Whiskey Rebellion, etc.) so when a member state commits an act of aggression against the constitutionally established central government, why should responding in force be objectionable, or even surprising?

And was the war about states' rights (as opposed to slavery)? Perhaps, but let's not forget that one of the rights that the Southern states were fighting to protect and preserve was the right of people to own and subjugate other people.

Honoring the heroism of soldiers fighting for a cause is nothing new (or old). To this day people are trying to figure out how to "support our troops" even while objecting passionately to the war in which they're being asked to fight. Chances are that even in the Civil War, as with more recent conflicts, the soldiers were not always given a complete picture (by their military and political superiors) of what the hell they were fighting for.

A few bottom lines:

-- Some people (not least of which, blacks) find the CSA battle flag highly objectionable. What's so hard about respecting other people's feelings? I'm not talking about political correctness (which drives me crazy). It's just, like I said, a matter of respect for someone else's feelings. (As someone else wrote, the CSA battle flag is to blacks as the swastika is to Jews.) There are ways of honoring traditions without making others feel violated and re-victimized in the process.

-- History, particularly the history of periods of conflict, is usually written by the winners. The war was fought 150 years ago, and the South lost -- get over it.

Pete
Somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 07 May 04 - 12:30 PM

I'm amazed yet again at how naïve I am and how unaware I must be of many of these issues. I go to many bluegrass festivals, and thoroughly enjoy the mindless escape into the music. It never really impinged on my consciousness at a festival that some people might be displaying symbols of objectionable and damaging convictions. My agenda at these events is to enjoy and participate in the music. Left behind me are the worries of the world for a few days. No TV, no bad news, no war, no prejudice, no danger. A place where I don't need to maintain a position on anything except the current jam.

In the process of producing an album with our bluegrass band, I have been working on the graphics for the CD cover. The music is "Songs of the Civil War Era" and my plan for the cover included an artful (in my opinion) border using both the US and the Confederate flags.

And then along came this thread. . .

I have no intention of offending anyone with whatever message they may read into this design, and had no intention of meaning anything other than my previously stated opinion: that the Confederate flag represents to me a symbol of pride in their homeplace flown by southerners. I see now that I can't avoid the controversy, despite attempting to put together a balanced mix of songs from both sides of this apparently never-ending war. I'll start working on a new design for the cover. However, as for diving into the issues that may be waving at bluegrass festivals, "even here in the North," I hope to continue to stay out of the arguments and stick to the music, at least for a weekend's escape.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 07 May 04 - 01:43 PM

Hi Barbara, I personally do not see anything wrong with using the CSA flag in an educational context such as you are doing. The fact that the US flag representing the Union appears side by side with the CSA flag, being on an album cover or a book cover indicates a balanced approach for educational purposes. It is quite different from the CSA flag being prominently displayed on the antenna or bumper of a dual-exhaust souped up monster pickup truck which is obviously meant to make a statement or intimidate others. Also a factor is WHERE it is being displayed. A Festival in New England where the politics of the attendees are more akin to Pete Seeger than to Strom Thurmond is a perfect example. There, it would only serve to inflame passions rather than to create a relaxing atmosphere conducive to enjoying the music. SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 May 04 - 02:01 PM

Barbara,

By all means use the flags, but, as I noted above, be aware that the historically appropriate flag is not the much flaunted Southern Cross(St. Andrew's Cross on red)--but the Stars and Bars, which I describe above--

Pete--

I don't think ddw wants to fight the war over--his point is that, at the time, the Southern States believed, and argued that they had the right to withdraw from the Union. It was also, and, from today's vantage point.somewhat unbelievably thought that, though slavery was evil and abhorent, the Federal govenment had no power abolish it.

James Buchanan, the pres before Lincoln, was morally opposed to slavery, and was proud of the fact that he was from Pennsylvania, where slavery had been outlawed in its constitution--but he argued, as I said above, that it was neither within his power nor that of the Congress to abolish it--this made him popular with the slaveholders(who he despised), and made him despised at home--


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,tequilaron
Date: 07 May 04 - 06:11 PM

I have really enjoyed this discussion as it focuses on a problem most southerners must eventually come to terms with. I was brought up in an atmosphere of racial prejudice and distrust. At the same time I was being taught that negroes were inferior, I was being taught to respect the rights of others and to harm no man because of his color or creed. This is the legacy of the Bible Belt South. My father was prejudiced, yet his best friend was a black man. In high school the pep rally's high point was when the band played "Dixie". My point: it is all about context. An ax handle when used as a tool has a positive connotation; but slip that same ax handle into the gunrack of a pick-up truck and the symbolic connotation changes. The axe handle transmogrifies into a threat. The message, "I can and will kick some butt." The Southern Cross, unfortunately, has that same quality. As a Southerner, who takes great pride in my heritage, I honor the flag my Great-great-grandfather died defending. However, I have no interest in flying a cheap Taiwain repro in my front yard. Am I offended by others who do? No! It is all about the context. If a bluegrass group is kicking it with a Rebel flag flying, so what? If Bubba and Otis are spinning donuts in their 4X4 and yelling racial epithets that is an entirely different context and requires an entirely differnt response. I am faced daily with a plethora of symbols that I could be offended by if I was so inclined. When I encounter negroes wearing racist, sexist,or pornographic T-shirts I try to keep it in context. If I wanted, I could be offended by every religious symbol I see, but I choose not to be. Why? Because I know that there are people in the world who are just waiting to show how sophisticated and hip they are by directing pejoratives at Southerners. Are any of you Northerners, interested in some prime Florida real estate? It's high and dry and will be waterfront propery some day (wink and a grin). I promise.
Ron


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: ddw
Date: 07 May 04 - 08:04 PM

MTed and Barbara — While using the Stars and Bars might be technically correct, I would be willing to bet not one person in 100 (north or south) could identify the S&B and what it stood for. I would stick with the Southern Cross, which is instantly recognizable by anyone. And I agree that its use in an educational/musical context shouldn't offend anybody.

Tequilaron.... Excellent post!

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Mark Clark
Date: 08 May 04 - 12:38 AM

I've been attending bluegrass festivals, both large and small, for more than 35 years and, like Barbara, don't ever remember seeing the S&B displayed, either privately or for sale. Actually, there was one exception. In Berryville, VA, (actually Watermellon Park on the Shenendoah River) in the mid 1970s sometime, a bunch of drugged-out bikers from nearby Winchester showed up. They weren't musicians or even bluegrass fans—they kept insulting and threatening everyone—they waved guns and screamed about how much they hated bluegrass until the drugs wore off and they began falling, rather like H.G. Wells' Martians. People would walk by their comotose forms and kick dust on them. These animals are the only people I remember displaying the S&B at a bluegrass festival. For many people on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line, that has become what the S&B represents today.

pdq, Bill Monroe was born in 1911. He considered himself primarily a blues singer and claimed the African-American musician Arnold Shultz as one of his major influences. A young Bill Monroe used to play as Shultz's sideman from time to time.1 And you're right, though I don't think Bob Black is among them, Bill had quite a few Jewish musicians in his band. Bill valued musicianship above most other things—though he was known to be intolerant of homosexuality, at least in the 1950s, and excessive drinking.

      - Mark

____________________
1. Actually, it was common for African-American string bands to play the same tunes in pretty much the same way as the white string bands. The white bands actually learned from the African-Americans. The reason we've forgotten this is because of the way the record companies pigeon-holed the musicians they recorded. For an excellent discussion of this, see Elijah Wald's wonderful new book Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 May 04 - 02:15 AM

It is used, and when it is used, it is recognized--


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Mark Clark
Date: 08 May 04 - 12:49 PM

I guess I haven't been to any of the big festivals for a while so I'm probably out of touch. I'm sorry to learn that this symbol of hatred and intolerance is now being displayed at bluegrass festivals.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Once Famous
Date: 08 May 04 - 01:15 PM

I have never seen it at northern bluegrass festivals and if I did, I would just ignore it and not let it get in the way of having a good time with the music.

I don't go to bluegrass festivals for a dose of political correctness.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,FRANK
Date: 08 May 04 - 04:28 PM

I think that it's a shame that the battleflag initiated as part of the Alabama state flag in '54 by George Wallace as a symbol of segregation should be waved at bluegrass festivals. It may not be offensive to many white people in the south but I think it's safe to say that it is offensive to the majority of black people in the
south.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Joybell
Date: 08 May 04 - 06:37 PM

Aside from the meaning of a powerful symbol like this one, and we mostly seem to agree that it is that, surely it causes a distraction at the very least. If it's the music we crave, as listeners and as players, it would be better not to have that distraction. Joy


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 May 04 - 07:01 PM

"I understand what you're saying about the Stars and Bars being associated with some hate groups, but the same thing is true for the Stars and Stripes."

Actually the same is true in England of the Union Jack and the English Flag, the Saint George red cross. Racists and hate groups will use any symbol that has resonance with people.

Over here the Confederate is widely used in the context of Country Music, and doesn't have generally seem to have those kind of associations. Basically it seems to mean "Country music, and America, but not official America".

But I doubt if I'd feel at all comfortable with the same flag if I were in the USA. Symbols have different impacts in different times and place. In India, for example, the swastika is still a good luck sign - the other day on the London Tube I sat opposite an Indian women who was wearing a gold one on her neck. No one would have taken it as a hate symbol. But if the skinhead sitting next to her had been wearing it, it would have had a completely different impact. (Even if he hadn't meant it that way.)


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,Rubylox
Date: 12 May 04 - 12:52 PM

I am a born and raised Californian who loves bluegrass. Like most African American families, my parents, grandparents and everyone over the age of fifty migrated from the South.

I have not attended any bluegrass festivals because I don't know how receptive the other attendees would be if I were present. Maybe I'm paranoid about this issue... I don't know.

I don't know how I feel about the flag issue either because people were enslaved as the Constitution was being written by the same people who were slaveowners. Should I also fear the U.S. Flag?

I do agree that the primary reason behind the Civil War was economics. In H.S. History, you get the slavery version, it's easier.

I would even love to sing bluegrass one day (I've always sung). I'm currently learning to play violin for my own pleasure and bluegrass inspires me.

At the same time, I listen to music from other parts of the world as well as a few top forty songs.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 12 May 04 - 02:08 PM

Hi Rubylox, I would go to all Bluegrass festivals and not worry about anything. You have nothing to fear, especially in California which did not play any part whatsover in the Civil War. You will be treated cordially as my friend is. The fact that you may be the only African American present does not stem from any prejudice. Bluegrass festivals do not seem to attract people of color. But if you really think of it neither do Folk Festivals either, despite Pete Seeger's best efforts to the contrary. There seem to be more African American performers among folk musicians than there are black people interested in folk music. I regularly attend most of the major ones such as Hudson River Revival & Old Songs. Often you can count the number of black people on the fingers of one hand. And this is at festivals where you have such greats as Odetta, Taj Mahal, Josh White Jr., Vance Gilbert,& Sweet Honey In The Rock. They seem to be more popular among white audiences than black ones. It is a phenomena that is hard to explain. SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 May 04 - 02:48 PM

Rubylox, I agree with Rabbi-Sol. There is no reason not to attend the festivals and enjoy the music and the camaraderie. You both might enjoy the new book I linked in the footnote to my post above. Wald does a good job of addressing the issue Rabbi-Sol raises and reminds us that without African Americans, there would be no bluegrass music. Probably no southern string band music either. American fiddling is quite different from Anglo-Celtic fiddling and Wald makes a good case that the African American influence accounts for the difference.

I got my copy from the local library but, if you'd rather buy it, the link I made above will also help Mudcat.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,Tequilaron
Date: 12 May 04 - 03:06 PM

Rubylox,
I can't speak for California, but in Florida a Bluegrass or folk festival is probably one of the safest, peaceful and family-oriented activities you can attend. Most festivals offer a variety of ethnic performers anyway. Try visiting an Americana festival. You will find a great mix of roots style performers: alternative country, folk, bluegrass, gospel, blues,and zydeco. I have been listening on the internet to a station out of Santa Cruz, CA. It's listed under the Country/Folk category as KPIGFreedom on AOL CDquality Radio. They do some great little festivals I hear. If you don't have AOL, you can Google them and subscribe for about $5.00 a month.

I have some thoughts about the Southern Cross that I would like to share, but it will have to wait. Duty calls.
Ron


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: JedMarum
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:26 PM

I know an African American man who wears the Stars and Bars on his cap - a cap he wears just about all the time. He, like other reasonable Americans are proud of their Confederate ancestors. In his case, he claims both White and African relatives who fought for the Confederacy.

I know other African Americans who claim the flag, as well. Of course many White Americans appreciate the flag for its symbolism - many Whites who despise racisim, who do NOT wish to continue to fight the Civil War appreciate the flag.

Blue Grassers can't be placed into ONE group - but the music appeals to many who are open minded, religious, caring people. People who do NOT support racism. They are people who care about their heritage, and since many live in the South - many appreciate the importance of the Confederate flag.

I'm not a Southerner by birth, My ancestors would have carried the flag of the Union. But I appreciate the Stars and Bars - at these gatherings in celebration of their heritage. I appreciate the various flags of Celtic Nations when they appear at Celtic events - Symbols of Scottish and Irish clans - etc.

More over, you'll hear sonsg from the period - at bluegrass or other cultural events. Their lyrics may not represent ideas that you and I support today - but they often have message or history that is worth remembering today.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: KateG
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:26 PM

Fascinating discussion, as always....gotta love that 'cat.

I seem to remember hearing an interesting discussion on NPR about the history of the Southern Battle Cross. The interviewee was talking about the revival of the flag as a segregationalist symbol in the 1950's and 60's, and saying that prior to the civil rights movement the flag had lain fairly dormant and been regarded as a historical artifact. If this is correct, it's current potency as a symbol of racism may date to that era as well. It would be an interesting topic to research.

I confess that the message I get when I see the on bikes and pickups is one of in-your-face rebellion against ALL authority - and that the displayer's bigotry (or remotely possible lack thereof) is almost secondary.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,robomatic
Date: 12 May 04 - 04:37 PM

I think I understand most of the points raised so far. I would look askance at those sporting and selling the Confederate Flag because it has become a potent post Civil War symbol of racism. I know that not everyone perceives it thus, but plenty do.

In the early 90's I was at the Oshkosh air convention (Wisconsin) and among the sales booths there were some selling various 'proud to be South' monickers, and in addition to the flag, the 'southern by the grace of God' signs, was a bumper sticker: "If I'd 'a known, I'd've picked my own cotton!" I considered this vaguely humorous when I first saw it, but came to the conclusion after the fact that it was incredibly racist.

What do you guys think? do you see embellishments like these at the same places you see Confederate flags for sale and does this give a truer implication as to the symbolic meanings involved?


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,Rubylox
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:15 PM

Thank you everyone for your positive response. I will begin looking for bluegrass festivals in California this summer. (Finances are too tight to travel to another state). If possible, I'd like to find festivals that have various kinds of music like the one mentioned above so that my fiancee can attend. He's not into bluegrass but if there's a mix he's most likely to come with me.

I'm curious to know who your (ya'lls) favorite artists are.
So far for me it's:
Alison Kraus & Union Station
The Del McCoury Band
&
Rhonda Vincint


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:43 PM

"If I'd 'a known, I'd've picked my own cotton!"

Well, I'm not attuned to how racism works in the States, but I'd have thought that was an anti-racist slogan, if anything - essentially saying "I didn't appreciate how Black people were being oppressed and exploited all this time".
................

I don't know how I feel about the flag issue either because people were enslaved as the Constitution was being written by the same people who were slaveowners. Should I also fear the U.S. Flag?

I was interested to see Rubylox say that - it's something that had occurred to me too. The same applies to the Union Jack here - in one version or another it was the flag that at one time flew on ships protecting the slave trade, and at a later time on ships that trying to put it down.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,tequilaron
Date: 12 May 04 - 08:48 PM

I found an interesting site titled "On Black Confederates". Here is an excerpt:
22. "Black Confederate heritage is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. For instance, Terri Williams, a black journalist for the Suffolk "Virginia Pilot" newspaper, writes: "I've had to re-examine my feelings toward the [Confederate] flag started when I read a newspaper article about an elderly black man whose ancestor worked with the Confederate forces. The man spoke with pride about his family member's contribution to the cause, was photographed with the [Confederate] flag draped over his lap that's why I now have no definite stand on just what the flag symbolizes, because it no longer is their history, or my history, but our history."

So often the Confederacy is painted as just a bunch of white racist slave owners fighting for the right to maintain a perverse inhumane culture, when in fact the Southern culture was far more complex.

Rubylox- I am a big fan of Tom Russell and Dave Alvin. Both Californians I believe. Basically, I like all roots music. Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Lightnin' Hopkins, Gamble Rogers (a Florida Boy), Paul Thorn, Doc Watson, and on and on and on. I like it all as long as it is not this overproduced commercial pablum that is served up daily on most media outlets with the solitary goal of appealing to the most base instincts of humanity. Sorry I am beginning to rant. Breathe easy folks.
Ron


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Once Famous
Date: 12 May 04 - 09:33 PM

Rubylox, you've got great taste in artists. Those are some of my favorites also.

We have a fine NPR radio station here in Chicago originating from the College of Dupage (county). Every Wednesday night 7-9 PM there is a great bluegrass show called Strictly Blegrass that you can listen to on-line via streaming audio. Two hours earlier in your part of the country. In fact, I am listening to it right now as I write this to you.

Go to:   http://www.wdcb.org/

Best regards,
Martin Gibson


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: pdq
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:19 PM

...here is the California Bluegrass Association site:

   CBA

Check out the "Huck Finn" in So. Calif., the "Kate Wolf" in Central Calif., the "Father's Day" in Northern Calif., and the "Strawberry" in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The CBA sponsors the "Father's Day Festival" in Grass Valley each year. Of the four mentioned, it is the only truly "bluegrass" festival. The "Kate Wolf" gets a bit political but the line-up this year is awesome. Get tickets early.


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Joe Richman
Date: 12 May 04 - 10:53 PM

I'm going to "Huck Finn" in Victorville, Father's Day weekend. J. D. Crowe, Doug Dillard and Earl Scruggs are gonna be there. Rubylox, bring your fiddle. And this weekend is the smaller Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Contest... Somewhere on the west side of LA. I've got a map somewhere.

I'm not gonna guarantee a rebel flag free event in any venue playing this music. And some people drink to much at some events, too. But having said that, you'll find that most of the people are just plain ol' mountain music lovers!


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 12 May 04 - 11:35 PM

Rubylox, I like those same 3 groups that you do. In addition, some of my favorites are the Johnson Mountain Boys, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Tim & Mollie O'Brien, Third Tyme Out, Northern Lights, Amy Gallatin & Stillwater, Laurie Lewis, & Red Wine (an Italian Bluegrass Band). There is a hard core group of fans called the Grillbillies that travel by RV from one festival to another and publicize them on their websiste www.grillbilles.com I see them at many festivals here in the north. Most of them are either middle age or senior citizens, but they do fly the Confederate flag proudly. I don't think they do it out of malice. Some of them may not even be aware that it is offensive to some people. Many are not even from the south, as their vehicles bear Connecticut, Massachusetts, N.Y. & Pennsylvania tags. SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Stars & Bars at Bluegrass Festivals
From: GUEST,swampman
Date: 28 Feb 06 - 06:02 PM

swampman-It is okay to fly rebel flags at bluegrass concerts
and i am very proud of the rebel flag.

i will fly my rebel flags till the day i'm dead and i love bluegrass
music.


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