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Bluegrass Scramble Review written by Rich Stillman

Thursday, January 6, 2011 @10:06:44 AM

 Last Sunday's BBU-sponsored band scramble at the Real School of Music in Burlington brought out about thirty people who discovered talents many never knew they had. If you've never been to a band scramble, the idea is a cross between pickup baseball and the Hogwarts sorting hats: take a bunch of strangers who play bluegrass instruments, throw their names into paper bags. Draw names at random to create bands. Send each band away to rehearse for an hour and a half with a simple mission: create a 5-7 minute set of music on stage. Call everyone back, and put on a show.

 The five bands that competed in Sunday's scramble showed a range of talents. Every band had some people who had never played bluegrass onstage before. At least two people made their singing debut as well.

 I can tell you from touring the rehearsal rooms during those 90 minutes that the energy level and enthusiasm was high. Everyone was involved in picking band names, repertoire and arranging. The atmosphere in every room felt like a really good band rehearsal. That spirit made it onto the stage, where all the bands, who were competing for an opening act slot at a local coffeehouse and a set of tuners, put on enjoyable performances and cheered each other on from the audience.

 The comments were unanimously positive from everyone involved, and I really enjoyed the simultaneous spirits of cooperation and competition that extended from the selection of the bands through the concert itself. I think the first scramble was a complete success, and I'm looking forward to many more. Thanks to everyone who came out to participate, help out, or just watch!

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