Tonight I went out to see some bluegrass. Honest-to-pete bluegrass, with mandolin, banjo, harmonica and bass fiddle ablaze and feet all around stomping to the beat. The bands played originals as well as traditional bluegrass, and some covered Bowie songs in honor of the late idol’s passing. They all played at a small joint called Driftwood on Folsom Street.
As I first arrived and approached the entrance to the bar, I noticed that the space was quite full. The bands were playing near the doorway, their backs visible through the large plate glass windows, and the audience had gathered around them, facing the street. One person stood outside, a man smoking a cigarette. He wore a newsboy cap low over his brow and sported a pair of glasses with perfectly round eyes.
*“Gosh, sure looks crowded in there, huh?”, *I mused out loud.
I stepped back from the entrance to message a friend—inside somewhere—so I could walk in confidently rather than linger at the doorway in full sight of all standing around. The smoking man turned to me.
*“Yea, it’s good”, *he said.
I agree, stranger. Say more.
“People actually came out to see music. Rare these days. People just stay inside and watch T.V.”.
The smoking man said this with a conviction not warranted by my casual remark. He didn’t scoff, but the tone of his voice suggested as much. He couldn’t make eye contact with me, as if my amusement over a packed bar on a Tuesday night was insulting to the bands and everybody inside. He made his statement and promptly turned about-face, dragging on his cigarette.
I made my way inside, marveling at the pessimism with which some people approach life. For the sake of this complete stranger, let me rephrase his words and present it to you as a keepsake of my night.
It’s beautiful that people come out for a drink on a Tuesday to support local musicians. It’s even more beautiful that there are active, young musicians keeping traditional folk and bluegrass tunes alive. And yes, stranger, it’s beautiful to approach a small bar on a quiet section of a street and find a bar nearly overflowing with happy faces.