Acoustic Music, Bluegrass Music, Random DJB Thoughts
Comment 1

Old Time Zen

Open Back BanjoA friend from Philadelphia recently sent the following quote to me via email:

“A year or so ago on the bluegrass mailing list, one of the
bluegrassers was comparing their custom of playing a tune
until all the verses had been sung with the old-time custom
of playing the same tune ad infinitum. He remarked that
the object of old-time music was to bore people.
I explained that the object of an old-time jam session is
enlightenment (satori, if you will)—boredom is only a
means to that end.”  Charlie Bowen

This led to a search online (shouldn’t all posts about zen include some reference to a search?) and took me to the original source: an information sheet about a Hillbilly Zen workshop at the 2006 Solfest.  Other bits of wisdom from the workshop:

The violin music is important because we play it.

Repetition of the tune in the groove leads people to an absorption, a place of clarity which most old-time musicians like.

And my favorite:

Respect for tradition is a kind of filter. People who are willing to bow down to tradition have a certain amount of respect for something greater than themselves.

So, stop to recognize a power greater than yourself and enjoy two minutes of Old Time Zen with Uncle Earl, playing the appropriately titled (for this blog) Browns’ Dream.

More to come…



I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

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