We’re bombarded with negative messages everyday. Bailouts to bad weather. Hogzilla to swine flu. It’s good every now and then to take a respite from all of that. A couple of weeks ago, while visiting my in-laws in NC, we had the pleasure of attending a community pickin’. Not a pig pickin’. Or a nose pickin’. (We don’t do that around here.) But a pickin’ of the musical variety. Bluegrass and country music to be more specific.

These community pickin’s have been popping up around the area for some time. Gifted musicians and music fans come from all around to visit these different pickin’ parlours or “Pickin’ Parties” for lack of a better term. To listen. To play. And to forget about the Lizard Man for one evening. What could be better than a night of music and fellowship?

This particular pickin’ was in Staley, NC. The musicians circle around, break out in Little Cabin Home on the Hill and the fun begins. They take turns leading the music and everyone jumps in, even if they’ve never played that particular tune before. It’s fun to watch.

Here’s Julie, a fiddle player and the only lady in the bunch. She’s a member of the all girl band, The Sweet Potato Pie.

This young fella began on the upright bass. The upright bass is cool.

Yep, I’m looking at you. I’m talkin’ about your bass. That’s one cool bass.

I wanna to learn to play the stand up bass.

The stand up bass and the banjo. The banjo rocks.

And the dobro. Beautiful instrument, the dobro.

I can hear it now… Merle Haggard’s Sing Me Back Home…

“Sing me back home to a place I used to know, make my old memories come alive, take me away and turn back the years, sing me back home before I die.”

The singing and pickin’ continue. Around the circle it goes. Where it stops nobody knows.

Here’s a familiar face. It’s my husband and our daughter.

I’m surprised these pictures are any thing close to being clear as I was slightly nervous for my daughter. This was her first time singing in a group of strangers and all adults. Most of the musicians didn’t know the song, Come On Up to the House, but just jumped right in. See the proud daddy? Pure joy.

For him to play and sing with his daughter is a treat beyond measure. And look. He’s looking at his daddy (pronounced “diddy” around those parts) and thinking, “Look Daddy. Look at my little girl. Isn’t she just the greatest?”

He’s so proud. Me too. She’s something for only being 14, if I do say so myself.

But why don’t I let you check her out for yourself. (Please excuse the sound quality, the videographer was camped out right next to the banjo, so there’s a bit more twanging going on and the timing, etc. is a little wonky as it took everyone a while to catch on to the tune. Definitely a home video.)

It was a fun night for all. As I said before, these pickin’ parlours have been popping up all around. Maybe there’s one near your neck of the woods? If so, why not take your family? Enjoy some real talent and maybe make some new friends in the process.

Are there any other local goings on you can share with everyone? Maybe your neighborhood has a regular block party? Or is there a square dance hall nearby? Or do you like to stand outside around a fire with your favorite buddies eating s’mores and watching for shooting starts? Whatever it is, do tell.

Keep on pickin’ you pickers out there!