Are you sick of Facebook yet?  I am, and the release in 2020 of the documentary, The Social Dilemma almost caused me to cancel my account.  But one word has kept me going with this platform–community.  The ability for music fans to come together and meet and interact with like-minded folks is amazing.  Let’s face it, a lot of my favorite musicians most people have never heard of, and I recognize that I am completely unaware of many fine musicians.  If I love a band like National Health, most people would think is has something to do with Obamacare, instead of a somewhat popular late Canterbury rock band from Britain in the 70s.  I can go onto Facebook and create a community , let’s call it “National Health, the Band.” and I can talk musicians, concerts, and recordings with other National Health fans. This has become a huge deal on Facebook as it brings isolated fans together, and I belong to a string of groups focusing on genres like Jazz Rock Fusion, Americana, Telluride Bluegrass, or artist groups for John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, or Lyle Mays.  The cool thing is that talking about music transcends political and cultural boundaries, and it is great to find that music fans from around the world have the same eclectic taste in music that you do.

Lyle Mays was a visionary artist who collaborated throughout his career with Pat Metheny and other musicians in his circle of talented collaborators.  A prodigy on piano, Mays always considered himself a fan of classical music who played Jazz, and his deep understanding of musical theory fascinated him as he put together chordal puzzle pieces to create unique and highly complex music that was still accessible to the common ear.  His catalog of albums includes the amazing work of the Pat Metheny Group, a few guest spots on friend’s albums, and a series of brilliant solo albums, starting with the self-titled Lyle Mays.  On Facebook, a small, but vibrant and enthusiastic global community grew around Lyle Mays, with people checking in daily on what the “Maestro” was up to and what recording might be considered his best.  When Mays died in February of 2020, the group responded with shock and even greater awe of May’s practically unknown contributions to music.  Post after post opened up more of May’s life and musical contributions, through photographs, articles, and personal anecdotes.

I have a good collection of live Lyle Mays material in my live music collection, a significant accomplishment considering there is not much material out there.  Many of the available shows came off of FM radio, so the quality is very good.  Recently, a radio broadcast of a very rare solo concert from the early 90s emerged on of the live music web sites I frequent.  The quality is amazing, and the songs melodic and wonderful to listen to.  I decided I would go to the Facebook Lyle Mays page and let folks know I had a copy of the show, and was willing to share it with anyone that sent me a personal message.  The floodgates opened and I was engulfed by messages, from every continent, and many countries, all asking for a copy of the show.  Even when English was not their language, folks figured a way to ask.  This went on for about ten days, and I must have responded to more than 200 requests.  The reaction was great, as many people had never been exposed to bootleg shows that are high quality.  Even relatives of Lyle Mays contacted me asking for the link.  It was community at its finest, where people from across the globe who love May’s music came together and listened to this marvelous performance.  I have since added a few more shows to that Dropbox directory, and people were thrilled.

So maybe I’ll hold off on ditching Facebook for now.  I recognize the problems, but the musical communities that I am engaged in are worth being careful.  Just don’t believe everything you read on Facebook.

Two Great Festivals in September

The live music scene is coming alive again, even though the Delta Variant is causing havoc right now.  Many bands and venues are requiring concert-goers to show proof of vaccination to go inside the concert venue.  I am not sure what the outdoor shows are doing, but I do know that both DelFest and Watermelon Pickers’ Festival are coming up in September, and both have killer lineups.

 The Watermelon Pickers Festival will be held at the Clarke County Fairgrounds in Berryville this year on September 16-18.  Bela Fleck My Bluegrass Heart, featuring Sierra Hull will headline, along with The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller and the Keels, and Charley Crockett.  More info at watermelonpickersfest.com/.

DelFest will run September 23-26, and it’s located in Cumberland, MD.  The Fest will feature the great Del McCoury Band, The Travellin’ McCourys, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck My Bluegrass Heart, Leftover Salmon and many more.  You can get more info at delfest.com, Del Yeah!

Steve Chase is typing a post to the Lyle Mays Facebook Group in Unison.

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