Those wacky regulators at work...
Date: Tue, 6 Sep 94 15:49:42 PDT
Subject: Those wacky regulators at work...
From: Rich Stillman x6135 <RSTILLMAN@hbs.hbs.harvard.edu>
Washington, D.C.- Citing the power of bluegrass music to communicate,
the White House today announced that the FCC will assume
responsibility for regulating the so-called "parking lot picking"
culture prevalent at bluegrass festivals. A highly placed government
source explained, "Any irresponsible individual with a thousand
dollars can obtain a banjo capable of creating noise well in excess
of OSHA, EPA and NEA limits. Clearly there is a need for government
Although details are sketchy at this time, it appears the proposed
regulation will consist of three parts: theory, jurisprudence and
practice. The theory portion will include a written examination on
the circle of fifths and the history of bluegrass. The jurisprudence
portion will assess the candidate's knowledge of the etiquette of jam
sessions, including a practical test for banjo players in which they
will be required to resist joining a hot jam session because they
already have a banjo player. The ability to keep levels of
performance and taste within prescribed limits after drinking
considerable amounts of alcoholic beverages will also be tested. Each
licensee will be assigned a unique lick, which he/she will be
required to play when joining a jam session and intermittently during
The practice portion of the examination is likely to be the most
controversial. Reportedly, all banjo players must play "Foggy Mountain
Breakdown" at no less than 100 beats per minute to obtain a novice
license. Novices will be restricted to playing in jam sessions only
with other novices, out of earshot of higher class license holders.
Novices will also be restricted to banjos manufactured by Kay and
Harmony. Speed must be raised to 150 beats per minute for a regular
class license to be granted. A special melodic rating will be granted
after the applicant has demonstrated the ability to play Bill Keith's
break on "New Camptown Races" and the "bumblebee break" from "Shucking
the Corn". This rating will be required before a player is permitted
to play more than three consecutive notes of a single scale. A
proposed chromatic rating was rejected out of hand by the regulators.
Asked what the effect of the proposed regulations would be on
bluegrass festivals, the official cited improved sleeping conditions
for people in RVs parked near jam sessions, and stated "people walk
away from jam sessions all the time, muttering about this or that
musician who ruined it for everyone else. These rules should not be
considered prohibitive, as they simply bring regulation of jam
sessions into line by assuring that competent people are able to
operate without worrying about the incompetents around them, much as
similar regulation and ethical standards for legislators and
automobile drivers has made safer working environments of the nation's
roads and Congress.
© 1994 Peter Langston