News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Building communities around music

I have now lived in Sisters three years, and I love it. The community is so supportive of the creative pursuits of artisans. I want to reinforce that and thank this community for embracing artisanship as a major value we promote and are proud of.

As a musical instrument manufacturer and repairman, here is my somewhat idealized view on the merits of playing acoustic music as one of the many forms of creative expression that are prevalent in Sisters Country:

In the spirit of history’s success in finally setting mankind on a course of self-correction, I believe that participatory music will play a vital role. As a curriculum of culture, Bluegrass and other forms of folk music invite participation and act as a vehicle which people can freely board to reach new peaceful destinations.

A music-driven destination might be as simple as one person showing another how to play a G chord, or — projected into a utopian future — it might be envisioned in the prescient name of a famous Colorado-based festival producer, “Planet Bluegrass.”

As businesses are continually automating, jobs are being done with less human engagement, freeing up time for more self-expression. It also frees up time for Netflix, but I think that growth-minded people will gravitate toward creative endeavors, furthering evolution in ways that lead to a more peacefully functional world. It is up to visionaries and policy makers to imagine ways to encourage this positive societal trend.

From the Neanderthal flute to Einstein’s fiddle, music tends to represent a peaceful antithesis to war. What if 20 percent or even 10 percent of mankind accepted music’s challenge; how would it change the world?

As we receive energy from all sources of nature, seen and unseen, humans transduce that energy into generally productive things like time-saving technology, which facilitates generation of creative expression.

Of the many modes of expression that art provides, Bluegrass represents a traditional form with historically defined parameters. Learning within this context encourages beginners because the body of accepted material is generally simple and universally straightforward.

As participants of Bluegrass become more advanced they may hone their skill into nuanced heartfelt expression, emulating the original masters yet incorporating their own techniques, which over time expands and diversifies the genre.

We aspire to meaning, friendship, learning, fun, and happiness yet we are simultaneously faced with the inherent loss and regret that looms around us. Music is the best coping mechanism for mediating between happy and sad. Thriving together involves sharing these realities in a community of human beings.

My hope for humanity is to recognize the unending possibilities offered by adopting a musical mindset and embarking on our own artistic adventure during our limited time on this earth.

While I appreciate the discipline of recreating Bluegrass’s most traditional form, I love it in its potentials as heard in the many soulful and creative musicians that play it. I will promote Bluegrass in both its traditions and in its potentials and leave those passionate about other forms of music to work in parallel with me with the same goal in sight — unification of peoples by building communities around music.

This phenomenon is currently happening in Bluegrass, rock, jazz, classical, reggae, Irish and folk festivals everywhere.

For more information on Tom Nechville and Nechville Banjos, visit


Reader Comments(0)