If you recall my account of attending the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. show in Portland, Ind., last August, I mentioned feeling overwhelmed by the entire situation. Everywhere I looked, there were gas engines and tractors, all of which were, at the time, completely foreign to me.
But as I walked around the massive grounds, something familiar caught my ear. It was a guy playing harmonica, a woman on piano and another guy on acoustic guitar playing old folk songs. Being a fan and player of old folk songs myself, the music sucked me in. I went over and watched for a while and noticed that the trio had attracted a decent crowd that came and went throughout the course of the day. I would hardly call covering gas engine shows "work," but you do get tired walking around in the heat, and it was nice to take a load off while listening to some great music.
Anyhow, the trio could only play so long, and by late afternoon, they had packed up. I was disappointed that there didn't seem to be any more musical entertainment scheduled for the rest of the day.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks there's an opportunity for more music. Reader William H. Meade from Mission, Texas recently sent us a letter outlining his idea for acoustic musicians getting together to "jam" at engine and tractor shows. William writes:
"At the show site, jammers will get together wherever it is shady, not windy, and where there is room for spectators. There may be a half dozen to a dozen musicians in a circle and twice that or more outside the circle in chairs. Jammers could be here and there and all over the place, even in the parking areas when the sun goes down and where the music may last until midnight or beyond. The music has to be acoustic and electric."
William believes an organized approach to advertising "jammer friendly" engine and tractor shows would attract some fine travelling musicians. And I'm a firm believer that among collectors, there are surely some folks who know their way around a guitar, banjo or harmonica. It's just a matter of getting the word out to tell them to bring their instruments as well as their engines.
Overall, I think this is a great way for clubs and show promoters to draw more people to their events and I'm hoping it catches on. I think I'll bring my guitar with me when I can, just in case.