Every year, hundreds, if not thousands of Tennesseans flock to Percy Warner Park to gather under the light of the full moon and make music together. I have attended maybe half a dozen of these over the years, and this August I finally decided to document the experience! One thing I love about the Full Moon Pickin' parties is that they are open to musicians and non-musicians alike. It is an event for all ages, complete with food trucks, local vendors, and of course, lots of bluegrass! When you first walk into the park, you get a reusable cup included with your ticket, which you can fill up to four times at the beer station. There is a main stage set up in the grass, in front of which becomes a lawn for listeners to gather with their chairs and blankets, and children with glow sticks and hula hoops to dance along the sidelines. To the right of the main listening area, pickers gather in groups with their instruments of choice to play music with one another late into the night.
On this particular night, I came with my husband and two friends. We found an empty plot of grass, claimed it, filled our cups, and the jams began. Since it was just two of us (fiddle and guitar) to start, we were hoping that as more people made their way to the picking area, folks would join in and we could expand our jam circle. Lucky for us, that did happen! First, I invited a lonely banjo player to join us. Then a mandolin player stepped in, then a second mandolin player, then a husband and wife duo on fiddle and guitar, then an upright bass player... and before we knew it, we had ourselves a complete bluegrass ensemble! All the while folks gathering around us to listen in. I have to say, it was an absolute delight and a true privilege getting to make music with new friends. It brings me so much joy to be able to connect and communicate with people I've never met before by simply playing our instruments together. What a beautiful thing! I have always sensed a deep need within myself to make people feel included and cared about (probably because I know how it feels to be EXcluded), and this part of me definitely comes out in these situations. I find so much joy and fulfillment in seeing other people smile and laugh with each other, and to think that perhaps I had something to do with that shared connection is incredibly humbling, and a feeling I never want to let go of.
If you'd like to see the full video of the Full Moon Pickin' Party, click here!