by Rachel Gould
“You know the difference between the Blues and Bluegrass? Both have lost their women, but the Blues laments it, while Bluegrass celebrates it!” Cue soul-warming laughter filling the Chapel Hall in Old Main where students, faculty, and staff sat, gathered together for a lighthearted hour of food and good music.
Snappy one-liners and quick fingers picking banjos helped to welcome this year’s Brown Bag Series here on campus. Once a month, the Department of Fine Arts invites students to bring their lunches and to enjoy an hour listening to musicians from across the nation, who bring with them a variety of musical styles. A rather informal event, the Brown Bag Series provides an almost picnic-like atmosphere as even the founding fathers of the school seem to be smiling down from their portraits on the scene below.
This opening performance provided the perfect environment for sing-a-longs and audience requests of Bob Dylan and John Denver, allowing students to join in the creation of an all-around good time. And of course the performance wouldn’t have been complete without a hand-clapping rendition of Tennessee’s favorite song as indicated by the day’s guest artist, Mike Roby, when he invited the audience to “take your teeth out, and I’ll sing ‘Rocky Top.’”
Although this most recent performance featured a Bluegrass group, past performances have featured different musical styles, such as Dr. Dr. Jordan Tang, director of the Jackson Symphony, so the series allows for a wide spectrum of musical styles to be showcased. From banjo to Bach, classical to contemporary, folk to fine art, the Brown Bag Series helps students to appreciate the diversity and the richness of a musical world awaiting their listening ears.