Because my immediate family is fairly far-flung – my mother lives in Washington and my sister just outside Austin – I find I need occasional reminders of how my family operates. This week, it’s sister Sarah who is making the trip to Augusta to remind me of the bonds, and rivalries, that siblings share. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it. Welcome home, Sarah.
Sarah is my sister because, as you may have suspected, we share the same parents. We grew up together in the same house. It’s the traditional model. But families are funny things. Not every family is one we are born into. Some families are sought out, married into or formed by those searching for a place that feels like home. Others grow organically, the product of similar interests and goals. That’s what the Augusta music community has become.
Like most, if not all, families, those who consider Augusta’s practice spaces and – for the time being, bars – home do not form a completely functional family. There are squabbles and rivalries, some significant and others more imagined than not.
There are those that carry themselves with dignity and others, like the odd uncle who takes his pants off after dinner, who might embarrass themselves from time to time. But the Augusta music community is a real family, and one that operates without judgment or prejudice.
There no entry requirements. It doesn’t ask those who become one of its numbers to swear an oath of fidelity. It doesn’t even require proof of musical talent. All it asks is that those that become part of the family support those artists who strive to produce music that enlightens and entertains. In return, those artists will support you.
I realize that sounds like a rose-colored view of a difficult-to-define group, but I’ve seen proof time and time again. Members of the Augusta music community – the Augusta music family – care for one another. It’s not that way in every community. In fact, it’s that way in very few.
So do me a favor. At some point today, you will be asked what you are thankful for. It doesn’t matter that you might not be in the right frame of mind to play that annual game, or that your concerns, at that given moment, are more focused on football or oyster stuffing. You will be asked what you are thankful for and holiday rules dictate that you answer.
I am thankful for a lot of things. I’m thankful for my wife and children. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my health and job and, yes, I’m thankful that my sister Sarah and her family have come to spend some time with me and mine. But I’m also thankful for the Augusta musicians and fans, the venue owners and hardworking promoters who, for more years than I care to count, have counted an opinionated guy with a place to print his musings as one of their own.