BRUNSWICK (AP) – Bluegrass players are laid-back types. They’ll keep on strumming all night as long as there’s somebody to play with.

At the 26th Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival this weekend, some musicians in the “Field Picker’s Paradise” zone were playing until sunrise.

“This place was happening till 3 o’clock last night, maybe 4,” Richard Michaud, a lawyer from Newton, Mass., said Saturday. “I went to bed at 3.”

Michaud plays the mandola, a larger, lower version of the mandolin. He compared techniques with electrician and mandolin player Pete Gallant, also from Massachusetts, and explained the appeal of bluegrass to musicians.

“Everybody who wants to gets to play a lead,” he said. “Even in traditional music they don’t do that.”

Some bluegrass musicians are so enthusastic about their craft, they’ll turn up to play even if there isn’t a festival being held.

Even though there was not an official event scheduled for last Labor Day weekend, some of the 26 working bluegrass bands in Maine turned up at the park, said Bernie Coombs, a bass player and president of the 450-member Bluegrass Music Association of Maine.

“Believe it or not, quite a few of us just spent the weekend here and camped out,” he said.

There were 113 bluegrass festivals across the country when Patti Crooker started the Thomas Point festival at her family’s 27-acre campground, she said. Today there are more than 1,400.

The laid-back nature of the bluegrass musicians appealed to audience members like Wayne Cormier, a retired warehouse worker who began listening to bluegrass last year after hearing it in movie soundtracks.

“Nobody puts on any airs. People come like they just got done cutting the grass in their backyard,” he said.

The music just grabbed him, Cormier said.

“It’s happy music,” he said. “Even though they’re singing about dying and jilted love and things like that, you can’t keep your feet from moving.”



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