Musicians play music. Once a note is played it can not be reclaimed. If a listener or would-be listener misses that note, too bad. Nothing to be done about it.
Photographers take pictures and make films. When a photograph is taken, that is a frozen moment in time. A moment that can not be reclaimed, but once captured on film, it can be seen again and again.
I have always been fascinated by both of these art forms and the hugely different ways they seem to be about fleeting moments in time. I love to see photographs, doesn’t really matter what they are, I love them all. Photographs and film of musicians being musicians though I feel are very important, not only because they capture that un-reclaimable note or moment, but because they preserve that note or moment for those who were not there. They give us all a chance to participate and appreciate and enjoy that moment in time, even though most of us were not there. I think they help to hold us together as a community also because we can all form common bonds through these shared moments.
In the bluegrass world, we are very lucky to have several people helping to preserve these fleeting moments. The one I would like to mention today is Fred Robbins.
Fred has photographed, filmed and recorded a lot of very important events in the bluegrass world. Judging from his photographs, I think he had a lot of personal dealings with a lot of the people whose music we all love. For example, he attended the Fincastle Bluegrass Festival in 1966, Union Grove 1966-68, saw Flatt and Scruggs at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, knew Doug Dillard, and experienced music and festivals that we have all heard of for years from the 1960s to the present day. He was there. And he had his cameras.
Fred’s website is truly an amazing resource. It is a treasure trove of video, audio and photography that preserves so much bluegrass history that it should not be missed by anyone. There are amazing slide shows of bands, festivals, and people. There is a huge collection of live recordings and video stretching from 1969 to the present. There is a fantastic collection of video from the Grey Fox festival-even one of Bill Keith watching Ryan Cavanaugh practice and includes a priceless Bill Keith workshop that should be watched by every banjo player.
There is more too, articles that Fred wrote for Bluegrass Unlimited, and a lot of non-bluegrass things too. It is a rich site and when you look at it, I am sure you will agree.
I applaud Fred for preserving so much of our musical history and sharing it with us. These moments that happened in time are not lost thanks to Fred Robbins.