"The word cool in my day meant low temperature, nothing more," explains Morton Glosser, real estate broker, avocado and lychee grower, human hotline for the South Florida Bluegrass Association, harmonica and banjo player, and founder of the bluegrass group Corn Country, where he goes by the alias Pop Corn. A western Pennsylvanian who has lived in South Florida for more than 40 years, Glosser taught himself to play the harmonica at age ten in 1936, and his interest in bluegrass has never waned. The unique form of acoustic music dreamed up and popularized in the Thirties by Kentucky-born singer and mandolin player Bill Monroe is recognized by its pervasive use of strings (banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass), quick tempo, high-pitched harmonies, and instrumental solos by individual players. The all-American sound is a mix of Appalachian roots tunes, Irish and Scottish songs, blues, gospel, folk, and honky-tonk numbers.
Amateur musicians and aficionados have made sure an established bluegrass organization has existed in South Florida since the early Seventies. This weekend the crew presents its 24th annual Everglades Bluegrass Festival. Over three days in North Miami-Dade, where they've held first-Sunday-of-the-month bluegrass jams since the early Eighties, they'll welcome a slew of national and local bluegrass acts, such as the James King Band, the Chapman Family, Goldwing Express, and Southern Bred. Food, arts and crafts, records, tapes, and sundry souvenirs will also be available. The very bold are encouraged to camp out if they dare.
Just don't dare confuse bluegrass, which according to Glosser offers good, clean, family-oriented fun, with contemporary country music, or any other type at that. "Modern country is not country," he says. "It's basically a form of country rock. It ain't like it used to be." And what's wrong with some good old rock and roll every now and then? Well, as Glosser notes: "Rock is evil!"