Johnson City, Tenn. - Bluegrass bands all across America are on tour this summer, but the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Pride Band will take their music across the world to Japan.
Bluegrass is very big in Japan, and the students hope to learn as much about the Japanese as they learn about them.
The East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Pride Band is making final plans for their trip halfway around the world to Japan. They're signing autographed pictures to give the families who will be hosting them during their visit.
But you can't get musicians together without music breaking out, which has made their trip possible. "This trip will serve to give our students, the Bluegrass Pride Band members, some experience performing internationally," Bluegrass Program Director Dan Boner said.
And a chance to interact in a musical kind of way with a completely different culture while they share their music. "It's going to be an experience for me to see how they interpret our music and how they enjoy our music, compared to people here in America. I kind of consider people here to be kind of spoiled with music because you can find it anywhere. Over there it will be a different story," band member Zachary Carter says.
They'll visit an instrument museum that contains a pre-war Gibson banjo, a prized possession for any banjo picker internationally. "We're going to be doing a seminar there where we talk about Bluegrass music, the origins of the music, and how the instruments that we use were borrowed from other styles and other countries and adapted to fit this style of music," Boner expalained.
Music is why they're going, but they hope to learn about the people as well. "We'll stay in a hotel some over there, but we'll also be staying with families, and I'm looking forward to that. We actually get to experience the Japanese culture rather that just being the tourist who goes to the hotels plays the show the next day. We'll get to interact with families," band member Savannah Vaughn said.
And share a special brand of music that has made its way all over the world.