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The 3-Minute Interview: Randy Barrett, president of the DC Bluegrass Union

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Local,Entertainment,DC,Music,People,3-Minute Interview,April Burbank

Barrett is a banjo player and president of the DC Bluegrass Union, which is organizing the Fourth Annual DC Bluegrass Festival in College Park on Friday and Saturday.

What do you have planned for the DC Bluegrass Festival?

We start with a band contest called the Mid-Atlantic Bluegrass Band Contest, which is great fun. ... And then Saturday, we've got a whole full day of music scheduled. The headliner will be Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers -- he's a real mainstay and one of the great performers of bluegrass. ... It's a great day of music, it's family-friendly.

What's D.C.'s bluegrass scene like in general?

D.C. has a really strong bluegrass scene, and it dates all the way back to World War II and a little before. A lot of folks came to Washington during the war to work for the Defense Department, and a lot of them came from the South, and they brought their instruments with them and were playing what they were referring to as country music, which really became what we now know as bluegrass.

How did you get personally involved in bluegrass? Do you play?

I started playing the banjo when I was 13 years old -- I kind of fell into it, and needless to say, it changed my life. And ever since I've played, and I teach banjo and I've just been involved in the music.

Why do you like this kind of music so much?

It's really a truly American art form because it's an amalgam of string band music and jazz and blues ... And when you mix them all together, you end up with a kind of music that everybody can find something in it that they like. It's a very exciting art form. It's based on improvisation, as jazz is, and it's got an enormous amount of soul to it and history to it ... It's like biting into really good chocolate.

- April Burbank

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