Share Your Passion: Retail Director Matt on Bluegrass Music

Growing up watching Grandpa Olesh on harmonica, my uncles on stand-up bass and guitar, and Dad on mandolin, it only made sense that I’d end up with an affinity for good old-fashioned bluegrass and country music. Long before I knew of any craft beer or had the slightest idea of what I wanted to do as a career, I knew and loved bluegrass. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my family playing classics like Nine Pound Hammer and Hickory Wind in the garage at family parties.

I don’t recall exactly when I started playing music but I’m extremely grateful that my parents sat me on a piano bench when they did. I played piano for several years, and I like to think I was pretty good at it. But, I wasn’t truly passionate about it. I’m not the type of person to go on doing something I’m not passionate about, and I guess I picked up that trait at a young age.

When I turned 12, I decided to step away from the piano lessons and pick up guitar. Before I knew it, I was playing the blues and learning bits and pieces of popular songs. Then I hit the phase where I listened to a lot of metal and wanted to be in a punk band. Eventually, I rediscovered my roots and officially fell in love with bluegrass music. Artists like Clarence White and Doc Watson simply blew my mind, and I’d listen to & practice the same songs on repeat in hopes of picking up a trick or two. After my first few months of at my first job, I bought myself a bluegrass classic – a Martin HD-28, and it’s still my pride and joy.

A few years back, I heard about an insanely talented young bluegrass musician named Chris Thile. Listening to him is probably the biggest reason I decided to pick up Mandolin. I assume the inner Dead Head is also partially to blame.

As far as concerts go, I try to get to as many shows as I can, and usually plan for at least one bluegrass-heavy festival per year. High Sierra and the Huck Finn Jubilee have been recent favorites. Bands like The Punch Brothers and The Devil Makes Three are always must-sees while in town. I’ve been eyeing a bluegrass festival coming up next March and already can’t wait! There’s just something about seeing a bluegrass band live that’s a little bit transcendent to me. The precise intricate musicianship, the passion you can see and feel, the relaxed and unpretentious vibe, the humble and appreciative attitude. It’s all good stuff, and oddly enough as I hear myself describe what I like about bluegrass music, I could say the same things about why I love the craft beer community as well!

At the end of the day, few things make me as happy as finding the exact song to fit my mood on the way home, cooking dinner while listening to music, or playing music on the couch. Craft beer may be the passion that’s most obvious to the outside world, but right alongside will always be a love for bluegrass music.


Post written by Matt Olesh, our Director of Retail Operations and cheif wearer of fashionable hats.

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