My wife and I saw Ralph Stanley in concert Friday night at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ralph is a true original, and one of the last remaining members of the first generation of bluegrass musicians. You might know him best from his contributions to the soundtrack of "O Brother, Where Art Thou," but he's been singing, playing banjo and ridin' the road for 60 years.
You'd think he might have earned the right to retire by now, yet at age 79, he's still marketing himself. Before and after the show, he was seated at the CD table, signing his box sets and T-shirts and 8x10s.
About half way through his set, he announced from the stage, "It's commercial time," then tossed it to his guitar player who ran down the litany of merchandise we really ought to have to make our Ralph Stanley experience complete.
Ralph then made special mention of the two CDs on his own label, StanleyTone, pointing out that he gets to "keep all the profits" from those discs.
You gotta' hand it to anyone who finds a way to make a life and a living out of doing what they love, especially when what they do also brings so much joy to others. And you gotta' give it up for any marketer who makes "commercial time" so much fun.