Mudcat Café message #1268175 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73111   Message #1268175
Posted By: Ron Davies
09-Sep-04 - 10:31 PM
Thread Name: Is bluegrass an attitude?
Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
It's certainly true that Billboard "country" these days is almost without exception '70s rock under a different name. There are a few exceptions--Josh Turner's Long Black Train being one--much more a throwback to '40's country gospel.

At any rate, regarding bluegrass:   it's real easy to just define all the songs you like into the genre you prefer.   I happen to like bluegrass a lot. People seem to be relegating bluegrass to a standard set of instruments played a specific way. I'd agree there are certain instruments which don't fit in bluegrass.

But within the list of fiddle, guitar, dobro, string bass, banjo and mandolin, there are all sorts of combinations. Aren't Hazel and Alice (as a duo) bluegrass? What about the Louvin Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys? Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice? Doyle Lawson? Doc Watson, as has been mentioned, fits in all sorts of categories. Where does Norman Blake fit in?

You can if you want define bluegrass into a very small subset of music--mostly Bill Monroe and his musical descendants--Flatt and Scruggs, Ralph Stanley? and a few others.
But I would claim all the above for bluegrass, as well as large parts of the Carter Family repertoire, and most of the Singing Brakeman, some Johnny Cash, Charlie Poole, and others. All these without venturing into jazz-influenced music (arguably Jimmy was a link between jazz and country, and country blues is another connection.)   All the above have been done, quite successfully, to the above instruments, and with lots of vocals, including, frequently, harmony.

Old time, on the other hand, seems to be overwhelmingly instrumental. And not only that, instrumental which doesn't allow for breaks. Every instrument plays the same thing over and over. Is this an unfair characterization? The only songs I know of that would be old time for sure would be Cumberland Gap, Old Joe Clark, and Sail Away Ladies, and a few more--usually doesn't tell a story, all verses interchangeable. So OK, my prejudices are showing--your mileage may vary.