Mudcat Café message #1268256 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73111   Message #1268256
Posted By: GUEST,tony
10-Sep-04 - 12:54 AM
Thread Name: Is bluegrass an attitude?
Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
Martin says: *"There is some format though it is not purely bill Monroe's. You can have an act like Del Mcourey open for the Juliard String Quartet. Same audience, different music."*

Marty! Marty! You've missed my point… ; - ) Who defines that format? A committee? The artist? Or the audience?   

BTW – when did Del McCoury ever open for the Juliard String Quartet. I wonder how many came because they wanted to hear both billings.

Listen to what everyone has been saying – even you:

*"Doc Watson is certainly more than a folksinger. He can be a pure bluegrass player as he was on the Strictly Instrumental album he recorded years ago with Flatt & Scruggs as well as with Scruggs and Skaggs on their 3 pickers album. He also recorded an album of rockabilly music so I guess he's a rockabilly singer, also."*

Yes. Of course you are right, he is more than just a folksinger. He's also done a some really fine work that could be classified as pure Mississippi Delta Blues. But if asked - I would still "classify" Doc Watson more as a folk artist than a bluegrass artist. Why? …as I said the great majority of the history of his recorded music was not done with traditional bluegrass accompaniment – nor were they traditional bluegrass songs (though he has done a good number of bluegrass tunes). But don't lose sight of the span of years and the sum of his considerable work. I'm not saying he doesn't do bluegrass music or that he doesn't do it well – I think I said the opposite. And if, as you say, instruments are an essential part of defining bluegrass music – Doc Wastson falls more into a category with Norman Blake. How would you define Norman Blake's music – mostly guitar and a lot of solo guitar. So… what is he? What was Doc Watson know as back in the 60's & 70's? Bluegrass?

*"Jerry Garcia as I pointed out has done much bluegrass either with Old & In the Way or bluegrass flavored hillbilly jazz with David Grisman."*

But bluegrass and "Old And In The Way" is really not what Jerry is most famous for now is it? Nor is his work with Daid Grisman (some would argue that David Grisman is not a true bluegrass artist). But Jerry sure did play well with Old And In The Way. There is a story I heard told about how Vassar Clemens was really amazed at the crowds that "Old And In The Way" was drawing on the west coast – not knowing much about who Jerry was.   And how would you classify Jerry as an artist / performer? Yes he does bluegrass well, but that's not the question…

*"On the other hand, foggy Mountain Breakdown played on trombones is hardly bluegrass, so the instruments DO matter."*

What if it was Lester Flatt playing that trombone? Huh, what about that?

"However, if you played Foggy Mountain Breakdown on a trombone with the right ATTITUDE...................."*

HA HA HA - ROTFLMHO! Wonderful Marty! I'm trying hard to hear that in my head. Now that would be classic.

Let me make another fly by... on a different attack angle this time. I don't think anyone is necessarily wrong when they say that so and so is bluegrass or such and such is bluegrass. The genre itself is best defined collectively by all of those who think they know what it is or isn't.

So, what is bluegrass?   The artist? The song? The words to the song? The instruments? The time period? The geography of origin? It's all of that! …and more. We could – and do – take rock and roll tunes, country tunes, gospel tunes – throw in some mando and banjo – wa la, bluegrass. And we can take traditional bluegrass tunes and jazz it up and wa la, it becomes something else. I'm thinking of Leon Russell and "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms".

To me – bluegrass is a combination of performers saying "I play bluegrass" or "this is bluegrass" and folks who say "that is bluegrass". It is ever changing and at the same time somewhat the same - as long as the history of the art form lives on.

And – IMO – you have proven my point. So I agree with you. Thanks.