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Is bluegrass an attitude?

The Sandman 14 Mar 11 - 02:28 PM
Barbara Shaw 14 Mar 11 - 04:02 PM
Barbara Shaw 14 Mar 11 - 04:07 PM
The Sandman 14 Mar 11 - 05:07 PM
Wesley S 14 Mar 11 - 06:16 PM
Wesley S 14 Mar 11 - 07:50 PM
GUEST,999 14 Mar 11 - 07:58 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Mar 11 - 09:43 PM
Bobert 14 Mar 11 - 10:01 PM
Barbara Shaw 14 Mar 11 - 10:45 PM
GUEST,999 14 Mar 11 - 11:08 PM
GUEST,999 14 Mar 11 - 11:09 PM
The Sandman 15 Mar 11 - 01:25 AM
GUEST,Desi C 15 Mar 11 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Cap 15 Mar 11 - 10:00 AM
Mark Clark 15 Mar 11 - 12:28 PM
Stringsinger 15 Mar 11 - 12:39 PM
Barbara Shaw 15 Mar 11 - 02:10 PM
BanjoRay 15 Mar 11 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Cap 16 Mar 11 - 11:49 AM
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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 02:28 PM

100,
BLUEGRASS BANJO is about complicated finger picking,using melodies interspersed with pattern picking[rolls], speed, and showing off, Bluegrass fiddling is not the same, in fact it tends to throw bowing patterns away, which is why it is not as predictable as old thyme fiddling, which often has in the past used a bowing pattern, of a pair slurred and then two single bows.
unfortuntely it is often played n a mechanical manner, that is not the fault of the music but of the players, who seem to think music is about speed and showing off


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 04:02 PM

Stringsinger has expressed many opinions above about which I would like to comment. One in particular is:

Bluegrass started in the gas fields up in Indiana. Bill Monroe had "The Bluegrass Boys" hence the term Bluegrass which had little to do with Kentucky.


It has always been my understanding that Bill Monroe, who was from Kentucky (I visited his homestead in Rosine, KY) named his band "The Blue Grass Boys" after his home state, which was known as the blue grass state, meaning the native grass on the ground. His band instrumentation, which varied a bit in the beginning but then pretty much became fixed at mandolin, banjo, guitar, bass and fiddle, and his style of music eventually defined the genre and became known as "bluegrass" after his band's name.

In my opinion, bluegrass music does in fact have a lot to do with Kentucky, based as it is on Monroe's roots and influences and how he named his Kentucky band.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 04:07 PM

If you go to any kind of music festival in the South, you're likely to see rebel flags. My experience has been that if you go to bluegrass festivals in the northeast where I live, you're not likely to see any rebel flags. And I assure you there are many bluegrass festivals in the northeast and we go to many of them in the north and a few in the south.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 05:07 PM

bill monroe first employed a banjo player called string bean who was an old timey banjo player, in time he was replace by Scruggs who was a thumb melody player , his style became known as Bluegrass, and is ok for about 4 minutes 33 .


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Wesley S
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 06:16 PM

Frank said: "The chord structures are not interesting."

IF that's true couldn't the same thing be said about both folk and blues? All are based on I, IV and V chord patterns with variations of course. But if it can be said about bluegrass then the same observation would apply to all of the folk based musics. I think that's why all three appeal to me.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Wesley S
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 07:50 PM

I need to add that what I find "not interesting" about bluegrass is the lyrics of many of the traditional bands of the 40's and 50's. The whole genre of "you lied - see all these tears I cried" lyrics bore me to tears. It took the "newgrass" movement to bring more interesting song topics to bluegrass. "Hot Rize" and "New Grass Revival" come to mind as bands that broadened the horizons.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 07:58 PM

I think the same can be said of all musics that freeze themselves in time. It's something that makes me fear for traditional musics around the world. As the keepers of the flame pass on, and those willing to keep the flame decrease in number, so too does the future of the music diminish.

It's one tough nut to crack, imo.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 09:43 PM

Bill Monroe, who was from Kentucky (I visited his homestead in Rosine, KY) named his band "The Blue Grass Boys" after his home state,

While one person's story is about as good as the next one, at least one "Bluegrass History" relates that Bill Monroe didn't pick the Blue Grass Boys name.

At a first, or very early radio appearance, the band didn't have a name, and it was the announcer who introduced them who made up the name, off the cuff, and after it was used once Bill decided it wasn't too bad. Since about the only thing the announcer knew about the band at that performance was that they were "from Kentucky" it is clear that this story at least does tie the name to "the bluegrass state" of Kentucky.

The announcer, and the studio/station, were named in the history where I saw it; but I'm afraid I don't have the names at hand. Other "histories" have made reference to the story, but with less detail - and I won't argue the point if someone has a better version.

John


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Bobert
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 10:01 PM

Having played folk from a lotta different angles, yeah, the structure is the same but...

...over the years I have found bluegrass musicians to be the most obnoxious and lacking of an semblance of common courtesy at jams or festivals...

Seems like they just get into this "Let's go fuck up that blues jam" mentality...

Yeah, I played bluegrass (more old time music) for years and I don't recall ever thinking that it had to be "imposed" on people but over the years I have learned to despise blurgrassers because they are loud, obnoxious and think that bluegrass is the only music in the entire universe...

I have even been asked to come to festivals to do blues workshops and had bluegrassers come in and take over workshops...

Now I have respect for the old time players but this current crop of bluegrassers needs a course in jam etiquette...

That's my opinion and it's based on real experiences...

Sorry if it pisses anyone off...

B~


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 10:45 PM

Wow, Bobert, lots of generalizations in your post! I consider myself a bluegrasser but don't think I'm particularly loud or obnoxious. And I spent many years playing classical piano, contrary to your stereotype. Have however had many experiences with people from other genres ruining a bluegrass jam. I chalk it up to diversity and inexperience and try not to expect each jam to be perfect or rigidly defined.

John, I never heard that story about Monroe not naming his band, and it could very well be true. However, his band was named (by whomever) the Blue Grass Boys, presumably after Kentucky (not Indiana).

Another comment from Stringsinger that I have an opinion about:
The Stanley Brothers ..... have the redolent quality of old-time mountain dance music.


I don't associate dance music with the Stanleys although they probably have done that too. To me they are representative of the high lonesome mountain sound, the piercing mountain harmonies, the call and response and a cappella gospel sounds, simple, primitive and immensely moving. Think Ralph Stanley singing "O Death."


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 11:08 PM

"I don't associate dance music with the Stanleys although they probably have done that too. To me they are representative of the high lonesome mountain sound, the piercing mountain harmonies, the call and response and a cappella gospel sounds, simple, primitive and immensely moving. Think Ralph Stanley singing "O Death."


Barbara, Bobert ain't gonna disagree with that. I think he's talking attitude and you're talking music. Pardon me for interrupting.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 11:09 PM

Crap. I meant to tell you (Barbara) that what you wrote is one beautiful piece of prose.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 01:25 AM

the stanleys are associated with dance music, as well as harmony singing, there was a clip on you tube showing chick stripling doing the baggy waggy dance and the stanleys playing the music


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 07:16 AM

Yes


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: GUEST,Cap
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 10:00 AM

Barbara-
Great posts! Real bluegrassers won't be loud, obnoxious and crass in a jam circle-nor will they take over workshops. However, playing other genres in bluegrass jam circles at bluegrass festivals especially on non-conventional instruments in non-conventional keys does open oneself up to extensive criticism, many times rightfully so in my opinion (people go to bluegrass festivals to play with bluegrassers in bluegrass jam circles)......just a couple of thoughts....
-cap


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 12:28 PM

Quite a few of us here have experience with bluegrass music either as performers or as listeners and jammers. In either case, we've formed opinions based on our experiences and the lore we've picked up along the way. But Frank (stringslinger) not only has experience beyond the rest of us, he's also made an academic study of the subject. My own reading and experience supports what Frank has said.

There are a couple of very fine scholarly books on this subject. One is Robert Cantwell's Bluegrass Breakdown - The Making of the Old Southern Sound that goes into fine detail about the creation of bluegrass music and all the factors that contributed to its formulation. The other book I'd recommend is Neil V. Rosenberg's Bluegrass - A History. These books will provide valuable insight into the academic musicology of bluegrass as well as corrected lore associated with the music. If you have any interest in bluegrass music you'll enjoy these books.

Other authors to read include Bob Black, Gene Lowinger and Tom Ewing (all former Blue Grass Boys).

Opinions are fine but there's no substitute for actual knowledge.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 12:39 PM

Wesley,

Blues is extensive from Blind Lemon Jefferson to Charlie Parker. Blues is a staple of jazz.

Folk music is all over the world with different harmonies in their music, some emphasizing harmony, some melody.

Bluegrass is a small tributary of Appalachian string band music.

That said (as the newscasters say) I like bluegrass music and see it's value as part of
a bigger picture of Anglo-American folk music with Irish, English, and Scottish roots.

What I object to is the narrowing of the style and the phony association that some have with it. There is no such thing as a pure music. It all contains influences from other forms.

Thank you Mark.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 02:10 PM

I am fairly new to bluegrass, having been a fan for 28 years and a member of a local bluegrass band for 15 years.

I have indeed experienced some of the things mentioned above like predictable licks, rebel flags, jam busters, vacant lyrics, runaway banjos, loud and obnoxious camp neighbors, etc. Have also indeed experienced complex melodies and chord structures, thought-provoking symbolism and lyrical depth, spectacularly creative breaks, African-American players, and hundreds of live performances by 1st and subsequent generations of bluegrass musicians, both professional and amateur, including Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, Bela Fleck, just about every "bluegrasser" who has appeared on a stage on the East Coast in the past 28 years and attended festivals from Galax to Prince Edward Island. I make no claim to academic credentials, but I feel strongly about this music, live it, and will always bristle at people who seem to criticize without affection and make claims without substantiation.

It is not my intent to criticize anyone, just to continue to support and defend the music I love. So that's my attitude.


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 15 Mar 11 - 04:37 PM

Good for you, Barbara - exactly what I feel about Old Time music
Ray


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Subject: RE: Is bluegrass an attitude?
From: GUEST,Cap
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 11:49 AM

Well put Barbara!


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