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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: I LOVE bluegrass banjo, but I can't stand country music... opinions, advice


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/349814

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Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  00:11:34


So, I have a bit of an inquiry. I haven't found a thread on this yet, but if anyone knows if it does exist and can link it, that would be appreciated. That being said I'll move along. I love banjo, I love bluegrass, I understand country music's influence in bluegrass. But, I just can't stand country music or playing anything that sounds close. So, my inquiry is this: what are some things I should avoid(brands of instrument/ accessories, ways of attacking chords/ notes, etc.) so that I can avoid that "country music sound" without jeopardizing the true nature of bluegrass? 

Neil Allen - Posted - 01/04/2019:  00:30:11


As I understand it, bluegrass is a sub-genre of country music: 



en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_music



I guess you'd just have to stick within the sub-genre and avoid whatever bothers you about the genre itself.

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  00:38:09


Ya, I feel like that may be the only way. Still figured I'd toss it out there to see what others thought. 

Originally posted by Neil Allen

As I understand it, bluegrass is a sub-genre of country music: 



en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_music



I guess you'd just have to stick within the sub-genre and avoid whatever bothers you about the genre itself.






 

Neil Allen - Posted - 01/04/2019:  00:51:13


I think it is the only way.

But I know what you mean.

Over here, years ago, I remember there was an MTV (I think) channel that specialised in "country music" and I thought that 99% of it was absolute dreck.

But I love bluegrass, or most of it.

dupreejan - Posted - 01/04/2019:  03:59:53


Country Music died 25 years ago.

KD Banjer - Posted - 01/04/2019:  04:40:00


quote:

Originally posted by Tophu8Tofu

So, I have a bit of an inquiry. I haven't found a thread on this yet, but if anyone knows if it does exist and can link it, that would be appreciated. That being said I'll move along. I love banjo, I love bluegrass, I understand country music's influence in bluegrass. But, I just can't stand country music or playing anything that sounds close. So, my inquiry is this: what are some things I should avoid(brands of instrument/ accessories, ways of attacking chords/ notes, etc.) so that I can avoid that "country music sound" without jeopardizing the true nature of bluegrass? 






Hey Topher,



Welcome to the BanjoHangout.



I also don’t like modern country, but enjoy the authenticity of older original country music.



Leaving modern country (i.e., rock or pop) aside, what don’t you like about older original country (Hank Williams Sr, Kitty Wells, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash etc). What about the sound do you like or dislike?



And the same for bluegrass.... What specifically about the sound do you like?



There’s no right answer, of course.  :)

spoonfed - Posted - 01/04/2019:  04:43:26


25 years ? what did I miss ? can you be more clear please ? I would say for my own tastes that country music died sometime in the 1950s after Hank senior left us, bring back the pioneers like Jimmie Rodgers, the Carters, Roy Acuff , not keen on those big shmaltzy string arrangements Chet Atkins produced, give me acoustic simplicity everytime and, what passes for country music today I cannot even listen to !

neilends - Posted - 01/04/2019:  04:49:53


I’m in exactly the same situation. No disrespect for country music fans, as my wife listens to country. I grew up listening to rock, pop, Indian classical music, western classical music, and other not-country genres. Bluegrass was a side curiosity at the time, because I loved its sound but didn’t intently listen to it.

Learning the banjo now, I’ve gone deeper into what specifically I like about the “bluegrass sound,” which of course turns out to be primarily the banjo. I’ve learned that the country vocal style is what really doesn’t work for me. Banjo players who focus on instrumentals (at least partially if not entirely) are where I’ve been spending my listening time, as a result. Bela Fleck is a strong inspiration and influence. I actually don’t care for much of his jazz and melodic work, even though it is brilliant and precious and deserves all of the Grammys he won from that work. (Not to mention how that work has created a role for the banjo that will prolong its existence in music generally.) But his earlier albums that focus mainly on bluegrass are beautiful, and almost always vocal-free.

2hennepin6 - Posted - 01/04/2019:  05:19:07


Most "country music" doesn't have a banjo. Once you add the banjo it is bluegrass so you should be fine. I am throwing around big generalities and of course there are exceptions but when you look around (listen around?) not much of what one would call country, old or new, has a banjo.

FlyinEagle - Posted - 01/04/2019:  05:30:27


I don’t know what you define as country in your OP, but modern pop country is steaming hot garbage.  It has absolutely no musical merit in my (admittedly snobby) musical opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a common view among other bluegrass pickers.



I really love a lot of classic country, though, especially the outlaw movement.



I'll edit to add that there is a lot of excellent modern country, but you have to dig a bit to find it.  You won't hear it on a country radio station.


Edited by - FlyinEagle on 01/04/2019 05:40:57

Joel Hooks - Posted - 01/04/2019:  05:45:32


quote:

Originally posted by neilends

I’m in exactly the same situation. No disrespect for country music fans, as my wife listens to country. I grew up listening to rock, pop, Indian classical music, western classical music, and other not-country genres. Bluegrass was a side curiosity at the time, because I loved its sound but didn’t intently listen to it.



Learning the banjo now, I’ve gone deeper into what specifically I like about the “bluegrass sound,” which of course turns out to be primarily the banjo. I’ve learned that the country vocal style is what really doesn’t work for me. Banjo players who focus on instrumentals (at least partially if not entirely) are where I’ve been spending my listening time, as a result. Bela Fleck is a strong inspiration and influence. I actually don’t care for much of his jazz and melodic work, even though it is brilliant and precious and deserves all of the Grammys he won from that work. (Not to mention how that work has created a role for the banjo that will prolong its existence in music generally.) But his earlier albums that focus mainly on bluegrass are beautiful, and almost always vocal-free.






You are not alone, that falsetto singing style that is characteristic of Bluegrass is a deal breaker for me.  Like nails on a chalkboard.



I do like bluegrass instrumentals but they can be pretty monotonous in individual piece variations, mostly two strain with no modulations.

KCJones - Posted - 01/04/2019:  06:13:50


Life pro tip: disregard genres. Purge the concept of genres from your mind.

Are you playing on the radio? Is your cd on the racks in stores? So what does it matter what 'genre' you're categorized as?

1) Listen to music that brings you joy.

2) Emulate that music with your playing.

3) Be happy.

That's all there is to it. It really is that simple.

Tractor1 - Posted - 01/04/2019:  06:41:54


Do you think you are going to accidentally wake up highly skilled in making country music hits ? I don't listen to country music radio much,but it has some great songs come along from time to time.

I don't dis any so called genre nowadays. Cross pollination has taken the inner cities to the hollers and stopped for exchange of ideas all along the way.I just play what I run across and get hooked on.

If you don't emulate what you don't like,you probably won't accidentally learn how to get on the opry.



I never liked listening to high pitched harmony singing much my own self,but hearing a classic about 1 out of a dozen can be nice.


Edited by - Tractor1 on 01/04/2019 06:47:31

rockyisland - Posted - 01/04/2019:  07:26:22


Avoid Monroe, Stanley Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Vern Williams, Buzz Busby, Hazel Dickens.

m ellis allen - Posted - 01/04/2019:  07:36:27


Stumbled down this road a while ago.

Some bands to check out that are definitely not country but use banjo in a very bluegrass setting

Trampled by turtles
Greensky bluegrass
Avett brothers (kinda poppy at times)
Old salt union
Ferrel mouth
357 string band

I've since moved farther away from bluegrass, but still listen to those bands.

spoonfed - Posted - 01/04/2019:  07:53:14


I played a country & western venue with a band about 20 years ago, all stetsons and plaid shirts kind of a place, I was depping and, got through the whole evening without a problem I play an ok electric guitar style loosely based on Albert Lee/ Jerry Donaghue style faux pedal steel bends etc plus some Travis style chicken picking so, I had fun, at the end of the evening the organisers were thanking us for a great night and, intimated we would be welcome to come back again to play, me and my big mouth said "yeah great, shall I bring a banjo next time ?" well, the silence was deafening, everybody awkwardly avoiding eye contact until one of the club members snarled "we dont like Bluegrass here leave that thing at home !" until then it had never even dawned on me that there was a significant difference in styles of country music. I have never been back ! And I bought a good old John B !

Tractor1 - Posted - 01/04/2019:  08:04:53


As far as the small venue scene ,here is my take. Blue grass being mostly a fast 2 pulse is less attractive to those there for the dance scene. Country ,rock ,blues etc with it's slower 4 pulse is what it takes for this crowd. They can usually hit a few moves but it definitely is not what they honed their chops on. You can play banjo to this but it would be all triplets ,double stops .

Ancient - Posted - 01/04/2019:  08:08:43


It’s true...the country music of today is nothing but noisy garbage. My thought is to play tunes that you like. The old music is probably the best. I stick to the old classic banjo styles(5 string finger picked as well as 4 string plectrum style). There is no substance to today’s music, so seek out what you like and learn to play it. If you read music, the better off you are. If not, learn by ear. Melodic style allows you to take a tune and build your own style around it.

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  08:11:20


quote:

Originally posted by dupreejan

Country Music died 25 years ago.






Definitely don't like anything that would be considered "original country." Only thing I could think of off the top of my head are like 3 Johnny Cash songs. 

bevans - Posted - 01/04/2019:  08:33:04


Since at least the 1960's, bluegrass has appealed to not only country music fans but also to folk music fans and more recently, rock and jazz fans, classical and everything else. This is one of the wonderful things about the banjo and bluegrass: there are many ways to appreciate it!



I'm not sure how old you are, but musical taste is often dictated by one's age. I'm 61 and in the 1970's the bluegrass bands that I enjoyed were the Seldom Scene, the Country Gentlemen, the New Grass Revival and Country Gazette (with banjo great Alan Munde). There were also really wonderful guitarist / songwriters like Norman Blake as well and folks like Dan Crary, John Hickman & Bryon Berline (and I have the pleasure of performing with Dan these days myself!).



All of these performers were influenced by the popular music of the day as well as the icons of bluegrass. Check out the New Grass Revival's recordings with Bela Fleck and Sam Bush's later work with banjo great Scott Vestal for how Sam, who is considered the Father of "Newgrass," has blended rock and bluegrass styles successfully for decades.



Also beginning in the 70's, there were banjo players like Tony Trischka and Alan Munde, who were making very exciting instrumental music based around the banjo. Bela Fleck, at one time at student of Tony's, expanded even more what we all thought was possible on the banjo and his career includes stellar recordings of his own compositions, fusion jazz with the Flecktones, acoustic sounds with his wife Abagail Washburn and his early solo recordings. Ryan Cavanaugh and Jens Kruger (Kruger Brothers) are also part of today's vanguard of outstanding players who play all kinds of music - really well.



And today there are quite a few really great, younger bands who blend all different kinds of styles with the banjo. Check out the Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle and then keep searching - there's an amazing number of exciting new players out there today!



Check out this diversity and then maybe you'll be ready to come back to the more traditional bluegrass founders - folks such as Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers - and you'll see how much of the wonderful banjo music that exists today is also a reflection of these pioneers' own pathbreaking. To me, the music of these founders sounds almost nothing like modern country music, by the way.



Explore - find what you like - and go for it!



All the best,



Bill Evans

Peghead Nation Beginning and Bluegrass Banjo Courses

billevansbanjo.com



pegheadnation.com


Edited by - bevans on 01/04/2019 08:45:12

Rambling Banjo - Posted - 01/04/2019:  08:49:29


quote:

Originally posted by dupreejan

Country Music died 25 years ago.






It ain't dead yet, but the stuff you hear on the radio is just pop with an accent, just do some digging, you'll find it.



Check out Colter Wall and Tyler Childers


Edited by - Rambling Banjo on 01/04/2019 08:53:05

FlyinEagle - Posted - 01/04/2019:  09:19:25


To address the second part of your question on how to avoid sounding too country, if you are playing what you want, and playing it the way you want to hear it, then you shouldn’t have to worry about that problem. It will resolve itself.

Bluegrass is a vaguely defined genre. It is wildly varied and doesn’t really have defined boundaries, imo. But you know it when you hear it.

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  09:23:46


quote:

Originally posted by spoonfed

25 years ? what did I miss ? can you be more clear please ? I would say for my own tastes that country music died sometime in the 1950s after Hank senior left us, bring back the pioneers like Jimmie Rodgers, the Carters, Roy Acuff , not keen on those big shmaltzy string arrangements Chet Atkins produced, give me acoustic simplicity everytime and, what passes for country music today I cannot even listen to !






Unfortunately, those are all prime examples of country music that I just can't seem to stomach. 

gwhamil - Posted - 01/04/2019:  09:25:17


quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

quote:

Originally posted by neilends

I’m in exactly the same situation. No disrespect for country music fans, as my wife listens to country. I grew up listening to rock, pop, Indian classical music, western classical music, and other not-country genres. Bluegrass was a side curiosity at the time, because I loved its sound but didn’t intently listen to it.



Learning the banjo now, I’ve gone deeper into what specifically I like about the “bluegrass sound,” which of course turns out to be primarily the banjo. I’ve learned that the country vocal style is what really doesn’t work for me. Banjo players who focus on instrumentals (at least partially if not entirely) are where I’ve been spending my listening time, as a result. Bela Fleck is a strong inspiration and influence. I actually don’t care for much of his jazz and melodic work, even though it is brilliant and precious and deserves all of the Grammys he won from that work. (Not to mention how that work has created a role for the banjo that will prolong its existence in music generally.) But his earlier albums that focus mainly on bluegrass are beautiful, and almost always vocal-free.






You are not alone, that falsetto singing style that is characteristic of Bluegrass is a deal breaker for me.  Like nails on a chalkboard.



I do like bluegrass instrumentals but they can be pretty monotonous in individual piece variations, mostly two strain with no modulations.






Okay, I thought I was weird and all alone.  Probably am still weird :).  I really don't like country music due to the singing style you are talking about.  I am not even really a bluegrass fan.  It just so happens that I love the sound of the banjo.   I think this goes all the way back to watching the Beverly Hillbillies and listening to "The Ballad of Jed Clampett".  I really enjoy banjo/bluegrass instrumentals.  My cousin recently gave me my Grandpa's old banjo and mandolin.  I love the banjo.  It is a 1926 Bacon and Day Silver Bell tenor in darn near perfect condition.  The Mandolin is a cheap 70's to maybe 80's plywood import with no name.  I strung it up and was really surprised.  I found that I also love the sound of the Mandolin.  The only issue is that the action is WAY to high and it hurts my fingers to play it.  I took it in to a local shop that specializes in folk instruments and they told me that the neck is warped and they would have to remove the finger board to attempt to fix it.  The cost to try to fix it would be way more than the value of the instrument.  Long story short, I love the sound of the banjo and the mandolin.  I just don't like the genre they are mainly used in.

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  09:35:01


quote:

Originally posted by neilends

I’m in exactly the same situation. No disrespect for country music fans, as my wife listens to country. I grew up listening to rock, pop, Indian classical music, western classical music, and other not-country genres. Bluegrass was a side curiosity at the time, because I loved its sound but didn’t intently listen to it.



Learning the banjo now, I’ve gone deeper into what specifically I like about the “bluegrass sound,” which of course turns out to be primarily the banjo. I’ve learned that the country vocal style is what really doesn’t work for me. Banjo players who focus on instrumentals (at least partially if not entirely) are where I’ve been spending my listening time, as a result. Bela Fleck is a strong inspiration and influence. I actually don’t care for much of his jazz and melodic work, even though it is brilliant and precious and deserves all of the Grammys he won from that work. (Not to mention how that work has created a role for the banjo that will prolong its existence in music generally.) But his earlier albums that focus mainly on bluegrass are beautiful, and almost always vocal-free.






Exactly. I've found for me it's the vocal work, as you've stated for yourself. And the "twangy" nature of the stringed instruments. I understand that the banjo is a "twangy" instrument in general but the closer I can get it down to mid range, the happier I feel about the sound. For me, I found bluegrass through blues and folk. Thank you for the info about Fleck. I'll check him out. 

mike gregory - Posted - 01/04/2019:  09:36:20


So, you got your Grampa's old banjo, did you??

Well, I looked at the pictures on your home page.



It's a beautiful old 4-string.





That's good for a lot of non-country songs.



Jazz band stuff, and dance tunes from ANY point in the history of the North American continent.



And there are a few BHO members who specialize in playing their 4-string banjos with dazzling style and grace.



You want non-nasal, non-whiny music with banjo, learn from the masters right here.



And, hey, if you want to make the chording easier, tune it to an open G, and use your Bluegrass left hand fingerings.



(Just a suggestion. Being this good-looking doesn't REALLY promote me to Boss of Everything.)cheeky

rockyisland - Posted - 01/04/2019:  10:14:54


No need to defend your musical preferences. I assure you they are shared by many. For me personally, the twangier and more nasal the better!

Lots of great suggestions from Mr. Evans above (be sure to check out his albums too).

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 01/04/2019:  11:42:29


Like almost every musical instrument in existence, I think that 5-string banjo, too, covers all kinds of music. Bela Fleck, John Bullard and BHO's very own Laurence Diehl living proof of that.



There is no law on earth that obliges the banjo family to cover bluegrass (5-string) or Trad jazz (plectrum and tenor) exclusively. And I don't know what the "apt" genre/style for cello banjo would be.



Go for whatever feels good  and right. If that's traditional Austrian polka, fine. Caribbean mento is fine, too. Or maybe invent your very own "groove", if so inclined. Better still: do both and enjoy. About music, too, far too much silly dogma and too narrow proscription around. 



Veerstryngh Thynner

neilends - Posted - 01/04/2019:  11:57:49


Since bevans has chimed in on this thread, I should mention that his music specifically is a part of my favorite-instrumentals collection. If he were to look up his Apple Music statistics he'd see that one specific tune, "New Black Eyed Suzie" from his album "Bill Evans Plays Banjo" has been listened to a few gazillion times in 2018--which would be me having it on repeat. I love it. Thanks for the good music, Bill, and the tips for other artists.

-Neil

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  12:23:46


quote:

Originally posted by KD Banjer

quote:

Originally posted by Tophu8Tofu

So, I have a bit of an inquiry. I haven't found a thread on this yet, but if anyone knows if it does exist and can link it, that would be appreciated. That being said I'll move along. I love banjo, I love bluegrass, I understand country music's influence in bluegrass. But, I just can't stand country music or playing anything that sounds close. So, my inquiry is this: what are some things I should avoid(brands of instrument/ accessories, ways of attacking chords/ notes, etc.) so that I can avoid that "country music sound" without jeopardizing the true nature of bluegrass? 






Hey Topher,



Welcome to the BanjoHangout.



I also don’t like modern country, but enjoy the authenticity of older original country music.



Leaving modern country (i.e., rock or pop) aside, what don’t you like about older original country (Hank Williams Sr, Kitty Wells, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash etc). What about the sound do you like or dislike?



And the same for bluegrass.... What specifically about the sound do you like?



There’s no right answer, of course.  :)






For me it seems to be the vocal style and the "twangy" style of the stringed instruments. Which I understand there is a level of "twang" in bluegrass. Specially the banjo. But, I do everything I can to stay as close to the lower end of the tone spectrum as I can. Anything with a deeper tone is what I look for. Even among different banjo brands, bodies, strings, etc. But I do like a few johnny cash songs. "Ring of fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Hurt." But other than that, I just can't do it. Lol. And as far as bluegrass goes, I like the over all feel of everything but I prefer when it's more into the bluesy/folky side as opposed to the "hillbilly"/country side of bluegrass. 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  12:28:33


quote:

Originally posted by neilends

Since bevans has chimed in on this thread, I should mention that his music specifically is a part of my favorite-instrumentals collection. If he were to look up his Apple Music statistics he'd see that one specific tune, "New Black Eyed Suzie" from his album "Bill Evans Plays Banjo" has been listened to a few gazillion times in 2018--which would be me having it on repeat. I love it. Thanks for the good music, Bill, and the tips for other artists.



-Neil






Thanks. I'll check him out. 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  12:32:29


quote:

Originally posted by 2hennepin6

Most "country music" doesn't have a banjo. Once you add the banjo it is bluegrass so you should be fine. I am throwing around big generalities and of course there are exceptions but when you look around (listen around?) not much of what one would call country, old or new, has a banjo.






I get what you're saying. What I'm concerned with isn't so much the set up of country music but more like, the nature of the sound. You can take other instruments that aren't typical in country music and still play in a way that gives a "feeling/ mood" of country music. 

neilends - Posted - 01/04/2019:  12:37:21


quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

Life pro tip: disregard genres. Purge the concept of genres from your mind.



Are you playing on the radio? Is your cd on the racks in stores? So what does it matter what 'genre' you're categorized as?



1) Listen to music that brings you joy.



2) Emulate that music with your playing.



3) Be happy.



That's all there is to it. It really is that simple.






Since I brought up Bela Fleck, I'll add that I saw him in concert recently and he basically told the audience (during a post-concert Q&A) exactly the same thing you're saying here. His point was to defend bluegrass, in fact. Some people don't bother listening to bluegrass, he said, because they think they know what that "genre" is, when in truth they might well love the music if they heard it label-free. 



He also told the audience some funny anecdotes about how record labels have been thoroughly confused, and irritating to deal with, because they can never figure out how to categorize his music. This impacts how many people hear his music, because of what location in a music store his albums could be found. In the modern era, that still matters since music downloads are still listed according to categories. He seemed really irritated that record companies refuse to include him in the category of "Americana." Afterward I read up on what "Americana" means and in my personal opinion it's a totally meaningless category that barely means anything. So why is Bela shut out of it? Silly!

Mooooo - Posted - 01/04/2019:  12:42:20


Hey Mr. FraiI, I hear what you are saying about Country...I love the sound of the banjo but I don't like Techno.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 01/04/2019:  12:44:44


As a possible option you could look into "classic banjo" (not classical). It is not "country" (though there are plenty of antique country dance pieces to be found).

Mostly one will find ragtime, marches, polkas, some early jazz, Jigs, hornpipes, or any other popular music style from the 1940s back (mostly concentrated from the 1860s to about 1930). If you look hard enough you can find some classical but it is not common.

Just search "classic banjo" or head over to classic-banjo.ning.com/ for more info.

It is mostly played on nylon strings but there is no law that says one can't use steel and Hawaiian guitar picks.

I'll get you started with some samples.


youtube.com/watch?v=ouPTd_3_K70

youtube.com/watch?v=6qlKQbq72R0

youtube.com/watch?v=ZCbmXcoOjVw&t=51s


banjoman56 - Posted - 01/04/2019:  13:43:44


quote:

Originally posted by 2hennepin6

Most "country music" doesn't have a banjo. Once you add the banjo it is bluegrass so you should be fine. I am throwing around big generalities and of course there are exceptions but when you look around (listen around?) not much of what one would call country, old or new, has a banjo.






I respectfully disagree with you, that once you add a banjo, it's Bluegrass. While some of the older songs can be adapted to Bluegrass, most still don't sound anything like my idea of what Bluegrass should sound like. Forget adding a banjo to this modern day country. It will still be garbage, just  garbage with a banjo!

Tractor1 - Posted - 01/04/2019:  15:10:11


According to some views , if someone wanted to sing traditional country-western and got radio play ,their music would automatically be garbage. I know where these feelings come from,but such views don't stretch 100%. The music world has not ended .
Would radio play would be varied and individual per each station or group of stations? The idea of instrumentation, arrangements,etc.would still be individual. Not all would , let the players push buttons to take the easy way out.

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  20:55:17


quote:

Originally posted by FlyinEagle

I don’t know what you define as country in your OP, but modern pop country is steaming hot garbage.  It has absolutely no musical merit in my (admittedly snobby) musical opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a common view among other bluegrass pickers.



I really love a lot of classic country, though, especially the outlaw movement.



I'll edit to add that there is a lot of excellent modern country, but you have to dig a bit to find it.  You won't hear it on a country radio station.






Well, I do agree with you there. And I do give musical merit to those in the "country" genre who deserve it. But, even having grown up with an influence of original country artists from my grandparents, I still can't stand almost any "country music." 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:03:41


quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

Life pro tip: disregard genres. Purge the concept of genres from your mind.



Are you playing on the radio? Is your cd on the racks in stores? So what does it matter what 'genre' you're categorized as?



1) Listen to music that brings you joy.



2) Emulate that music with your playing.



3) Be happy.



That's all there is to it. It really is that simple.






I agree with you, and I'm not really concerned about " what genre" I am. My playing has too many influences to be considered one genre. I'm more concerned with the "sound" of country.  Small characteristics the people subconsciously contribute to the "country" genre. (i.e., "twang" in a guitar is most often subconsciously associated with "country" music.) That sort of thing. I pretty much know what I'm looking for and possibilities at my disposal. I just figured I would pose the question because I know I probably wasn't the only one curious what others have to say. I appreciate your input. 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:20:44


quote:

Originally posted by Tractor1

Do you think you are going to accidentally wake up highly skilled in making country music hits ? I don't listen to country music radio much,but it has some great songs come along from time to time.

I don't dis any so called genre nowadays. Cross pollination has taken the inner cities to the hollers and stopped for exchange of ideas all along the way.I just play what I run across and get hooked on.

If you don't emulate what you don't like,you probably won't accidentally learn how to get on the opry.



I never liked listening to high pitched harmony singing much my own self,but hearing a classic about 1 out of a dozen can be nice.






Not a chance. But, to see if someone has any input that might be useful to myself and/ or others is the aim of my original inquiry. That being said, I'm not trying to "bash" any "genre" or "sub-genre." Just state my own personal opinions and feeling in the matter. Others may share, and have shared that they have similar feelings and opinions. And I agree that there are a few good "country" songs from across the evolution of "country"(and it's respective "sub-genres.") And I also agree that avoiding emulation of undesirable styles is a good preemptive approach, but what if you are playing with others and they start going more "country" and you still want to keep with everyone without ruining the sound but also avoiding the undesirable style? 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:24:22


quote:

Originally posted by rockyisland

Avoid Monroe, Stanley Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Vern Williams, Buzz Busby, Hazel Dickens.






Thanks! I use some of them as more of a historical reference haven't found anything from any of them that makes me want to learn. But they are all incredible respectively. I can't wait to be able to follow endlessly to anything and everything I hear. That is my goal for developing my individual sound. 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:34:56


quote:

Originally posted by m ellis allen

Stumbled down this road a while ago.



Some bands to check out that are definitely not country but use banjo in a very bluegrass setting



Trampled by turtles

Greensky bluegrass

Avett brothers (kinda poppy at times)

Old salt union

Ferrel mouth

357 string band



I've since moved farther away from bluegrass, but still listen to those bands.






Thanks a bunch! I love TBT and will check out the others! I am obsessed with Amigo The Devil and The Dead South.

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:41:19


quote:

Originally posted by spoonfed

I played a country & western venue with a band about 20 years ago, all stetsons and plaid shirts kind of a place, I was depping and, got through the whole evening without a problem I play an ok electric guitar style loosely based on Albert Lee/ Jerry Donaghue style faux pedal steel bends etc plus some Travis style chicken picking so, I had fun, at the end of the evening the organisers were thanking us for a great night and, intimated we would be welcome to come back again to play, me and my big mouth said "yeah great, shall I bring a banjo next time ?" well, the silence was deafening, everybody awkwardly avoiding eye contact until one of the club members snarled "we dont like Bluegrass here leave that thing at home !" until then it had never even dawned on me that there was a significant difference in styles of country music. I have never been back ! And I bought a good old John B !






That's pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing. I understand, I haven't really experienced as much negativity as I thought I would. Hopefully, my style of banjo playing will be something that most can at least call interesting. But I'm just here to have fun with it.

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:53:14


quote:

Originally posted by neilends

quote:

Originally posted by KCJones

Life pro tip: disregard genres. Purge the concept of genres from your mind.



Are you playing on the radio? Is your cd on the racks in stores? So what does it matter what 'genre' you're categorized as?



1) Listen to music that brings you joy.



2) Emulate that music with your playing.



3) Be happy.



That's all there is to it. It really is that simple.






Since I brought up Bela Fleck, I'll add that I saw him in concert recently and he basically told the audience (during a post-concert Q&A) exactly the same thing you're saying here. His point was to defend bluegrass, in fact. Some people don't bother listening to bluegrass, he said, because they think they know what that "genre" is, when in truth they might well love the music if they heard it label-free. 



He also told the audience some funny anecdotes about how record labels have been thoroughly confused, and irritating to deal with, because they can never figure out how to categorize his music. This impacts how many people hear his music, because of what location in a music store his albums could be found. In the modern era, that still matters since music downloads are still listed according to categories. He seemed really irritated that record companies refuse to include him in the category of "Americana." Afterward I read up on what "Americana" means and in my personal opinion it's a totally meaningless category that barely means anything. So why is Bela shut out of it? Silly!






Ya, the whole genre- labeling system is a wreck and obscure. I try not to concentrate on genres. When anyone asks me, I give 3 or 4 of the closest influences and tell them I mixed them into one or dance around each and between each. 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:55:38


quote:

Originally posted by Mooooo

Hey Mr. FraiI, I hear what you are saying about Country...I love the sound of the banjo but I don't like Techno.






If down right, it can sound really cool. Maybe not every listening worthy, but still cool. 

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  21:58:21


quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

As a possible option you could look into "classic banjo" (not classical). It is not "country" (though there are plenty of antique country dance pieces to be found).



Mostly one will find ragtime, marches, polkas, some early jazz, Jigs, hornpipes, or any other popular music style from the 1940s back (mostly concentrated from the 1860s to about 1930). If you look hard enough you can find some classical but it is not common.



Just search "classic banjo" or head over to classic-banjo.ning.com/ for more info.



It is mostly played on nylon strings but there is no law that says one can't use steel and Hawaiian guitar picks.



I'll get you started with some samples.





youtube.com/watch?v=ouPTd_3_K70



youtube.com/watch?v=6qlKQbq72R0



youtube.com/watch?v=ZCbmXcoOjVw&t=51s






Thanks! I would like to have background and experience in as many styles as possible. 

Tractor1 - Posted - 01/04/2019:  22:00:09


I never enjoyed hardcore country jams ,took me years to finally like George Jones a little bit. I always liked Tom T.Hall and Willy Nelson ,their songs went to new places.



It sounds like someone you jam with wants to do quiet a bit of country,I also would run from that. Like you said  I am not dissing it,it just ain't me.


Edited by - Tractor1 on 01/04/2019 22:05:19

Tophu8Tofu - Posted - 01/04/2019:  22:00:51


quote:

Originally posted by banjoman56

quote:

Originally posted by 2hennepin6

Most "country music" doesn't have a banjo. Once you add the banjo it is bluegrass so you should be fine. I am throwing around big generalities and of course there are exceptions but when you look around (listen around?) not much of what one would call country, old or new, has a banjo.






I respectfully disagree with you, that once you add a banjo, it's Bluegrass. While some of the older songs can be adapted to Bluegrass, most still don't sound anything like my idea of what Bluegrass should sound like. Forget adding a banjo to this modern day country. It will still be garbage, just  garbage with a banjo!






I can respect that. 

rgoad - Posted - 01/09/2019:  08:32:38


I will embarrass myself by attempting a contribution due solely to the fact that I grew up in the areas where country and bluegrass music developed and pretty much in the eras they became world famous.  In both cases the marketing of the recording and entertainment industries had a huge influence on how both changed over time. While bluegrass is, or was, very distinct from country music the distinction became less identifiable as bluegrass music and musicians performed in common venues and outlets like WSM and the Grand Ole Opry. For better or worse the musicians that got exposure through those outlets were cultivated to fit a model the companies expected to be popular and help sales. The producers had a template they felt would make money. This, in turn, affected the people that heard (or ‘herd’) the popular music and wanted to play it. My memories of favorite bluegrass music is more folky or like a field recording of what is now called Old Time. It was an acquired taste sort of like local cooking.  



Another factor related to the dance beat. I chalk that up to local religious influence because lots of people in the source regious did not allow dancing. I often ran afoul of that restriction growing up but the country music fans usually were OK with dancing.  That seemed to come from Western (USA and Canada) influences such as barn dance music. 



I am always amazed at the popularity of bluegrass and Old Time music outside the USA. I think that may be due to the forgotten influence the music of other countries had on New World music. 

Banjowag - Posted - 01/10/2019:  17:56:02


Ralph Stanley said several times when I was listening to him at a workshop or at a concert situation, that country music back in the 50s and up till maybe the early 60s, included Bluegrass, and it wasn’t a separate deal. It was all country he said, back then.

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