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Is Bluegrass nearly dead in Australia?

Posted by peter somerville on Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A prominent bluegrass player in Victoria, recently claimed bluegrass is nearly dead in Australia. I'm wondering what other locals think about this? Is old time more prominent now?

7 comments on “Is Bluegrass nearly dead in Australia?”

pluckyfingers Says:
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 @7:48:08 PM

That's a very interesting one Pete. From what I've seen over the last two years there are some very fine bluegrass players but there are fewer "hardcore' bluegrass bands. Whether oldtime is more prominent? ,hard to say, I think the younger generation of banjo players seem to prefer clawhammer or oldtime as it can be adapted more easily to a range of settings. Folk, Irish, Alt Country, Bluegrass etc. Was there ever a time when bluegrass or oldtime was strong in Australia? One thing for sure, the number of festivals catering to bluegrass and oldtime music are ever increasing on the Eastern seaboard and they don't seem to be suffering poor attendances. That's got to be good.

peter somerville Says:
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 @8:26:59 PM

hi plucky, it was nick dear who made that comment by the way. i reckon bluegrass is continuing much the same. i have a steady stream of students, nearly all wanting to learn 3 finger. i agree that i think the younger generation is more attracted to clawhammer at the moment but i disagree about adaptability factor. i reckon 3 finger is more versatile, but perhaps this is because i've been adapting it, playing in celtic, bushbands original bands for 30 years compared to only 3 years of clawhammer.

mistertee6 Says:
Thursday, May 20, 2010 @2:44:00 AM

Hi Pete, keep up the good work teaching Bluegrass and I mean Bluegrass..., there are always new bands starting, like our band OVER THE HILL-BILLIES BLUEGRASS BAND, we are playing traditional driving bluegrass and things are going well. We are playing private gigs and picking up new ones all the time and people still love Bluegrass. So Bluegrass is safe in Australia!!!

peter somerville Says:
Thursday, May 20, 2010 @3:45:13 AM

fran says that's the best band name she's heard in a while! Glad your band is going well and bluegrass lives.

Gareth Banjoland Says:
Thursday, May 20, 2010 @3:55:10 PM

Of course it's nearly dead, it always has been! But nearly dead is still alive.

robmac07 Says:
Friday, May 21, 2010 @8:45:34 PM

I reckon it's still alive and well. Never big time but always there. It was quite strong here even during the late 60's and early 70s. As you say there are more festivals popping up and Bluegrass is on the program of most folk festivals. New bands and students too. Old Time has probably had a bigger recent growth mainly from the 'folk' and 'celtic' crowd. Lots of younger fiddlers around often from the Irish clubs and the connection between OT fiddle tunes and their Irish/Scots/English counterparts. Lot of new clawhammer players too as they don't have to be in a band and when playing in old time jams etc it tends to be more inclusive where everyone just plays along with the tune. Just my thoughts.

peter somerville Says:
Thursday, June 3, 2010 @3:37:45 AM

probably done on this topic. the general view seems to be it ain't dead yet. there's a new bunch of young pickers out there which is what's needed - jordie lane, liz stringer, sal kimber. they're not playing bluegrass exactly but it's still banjo and for the music to survive it has to keep evolving and the next generation are doing that.

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