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Mar 11, 2020 - 6:22 PM
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5576 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Westvon
quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom
quote:
Originally posted by southerndrifter

And, as far as those showcases go, in regards to the "committee" in charge of deciding on who gets to showcase and who doesn't.........the members are secret! Only the board of directors and the committee members themselves, know who these people are!! I have always wondered why these people's indentities are kept secret from the IBMA membership? Personally, from the showcase artists chosen to appear, I have serious doubts about the qualifications of this secret committee!! Just another reason why I am no longer a member of the IBMA.


 

BG music, like some many other genres, can be expected to evolve and shape it other manifestations, yet when it begins to move away from the rhythmic patterns that have defined it from the beginning (Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, etc), one has to question whether or not it has moved beyond the parameters of what we call bluegrass music.  

Lester Flatt and Jimmy Martin, I believe, set the standard for the rhythmic patterns that have helped create what we know and understand to be bluegrass music.  Guys like Clarence White and Tony Rice did kick the rhythmic patterns into a whole new dimension but they gave credit to the likes of Jimmy Martin and Lester Flatt in terms of who influenced their playing styles.

You can hear the influence of Tony Rice in progressive/newgrass bands today and he gladly admits that Jimmy Martin (and Flatt) is the go-to guy if you want to learn bluegrass rhythm. 

All this to say that in order to call something X, then there needs to be a reference point from which X is defined by certain attributes.  In the case for bluegrass music, I believe it centers around foundational rhythmic patterns that stem from founding pioneers of the genre.  Even if it's progressive, you can still hear the rhythmic flavors of guys like Lester and Jimmy.  

The rhythm of Tony and post-Tony guitar players continues to evolve due in large part to the fact that every generation is effected by the music of the age in which they live.  Rock-n-Roll, blues, jazz, Motown, etc. influenced the ears of guys like Tony Rice and Sam Bush (for example) so it's only to be expected that what they play is going to sound more modern than the music of the founding pioneers of BG.  Regardless, you can still hear that great rhythmic shuffle of Jimmy and Lester even to this date.  

I have heard some very talented acoustic bands over the last several years whose members played all the classic bluegrass instruments, yet the rhythmic patterns are often nowhere close to the kind of rhythmic shuffle that bluegrass is typically known for.  I am by no means a music tyrant who stands there and passes judgment on whether bands are playing bluegrass music or not.  What I'm looking for in this discussion is an understanding of musical foundations and why they are necessary for defining the genre. 

What say you?

 


Aw David, You say “What say you”, so out of respect for you and my admiration for your work,  I will break my cardinal rule of “it is better to be quiet and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” and answer your question.

Arnie you say: “I also think that it's ultimately pointless to argue over what's bluegrass and what's not.” Arnie, there is a lot of wisdom in that and you are a knowledgeable man  a professional man and prudent,  but the old song that says “you gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” makes me itch a bit if I totally accept your statement.

David, I love you talking about the rhythmic patterns being the foundation. I am not sure if they have to be related to the earliest of Monroe or not as I am not knowledgeable enough on the subject. But I do have a gut level feeling that somehow, even with variations, they have to affect you the same way. To me bluegrass rhythm is life propelling, life giving. It adds or creates an energy that gets inside you and that makes you lean forward a bit and makes you stronger. So now you know I am full of BS.

A while ago I tried to make a definition of bluegrass because I got tired of some aspiring professional musician telling me that  a player was bluegrass when I knew in my heart that it was not. So below is my attempt at defining bluegrass music. I will be interested in the honest feedback and hope it starts discussion. Because  SPGMA and IBMA can’t define bluegrass, they have to accept horns and keyboards as part of it. And if they cannot define it, they cannot claim to be the vanguards of what they don’t know. So here it is; my attempt at defining Bluegrass Music.

Bluegrass music is the label or term given for a sound. That sound was created in 1945 when Earl Scruggs and his three finger banjo style joined Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. Therefore, for any music to be considered Bluegrass Music, it must be compatible with and in the nature with that sound.

Instrument wise, Bluegrass Music is acoustic music played with Banjo, Fiddle, Bass, Guitar, and Mandolin. Some additions have been made to that combination of instruments which do not change the nature of the sound. Dobros, harmonicas, and quiet snare drums can also be used. An electric bass may be also used as long as it stays in the nature of an upright bass.  All instruments can take a break in a song or do a solo in a show and still be bluegrass as long as they are played in a bluegrass style. The drum cannot do a solo.  Any or all instruments can be left out of a bluegrass song. But the banjo must be present in a bluegrass band for it to be a bluegrass band as that was the element that was the catalyst in converting Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys from a string band to a new genre of music. The banjo, since the formation of bluegrass music, has been the most recognizable symbol for bluegrass music. Banjo playing can be Scruggs style, Reno single string style, or melodic style. Clawhammer can be used sporadically, but should not be the main style banjo playing for a band to be bluegrass. Other instruments have been used in conjunction with bluegrass as a novelty, but none have been part of the accepted configuration.  The configuration of instruments is based decades long held practices that were congruent with the term “bluegrass music.

Vocally Bluegrass music singing can feature solo, duets, trio, quartets, and acapella singing. The song content may come from any genre as long as it can be played in a bluegrass style. Generally the lyrics do not contain any vulgarity.

The term “traditional bluegrass” is a redundant term and not a style of music. There is bluegrass and then there are offshoots like newgrass, progressive, dawg grass, contemporary, etc., but there is only one true bluegrass music.

The justification for this definition comes from what has become the almost universally practiced and  accepted parameter for bluegrass music for over 60 years. That is from from the inception of bluegrass and its 1st  generation players such as Bill Monroe, Flatt and  Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, The Osborne Brothers, and the Stanley Brothers and thru what the innovative and creative 3rd generation player such as The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene, and J.D. Crowe, did. Yes, there was/is some conversation when innovators come into the music as was with The Seldom Scene. If these innovators stand the test of time and can play along side the most traditional and generate the same essence, then they become bluegrass. Award winning banjoist Lynwood Lunceford said that ( and I am paraphrasing) –that the greatest of talents are those that can innovate while staying within the boundaries of the tradition. But what is the tradition?  Tony Rice, while being inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame said. “It is our DUTY to allow bluegrass music to grow and flourish and at the same time RETAIN the most important part of it and that is the ESSENCE of the sound of REAL bluegrass music”. (Capitalizations mine). Tony's recording career and his statements have clearly shown what he thinks to be REAL bluegrass music.

The justification for this definition comes from what has become the almost universally (greatly) accepted and practiced  parameters for bluegrass music for over 75 years- that is, from its inception until now This definition is based on the commonalities between the foundational  1st  generation players such as Bill Monroe, Flatt and  Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, The Osborne Brothers, and the Stanley Brothers and  the innovative and creative later  generation players such as The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene, and J.D. Crowe. Time, the great judge, has shown who kept the essence.

Ken

 

Mar 11, 2020 - 6:28:05 PM
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4139 posts since 6/15/2005

Lynwood, I totally agree.

Ken, I also agree with a lot of what you wrote.  I find a lot of modern bluegrass difficult to appreciate.  I'll listen to a band and wonder, Where's the melodic range?  Where's the drive?  Why do so many songs sound the same?  And increasingly, to my despair, where's the banjo?  

But then I'll come upon a young band playing some wonderful music, totally different from Monroe or Flatt & Scruggs or Jimmy Martin, but music that has a driving rhythmic pulse like the best of the old stuff did, with a distinctive personality like the best of the old bands did, and I'm reassured.  

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 03/11/2020 18:52:09

Mar 11, 2020 - 6:52:53 PM

Westvon

USA

3268 posts since 4/16/2006

quote:
Originally posted by southerndrifter
quote:
Originally posted by arnie fleischer

 that he was playing bluegrass ever since he formed the Blue Grass Boys way before Scruggs joined because the rhythm was always the same.


Eventhough I give Monroe the credit for the vision, I'll have to disagree with his statement that his rhythm was the same, pre-Scruggs. In the recordings Bill made prior to Earl joining, his mandolin rhythm was more like what he was doing on the mandolin with Charlie. To my ear, his distinct "chop" didn't surface until Earl had joined the band. In fact, some of the very first recordings Bill made with Lester and Earl, had Bill still doing little tremolo and lead notes behind the singing. So, I think the addition of Earl and his style of banjo picking, influenced a change in Bill's approach to his mandolin playing! YMMV!

 


I make this point (regarding Earl's banjo) in my biography of Earl, Earl Scruggs: Banjo Icon.

Mar 12, 2020 - 4:53:04 AM

2656 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

Can’t we see the trench warfare building up in discussions like these? Very few songs exist that match the 1945 and 1949 pivotal banjo events. Rehashing those songs doesn’t bring in new money. In fact, leading banjo songs are even fewer.

When a band changes from dream inducing playing to “a bomb” going off, that kick off by Earl instead of Bill caused everyone to take notice. Playing with that intensity and on demand is daunting. Bill’s other songs were tremolo like and did not include the services of Earl or replacements.

No, the banjo is not a universally accepted instrument. As such, other music does exist. Every generation of bands have songs that don’t include the banjo.

So, I am left wondering about IBMA and SPGMA. With SPGMA, the hunt for 1945 is the focus. With IBMA, the hunt is for any impactful song like 1945.

Mar 12, 2020 - 5:14:49 AM
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2908 posts since 9/12/2016

Personally I like a band that can throw down on first generation style but goes tastefully to other genres. Paint by numbers grass is bound to have the general population non grassers switching channels while making remarks. my opinion I don't ask anyone to agree.

Mar 12, 2020 - 4:16:06 PM
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12945 posts since 10/30/2008

I really wanted to stay out of this, and this following point has no relationship to IBMA as far as I know (the original poster's interest), but this following point illustrates what "bluegrass" (not Monroe's "blue grass"), has become.

Here's the March schedule for the PBS program "Bluegrass Underground", taped in the famous cavern in McMinnville -- Grundy Co., Tennessee. Supported by state of Tennessee and Grundy Co. Tourism.

Mar 1: The Brothers Osborne
Mar 16: Gregory Alan Isakov
Mar 23: Steve Earle and the Dukes
Mar 29: Lauren Morrow

Does anyone feel these are "bluegrass" acts? Yes, sometimes the Cavern hosts Rhonda Vincent, Daily & Vincent, Michael Cleveland, Skaggs, etc. Sometimes. The producers and PBS have the nerve to call this program "Bluegrass Underground".

Yet the Bluegrass Underground website calls their music "Americana and roots music".

Now this venue and PBS can do anything they want, and use any  words they want.  It's their show.  But it makes me despair for the kind of bluegrass I spent my life loving.   I guess that would put me with the "jazz" fans of Bix Beiderbecke.

"Traditional bluegrass" is not redundant in today's world.  I need to see that adjective before I pay ANY attention.  "Americana and roots music" IS NOT BLUEGRASS!

Thank you, now back to your regular programming.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 03/12/2020 16:27:57

Mar 13, 2020 - 8:26:03 AM

RB3

USA

702 posts since 4/12/2004
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I don't get too excited about folks using a definition of Bluegrass that's different from mine. However, I do have a problem with some event promoters who have an understanding of the definition that is more diverse than mine.

I recently attended a performance of the Earls Of Leicester. The event included a warm up group named Twisted Pine. I was unfamiliar with Twisted Pine, so I checked out some of their performances on YouTube. I make no judgement about the quality of their music, but I didn't care for it and I certainly don't consider it to be Bluegrass. Their instrumentation is guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass and flute.

I don't have much of a problem with promoters advertising events as Bluegrass that I don't consider to be Bluegrass. I can simply choose not to attend those events, but for me it's objectionable to pair the featured Bluegrass group that I'm paying good money to see with a group that I don't want to see that's not really playing Bluegrass. I'm just not a big fan of hard drivin' Bluegrass flute!

Mar 13, 2020 - 6:05:55 PM

Westvon

USA

3268 posts since 4/16/2006

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

I don't get too excited about folks using a definition of Bluegrass that's different from mine. However, I do have a problem with some event promoters who have an understanding of the definition that is more diverse than mine.

I recently attended a performance of the Earls Of Leicester. The event included a warm up group named Twisted Pine. I was unfamiliar with Twisted Pine, so I checked out some of their performances on YouTube. I make no judgement about the quality of their music, but I didn't care for it and I certainly don't consider it to be Bluegrass. Their instrumentation is guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass and flute.

I don't have much of a problem with promoters advertising events as Bluegrass that I don't consider to be Bluegrass. I can simply choose not to attend those events, but for me it's objectionable to pair the featured Bluegrass group that I'm paying good money to see with a group that I don't want to see that's not really playing Bluegrass. I'm just not a big fan of hard drivin' Bluegrass flute!


"hard drivin' Bluegrass flute!"   Baaahahahahahahahaaaaahahahahahaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mar 14, 2020 - 4:32:35 AM

2656 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

I and my wife were at that concert also. I liked Twisted Pine’s presentation of their music. She played a passionate flute. They had copyrights to their music. I would welcome their music into my listening collection. I was impressed with her playing. A flute is a melody instrument. It doesn’t do triad chords. Yet, her solos were very good. The other interesting item is this team had international members.

In between the 19th and 20th centuries, a band consisted of a piano, banjo, accordion, and a clarinet. They didn’t play at the Ryman auditorium. That was before their time. Apparently, they stayed together many years.

When the music isn’t personal, anyone playing cannot give their personal touch. Original intensity is missing. I would call it passion. Sort of like, your life depends on it. 1945 and 1949 are examples of passionate playing. Hunger is a real motivator.

When the concert was over, Twisted Pine members walked out with us. The Earls went to their heated bus. Playing someone else’s copyrighted music is missing passion. Playing different notes from the original is different without passion.

Mar 14, 2020 - 5:11:57 AM
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5576 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Aradobanjo

Hello,
. Playing someone else’s copyrighted music is missing passion.


Sorry, totally disagree and feel the Earl's are "on a mission" as was the Bluegrass Album Band. And believe me, the players walking into that "heated bus" have all paid a great price to have that bus and in fact, for their comparative excellence, deserve a private jet. A lifetime of all night rides in a "heated bus" ain't no picnic.

ken

Edited by - From Greylock to Bean Blossom on 03/14/2020 05:15:59

Mar 14, 2020 - 9:17:04 AM
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4139 posts since 6/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Aradobanjo


Playing someone else’s copyrighted music is missing passion. Playing different notes from the original is different without passion.

John, I have to disagree with these conclusions.

The first sentence I've excerpted from your post seems to suggest that only the creator of a piece of music can play it with passion, and that anyone else who plays it is simply "playing someone else's copyrighted music."  Try telling that to a classical music soloist or ensemble player who plays the likes of Beethoven or Brahms or Mahler or other stalwarts of the established classical repertoire. Try telling that to Johnny Warren, the Earls' fiddler. Do you really think that when he plays his late father's music he lacks passion?

I assume you are a banjo player yourself.  Is everything you play original?  Do you never play, for example, a Flatt & Scruggs number, or a Bill Monroe number, or a Jimmy Martin number, or any other bluegrass standard?  Does your playing lack passion when you do?  Are there no non-original tunes or songs that move you when you play them?  

The second sentence I've excerpted from your post says that "playing different notes from the original" - in other words, improvising - "is different without passion." I think any jazz musician would take exception to that, not to mention a host of bluegrass improvisers from Tony Rice to Mike Munford.

I've seen the Earls of Leicester in person a half-dozen times or more, and they've played in the bluegrass series I promote. Their musical connection with the audience is almost tangible, something you can almost reach out and touch. That kind of connection can only come from playing with passion.

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 03/14/2020 09:21:35

Mar 14, 2020 - 11:33:17 AM
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5576 posts since 10/13/2007

Go to Bluegrass Today and see the 6 features they have today. The ones that are artists, listen to what they are singing. No doubt they are talented,  some of them have connections to bluegrass and that some of them have played bluegrass, but listen to the songs they are featured with and imo non of it is bluegrass. Some of it may be considered weakgrass at best. This is sad and for the site to have the name Bluegrass Today (bluegrasstoday.com/). It is sad that Bluegrass Today features so much of this when there are young bands out there trying to make a living doing the real stuff and veteran bands that have dedicated their careers to doing the real stuff.
Ken

Edited by - From Greylock to Bean Blossom on 03/14/2020 11:39:56

Mar 15, 2020 - 6:19:18 AM

2656 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

Passionate playing shows up when something is at stake. Yes, I have Earls book, both versions. I have a Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck material. Ownership does not equate to passion. To play any of those copyrighted songs for profit takes more money than I have.

I played those songs to learn as that is what my teacher used back then. Why does that matter? They were fine to learn for personal use. That was the license granted. Personal enjoyment is the best you have.

When one plays to eat, passion comes out. The constraints with the Earls of Leicester is to sound similar to FSFMB since the originals are dead. Earl’s renditions were in hopes that someone would like the recordings of 1949. For example.

When Earl joined Monroe, Stringbean recommended him. This new combination produced 1945. Monroe was hopeful that Earl’s playing would be explosive. When it did, Monroe worked them out and into the FSFMB.

In the 1949 Cincinnati recordings of FSFMB, being linked to Monroe was shunned. Why? Monroe. Attempting to be accepted brought about FMB. FMB root is Bluegrass Breakdown, a Monroe tune.

These illustrations are my evidence that occasionally playing any composition of somebody else’s for money is inviting trouble. Coming up with new material, approaches, or themes is tough. Punch Brothers music is different than FSFMB. Why? Receiving royalties is better than paying royalties. Playing Jimmy Rogers songs with Bluegrass instruments and their style, still required them to pay royalties to The Jimmy Rogers foundation (Sony, Google, or some venture capital group).

I enjoyed the December 11, 2019 version of FMB by Vern McIntyre’s Appalachian Grass. I enjoyed seeing and listening to Twisted Pine and The Earl’s of Leicester. I was hoping they would play “If I should wander back tonight.” The bounce in Earl’s playing is fun to listen. Replicating that bounce would be tough.

The next recording of this song has Josh Graves taking the lead. Earl is vamping. Hey, when it’s your song, any mix of instruments makes it a copyright-able song when registered.

Yes, I like The Bluegrass Album band and their versions of the classics. I prefer Tony’s voice over Bill’s and sometimes Lester’s. Those days are history. Unless our tastes are more accepting, interest in this music and instrument will wane away.

I thought a Banjo would augment the Twisted Pine’s music. Any takers in this thread if Twisted Pine requested one? Their goal is to be a friendly band so that people buy their music. Isn’t that the way all bands start out?

Mar 15, 2020 - 11:36:46 AM
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2676 posts since 11/15/2003

Ok, Time to weigh in.....

IBMA....has NOTHING to do with Traditional Bluegrass, they use the name bluegrass to draw new nontraditional backing for publicity purposes, its that simple, and one has only to listen to what they back, and play as an example!

Look guys, anybody who has been out on the road, pre- 2000, and has had the pleasure and opportunity to get to see people like our now aged legends, the osborne bros and jim and jesse, Jimmy Martin, The Bluegrass album band and Jd crowe and the new south....and countless others knows the following...

PLAYING TRADITIONAL BLUEGRASS MUSIC IS DANM HARD....
AND EVER HARDER TO MAKE A LIVING AT!.....WHY....ITS THE TIMMING!

Look, i agree with much that has been already said, especially with my friend Ken, and john both make good points, but the IBMA was created because they can't, and never have, and never will be able to wrap there heads around the traditional bluegrass sound came from bands that to say they were a highly tuned, well oiled machine is a huge understatement!

First off....Earl....the Man....his right hand ...when it was surrounded by Lester Flatt and Paul Warren, and Josh Graves and Cousin Jake and Curly Seclors mandolin chop.....never sounded better.....even when it was with Monroe and chubby wise on fiddle.....believe me....that conglomeration of pickers....the foggy mountain boys, they had no personal changes for 20 years, that is un-herd of now, they knew each others thoughts.....like esp.

John mentioned the origins of FMB and BGB from monroe. Take those two tunes and listen to Earl on both songs....side by side, and hear the difference in earls timing when combined with different bands....yes, lester was on both recordings, but the bass and mandolin were different and bills chop is different than curlys and too my ears....cousin jake might have been the best bass in all of bluegrass and Earl....even in other super groups....never stood out like he did with Lester and the Foggies, its just that simple, and the new bands today, don't stay together long enough to get that tight, and truthfully, they may not have as much talent as the foggy mt boys....."The Original Super Group" with apologies to Monroe and they bluegrass boys, even with Lester and Earl!
This is my take,
Just saying,
Warp!

Mar 16, 2020 - 10:25:11 AM

Westvon

USA

3268 posts since 4/16/2006

quote:
"

"First off....Earl....the Man....his right hand ...when it was surrounded by Lester Flatt and Paul Warren, and Josh Graves and Cousin Jake and Curly Seclors mandolin chop.....never sounded better.....even when it was with Monroe and chubby wise on fiddle.....believe me....that conglomeration of pickers....the foggy mountain boys, they had no personal changes for 20 years, that is un-herd of now, they knew each others thoughts.....like esp.

I discuss this very thing in detail in my biography of Earl (Earl Scruggs: Banjo Icon, 2017).

Thank you for the great comments!

 

Dave Russell

Mar 16, 2020 - 10:26:44 AM
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81 posts since 1/23/2012

To those who have a problem with the IBMA's overly broad definition of "bluegrass" - what is YOUR definition of bluegrass, and which groups are in it? Is Tony Rice? Hot Rize? Lonesome River Band? John Hartford?

I think alienating bands who you don't consider "real" bluegrass is astonishingly short-sighted, and is essentially cutting off your nose to spite your face. Do you have any idea how many people have discovered Earl Scruggs because of Bela Fleck? Doc Watson because of Billy Strings? Bill Monroe because of Chris Thile? My point is, by supporting the branches, you support the roots.

Great to "see" you, Dave! Hope you're well.

-Keith

Mar 16, 2020 - 11:23:25 AM
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5576 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Keith Billik

To those who have a problem with the IBMA's overly broad definition of "bluegrass" - what is YOUR definition of bluegrass, and which groups are in it? Is Tony Rice? Hot Rize? Lonesome River Band? John Hartford?

I think alienating bands who you don't consider "real" bluegrass is astonishingly short-sighted, and is essentially cutting off your nose to spite your face. Do you have any idea how many people have discovered Earl Scruggs because of Bela Fleck? Doc Watson because of Billy Strings? Bill Monroe because of Chris Thile? My point is, by supporting the branches, you support the roots.

Great to "see" you, Dave! Hope you're well.

-Keith


You can support people without inaccurately classifying them. And I will add the converse: consider how many people don't listen to country music anymore because of what radio stations consider "country". The boosts to bluegrass have come from exposure to the real deal such as in Oh Brother, Bonnie and Clyde, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Darling Boys on Andy.

ken

Edited by - From Greylock to Bean Blossom on 03/16/2020 11:25:05

Mar 16, 2020 - 12:23:28 PM

Mooooo

USA

7816 posts since 8/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Keith Billik

Do you have any idea how many people have discovered Earl Scruggs because of Bela Fleck? Doc Watson because of Billy Strings? Bill Monroe because of Chris Thile? My point is, by supporting the branches, you support the roots.


32 people have discovered Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe and Doc Watson because of the guys you mentioned. And 1,000s of people who listen to the music that they call Bluegrass, that isn't Bluegrass can't figure out why we all don't call apples oranges....they both come from trees, different trees, but they do have branches and roots, just different branches and roots.

Edited by - Mooooo on 03/16/2020 12:33:24

Mar 16, 2020 - 12:42:01 PM
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81 posts since 1/23/2012

quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom
quote:
Originally posted by Keith Billik

To those who have a problem with the IBMA's overly broad definition of "bluegrass" - what is YOUR definition of bluegrass, and which groups are in it? Is Tony Rice? Hot Rize? Lonesome River Band? John Hartford?

I think alienating bands who you don't consider "real" bluegrass is astonishingly short-sighted, and is essentially cutting off your nose to spite your face. Do you have any idea how many people have discovered Earl Scruggs because of Bela Fleck? Doc Watson because of Billy Strings? Bill Monroe because of Chris Thile? My point is, by supporting the branches, you support the roots.

Great to "see" you, Dave! Hope you're well.

-Keith


You can support people without inaccurately classifying them. And I will add the converse: consider how many people don't listen to country music anymore because of what radio stations consider "country". The boosts to bluegrass have come from exposure to the real deal such as in Oh Brother, Bonnie and Clyde, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Darling Boys on Andy.

ken


I agree that we shouldn't mis-classify things. But that's the whole point- who decides how something is classified, and by what method? It seems like most people's definition of Bluegrass is "the kind I like." If you think that bluegrass should never include drums or keyboards or electric instruments, then you just kicked out JD Crowe, the Osborne Brothers, Hot Rize, and plenty other groups that most people consider pretty traditional. Bill Monroe hated dobro, so is everything that Douglas, Ickes, Auldridge, etc. played on automatically not bluegrass?

Do you think Rock music isn't really Rock Music if it doesn't sound exactly like Chuck Berry?

I understand your point about country- but if someone quits listening to country music because they don't like what country radio stations play, then again, that is cutting off one's nose to spite your face. 

Ultimately I don't really care about labels. I like plenty of types of music and don't really care what genre people think it is. I just get frustrated when those who seem to care deeply about preserving Bluegrass music (whatever they think that is), reject advancements that draw MORE fans and exposure to the traditions of the music. 

Mar 16, 2020 - 12:53:16 PM

chuckv97

Canada

49996 posts since 10/5/2013

It’s like jazz fans,, the newer stuff in the ‘1950’s turned off the old guard. Us old fogies who like the 1946-1956 template will soon die off. Then the new guard will have their morphed bluegrass and yes, they’ll likely search out the pioneer stuff. I don’t like labels but it’s necessary, I guess, for marketing/promotional purposes.

Mar 16, 2020 - 1:48:43 PM

5576 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Keith Billik
quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom
quote:
Originally posted by Keith Billik

To those who have a problem with the IBMA's overly broad definition of "bluegrass" - what is YOUR definition of bluegrass, and which groups are in it? Is Tony Rice? Hot Rize? Lonesome River Band? John Hartford?

I think alienating bands who you don't consider "real" bluegrass is astonishingly short-sighted, and is essentially cutting off your nose to spite your face. Do you have any idea how many people have discovered Earl Scruggs because of Bela Fleck? Doc Watson because of Billy Strings? Bill Monroe because of Chris Thile? My point is, by supporting the branches, you support the roots.

Great to "see" you, Dave! Hope you're well.

-Keith


You can support people without inaccurately classifying them. And I will add the converse: consider how many people don't listen to country music anymore because of what radio stations consider "country". The boosts to bluegrass have come from exposure to the real deal such as in Oh Brother, Bonnie and Clyde, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Darling Boys on Andy.

ken


I agree that we shouldn't mis-classify things. But that's the whole point- who decides how something is classified, and by what method? It seems like most people's definition of Bluegrass is "the kind I like." If you think that bluegrass should never include drums or keyboards or electric instruments, then you just kicked out JD Crowe, the Osborne Brothers, Hot Rize, and plenty other groups that most people consider pretty traditional. Bill Monroe hated dobro, so is everything that Douglas, Ickes, Auldridge, etc. played on automatically not bluegrass?

Do you think Rock music isn't really Rock Music if it doesn't sound exactly like Chuck Berry?

I understand your point about country- but if someone quits listening to country music because they don't like what country radio stations play, then again, that is cutting off one's nose to spite your face. 

Ultimately I don't really care about labels. I like plenty of types of music and don't really care what genre people think it is. I just get frustrated when those who seem to care deeply about preserving Bluegrass music (whatever they think that is), reject advancements that draw MORE fans and exposure to the traditions of the music. 


Hi Bill,

When you raise the question, "who decides how something is classified", well that seems that the upshot of that point of view or reasoning is that nothing should be/can be classified and that leads to  words having no meaning. Not to say that cannot or does not happen to some of the most time tested and honored classifications. Look at who is winning the New Jersey girls high school track championships. I would like to say that I will decide, but that may raise some debate. laugh

I think I answered most of your questions in the definition of bluegrass that I posted earlier in the thread. In making my definition, I looked at 1.what it was when it originated-what made it different to garner a new classification, 2. What the originators and  1st generation players said about it and what how they did it, 3. What people like Tony Rice who with fairly universal acknowledgement bridged many musics with the utmost excellence, said about it, 3 and what the test of time said about it.

I would also point out a story told by Peter Rowan in a Rolling Stone interview that talked about the nature of bluegrass music and which goes to the point that Mr. Russell  made about the timing being inherit in its nature.

ROWAN: You know, I asked him one day what's the hardest part about -well, I have to say that, you know, most people always respected Bill Monroe's silence and I did too. But I figured after six hours of driving that bus, I had the right to ask him some questions after my shift. So about two o'clock in the morning is when I would talk with Bill and he'd take out his mandolin and he'd play all his stuff. And I really wanted him to know that I wasn't prying into his world and, you know, that I was sincerely looking for the heart of the music to carry it forward.

And I asked him one - he used to play examples of rhythms and things that he picked up in New Orleans and places like that when he was out there trying to, you know, trying to make bluegrass. Trying to invent bluegrass. He looked at it as that he did, that he invented it. He said I've had to keep as much out of bluegrass as I've put in it.

From the Father of Bluegrass, it was not an all inclusive big tent music.

Thanks,

Ken

Edited by - From Greylock to Bean Blossom on 03/16/2020 14:01:49

Mar 16, 2020 - 2:04:26 PM

5576 posts since 10/13/2007

Pardon me, the track race was in Connecticut and not New Jersey.
ken

Edited by - From Greylock to Bean Blossom on 03/16/2020 14:04:49

Mar 16, 2020 - 2:12:27 PM

3383 posts since 4/27/2004

Call me stubborn, but the definition of "Bluegrass" is obvious.........it is derived from the defining moment.........the moment Earl Scruggs stepped on the Opry stage with the Blue Grass Boys and played his banjo in the 3-finger, syncopated style that he went on to popularize. That was the moment that string band music became what we know as "Bluegrass" music. So, for any music to be called "Bluegrass", it must include the defining element. And it's not enough to just be a 5-string banjo. It must be played in the aforementioned fashion. Calling any music "Bluegrass" that includes this single element, is almost to broad a definition for my personal taste, but it's the only definition that makes sense. So, what is "Bluegrass" you ask? Any music that includes the 5-string banjo played in the 3-finger syncopated style. You can have any number of different combinations of instruments, as long as you have the 5-string banjo, and you still have something that sounds like "Bluegrass". Without the banjo, NO MUSIC sounds like "Bluegrass"!

And these questions have been asked before:
Is Tony Rice's Manzanita album "Bluegrass"? Answer- No
It Bill Monroe's Wicked Path of Sin "Bluegrass" Answer - No Why not? It was done by the Father of "Bluegrass"? That is true, but without the banjo, the music is Gospel. If it included the banjo, it would be "Bluegrass" Gospel.

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