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Thread: Bluegrass duets

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    Default Bluegrass duets

    I have noticed here lately that on satallite radio that a few of bluegrass players that are already at the top of the circle are getting together and recording as duets...Is this some kind of trend or do they feel they are not getting the bookings that they used to....I hear Bobby Osborne singing with Rhonda Vincent, Larry Sparks with Ricky Skaggs and there is quite a few more...i wonder if this is a sign that they feel bluegrass is fading and they are trying to revive it with duets of some of the older traditional songs....Its great listening but since most of them have already made it big I wonder why they feel that they have to team up? Can it just be a way of making more money?

    Any opinions on this from some of you other pickers?

    Willie

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    I think that it's just another try at selling something to make more money,in the same way that great instrumentalists will team up to cut a record,
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Bluegrass has such a relatively small audience, that it's understandable that artists would try to expand their audience by collaborating with other artists. However, some artists might just want to record with friends, etc.

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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    What made me wonder about this is the fact that quite a few "Country" artists are recording bluegrass as a duet with some of the well known bluegrassers...I guess they get tired of traveling and still want to sell some CD`s...That is why some have moved to Branson, not any regular bluegrass theaters there as I know of though....Goldwing was planning to build or rent a building there and perform bluegrass but I don`t think they ever have...As I said before it is good listening, I just wondered what their reason was for doing it...Surely some of them still attract crowds where ever they play.....

    I hope more and more performers will record more of the traditional sounding bluegrass, not just the older songs but some new ones with the old bluegrass style....I imagine there are just so many tunes to be played using a three/four chord pattern....

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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    I think that many Country artists look at Bluegrass, as my Dad told me when I was little, as the "Real Country Music". I always respect a Country artist who gives Bluegrass a try, such as Patti Loveless, etc.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Mick - Mostly i agree,but there are a few artists thatwould have done better to leave Bluegrass to artists who actually play it.
    One particularly nauseating example is Merle Haggard's 'Bluegrass Sessions' - if i hear 'Momma's Hungry Eyes' once more,i'll scream.
    I heard another one this morning "When It Comes Down To Us" - Alicia Nugent / Bradley Walker. Neither of them have anything remotely 'Bluegrass' in the vocal or instrumental (playing) style. I know it's all a matter of personal opininon,& personally i hate to 'knock' musicians /vocalists at all,but sometimes things go too far. Bluegrass music is far from being 'just another vehicle' for non-Bluegrass musicians to jump aboard of. If they wish to 'label' themselves as 'Bluegrass',then for me, they'd better play Bluegrass.
    Purely my opinion folks - others are entitled to theirs,even if they are wrong,
    Ivan
    PS - I didn't really mean that.
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Amen Ivan...Glad to see that I have one person pretty much on my side now that 300 Win isn`t posting much any more, he is taking the summer off to travel and fish, just like me....

    I saw your post was made at 2 Am and was wondering what you were doing up at such an early hour then I remembered you are over in England, probably tomorrow there when it`s today over here, or is it yesterday? I`m so confused........Willie

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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Bill Monroe did an "...and Friends" album in the '80's, with singers from Emmylou Harris, to Willie Nelson, to Johnny Cash sittin' in with him. Even the Oak Ridge Boys and Barbara Mandrell! Quite a few people wonder how Performer X and Performer Y would sound together, and there's a strong country music tradition of duet singing: Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and a nearly-endless list of others.

    There's also a fairly extensive history of non-bluegrass artists recording bluegrass album projects, from Rose Maddox Sings Bluegrass through Skeeter Davis's I Love Flatt & Scruggs, Tom T. Hall's The Magnificent Music Machine, Emmylou's Roses In the Snow, Patty Loveless' two Mountain Soul albums, Jonathan Edwards' collaboration with the Seldom Scene, and many more. Some work, some don't. Reminds me a bit of the great "folk revival" of the 1960's, when pop artists from Chubby Checker through Connie Francis to Trini Lopez released "folk" albums. Smart managers and A&R men do their best to hit every niche that might be profitable.

    There are country artists who either came up in bluegrass (Vince Gill, Marty Stuart), or at least have a real love and understanding of the style. When they decide to do a bluegrass project, they do it right. While not bluegrass, the Trio album with Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton (1987) showed what country and pop performers who love traditional music, can do with a fairly heterogeneous collection of songs, in a sensitive acoustic format.

    I don't fault non-bluegrass performers for giving the style a try, if they get good producers, use experienced bluegrass musicians, and pick repertoire that's faithful to the genre and that suits their styles and talents. Bluegrass is a small enough musical field, that none of these "immigrants" is going to get wealthy selling a bluegrass CD. In many cases, it's just 'cause they really like the music, and what's wrong with that...?
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Ivan, re: "heard another one this morning "When It Comes Down To Us" - Alicia Nugent / Bradley Walker. Neither of them have anything remotely 'Bluegrass' in the vocal or instrumental (playing) style." Bradley Walker was the 2007 IBMA vocalist of the year.
    So, I'll accept that he is a "Bluegrass" singer. I think that in the realm of bluegrass there have always been singers with great "country" voices....Red Allen for example. Jimmy Martin also sang a lot of "country style" songs, not to mention the crossovers of Keith Whitley & Ricky Skaggs.
    My preferences are for more traditional Bluegrass, and I'll agree with your characterization of the Merle Haggard CD. On the modern front I'd like to buy a beer for the person who said "Mountain Heart thinks they're Lynyrd Skynyrd" I missed their show last year. I walked out after Peter Rowan, Tony Rice & Tim O'Brien left the stage...

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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    I would suggest that perhaps "both sides of the aisle" are interested in expanding their musical repertoire and styles, even if it only results in their being better at what they love to do. Maybe. But it could be money.
    You live and you learn (if you're awake)
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    From doc holiday- " Bradley Walker was the 2007 IBMA vocalist of the year....". You may or may not remember that many years back,the Australian (British born) girl singer Olivia Newton John,was crowned Female Country Singer Of The Year by the Country Music Association ,purely on the grounds of having a big hit with John Denver's song "Take Me Home Country Roads". Was she a 'Country singer',or merely a singer of a 'Country' song - there's a HUGE difference. I think that the same may apply to Mr Walker. I listen to a LOT of Bluegrass radio stations on the I'net & i've yet to hear one 'Bluegrass' track from BW,also,when i look at his website,there's not a 'Bluegrass' recording on there.
    Please don't get me wrong here - i'm not criticising BW's talent,simply that like the case of Olivia Newton John,some artistes take on the 'colour' of their latest song release.
    As for Lynyrd Skynyrd - I love ''Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time's'' version of "Sweet Home Alabama". Maybe we should be putting Larry & the gang in for a Rock band gong,
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    They don't hurt anything for trying.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    ....Its great listening but since most of them have already made it big I wonder why they feel that they have to team up? Can it just be a way of making more money?
    I think it's really more of an artistic kind of thing. For example there are a couple of "cameos" by Ricky Skaggs and Claire Lynch on the new Gibson Brothers recording and both work very well IMHO. I doubt that many of the "stars" do it for money, but I would not blame them if they did. I think it really depends on what you're looking for in a duet. Sometimes it's neat just to hear a pairing that's a little unexpected.

    So Willie - have you heard the new Chris Thile/Michael Daves duet recording? I'm not trying to be a troll, but would be curious as to your thoughts. It's pretty much in the bluegrass spirit, but they really put their own spin on things.
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Pete, I`ll be honest with you...I have heard Chris twice and both times I could never hear any melody in what he was playing so I don`t/wont go out of my way to listen to anything he does...I`m sorry if that sounds snobbish but he is just not my cup of tea....I am from the old school of mandolin pickers and like to be able to define what they are playing...I understand that Chris is a highly rated mandolin player but not by me...I probably should listen to his deuet before I say bad things, I`m sure he can play with a traditional sound if he had a mind to...

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    Registered User Mike Bunting's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    From doc holiday- " Bradley Walker was the 2007 IBMA vocalist of the year....". You may or may not remember that many years back,the Australian (British born) girl singer Olivia Newton John,was crowned Female Country Singer Of The Year by the Country Music Association ,purely on the grounds of having a big hit with John Denver's song "Take Me Home Country Roads". Was she a 'Country singer',or merely a singer of a 'Country' song - there's a HUGE difference. I think that the same may apply to Mr Walker. I listen to a LOT of Bluegrass radio stations on the I'net & i've yet to hear one 'Bluegrass' track from BW,also,when i look at his website,there's not a 'Bluegrass' recording on there.
    Please don't get me wrong here - i'm not criticising BW's talent,simply that like the case of Olivia Newton John,some artistes take on the 'colour' of their latest song release.
    As for Lynyrd Skynyrd - I love ''Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time's'' version of "Sweet Home Alabama". Maybe we should be putting Larry & the gang in for a Rock band gong,
    Ivan
    Who is Bradley Walker? Guess I'm way out of the loop!
    If I never hear Sweet Home Alabama again, it'll be too soon, the most overplayed bar band/hacker song ever!
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    If I never hear Sweet Home Alabama again, it'll be too soon, the most overplayed bar band/hacker song ever!
    Oh, a different Alabam song.
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Willie - the Chris Thile/Michael Daves duet is pretty much traditional bluegrass played with youthful intensity. Here's a pretty intense version of Rabbit In A Log that's indicative of most of the recording...



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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    I'll 2nd the Thile/Daves duet. "If I should wander back tonight" has 2 1/2 super mandolin breaks that dead on the melody. The whole project is great duet stuff.

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    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Well Ivan, I'll agree to disagree with you on this one. I don't own CDs by either Bradley Walker or Alecia Nugent but there is a little difference between the CMA and the IBMA and SPGMA, the latter two being the only actual associations which promote Bluegrass Music. Alecia N by the way is a 4 time SPGMA female vocalist of the year and has been making her living on the Bluegrass Festival circuit from the southern states to the Yukon, showing up with stellar band members like Ashby Frank and Josh Williams at times. So there is a quite a difference between her and Olivia Newton John. Let's face it....Bluegrass has been changing and continues to do so. Bill Monroe & the accordian, Jimmy Martin with drums. My collection is made up of mostly Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Flatt & Scruggs and anything by Clarence White. If Bradley Walker shows up and sings with Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, and the Grascals, I'll cut him some slack. The man does have a great voice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw_F2...eature=related.
    The Alecia Nugent Band at the Joe Val Festival. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY_mzm69cOo. Our opinions may differ but it's Bluegrass to me... ;-)
    Last edited by doc holiday; Jul-05-2011 at 8:06pm.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Hey Doc ! - Disagree all you want,i might actually learn something,on the other hand........ ?. Aren't 'all our preferences down to our preference' ?. There's folk who might think that Merle Haggard singing "Momma's Hungry Eyes' is the absolute nexus of Bluegrass music - i don't, & think it should have been left in it's box,but that's MY opinion.
    When push comes to shove,we all have our preferences,& i have to admit that i've been pleasantly surprised by some recordings i've heard in the past,by 'non-Bluegrassers' singing Bluegrass songs,& i agree,Bradley Walker does have a great voice.
    One other thing,whilst i'm 'critiqueing',i've also heard some dire songs by 100% Bluegrass bands. The C & W 'cross-over' bands / singers,aren't the only ones guilty of 'less than good' (for me) recordings. Ultimately it's 'each to his own' & long may it be so,even if ya'll wrong
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    I would love to agree with you, but then we would both be wrong.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
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    Default Re: Bluegrass duets

    Since we got off of the main subject a bit let me say this...There have been cases where songs that were originally from other types of music were recorded by bluegrass bands but they did them in the old traditional way...Cliff Waldron, The Seldom Scene (sometimes), the Country Gents....Some of those were songs written by Bob Dylan (sp), Bobby Bare, Tom T. Hall just to name a few...Many years ago I found an LP of Porter Wagoner with bluegrass instruments and some bluegrass songs but even though they were considered bluegrass to me they weren`t because Porter just didn`t present them the way bluegrass performers play theri misic, bluegrass just isn`t about the instruments are playing, it`s about the way a song is sung and presented, now days I can`t hear a lot of the words of a song because the instruments are drowing out the singer, namely a loud twangy dobro(UGH) and DRUMS in some cases...If you like it that way so be it but I am for the true traditional sound, after all thats what bluegrass was meant to be as quoted by the fellow that invented, Big Mon, what some of you like and are playing might be called bluegrass but it isn`t even close....

    I won`t post any on this subject anymore as I have rode this horse to death...enjoy and play what you will and I`ll do the same...Don`t try to convince me of otherwise either....

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