I haven't paid much attention to the whole "jamgrass" scene. I've heard a few things but not a lot. I haven't deliberately avoided it but nor have I deliberately sought it out and I'm starting to wonder about my motivation for that.
I listened to Chris Pandolfi's address to the IBMA last year and I found myself supporting his call for the "big tent". While I love traditional bluegrass, huge fan of the first generation bands and still listen to a lot of pre-1960 era bluegrass, I'm not hidebound either (or even top or side bound). I'm not afraid traditional bluegrass will disappear. It will never be huge, it's for the lucky few that can really appreciate it and that's good enough for me.
I also like jazz and lots of eastern European, Arabic and Middle Eastern music with odd time signatures and strange modalities. I love classic funk and soul, R&B, cajun, oldtime stringband music and lots of other stuff. So I think I like music, feel it, appreciate it and am open to lots of different kinds of it.
When Pandolfi asked the IBMA to consider the kinds of audiences these jamgrass bands were capable generating and asked to them to actively work to broaden the definition of bluegrass, or at least the concept of what bluegrass is, so those bands would feel welcome and included under the big tent, I thought he was on the right track.
But what's got me second-guessing myself now is the undeniable fact that when I do run across one of these bands, I often don't like what I hear. I subscribe to an online service called "Bluegrass On The Tube" where they email you a new, random video every day. This was one that was in my inbox when I checked it earlier. I listened to it, twice, and I'm afraid it's thumbs down for me.
I don't think the song is particularly strong, there's an awful lot made of one repetitive riff played mostly by the bassist. The singing feels weak to me and there just seems like a lot of fill-time, just stretching the song out for the sake of stretching it out. I also get weary of hearing tinny, plugged-in mandolins played as percussion instruments. If I have to sit through a whole show of that, I'd rather hear a drummer.
So what say you all? Is anyone else like me - wanting to be inclusive but not particularly wanting to hear the kind of thing that's on this video?