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Ted Lehmann
Jun-20-2018, 5:27am
My column in No Depression this week looks at how individual musicians' personal growth affects the music they make as they explore the limits of their talent. I use Bela Fleck and Tim O'Brien as examples with several illustrative videos to demonstrate each of their musical journeys. Please enjoy the column, leave a comment there, or add to this discussion here. - Ted

http://nodepression.com/article/what-happens-when-boundaries-bend

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Ivan Kelsall
Jun-21-2018, 1:38am
IMHO - The 'top' musicians are just like us - multiple musical interests !. They may start out in one musical genre,but interest in another genre(s) will lead them to get them involved in playing music within that genre(s). A deciding factor must be their ability to be able to do that. For instance,after close to 14 years now of playing Bluegrass mandolin,i'm pretty competent. I also like Jazz mandolin ( i like Jazz anyway),but my 'talent to play Jazz mandolin' is decidedly lacking. However,some players, & i can think of no better example than Mr C.Thile,seem to be able to 'swap genres' almost without effort - for me, that in itself is a monumental musical asset.

This topic has been discussed partially in other threads over time,& when you have the musical talent of Bela Fleck / Tim O'Brien & many others,sticking to one genre isn't usually enough. There's a whole world of music out there & many of these guys want to discover it - mostly to our delight !,
Ivan

Mando Mort
Jul-05-2018, 4:10am
The title of the song "Can't Stop the Flow" is appropriate here. I love lots of different styles of music and find inspiration in listening to and attempting to learn to play them, and it does lead to musical growth.

Miles Davis is a great example in the Jazz world. Not only did he bring us some great "traditional" jazz recordings, but he stretched the boundaries with his "Bitches Brew" period.

Some folks are just interested in one genre and that is OK. Others enjoy moving beyond a single genre, blending and experimenting. This is how new musical ideas turn into a whole new sub-genre or something quite different.

The great news is there's something for everyone to help them enjoy the journey.

JAK
Jul-05-2018, 8:38pm
Sometimes the boundaries not only bend, they break!

Willie Poole
Jul-07-2018, 12:55pm
I have talked to quite a few players that play more then one style of music and most of them say that they do it because they can bet booked at more festivals and shows whereas if they just stuck to say bluegrass they would only get bookings on bluegrass festivals so to make a better living playing music they branch out to other kinds...To me when all of these different types of music are played on a festival it changes the perspective of the new fans that really don`t get what "real bluegrass"...I don`t hold it against the musicians for wanting to broaden their skills but for promoters to claim that some of the bands are playing bluegrass just turns me off...The last festival that I went to I stayed for three bands and came home, none of them played anything remotely close to bluegrass and this is a festival that calls itself Bluegrass....From all indications I see bluegrass headed in another direction much like traditional country music did...Play what you like but find a name for it other than "Bluegrass"...

Willie

JeffD
Jul-07-2018, 1:09pm
IMHO - The 'top' musicians are just like us -

Only much, much better. :)

Timbofood
Jul-08-2018, 9:17am
Well, when boundaries “bend” people either get along or wars start, when genres blend, we get the same.

Ivan Kelsall
Jul-09-2018, 2:36am
When 'genres' bend mostly we get a hybrid of the 2 or more genres. Sometimes,one genre will eventually overide the others & you'll end up with another 'mainstream' band - IMO,my all time favourite band 'Eagles' ended up being more of a 'Rock' orientated band,than the 'Country Rock' band that they started out as. One founding member,the late Glen Frey,said that they'd originally wanted to be a Rock / Bluegrass band. Bernie Leadon contributed some banjo playing to a few tracks,but that was about all. They certainly ended up as the most versatile band that i've ever seen or heard. Their songs became so diverse that it's hard to pin a label on them as a band,
Ivan:grin:

drbluegrass
Jul-15-2018, 3:01pm
I have talked to quite a few players that play more then one style of music and most of them say that they do it because they can bet booked at more festivals and shows whereas if they just stuck to say bluegrass they would only get bookings on bluegrass festivals so to make a better living playing music they branch out to other kinds...To me when all of these different types of music are played on a festival it changes the perspective of the new fans that really don`t get what "real bluegrass"...I don`t hold it against the musicians for wanting to broaden their skills but for promoters to claim that some of the bands are playing bluegrass just turns me off...The last festival that I went to I stayed for three bands and came home, none of them played anything remotely close to bluegrass and this is a festival that calls itself Bluegrass....From all indications I see bluegrass headed in another direction much like traditional country music did...Play what you like but find a name for it other than "Bluegrass"...

Willie

Exactly what Willie said. It kind of irritates me when music that has no connection to bluegrass (BG) is referred to as such. As a BG musician I'm grateful we have a full-time "BG" station such as Bluegrass Junction on Sirius/XM radio. However, it is fast becoming less and less bluegrass oriented and more and more progressive/esoteric/fusion/rock.....anything but BG. With the exception of their "Derailed" program "progressive BG" has pretty much taken over arguably 1/3 to almost 1/2 of the regular daily programming the last couple years. It was to allow for some progressive BG programming that the show "Derailed" came about. But, especially in the last year or so, more and more "progressive BG" has found it's way into regular daily programming. It's just about to the point where programming is not just a little progressive but a lot progressive, to the point of not being BG music. Some of the songs/performances have only one (or no) acoustic BG instrument. And that's not even speaking to the music itself.

Now, let me just stop here and say I like much of the progressive offerings (I really like The Kruger Brothers). I really do. But, please, don't call it BG music. Because it's not. Maybe it's time to start another Sirius/XM station. Call it the "Progressive Acoustic/Electric/Fusion American Music" show.

There are some instances where a group might just gently nudge the boundaries of BG music (perhaps Balsam Range). But I'm not talking about them. There was one song the other day on "Bluegrass Junction" where I couldn't hear a single acoustic instrument. It was a straight ahead rock and roll song complete with heavy back beat drums, distorted electric guitar and, I might be wrong but I think I heard a synth. It really had no business on "Bluegrass Junction". Wasn't even a BG song.

When you tune into a station called "Bluegrass Junction" there is a reasonable expectation that it will be a BG music station and the programming will be reasonably within the boundaries of BG music. Now if you tell me to define BG music or it's boundaries my response will be..."I can't, but I know it when I hear it." Anyway, although I might not have stated it very eloquently or effectively, I think you get the general direction I'm coming from.

Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a huge fan of the more traditional and neo-traditional BG styles. I think most would include Flatt And Scruggs, Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, and even the older recordings of J.D. Crowe and the New South, and The Bluegrass Album Band, as some of the more traditional groups. Examples of neo-traditional BG bands for me would include Joe Mullins, Junior Sisk, Lou Reid, Kenny And Amanda Smith, Darin And Brooke Aldridge, Blue Highway, The (ex) Boxcars, Tony Rice, Rhonda Vincent, and Larry Sparks just to mention a few. there are many more.

I see traditional and neo-traditional styles being on a sliding continuum. Some groups will overlap from traditional to neo-traditional. And farther along the continuum you get into more progressive sounds. There is absolutely nothing wrong with groups/artists that cross the boundaries. But the more the boundaries are crossed the farther from BG music you get and the more the BG music identity becomes obscured. You can cross those boundaries so far that you completely change genres.

One group that has made almost an entire living of crossing boundaries and straddling the fence between neo-traditional and progressive BG music is The Grascals. They are quite adept at playing traditional and neo-traditional BG and pushing progressive boundaries with their forays into rock and traditional country music. Rhonda Vincent also strays deeply into traditional country. The tremendously talented Infamous String Dusters have really pushed the boundaries of progressive BG. But they are quite capable of playing traditional BG extremely well. For me, the sliding continuum works pretty well when it comes to identifying and classifying BG music. It may not work so well for others. Especially for those more interested in progressive stylings. Just remember, there is a point where if you go too far experimenting and you get too progressive you will no longer be playing BG music. And that's OK. Just don't call it BG.

OK, now I'm rambling (I think there's a song there somewhere). I quit. My 2 cents.

Timbofood
Jul-15-2018, 4:27pm
I understand what you mean drbluegrass and, agree completely! Given the musical diversity available through “stupornet” marketing, there should be something more “Mainline, traditional steam powered” bluegrass station. BG Junction, is more “cross track” than junction to me too.
In an age when you can find so much junk everywhere on the internet, maybe “WE” need to break ground and, lay those tracks for the young, inquisitive, ROOT seeking, musicians as well as the old ##### like me to enjoy? How do “we” fill the boiler and, light the fires to share our (rearward looking, I will admit) vision?
I’m happy as a ‘possum eatin’ bumblebees to join in the project, I just have no clue where to start!
A “Mandolin Café “ radio station that has a symbiotic relationship with the Sirius channel, could be one that could make me revisit Sirius radio!

I’ll pretty much bet that Ted didn’t see this “bend” coming!

Ivan Kelsall
Jul-16-2018, 1:29am
One aspect of radio station listening that we should bear in mind,is the ''finite'' number of old bands - at least the ones worth listening to. Not all the 'old' Bluegrass bands were 'good' - indeed some of the stuff that the well known bands did wasn't 'that good'. The later offerings of Flatt & Scruggs could hardly be called Bluegrass. Without new stuff coming along,you'd get to a point where it simply repeated ad infinitum. One other apsect of radio stations is that they really do need to appeal to a wide cross section of listeners. It's not everybody that want's a 100% diet of Trad. Bluegrass,inc.myself. Despite being a 100% Trad' Bluegrasser',sometimes,enough's enough & i need a change of style - usually i'll go for bands such as the 'Stringdusters' / 'Greensky Bluegrass' or listen to some Old Timey music.

You folks over in the US should be grateful for what you have - in the Bluegrass wilderness that is the UK,we have zilch !!!. Although i do have a selection of US stations :- https://www.internet-radio.com/stations/bluegrass/,
Ivan :grin:

Willie Poole
Jul-16-2018, 3:29pm
DrBluegrass is repeating just about word for word everything that I have been saying on here for the past 8 years...Play what ever you like but don`t call it bluegrass if it isn`t traditional sounding...That is what makes it bluegrass, the traditional sound along with the words telling a story most of the time...It`s a lot like making a car and then building one larger and still calling it a car when it is actually a SUV...they are sort of related but are different and should be classified differently, just like music...I do agree that radio stations have to please their listeners and play what they request but that don`t mean call your station a bluegrass music station and play something else...Just like a lot of the so called "Bluegrass Festivals" maybe, just maybe out of 20 bands for the weekend 8 of them might play something that is close to the traditional sound, that doesn`t mean they have to play the older original songs but at least play songs that border that sound...

I truly enjoy some other kinds of music but they are classified in their own sound such as Old Timey etc...In this area we have five radio stations that are listed as country music stations and I have yet to hear any of them play a "country song"

Willie