View Full Version : Have at it...

Scott Tichenor
Apr-17-2004, 3:01pm
Can bluegrass be true to roots? (http://washingtontimes.com/arts/20040416-090926-5677r.htm)


Apr-17-2004, 3:28pm
Good article, with a lot to digest. When I was in graduate school in the 70s, one of my professors, the ballad scholar D.K. Wilgus, would ask:

Q: What is the first thing a folklorist does when he meets a traditional musician?
A: Unplug his guitar

Ralph Rinzler did it to Doc Watson, and changed history - for the better, I would say. Bill Monroe created his own new style out of the music many people were playing (with input from a few other people), and that music is now "traditional." Some people will want to play it exactly the same way, and others (like Monroe) will want to take somewhere else. There is room for everyone - some things you will like, others you won't.

I like new or other songs done in bluegrass style, but not some of the modern things that are called bluegrass these days - but that's just me.

Like everyone, I like the changes that I like.

Bob Sayers
Apr-17-2004, 4:11pm
Hmm...does one have to admit to reading the Washington Times to respond to this post? #Actually the article is quite well-informed and adds to the debate on another thread as to whether bluegrass is bluegrass without a mandolin or banjo. #

Having listened to (and played) bluegrass since the mid-60s, my feeling is that change is definitely a good thing and, no, the old music won't go away. #When I was a teenager growing up in Chicago I loved the Stanley Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs, but I also loved the Country Gentlemen, the Dillards, the Bray Brothers, and a local outfit called the Knob Lick Upper 10,000. #Now I listen mostly to AKUS and Blue Highway, among other groups that bring a contemporary feeling to traditional music. #

The only variants that never really interested me were Dawg and Newgrass--probably because they were "musician's music" and my preference is for great singing and great songs. #But that's just my preference. #

I'm sure that there will always be keepers of the flame who insist on playing it straight like the Founding Fathers (Monroe, F&S, and the Stanleys). #Just like there will always be musicians who want to keep pushing the boundaries. And that's great. #I'm a big tent kind of guy.


Apr-17-2004, 5:13pm
Okay, I'm not a bluegrass history scholar but it seems ironic to include Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen as an example of a traditional performer. #Weren't they the original "progressive" group?

Apr-17-2004, 11:35pm
Keep in mind the fact that The Washington Times is owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. I don't know if the author, Jay Votel, is a Moonie or not, but here's his specialty as found at the newspaper's website:

Home Guide/Real Estate Editor
Jay Votel
E-Mail: jvotel@washingtontimes.com

I suppose the real estate editor of a Moonie newspaper could be well-informed on what's happening with Bluegrass, but then again, maybe not.

Apr-18-2004, 1:54pm
I love it Willie! Right on. Really, I don't see anything to "have at it" about. Like a good gardener, everything he says that's kinda controversial he balances later, especially the ending. When I used to read Psychology Today they had an article back in the 70's about music "diein" and I felt they made a good point. They tied whether a music would flourish or die with it's phases of danceablity(whether you could dance to it or not). Since I see little dancing to Bluegrass I equate it some offshoot like the Gentlemen, Scene, NGRevial, AKUS,Nickel Creek and the offshoots of them, that bring in "new blood", just like dancing brought in new blood to rock and jazz. But their point was as soon as the audience became more sophisticated they sat and listened and were transformed. Like corporate America, if you are not expanding in the double digits, you are stagnant, which is interpreted as decline. Go to any Bluegrass festival(which I don't think Mr. Vogel has). They are not getting smaller, or older. I think that one point I think he made up.