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Thread: Bluegrass for the elderly

  1. #26
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Reminds me of the phrase "beware cultural imperialism"...
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  3. #27
    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    I think Bluegrass will flourish into the future and with all hope there will be bands that play true-grass and others that do that newish speed pickin acoustic music "some I like" But it isn't what it once was just like Country Music, for me its the old stuff that's Country like Buck Owens etc.. Most Country is pretty much pop now with repetition, Rock music sure isn't like it was, no more Elvis, Hendrix etc....Everything evolves into something but the Grass should remain some "traditional"
    I've been to many fests and there is usually old and young alike that are there enjoying some part of something! I have been to some fests and it seemed there was only a handful of pre 30ish pickers...
    Bluegrass "Police" should never discourage any young player if their instrument isn't that great or if they use a capo on their mandolin etc... WE ALL started off on cheapies, if your family didn't have $ or if you were fortunate to inherit granddads Loar or Herringbone! Encouragement to youngsters will always lead to the future of music! Would you make fun of a 5 year old who is learning to read and write!??? I would hope not!

  4. #28
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    The real problem for some I see is, often adults can't read or write. They sure don't teach how in school very attentively nowadays. Kids all learn on tablets or computers with spell check so, they don't need to really understand how.
    Music is so much different.
    I agree that not everyone does not have a fancy, expensive, collectible instrument. I have managed to have a semi professional career for forty years using nothing more expensive than my Alvarez. It does get some "looks" but, it speaks just fine, turns heads from time to time. I hope youth find this music as much fun as I have. It's a heck of a lot more fun that Facebook!
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  5. #29

    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    The *modes* of communication/transaction certainly change. Our "old school" analog forms of expression (literally, musically) are of a time, and these of course change. Music, and literal/graphic expression, is still relevant, but modes du jour see things like beats, ableton, two turntables and a microphone...supplanting a box with strings

    Me, I'll take the strings and reeds, and bicycles. Tech mostly bores me. My kids are 12 and we don't have TV or remotes or computer games. So far they still like playing instruments, but I expect this will change someday.

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  7. #30

    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post

    And Mike I know the correct title is "Wagon Wheel" but it just didn`t seem like correct English to not add the S...I`ve never seen a wagon with only one wheel, not one that was working anyway...

    Willie
    ?

    "Rock me mama like a wagon wheel"

    It's right there in the lyrics.

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  9. #31
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    But the words are "silly" whether they are correct grammatically or not.
    The thing seems to drone on waaay too long for me. Glad I have not wasted the attic space to learn it.
    Boy Howdy, this thread has spiraled out of any semblance of its original theme!
    I need a nap.
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    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  10. #32
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    I don't see this as being any sillier than any other song. I do like the idea of "Rocks mes mammas likes a wagons wheels, rocks mes mammas anyways yous feels."

    The yous is pretty comfortable for a guy from Jersey.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  12. #33
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Timbofood says adults can't read or write due to electronical helps, I agree that is part of the problem maybe most in reading but we have become too lazy to learn anything fully. We want the Readers Digest version of every thing. Who setting up a PA now has a clue about the chain the signal follows and where potential problems can be and how to correct them. If your equipment allows any adjustment. Hook up a feedback destroyer with no idea what it is doing good or bad because you have no idea about Ringing out a system. Modern cameras of high end amateur quality have pictures of the sun to set F stops and shutter speeds by which most people don't even know what these are, nor how taking pictures is a study in light. There is nothing wrong with having tools to do the work or major thinking for us but we have let the tools become our boss. I've even been told by people in the service field that the computer won't let them do what I had asked for.

  13. #34
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Literacy, as in having the ability to read and write, seems to be fleeting. I find errors in print, grammar, speech, spewed by news media constantly and they get paid for it! I find that disturbing to say the least.
    I was taught how to ready and write by teachers without the electronic aids seemingly everywhere now. Technology is fine but, learning roots is still one of the best places to find out "why" language works in the unusual manner that it does.
    None of this has to do very much with older people being the greater percentage of the audience and players of BG music. I may have sent this thread down a foolish rabbit hole so far removed its origin I'm not so sure it will ever return to the OPs point.
    As to becoming electronic slaves? Mandoplumb, you are exactly correct in the world closing in on not knowing where reality stops and fantasy begins. But, mandolin playing is a pretty good way to get back to an analog life.
    End rant.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  14. #35

    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    None of this has to do very much with older people being the greater percentage of the audience and players of BG music..
    I'm making associations and relevance with the (OP) remark. But that just may be me - studied it in school and everything (extrapolate, project, model data, or at the very least offering ethnographic perspective/observation). I think social and cultural behavior, particularly as pertains these aspects as above, do help us to understand (these) particular trends.

  15. #36
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Well then, I guess it's not such a stretch at all, is it?
    I just took the shortened electronic spellchecked route and erroneously felt that I had wandered far afield.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  16. #37
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Man, it sounds like everyone responding here is over the age of 147. No, kids still learn to read and write in school using real books. And many people know how to ring out a sound system, same percentage as before. View cameras are back in style, just like vinyl. All this is doing is proving the old truism that every generation thinks the one after has brains of Spam. Nothing is happening with bluegrass that doesn't happen with any music. Rock is a perfect example. First, it was all blues-based, then pop, then new-wave, big hair, power ballads (geez, don't forget disco).

    Young pickers are out there in droves, they just don't hang at bluegrass festivals to pick, as the old pickers have pretty strong ideas about how a picking jam should go down. Young pickers don't want to do that any more than any poems wanted to do what our fathers were doing. I'll have about 20 high school kids (so far) coming, independent of one another, to see Mike Marshall and Darol Anger this weekend, just so they can see who started "their" version of what they like to play. If I had a traditional bluegrass group of the same age, I'd get none. A bluegrass-centric friend who has a series tells me he got no teenagers for Rhonda Vincent last time she was around. With Molly Tuttle, I've got about 30 so far.

    The kids are just fine. They just don't want to listen to us. That's also fine.

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  18. #38
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    The scene in Louisville seems to be thriving...
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  20. #39
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    To return to the OP's point, which not many people (including me) actually addressed, I have to say I don't know. I feel like I listen to roots music a little more than I did when I was younger (granted, I'm not 40 yet), but I also listen more to stuff that might fall under the OP's classification of not-"real" music--later Steely Dan, Donna Summer, Frank Sinatra, ABBA, soft rock.

    But when I listen to bluegrass, I gravitate to the older, rougher stuff. 1950's Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Vern Williams, Jimmy Martin.

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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Hart View Post
    I have seen this phenomenon from the above quote in action. I call it Bluegrass snobbery. If you are playing a cheap or inexpensive instrument, you are already dismissed by some. This is particularly troublesome for young pickers who don't have the coin to purchase what they want. I have seen the looks of disdain at a jam when a young picker used a capo on his mandolin even though he was just chording. Bluegrass police aside, I still think it will always flourish.
    I have to say I've never had an in-person encounter with bluegrass snobbery or the bluegrass police. I haven't played with anyone who cares what brand you play or whether you use a capo on the mandolin. Most everybody I've met at jams is as friendly as can be.

  23. #41
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    There's so much in this interesting thread to unpack, I'm not quite sure to know where to start. Much of my response will seem like a repeat of material I've long been writing on my blog and in No Depression. Bluegrass, like all musical formats and genres, has and will continue to evolve. The questing spirit of young innovators clashes with the desire to hear familiar material from decade to decade. The roots of bluegrass are clear and well-established. It's even given a birth-date, December 8, 1946, when Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys at the Grand Ole Opry. However, the world surrounding this iconic moment has changed and so, inevitably, has the music.

    The neuro-psychologist (and musician) Daniel Levitin in his seminal book "This Is Your Brain on Music" writes about two very interesting phenomenon. He notes that the music you listened to during the period you were going through puberty is the music you will love for life. This suggests that sex in ineluctably linked to sex. His second major idea is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become excellent at any area of endeavor. This suggests that kids who are hot pickers or who have a great, and satisfying time, playing in jams or garage bands have a long way to go.

    I believe that no matter where you start in what is loosely called bluegrass, serious adherents will always be drawn to the roots of the music, which will enrich and inform, but NOT govern, where they go. Thus, in bluegrass, the founders will never be ignored nor forgotten, but will not rule where the music, which will continue to be called "bluegrass" will head. There are plenty of musicians playing these forms, and going further back to old time, honky tonk, string band, brass band, and more to keep tradition alive and informing the newest practitioners.

    Finally, those of us reaching a certain age (I had my 76th birthday in July) have passed the stage where we want to chemically enhance our musical experience, stand and sway, jump, or gyrate in front of the stage, or have beer thrown on us. We prefer to sit, watch, and listen. Some of us even read, knit, do crossword puzzles, or even sleep in front of the music. More nuanced and quiet forms probably please us more. In the end, bluegrass music will continue to attract a wide and varied audience, members of which will happily recall the form they first encountered and many of whom will take joy in moving backward and forward through the music.

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  25. #42
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    From charlieshaffer - "Look at Sierra Hull, who was straight bluegrass just a couple of years ago, and as she starts playing with the likes of Ethan Jodziewicz and others, is morphing into something different" And she still gets nominated for 'Bluegrass' mandolin player of the year by the IMBA - that's was PO's most of us off. If she's now ''something different'' - give here an award in that category & leave Bluegrass alone - PLEASE !!.

    Back in the early 1970,s the first Bluegrass UK festivals were attended by players - mostly as young as myself at that time. Mainly here in the UK,they still are ,but with a sprinkling of older folk who've come to like the music. Bleugrass festivals in the UK are such a rarity,that pickers like myself who play with nobody for years on end,go there just to pick. How sad then,that about 6 years back,i went to the North Wales Bluegrass Festival in Conwy,North Wales,only to find that there were folks carrying around instruments in their case,but not one person was playing. The organiser,a good friend of mine, had organised an 'open mic' stage for folk to play on,& that totally robbed the musicians of any desire to 'jam'. I never attended that festival again.

    Going by what i've experienced at the UK festivals that i've attended,Bluegrass is still alive & well - but - newer,progressive elements are going on as well,which for me,as long as they don't take over completely,is fine.

    Robert Plant was on a regular UK TV prog.last night, & he was talking about the music that he's done outside Led Zeppelin. He said that if he hadn't done it, ''Led Zeppelin would have been all he had'',& he didn't want that. That's the reason that despite being a 100% Bluegrasser - i also like the ''differences'' that bands like The Infamous Stringdusters / Greensky Bluegrass & 'new to me' - ''Railroad Earth'' bring to what i term 'Bluegrass off-shoots'. In my listening to music,i listen to many genres of music,some of which i've said to myself - ''if i'd heard that before i heard Bluegrass music,that's what i'd be playing''. Hearing Bluegrass for the first time was purely circumstantial - i'd never even ''heard of it'' at the time.

    IMHO - ALL music is for everyone,& we who aspire to play,choose whichever genre to perform - as it should be, & IMHO (again !) ,age shouldn't come into it - we like what we like - end of !!. If Joe Walsh (Eagles) can still perform at age 70 - i simply wish i was good enough to play with him - at age 72 !. It's certainly not age that prevents me from performing,it's opportunity ( & a lack of talent),
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    I have seen a few shows on TV that show what is being taught at East Tennessee State University with regards to teaching younger folk about bluegrass and what they are learning is not close to what bluegrass WAS....They seem to learning music more closely related to being between folk and Rock and Roll...I know that these pickers are young and just starting out but in my opinion (which all of us have) it would be much easier to teach them the simple songs and let the students master that before they go onto more complicated music...I also assume that these students are from different classes, some with more musical knowledge than others, sort of like mixing second graders in with fourth graders in school....At a festival in Florida last year I found a jam that was going on with four mandolin youngsters about ages from 18 to 25 were just trying to out pick each other with no regards to how they really sounded with out any drive or feeling in their music, that also could have been because they didn`t have a full compliment of other instruments that make up bluegrass bands...there was four mandolins and three guitars...that's it...

    I do believe bluegrass is going in a direction that will make it hard to put a correct title on it in the next few years...Remember the song, "Someone murdered country music down on Music Row"...Well that will be bluegrass also in a few years...

  27. #44
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    From charlieshaffer - "Look at Sierra Hull, who was straight bluegrass just a couple of years ago, and as she starts playing with the likes of Ethan Jodziewicz and others, is morphing into something different" And she still gets nominated for 'Bluegrass' mandolin player of the year by the IMBA - that's was PO's most of us off. If she's now ''something different'' - give here an award in that category & leave Bluegrass alone - PLEASE !!.
    I hear what you're saying, it's just that IBMA awards would become a dead end. If you kept it only to hard-core trad bluegrass mandolin players (or any other instrument), you'd simply be rotating it among 2-3 players at the most. You might get an occasional newcomer, but for the most part, the younger players want to branch out. Chris Thile wouldn't be in the running at all. Molly Tuttle wins the guitar award, but on her new E.P., there's a (gasp!) electric guitar! OH no! Hey, Doc Watson played electric in his younger days...

    It gets tedious when year after year, you see the same old guys winning. I am of the camp (and I know I'm not alone) that think a number of the players have fallen into the "hot lick" category, and their best creative days were long ago, and they live off flashy licks from their catalogue. It's o.k. to move on with the awards, too.

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  29. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlieshafer View Post
    I hear what you're saying, it's just that IBMA awards would become a dead end. If you kept it only to hard-core trad bluegrass mandolin players (or any other instrument), you'd simply be rotating it among 2-3 players at the most. You might get an occasional newcomer, but for the most part, the younger players want to branch out. Chris Thile wouldn't be in the running at all. Molly Tuttle wins the guitar award, but on her new E.P., there's a (gasp!) electric guitar! OH no! Hey, Doc Watson played electric in his younger days...

    It gets tedious when year after year, you see the same old guys winning. I am of the camp (and I know I'm not alone) that think a number of the players have fallen into the "hot lick" category, and their best creative days were long ago, and they live off flashy licks from their catalogue. It's o.k. to move on with the awards, too.
    Agreed. And the sensible way to move on is to rename the award. "Bluegrass and Americana", "Bluegrass and Acoustic". whatever. Heck, "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass" would be better than just expanding the meaning of "Bluegrass" until it becomes meaningless.

    And hey, I think Molly Tuttle is a fine guitar player ... but if you're going to go electric, then you should be in the same awards category as Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum ...

    PS - You people who are upset by the suggestion that not all acoustic music should be called "bluegrass" - how do you feel about the word "bluegrass" itself? Are you upset that Bill Monroe coined that term to describe his music, which was different from older country styles? Do you think Molly Tuttle's award should have been called the "Hillbilly Guitar" award? If the term "hillbilly" was good enough for the Skillet Lickers ...
    Last edited by jesserules; Oct-12-2017 at 7:49pm.

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  31. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by jesserules View Post
    Do you think Molly Tuttle's award should have been called the "Hillbilly Guitar" award? If the term "hillbilly" was good enough for the Skillet Lickers ...
    I would much prefer that term, and I think it would open up competition to flatpickers, fingerstyle country-blues players, and Telecaster wizards. I like hillbilly music in all its forms.

    Bluegrass music as music is very nice but people who take it too seriously and fret about every new song's deviation from the Platonic ideal of The Tradition Circa 1946 wear me out. Look, it's 2017 and people are still playing Monroe's songs from the 1940s and 50s. No one's gathering together to play Eddy Arnold or Webb Pierce songs. It's been a good run. Let's appreciate Monroe/Scruggs music for what it is but not be too caught up in replicating until the world ends.

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  33. #47

    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    I hear what you're saying, it's just that IBMA awards would become a dead end. If you kept it only to hard-core trad bluegrass mandolin players
    Take a look at the SPGMA organization and awards to see what it would look like if you tightened the boundaries to keep it strictly to the "That Not Bluegrass!!" players. Not exactly a living breathing group though it has not completely died yet.

    The toughest bluegrass police seem to be kinda intermediate to mediocre players trying to tamp down competition. However, the sorry example of country today shows what happens when no lines are drawn. Then again do you kick Doc Watson out because he plugged in or played jazz or played Nights in White Satin and Tutti Fruity? When it comes to genre police it seem like bluegrass has too many and country too few.

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  35. #48
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Charlie - I tend to agree with you - but if that really is the case,simply stop calling them 'Bluegrass'' awards. You could call them ''Acoustic Musician of The Year'' awards with various sections ie Banjo/Mandolin etc..... That would cover all acoustic musicians in all genres of acoustic music - except Classical music which has various awards of it's own. For me,it's better than attributing a music style to somebody who no longer plays in that style.

    My point - ''Bluegrass'' music is a very specific music,played in a very specific way - let's keep Bluegrass to itself & the guys/gals that still play it. Why 'water it down' with acoustic musicians who no longer play in that style ?. Would you include Bluegrass fiddlers in the ''Gramophone Classical Music Awards'',simply because they play the Violin ?.

    I'm not being 'precious' about Bluegrass music,simply stating a claim to it being a very 'specific' genre of acoustic music,which IMHO,should be kept that way. At least the guys/gals who still play the real stuff wouldn't be poked in the eye every time the IBMA awards come up. Simply put - musicians who no longer play Bluegrass music,shouldn't be given a ''Bluegrass'' music award.

    Maybe just as well Bill Monroe isn't around to see/hear 'his' music diluted in such a way - i think that it's disrespectful of the 'music' itself - & i am NOT putting any of the fine musicians down by saying this. I wish to hell that i could play like Sierra Hull,but, if i was playing what she plays right now,i wouldn't be calling it ''Bluegrass'',
    Purely my personal point of view - Ivan
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  37. #49
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Ivan, we stand on the same mountain,
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  38. #50
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    Default Re: Bluegrass for the elderly

    Well... a little off topic but I'll bite. What is Bluegrass? Were the Country Gentleman bluegrass according to Bill's standards? If it has a minor chord in the song is it bluegrass? What about Hot Rize, Seldom Scene,Reno and Smiley? The Osborne Brothers? The list goes on and on and the problem starts because it is all subjective. Some would consider some or all or none of the above bands listed as bluegrass. It's kind of like debating the color aqua.Is it more green or blue? (No pun intended). How about having categories for mandolin (i.e best traditional mandolin, best contemporay mandolin, etc). To me the best it got with Mr Monroe was when he was playing with Jimmy Martin. What! not Lester and Earl!!
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