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Thread: Suits in Bluegrass

  1. #26
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Originally Posted by Mike Bunting
    you can't stack hayseeds
    No sir, but I've stacked stack hay bales, and it's hard work, brother!

    Remeber back during the New Wave era, when entertainers like Elvis Costello wore black suits and skinny ties? And of course there was the Blues Brothers, and the old bluesmen that they were emulating. I guess it's just a sign of respect, like putting on a suit for a wedding.

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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Quote Originally Posted by George R. Lane View Post
    If you wear T-shirts or flannel it is called Grunge.
    Or "NewGrass"

  3. #28
    Registered User Gary Hedrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Good posting.......I have "worn the suit" many times and find them hot....awkward and really don't like the buttons on the sleeves banging around....

    I do find the "dress like you just came off the street" style as being just plain sloppy.....

    When I was a young man playing square dances in our local state park campground I wore bib overalls with patches sewn on then and a folded up hat......all the "city folk" thought that only hillbillies lived in our county and I decided to prove them right

  4. #29

    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    But as AlanN points out, it's not so much the suits, as what the suits say:

    "We're on our way to the wedding of someone we hate"
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    "Some of our jackets are still at the dry cleaners"
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    "We've all just come from an interview for jobs at a call center"
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    "I'm really hoping this makes me look young and thin"
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  6. #30
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Too wise.

    I dunno, sometimes the suits seem too 'funeral-dirge' like, sometimes they seem cool. Back in the 90's, Tony in the TRU always reminded me of Johnny Carson - button-down white shirt (buttoned to the top), red tie, pale blue sportcoat, tan slacks, loafers. He out-dressed the other guys, big time. I saw Del one time in Denton. All suits for them boys. When Bub came off stage, he was literally dripping with sweat.

    Otoh, the 'I just changed the oil in my car' attire is a turn off.

  7. #31
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    It seems like you don't see suits as much anymore at a bluegrass concert or festival.
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Sausage, you have too many good ones,so far!mat least we are not seeing the less than stellar figures of these guys playing in birthday suits......Eeew!
    Sorry.
    Timothy F. Lewis
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  9. #33
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    How about some more Monroe: "Dress as if you belong there."

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  11. #34
    Registered User Justus True Waldron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Personally, I like to see a bluegrass band in suits. To me it says they're taking it seriously. I'm not saying you can't play well wearing ripped jeans and a T shirt, but it just doesn't seem to sit well with me when I see folks doing that.

    I know Bill did it to get people to take his music seriously and stop calling it "hillbilly music". The flannel/overalls/greasy look is really more of an "old time" thing IMO... and with all the new hip crossover acts out there today it seems to be generally accepted. I can see the argument that we no longer need to represent bluegrass as "not hillbilly music" but I don't really buy it either. With all the talk about the "big tent" philosophy and the widening of the bluegrass arena I think showing seriousness can still be a good thing at times.

    I like and enjoy a lot of the younger "crossover" music and have no problem with it at all, but the truth is if I tell someone my age I play bluegrass their reaction seems to always be "Oh wow cool man, so you must smoke a ton of weed washed down with moonshine and walk around barefoot sleeping in fields and old VWs, sounds awesome dude". Not to knock on anyone that might actually live that way, but what if I want to say I play bluegrass but not conjure up that image? The suit helps.

    Yeah suits can be hot. We didn't actually wear them in my last band, but we had a rule to "dress nice" and that sometimes included wearing jackets. I think it does show respect to the audience. Last summer I saw the Rambling Rooks play at Thomas Point Beach and Ronnie Bowman, Kenny Smith, and Don Rigsby were all dressed in nice button down shirts. Scott Vestal however was wearing a tattered t shirt with writing on it. Did it make the music sound worse? Not at all. Did it look confused, almost like Scott had just woken up and accidentally wandered onto the stage? Yes. I think stage dress still can be an important thing...
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  13. #35

    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    I have given this more thought than it likely merits.
    I live in a suit. I am really comfortable in a suit. I have worn a coat and tie, almost daily since I was 11, with a hiatus for college and law school. I wouldn't dream of wearing a suit outside of work, marriage, or funeral. And I guess in this way, familiarity breeds contempt. The grass is always greener. I prefer blue jeans for many daily non work things, simply because they are different to my work day. And, I can sit without looking to see if there is something that will stain, bend without bagging my pants, pet the dog, kneel, etc., care free. I mention this, simply as a point of perspective.

    About a year ago, my BG band had a Patsy Cline wanna be singer. Great pipes, and wanted us to all wear matching black jeans, shirts, hats, bolo ties. Very 'groomed'. Most of us balked, not only at the ' slick message' but also at changing what image we had from relaxed to Nashville, and it being here in very laid back Denver. She might have been right, for image, for clubs, and looking pro, etc..

    I am in my mid fifties. I couldn't agree more that a suit sends a message, and that the impact varies with the audience.
    Entertainers imho, are entitled to dress however they feel it appropriate, in a kind of free market approach. Likewise geezers and kids. How they are received will, in all likelihood, have repercussions.

    It is part of the image. It is part of the perception. Everyman? Stoner? Rock Star? etc

    Dress as the work allows or demands. Artists, imho, have always had a unique take. But, there is always a seeming 'group' uniform of sorts. Metalheads have a look, as do BG festival audiences, as do country club types, as do jazz types as do indie bands. Sort of.
    Some of us are smitten by performers who deliver a sound that is seemingly out of context with expectations of whatever stereotype we might have. The young white performer with pipes like a black gospel matron, for example.

    I think it depends a great deal on the particular audience. This thread and the responses demonstrates the wide range of thoughts and expectations.
    I am often aware of how popular the color black is for performers, in watching not only folks at the Ryman, but many bands in general, of many genres.

    I guess, what I take away, in part, is that again, I see a dichotomy of tradition versus the present. I can see not wanting to associate oneself with certain aspects of the perception of the BG in the past, for instance, but not by way of limitation, 'rubes' or hayseeds, and yet, as time, media and the genre widens, this grows more remote.

    I, for one, was pleased by the early newgrass approach, irreverence, occasional drug references, and contemporary themes, as well as songs, as lifting a great but sometimes stagnant musical genre beyond its traditions and political associations. But that was in the 70's.

    Now, im not so sure that revisiting the traditional, such as matching suits, is anything other than a tip of the hat to the roots.

    Unlke Justus, if I tell some folks I play BG, they may assume I have the stars and bars hanging in my basement rec room next to my gun rack.

    I guess a lot depends on many factors. How old is the performer, the audience, the location of the performance, even the music itself. Purist or progressive comes to mind. Do these pants make my butt look fat?LOL

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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    I don't have an issue with the suits, but my problem is that most BG bands wear really bad looking suits. Baggy, cheap, poorly fitted, bad colors, terrible ties, etc... Add to that the inevitable bad haircuts and the whole thing comes out looking less classy and more sort've embarrassing. When bands come out with such bad suits, it looks far worse than if they'd just worn some decent slacks with a tucked in button down, or some decent jeans with a semi-casual short-waisted untucked button down or polo. As far as t-shirts and jeans, I've got no problem with that either, as long as they don' look like they've slept in them for the last week or two.

  15. #37

    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Quote Originally Posted by stevedenver View Post
    ... if I tell some folks I play BG, they may assume I have the stars and bars hanging in my basement rec room next to my gun rack.
    That's probably my fault.
    I could wear a three-piece pinstriped suit and my black and white patent leather wingtips for every performance, but just let one meter-reader into the basement...

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  17. #38
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    I prefer the Monroe concept too, if it was thirty years ago, I might look into the jhodpur/ knee high boot look. I liked that.
    Me, too. You can't beat that jodphur uniform.

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  19. #39
    Registered User Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    The thought of wearing a suit jacket, with buttons dragging across the bridge, strings, or mandolin top, makes me cringe. I don't know how those guys do it, but my hat's off to them.
    Maybe I'm just lucky, but I've never had a problem with buttons hitting the mandolin. I do know guys who remove the buttons from the right arm of their jackets.

    We didn't always wear suits, but never went on stage grungy or unkempt.


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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Certainly to distinguish himself from a country bumpkin and to respect the audience, but also at the other end I think Bill probably wanted to distinguish himself and his music from the regular country music at the time, wearing those (I think wonderful) Nudie suits.

    I know the temptation is there. If I could play like Chris Thile I would absolutely wear something flashy and overly decorated.

    I could never wear overalls. I just know a lot of folks who make there living in jobs requiring overalls or something similar, and, out of respect, I am not going to pretend I work that hard.
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  21. #41
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    This is how Ralph Lauren kitted out one of our Cornwall BG groups for their Summer Cocktail Party in Mayfair

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    They're normally firmly in the Jeans & Tees camp but I thought it was interesting the take RL had on it.
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    This certainly teaches me a profound new respect for jeans and t shirts.

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  24. #43
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    If this were the Bassoon Café we'd be talking about how to keep our tuxedos pressed.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Early R&B groups dressed up for the Job too.

    even when they slept in the car when no hotel would rent them a room.
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    is like dancing,
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  26. #45

    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    I've been following this thread with some interest, and have noticed that the guys have chimed in. Of course, since the topic is "suits," that's appropriate. But that also assumes all-male groups, as we lady folk would look a bit silly in a suit. So what do you folks suggest is appropriate for women in an otherwise all-male group? I don't care for the matchy-matchy look as someone always ends up looking badly (like the bridesmaid in a wedding party forced to wear the dress that fits the rest of the ladies but clearly isn't designed for her body type). I try to match the general tone of the men in the group, but since they go with jeans and a collared shirt, that's hard to do unless I want to look like them. What say ye, fellow players?

  27. #46
    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    This certainly teaches me a profound new respect for jeans and t shirts.
    Naw man, they look cool. There's something to be said for dressing to make your photos not just dated but charmingly dated in twenty years. Without polyester suits and ugly wide ties, we could never get cool ironic album covers such as:


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  28. #47
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Quote Originally Posted by LA Mando View Post
    I've been following this thread with some interest, and have noticed that the guys have chimed in. Of course, since the topic is "suits," that's appropriate. But that also assumes all-male groups, as we lady folk would look a bit silly in a suit. So what do you folks suggest is appropriate for women in an otherwise all-male group? I don't care for the matchy-matchy look as someone always ends up looking badly (like the bridesmaid in a wedding party forced to wear the dress that fits the rest of the ladies but clearly isn't designed for her body type). I try to match the general tone of the men in the group, but since they go with jeans and a collared shirt, that's hard to do unless I want to look like them. What say ye, fellow players?
    I love the look this lady has...Gloria Belle is sassy and in control buddy!

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  29. #48
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Even though the fellers ain't wearing suits in this video, I think what the ladies are wearing would be perfect to go with the look if they were wearing suits.


  30. #49
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    If you cannot discern whether a band respects the music (or the audience) by the way they play, I do not think a suit is going to help much. And frankly, the McCourys could come out and play in tutus and their respect for the music would still shine through. (Sorry for the imagery.) I get it the some folks care about clothes more than others, but I think that says more about the folks judging the clothes than the folks wearing them.
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  32. #50
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suits in Bluegrass

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    If this were the Bassoon Café ....
    Perish the thought!

    There's always this look....

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    ...or even this!

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