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Thread: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

  1. #126

    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    There is a video "Why Old Time" which does a good job of trying to define Old Time music and to distinguish it from Bluegrass. The gist of the argument is that Bluegrass is the "comodified" old time, for stage presentation, packaged for consumers, while Old Time, is, well, the rest. I am not strong adherent to this, for many reasons, (and this whole discussion is more appropriately a different thread), but I do see how someone might come to that conclusion.
    Bluegrass as defined by old-time fans always sounds so dismal. Community vs showbiz, working together vs. cutthroat competition, inclusiveness vs. virtuosity.

    The reason I prefer bluegrass to old-time is simple: it's a form of pop music. 3-minute songs. The melody to "I'm Going Back to Old Kentucky" is easy to learn, and Bill Monroe uses it for half his songs. I had to hear "Billy in the Lowground" 75 times before I could even discern that it had a melody.

    Bluegrass is largely amateur jams. Only like 12 people in the entire country make any real money from it. It peaked commercially in the mid-1940s. I don't even know if it's more popular than old time anymore, I think the BG players just spend more on their instruments so the retailers cater to them more.

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  3. #127

    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Quote Originally Posted by drbluegrass View Post
    Traditional BG is very much alive and very well. There will ALWAYS be traditional BG music that is Monroe/Flatt and Scruggs/Stanley Bros influenced. If anyone here thinks traditional BG music no longer exists then I very respectfully submit you don't know what BG music is. . . . But I'm confident traditional BG music will be around for decades to come. All you have to do is attend one of the hundreds of BG festivals to see that.
    I dunno, man. I haven't been into bluegrass all that long but its long-term viability doesn't seem great to me. The majority of people I jam with are 65+. I went to a festival recently and it was pretty much the same. I know there are those 9-year-old bluegrass prodigies somewhere but not around here. I hope you're right.

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  5. #128
    Registered User Grizzly Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Bluegrass, and Old Time, are both populated with an aging demographic - self included! However, I just returned from a large BG/OT/Folk whatever festival, and was pleased to see some young talent not only doing good traditional BG but dusting off some of the popular folk anthems from the 60s. What was old is new again, I guess...
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  6. #129
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Quote Originally Posted by doublestoptremolo View Post
    I dunno, man. I haven't been into bluegrass all that long but its long-term viability doesn't seem great to me. The majority of people I jam with are 65+. I went to a festival recently and it was pretty much the same. I know there are those 9-year-old bluegrass prodigies somewhere but not around here. I hope you're right.
    I'm 64, started playing at about 10 mainly so active in BG because my dad was. That's been at least 54 years and people were saying at that time that this music was dying because young people just weren't getting into it. I knew very few people my age in my teen years that were bluegrassers but now I'm playing in a group and at several jams with people slightly older, the same age, one even somewhat younger than me. I don't know where they came from but I no longer see the music dying. Very few have ever made a lot of money playing BG and I don't see that changing, but so many "fans" play to some degree that alone keeps it going. I stated in another thread that BG and rock are siblings, how many people under 65 are playing rock and roll now? I'm talking rock and roll not what it has progress to. There are still folks playing it young and old not many getting rich, not hearing it on too many radio stations but people still having fun playing it.BG is more alive than R&R just because it hasn't progressed as much and split the base as much.
    Last edited by Mandoplumb; Oct-08-2017 at 8:15am. Reason: New thought

  7. #130
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    There was a thread not long ago about what cafe members go to festivals for, the bands or the parking campground picking. Overwhelmingly, it was the campground picking. I see this in younger players, too, of just about every genre. Sitting and listening to the same old guys playing the same old songs doesn't thrill very many people anymore, but picking away with friends sure does. I think this is what separates Old-time/Bluegrass/Alt-stuff from many forms of music: it's for playing in a social setting, or dancing to, or just having fun with. It works best when it's part of a community event, not an individualized they-play-you-listen sort of music.

    To that end, it's never going to die, but it's also going to spawn all those new forms that may be descended from old-time, which is far more the root source of all this than bluegrass. So the constant trying to define the genres is sort of pointless, but at the same time, the popular market has shifted well away from wanting to hear much that's truly traditional of every form. What's that all got to do with the shape of a mandolin? Nothing. I still believe that the shape was defined and popularized well before it became a bluegrass staple. So if you want to say that bluegrass defines the shape of a mandolin, you'd have to say the same thing for the guitar and the upright bass, and the banjo.

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  9. #131
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Quote Originally Posted by doublestoptremolo View Post
    Bluegrass as defined by old-time fans always sounds so dismal. Community vs showbiz, working together vs. cutthroat competition, inclusiveness vs. virtuosity. .
    That is one of the objections I have to the characterization in the movie. Since the movie is all about old time music, the description is entirely from one side.

    Knowing many enthusiastic bluegrassers I think the characterization is too general.

    I heard Ron Thomason of Dry Branch Fire Squad say that old time was about as close as you could get to not knowing how to pick at all.

    Which is equally not the case, but may perhaps sting in that how many old time enthusiasts would love bluegrass if only they could pick that fast.
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  10. #132
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Anybody else here remember this thread I started? Bluegrass:The New Americana!
    Much of what has been concluded here we said there, back then...
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  11. #133
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    I suspect a lot of the people who BUY a mandolin are those who wish to learn how to play REM, or the Mumfords, or the Unthanks, or any of a dozen rock/folk combos. Most of these people don't actually take it further than guitar like strums, or (WORSE!) devolve to ukulele, not realising the difference

    those who stick with it... I think the bluegrassers (and I'm lumping in progressive bluegrass, newgrass here) make up the biggest faction, but aren't a majority...
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  13. #134

    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    I really didn't realize that BG was actually a minority genre of mandolin players. I remember being surprised by that. Still am. I knew there were many other mandolin styles. I just wasn't aware the other mandolin genres were as dominant as they are. When I first joined MC I thought it would be almost exclusively BG oriented with the other genres being in the minority. How naive was that? Yep, you're right...pretty naive. Kind of the same with the Acoustic Guitar Forum. I thought I'd see more representation for BG guitars than I have. Go figure?
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  14. #135
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Well, we all approach from our own backgrounds and perspectives. What makes the mandolin interesting to me -- well, one of the things -- is that it's a versatile instrument that can contribute to a variety of musical genres, without seeming odd or out-of-place (as some might find, say, bluegrass saxophone -- I'd like to hear one, but many others would say, "that's not bluegrass").

    I would still maintain that on the Cafe, the largest group of mandolinists either play bluegrass now, or have in the past (me). In many cases, bluegrass music is what attracted them to the mandolin (me, again). But there are dozens and hundreds of Cafe members who don't play bluegrass, and are happy with their jazz, Celtic, classical, old-time, blues, rock, Italian, klezmer, folk, or whatever styles.
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  15. #136
    Orso grasso FatBear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    ...bluegrass saxophone -- I'd like to hear one, but many others would say, "that's not bluegrass").
    I bet it's been done. Almost nothing in this world is new (except maybe for the music of
    Valerie June.) Yakety Sax seems almost bluegrassy to me. I bet a BG band could back a good sax player and make it sound like they owned it.

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  17. #137
    Registered User Bonniej's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    I have never been a big fan of BG but have learned to appreciate Jim and Jesse and the Stankey’s and the like. I am taking a class that is an instructional jam session which is taught by an experienced musician and owner of the Bluegrass Shack in New Athens , IL. We have all age groups- the youngest about 16 - mandolins, guitars , banjos and a stand up bass- all acoustic.
    Our members drive as far as 50 miles each way to attend the class. Chris Talley is the owner and instructor - very encouraging and very patient. I’m learning songs I’ve never heard before and working on my own playlist that I am including in open jams elsewhere. Really having a great time. Variety is the spice of life in my opinion. I can’t say I’m any one particular style.
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  18. #138
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Quote Originally Posted by FatBear View Post
    I bet it's been done. Almost nothing in this world is new (except maybe for the music of
    Valerie June.) Yakety Sax seems almost bluegrassy to me. I bet a BG band could back a good sax player and make it sound like they owned it.
    Sounds mighty good here. But not bluegrass (and not claiming to be, because why should it?)).

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  20. #139
    Orso grasso FatBear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Yeah, not bad. It has a bit of that scratchiness like a fiddle.

  21. #140

    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    The immediate impression that bluegrass music makes on me is of male vocalists singing in harmony, in high tenor range, possibly with a nasal tonality and a mid-Southern accent. It seems more a vocal music than an instrumental music to me, know-nothing that I am. (Just let me duck out of range now.)

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  23. #141
    Registered User Santiago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    I think Bluegrass is fun to play and I enjoy listening to Bill and his many followers, many of whom he ecouraged to develop other styles of music. When I start playing for the sake of playing I play some BG, but it soon takes me to other styles, other genres. This is both a reflection on my musical socialization -- what I've previously been exposed to -- and where my head is at at any given moment.

  24. #142
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious about the Bluegrass mandolin market segment

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonniej View Post
    ...learned to appreciate Jim and Jesse and the Stankey’s and the like...
    Especially Eddie -- he could really play second base.

    Or was it "bass"?
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