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Thread: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

  1. #51
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I've been binge-watching and recording the series all day. I was out of town when it started, and thought I was going to have to wait for a repeat during pledge time - not how I would like ti experience it. But fortunately one of my stations played episodes 1-4 starting at noon in advance of episode 5 tonight. So even though I had a performing slot in a local festival at 5:00, I was able to zip home and pop in another tape before 6:00. Whew!

    Overall, I think it's great. I've learned so much, and had very few complaints. As to the pace, one man's slow and plodding is another man's leisurely and painstakingly detailed. This is Ken Burns; it's how his movies are. Comes with the territory. You want 16 hours devoted to the history of country music and its place in the cultural evolution of America? Settle in.

    Personally, I'm glad the timeline ends at 1996. What's happened in the genre since then has had less to do with country music's heritage and history than I'd like. I noticed this in the concert, but let it slide. Then I saw when researching the series at pbs.org that that's as far as it goes. So be it.

    Among the many revelations I've witnessed, the most astounding one (and also most relevant here) was seeing a young June Carter with a mandolin! I don't know if she played it or just posed with it - hopefully someone with better research skills than mine can determine this - but here are two pictures with her and her sisters Ellen and Anita, and the rest of the Carter family.

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    L. to R.: Maybelle Carter's brother, Hugh Jack "Doc" Addington (fiddle/guitar), A.P. Carter's sister, Sylvia Carter (autoharp), "Mother" Maybelle Addington Carter (guitar), Maybelle's 2nd cousin, Carl P. McConnell (banjo), Anita Carter, June Carter (mandolin), Helen Carter (guitar). WRNL RADIO. 1940's




    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Okay, full disclosure. I could do with more Rhiannon Giddens......
    When the concert comes around on your PBS station, tune in. She's all over it. In fact, she opens the show in a duet with Ketch Secor from Old Crow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    Marty, despite the heavy make-up, hair and the Prince-like scarf, did a really good Monroe imitation. And he has good comments.

    Not sure what mando he plays, but he made it sound good.
    Again, tune in for the concert when it comes around. Marty does a solo spot that is breathtaking. And I think his scarf hides a neck whose appearance he is shy about people seeing. Prince ain't no part of nothing here.
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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I though the jazz documentary was quite good! Particularly the focus on Louis Armstrong.

    You guys that couldn't get into it - do you even like to listen to jazz? or was it the show itself that bothered you?
    I've listened to Jazz all my life: Bop, Bebop, Big Band, small group, West Coast, hard bop, etc. etc.

    It rolled over for Wynton Marsalis. Burns bought into the Marsalis-Albert Murray-Stanley Crouch party line, especially their hatred of Miles Davis. Davis would have been a much more logical choice to center the series around, as he was into or the leader of so many different schools of jazz, but their dislike of Miles made that moot. It deified Louis Armstrong. Making him the center was just ridiculous, and I like Armstrong. It presented legends as historical fact. It didn't cover contemporary jazz.

    A simple internet search will uncover the many criticisms of the series from jazz fans the world over.

    Love his other series though! Country Music is great so far!
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    I've listened to Jazz all my life: Bop, Bebop, Big Band, small group, West Coast, hard bop, etc. etc.

    It rolled over for Wynton Marsalis. Burns bought into the Marsalis-Albert Murray-Stanley Crouch party line, especially their hatred of Miles Davis. Davis would have been a much more logical choice to center the series around, as he was into or the leader of so many different schools of jazz, but their dislike of Miles made that moot. It deified Louis Armstrong. Making him the center was just ridiculous, and I like Armstrong. It presented legends as historical fact. It didn't cover contemporary jazz.

    A simple internet search will uncover the many criticisms of the series from jazz fans the world over.

    Love his other series though! Country Music is great so far!
    Oh, sorry, I get.

    But I grew up in New Orleans, went to school with Branford and Winton, ...took jazz lessons from Ellis.

    so with all respect

    "It deified Louis Armstrong. Making him the center was just ridiculous"

    Louis was arguably the most important pop musician of the 20th century, both as the first great jazz soloist and as a model for singers.

    However, I would love to know you could consider that ridiculous.

    I suggest re-listening to all the Hot 5 and Hot 7 recordings.

    AND

    I love Miles. But Miles was not his own best manger and agent!

    Read his autobio please if you haven't yet.

    And again, respectfully:

    "I've listened to Jazz all my life: Bop, Bebop, Big Band, small group, West Coast, hard bop, etc. etc."

    Do you play any of those styles professionally?

    Don't get me wrong, we love jazz listeners!

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I enjoy Burn's documentary style, and was reminded how much I love that early country music, Jimmy Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams ( what's not to love), and then they got to the part where Atkins started introducing piano and lush string sections and I was reminded how much I dislike that period of country music, and is pretty much why I do not listen to it. I understand, they knew if they dressed it up a little it would sell better in urban areas and that was where the market was. I think the same thing happened to Rock, it started raw and somewhat "unplanned" and that was part of the appeal, but by the late 70's studio mixing and perfect hair took precedence over song writing and performance, which turned me off of rock and over to - you guessed it early country music, which of course led to my love of bluegrass and traditional music.
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I don’t understand the need to gripe about what has become Ken Burns signature style.
    It’s a freaking 16 hour series, what is it about the leisurely, well researched, well supported listenable pace that is so miserable? This is just how Burns works, there is no reason to blast through page after page of script when you have the time to make each paragraph count and be clear.
    Just one man’s opinion.
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Are any opinions about documentaries necessary?

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    Are any opinions about documentaries necessary?
    Opinions about subject matter, sure, there are always more “versions of the truth” to be told. As far as style is concerned, I think it’s always going to be a bone of contention for someone.
    I like the Burns style of documentary. Others do not. Fair enough.
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    My opinion is that I must have turned really soft somewhere along the line, because this series will not leave my heartstrings alone.

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    My opinion is that I must have turned really soft somewhere along the line, because this series will not leave my heartstrings alone.
    Beautiful.
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I got turned off to country when I was a teen in the late '60's, and now I understand why - I was listening to the Nashville Sound. My interest resumed in the early '80's, but now I was focused on the Bakersfield Sound and the Outlaws. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that the soundtracks to Clint Eastwood's movie Any Which Way But Loose and Willie Nelson's Honeysuckle Rose had something to do with it.
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I think the pacing is perfect. Why rush through and maybe miss some of the delightfully interesting tidbits we are learning?

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Call me a contrarian. I found it unwatchable. I couldn't stand 16 minutes of the one I saw. There's no way I could endure 16 hours.

    We should loop it for all detained enemy combatants. They'll surely give up key intel to make it stop. Haha

  18. #63

    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Personally, I think that the pacing, the writing, the narration, are all part of the Florentine Films style (Burns' production company) - he's going to stick with it whether you like it or not. So we may as well examine the massive treasure trove of photos, footage, and info within - if you're watching, that is. (I don't mean to comment on any particular post above...)

    Here's a bit of mandolin content. Anyone recognize this block-inlay 'Florentine' Gibson F-5 in the hands of Mike Seeger from episode 5?

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I was leaving that one for Tom on Facebook. It looks like a 50's model to me. Somewhat like the elusive 1957 Duane Eddy Gibson F5.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    I don’t understand the need to gripe about what has become Ken Burns signature style.
    It’s a freaking 16 hour series, what is it about the leisurely, well researched, well supported listenable pace that is so miserable? This is just how Burns works, there is no reason to blast through page after page of script when you have the time to make each paragraph count and be clear.
    Just one man’s opinion.
    I completely agree Timothy. Nothing I would criticize about the pacing of "Ken Burns signature style".

    Even so... in this particular documentary, I find myself using the 'Pause' and 'Rewind' buttons quite often.
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I like the leisurely pace. It reminds me of listening to Detroit baseball announcer Ernie Harwell calling the play by play in his relaxed southern drawl during my youth. Almost like a mantra that lulled you into a zen state and made you savor the moment. I suppose the pace of that bygone era is lost on the internet generation. Sigh.

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    The best thing on TV since Band of Brothers.
    I was hoping to see Joe Maphis because he and Rose lived here in Clear Spring, MD for while. She had family here and they played here. But I guess Joe wasn’t at that level of influence.
    The Bakersfield sound is the best/only good thing about the Nashville sound period. I understand why Chet pushed it, and I loved Chet, but.........

    Bob

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    We've been comping the "Jazz" and "Country" Burns docs, because it seems so natural and fun to do.

    I agree with David on the pleasures found in the Jazz series from its emphasis on New Orleans in general and Armstrong in particular. I'm a huge fan of Miles (who isn't?) and read the Crouch tome as well as Miles's autobio. I appreciated Burns's "Jazz" because it unearthed and re-presented a treasure trove of jazz history that I was not familiar with. For him to have retread over Miles's influence would have been preaching to an already well-informed choir, imho. There's no even thinking about the jazz in America without focussing on the source and that source was New Orleans. Would be like talking about the blues and skipping over the Delta.

    It would also be like spending too much time on Monroe in "Country Music". Burns located Monroe skillfully and shone a light on his importance and then moved on. It was clear and great and informative.

    My initial gripe was that he was moving too fast....There are other well done documentaries that focus on the Carter's, so his choice to emphasis Jimmy Rogers was a coup for me. Okay, I'm a Texan and so the "W" and C+W always looms large.

    Then, however, came Episode 3 which was flat out awesome. The best two hours of screen time we've had in a long time. And his treatment of Johnny Cash has been sublime.

    Where I'll push back against my amigo, David, is on the "players" vs "listeners" and the presumed assumption of authority there. Burns is clearly aiming for the general viewer in both series.

    Some "listeners" can bring a detached broad minded view to something as expansive as "Jazz" or "Country". I like to swing on the mandolin, but I'd be hopeless at attempting anything bebop. But, man, I love to listen to it. Never blew a horn with any convincing skill.

    Some "players" can bring an incredibly narrow view to the music they purport to love. They love what they play and make no room for others. The Monroe shibboleth "That isn't part of anything!" Or whatever he said, is case in point for the mandolin crowd.

    I've just been waiting for the series to turn it's attention on down to Austin where it should be....

    Mick
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Awesome thread about an awesome doc. Even my wife, who’s not that into country and especially not intoC and W, and who has little background in the bluegrass I play rather incessantly, is captivated.

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Yes, I noticed Mike Seeger's mid 50's Gibson F5. Shown in part 5, in part 6 you get to hear it. My take on the 8 part series (1:50 mins each so not quite 2 hours, but the DVD set will have extra video to get up to 16.5 hours, or about another 1.5 hours additional), is that he spends too much time on a few and not enough time on others. Many were left out all together, and a few added even I've never heard of. I doubt you could do it all in 60 hours of documentation that's been around since the 1920's. Ken takes his time, gets the right people involved and has made this more generic for general fans of country/bluegrass than for die hards like myself that want to see it all preserved. I bought the $60 book. At 535 pages it shows does not show all the great photos shown in the series, but it does show a lot. I hope to get the bluray DVD for a Christmas gift since I'm in Part 6 in a photograph I made in 1966 holding up a "This way to Blue Grass Festival" sign that I took off a telephone pole on the way to the 2nd Roanoke 3 day Bluegrass Festival. Good to see they will end it in 1996, same year Monroe died. Not much has happened since then so a good stopping point.

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    I've seen the first six so far. I had to laugh last night. Prior to her going to do the "Circle Be Unbroken" album, Mother Maybelle told the girls, she "Liked that One Toke Over the Line Sweet Jesus spiritual song."
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by willkamm View Post
    I've seen the first six so far. I had to laugh last night. Prior to her going to do the "Circle Be Unbroken" album, Mother Maybelle told the girls, she "Liked that One Toke Over the Line Sweet Jesus spiritual song."
    Look for the Lawrence Welk version on Youtube. He too thought it was a gospel song and his folks performed it on national television on his weekly show.
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    "Not deep enough...."

    What a bunch of whiney babies! Do you think this set of shows was written just for Musicians? or Country Music afficionados? or bluegrass fanatics? Record collectors? or 78 rpm collectors? NO, it's for people that listen to some of this stuff, (or none of it), but may be unaware of the various sub-genres or the historical timeline(s) and development of the "genre".

    Face it...an hour-long (or longer) documentary could be done on ANY of the people mentioned in the show....Bobbie Gentry, The Maddox Bros., T Texas Tyler, Buck, Lefty, George Jones, Ralph Stanley, New Lost City Ramblers, etc. etc. (The hurdles would be finding, and getting the clearances for, archival performance and interview footage for TELEVISION, which is a different animal from the written article or biography.)

    You want "deeper"?.... go online and stream some of the old episodes of PBS' "American Masters".
    "Patsy Cline"
    "Woody Guthrie: Ain't Got No Home"
    "Merle Haggard: Learning to Live with Myself"
    "Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records"
    "The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End"
    "Loretta Lynn: Still A Mountain Girl"
    "Willie Nelson: Still is Still Moving"
    "Les Paul": Chasing Sound"
    "Charlie Pride: I'm Just Me"
    "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song"
    "Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues"

    More face-to-face interviews? How about "The Big Interview with Dan Rather"? Plenty of episodes with country-oriented musicians:
    Willie Nelson
    Merle Haggard
    Charlie Daniels
    Kenny Rogers
    Vince Gill
    Emmylou Harris
    Marty Stuart
    Dwight Yoakum
    Loretta Lynn
    Dolly Parton
    Wynonna Judd
    Trisha Yearwood
    John Fogerty
    Martina McBride
    Tanya Tucker
    Keith Urban
    Linda Ronstadt
    Charlie Pride
    Clint Black
    Crystal Gayle
    Brian Setzer
    Kix Bruce
    John Rich
    Dickey Betts
    Billy Ray Cyrus
    Toby Keith
    Ricky Skaggs
    Shania Twain
    Oak Ridge Boys
    Travis Tritt

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    Don't know, don't care!

    Don't need to hear another variant of that old chestnut!

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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Oh, sorry, I get.

    But I grew up in New Orleans, went to school with Branford and Winton, ...took jazz lessons from Ellis.

    so with all respect

    "It deified Louis Armstrong. Making him the center was just ridiculous"

    Louis was arguably the most important pop musician of the 20th century, both as the first great jazz soloist and as a model for singers.

    However, I would love to know you could consider that ridiculous.

    I suggest re-listening to all the Hot 5 and Hot 7 recordings.

    AND

    I love Miles. But Miles was not his own best manger and agent!

    Read his autobio please if you haven't yet.

    And again, respectfully:

    "I've listened to Jazz all my life: Bop, Bebop, Big Band, small group, West Coast, hard bop, etc. etc."

    Do you play any of those styles professionally?

    Don't get me wrong, we love jazz listeners!
    I play fiddle, mandolin, guitar, blues harp, and play most often in the genres of gospel, bluegrass and folk with groups on and off stage.

    Does playing music mean that I am allowed to have an opinion on Jazz? So I must be a "professional" Jazz musician to have a knowledgeable opinion? If not, at least I'm so glad that "ya'll' professionals still "love" us measly listeners!

    As per Armstrong: I didn't say he wasn't important. Your categorization of him is a subjective opinion and you're welcome to it. As I am mine. I said Miles would have been a better figure to "center" the series, rather than Armstrong. Miles was there playing with Bird during the beginnings of Bop. Miles was at the forefront of the large-combo "cool jazz" genre with his "Birth of the Cool" recordings. Miles was there at the heart of the hardbop era with the famous quintet with Trane, arguably the most successful and best known group in that genre. Miles branched off to a totally different place with his recrdings with Gil Evans. He was at the forefront of modal jazz. Then Miles was there with the period where hard bop was taking on the elements of free jazz with the quintet of Williams, Shorter and Hanock. Then he was there at the beginnings of electric and Jazz Fusion. And I haven't even yet mentioned the best selling jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue.

    So, yeah, I make no apologies for believing Miles to be a better choice than Armstrong to center the series. Notwithstanding the Marsailes/Crouch hatred of him. Who cares if he wasn't good at self-promotion?

    And, yes, I've listened to and re-listened to the recordings and book you suggested, and many others besides.

    I resent, and think it ridiculous, the opinion that if you are not a professional then your opinion has no authority. It borders on a logical fallacy.
    Last edited by ccravens; Sep-24-2019 at 9:11am.
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    Default Re: Did you catch the Ken Burns Country Music series opening?

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post

    Some "listeners" can bring a detached broad minded view to something as expansive as "Jazz" or "Country".

    Some "players" can bring an incredibly narrow view to the music they purport to love. They love what they play and make no room for others.


    Mick
    Well put, IMO.

    BTW, last night's episode was awesome! The Kris Kristofferson parts, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Tammy Wynette; it was all good. Even Gram Parsons was briefly mentioned and "Sweetheart of the Rodeo!" The series has been awesome so far. As Niles said, you could literally do an hour on each of those figures. I think Burns has gotten the balance pretty good so far.
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