Bluegrass Bus Museum

 

You are here

Opinion

Where Do You Put Bluegrass?

Where does Bluegrass Fit?It is generally accepted that around 1938 was to be the beginning of Bluegrass. Although this form of music may have been called Kentucky or Kentuckian had it not been for the fact that Bill Monroe didn't like the name. His first band was called the Kentuckians. The Kentuckians had a jug player instead of a bass player. It was in 1938 that Monroe made his first recording which was to become his trademark song, The Mule Skinner Blues which was recorded on October 7th. It is interesting to note that Monroe played a guiter on this first recording. It wasn't until 1940 that Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys actually cut their first disc. Early members of the Blue Grass Boys included a female accordian player and Dave (Stringbean) Akeman on the banjo. Soon after, Monroe changed the makeup of the band. He added a singer, Lester Flatt and a Banjo player, Earl Scruggs, who had mastered the 3-finger style of Banjo which got its foundations from Snuffy Jenkens.

Bluegrass and the Younger Generation

Fiddlin’ Carson PetersGo to a Bluegrass festival today and observe the audience. It is comprised of people from all walks of life. It is also comprised of people of all age groups. This is encouraging and is probably the result of the new young talent which keeps the Bluegrass blood flowing. This generation of Bluegrass musicians are bringing with them a new generation of listeners.

Listening to Music - The Consumer and the Studio

Audio RecordingBack in the day, all the top hit albums were recorded on tape. Some on just four to eight tracks mixed down to two. Recording studios were populated with Teac, Ampex, JBL speakers, Tascam boards and, for the most part, were pretty much the same. The age of digital alteration didn't exist. You got what the mics recorded. Bands had to be good in the studio and well as on stage. Many albums were done in just a few takes -- some in just one. That music is still some of the finest ever recorded. No fancy exotic gear like we have today.

Artists, Insurance and the Future

Nest EggHardly a week goes by that I don't read about an artist passing away, coming down with a serious medical condition, major property damage, instruments stolen, long term care becomes necessary, etc. This is always sad news. What is even more sad is that many didn't have insurance of any kind to handle these situations. The benefits begin to help our favorite artists with their immediate needs financially, professionally and socially. The needs are real.

I Wrote a Song Once But, I'm Not a Songwriter

SongwritingI view songwriters as those special gifted people who just have a wonderful way with expressing abstract concepts into concrete words. There are those who just excel at it while others struggle. Songwriting is that magical world where a few stand in the clouds, way above us mortals who enjoy and savor their works.

Dr. Banjo Tells Secular Americans to Be True to Themselves

Dr. Banjo, Pete WernickThough he thrives in a musical genre in which religious hymns are commonly on the setlist, Pete Wernick — better known as “Dr. Banjo” — says many of the beliefs in hymns he loves to sing don’t seem plausible to him. In a new video, Wernick tells a personal story that is both inspiring and moving, as he joins the voices of the Openly Secular campaign.

Is Broadcast Radio Fading Away -- Again?

Listening to Old Time RadioI'm a lot like the many of the electronic generation today -- load up the MP3 player, CD Changer, and the Media Server and let MY music play MY way -- without any commercials and annoying talk. I just don't know what the future of radio is. From my point of view (very limited and myopic!) it doesn't look too good for the future of radio. From having been in broadcast radio in the '70s and watching it through the years, I seriously doubt that audience numbers are anywhere close to what they have been in the past. We saw AM radio become an unnecessary commodity when FM and FM-Stereo came along. Now, I believe we're seeing FM also going the way of the dinosaur as digital music takes hold on very small, high-capacity, ligh-weight portable devices that consumers program with their own music tastes and can change as those tastes change. Here is my 20:20 hindsight and my prediction of the future of radio.

The Best Musicians Do Not Guarantee a Great Project

Bluegrass RecipesWe have seen it on the silver screen when top actors in an expensive production end up making a very lackluster movie. The film just falls flat. All the ingredients were there but the recipe was way off. We see the same thing in bluegrass music. Some collaborations may bring top caliber instrumentalists together but, if the recipe and the seasoning are not good for the bluegrass palate, then things can end up bland at best. Surprisingly, it does happen.

Bluegrass Music Across the Great Urban-Rural Divide

Bluegrass Music Across the Great Urban-Rural DivideBluegrass Music is facing a unique challenge. Here is a genre that was spawned in the Appalachian Mountains of poor immigrants who worked the mines, mills, factories and fields of the region. People existing through the Great Depression. The primary form of entertainment was entertaining themselves with music played on the front porches of the cabins in the hills and hollows. Stringed instruments comprising guitars, banjos an occasional mandolin and such. This is the true roots of bluegrass and old-time music. Based on hard work, family, church and rural living.

We've Lost that Loving Feeling: What Happened to the Music?

Mountain MusicEmmylou Harris pointed out years ago that the soul is lost in today's music. We've lost that front porch or livingroom essence of the music. Today, it is polished, spit-shined, buffed and massaged into what the band/producer perceives as perfection. In the process, we've lost the soul. Why do Charlie Poole, Hylo Brown, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, Appalachian and Hillbilly bands endure today more so than many of the top bands in the last 20 years? Because they have that extra piece that isn't comprised of notes or recording techniques. Some of the finest music didn't have the luxury of fancy recording studios, expensive microphones, exotic digital "effects" systems, etc. What they did have is a dimension that has been lost as artists strive for the perfection. They don't realize that their perfection is what hurts their sound.

What's the Bluegrass Music Lyrics Grade Level Score?

Bluegrass Lyric Grade LevelIn the recent couple of weeks there have been postings around the internet relating to the education level of pop lyrics, pop country lyrics and other music. One such article (http://bit.ly/1d2NfiG) indicates that Pop Country is in the 3rd Grade elementary school realm. I know it wasn't all this way but then, country music has changed a lot over the past couple of decades.

IBMA in Need of New Ethics & Conflict of Interest Policies

Code of EthicsThe International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) has a long history of leadership problems. In virtually every case, the underlying issue was "transparency" or, the lack there of. The lack of transparency was caused by two factors. Communications were non-existent, late or self-denial and, a lost trust in the leadership as a result. If one goes back through the years of emails and other communications, there is always a common thread and, for the past 12+ years, a common individual in the mix as well.

IBMA Desires Change for the Future...

Change and DirectionFor as long as I was a member of IBMA and for the many years since, people have always been asking for change. They want a change. The board needs to change. This or that needs to change. Change. Change. Change. What is it they want changed? What direction do they want association to go in? What is it they want? These questions are rarely asked and, when I ask members, I receive as many different opinions as I do people I ask. There doesn't seem to be any consensus.

Thoughts & Observations of the IBMA Board

Board of DirectorsFirst of all, this is an opinion piece -- not a news story. I've been reading comments through social media, the web, emails sent to me and comments on Cybergrass. There are certainly a lot of upset people and a lot of frustrated people. There are also many members that don't know what their own association is doing. Only a small percentage of members are really active in the IBMA. As one member said, "What is going on? I am a voting member, but do not know anything about the board." Another said, "Apathy is strong within the IBMA." Others have voiced similar thoughts. This indicates many card carrying members just carry the card. IBMA has never been an association to do something for you. It is an organization that members contribute to. For the decade that I was a member, I contributed constantly for various programs, regional rep program, created their first web site, worked on several Bluegrass in the Schools activities, spoke on sessions, mentored others and more. My hands were always involved in something the association was working towards. That is the true nature of IBMA. It really hasn't changed over the years.

IBMA Board Hemorrhaging Continues with Three More Resignations

IBMAThree more board members of the International Bluegrass Music Association have tendered their resignations. Brian Smith, Henri Deschamps and Elizabeth Wightman joined others who have earlier submitted letters of resignation including Executive Director Nancy Cardwell, Craig Ferguson and Dwight Worden. Board Chairman Jon Weisberger had also offered to resign however the recent board vote was to not accept that resignation.

Pages

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer