As I'm home sick with the flu. I'll jump back in here.
Rick Fielding and Jerry Rasmussen have expressed above two points that bear some attention.
Rick has expressed a preference for "authenticity (which CAN be entertaining if done right!)". I have the same preference (we went to different schools together as children but listened to the same music).
Jerry gave the perfect example of the schism between Bluegrass and Folk, (and Blues) in my opinion. The preconceived notions of each camp block the crossover of fans.
Now the great Folk Performers routinely cross the 'lines' to perform Old Time, Blues, and Bluegrass, (ever listen to Doc Watson?). Some great Bluegrass performers, like the Country Gentlemen and the Stanley Brothers perform Folk music. And who could say much Blues is not Folk?
But the 'Bluegrass Fan' may shy away from Folk music and likewise the "Blues Fan' because they have a vision of Joan Baez singing "We Shall Overcome", or Pete Seeger singing anything.
So if I want to bring an audience with wider demographics to my show, video, CD, movie, what do I do? Do I take 'authenticity' as my touchstone, or do I take 'connections' as my touchstone?
In my opinion the answer is connections. I want to build bridges from where music fans in related genres are to where my music is. Does that mean that authenticity can be dismissed? Absolutely not. But I MAY sacrifice some things to build a bridge.
1) Two examples. When I first saw OBWAT I disliked the repetition of lines by the 'back up singers' in "Man of Constant Sorrow". I was used to the 'traditional' singing of the song. But upon reflection, if that 'Motown' arrangement bridged the gap to a wider audience, and, by so doing, brought new ears to music I love, well, damn, Phil, what's wrong with that?
2)Recently when arranging a Carter Family song I found that I had learned it with the Carter's 'Cut Time', that is they dropped measures. But in order to make it more readibly playable for my wife and others we reinserted the dropped measures. Authentic? No. Does it change the song? Yes. Something gained, something lost, but a bridge was built to perfomance today.
I would make a case, when aiming for a broader, underexposed audience, for Authenticity with careful, intentional modifications that respect the music but may bridge the gap for the audience.
Regards, Chance. (I'll stop here, I have to go blow my nose and spray my throat and whine for a while. (Just kidding Jerry!))