The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #31107   Message #403768
Posted By: Rick Fielding
22-Feb-01 - 11:54 AM
Thread Name: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
Had a feeling this thread would be worth checking out again....and I was right. Hey RB250 (that's a model of banjo, folks) no need to get testy, Bluegrass has as many opinions as participants. You already know mine (and I've been playin'...and reading...for a long time as well) so I won't re-iterate them. I will say however, that spirited discussions (and disagreements) about "folky" music is what's kept me around Mudcat for three years now. Nobody actually gets "mad" in these'll have to go to the "guns" and "religion" threads for that. I'm just pleased that there's still a few catters left here that WANT to talk bluegrass.

As far as the "reading" part goes, let me reccommend an amazing book. "America's Music" (A history of Bluegrass Music, in the words of it's pioneers.) It's by Barry R Willis, and is perhaps the best hundred bucks (yah, it's THAT expensive!) I've spent in the last five years.

It's not free of some annoying typos and mis-information, but on the whole, it's magnificent. It's like sitting down with septagenarians like George Shuffler, Curly Seckler, Kenny Baker, Carl Sauceman, Tater Tate, Bobby Adkins (and so many more) and hearing "how it really was."

The "origins" of the music are discussed, and believe me, they've all got STRONG opinions. Everything about what it was like on the road, the feuds (and there were many) the "name" itself, how the music got "popularized" in the sixties, (boy, are there some controversies there!) and the feelings of the newer breed who went from Bluegrass to "new Country" and "new acoustic". Yep, the labels continue, and they're just as subjective to each person using them as they were 60 years ago. It's a huge book, and I find myself constantly picking it up (I leave it in the bahroom!) and re-reading it.

Hi, Rocketman. Most sources say that Flatt and Scruggs hired Josh Graves away from Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper as a BASS player. Apparently they liked his dobro playing enough to feature it on some radio shows. The public loved it, so they got Jake Tullock to play bass (and do comedy with Josh) and made the dobro a regular part of their sound. So as RB250 already stated, it ain't really traditional in the line-up. Also keep in mind though, that Josh's style was revolutionary at the time. Before he combined his style with rolls he learned from Scruggs, he played in the more "old fashioned style" of Oswald and Clell Sumney.

Hmmmm, Dolly Parton won a Grammy for "best Bluegrass Album" last night. Well, I'd rather it went to someone like Doyle Lawson, but what the hell, ANY publicity is supposed to be good publicity. It took a mediocre (in my opinion) film like "Oh Brother, Where Are't Thou" to get the masses to hear Ralph Stanley...but at least they HEARD him.