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Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?

GUEST,steven (ghost) snider 17 Apr 00 - 07:24 PM
Lonesome Dave 17 Apr 00 - 07:59 PM
Bartholomew 17 Apr 00 - 08:21 PM
Mark Clark 17 Apr 00 - 09:29 PM
Irish sergeant 17 Apr 00 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,Arnie 18 Apr 00 - 10:10 AM
Mark Clark 18 Apr 00 - 10:33 AM
Sean Belt 18 Apr 00 - 12:35 PM
Rick Fielding 18 Apr 00 - 02:54 PM
Mark Clark 18 Apr 00 - 04:22 PM
Mark Clark 19 Apr 00 - 02:18 AM
Rick Fielding 19 Apr 00 - 02:37 AM
Mark Clark 19 Apr 00 - 03:02 AM
Mark Clark 13 Aug 02 - 02:06 PM
Mark Clark 18 Aug 02 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,CraigS 19 Aug 02 - 08:13 PM
GUEST,truer_sound 20 Aug 02 - 01:34 PM
TinDor 21 Feb 11 - 02:01 AM
Max Johnson 21 Feb 11 - 02:10 PM
GUEST 22 Feb 11 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,mg 22 Feb 11 - 04:19 PM
Bobert 22 Feb 11 - 07:58 PM
TinDor 22 Feb 11 - 11:42 PM
tritoneman 23 Feb 11 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 23 Feb 11 - 06:53 PM
tritoneman 23 Feb 11 - 07:26 PM
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Subject: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: GUEST,steven (ghost) snider
Date: 17 Apr 00 - 07:24 PM

Can anyone help me? I am looking for concrete connections between blues and bluegrass. Which came first? Which influenced which? Or did they evolve independantly and mesh later. I've heard stories of leadbelly playing with bluegrass musicians, and Robert Johnson doing the same. What I'm wondering is if like jazz, the genre of bluegrass stemed from blues, or was it the other way around? ghost.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Lonesome Dave
Date: 17 Apr 00 - 07:59 PM

Blues and Bluegrass both evolved from string band music that was common in the rural south in the late 19th and early 20th century. Many old time country and bluegrass musicians, like Uncle Dave Macon and Bill Monroe, learned much of their style and repertoire from their black neighbors. Likewise many blacks were adept at fiddle tunes and square dance music popular with the whites. There was a lot more mingling between the races, at least the musicians, than you might imagine. Yazoo Records has a series called Before The Blues which sheds some light on your questions. They also have a series Times Aint Like They Use To Be which covers the same territory. So to answer your question they came from the same roots and were very closely entwined in their early years. By the way Jazz arose mostly independent of the blues but thats awhole nother story.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Bartholomew
Date: 17 Apr 00 - 08:21 PM

I'm sure there are many amongst the mudcat historians who can elaborate on this and correct whatever misconceptions I might have, but here is my two-bits worth. . .

As I understand it, although the two kids grew up in the same neighborhood, so to speak, the roots of bluegrass are more European and the those of the blues more African. You can here much of the Scottish and Irish influences in bluegrass and appalachian music. Blues roots can be heard distinctly in the work chants the field hands and plantation workers used to keep their often forbidden language and culture alive in the new world. Of course, there has been so much cultural cross pollination that you can find bits and pieces of one in the other, lyrically in common themes and in the use of the same instruments.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Apr 00 - 09:29 PM

Blues is much older than bluegrass. Bluegrass didn't come into being until 1945 and incorporates influences from blues and jazz as well as commercial country and old-timey influences. I don't think the blues masters played bluegrass although they did play for square dances and things like that. I think I've read that, after the voice, the fiddle was really the first blues instrument, partly because of availability and partly because it could play all the notes "in the cracks."

I don't think we should confuse Monroe Brothers' or early string band music or even the Blue Grass Boys from 1941-44 with bluegrass music. And for what it's worth, Bill Monroe often said he really thought of himself as a blues singer.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 17 Apr 00 - 09:59 PM

For what it is worth, modern bluegrass didn't really come to vogue as Mark rightly points out. However, (and there are a lot of howevers in history and in musical history) Bluegrass is a dirivative of Appalachian hill music which was direct offspring of folk music brought over from the British Isles most notably Scotland and Ireland. But English and Welsh music were instrumental also. As I understand it, Blues derives from African roots and grew in popularity in the bordellos of New Orleans, spreading throughout the US as musicians travelled around looking for work. There are common themes and bluesmen did jam with bluegrass musicians. Hope this helps and is accurate, Neil


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 10:10 AM

There are lots of examples of country musicians doing blues music (which later evolved into blugrass). Check out Jimmie Rodgers songs, guitar playing and accompaniment, also Riley Puckett did some similar material. The East Texas Seranaders played many ragtime fiddle tunes and were jazz influenced, to be sure Sam & Kirk Mcgee and the Delmore Brothers, Clarence Ashley, did bluesy songs which are now played as bluegrass songs.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 10:33 AM

Irish & Arnie,

You're both correct regarding the history. The Carter Family used a lot of blues too. And of course Scottish and Irish influences really dominate bluegrass even with all the blues and jazz added. My point is none of the string music played before 1945 is bluegrass. It has a different beat, a different feeling, a different way of singing and totally different approach to the way instruments are used. It really came together because of the abilities and genius of Monroe and his band members at the time: Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise, and Cedric Rainwater. When that band first stepped out on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry it would have been like the first time the Jimmy Hendrix Experience walk out on stage. No one had heard anything like it. Bluegrass seems commonplace and familiar to us now but only because of the time and musical adventures that have taken place in the last fifty years.

 & & & & & &- Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 12:35 PM

I'm always stunned by the degree of separation we now require in our music. I suspect it's due to the influence of commercial radio in the last couple of decades that this need for a separation in what people listen to has come about. I can't imagine that the difference between blues and bluegrass or old-time was much of an issue for the early pioneers of these forms.

Look at Mississippi John Hurt, as a for instance. He freely moved between several musical genres for his sources and applied his own distinctive style to them. The same can be said for Jimmie Rodgers, and to a certain extent, even Hank Williams. Dock Boggs is on the record as stating that he was very influenced in his playing by black musicians he came into contact with in his early years.

I, myself, for what it's worth, tend to think of blues as the collision of African rhythms and instrumental techniques with the English and Western European melodies and languages which were forced on slaves upon their entry into the US. Then things grew and twined and intermingled over the next several hundred years and now we have the rich musical stew available to us today.

Steven (ghost): As far as a connection between Blues and Bluegrass, I'd suggest you investigate the Gospel tradition that both Blues and Bluegrass seem to have deep roots in. It might be an interesting avenue to wander down.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 02:54 PM

There are some...and I may be among them, who think that Bluegrass MUSIC started the first time Earl Scruggs played a roll with Monroe's band. The great "Mr. Bill" disagreed VIOLENTLY!

T'is a fine fine music.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Apr 00 - 04:22 PM

Rick, I understand what you're saying. Except for the people who knew of Snuffy Jenkins and Don Reno, no one had heard that kind of banjo playing before. Don't forget that Reno had the job first but had to enter the service leaving the position open for Earl.

I really think Bill's band of 1945-47 was really a synergistic partnership. I think Bill knew that and that was why he was so upset when they parted ways. Still if you listen to the body of music they each produced, it seems clear that both Bill and Earl (and the others too) were really masters and innovaters. No one band would ever have been big enough to tolerate all that talent.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 02:18 AM

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to kill this thread. It's just that people less familiar with the various forms sometimes lump all white Appalachian string music into a category they choose to call bluegrass.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 02:37 AM

Mark, I thought it was a telling point that Earl (because of his education) did the money stuff with Monroe's band. Guess they saw what leader's pay looked like and wanted some. Can't blame them. Flatt and Scruggs had a completely unique sound...certainly unlike that of Monroe or Carter and Ralph.

The feuds were not just between Monroe and his ex-sidemen though. Clyde Moody told me (many years ago at Berryville) that Monroe would do a new song on the radio Saturday night...and it would be on the Stanley's radio program Mon. morning. Must have steamed him big-time. (Although Carter then worked for him for a time)

One other little sub-plot that I found interesting was the Disagreement between Bill Napier and George Shuffler over which of them first "crosspicked" on a Stanley's record. These were PROUD unbending men.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Apr 00 - 03:02 AM

Rick, your description of those situations is great. I can just see them fuming at each other.

Do you have the answer to who first crosspicked on a Stanley's record? I have recordings of Napier with them in the late fifties but I think all the Shuffler leads in my collection are later than that.

I once attended the Berryville festival (1973 or 4) and had a great time but Moody wasn't there. I did get to talk with him very briefly at a festival James Monroe put together just east of Knoxville, Tn. No meaningful conversation though.

I think I may yet have a tape I made of concerts at that festival and I think Moody is included. I used ask Monroe (Bill or James) if I could tap into their sound systems at festivals to make personal tapes. To my total amazement, they always said yes. Though I recall at James' festival, Lester Flatt noticed that I was taping and would not walk onto the stage until he had been assured that I had turned of my machine. I understood his concern of course and promptly complied.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 02:06 PM

I just realized I've been waiting over two years for the definitive answer to whether Napier or Shuffler was the first to crosspick on a Stanley Brothers recording. Not that it makes any difference but I've been listening again lately to the wonderful guitar work Napier provided on early Stanley Brothers recordings and I thought some special mention should be made here.

Those Stanley Brothers recordings are a wonderful resource for the guitarist who would like to learn bluegrass technique. They feature the guitar almost exclusively so you can clearly hear every note played. Ralph was playing almost no banjo on those sessions. It's as though Carter and Ralph grabbed Napier and said “Lets go make some records. We'll sing and you back us up.”

On top of the clairity is the fact that most of what Napier plays is accessible. You get a complete course in backup guitar and a lot of leads that aren't too hard to copy by ear.

I hear a lot of flashy guitar players these days but very few that can lay down a bluegrass guitar line the way Bill Napier could.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 08:20 PM

Refreshed for Lane.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 08:13 PM

There was a (white) singer and guitarist called Dick Justice in the 30s who recorded in both ideoms - some of his recordings are available, but one track at a time on expensive compilations. Anyone knowing of a Dick Justice CD, please tell us!


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: GUEST,truer_sound
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 01:34 PM

I think the idea that the two genres grew up in the same neighborhoods needs a little more fleshing out, because its exactly true.

In the 20s and 30s, rural southerners moved to the cities in droves to get away from the dperessed southern agrarian economy and to find jobs in the newly industrialized cities. When they got to the big cities, they may have changed location, but they were still poor as dirt and often lived in the slums right next to the segregated blacks. Radio was very young and had not replaced the home musicians for entertainment, so musical tradition ran very strong in these two groups, and the close contact jsut influenced each other. (an aside: I think that the same phenomenon could be slightly responsible for the current boom in rap/heavy metal hybrids in mainsteam music. Those are the two most prevalent genres I heard in the Married Student Housing slum I lived in last year.)

Jimmie Rodgers, A.|P. Carter, Hank Williams, and Bill Monroe all were said to have studied closely with blues musicians.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: TinDor
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:01 AM

Blues is older than Bluegrass

Bluegrass is like Jazzed up Old Time/Stringband music w/ blues

The old time blues musicians didn't play Bluegrass but many played in/were aware of old time/string band music.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Max Johnson
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:10 PM

Clyde Moody told me (many years ago at Berryville) that Monroe would do a new song on the radio Saturday night...and it would be on the Stanley's radio program Mon. morning. Must have steamed him big-time.

I read somewhere that the Louvins used unusual tunings and tuned out of concert pitch specifically to make it difficult for other bands to 'borrow' their arrangements.
I'm not at all knowledgeable in this area - Rick's comment just reminded me.
I must say that although I love 'em all, I prefer the (to me) clarity of the Stanley Brother's sound.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 06:10 AM

Craig,

Dick Justice recorded a total of eight titles in 1929 only six of which were released.
Hardly enough to fill a CD I'm afraid

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 04:19 PM

Well, now that we know a bit more about Melungeons in the Appalachians..should look at possible influence from whereever they came from...Turkey, Portugal, Syria, wherever..

I have never understood (I am straying here) why people called this music Scotch-Irish..it does not sound like anything I have heard Irish or Scot...there are other influences..obviously African American but still other I think. mg


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 07:58 PM

Bluegrass is like the enemy for us blues players... No, it shouldn't be that way but it is... Okay, I am biased because of being a blues player in bluegrass land... Seems that the bluegrassers are rude... And loud...

I've been to many events where I will take a few of the youngins aside and start showing them about how to play the blues and we get going and then the bluegrassers converge with their load banjo and their hyper-rhythms that gotta be played at 100 miles an hour and so much for that workshop...

I can't believe I used to play that stuff??? But I did but I was never rude... Today's bluegrassers??? Most of them are rude and noisy and boorish...

Sorry... I know that is gonna get a lot of push back from 'um... Tough!!!

b~


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: TinDor
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 11:42 PM

In Bill Monroes own words on what Blugrass is..

"It's got a hard drive to it. It's Scotch bagpipes and old
time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's
blues and jazz and it has a high lonesome sound. It's plain
music that tells a good story. It's played from my heart to
your heart, and it will touch you." -Bill Monroe


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: tritoneman
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 03:41 PM

Today's bluegrassers??? Most of them are rude and noisy and boorish...

I used to play bluegrass years ago and I still have an occasional listen to early Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe but I feel Bobert makes a good point with that statement.

I think that the blues element in Bill Monroe's singing and mandolin playing stands out - as it does in a lot of Scrugg's banjo playing - enriching the music and giving it depth and some 'soul'. To me, a lot of later bluegrass is merely a clinical, metronomic speed excercise.


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 06:53 PM

How wonderful that you can judge the character of a large group of people by the music they play. Bullshit. People are people. You should both get out a bit more.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Help: the blues and bluegrass, influences?
From: tritoneman
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 07:26 PM

It is a generalisation and as such is probably a bit unfair but, in my experience, when there are a collection of bluegrass players at a session they tend to more or less dominate the whole thing. Maybe I should get out a bit more and try some different sessions....or not!


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