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Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass

GUEST,ucsbstudent 20 Feb 01 - 07:45 PM
bbelle 20 Feb 01 - 07:58 PM
Rick Fielding 20 Feb 01 - 08:00 PM
Rick Fielding 20 Feb 01 - 08:22 PM
ddw 20 Feb 01 - 08:48 PM
rangeroger 20 Feb 01 - 09:02 PM
catspaw49 20 Feb 01 - 09:24 PM
Gary T 20 Feb 01 - 10:32 PM
Rick Fielding 20 Feb 01 - 11:39 PM
Robo 21 Feb 01 - 12:38 AM
Stewie 21 Feb 01 - 01:05 AM
Richard Bridge 21 Feb 01 - 12:33 PM
Mark Clark 21 Feb 01 - 01:57 PM
mousethief 21 Feb 01 - 02:16 PM
bbelle 21 Feb 01 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,oj 21 Feb 01 - 04:51 PM
bbelle 21 Feb 01 - 07:00 PM
SINSULL 21 Feb 01 - 07:51 PM
bbelle 21 Feb 01 - 09:05 PM
RocketMan 21 Feb 01 - 09:24 PM
bbelle 21 Feb 01 - 09:58 PM
GUEST,RB250 22 Feb 01 - 01:09 AM
bbelle 22 Feb 01 - 08:17 AM
jofield 22 Feb 01 - 11:19 AM
jofield 22 Feb 01 - 11:20 AM
jofield 22 Feb 01 - 11:23 AM
Rick Fielding 22 Feb 01 - 11:54 AM
Rick Fielding 22 Feb 01 - 11:54 AM
Rick Fielding 22 Feb 01 - 11:58 AM
catspaw49 22 Feb 01 - 12:10 PM
Jim the Bart 22 Feb 01 - 04:46 PM
Steve Latimer 22 Feb 01 - 04:53 PM
catspaw49 22 Feb 01 - 06:12 PM
RocketMan 22 Feb 01 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,RB250 23 Feb 01 - 01:28 AM
GUEST,re:timing 23 Feb 01 - 04:30 AM
Mark Clark 25 Feb 01 - 03:38 AM
Mark Clark 26 Feb 01 - 03:04 PM
Rick Fielding 26 Feb 01 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,petr 26 Feb 01 - 09:00 PM
reggie miles 27 Feb 01 - 10:15 AM
catspaw49 27 Feb 01 - 11:09 AM
Mark Clark 27 Feb 01 - 02:37 PM
reggie miles 27 Feb 01 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,RB250 28 Feb 01 - 12:07 AM
Rick Fielding 28 Feb 01 - 12:08 PM
jofield 28 Feb 01 - 12:52 PM
Barbara Shaw 28 Feb 01 - 01:38 PM
Mark Clark 28 Feb 01 - 02:34 PM
Barbara Shaw 28 Feb 01 - 04:23 PM
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Subject: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: GUEST,ucsbstudent
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 07:45 PM

I was recently talking to a friend who's a bluegrass and Old Time player and we got into a conversation about Bill Monroe. Now everyone knows that Bill Monroe "invented" bluegrass, but did he really? I know that it's basically agreed upon by everyone, but when it comes to musical genres I am hesitant to say that any one person invented any one thing. Are there any other musical genres out there that are attributed to the invention of just one person? Obviously Monroe was influenced by a lot of different styles, so where do we draw the line between innovation and invention? Were there other people (who we may have never heard of) who were doing the same thing as Monroe around the same time, but never got famous? I'm not out to tear down any idols, destroy anyone's dearly held beliefs, or smear Bill Monroe, I'm just a curious music student who likes to ask difficult questions. Have at it Mudcatters!


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: bbelle
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 07:58 PM

Sure others were doing it. Bill Monroe brought it to the people. He was from Kentucky, The Bluegrass State, and that's why his music was called "bluegrass."

I guess you were hoping for some type of answer to reveal the "mystery." Sorry. It's just that simple.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 08:00 PM

Hi student. There are as many answers and theories as there are Bluegrass fans. The music is a hybrid of lots of traditional styles, but some think (and I'm one of 'em) that the first night Earl Scruggs joined Bill, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise, and Cedric Rainwater on the WSM Grand Ol Opry, Bluegrass (as we know it) was born.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 08:22 PM

Hi Bluebelle. Who were the "others" that were playing Bluegrass music before the Monroe line-up I mentioned? That would sure be news to me. Lots of old time string bands of course, but the only ones who even come close to a Bluegrass form were the Morris Brothers. Snuffy Jenkins and Pappy sherril used the three finger banjo and fiddle, but they sure didn't "sing" in a bluegrass style. That's Monroe, for sure.

These kind of discussions are lots of fun (if you care about such stuff) and sometimes there are great arguments, with everyone bringing in their evidence. Same as if someone asked "who invented Rock and Roll"? Some would say Joe Turner, some, Jackie Brenston (Rocket 88) and the odd person would say "Elvis". Of course Presley popularized it, but there were many playing EXACTLY that form of music before (all black). Nobody that I ever heard was playing "Bluegrass" before Monroe.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: ddw
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 08:48 PM

Have to side with Rick on this one — there were others doing something approaching bluegrass to the untutored ear, but Bill definitely set the "high lonesome" vocal style and Scruggs set the banjo standard. The other thing that Bill put into what became bluegrass was the jazz chords he had been hearing down along the Mississippi. That juxtaposition is a big part of what makes bluegrass sound so different from other stringband music.

david


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: rangeroger
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 09:02 PM

And Monroe was the first person to actually call it Bluegrass.

rr


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: catspaw49
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 09:24 PM

ucsbstudent,

I'm sure most of the "usual suspects" will show up here, but Rick arrived early and he and David make the case. If there was a moment of critical mass it was as Rick described. When Earl Scruggs banjo joined, that was it. I don't think there are many forms of music where you can actually trace the origin to a particular moment in time, but Bluegrass is one.

Here's a PREVIOUS THREAD that also talks about it and makes for interesting reading too.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Gary T
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 10:32 PM

Sorry to pick a nit, but my understanding is that the musical genre was named after Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys. The band name, of course, came from Kentucky being the Bluegrass State, but the music was named after the band, not after the state's nickname.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 11:39 PM

Ha Ha! Here we are "The Bluegrass Nurds", in full regalia! Oh, how this music seeps into your soul. It's impossible to get out once you've been captured by it.

One more little "nit" (the others are spot on). Bill Monroe NEVER called his music "Bluegrass". He called it "Country". Melissa Monroe (Bill's daughter, confirms that Carleton Haney (his manager at the time) was probably the first to call it "Bluegrass".

As "Bluebelle" said, "There isn't any mystery". The story of how this music came about (in 1945) has been told many times. It's still very fresh in the minds of a lot of old-timers.

Rick (bitten by the bug and never recovered)


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Robo
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 12:38 AM

Whoa . . . just a happy note to say this is as many times as I think I've ever seen the word bluegrass appear in a single thread at the 'Cat. It's easy to forget sometimes that our logo's a banjo!

Rob-o


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Stewie
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 01:05 AM

It seems most fans and scholars agree with Rick that the defining point was Monroe's post-war line-up and his inclusion of Scruggs-style banjo. There was an evolution from the Monroe Brothers duets, through the old-time stringband style of the Blue Grass Boys of the early 40s to the band that included Flatt and Scruggs. Subsequently, other bands imitated the style, most notably Flatt and Scruggs (whose first line-up after their departure from Monroe included no less than 4 former Blue Grass Boys) and the Stanley Brothers. Monroe left Columbia because he felt the Stanley Brothers' sound was too close to his own. However, it seems also that Monroe himself did not agree. The thesis about that particular band and the Scruggs-style banjo was promulgated in Mayne Smith's dissertation on the folklore of bluegrass that was reprinted over 4 issues of Bluegrass Unlimited in the 1960s. Evidently, Monroe told Smith that it was 'damn lies' as far as he was concerned.

According to Rosenburg's history of bluegrass, no one was calling it bluegrass until the 1950s. Monroe's 1950 songbook was titled 'Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Country Songs'. The music was regarded by the industry in the early 1950s as country music - and at the old-time, hillbilly and old-fashioned end of the country spectrum! When they split in 1938, both Bill and Charlie chose a name for their bands that would identify them with their home state of Kentucky - Bill briefly used the name 'Kentuckians' and then settled on Blue Grass Boys and Charlie called his band the Kentucky Pardners. Everett Lilly (of the Lilly Brothers and who played mandolin and sang tenor vocals for Flatt and Scuggs in the early 1950s) maintained that the public [ie, the country music fans) named the music. There was bitterness between Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs after the departure of the latter, but the fans still connected F&S with Monroe. Everett told Carl Fleischhauer:

I remember when I went to Lester and Earl the first time in 1950 - around nineteen and fifty, somewhere there. When we would come out on the stage and open our show up, Lester would m.c. the first half, I would m.c. the second half of it, usually. Lester would say, 'Howdy, friends, we got a clean little country sober show here we hope you'll enjoy'. We'd do our show. They didn't call it bluegrass. But I do recall people saying this to us, they would ask Lester and Earl to do a Bill Monroe tune. Lester and Earl didn't want to hear that name, or I don't believe they did, and I believe the public could feel that. The public began to say, 'Boys would you please do us one of them old Blue Grass tunes like you used to do?' They knew me and Lester could sing them duets like him and Bill. They'd say 'would you please do an old bluegrass tune?' ... the public named bluegrass music ... through the fear to speak Bill's name to 'em. [Quoted in Carl Fleishhauer 'The Public Named Bluegrass Music' Old Time Music #21 and also reprinted in Neil V. Rosenberg 'Bluegrass: A History' Uni Illinois Press 1993 p 102]
--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 12:33 PM

On ROck 'n' Roll, if you say it starts with Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenton, I believe the defining feature is the guitar sound and I think that is Ike Turner (who happened to have broken the speaker in his amp, hence the distortion)


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Mark Clark
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 01:57 PM

I'm with Rick on the statement of facts. What we call bluegrass was heard for the very first time that celebrated Grand Ole Opry night in 1945. Also, that Bill didn't call it bluegrass music until the rest of the world had already turned his band's name into a generic term.

Still, to say that Bill is the single "inventor" of bluegrass is something like saying Jelly Roll Morton is the single "inventor" of jazz (a claim Norton always defended). Clearly there were many influences in both country, pop and jazz music of the day that found their way into what we call bluegrass. Monroe is generally referred to as the father of bluegrass music not it's "inventor."

I made a series of MP3 files to try to demonstrate the development of Monroe's music over time. They included The Monroe Brothers, the "pre-bluegrass" Blue Grass Boys, the original "bluegrass" band and a track from a recording made in the early seventies. I had them posted on a web site but I've changed ISPs so I'm sure the're no longer there. I'll try to find somewhere to post them and let everyone know. It's an interesting progression.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: mousethief
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 02:16 PM

There's a song by the Blue Sky Boys on Harry Smith Volume 4 that predates 1945, and sounds very high-and-lonesome to my ears. This "nobody did it before Bill" stuff really seems like protesting too much, metinks.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: bbelle
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 03:58 PM

"Others" were doing it. Bill Monroe put a new "face" on it and created a style, by which most other bluegrass has been played and sung since that time. And yes, that high lonesome sound. I think pre-bluegrass bluegrass is what we most often term "old-timey" today. Just my opinion.

Terminally ill with bluegrass fever and a sucker for a good flatpicker with a high lonesome sound in his voice ...


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: GUEST,oj
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 04:51 PM

no genre of music was ever " invented" by anybody. certainly the monroe group with flatt and scruggs crystallized a sound but it had as much to do with earl's banjo style, chubby wises' non old timey fiddle style and lester's unique rhythm and singing style as it did with bill. i feel certain that at no time did bill monroe wake up screaming "bluegrass!! that's it! i've finally invented bluegrass!" much of the bluegrass standard repertoire was written or co-written by lester flatt and others and many songs credited to bill monroe were in fact written by others and either purchased or co-opted by bill. i am a big fan of monroe and will grant him lots of credit for his contributions but bluegrass music is a product of many influences and to grant monroe all the credit slights other very important contributors i think.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: bbelle
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 07:00 PM

Hear! Hear!


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: SINSULL
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 07:51 PM

Bill Monroe's latest biography "Can't You Hear Me Calling" is up for auction. Become an expert. Cite dates, names, obscure musical references and support the Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: bbelle
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 09:05 PM

Or better yet, play and sing the real thing.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: RocketMan
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 09:24 PM

I'm most of the way through "Can't You Hear Me Callin'". Good reading for anyone who enjoys the music. As a dobro picker, I also love the "is the dobro a traditional bluegrass instrument?" discussions!

RMan


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: bbelle
Date: 21 Feb 01 - 09:58 PM

RMan ... Honestly don't know if the dobro is a traditional bluegrass instrument but everyone wants the "dobro player" in their "jam" at pickin' parties. I'll have to ask Rob Ickes.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: GUEST,RB250
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 01:09 AM

The question was about Bluegrass, not old time string band music. There's a big difference. And no, the dobro was not a traditional bluegrass instrument. I've been picking Bluegrass banjo for a lot of years in a lot of bands and one thing I know is that it's not Country, it's not folk, and it's not Old time. It's Bluegrass. Period.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: bbelle
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 08:17 AM

Guest, RB250: Gosh, did we say something wrong?


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: jofield
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 11:19 AM

You could say that bluegrass began when Scruggs-style banjo was added to Bill Monroe's band and get no argument from me. But I have always felt that after the Monroe Brothers separated, Bill immediately sought to get more syncopation, and, most importantly, more blues into the old string-band sound. I heard a quote a long time ago from Bill that what he really set out out to do was create a new way of playing the fiddle -- and it's there and in his post-Charlie mandolin playing that the sound gets much bluesier and becomes bluegrass. Yes, there was singing that was pretty dogone high-lonesome by the Blue Sky Boys, the Delmore Brothers, and others, but they were still much closer to the sweet, sentimental Scotch-Irish roots of mountain music. It took Bill to add syncopation and the blues to that and give us the music heard 'round the world.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: jofield
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 11:20 AM

You could say that bluegrass began when Scruggs-style banjo was added to Bill Monroe's band and get no argument from me. But I have always felt that after the Monroe Brothers separated, Bill immediately sought to get more syncopation, and, most importantly, more blues into the old string-band sound. I heard a quote a long time ago from Bill that what he really set out out to do was create a new way of playing the fiddle -- and it's there and in his post-Charlie mandolin playing that the sound gets much bluesier and becomes bluegrass. Yes, there was singing that was pretty doggone high-lonesome by the Blue Sky Boys, the Delmore Brothers, and others, but they were still much closer to the sweet, sentimental Scotch-Irish roots of mountain music. It took Bill to add syncopation and the blues to that and give us the music heard 'round the world.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: jofield
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 11:23 AM

Is there an echo in here?


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 11:54 AM

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 threads....you'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.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 11:54 AM

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 threads....you'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.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 11:58 AM

Jofield...I think we're both hearing the same "echo"! Couldn't agree with you more though. By the way, wasn't that term "high lonesome" first used by John Cohen to describe the singing of Roscoe Holcomb....hardly a "Bluegrass" artist by any definition.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 12:10 PM

Is that one true Rick? Gawd knows the high part is true enough. Just saw the "Brother" thing and the movie for me was pretty thin. Mediocre is generous, but the music was fine.

BTW, I wasn't happy about the choice of "invented" here either as most music and instruments have a basis and a background before they became whatever. I think though that the actual point at which most take the shape we know now is often hard to determine. Bluegrass sound, regardless of what it was called whenever, came with the scenario described above. That doesn't take away from all those before of the additions afterward, but the starting/coming together point is pretty clear.

Spaw

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 04:46 PM

It sure seems like Earl Scruggs' banjo style is what spread bluegrass to the "pop" culture. That, and the Osborne Brother's singing about Good Old Rocky Top.

What became of Earl? I haven't heard anything since the Earl Scruggs Review albums with his sons and Josh Graves. I saw the Review play live in the late '70's and liked them. But a recent listen to the recorded stuff was pretty depressing. Any news about Earl Scruggs? Is he still with us?


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 04:53 PM

I saw Earl on TV a while ago guesting with someone. I believe it was live and he looked and sounded fine. I liked some of the Earl Scruggs Revue, particularly their cover of "Song To Woody". Some of the other stuff was pretty hard on the ears though.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 06:12 PM

I just saw him on one done pretty recently, don't know when exactly.....He was flanked by Skaggs, Stuart, Gill, etc.....tribute kinda' deal.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: RocketMan
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 07:12 PM

I was at a tribute to Josh Graves at the SPBGMA convention in Nashville on Feb 4 of this year. He was in a wheel chair, but in great spirits as he picked a couple tunes on stage with 60-70 other dobro players including Auldridge, Ikes, Douglas, Wooten, Burch, Ledbetter, and Tim Graves.

Rick's right, discussions like this should not diminish our love of music, whatever we call it.

RMan


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: GUEST,RB250
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 01:28 AM

Sorry People. I guess I WAS a little testy last night. I check in here every so often and when I saw the Bluegrass discussion I was dismayed that a very specific kind of music was once again being lumped together with old time music. It happens all the time, and sometimes I just get tired of it. I'm glad I came back tonite and read everything carefully. Most of the people here really know there stuff. Where I live too many people think there experts if they've heard of Alison Krauss and Ricky Scaggs. Bill Monroe said 'if you really want to play bluegrass right, you've got to study it.

RB250


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: GUEST,re:timing
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 04:30 AM

I think no player ever did get the Banjo off like Earl or for that matter Unlce Dave. Scruggs and Macon were great friends ... long before the ummm errrr Blue Grass.

Nowadays if you'd like to find some stimulating Original Banjo look no further than Clawhammer, lots of inovation, seen a few guys playing Civil War style Instruments with 6 strings. Very nice music.

Uppicking is still there of course and there are lots of Tunes not in the Bluegrass Style. That and the CH revival is making what is a great folk instrument real popular again, BTW who has heard George Gibson ( Kentucky )?

Don't know what the origin of Blugrass is but I do know there are a lot of folk playing it. Seems to me the 'timing' of the notes is real clear on the Banjo but may sound a little weak on the Spagetolin or Fuddle.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Mark Clark
Date: 25 Feb 01 - 03:38 AM

I've made a rather primative Web page at Geocities with some MP3 files that attempt to trace some of the development of bluegrass music. If you're interested, you can click over and listen.

This was a pretty hasty list so any suggestions for improvement are welcome. I think it highlights the dramatic difference between Bill's music before and after 1945.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Mark Clark
Date: 26 Feb 01 - 03:04 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Feb 01 - 04:40 PM

Gawd Bless you Mark, for takin' the time to do this. I haven't listened to your file, 'cause I know every bloody note of those songs, but that should certainly help anyone who wants to know the chronology of the music.

And guest RB250, don't desert us. If this was a general music web-site, I think we could be accused of bein' too picky about the small details....but it's supposed to a place where people actually ENJOY learning about different forms of music and how they came together. A year ago some of us were talkin' about the strange (and wondrous) way that Riley Puckett got "his sound". We were quoting his contemporaries and some interesting stuff was happening. Some guy who'd obviously never thought much about Riley's style, figured we should "just have some fun" instead of trying to figger it out. Well by golly, it's FUN to me!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 26 Feb 01 - 09:00 PM

as far as genres being attributed to one person what about Scott Joplin and Ragtime. I dont really know much about it and who was playing it at the time so I welcome others opinions. petr


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: reggie miles
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 10:15 AM

I guess attitudes like some of those above perplex me. Here we discuss how the combinations of various forms of style and music came together to create a new style. Though if we suggest that other instrumentation or ideas join that newly created form suddenly there are folks who seem to get upset. This seems to be a totally backward attitude to adopt when it comes to music. Music is not stagnant and cannot be put in a box. It is as different as the individuals who choose to perform it. Above there were comments made about how even the gods of this form of music were not satisfied with it's sound and sought to alter and change it with more humor, syncopation and other instrumentaion. So why did I get so much of the hairy eyeball at Wintergrass for wanting to include my washboard and musical saw in some of what was going on at the jams there? I chalk it up to lack of vision and or perspective about how this and other forms of music came into being in the first place, one word, innovation.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 11:09 AM

Geez Mark.....Fine piece of work there. I wish I had a faster download, but the wait was worth it when I could have them all and then play them in order. Excellent selections to make your point.

Nice job!!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 02:37 PM

Glad to hear people enjoy the series of Monroe tracks. I originally made them for someone else but figured there were enough folks interested in bluegrass here to make it worth sharing them.

Reggie,
I don't think many people feel that the music should be stagnant. As we've discussed in other threads, Monroe and others have experimented with different instrumentation and arrangements. The Grand Ole Opry used to have a resident snare drummer and any performer---yes even Mother Maybelle---that didn't carry drums was required to suffer the drummer to stand behind them adding a brushed snare fill to everything.

The question isn't so much one of limiting instrumentation but of deciding whether it still remains in the original genre or has become something different. Muddy Waters used to sing "The blues had a baby and they named it rock & roll." They didn't call it blues junior or newblues, it was something different. I've seen working bluegrass groups use a washboard but they've been urban bands serving an urban audience. Those bands also tended to be somewhat "looser" than one would expect of a more traditional bluegrass band. I confess I've never heard a bluegrass band with a musical saw. I'm guessing the saw would have great difficulty in maintaining the rhythms required in bluegrass but then I am neither a sawyer nor a saw player.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: reggie miles
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 10:48 PM

Actually I haven't got the "chops" to play the saw at great speeds yet but I can keep up with even the speediest bluegrass rhythm on the washboard. I just use saw to play the slower songs and tunes.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: GUEST,RB250
Date: 28 Feb 01 - 12:07 AM

I haven't gone anywhere. I've been looking at a lot of these discussions. Pretty interesting some of them. Thanks for the welcome though.

It would be hard to pinpoint where Ragtime began because it was before the days of recording. Scot Joplin may have been the first to publish ragtime sheet music though.

The washboard sure was used by Snuffy Jenkins, so I can't see why they'd be that upset. If they're REALLY traditional they might object, but if it's an open jam they could have been more polite. The musical saw? Don't know about that. I'd be open to hear what it sounded like.

I've known leaders to insist that their band members play Gibson and Martin instruments though. To them "the look" is important. I can see their point although I wouldn't go that far. My guitar's a Gallagher, and it holds up to any D28.

RB250


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Feb 01 - 12:08 PM

Do you know what stalwart Bluegrasser has NEVER followed the "D-28, F-5, Mastertone" trend? Mac Wiseman. Saw him in the late sixties at a Monroe festival, using a Gibson J-45!!! Talk about heresy. He got ribbed a lot by the other (pro) pickers. He really broke ranks when he started playing Yamahas later on.

On the other hand, if a band wants to be taken seriously "within" the Bluegrass hierarchy, and not have to buck the common wisdom, the "big three" instrument models help. I love Bluegrass, but it would be hard to find a musical form that is more rooted in tradition. Yup it's "narrow", but what are ya gonna do?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: jofield
Date: 28 Feb 01 - 12:52 PM

Seems to me I also heard that Mac Wiseman never used a capo. (B-flat? No problem.) Is this true? I also heard that he is one of the few bluegrass forefathers who had classical voice training. Any knowledge of this?

James.


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 28 Feb 01 - 01:38 PM

Have to put my 2 cents in here, the subject being bluegrass!

Mark, thanks for those MP3 files. The last one, however, of "Walls of Time" sounds more like Peter Rowan with Bill Monroe, rather than the Monroe Brothers. Peter Rowan co-wrote the song, although Bill's recordings give only Monroe as the songwriter, while Rowan's recordings cite both names. Hmmm?


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Mark Clark
Date: 28 Feb 01 - 02:34 PM

Hi Barbara. No, that's definitely James. I took the track from the the "Father and Son" album and I can easily recognize James' voice. After I made the MP3 I kicked myself for not using the older Rowan track (which I also have), the singing is better on the track with Rowan (okay, so was the guitar playing) and you've also got the Blue Grass Boys behind it. The "Father and Son" album was made using James' Midnight Ramblers band. It was a good band---Vernon Derick was with him then---but it wasn't the Blue Grass Boys.

Ricky Scaggs includes "Walls Of Time" on his "Ancient Tones" CD. Needless to say, that's a nice track too. The liner notes give Rowan credit as well as Bill.

I always thought that tune, "Walls of Time" came pretty close to being the archetypical bluegrass number. You can just feel the wind coming down off the mountains and see the pine trees and the head stone with both names already carved. It just puts you right there in the scene.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: the 'invention' of bluegrass
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 28 Feb 01 - 04:23 PM

Ah, that explains it! I was thinking "Monroe Brothers" even though you said James on the link. I went and listened to Rowan's and yours doesn't sound like him after all. It really is a great song. (We just started doing it in our band, and I got stuck finding a baritone part, since the other harmony singer couldn't. So far, that hasn't ruined the song).

Thanks again. It's always nice to find another bluegrasser.

As to who invented bluegrass, I feel like it's me and the people in my jam, every time . . .


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