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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:58 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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I'm looking to expand my nearly-non-existent knowledge of this genre. I am currently listening to the O Brother soundtrack. I love the rich, melancholic, gently spiritual beauty of many of its tracks along with the playful earthiness of several others. I'd love to get my hands on some other material with these sorts of qualities that go so well with root-sy, bluegrass-y music. I'd love to get some suggestions for other stuff to explore, whether it be old or new.

I also own a compilation by a fella called Bill Monroe, apparently considered bluegrass' father. While I do enjoy a lot of it, overall it lacks the tender, soulful qualities I'm looking for. (He tends to be kinda shrill, actually.)


Last edited by yovargas on Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:01 pm 
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I go to the Strawberry Music Festival each spring and fall, not because I am a bluegrass fan, but because my brother is part of the staff there (pirate radio DJ) and has been going for 25 years and because it's a beautiful place to camp. So I've listened to lots of bluegrass. I'm fond of Dry Branch Fire Squad. Not so much for the music, which is good, as for the commentary in between. Be sure to get, as the lead singer put it, a "live performance" rather than a "dead" one. ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:38 pm 
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This is not bluegrass in any technical sense, but Jerry Garcia and David Grisman have an excellent album called Shady Grove that is simple and soulful, and which features the banjo in a prominent role. :D It would probably appeal to people who enjoy O Brother.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:44 pm 
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I like "New Grass Revival".
http://www.amazon.com/Best-New-Grass-Re ... B000002TNY


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:05 pm 
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You can find samples of some of the older (and newer) Bluegrass songs on youtube. I consider that a good way of dabbling, so you know what you want to go buy ;).

I was exposed to live Bluegrass regularly growing up, so I love it, and it's the music I dance to most naturally. (Not that I am a natural dancer in any sense of the word). My family also had some tapes of the older Bluegrass as well as a couple from newer bands. I suppose I prefer the older stuff to the new, but I'm not that picky. I do prefer the upbeat stuff to the more slow/spiritual songs.

Yep, Bill Monroe is a good place to start :) If you don't like his voice, his songs have been covered by plenty of other people. Kentucky Waltz and Blue Moon of Kentucky or High Lonesome Sound. Or stick to his instrumentals: Southern Flavor

You will also be familiar with Down in the Valley to Pray since it was used in O Brother... Doc Watson and Ricky Skaggs are old school, while Alison Krauss is a relative newcomer. Here she is with Union Station.


The quintessential Bluegrass song is Rocky Top Tennessee by the Osborne Brothers. But I suspect you won't like their voices. The song has been recorded by many other artists, so just hunt around and find a version you like. Personally, I think the instrumentation on this one can't be beat. My sister danced with our father to this song at her wedding. If I ever get married, I'm sure I'd do the same. We both remember dancing with him to Bluegrass growing up.

Osborne Brothers playing banjo but not singing (mostly 'Cripple Creek') I like the energy of songs like Midnight Flyer, but Don't Let the Smokey Mountain Smoke Get In Your Eyes might be what you are looking for.

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs are other big names. Here's Scruggs playing banjo on Foggy Mountain Breakdown with Sonny Osbourne (No doubt the source of the name 'Soggy Bottom Boys' in O Brother...was the Foggy Mountain Boys) But they really were a great duo. Mountain Dew at Carnegie. Wreck of Old '97 on Beverly Hillbillies. Salty Dog at the Grand Ole Opery. Cripple Creek [This song does have lyrics, btw. They even sang it on Sesame Street] Sorry the quality on these old clips isn't always great.

While Rocky Top and Dueling Banjos are probably the best-known Bluegrass songs, my sister and I would always request Fox on the Run I think we liked the harmony. Another clip from the Country Gentlemen is Dark as a Dungeon - a bit more sobering than the other songs I've linked, so not my favorite. Night Train to Memphis is good; at least, I like it better than Nine Pound Hammer.


But I can throw in another non-Bluegrass song that reminds me of Bluegrass: Seven Bridges Road by the Eagles. It's Southern Rock, but has some of the same spirit, to me. Of course, Jim and Jesse did Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode and The Monkee's Last Train to Clarksville, so I guess it's okay. The Osborne Brothers did John Denver's Country Roads. Nickel Creek started out Bluegrass, but I don't know that you'd still call them that.


Last edited by MithLuin on Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:44 pm 
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Steve Martin just put out a bluegrass album, Crow.

No, really, he's good. He uses a banjo style that not a whole lot of folks use, five-finger clawhammer.

eta--http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icMTVV5Lwaw Here's Scruggs and Martin together. Compare and contrast the picking style--even I can tell the difference. :D

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Last edited by axordil on Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:02 pm 
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Steve Martin the comedian? :scratch:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:24 pm 
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Yep, that Steve Martin. Way back in the white suit days the banjo was part of his act. But he is good.

-------------------

Yov, there's something of a difference between the 'old-timey' or 'mountain music' on the O Brother soundtrack, and bluegrass proper- Monroe's new form was string-band music on amphetamines, together with that very, very high-pitched singing (and a dose of blues chords, which the OBWAT score uses as well; it's not "pure." ;) )

The band Nickel Creek does a nice somewhat modernized bluegrass. If you want 'classic,' go with Flatt & Scruggs.

Trivia: the B side of Elvis' first single was a Bill Monroe tune, 'Blue Moon of Kentucky'


Last edited by solicitr on Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:27 pm 
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You would think comedians who play clawhammer banjo would be more rare.... Billy Connelly


A few more songs to try:

Atlanta is Burning by Boys from Indiana

Misty Mountain Bill Harrell and the Virginians (gee, I wonder why I picked this one?)

Oh Atlanta Alison Krauss and Union Station

Wabash Cannonball and I Wonder How the Old Folks are at Home by Mac Wiseman

Sad Wind Sighs and Home by The Grascals

New River Train - Tony Rice and Norman Blake

Travellin On and On - Seldom Scene. Since I've been leaving out most of the 'gospel' bluegrass, I figured I should at least put one sample in. I happen to like the music in this one. A more famous song would be 'May the Circle Be Unbroken'. But most bands did a combination. So, there's also Muddy Waters by Seldom Scene.


Last edited by MithLuin on Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:39 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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Thanks for the suggestions, all! I'll try and get to explorin' over the weekend. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:50 pm 
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The Seldom Scene: Baptizing.
I've played it so much it's worn out. Hardcore gospel and it makes me weep buckets.

I don't have time for a Bluegrass talk right now! Wish I did.

I don't generally approve of women singing bluegrass, but Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris made an album years ago called "Trio" that had some lovely bluegrassy tunes on it.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:08 am 
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Quote:
[Bill] Monroe described his beloved bluegrass as music with "a hard drive to it. It's Scotch bagpipes and ole-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. Bluegrass is music that matters."


Part of the reason he gets to be called the father of Bluegrass is because he named it. His band was the Blue Grass Boys (being from Kentucky, you understand). Also, many of the early bluegrass greats were members of his band at one point or another. This includes Lester Flatts, Earl Scruggs, Stringbean, Mac Wiseman, Jimmy Martin, Sonny Osborne and Del McCoury. As far as I know, he introduced this style of music to the Grand Ole Opry. He played the mandolin.

But another important influence in early bluegrass is the Carter Family. They break vison's rule with female vocalists ;), and tend to sing more of the gospel music. I'm not a fan. But, it seemed unfair to leave them out of this thread. Wildwood Flower and Keep on the Sunny Side of Life and Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Of course, June Carter Cash was from this family, so you could say Johnny Cash married into it. Mother Maybelle was his mother-in-law. Were You There? and Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Here's some guys singing the gospel songs: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot


There is also some blues/folk influence. Doc Watson plays Mississippi John Hurt's Make Me Down a Pallet on Your Floor and discusses how he met him. I can't comment too specifically on that, just to say that there is an overlap.

I occurs to me I haven't mentioned Merle Travis yet, which doesn't seem fair, either. He's a guitar player. Cannonball Rag and Sixteen Tons


Another non-bluegrass country singer whom I feel compelled to mention (just because I can) is Buzz Martin, the Singing Logger. Used Log Truck is the only song on youtube. Most of the rest of his stuff is funnier.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:48 am 
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To get a little geeky about it, bluegrass is just one type of Appalachian folk music. The O Brother soundtrack covers a fairly wide spectrum of Appalachian folk. The traditional music of this region is largely derived from the music of the Irish and Scottish immigrants who settled here, and I personally prefer music that lets those Celtic roots shine through.

Gotta mention Alison Krauss and Union Station here. They are probably the quintessential modern bluegrass band. The Soggy Bottom Boys were actually Union Station (without Krauss). Krauss also appears all over the soundtrack, singing lead in the baptism song and as part of the female trio that sang the sirens' song and "I'll Fly Away". (Sorry vison, but I love good harmony of any gender.)

Another member of said trio is also a favorite of mine - Gillian Welch. Definitely more folk than bluegrass. Much slower tempo, but worth a listen when you want to wind down and catch your breath after all that clogging. ;)

Nickel Creek has already been mentioned. Another personal favorite of mine.

If you're interested in exploring the Celtic roots of all this stuff, I'd recommend The Chieftains' "Down The Old Plank Road." Ireland's own favorite sons, the Chieftains, came to Nashville to explore the ties between their music and ours. They ended up recording two albums of music with country and bluegrass stars ranging from Del McCrory to Nickel Creek to Alison Krauss to John Hiatt. They also had a concert at the Ryman Auditorium (original home of the Grand Ole Opry) which is available on DVD.

Oh, and here's a trivia question that's bound to stump almost anyone (if we weren't already talking about it.)
Which female artist has won the most Grammy awards?

Answer: Alison Krauss, with 26 Grammies to date.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:30 am 
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Sam Bush is my brother's absolute favorite. I've seen him live and he is very good. More mainstream than some bluegrass.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:28 am 
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I was going to add my two cents, but Ang said everything I was going to say. So I'll just keep those pennies.

tinwë likes bluegrass, so I'm sure he'll have something to say in this thread.

My son is fond of a recording he has of bluegrass versions of Eric Clapton songs. That's sort of odd, though.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 1:56 pm 
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Some songs have a rather interesting history. Here's 'In the Pines'/'Where Did You Sleep Last Night?' in its various incarnations:

Leadbelly

Dolly Parton

Bob Dylan

Jerry Reed, Glen Campbell, Big Jim Sullivan, and Tom Jones

Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys

Nirvana

Elvis Costello, Renee Fleming, Rufus Wainwright

Sara Evans and sisters


I have no idea what order these should be in, but I'm fairly certain putting Leadbelly first is correct - it's a folk song, so who knows who wrote it? They're not all 'the same song', but certainly recognizable. Surprisingly (to me), Kurt Cobain is the only one who did it strictly as a cover of Leadbelly's version.

I'm not a musician, so I can't say what makes Bluegrass....bluegrass. But I would expect a bluegrass band to have some combination of banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar and/or bass. Other instruments can be included, too, of course. But it is hard for me to see 'a guy with a guitar' as bluegrass, even if that's what Merle Travis is. And I probably erroneously consider all mountain music to be variations of bluegrass, rather than the other way around ;).


The local band I remember as a kid was South Mountain Express. They aren't around any more, nor do they show up on Google... But you can probably find just about anybody on this site: Bluegrass World


Some more gospel for you: Go Home
Crying Holy Unto the Lord (both by Flatt and Scruggs)
On the Sea of Galillee (The Carter Family)
Church in the Wildwood (The Carter Family)
I'll Be No Stranger There (The Seldom Scene) [this clip also includes "Lost in Memory", which is not gospel music]
The Old Crossroads (Del McCoury Band)
Get Down On Your Knees and Pray (Del McCoury)
I'm Ready to Go/Are you Afraid to Die? (Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder)
Three Old Rusty Nails and a Dogwood Tree (Dixie Storm)

Oh, and as for the more blatant Celtic influence: Simple Life Ricky Skaggs


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:04 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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Just started going thru. One of Mith's links led me to this:
http://www.youtube.com/user/plunky123
Loved it. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:43 pm 
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"Life was good but it's amazing how I couldn't see that back then." Georgia Pineywoods is like Rocky Top for a different state ;). I did grow up with cracked linoleum on the kitchen floor, but I've never been to Georgia. Del McCoury grew up in my neck of the woods - he's from the same county as me :D But being a farmer in the '50s was different than being a farmer in the '80s.

(Four great songs :))


Here is modern group that plays old songs (2nd Generation). Some of their stuff on youtube includes:
Fox on the Run
Foggy Mountain Breakdown (instrumental)
Blackberry Blossom (instrumental)
Rambling Letters
Man of Constant Sorrow
Old Spinning Wheel (instrumental)

And another: Mountain Rhythm
Going Down this Road
Blue Ridge Cabin Home
Girl from West Virginia
Dueling Banjos

If you want to find out if there are any Bluegrass Festivals near you, check out: http://www.ibluegrass.com//bgfest_search.cfm


Another non-bluegrass group is Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I would class them as straight country...but they did play some bluegrass, too.
Randy Lynn Rag (instrumental - banjo w/ celtic influence [ie, a fiddle :P], a traditional bluegrass song)
Nashville Blues (instrumental)
Fishin' in the Dark
Battle of New Orleans

Oh, and a nice video for seeing the various different instruments is Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Not only does it have Scruggs and Steve Martin on banjo, but it also has drums and a piano...not your typical bluegrass instruments!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:40 am 
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not something I would recommend
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Still following links about. Having fun. :)
General trend - I'm tending to not like the real fast, pick-a-mile-a-minute songs much. But if you're gonna play fast, play it like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eO0HRsAVzc
Hell yeah!

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:42 pm 
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I love most of the musicians and songs named here. I am quite a rabid Carter family fan, as I've written about elsewhere, but I would not call them "Bluegrass". I don't know much about music, though, so I could be wrong. Their version of Crying Holy Unto the Lord is a fabulous version, I much prefer it to Bill Monroe's version and I think it is an older recording.

The Osborne Brothers are not mentioned, as far as I can see. One of the greatest songs they ever recorded was the tear-jerker "Will there be any schoolbus in heaven?" It never fails to make me sob like a fool. I have The Osbornes on vinyl, but one of these days I'll splurge on CD's.

Leadbelly may have been the first to record In the Pines, but it is a very old song, older than he was. Many of these old mountain songs are, as said above, Scotch/Irish folk songs. I remember reading somewhere that there are dozens of versions of Barbara Allen, for instance.

Alison Krause has a sweet voice and I like it, and the songs by her on O brother where art thou are nice, but I like the older versions better, by the Carter family, etc. Keep on the sunny side was the Carter family's "theme" song, they opened all their concerts with it.

On Friday night my husband and I were zooming up the Island highway to my brother's house and we were listening to the CBC on the radio and it was Randy Bachman's program we were listening to. Randy Bachman was the founder and mainstay of The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO), if those names mean anything to you. But he's a music geek, too, and he has this weekly radio show that takes the listener back to the very earliest roots of jazz, blues and rock. This show was about women singing the blues and some of the recordings he played were from the 20's and 30's, and what struck me was how the music was like American Roots Music, as they call it now, these black women sounded an awful lot like Maybelle and Sarah, and some of the music wasn't so very different.

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