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Bluegrass Rambles

Everything you need to know about bluegrass, whatever that is

Ted is an IBMA-nominated music writer who travels to bluegrass festivals with his wife and picks guitar in as many jams as he can.

Bluegrass Rambles

Everything you need to know about bluegrass, whatever that is

Ted is an IBMA-nominated music writer who travels to bluegrass festivals with his wife and picks guitar in as many jams as he can.

Bluegrass, Real Country, and the Death Throes of Genre

By my standerds Classic Country goes back to the 20's

 This mostly seems to be about Chris Stapleton, moving from a talented progressive bluegrass singer to a smoke filled backroom blues singer, which he pulls off very well. He sounds great at both. What really surprised me was how well Timberlake fit in. For some reason, artists from other genres like to go country , at least for a while, Brad Paisley,one of few real country artists around, announced them as Nashville meets the Blues. Don't know about that, but it was a very well done emotion packed song, I have listened to it a number of times.

     Bill Monroe, what can you say, I think he took what was given him and ran with it, like Flatt and Scruggs, and the development of true bluegrass music, which developed on back porches in little towns in Applachia, just being a part of their way of life. There are so many great mostly traditional bluegrass bands around today, I don't think we will see it end anytime soon. It is very fun though when we see a couple of artists from different backgrounds like Timberlake and Stapleton get together and make an experience like the one they did on the CMA awards show.

Thanks for your comments, Jim. As far as the back roads go, read Patrick Huber's Linthead Stomp, or at least my review of it over on my blog. Pretty much says that old-time came from the back porches, but it took the southern diaspora to the factories around the Great Lakes, the mills in the southern Piedmont, and the mills and factories of New England to develop and spread what we call bluegrass today. It's a fascinating story and worth your time to read it. - Ted

It is also very interesting to note that the early recording industry affected and shaped hillbilly,jazz and blues.

For much more on this influence, read Barry Mazor's excellent biography of Ralph Peer. Here's a link to my review, but you should really get the book and read it. Add to your list Peer's importance on bringing music from Latin America to the U.S. in recording and in film.

I should read the biography of Ralph Peer.He was referenced in a CBC Radio Documentary 'Twilight of the Gods:Rise and Fall of the Recording Industry'.

http://music.cbc.ca/#!/Inside-the-Music/blogs/2013/7/Twilight-of-the-God...

It is amazing how Ralph Peer had so much influence.I had never heard of him until I listened to the documentary.

His recordings of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, as well as the Stonemans  in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia in August of 1927, have been called the "big bang of country music". RCA, in an effort to sell record players to previously untapped audiences, was crucial in developing the hillbilly audience and the black audience for purchasing records. The sale of records to African-Americans became known as "race records."

I just ordered a hardcover version of the Ralph Peer biography.There are some excerpts of a Ralph Peer interview in Part Two of the Radio Documentary.I must see if the complete interview is available online.

The emergence of Classic Country happened in a very similar way to the emergence of Classic Rock. 

The success of artists like Eddie Rabbit, Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw with their more female friendly pop style did not fit neatly with George Jones and Johnny Cash in the same way that Nirvana and Pearl Jam clashed with the Beatles and the Stones.   Stations that tried to play all those artists irritated either their core or new listeners and left themselves open to being flanked on both sides.  They chose – or were forced to chose – to become “New Country” (as it was known at the time) or “Classic Country”.   On the Rock side, they became “Classic Rock” or “Alternative”.      

Unfortunately, due to the ad buyers fascination with younger demographics, Classic Country is mostly the domain of AM stations and small FM’s sticks.