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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.

Sierra Hull and the Steep Canyon Rangers: The Future of Bluegrass

Hi Ted,

   You know, Sierra Hull has always been a great mandolin player, I was not a fan of her traditional music. When I heard her new stuff though, I was excited, sure , it is more modern sounding, but it is still bluegrass, her new voice reminds me of Alison Kraus, and her music reminds me of AKUS. I love Justine Moses , got to meet him when he was playing with Kentucky Thunder. I was sad to see him go, but he is doing well with Hull.  

    On the other hand, I could not get into the Steeps, their music seems repetitive, but I never liked them anyway, they are popular and Steve Martin likes them.  I like a group like Flatt Lonesome that can take the traditional and just make it so good that you have to like them. They recently did a show on the web of Country Covers, it was good, Paul was playing guitar a lot too.  You know, there are so many groups in Bluegrass today that sound alot alike, but they have their fanbase, so that's ok.

    Take Care.

 

  Ted - Thanks for standing up for music evolving, and for my favorite band! Can't wait for the day when articles in defense of SCR won't have to be written, people will be too busy writing about the beauty and honesty of SCR's song lyrics, their exquisite live shows that give all six excellent musicians a chance to shine, their arrangements that already sounded symphonic before they went ahead and started playing shows with an actual symphony orchestra backing them up. Let's spend no more time lamenting the lamenters. Let's have articles about how great the music is!

Thanks for your comment, Maddie. There's no question that both artists are exquisite performers growing out of bluegrass. Bluegrass has been the progenitor of more fine musicians than can be counted because of the exquisite musicianship it requires. Many musicians find they wish to expand beyond the limits of bluegrass into other forms. We should listen to and watch their changes and celebrate their triumphs. When they fail to live up to the goals they seek to reach, we should support their efforts and wait for them to continue to reach. Failure is often the parent of success. 

I have enjoyed the music of Sierra Hull and the Steeps since Sierra was in high school and SCR hadn't yet met Steve Martin. I'm a very traditional music oriented guy so it's always sad for me to see traditionally oriented artists move on from their roots, but that's what artists do. It doesn't make sense to expect artists to remain static in the expression of their art.  As a fan of  Old-Time music, I suppose I could be upset that Bill Monroe wasn't satisfied with the old-time music he heard and played in his youth - he had to go and commercialize it; make it palatable to a larger audience.  I enjoy bluegrass for what it is even though it's not pure folk music and I enjoy today's SCR and Sierra Hull for the great new music they are creating. I also hope there will always be a place to hear more traditional bluegrass just as the fiddlers conventions provide a place to hear old-time music.  Thanks for a great column. 

Thanks so much, Tim. I'm absolutely confident that the future of traditional bluegrass is assured as long as the expansion into other areas and interpretations continues. Many people will hear and love the new bands, and some will decide they want to know the background from which that music came. Those people will discover and renew old-time and traditional bluegrass for as long as the name persists. If you don't mind, I think I'll put your comment over on my Facebook page, too. - Ted