In part one of our blog in our investigation what actually was bluegrass music, we unearthed three factions that comprised this genre. There were the old traditionalists who classed Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe as the pinnacle of bluegrass, then there were fans in the middle ground that accepted minor change and followed artists such as JD Crowe and Doyle Lawson. Thirdly there were more radical thinkers who accepted nontraditional instruments such as electric guitar and drums.
Growing for the Future
One true fact among all this confusion seems to be that bluegrass music continues to evolve and change as it always has from its foundation. Instruments are now available now that were not in earlier days, should they not be used?
If you took this stance, then many forms of music would not have electric guitars or drums!
Many bands today that have bluegrass in their blood just get up and play what they want to play and do not liked to be pigeon holed. Thousands of fans turn up for concerts by the likes of the Trampled by Turtles or the Avett Brothers, both the fans and the artists just enjoy the show and couldn’t care less if it was called bluegrass or purple clover. This is the whole point; does it really matter what this form of music is called? As long as it still being played and audiences can go and hear it.
For thousands of fans that enjoy traditional bluegrass music, they have also accepted the newer forms of it. This means they are getting the best of everything, as they can listen to whoever they want and not be shoehorned into one genre. Don’t feel threatened by the big tent philosophy, in fact, embrace it with open arms. Spread the word and introduce new fans to newgrass, there is a very good chance that they will also try listening to traditional forms of the music, surely that is a positive thing?
Many of the older generation and die-hard traditional bluegrass fans came to it from a different genre of music in the first place anyway. They explored blue grass whilst listening to folk music and artists like Newgrass Revival and Bob Dylan. Only by listening to the innovators of the day was their curiosity sparked and they were tempted to discover the great traditional bluegrass artists who inspired Dylan and others.
Traditional Bluegrass Lives On
Bluegrass will live on forever, people always experiment in their musical tastes, starting with one genre moving off into another direction and coming home to listen to their original favorite. There is a theory in the wine world that many wine lovers start drinking sweet wine when they are young, progress onto dry wine in their middle ages, and then return to sweet wine once more later in life.
Music can be exactly the same, exploration is good it broadens the mind and just because you learn to like other types of music it does not mean you no longer love bluegrass music. You do not have to forgo tradition to appreciate the modern.