Pass the (Blue)grass
August 24, 2015
So remember when I said I hated country music? I wasn’t lying, at all, but I’d like to clarify a bit more as the term “country music” has a different meaning and interpretation to everyone. There are certain types of music someone may lump into the more general category of “country music” that I actually appreciate and I’d like to focus on one of those today. So if you’d be so kind, please “Pass the (Blue)grass.”
Bluegrass music has really evolved over the years and become a bit more mainstream. Luckily though not too mainstream for my tastes. Bluegrass came from the Appalachia area of the U.S. but its roots are tied to Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English. In fact during the 18th century English, Welsh and Scottish settlers in the Appalachia region were noted as some of the first to bring it over through their ballads. The fiddle was the key instrument here. Over the years, and especially in the early-mid 20th century, bluegrass continued to evolve and take on some characteristics of jazz, which is why I connect to it as much as I do.
To me the beauty of bluegrass, as directly opposed to country music, is that it is focused more upon the music and the jams, or breakdown sections, as opposed to some kitschy lyrics about getting drunk, riding a tractor, rocky relationships and more drinking. Don’t trust me, just check out these actual country song names. When you really listen to bluegrass it is essentially jazz on strings (and maybe drums) as opposed to horns, piano, jazz flute, etc. While songs can still have lyrics, they seem to be mainly about nature … yet another reason I truly relate to bluegrass. Plus in this specific playlist there is a wide variety of old school and new age bluegrass with some that are “genre-benders.”
A few other final thoughts on bluegrass which make me truly appreciate, relate to and love it:
- They make covers of “regular” songs that much better … don’t trust me check out this Bluegrass Covers playlist created by Spotify or any of the Pickin’ On Series albums, who cover mainstream songs/artists in bluegrass style
- It’s one of the few music genres which gives all the musicians in the band an equal opportunity to shine in the breakdowns … it’s not dominated by the guitarist or overrun with lyrics using sound as a background
- There is something for every mood … whether you want something upbeat and cheery or you need something mellow and soothing, bluegrass can come through
- Fun side note on a song in my playlist … the song “Don’t Ride That Horse” by Old Crow Medicine Show for some inexplicable reason mentions my actual hometown of Joliet (since I always try to pass off Chicago as where I’m from) at the 1:49 mark, again not sure why but there ya go
One final note before signing off this week fits nicely with both the music theme as well as something I spoke about in my first Foodie Friday post, Banksy, the London-based street artist. So the big news in the past week has been his opening of the brand new “bemusement park” Dismaland housed in an actual abandoned amusement park in Weston-Super-Mare in the UK. Now while I’ll do a full post about this as soon as I actually go and explore it (which hopefully will be soon as it’s only open through September 27th). However he is having a musical performance each of the 5 weeks (well one is a comedy act) but it includes Run The Jewels on September 4th and just interviewed them as well. It’s also to note that there are DJs every Saturday as well and I’d recommend pre-booking tickets if you plan to go as they only allow a limited number of people per day. Therefore I thought it appropo to tie in a little music and art to wrap up the post. So here is the recent interview of Run The Jewels by Banksy.
I hope you enjoy my sampling of some of my favorite bluegrassy artists this week and remember … Legalize Bluegrass!
Click here to check out the “Pass the (Blue)grass” Spotify playlist
song I’m currently obsessed With: “CAN’T FEEL MY FACE” by The Weeknd
album i’m Currently obsessed with: “MULTI-LOVE” by Unknown mortal orchestra