Place and Location… It Matters

The Big Question is…. Is Appalachia the only region associated with Bluegrass music? I am no expert, by any means. I am from the Appalachian region and I grew up listening to the banjos, fiddles, mandolins, and guitars, but I am more cautious when answering this question. From listening to the songs and being around the music, I admit that quite a few songs have to do with coal mining, farming, and growing up in hard times. However, the Appalachia region is not the only place that had farmers and hard times.

It is easy to listen to Breaking Grass’s Song, “High On the Mountain” and immediately assume that most Bluegrass has to do with the Appalachian Region, but then in the same instance, you could listen to Old Crow Medicine Shows, “Sweet Amarillo” and think, “Texas is not Appalachia”. Not all Bluegrass involves Appalachia. It’s roots may have started in Appalachia, but there are vocalist who play the old stringed instruments and make the fiddle whine from all different places.

Breaking Grass, “High on the Mountain”

Old Crow Medicine Show, “Sweet Amarillo”




The place where Bluegrass “began” was in Kentucky. The songs were about farmers, coal mines, and hard times. A lot of Bluegrass songs continue to carry that spirit with them to this day. When times were tough, songs were taken with the people that ad to leave the mountains and traveled along the “Hillbilly Road”. As we read in class, a group of men from New York formed a group called the Greenbrier Boys. Where they were from, the Appalachian region was not near them at all. They sang about the stereotypical components within the Bluegrass world.

The question remains, is Appalachian the only region Bluegrass is associated with. The answer, to me, is no. I believe Appalachia helped lay the foundation and set the roots for what Bluegrass has become, but Appalachia is not the only region associated with Bluegrass. The location does not always make the music. The people and their history are what truly influence the region.

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