(This is Don’t Put Her Down You Helped Put Her There by Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard if the link won’t play)
Well, there’s more to her than powder and paint
Than her peroxided, bleached out hair
Well, if she acts that way, it’s cause you had your day
Don’t put her down, you helped put her there
The typical image of bluegrass is an old man playing the banjo. Women have been involved the pioneering of bluegrass since its beginnings with Bill Monroe but they’re often left out of the story. Many women in bluegrass rely heavily on the performativity and showiness of their act rather than their music. The Judds are a good example of this with their makeup, fiery hair that reaches to heaven, and story/joke telling during their songs. Other women in bluegrass work around the genre and may not play what is traditionally considered bluegrass. An example of this is Della Mae, an all women band that doesn’t use a banjo in their songs. Last week I went to the Steel Wheels concert at the Lyric theater and Kat Mills was the opening act. She was the opposite of showy, her performance was very simple but, she worked around the genre by playing the guitar and singing with only another guitar or mandolin accompaniment.
(sorry, my video recording skills are not fabulous)