This past Wednesday our Bluegrass Class had the chance to listen to Bluegrass Today author and editor John Lawless. He shared his stories and insights from his time working with the Bluegrass Blog, which would eventually become Bluegrass Today. One of the biggest questions that always seems to come up from discussions like this is “is it Bluegrass?”. John offered a very interesting take on this question. He pointed out that “Anyone who has come up through the roots of bluegrass” such as Mumford and Sons, could be considered part of the genre. He offered a more personal view that “If it has a banjo, fiddle, and a mandolin in it and I like, then it’s Bluegrass.” I enjoyed this simplistic idea of the Bluegrass genre and it was refreshing to see a very open mindset. John mentioned that he has been battling this question of “is it Bluegrass?” for quite some time. In fact, he jokingly mentioned that had registered the domain name isitbluegrass.com just in case he ever needed it in the future. Many of the most famous musicians who had their beginnings in Bluegrass are often not viewed as part of the genre anymore. John mentioned that the general perception in Bluegrass is that “anybody that makes a lot of money in Bluegrass usually isn’t Bluegrass anymore.”
Another thing that John brought up that really resonated with me was his thoughts on live performances. More recently, music festivals that feature Bluegrass performances and other roots style artists have become increasingly popular. This is where a lot of the increasing popularity in the genre has stemmed from in my opinion. John shared with us that “Most people fall in love with a certain type of music when they see it live”. The way I see it, Bluegrass has a certain magic about it when performed live. It tells a story that other genres can never come close to.