Month: February 2015

Larry Sparks Has Been Places

It’s an illusion you can get sometimes when you’ve been driving hard for a long while:  that you are standing still while the unheeding road slips under you.  Then you shake it off and things slip back into their regular order. Larry Sparks is going places. Tom Teepen starts his exposé on “traveling bluegrass” with … Continue reading Larry Sparks Has Been Places

Country Boy at Heart

Ricky Skaggs, considered by Fred Bartenstein to be a third generation artist, was born in Cordell, Kentucky on July 18, 1954. His father purchased a mandolin for him after he was heard harmonizing with his mother when he was only five years old.  When he was six, he was invited to play onstage with Bill […]

ASU Fiddler’s Convention Field Trip

On February 7th our class took a field trip to the 7th annual Appalachian State University Fiddler’s Convention in Boone, NC.  This event is coordinated by only 15 to 20 ASU students each year.  After attending a clogging/flatfooting workshop taught by Rodney Sutton (a member of the Green Grass Cloggers), we were able to watch […]

Sam Bush: Father of Newgrass

Sam Bush was born in 1952 in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is noted today for his remarkable ability to play the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and guitar. He also is renowned for his beautiful vocals. According to Fred Bartenstein’s Generations Chart, Bush is a 3rd generation bluegrass musician. The 3rd generation is noted for broad geographic … Continue reading Sam Bush: Father of Newgrass

The Magic Passport

I was just an impressionable kid from Switzerland, and this kind of music was the key to me learning what it meant to be American. It was like a magic passport.” –Peter Feldmann

FEB 16 [reading aids/guides]

As we begin to discuss the 2nd and 3rd generations of bluegrass performers we will be reading chapters  28, 33, 37, 45, 46, and 47 and an article on Jimmy Martin by Lance Leroy (we have watched Jimmy Martin in previous posts). Please view the following videos along with the readings: The Country Gentlemen: Notice … Continue reading FEB 16 [reading aids/guides]

Cantwell’s “Hillbilly Music”

The piece of Cantwell’s chapter on “Hillbilly Music” that struck me the most was his (Cantwell’s) description of Monroe’s sound. Cantwell says he “scrapes” (p.50) the strings of his mandolin as opposed to, I assume, strumming them. Monroe is portrayed as a very aggressive and overbearing artist, demanding the attention of the audience. His rough and grainy …read more

Traditional Plus

“When Merle and I started out we called our music ‘traditional plus,’ meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play.” – Doc Watson Music seems to always be evolving, no matter what genre, what country, or what time period. Part of the beauty of … Continue reading Traditional Plus

Robert Cantwell on the Commercial Background of Hillbilly Music

The Monroe Brothers Cantwell reminds us that “it is always a bit of a shock to realize that the human career, which seems so brief from within, can embrace spans of time which have become historical.”  He relates this notion specifically to Monroe’s recordings, asserting that they “represent what we now regard as the high-water … Continue reading Robert Cantwell on the Commercial Background of Hillbilly Music