I listen to a lot of bluegrass music; bands like The Devil Makes Three, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Steeldrivers, and The Haunted Windchimes (don’t you love those band names?) Since that is what is on my mind today, I decided that I would share a few of the fun facts I learned during my short journey aboard the Google time machine.
- The style of music comes from the Irish, Scottish, and English who began settling in what would become the USA during the 1600s. Since these Jamestown settlers began moving into the mountains and farms of the South, naturally that is what they sung about. Being an Irishman who lives in the South myself, I am not surprised at all that I’m drawn to this type of music.
- The term “bluegrass” comes from the name of one of the original bands, sorta. Bluegrass music was popularized by the Monroe brothers; Charlie & Bill. When Bill broke off to form his own band, he named it “Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys.” He named it that because he was a native of Kentucky, also known as the Bluegrass State.
- These guys had awesome names. The members of the Blue Grass Boys were; Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs (inventor of the Scruggs style banjo), Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise, and Cedric Rainwater. Like I said, AWESOME.
- The Coen Brothers movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou?’s soundtrack went triple-platinum. Other examples of main stream media increasing bluegrass’ reach into pop culture are Deliverance, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Beverly Hillbillies.
- The difference between bluegrass, country, and folk is small, but huge. Bluegrass is considered a subcategory of country music and country music is considered a subcategory of folk music. Folk music is any type of music that is native to a specific country. There is Irish folk music, African folk music, etc. Country music is any music that is about, well, the country. However, in today’s world, the term country music usually refers to main stream country western. These bands are usually FULL bands, with pianos, electric guitars, drums, and much more. Bluegrass however is usually always all string instruments and there is almost always a banjo and harmonized vocals. Personally, I love bluegrass, but hate main stream country western. It may be a fine line when trying to define bluegrass music, but like porn, you just know it when you see it… or hear it.