The Bluegrass Dilemma

February 24, 2016 | By

Music of any genre is a constantly changing thing. 

Before the late 1950’s, Rock & Roll did not exist as a musical form, but musicians with vision and creative motivations took pieces from Blues and R&B and Country music and created a new form … which pretty much conquered the musical world.

The thing is, however, that those earlier forms of music are still here, vibrant and growing in their own right, while R&R moves forward, changing as it goes.

No musical genre or style can remain exactly the same, forever, without becoming something less than creative … something more like repertory performance. Repertory performance is a fine way to honour the past, and the brilliance of those who came before, but it is no longer creative endeavour.

It seems Bluegrass, one of the most deeply rooted traditional, American musical forms is going through some of these changes these days with artists like The Steep Canyon Rangers and Sierra Hull pushing the boundaries, and forging new paths while maintaining clear and strong connections to the traditional.

From my perspective, to resist this sort of growth in a musical form, is to risk having your favoured genre become repertory. Something from the past, to be presented and honoured, but for all intents and purposes, stuck in the past, like a bug in amber.

Here’s a more extensive article from the folks at No Depression, discussing this issue in Bluegrass music.


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Category: Special Features, The Roots of Roots Music

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