|She loves rock 'n roll ... |
and so do I!
10 Reasons I Love Bluegrass:
1. It's twangy! Like vinegary easter NC barbecue sauce or Greek yogurt! Tasty and good for you. The banjos, the mandolins, the high lonesome vocals… Some people find it irritating, I know, but it plucks my strings. It's artful, soulful, and shiver-inducing.
|Nathan Stanley has been playing with |
his "Papaw" since he was yea big.
3. The skills. There are plenty of extremely talented musicians performing rock and roll… but BLUEGRASS? You pretty much HAVE to know your stuff. You can't fake it with three power chords and an anthemic chorus.
|I was a townie, but my dad grew up here.|
|Guys in suits!|
|Guys in Nudie suits!|
Does that sound weirdly racist? I hope not! I just know that when I hear it, I feel like am hearing the lives of my people. What do they hear? The lives of hardworking rural people everywhere? (As an aside, when I hear a song that narrates a story, I always picture it playing it out in black and white - enacted by people who look like they could be the members of the cast of The Andy Griffith Show... or maybe the people in my parents' old photos.)
|Del McCoury and his|
7. The hair. Don't get me started about the hair, man. Del McCoury, Ralph Stanley and his grandson Nathan… These guys really know how to bouf it up, a la Conway Twitty. It's nostalgic… it's retro… or it's just how they've been styling their hair since they first got it!
8. The humility. Now, I've heard tall tales about Ricky Skaggs being kind of a jerk, but I have no way to confirm that. Maybe it's just malicious gossip… and Ralph Stanley? Well, he can be a bit of a grouch at times. But he's allowed, because he's ancient. In general I've found bluegrass musicians – of the old guard, anyway, to be gracious, humble, sweet… and pretty dang accessible. The manners their mommas taught them are on display for all to see. The other night the Clinch Mountain boys and also Ralph Jr. practically begged us to like them. Of course there was no need for that – we already did!
And how many rock concerts have you attended that were followed by a meet-and-greet that wasn't part of a fancy expensive "deluxe" ticket package? This is NOT how bluegrass works, my friend. No, you'll find these guys lined up after the show with Sharpies at the ready. Of course they'd love you to buy something, but they'll sign anything you hand them… with gentlemanly charm.
9. It makes me feel young and pretty. Yes, there are young, attractive bluegrass musicians. And, yes, I like looking at young, attractive guys. On the other hand, I also have the sick tendency to look at young, attractive people and think, "Dang, I'm a lumpy old lady." But your average bluegrass musicians? Well they mostly likely just look like regular folks in their Sunday best – maybe with a flashy hat. And I like that. It's a comfortable perspective from which to view the world.
|Hooch is definitely a |
suitable topic for
10. Saturday Night/Sunday morning. Yeah, bluegrass might be a family affair, but sometimes it's not exactly family fare. You see, the subject matter, well… it doesn't shy away from the underbelly of rural life – dark murders, cheating hearts, jail time and the production and consumption of whiskey... Those topics are not off limits in this genre, and I find them particularly fascinating. Though my people were mostly mild mannered Baptists, I can't help but think I've been granted a peek into their culture – the culture of the rural South.
|...as are church, Jesus, heavenly shores, |
and dearly departed mamas.