2 Mar 2011

Blues and bluegrass would make great bedfellows

Author: troyc | Filed under: Videos, Worth Your Listen

As this blog implies, no two genres of music stoke my interest like blues and bluegrass. I do not seek to convince others to feel the same, but it is my pleasure to provide examples of them at their best to those willing to hear it in hopes they may come to agree. This is a tough example to match.

One of my favorite songs is technically of the bluegrass bracket but it has an interesting quality that sets it apart from nearly anything else in the genre. It blends the rhythm and soul of blues into twangy banjo plucks and, though it may seem strange, together they work magic. From the very first time I heard the song I knew I was hearing something different, something that could be much more.

This song is titled “Don’t Ride that Horse” and is written by the outlawish bluegrass band Old Crow Medicine Show; a band that has not yet seen the mainstream success of bluegrass acts such as the Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons, but is often cited as a pivotal powerhouse by those loyal to the genre more specifcally. It comes from their album “Big Iron World,” released August 29, 2006, according to the band’s website, and hearing it inspires a want for a marriage between blues and bluegrass that could last longer than the song’s 3-minute track window. Perhaps we could call this new genre bluesgrass, or something a little less cheesy if someone more clever than I can contrive it.

Beneath  is a Youtube clip of the song as it appears on the album. Listen and notice the feel of the song, how it tugs the cranium into a near involuntary head nod.

This grass is dripping with blues and for the sake of the sound’s power, it should be hoped that someday a band can bring this approach to the masses as their own style; complete with wannabees in tow. Maybe that band’s already out there, waiting for us to lend them our ear.

It’s hard to know. What is sure is if I find them I will do anything I can to spread the sound to those around me, those who read my writing and who share in my passion for music with soul and values; rather than the egocentrism and materialism prevalent in much of the popular fodder.

With the popularity today of blues representatives such as The Black Keys and bluegrass headliners Mumford & Sons, the scene may be prime for such a sound.

One more idea: how about some banjo on a wah pedal? A little bluegrass sunk in some funk? Bringing genres together into one whole, when done well, is creativity in full stride. Let’s see it.

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