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Mar 29, 2023 - 7:14:48 AM
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922 posts since 9/3/2022

I respect the opinions found by many on here and I need your help on this topic. I've been around bluegrass for almost 3 decades.
All forms and fashions. There is always discussions and many times arguments on the fact if something is traditional or not. I never bother getting involved because borders stink sometimes ya know? I am fan of it all. Drums and Grass, Newgrass, Oldgrass, Old Time, Plugging in, Mics, 1 Mic, 7 Mics...whatever. As long as it's good. So this band, FrankCo Penn has a show coming up and I thought it was proper to say "Traditional Bluegrass"

I realize Trad Bands will branch out. Say, the Seldom Scene for instance. They were considered progressive in their hay day. With this project, we have the instruments, playing into just a couple mics, playing songs all across the board but mainly trad songs. But would you say that this song/band is "Traditional??"
I think this song in particular is but, I want to know if you're hearing this, is it Yes or No? Thanks and enjoy your day!

Edited by - Erockin on 03/29/2023 07:15:18

Mar 29, 2023 - 7:24:05 AM
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DougD

USA

11891 posts since 12/2/2007

I don't see why that wouldn't be "traditional," or really why you would even wonder.

Mar 29, 2023 - 7:37:02 AM
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1469 posts since 3/1/2020

I’d say it sounds like traditional bluegrass. Mic placement or recording equipment choice can impact the sound texture, but I think the classification of the music itself is determined by the playing style and instrumentation, not so much how the sound is captured.

Mar 29, 2023 - 7:44:40 AM

Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

I’d say it sounds like traditional bluegrass. Mic placement or recording equipment choice can impact the sound texture, but I think the classification of the music itself is determined by the playing style and instrumentation, not so much how the sound is captured.


The reason I mentioned the capturing or performance aspect was when I used to play some pretty major festivals, we were always the band that plugged in therefore you couldn't be considered "trad" while all the instruments we used were "trad" instruments playing "trad" songs, the diehards were not very excepting. I'm not on social media so I do not miss the bluegrass arguments but I was just curious what the folks here would say. 

Mar 29, 2023 - 7:46:47 AM

Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

I don't see why that wouldn't be "traditional," or really why you would even wonder.


Thanks, Doug! I'm sure many could say "you're not singing that right" or the purists could say that sounds too new to be "trad"

I made a logo/sticker and on it I added "Traditional Bluegrass" and thought "oh shoot, maybe we aren't...lol

Mar 29, 2023 - 8:39:59 AM
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DougD

USA

11891 posts since 12/2/2007

Eric, I remember these kinds of debates from the 1970's. Don Reno was really a very progressive player, both on banjo, and he was also one of the first to introduce flatpicked guitar to Bluegrass. We were in a workshop somewhere once and I was sitting next to Don. Someone in the audience asked him to play something on the guitar, so I handed him my D-28. He checked the tuning and said "This first string sounds like its been a-drinkin' - its a little high." A nice way of handling it. I still have that guitar, but never have found some of those notes he played!
Another group that was controversial at that time was the Osborne brothers, who were using electric bass, and I think a snare drum. We were playing at a Bluegrass festival not too far from you (because the promoters were trying to help us reach a larger audience, which didn't really work out - they just thought we were long haired hippies). Anyway, something about the sound in their afternoon set hadn't pleased them, and they said they wouldn't play that night unless there was a different soundman. The promoters knew I did audio engineering, and asked if I would mix the show, which I did, and everyone seemed pleased. I encountered Sonny a few times after that, and found him to be very affable.
Enough stories - keep on pickin'!

Mar 29, 2023 - 8:53:03 AM

Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Eric, I remember these kinds of debates from the 1970's. Don Reno was really a very progressive player, both on banjo, and he was also one of the first to introduce flatpicked guitar to Bluegrass. We were in a workshop somewhere once and I was sitting next to Don. Someone in the audience asked him to play something on the guitar, so I handed him my D-28. He checked the tuning and said "This first string sounds like its been a-drinkin' - its a little high." A nice way of handling it. I still have that guitar, but never have found some of those notes he played!
Another group that was controversial at that time was the Osborne brothers, who were using electric bass, and I think a snare drum. We were playing at a Bluegrass festival not too far from you (because the promoters were trying to help us reach a larger audience, which didn't really work out - they just thought we were long haired hippies). Anyway, something about the sound in their afternoon set hadn't pleased them, and they said they wouldn't play that night unless there was a different soundman. The promoters knew I did audio engineering, and asked if I would mix the show, which I did, and everyone seemed pleased. I encountered Sonny a few times after that, and found him to be very affable.
Enough stories - keep on pickin'!


Doug, your stories are great! Chances of us crossing paths are probably nil, however, I'd love to sit and hear more of these type of stories. Considering I've been a fan of yours for years and here we are talking on the internet. I always stayed clear of the debates because to me, it doesn't matter. As long as it's good. There is the same debate I'm sure in the OT world but again, if it's good, then that's all that matters. 

There is a distinctive sound affiliated with true trad grass and I guess I was curious if we passed the smell test! lol

Even if some of us still wear patchouli...lol

Mar 29, 2023 - 10:47:46 AM
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89 posts since 6/12/2015

Sounds traditional to me. More important, you guys sound great!

Mar 29, 2023 - 11:36:40 AM
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1469 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Erockin
quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

I’d say it sounds like traditional bluegrass. Mic placement or recording equipment choice can impact the sound texture, but I think the classification of the music itself is determined by the playing style and instrumentation, not so much how the sound is captured.


The reason I mentioned the capturing or performance aspect was when I used to play some pretty major festivals, we were always the band that plugged in therefore you couldn't be considered "trad" while all the instruments we used were "trad" instruments playing "trad" songs, the diehards were not very excepting. I'm not on social media so I do not miss the bluegrass arguments but I was just curious what the folks here would say. 


I get it. I've seen these arguments a lot as well. Personally, I love playing acoustic instruments without amplification most, but that isn't always possible for every venue. I've seen the rules for festivals that exclude certain things like electrified instruments or sound systems, and I can understand wanting to keep things close to the way they were in the heyday of the music. For the festivals and competitions, there is usually a sound system set up for all players to use so that the audience can all hear and so that no player gains an unfair advantage over another by having a better sound system.

I think recording in a studio is a different thing, though, because that's where the group is trying to engineer the best blended sound it can. I would say that using non-traditional instruments would introduce sound that wouldn't be as traditional, but I'd be less concerned about mic placement. I do tend to like the older style of performing and recording around a mic and stepping closer at times to be heard better in the mix, but I don't consider it something that must be done. 

Mar 29, 2023 - 11:39:49 AM

Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful
quote:
Originally posted by Erockin
quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

I’d say it sounds like traditional bluegrass. Mic placement or recording equipment choice can impact the sound texture, but I think the classification of the music itself is determined by the playing style and instrumentation, not so much how the sound is captured.


The reason I mentioned the capturing or performance aspect was when I used to play some pretty major festivals, we were always the band that plugged in therefore you couldn't be considered "trad" while all the instruments we used were "trad" instruments playing "trad" songs, the diehards were not very excepting. I'm not on social media so I do not miss the bluegrass arguments but I was just curious what the folks here would say. 


I get it. I've seen these arguments a lot as well. Personally, I love playing acoustic instruments without amplification most, but that isn't always possible for every venue. I've seen the rules for festivals that exclude certain things like electrified instruments or sound systems, and I can understand wanting to keep things close to the way they were in the heyday of the music. For the festivals and competitions, there is usually a sound system set up for all players to use so that the audience can all hear and so that no player gains an unfair advantage over another by having a better sound system.

I think recording in a studio is a different thing, though, because that's where the group is trying to engineer the best blended sound it can. I would say that using non-traditional instruments would introduce sound that wouldn't be as traditional, but I'd be less concerned about mic placement. I do tend to like the older style of performing and recording around a mic and stepping closer at times to be heard better in the mix, but I don't consider it something that must be done. 


I agree, Rich! I personally enjoy one mic and two speakers and since I usually am providing sound, that's the best way!

Mar 29, 2023 - 1:34:47 PM
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2477 posts since 12/11/2008

Sounds like good traditional Bluegrass to me. The kind I played until I fell into the Old Time camp. Good sound quality, too...except for that durned over-miked bass...

Mar 29, 2023 - 6:53:39 PM
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5823 posts since 7/1/2007

Well, I don't know anybody in the Missouri Valley who would have a problem with that, but some people just like to argue and make up rules for other people. If that's not Bluegrass, I don't know what it is.

Mar 29, 2023 - 7:52:10 PM
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6461 posts since 9/26/2008

I think the band plays traditional bluegrass songs in an essentially traditional fashion. That said, (prepares to duck and run) if you stray too far from the canonical trad BG repertoire or sound, you become progressive BG or "even worse" newgrass, and fellas that ain't even bluegrass wink

I speak from the experience of playing hard core trad with a band leader who taught me the rules of engagement by making me listen to and learn Flatt and Scruggs, The Stanley Bros., and Bill Monroe, but also Louvine Brothers, Mac Wiseman, and Jimmy Martin. "No, play it this way" kind of band leading and learning.    But I later played in a band that was one of those hippygrass bands that got thier first taste of BG was from Old and in the Way via Jerry García, and another popular grassish band (newish on the scene in early 00s, the name slips me, not a fan) and though in the course of about 6 years they discovered the originators, only two of the members dove in to understand the bigger structure and minutia that can be gleaned from those old recordings. And thus, the band always had a hippygrass feel and vibe.    These days I play with some members of that band who are more steeped in the tradition (there were several who came and went after I split) and I would say we are a pretty traditional bluegrass band with modern tastes. My favorite band is Bluegrass Cardinals, a tight band with "progressive" song choices. MUCH more trad than say, Seldom Scene, who I also really like. We play a solid mix of old and newer (Doyle and Quicksilver, Blue Highway and more) but keep it traditional sounding. If we stray into the old hippygrass songs, it's only to appease the punters who long for those days (going on 13 years since I played in that band regularly) of drinking and noodle dancing to what passed as BG to them.

So why bring that up? So you know where I come from in BG world. I flat out love hard core/early spin off bands and like many newer bands that stretch the boundaries while still maintaining a grass esthetic.

if you aren't playing something the crowd recognizes as BG you might not fare well at a trad festival. The hippygrass band could play trad plus a couple originals for spigma festival sets without scaring off the audience. If you're willing to do that and toe that fine line, you'll do great. If it is an acoustic music fest, why pigeonhole yourselves with that descriptor? If you don't call yourselves bluegrass, no one will accuse you if not being bluegrass enough laugh

Edited by - ChickenMan on 03/29/2023 19:55:18

Mar 30, 2023 - 5:56:11 AM
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Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

I think the band plays traditional bluegrass songs in an essentially traditional fashion. That said, (prepares to duck and run) if you stray too far from the canonical trad BG repertoire or sound, you become progressive BG or "even worse" newgrass, and fellas that ain't even bluegrass wink

I speak from the experience of playing hard core trad with a band leader who taught me the rules of engagement by making me listen to and learn Flatt and Scruggs, The Stanley Bros., and Bill Monroe, but also Louvine Brothers, Mac Wiseman, and Jimmy Martin. "No, play it this way" kind of band leading and learning.    But I later played in a band that was one of those hippygrass bands that got thier first taste of BG was from Old and in the Way via Jerry García, and another popular grassish band (newish on the scene in early 00s, the name slips me, not a fan) and though in the course of about 6 years they discovered the originators, only two of the members dove in to understand the bigger structure and minutia that can be gleaned from those old recordings. And thus, the band always had a hippygrass feel and vibe.    These days I play with some members of that band who are more steeped in the tradition (there were several who came and went after I split) and I would say we are a pretty traditional bluegrass band with modern tastes. My favorite band is Bluegrass Cardinals, a tight band with "progressive" song choices. MUCH more trad than say, Seldom Scene, who I also really like. We play a solid mix of old and newer (Doyle and Quicksilver, Blue Highway and more) but keep it traditional sounding. If we stray into the old hippygrass songs, it's only to appease the punters who long for those days (going on 13 years since I played in that band regularly) of drinking and noodle dancing to what passed as BG to them.

So why bring that up? So you know where I come from in BG world. I flat out love hard core/early spin off bands and like many newer bands that stretch the boundaries while still maintaining a grass esthetic.

if you aren't playing something the crowd recognizes as BG you might not fare well at a trad festival. The hippygrass band could play trad plus a couple originals for spigma festival sets without scaring off the audience. If you're willing to do that and toe that fine line, you'll do great. If it is an acoustic music fest, why pigeonhole yourselves with that descriptor? If you don't call yourselves bluegrass, no one will accuse you if not being bluegrass enough laugh


Ha, Chicken Man

You just nailed my story to the wall here, almost note for note lol. I'm def in that "hippy grass" genre and glad for it but, I've rubbed elbows with some of the best and was always weary of using the word "bluegrass" with anything I was a part of. At times, scolded for it. I was hoping that I could call this "trad grass" for once...lol. My most fondest bluegrass memory though was signing a Duet with Del McCoury and his sons, along with Sierra Hall, Leigh Gibson, Cody Kilby, and Jason Carter. We were playing banks of the Ohio and Del was in the back row hanging out. When I sang the first chorus, Jason and Leigh joined me then, Del approached me from behind and asked "can I sing this next chorus with ya?" and my heart fell into my gut! The next 3 times we sang the chorus into one mic together, staring into each others eyes. While this was happening, I'm thinking about the history of this man. This was bluegrass. When the song finished, I had to step outside and hugged the first person I found. A stranger nonetheless but my legs were weak and I was out of breath. From that moment, I cherish any kind of bluegrass that I get to play but for once I wanted to be able to say, "Traditional"

Thanks for hearing my rambles... 

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