The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined

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Tunesday TuesdayMar 27, 2018

There’s a phenomenon that certain bluegrass instrumentals experience when, for however brief or extended a time, you hear them almost everywhere played by almost everyone. Tunes like the key-of-B barnburner “Rebecca,” or John Reischman’s “Salt Spring,” or David Grier’s legendary reharmonization of “Angeline the Baker” come to mind. Whether during a lap of your favorite…

Tunesday TuesdayMar 20, 2018

As a genre, bluegrass has always had outward-facing ambassadors -- bands and musicians with platforms that enabled them to reach a wider audience than the usually insular ‘grass niche. The Dillards, as “the Darlings,” brought bluegrass to thousands of TV viewers on The Andy Griffith Show; the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band birthed an entire generation…

Tunesday TuesdayMar 6, 2018

Swing is the most bluegrass-y subspecies of jazz. The chunk of the guitar chopping and comping away, the improvisational fiddle, and the walking bass solos almost guaranteed to elicit applause are more than reminiscent of ‘grass. It’s not uncommon to hear standards played in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli wafting from more…

Tunesday TuesdayFeb 20, 2018

If only there were someone giving out nickels for every time the term “supergroup” is used. We’d all be rich. It’s not an altogether uncommon designation, as perhaps it ought to be, especially in bluegrass and its nearest offshoot genres, where virtuosity and technical prowess aren’t luxuries, but commodities. Nearly every outfit could ostensibly be…

Tunesday TuesdayFeb 6, 2018

Accordionist, pianist, and composer Sam Reider was inspired by wandering through the surreal landscape of Valle de los Gigantes in Baja California, Mexico. The park is named for the gargantuan cardón cactus, a species that resembles saguaros of the U.S., but grows larger and taller and can live longer than 300 years. It might seem…