Flirting With .500: Another Half-arsed Musical Post

Oh, those heady 2 days when we were better than average! I can still feel the tingle of excitement that milestone produced for the CH faithful. After last night's tilt, I may have to paraphrase it to the tangle of excrement that millstone produced. With the Balkan behemoth recovering from bursitis of the ankle, even superpower hero mode KLove can't play the team to victories against above .500 teams. We are back to below average again.

Those 2 Southern teams managed to destroy our hopes the last two nights and I just have to ask; what did we ever do to the South (other than send just a tiny bit of our weather to them for fun)? It's almost like they still hold a grudge about some long ago event or two. Since my ancestors arrived here after 1865, I'm going to insist that I bear no responsibility for anything that occurred prior. I'm sure the Native Americans and African Americans will understand that line of thinking%

Other than E-6's recent fine post of covers, we seem to have lurched to a halt on musical posts lately. I blame myself for much of this; I can't seem to get the time and motivation together after expending a great deal of energy spent fighting back those Clippers from Alberta. Flynn you, Winter and the vortex you rode in on!

I obviously am a huge fan of the blues and have inundated you folks with plenty enough of it for the last year or so, but there are other styles of American music that trace their origins to the South. This post will focus on one of them: Bluegrass. The roots of bluegrass have English, Scottish, and African American influences, and are associated with Appalachia more than anywhere else. The derogatory term for bluegrass would be "white cracker music". I'll use that reference to post a nonmusical bit by Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor from SNL. Forgive the poor quality , it's hard to get around the networks sometimes.

Now that I've offended most of the folks here at least once, it's time to get to the music. The most famous person in the genre and someone who is considered the originator of modern day bluegrass has to be Bill Monroe. He and his Bluegrass Boys really defined the style and were hugely popular throughout much of the South. Their approach to the music was to trade off musical sections that featured banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and upright bass with tight vocal harmonies. Here is an early selection, "Bluegrass Breakdown".

Fans of the style of music will know that Bill's band featured some folks who would later have huge careers on their own. The duo of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs recorded some of the most famous bluegrass songs ever. The interplay of their guitar and banjo were truly amazing and every bluegrass artist on the planet has attempted to replicate it, usually with much less success than the original. Here is "Foggy Mountain Breakdown".

Another famous duo were the brothers Carter and Ralph Stanley who played a bit less of a frenetic style of bluegrass. They and their band, the Clinch Mountain boys recorded for Columbia and then King records until Carter passed away in 1966. Ralph was convinced by fans and the label to continue and has recorded with many bluegrass artists since.Here is his version of "I've Got A Mule To Ride".

Another early bluegrass band who never achieved the popularity of other bands were the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers. Many of the band members played with Bill Monroe or Flatt and Scruggs at times and Jimmy Martin had a certain amount of fame on his own. Here from 1950 is "Don't Forget Me".

Norman Blake is one of the more contemporary practitioners of bluegrass, and he and his wife Nancy were part of the bluegrass revival of the 70s. He has recorded an album with local artist Peter Ostruschko called "Meeting On Southern Soil" that is well worth listening to. Here is a 1980 performance with the Rising Fawn String Ensemble.

While this next song is not strictly speaking bluegrass, it comes awfully close and I can't avoid posting it because the combination of a Brooklyn native and Norman Blake and Rusty Scaggs is just too sweet to pass up. "Muleskinner Blues"

Doc Watson and his son Merle recorded together prior to Doc's passing in 2012. Doc was a beloved figure during the 70s revival years and recorded "Tennesse Stud" for the "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" album that did so much to ensure the survival of the bluegrass genre.Here he plays "The Last Steam Engine" with Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke, another local musician.

Since we are listening to Doc, this would be a good time to introduce a favorite contemporary bluegrass musician who also can play almost any style of music on the mandolin. I'm sure I don't have explain to anyone who has listened to him how amazing Chris Thiele is. Here he and Doc do a version of "Bury Me Beneath The Willow".

Surely the most famous of the contemporary bluegrass bands has to be Allison Krauss and Union Station. With sixteen or so albums to their name as well as several songs on the Coen brothers film "O Brother, Where Art Thou", they are doing yeoman's work to keep bluegrass alive. Here is the band doing "Dust Bowl Children".

It's getting close to time to wrap this one up, but I can't end without acknowledging a couple great local bluegrass bands. First, there are some folks from the Duluth area that draw a crowd every time they play here. As well they should, they are damn good! Trampled By Turtles seem to get more polished with each performance and we are lucky to have them based in our state. Here is "Drinking In The Morning".

Pert Near Sandstone are a Minneapolis group that have earned national attention and for good reason. Their performances are always a high energy blast. Run, don't walk, to see either of these local bluegrass bands! Here PNS does "Okannagan Valley".

So, let's see; at least half a dozen local connections to bluegrass. Does this indicate that we are at least potentially "Northwoods white crackers"? Do I hear banjos in the background, or even fiddles?

That's all I've got on this topic; this thread is officially closed. Re-open it if you wish or need...

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