Little Miss Cutthroat Video – a classic bit of ‘mericana “my Yellowstone dream boat.”

This is classic. David Thompson and Ben WInship’s video for Little Miss Cutthroat.

I’ll never tire of timeless clarinet solos, set to a solid jazz guitar rhythm back up. Priceless.

And Happy Birthday Jerome Garcia, pick them taters SPUD!

 

The complete newbie’s guide to Bluegrass… the list of folks you should listen to and why.

A while ago a younger co-worker, who’d heard I played and listened to quite a bit of Bluegrass, asked me where he should start if he wanted to check out some REAL bluegrass. I was cleaning out my sent mail and found that email.

The following is what I sent him. with some updated notes of what to stay away from to spice things up a bit.

It depends on what you are looking for, there are in fact, a bunch of different sub-genres in the bluegrass realm. Primarily you have three groups — Old-School Traditional, Modern/Contemporary (but still fairly Traditional) and then Lunatic fringe Progressive Bluegrassers who branch out a bit  into other things (jazz-classical-fusion, that sort of thing)

Bill+Monroe+BillMonroe

The Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe

For the ORIGINAL Old School stuff you want the following:

Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys – For Monroe the mid 1940s-1950s is best era, but its all good, he is the Father of Bluegrass after all, listen and memorize — it’s the truth.

Flatt and Scruggs – Everything is good but the older the  better, in the 70s they got a little “comedic” – but Earl is the man.

Jimmy Martin – Again older the better, Sunny Side of the Mountain and Freeborn Man — amazing stuff.

The Osborne Brothers – 1970s got a bit country with the addition of drums, so older is better.

JD Crowe and the New South – Everything is good, all of it, original line up with Tony Rice and Picky Ricky Skaggs is gospel.

JD_Tony_ricky_Jerry

Original New South: JD,Tony, Ricky, Jerry

Modern Progressive (Contemporary)

Lonesome River Band – Older stuff from Sugar Hill Records era

Nashville Bluegrass Band – Any Album is fantastic (my ringtone is NBB, Garfield’s Black Berry Blossom)

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder – any recent album is top notch it’s called

Del McCoury Band – Del and the Boys by far his best album, classic version of RIchard Thompson’s 1952 vincent black lightning

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver – Any album early stuff uses electric bass, look for stuff with Jamie Daily singing

The Bluegrass Album Band – it’s an all-star line-up playing it straight and traditional.

Sam Bush Band

Sam Bush Band

The Lunatic Fringe Progressive Bluegrass:

Sam Bush – Any Album, but most have drums and electric instruments so not strictly grass.

Tony Rice – Listen to as much Tony Rice as possible, nuff said.

Bela Fleck – the Bluegrass Sessions album is good (everything else is weird, and there’s a good chance not even close to bluegrass)

Jerry Douglas – Anything is great, but he wanders around into other stuff like jazz, just a warning.

Peter Rowan – his stuff with Tony Rice is the best, be prepared for some Native American hollerin’

Tim O’brien – He is all over the map but one of my favorites, really interesting blend of Irish and Bluegrass, very tasteful

*** Note: Ok so maybe calling the latter group lunatic fringe TODAY, is being conservative. There are quite a few NEW bands who are pushing the genre in a multitude of directions MUCH farther than the Mahavishnu Mountain Boys listed above, but you know, if you run into old folks at festivals, this is the way they think about this music. It’s still on the outside of the core of Bluegrass.

Things to stay away from as an early listener or participant (player/learner):

Old Crowe Medicine Show: It’s not Bluegrass, it’s an outgrowth of old time music and there’s too much irony in it. Hollerin and shouting and acting like a fool when you play fiddle may be entertaining in bar when everyone’s drunk, but in the REAL Bluegrass world it won’t engender much respect form the elders.

Mumford and Sons: Again not Bluegrass. It’s interesting music, but NEVER call it Bluegrass. Yes it has a Banjo but it ain’t Bluegrass.

Avett Brothers: Again Do not call it Bluegrass. My old band used to open for the Avett Brothers when they came through Columbus. They are REALLY nice guys and I like them a lot. Was very fortunate to have that brush with greatness. But don’t barge into a jam circle around a campfire at a festival and expect everyone to join in why you bang away on every song you’ve memorized of theirs. It’s not going to go over well.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings: Good songwriters, but not Bluergass. I love them! But don’t call it Bluergass.

The Civil Wars: Boring, and again, not Bluergass.

Punch Borthers: Yes Mr Thile is a freak of nature, his playing is off the charts amazing and so is this whole band’s. But don’t try to emulate this, it will spoil you into thinking that everything in Bluegrass is a fireworks show. Monroe always said, play the melody, and if you listen close to what the Punch Brohters play, they play the melody, it’s just hidden in mind-blowing amazing-ness. But don’t worry you can’t play like that, so don’t try, there is a good chance it will suck.

Yonder Mountain String Band: These guys have wandered off the reservation into uncharted jam band territory. It’s cool, but there ain’t much bluegrass in it anymore.

Yo-Yo Ma / Joshua Bell et al: I like this stuff, but don’t call it bluegrass. It’s good for whatever it is, but please don’t tell everyone at work how much you LOVE this new bluegrass album by Yo-Yo Ma. Seriously, it’s like telling people how much fun you had at the “Football” tournament, but you were actually attending Rugby games. You’ll sound like an idiot.

What a terrible year for Bluegrass, we lost another original member of the founding generation last night, Doc Watson.

Here’s the intro to the obit from the NYTimes…

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Doc Watson, the blind Grammy-award winning folk musician whose mountain-rooted sound was embraced by generations and whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world, died Tuesday at a North Carolina hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman and his manager. He was 89.

Watson died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he was hospitalized recently after falling at his home in Deep Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He underwent abdominal surgery while in the hospital and had been in critical condition for several days.

I had a few brushes with Doc at Merlefest over the years, but every time I’d see him I was so star struck I couldn’t even formulate words except, “good pickin Doc.” I bet he’d never heard that one before!

Fish Scales at Floyd Fest

It’s been a slow week here at the Fiddle and Creel. Rivers are blown out and we’ve busy doing a bunch of none Bluegrass or fly fishing related things. Extra work, t-ball games that sort of thing. So to fill the void in our lives, here’s a good video of Tony and Dawg playing one of our favorites, Fish Scales at Floyd Fest. Jazzy and fishy and bluegrassy, right in the wheel house, or should I say wheel hoss, of course that’s short for wheel horse, not house, but you know what I mean.

Freaky Fiddle Friday – Christian Howes

This week’s edition of Freaky Fiddle Friday features a Columbus native, Christian Howes playing with a truly great guitarist Robin Ford. Howes called us 5 or 6 years ago about him sitting in with the Wagoneers but we never could get the scheduling figured out, at the time he was living in NY but was in Columbus a few week ends a month. I think he found us through the violin loft, but I can’t say for sure.

As one of the more expressive and emotional fiddle players around he really holds back at the beginning  of on this tune, but dude does he unleash some freaky fiddlin at the end. Whoa – he blows the doors off of it, with some crazy distortion.

Though we’ve never heard him play Bluegrass, we know he can. And NO there is nothing April fools-ish about this, just plain old freaky fiddlin.

Tony Rice Workshop in Roanoke VA

 

Tony Rice performing at our beloved Merlefest.

 

Just announced today, the Ultimate Guitar Strummit, in Roanoke Virginia featuring workshops by Tony and Wyatt Rice as well as Josh Williams, and John Miller. Sounds like a good time. I do think saying Tony has never participated in a workshop environment this intense is a bit of a stretch, but whatever it takes I suppose. He has done workshops like this at Jorma’s Fur Peace Ranch right down the road from Fiddle and Creel World Headquarters. But you know, everybody’s gotta be the biggest and the best or first and the mostest, right? Big Mon wouldn’t have it any other way, competition brings out the best in us. Anyway it looks like a good event.

Check the map of trout streams around Roanoke below. Looks promising. I say leave Tuesday morning, fish Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, hit guitar the Strummit on Thursday and Friday, and get home on Sunday. Who is in? Thats a heck of a way to beat the February blues right?

And for good mesure here is s clip of Bill Monroe playing an old time fiddle Tune entitled Roanoke! Bobby Hicks and Charlie Cline on Fiddle, priceless.