May 21, 2017
Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows that I like bluegrass. Those same individuals might be surprised to know that I enjoy a variety of music. As an example I like Rockabilly. In fact, as I'm writing this article I'm listening to three great Rockabilly stars, Brian Setzer, Marty Stuart, and Ricky Skaggs playing 'Rock This Town.'
Then there are the Blues. One of my favorite Blues songs is sung by Danny Eakin of The Homestead Pickers about his old dog named Blue.
Of course, there is classical music. While I may not follow the greats like Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, and Bach - I am well versed and a serious student of the works of Bailey, Becker, Morrison and Eakin.
Then there is Gospel music with Ricky Skaggs, Sharon White, Carl Jackson, Alan Jackson and Bill & Gloria Gaither to name a few.
I don't limit my music interest to just Appalachian and Ozark twang. There is a group of outstanding international musicians such as Aly Bain, John McCusker, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle and many others that play in a series called Transatlantic Sessions. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Sharon Shannon on the button accordion.
I like a variety of musical instruments, not just those used in Bluegrass. For example, there is the piano, well actually I mostly listen to its close cousin the hammered dulcimer. For sure I like harp music (actually the harmonica). On violin, there is Alison Krauss, Stuart Duncan, John Hartford and Christian Ward (well, I guess they play the fiddle). Having played the coronet in grade school, I enjoy the brass instruments, particularly that 'watch that bite'n goose horn' used by the Homestead Pickers. The guitar crosses a variety of musical genre. There is none better than Vince Gill, Kenny Smith of Kenny and Amanda Smith and of course Dan Tyminski. And if you lay the guitar flat you have Jerry Douglas and Justin Moses on the sideways guitar (dobro). Barry Bales is the 'your the man' bass player and Ron Block rocks the Banjo. And then there is the lute (or as I know it the mandolin) of which two of my favorite players are Sierra Hull and Adam Steffey.
So there you are a wide variety of musical . . . Oh, who am I fooling, all I've described is Bluegrass. I fell for bluegrass when I first heard the Darling's play on the Andy Griffith show. I was hooked and haven't looked back. For the most part, if it doesn't go cluck, pluck or twang, I don't listen to it.
The truth is I do enjoy a variety of music all the way out to Electro Swing (the Swingrowers have it right in "That's Right"). I'm partial to the piano as I studied that when younger. I'll admit I'm a better audience member than a musician (somebody has to clap at the end of the song).
In the end what brings the greatest joy is the acoustics of stringed instruments, and their influences from Ireland, the Appalachian Mountains and the Ozarks and nothing does that better than bluegrass.
"You know, for most of its life bluegrass has had this stigma of being all straw hats and hay bales and not necessarily the most sophisticated form of music. Yet you can't help responding to its honesty. It's music that finds its way deep into your soul because it's strings vibrating against wood and nothing else."
- Alison Krauss