If you want to understand the history of bluegrass music, you need to look at its entire spectrum — of sound, of intent — as one large tree. With the deep, sturdy roots that are Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and so on, the trunk is the culmination of those roots, with each growing branch another avenue of creative possibility and sonic exploration.
With Memorial Day right around the corner, the fun in the sun of summer in the mountains is here, ready to surprise and delight any and all.
The key element of bluegrass music is the “unspoken” — in practice, in performance and in personality.
Whether you’re 8 years old or 80, the foundation of bluegrass lies in its traditions, where knowledge and technique is passed down through the generations. That transition of wisdom is found while strumming in a field at a festival with strangers, chugging along onstage in the heat of a jam with your friends, or pickin’ and grinnin’ on a back porch with family members.
It came as a shock that has had a ripple effect within music circles around Western North Carolina and beyond.
If Canton’s legendary Labor Day festival – the oldest in the south – is to survive, it’s going to have to become self-sufficient.
It’s as timeless as the soundtrack of our lives, regardless of age.
When you listen to big band music, you either remember where you were when these melodies first hit the airwaves or you remember hearing them as a kid at your grandparents’ house. The sounds of a full orchestra — led by the likes of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey or Benny Goodman — conjure immediate memories. It’s well-earned emotions of love, heartbreak, happiness and sadness, all wrapped together in the musical notes and songbird vocals of the singular force that is big band.
It’s about finding your center.
Though they’re hundreds of miles from the closest ocean, the members of Sylva-based Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) have concocted a formula of reggae soul unique to the mountains of Western North Carolina. It’s more about an uplifting and relaxed state of mind rather than actual sandy toes and salt water.
Ever since I left for college and began talking to my dad on the phone regularly, he’s answered my call with “Hello, darlin’.” I’ll never tire of hearing his deep voice say those two words. Conway Twitty isn’t the only country singer I grew up knowing intimately. In my childhood home on Village Court in Weaverville, we had an antique RCA Victrola (floor model). You walked in the front door, up a flight of stairs and it was right there. I can still see it clearly in my mind.
It’s needed now more than ever before.
The place of the singer-songwriter in a modern world is a tricky spot. With all the bells, whistles and studio tricks at your fingertips, one could surmise that pop and mainstream radio in 2017 sounds more like an Internet dial-up tone in the 1990s instead of actual melodic harmonies.
He’s the common denominator.
When you look back at the career of iconic bluegrass mandolinist David Grisman, you’re diving deep into the rich and vast history of that “high, lonesome sound.” And yet, the more you wander into that melodic hub of David “Dawg” Grisman, you also find yourself zooming like a rhythmic train across the spectrum of sound, making additional stops at folk, jazz, world fusion, and acoustic music.