Ted explores the question of bluegrass as an artform compared to the need to entertain.
Ted writes: – Bluegrass music is a pretty serious business, taking itself seriously and committing itself to presenting a particular kind of string band music hearkening back to its first generation roots and the multiple musical traditions from which it has been drawn. Often the attention to its roots overcomes what I’ll call the entertainment value necessary to make bluegrass performances a significant commercial draw. Recently, I sat for a few minutes with Mike Armistead of Leroy Troy and the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, a band which recreates the sound and humor of old time music with zeal and a very positive effect, to discuss this issue. Mike easily listed a range of humorists, comedians, and baggy-pants comics who were integral to early bluegrass performances, adding significantly to their entertainment value. Among the historical comics Mike listed were David “Stringbean” Akeman, Cousin Goober, Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones, Kentucky Slim, and Snuffy Jenkins. These men, and others, brought fine musicianship along with many of the conventions of vaudeville to early bluegrass performances and the Grand Old Opry.
Read the full article at Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms.