BLUEGRASS by Bob Artis


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Bluegrass is an acquired, rather special, taste which attracts a small but fanatical following. Since the sound of those racing mandolins and high, nervous fiddles comes from the most isolated mountain hollows of the Appalachians, most of the people who make the music are not the sort to write books about it. Too bad, because the books end up being written by urban purists like Artis who tend to be both cultists and pedants. Artis makes a fetish of the insularity and conservatism of this old timey mountain music and uses it as a stick to beat the ""bland hybrid"" electric slick sound pouring out of Nashville. Anyway, this is an ardent appreciation of the Delmore Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys and Don Reno and Red Smiley and Carl Story and Jimmy Martin and a host of others you've undoubtedly never heard of as well as the few--Bill Monroe, Flat and Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers--who have been major influences in American music. Bluegrass does, at its best, display rare technical virtuosity but Artis is at least as concerned with the campy joys of ""sitting on apple crates under several scraggly beech trees"" at a festival in Virginia as he is with the artistry of the ""Flint Hill Special"" and ""Foggy Mountain Breakdown."" For an already committed audience: no one is going to learn to love bluegrass by reading about it.

Pub Date: July 11th, 1975
Publisher: Hawthorn