Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Before there was Bluegrass

The music of the 1920's and 1930's set the stage for the sounds that would evolve into Jazz, Swing, Country and Western, Bluegrass, and Rock and Roll. It was a dynamic period in American music, and one of my favorites.
Until the turn of the century (the one before this last one) most music was regional. If you wanted to hear some music at your party, wedding, or to dance to on Friday night, you hired a local band or joined the jam session at the general store in town. Music was mostly a local thing. This started to change as musicians from different areas and backgrounds started playing together and opened an exchage of ideas and techniques. One of the catalysts of this change was the traveling medicine show. The purveyors of all sorts of tonics and remedies travelled the countryside selling their cures. To attract folks to the sale, the good "Doctor" would have all sorts of entertainment. Comedians, dancers, storytellers, but they always had a band. The band most often was made up of musicians who joined the troupe as it traveled through their area. This blending of regional musical styles allowed the musicians to experiment in ways they rarely could before.

Over the next few weeks I will try to post some of this music, both in it's more "pure" form and in the "blended" styles. Last week I posted a song by Martin, Bogan, & Armstrong. An excellent example of the Black String Bands of the 1930's.

Today we have a few examples of the rural String Bands typical of the Appalachians and deep South. Both were recorded in the late 1920's.

Blue Sky Boys - Are You From Dixie

Armstrong Twins - Three Miles South of Cash in Arkansas

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