Exploring Bluegrass - Appalachian Music Excursion


Buckle up your jumper and slip into them galoshes! We're goin' on a scenic tour of the country - Bluegrass style!

I hope you're ready for a hoedown, as I reckon one's a comin'. I go to great lengths to give all forms of music a genuine go - diving headfirst into the least likely of places to uncover hidden gems for my own private treasure trove.

What with the Internet and its unprecedented immediacy, my torrid love affair with music I wouldn't otherwise have access to burgeons now on the extreme. Still, I won't admit I have a problem until the fat lady sings. And even then, I'll have listened to her song first.

In this piece, I take my first furtive steps into the unknown - sampling a few random links Youtube returned for my simple query, "Bluegrass." Join me on this daring adventure.

Iron Horse - Rocketman (Cover)

Sorry Elton, this just might be better than the original. I've legitimately never heard anything quite like this before.

Sure, I've had my run-ins with Bluegrass here and there, but knowing 'blackberry blossom' and experiencing this song in true Bluegrass form are as distinct from one another as knowing Dali was a painter and having Winsor & Newton oil tubes squirted on your chest. The former corresponds to general understanding, the latter to immersion. Consider me immersed, Iron Horse. Consider me immersed.

Steve'n'Seagulls Thunderstruck (Cover)

In all seriousness, I knew this would be good when I saw the portly fellow pull up on a lawnmower.

Continuing in the spirit of seriousness, does everything sound better as Bluegrass? The banjo-plucked intro hooked me and the greatness lasts through to the end. Done well, this genre is nothing short of amazing and Steve'n'Seagulls clearly do it well.

Lively, impressively coordinated, more-impressively virtuosic and obviously humorous; what's not to love? An ACDC standard like Thunderstruck is tough to cover accurately without simply rehashing the original. Suffice to say these guys have done it.

Earl Scruggs - Foggy Mountain Breakdown

An exhibition of some sort. Nevertheless, a performance to remember, for sure.

A Bluegrass standard I'd, admittedly, never heard in my life is thoroughly, mercilessly, melodically plucked by Earl Scruggs (the original composer) and a lineup of players. The differences in each of their takes on the song as they near the mic in turn range from reverently subtle to adventurously unique.

The performance runs like a musical train, with each of these brilliant solos fueling it through to the end when Scruggs himself tops it off. Great stuff.

Lamar Lunsford - On the Porch

As authentic as an Appalachian trail. As simple as sunshine. This song (and clip) historically epitomize Bluegrass music - making it easy to comprehend and even easier to truly enjoy.

What can I say? This definitely is not music I grew up with. A shame really, as I'd likely have begun playing banjo or accordion at an early age - touring the world in later years with my backup band, "The Banjo Boys." Fine, maybe not.

However, I can think of few Earthly pleasures as satisfying as the appreciation of music in all its diverse forms and feel sad to have just begun exploring Bluegrass. This song shows just how far back the sound dates and what it was like in its heyday.

A musical means of expression cherished by an entire region, Bluegrass has piqued my interest, to say the least. I hope you too will take some time to listen to this music. I promise it's worth it. Let me know of any songs I should take a look at here. And, of course, bask in Oddness, friends!


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