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BLUEGRASS GENERATIONS

BLUEGRASS GENERATIONS

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BLUEGRASS GENERATIONS

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  1. BLUEGRASS GENERATIONS Principal Research: Fred Bartenstein Research Assistance: Mary Jo Leet Ed Renner Admin. Assistance: Kelly Skidmore September 9, 2005 www.FredBartenstein.com 725 Wright Street, Yellow Springs, OH 45387

  2. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1-2 “Hey, let’s hear it for Lester Flatt. Joe Stuart and Pete Rowan, Mac Wiseman and Melvin Goins. Stoney Cooper and Earl Snead, bluegrass music is what we need.” “Tater Tate and Alan Munde,” John Hartford, 1976

  3. Project goals: • Create a database of not less than 500 professional bluegrass artists, whose recordings have had national distribution. • Propose a classification of generations. • Explore interesting patterns.

  4. Name & nickname(s) Year of birth State of birth Year of death Gender Year of first and last commercial recording Primary instrument Primary vocal part Member of the Blue Grass Boys? Primary other recording genre Band leader? Sources of information Data collected for 680 artists

  5. Bluegrass Bios 2005 (Wayne Rice) America’s Music: Bluegrass (Barry Willis) All Music Guide website (allmusic.com) Bluegrass Discography website (ibiblio.org/hillwilliam/ BGdiscography) Century of Country website (countryworks. com/artist_full.asp) Blue Grass Boys website (//doodah.net/bgb/) Country Music Records (Tony Russell) Country Music Sources (Meade, Spottswood & Meade) Fred Bartenstein database of 9,000+ songs for broadcast Primary sources of information:

  6. Potential sources of error • Incorrect information (some guesses) • Incomplete information (missing artists, particularly in later generations, US bias) • Interpretation

  7. examples (of 30): • Dock Boggs • A.P. & Sara Carter • Grayson & Whitter • Uncle Dave Macon • J.E. Mainer • Sam & Kirk McGee • Charlie Poole • Jimmie Rodgers • E.V. & Hattie Stoneman • Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith Generation 0 - The Ancestors

  8. examples (of 118): • Roy Acuff • Bill & Earl Bolick • Maybelle Carter • Flatt & Scruggs • Wade Mainer • Bill & Charlie Monroe • Molly O’Day • Carl Story • Doc Watson • Bob Wills Generation 1 - The Pioneers

  9. examples (of 200): • Country Gentlemen 1&2 • J.D. Crowe • Hazel Dickens • Jimmy Martin • Del McCoury • Jim & Jesse McReynolds • Bob & Sonny Osborne • Don Reno & Red Smiley • Classic Seldom Scene • Carter & Ralph Stanley • Mac Wiseman Generation 2 - The Builders

  10. examples (of 246): • Sam Bush • Rodney Dillard • Jerry Douglas • Bela Fleck • Hot Rize • Doyle Lawson • Laurie Lewis • Tony Rice • Skaggs & Whitley • Larry Sparks • Rhonda Vincent Generation 3 - The Innovators

  11. examples (of 69): • Mike Bub • Sidney & Suzanne Cox • Stuart Duncan • Rob Ickes • Alison Krauss • Rob & Ron McCoury • Russell Moore • Kenny & Valerie Smith • Adam Steffey • Ronnie Stewart • Dan Tyminski Generation 4 - The Conservators

  12. examples (of 17): • Chapmans (except Bill) • Michael Cleveland • Ryan Holladay • Sierra Hull • Andy Leftwich • Nickel Creek • Brandon Rickman • Ralph Stanley II • Josh Williams • Gabe Witcher Generation 5 - The Explorers

  13. When were they actively recording? 322725 252317Med.Age 1927194619591978199119981stRec

  14. What other genres did they record? (30) (56) (61) (174) (73) (281) Total (680) 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec

  15. Born in 5 years beginning…

  16. 12 years old in 5 years beginning…

  17. What happened in the peak years for 12-year-olds?

  18. What happened in the “trough” years for 12-year-olds?

  19. 1st recorded in 5 years beginning…

  20. What happened in the peak yearsfor first recording?

  21. What happened in the “trough”years for first recording?

  22. Where were they born? (40) (52) (66) (496) 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec

  23. What states did they come from? Overall- 56% 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec

  24. Primary instrument (overall %) (198) (157) (105) (97) (82) (20) (21)

  25. Ancestors Pioneers Builders Innovators Overall (instrument %) Conservators Explorers

  26. How many were women? (605) (75) Overall- 11% 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec

  27. Did they play in the Blue Grass Boys? Overall- 11% 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec

  28. How many were band leaders? Overall- 33% 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec

  29. How many were prodigies (1st recording younger than 18) or late bloomers (after 40)? median 1st rec 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998

  30. Some observations • Generations alternate between innovation and conservation. • In lean times, artists arise from the bluegrass heartland (NC, VA, TN, KY, WV). • Interest in bluegrass occurs in adolescence, followed by a 10-12 year apprenticeship, and a median recording career from ages 25 to 53. • Long careers “crowd the market” as generations overlap. • There is not one African-American or Hispanic in the database.

  31. Some observations • From 1936 to 1939, 28 banjo players were born. - 18% of all 157 banjo players in the database - 53% of all 54 musicians born in those 4 years - more than double the overall 23% rate of banjoists. • These included: Eddie Adcock Bill Emerson Allen Shelton J.D. Crowe Walter Hensley Roni Stoneman Doug Dillard Bill Keith Bobby Thompson Ben Eldridge Sonny Osborne Eric Weissberg

  32. Some observations • 12-17 years later, Earl Scruggs released his first seven banjo instrumentals. • Similar but less pronounced concentrations occurred: - among mandolin players who were 10-14 when Bill Monroe’s 1940-1942 Bluebirds were released. - among guitar players who were 10-15 in the first flush of bluegrass lead guitar, 1960-1969.