Monday, March 15, 2010

Bluegrass music and the influence of the Irish

With St. Patrick's Day virtually upon us, it's important to remember the influence of the Irish culture on Appalachian music. Bluegrass has its roots in Scottish, Welsh, English, African-American, and Irish music. The Scotch-Irish particularly made an impression on this unique style of music. My area of central Kentucky is rife with Scotch-Irish heritage.

In bluegrass, one or more instruments each takes a turn playing the melody and improvising around it. Others provide accompaniment. Typically there are the mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, Dobro, and upright bass.

Bill Monroe is known as the, "Father of Bluegrass. Before Bill came onto the scene it was simply known as, "mountain hillbilly music". Bill's band was known as, The Blue Grass Boys. And, since they were from the bluegrass state of Kentucky, the name, "bluegrass music", stuck.

Bill Monroe was quoted as describing bluegrass music as such, "Scotch bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound. It's plain music that tells a good story. It's played from my heart to your heart, and it will touch you. Bluegrass is music that matters. "

Before I got married, I had no idea about bluegrass music. I had never even heard of it. Well, that quickly changed as I had a father-in-law that was incredibly proficient with the mandolin and played in a bluegrass band. I have since come to love this style of music.

Below is a clip of one of my new favorite bands called, The Professors of Bluegrass. And, yes, a couple of them really are professors. If you would like to listen, remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page and turn off my music player.


4 comments:

  1. Ahhh, Rex sure could play the mandolin and how he loved bluegrass music.
    Bluegrass music always makes me think of my great grandmother.
    Do you have any audio of Rex and the band playing? You should post some of it if you do.

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  2. I love bluegrass. My ancestry is Scotch-Irish and I am very proud of it.

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  3. I, too, love bluegrass. I am always amazed when I hear "Celtic" music--hearing our "bluegrass" in it (or vice versa!). C

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  4. I love bluegrass!
    I especially liked it when I was doing a lot of clogging.

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