Feeling homesick for Kentucky, so I watched this short documentary, which was funded by the South and Eastern Kentucky Tourism board. I learned that bluegrass is not, as most people would guess, a traditional folk style, but a recent innovation, circa 1945 or so, the result of fairly sophisticated professional musicians like Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs blending the instrumentation and harmonics of “mountain music” (mostly descended directly from Irish jigs and the like) with the arrangement styles and improvisational strategies of jazz and the blues. All of this makes it much more interesting to me, and I was already kind of interested. So when old-timers talk about “old-timey” music, they are specifically saying that to exclude bluegrass, pretty much. Cool.

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