While Jazz may be the only (disputably) American art form, the roots of traditional, and authentically American music, are deeply embedded in the hills and farms of the early colonies. Mountain Music, Country Music, or Bluegrass all called for picking up easy-to-find instruments and singing songs about daily life. This genre of music has gone through many iterations and evolutions in its history, including a huge boom and popularity of Country Music throughout the twentieth century. Yet, the foundation of the music has remained constant: Harmonies, foot-stomping rhythms, lots of fiddling and plucking, and lyrics reflecting everyday life. It may be because of this connection to people's desire to meld nature and music that Bluegrass has stood the test of time. In fact, traditional style Bluegrass has seen a resurgence as of late. With festivals all summer long, camps and schools to learn the music, and an unending sea of recordings, Bluegrass seems to be everywhere. And, on a sultry summer night, there's just about nothing better than a front porch swing and some Bluegrass in the air.
While the famous Telluride Bluegrass Festival has come and gone, summer isn't even half over. So, there are plenty of quality Bluegrass festivals to be found. The first link is to Planet Bluegrass, an exceptionally organized site providing festival information, including ticket availability, schedules, and lots more. The second site will help get you tuned up with some the culture of Bluegrass before hitting the festival trail. The IBMA site's About Bluegrass section includes a good brief overview of Bluegrass history from Jamestown to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" And, there is a great section devoted to finding a college-level Bluegrass school for those looking for a career change or a wishing their guidance counselor would stop saying they should be a beekeeper. An ongoing series on NPR is highlighted in the third site. The series, Honky Tonk, Hymns, and the Blues "Chronicles American Music from Back Roads to Big City." Next, the fourth site is a recent Rolling Stone article reviewing the forthcoming release of a Louvin Brothers Tribute Album which will include artists such as James Taylor, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, and Del McCoury, among many, many others. The fifth site is a CNN.com article highlighting a fascinating band from Russia. The group, Bering Strait, is truly emblematic of the fact that Bluegrass has everything to do with roots. The sixth site takes you to the Bluegrass Museum, a site that is rather limited in terms of content, aside from two parts. The most valuable section is their Hall of Honor link that take the user to a short biography of each Hall of Honor inductee over the past eleven years. Also valuable is a links section that directs the user to many other Bluegrass-related sites. Lastly, and very timely, is the site for the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival which is currently under way. The festival has all sorts of great Bluegrass performers, including Del McCoury, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Tim O'Brien, and lots more. Also of note, however, is the Academy for Kids, which runs concurrent to the festival and offers all sorts of great learning opportunities for kids interested in Bluegrass (or parents interested in being the parents of the next Bill Monroe or Allison Krauss).
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