Bluegrass at UCLA

The Bluegrass and Old-Time String Band Ensemble at UCLALast week, Brance had a wonderful story about Joel Sidney, a recent University of California at Berkeley graduate, whose honors thesis was entitled Innovation and Tradition in Bay Area Bluegrass: Historical Review and Analysis of Distinctive Regional Features.

Here’s another encouraging story about bluegrass on the college campus, this time at UCLA.

Thomas Stanton is a young banjo player, also looking at a June 2008 graduation. He has put together a group, the Bluegrass & Old-Time String Band Ensemble, as an official student band in the Ethnomusicology department where he is pursuing his degree. Stanton has been directing, arranging material, and teaching the group’s members throughout the year as an unofficial senior project, with the blessing of the department.

“The group was just started this school year, in September 2007. I basically reestablished an ensemble in the department because I really wanted to play bluegrass and effectively make use of my talents and knowledge in my senior year as an undergraduate in the Ethnomusicology department at UCLA.

I’ve been very lucky to find all of the musicians that are currently involved in the group: none of them have really played bluegrass before, and a few of them are particularly extraordinary musicians who naturally fit in the setting and are picking up the music and its feel very quickly. I still can’t believe that I was able to create this opportunity to play bluegrass at the University (I would have never thought it possible in my freshmen year), but it’s thanks to the support of my mentor in the department, Professor Anthony Seeger.”

With graduation looming, Thomas will perform in a free concert with the group on the UCLA campus on Thursday, May 29th at 7 PM in Schoenberg Hall.

More details about the group and the concert, including video clips, can be found on their web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.