Bluegrass vs. old time

When I was first learning to play bluegrass music back in the 1970s, I spent as much time around old time players as I did ‘grassers. Though I never learned to play it in an authentic style, I have always enjoyed old time music and old time influences in bluegrass.

I recall the sport of (mostly) good-natured ribbing that the bluegrass and old time camps threw each other’s way, something I still see whenever the two country cousins converge in groups at fiddlers conventions and contests each summer. It involves stereotypical humor at the other lot’s expense, a bit like the game of dozens or cracking that the young people play.

Trolling the Internet last week, I came across a clever take on this at the Pete’s World blog in a post titled, The Difference Between Bluegrass and Old Time Music.

Some excerpts…

  • A BG band travels in an old converted Greyhound bus that idles all weekend with the air conditioner running full blast, and fumigates the county with diesel exhaust. The band’s name and Inspirational Statement are painted on both the side and front of the bus in script lettering.
  • An OT band travels in a rusted-out 1965 VW microbus that blows an engine in North Nowhere, Nebraska. It’s pretty evident that their vehicles don’t have air conditioning.
  • BG bumper stickers are in red, white and blue and have stars and/or stripes on them. OT bumper stickers don’t make any sense (e.g. "Gid is My Co-Pilot")
  • A BG band tells terrible jokes while tuning. An OT band tells terrible jokes without bothering to tune.
  • The audience claps after each BG solo break. If anyone claps for an OT band it confuses them, even after the tune is over.
  • Mandolin players spend half their time tuning their mandolin and the other half of their time playing their mandolin out of tune.
  • An OT fiddle player can make dogs howl & incapacitate people suffering from sciatic nerve damage.
  • "A good OT fiddle player?" Now there’s an oxymoron.
  • An OT banjo player can lose 3 right-hand fingers and 2 left-hand fingers in an industrial accident without affecting his performance.

Read the whole post at Pete’s World.

HT – Fiddlefreak

Share this:

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.