If you want to start a tussle at a pop musicologists convention, throw out a question about how rock n roll music got started. It’s commonly asserted that it was an outgrowth of rural blues music in the southern black community, but an argument can be made that Bill Monroe was playing a type of proto-rockabilly music in the late ’40s himself. Check out songs like Heavy Traffic Ahead and Bluegrass Stomp and see if you don’t hear the same sounds that gave birth to rock music in the ’50s.
Of course, Monroe picked it up from his own association with black blues musicians in Kentucky, but given the popularity of Blue Grass Boys records at that time, did he maybe play a part in that music’s evolution?
However you come down on that question, that swingy kind of boogie sound has been a part of bluegrass since its inception. And it continues to this day in new music being written and recorded in modern days.
A great example is the new single from Robert Hale with his 8th Wonder Band. Pinecastle has just released The Shape You’re In from Blue Haze, a project of pop hits that Hale has shifted into bluegrass territory. This one covers Eric Clapton from 1983 and while Robert’s version goes grassy, it still has a rock n roll feel.
He says that he really enjoyed the challenge of recutting songs that so many people already know, and who he had with him in the studio.
“I’m so proud of this project. Re-imagining these songs while still trying to represent the originals was great fun. Having my longtime friends Scott Vestal… Missy Raines… Shawn Lane… and Chris Davis join me to make up The 8th Wonder Band was my greatest decision. Their excellence shines through on Blue Haze. I hope folks will enjoy listening to these songs as much as we did recording them… because we had a blast!”
See how they did in this static video.
The Shape You’re In and the Blue Haze album are available wherever you stream or download music online. Radio programmers can get the tracks via AirPlay Direct.