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David Royko Psy.D

Bluegrass "runoff"

 Date: Mon, 20 Apr 2009

Sender: Bluegrass music discussion

From: Royko, David

Subject: Re: Rolling Stone Article on "Bluegrass"

TC wrote: “From my perspective there is no conclusive evidence of any kind of "runoff" from bands like the Avetts…”

From what I've been able to tell, the vast majority of people out there aren't interested in "exploring" the music world (these would be the "runoff" fans), but are happy to take what comes their way as long as it's familiar and appealing, and most of this comes through the usual mainstream media sources, as well as word of mouth. However, never before has the mainstream media been less monopolized by a handful of huge record companies--sure, they're there and they're still players, but not like the old days. All thanks to the 'net.

And thanks to the net, it's never been easier for a fan who IS interested in exploring and going deeper to do so. 35 or 40 years ago, when I first heard the single Dueling Banjos, I bought it, and then asked the local music store owner about the music. He had no idea about bluegrass. Books were few and far between (this was years before Neil Rosenberg's book). Yep, I was interested in "exploring" this music, but in Chicago in the early '70s, to a young, pre-drivers licensed kid (who even had a father who played acoustic guitar for fun), I found it much easier to get info about Emerson, Lake and Palmer (from England!). Now, no more. All a curious 13-year-old kid who hears Dueling Banjos has to do is Google "banjo" and he's off. "Influences" have never been more effortless to find by those interested.

What hasn't changed, however, is that those who are interested in broadening their musical worlds (as opposed to just wanting to hear more and more of what they already know they like) is still a relatively small segment of the listening world. But it's never been so easy for that active minority to delve deeper and broader into music, and to follow various musicians and styles from one album and band and genre to another--if you're interested, which is the real key.

As to whether they end up hearing "real" bluegrass versus something one looks down on (whether folkygrass, newgrass, jazzgrass, whatevergrass) is irrelevant to that person if the person likes it. Maybe they'll come to like Del someday, or not. But it's never been easier to find out.

Dave Royko