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Thread: Ken Burns PBS Documentary Country Music

  1. #51
    ^^ That part blew me away. I didn't know he could play that well. He was talking about Earl Scruggs, though, wasn't he?
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  2. #52
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, and Vince Gill all started out making bluegrass records. I don't know how much of this element will be covered in this series? Probably not much. But it would be a shame if they left out Doc Watson, and eccentrics like Peter Rowan, and Sam Bush.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halmyre View Post

    (Full disclosure: It's a genre I don't care for. To misquote the Blues Brothers, I hate both kinds of music - country AND western , although I have a sneaking admiration for Johnny Cash.)
    Sounds about right

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  4. #54
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    I have numerous CDs I would qualify as Americana. The only country CDs I have are Allison Krauss and Johnny Cash. That's all I need.

    Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, and Vince Gill all started out making bluegrass records.
    All three of those guys have serious chops, a rare commodity in the genre these days. There's plenty of superior players out on the edges, drifting into Americana and bluegrass. If you ever get a chance to see bluegrass performed out in the wild, see it. I still remember a couple sets I saw in a seedy bar in Minneapolis over a decade ago. The band just smoked, tight as hell and chops to burn. Last time my wife HAD to watch one of those country music award shows because she's drawn to award shows like a cat to a bowl of warm milk, the only two players I saw in two or three hours were Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. Everyone else either strummed or mimed tired old rock cliches with no style, passion, or technique.

    Where's Guitargeek, this is his kind of thread?
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  5. #55
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    I have numerous CDs I would qualify as Americana. The only country CDs I have are Allison Krauss and Johnny Cash. That's all I need.
    I have a bunch of solo albums by Alison's dobro player, Jerry Douglas. That cat can play anything, and for me it's more fun to listen to than Alison's melancholic style.

  6. #56
    You want some good Americana, try the "O, Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack.
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  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    I have a bunch of solo albums by Alison's dobro player, Jerry Douglas. That cat can play anything, and for me it's more fun to listen to than Alison's melancholic style.
    That dude is a marvel. I saw a concert on AXS TV and he sat in with Union Station, just burning the strings. The Krauss and Union Station live album has a couple Douglas highlights. And yeah, there's a ton of Alison singing sad songs. "Down to the River" is just jaw-dropping though. The image on the live recording has her just a few feet in front of you with the band arrayed behind. Then of course there's the inevitable "Man of Constant Sorrow", which the bluegrass purists hate and the crowd loves.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  8. #58
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    For Douglas I'd recommend Slide Rule, Restless On The Farm, Lookout For Hope, and The Best Kept Secret. The last one features some fine guest performances from Alison, Derek Trucks, and John Fogerty.

  9. #59
    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    Re: Bluegrass

    In 1975 I attended the 3rd Annual Banjo, Fiddle & Guitar Festival. An all-day and into the evening event held out on the grass in the sun at Cal State Long Beach. Listened to bluegrass and related all day. There were a lot of unknown bands, as you might expect at such a long show, but the headliners were fiddler extraordinaire Byron Berline, Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band with unannounced special guest Linda Ronstadt, and master guitarist Doc Watson. A splendid time was guaranteed for all.

    Oh, and all of that cost a whopping two and a half dollars. Those were the daze.

    I have a bunch of solo albums by Alison's dobro player, Jerry Douglas. That cat can play anything, and for me it's more fun to listen to than Alison's melancholic style.
    Alison's singing puts her above most of her competition, IMO, but then I dig melancholy and sad, dark tunes. Not that that is all she does.

    I can second your recommendation for Jerry Douglas, to whom I have been listening for decades. Very talented musician. I recently picked up "Everything Is Gonna Work Out Fine," which is his first two albums on a CD.
    Can this be the swan song? The final elbow?

  10. #60
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    Alison's singing puts her above most of her competition, IMO, but then I dig melancholy and sad, dark tunes. Not that that is all she does.
    She's a great talent, no doubt. And I love her quest spots on Jerry's albums. As well as the Irish vocalist Maura O'Connell. And Tim O'Brien too. I love his stuff.

  11. #61
    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    Irish vocalist Maura O'Connell. And Tim O'Brien too.
    You might be a country music fan if...

    My God. I know who those people are.
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  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post
    You might be a country music fan if...

    My God. I know who those people are.
    I could care less about labels. And I don't listen to mainstream country. I just gravitate towards certain artists whose playing and writing resonates with me whether it's O'Brien, Tony Rice, Sam Bush or whoever.

  13. #63
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    I've been binging on a lot of classic country on YT recently, playing whole albums and random tracks. The stuff I've really taken to is mostly 60s and 70s, Bobby Bare, Boxcar Willie, Hank Cochran, and.....Loretta Lynn. It's the stuff I gather most here probably don't like.

    Loretta is a goddess (her singing). Even Jack White produced and performed on one of her recent albums.

  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    ^^ That part blew me away. I didn't know he could play that well. He was talking about Earl Scruggs, though, wasn't he?
    I am quite sure it was about Monroe. It was just as Monroe was being introduced. I don't think any of the members of his first band had been mentioned yet (and Flat and Scruggs were in the second incarnation of Bill's band so they were mentioned latter still).

    Stuart used the mandolin a bunch of times throughout the episode to show examples.

  15. #65
    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    I could care less about labels. And I don't listen to mainstream country. I just gravitate towards certain artists whose playing and writing resonates with me whether it's O'Brien, Tony Rice, Sam Bush or whoever.
    I was just kidding about being a country music fan. I like the artists I like and disregard the others. The ones I like get no radio play. I know I'm not a fan of mainstream country, because not once have I been able to sit through the CMA country music awards show that they seem to have on every other week. It is just unwatchable. And although this town has a few FM country stations, none of them are push buttons in my car. If other people want to like the artists I don't care for, that is their right. I'll likely keep watching Ken Burns' Country Music to the bitter end, just to see what I can learn and to hear the amusing stories. It's not like there's anything else on the box.
    Can this be the swan song? The final elbow?

  16. #66
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    It's American music and it's history, so I'll watch it as well. I knew you were kidding because nobody knows these acoustic string musicians and bluegrass players. I would say Alison Krauss is the only one who can fill up a big theater playing acoustic bluegrass music. The others had to plug in and play the twangy country stuff to draw a big audience.

  17. #67
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  18. #68
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    According to another documentary, Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music, the Scruggs style of banjo playing isn't quite as difficult to play as it sounds. The speed comes from all three fingers in combination, alternating in the picking roll. Each individual finger isn't actually moving all that fast.
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  19. #69
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    He has a point. But if Burns produced a gritty, hard hitting documentary it wouldn't get aired on PBS. And some country fans might be burning copies in a barrel like Dixie Chicks records.

  20. #70
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    I've read a few reviews of this series. All have something negative to say about it.

  21. #71
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    Yeah, you'll get more viewers with just gently touching on issues like inherent racism and misogyny than spelling it out. There are artists who were singing "the truth" but the industry itself has always been about making money and selling out, following trends in a way that would make today's plastic pop music seem rebellious. There's a reason Jason Isbell gets pissy when someone asks him if he plays country music.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  22. #72
    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower
    He has a point. But if Burns produced a gritty, hard hitting documentary it wouldn't get aired on PBS. And some country fans might be burning copies in a barrel like Dixie Chicks records.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo
    Yeah, you'll get more viewers with just gently touching on issues like inherent racism and misogyny than spelling it out. There are artists who were singing "the truth" but the industry itself has always been about making money and selling out, following trends in a way that would make today's plastic pop music seem rebellious. There's a reason Jason Isbell gets pissy when someone asks him if he plays country music.


    At some point, in order to make a history of country music that will appeal to a national TV audience, you just have to depend on the intelligence of the audience to read between the lines and think for themselves. Any long-lasting white male dominated entertainment industry is bound to have some racism and misogyny in its history. Rather than gloss it over, we must admit to its presence and ask, what are we going to do about it so the abuse doesn't continue from now on? Sure, there will always be some ignorant fans who think they are making a point about something other than their own stupidity by burning records of artists they disagree with. These people are covered by the signature line in Jerol's posts.

    One mistake I think Burns' documentary made was to try to make country music more all-inclusive than it really is. Someone talking on the show, I forget who, said that all of Woody Guthrie's songs are country music. Much as I dislike labels, it seems clear to me that Guthrie was a folk musician. Folk is the music of the people, and as such includes protest music, and music about the way things are. Not that there isn't overlap between folk and country, but if you were to put a single label on Woody's songs, it would have to be folk. To this day, many folk artists are labeled 'country' just because there is a slight similarity in the music and delivery, ignoring the lyric content. Sometimes it doesn't matter, because the artist may sell more records under the 'country' label. But Woody's politics were on the opposite end of the spectrum to mainstream country. There's no easy way of glossing over that.

    Can this be the swan song? The final elbow?

  23. #73
    Member hippypants's Avatar
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    I enjoyed it and I'm not a huge country fan. I thought it was loaded with some factoids that I wasn't aware of that really added to the watching. Really I think it's one of Burns better docs. I really enjoyed that he spotlighted the earlier history than what's going on now, which I don't care for. If there were a country station around here that played that era of country music, I'd probably tune into it.

  24. #74
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    I'm attempting to listen to Willie Nelson's entire discography so I've started at the beginning. First album titled........and then I wrote (1962)..

    Amazing. Pure Nashville, countrypolitan. Obviously, pre-weed, outlaw Willie. What an influence on this genre in the 60s and 70s.

  25. #75
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    Just heard his second album......"Here's Willie Nelson." (1963). It's more of the same. It's country for fans of people named Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

    I like it. WTF.

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