Re: [Harp-L] Bluegrass Harmonica

I consider that competition you describe rather friendly -- like good
friends in a competitive sports match.  You should always have to "earn you
bones" on some level or there is no goal for development and no point at
which you can recognize your own achievement and set new goals.

However, I will tell you that, those who cannot quite earn their bones yet,
will still get respect from others if they try and continue to work things
out and improve.  Often, a lesson springs out of those moments -- an
opportunity for those who know how to help those who want to learn how
badly enough that they keep trying.  There is nothing wrong with a little

"Kumbaya" circles, as you call them (if I am not misinterpreting the
reference) are what we call 'beginner jams' or 'slow jams'.  Their sole
purpose is to encourage the beginners and help them learn.  No one should
ever aspire to remain in those circles if they wish to grow in music or on
their instrument.  Often, the advanced players in those circles are 'doing
their time' to encourage the next generation of players along the path.  It
is a hard job to control your play so that it works with everyone elses and
is not intimidating, but provide just enough challenge to encourage those
slower players to the next level.  However, that simple challenge makes us
all better in the end.

In a sense, the more advanced jams are still "Kumbaya" circles, but they
reside higher up on the mountain.  You must walk a steeper path to be able
to play with them and "Come By Here".  Once you have walked that path, you
find a friendly jam session.  The path is the challenge.  It is there that
you prove yourself.  When the jam gets up and moves further up the
mountain, and you go with them, you have accepted the challenge and
grow.  With luck, you will rise to meet the expectation and will be ready
for another trip further up the mountain.  However, as the jam moves up the
mountain, you cannot expect them to be open to someone coming down that
same mountain from a helicopter landing zone.  If that same someone is
still interested in the path, though, they will still be welcome.

Pettiness and jealousy can be found in all music forms/people and can only
be fixed by those experiencing those emotions.  As long as you are working
with the others and moving up that mountain path, you should not have to
worry about that.  Those emotions typically come from someone who feels
protective of their situation and has, essentially, built a fort along the
path wherein they reside watching the others continue up the mountain.
They feel left out, but it is their fault that they do.  Even if they lack
a great deal of talent, if they want to move up that path, all they have to
do is take a step and start moving forward.  Even slow progress is progress.


On Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 3:17 AM, eskeene@xxxxxxxx <eskeene@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

> "Given all of that, Earl Taylor, playing for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
> and the Foggy
> Mountain Boys in the 1950's would be the first harmonica player recorded
> in a bluegrass
> band (as far as I know)." As far as I know, Earl Taylor didn't play with
> or record (or wasn't credited with recording) with Flatt & Scruggs until
> the latter part of the '60's, before F&S parted company. There was a time
> in my life (the 1970's) when I became obsessed with Bluegrass banjo and
> fiddle (particularly Flatt & Scruggs) and memorized every note of every one
> of their recordings available at that time (including reissues and the
> famous "Ben Dover" bootleg of wire recordings of radio shows)*and did my
> best to imitate them on the banjo and fiddle. We didn't have as much
> information available to us in those pre-internet days, but I'm not aware
> of anyone other than Curley Seckler and Everett Lilly playing mandolin with
> them during the 1950's (Earl Taylor had his own band, the Stoney Mountain
> Boys).  Those first generation  Bluegrass musicians were made of stern
> stuff, and their performing schedule was unreal by today's standard (I
> doubt you could find musicians today, with families no less, willing to
> travel as much, and perform as much as they did (and for as little money).
> There is a lot of stuff being released now on CD and DVD that wasn't
> available in the 1970's, and F&S performed so often, that there may be
> personnel and recordings from the 1950's  that I'm not aware of (I would be
> especially interested to know of previously unreleased  Columbia recordings
> featuring Earl Taylor)   During the 1960's F&S released a whole series of
> Lp's with very distinctive cover art that were produced by Don Law and
> Frank Jones. Their studio sound changed markedly (remember, Mitch Miller
> was big at that time) and some of those albums credit Charlie McCoy on
> harmonica (and yes, the snobs turn their noses up at that stuff, but to me
> it's just different, and I love it!). That said, due to some physical
> problems, I don't fiddle or pick banjo much anymore, but Earl is still the
> best as far as I'm concerned, and Paul Warren is still one of my top three
> all-time favorite fiddlers. * In regards to the snobbishness of many
> Bluegrass musicians and the  poor social skills displayed by them (not ONLY
> in Australia!), I would like to say this: Before we had Aspberger's and
> OCD, before we had Apples and PC's, before we had Trekkies and Star Wars,
> before Bill Gates made being a nerd fashionable, we had the five-string
> banjo. On and off over the years, I have subscribed to the Banjo
> Newsletter, a magazine which spends an incredible portion of its pages with
> arguments over whether Earl played the high "g" in the fourth measure of
> the second break of "Randy Lynn Rag" using the open g or 5th fret of the
> 1st string or the 8th fret of the second string and whether he used the pad
> of his finger or his fingernail to fret it. There is also a VERY
> competitive aspect to Bluegrass-almost like stags locking antlers-as if
> executing some difficult run better than someone else is going to allow you
> to eat and propogate your genes.  As  friendly and welcoming as many of
> those circles of Bluegrass musicians look on the surface, the "Kumbaya"
> circles are rare, and most of the more accomplished jams are a study in
> primate dominance behavior. Unless you've already "earned your bones", you
> have to fight your way in, and once in, nobody but the most confident is
> going to be willing to go outside of their comfort zone, which very often
> is the "way it went on the record".  Innovation in "traditional" music
> (though a lot of traditional music isn't really all that old) is a VERY
> tricky business**. I heard a possibly apocryphal story about Vassar
> Clements playing a 6th chord on the fiddle while performing with Monroe.
> Monroe turned to him and said, "That note isn't in this song", to which
> Vassar replied, "Well it is now."-whereupon Monroe fired him on the spot
> saying, "It may be, but you're not.".   ** Like the old Bob and Ray comedy
> commercial where they advertised the "Monongahela Iron Doorstop
> Company-Monongahela-the name that you've gradually grown to trust over
> generations". P.S. Don't forget about Cousin Emmy and Curley Fox-two more
> harmonica players that showed up on the Opry.Cheers, emily
> ____________________________________________________________
> Frenzy Over New Diet Pill
> Stores Across U.S. Sold Out of This New &#39;Miracle&#39; Weight Loss Pill.

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