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BLUEGRASS GENERATIONS. Principal Research: Fred Bartenstein Research Assistance: Mary Jo Leet Ed Renner Admin. Assistance: Kelly Skidmore. September 9, 2005 www.FredBartenstein.com 725 Wright Street, Yellow Springs, OH 45387.

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Bluegrass generations l.jpg

BLUEGRASS GENERATIONS

Principal Research: Fred Bartenstein

Research Assistance: Mary Jo Leet Ed Renner

Admin. Assistance: Kelly Skidmore

September 9, 2005 www.FredBartenstein.com

725 Wright Street, Yellow Springs, OH 45387


Slide2 l.jpg

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud

of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders…and

let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

“Hey, let’s hear it for Lester Flatt. Joe Stuart and Pete

Rowan, Mac Wiseman and Melvin Goins. Stoney Cooper

and Earl Snead, bluegrass music is what we need.”

“Tater Tate and Alan Munde,” John Hartford, 1976


Project goals l.jpg
Project goals: cloud

  • Create a database of not less than 500 professional bluegrass artists, whose recordings have had national distribution.

  • Propose a classification of generations.

  • Explore interesting patterns.


Data collected for 680 artists l.jpg

Name & nickname(s) cloud

Year of birth

State of birth

Year of death

Gender

Year of first and last commercial recording

Primary instrument

Primary vocal part

Member of the Blue Grass Boys?

Primary other recording genre

Band leader?

Sources of information

Data collected for 680 artists


Primary sources of information l.jpg

Bluegrass Bios 2005 (Wayne Rice) cloud

America’s Music: Bluegrass (Barry Willis)

All Music Guide website (allmusic.com)

Bluegrass Discography website (ibiblio.org/hillwilliam/ BGdiscography)

Century of Country website (countryworks. com/artist_full.asp)

Blue Grass Boys website (//doodah.net/bgb/)

Country Music Records (Tony Russell)

Country Music Sources (Meade, Spottswood & Meade)

Fred Bartenstein database of 9,000+ songs for broadcast

Primary sources of information:


Potential sources of error l.jpg
Potential sources of error cloud

  • Incorrect information (some guesses)

  • Incomplete information (missing artists, particularly in later generations, US bias)

  • Interpretation


Generation 0 the ancestors l.jpg

examples (of 30): cloud

• Dock Boggs

• A.P. & Sara Carter

• Grayson & Whitter

• Uncle Dave Macon

• J.E. Mainer

• Sam & Kirk McGee

• Charlie Poole

• Jimmie Rodgers

• E.V. & Hattie Stoneman

• Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith

Generation 0 - The Ancestors


Generation 1 the pioneers l.jpg

examples (of 118): cloud

• Roy Acuff

• Bill & Earl Bolick

• Maybelle Carter

• Flatt & Scruggs

• Wade Mainer

• Bill & Charlie Monroe

• Molly O’Day

• Carl Story

• Doc Watson

• Bob Wills

Generation 1 - The Pioneers


Generation 2 the builders l.jpg

examples (of 200): cloud

• Country Gentlemen 1&2

• J.D. Crowe

• Hazel Dickens

• Jimmy Martin

• Del McCoury

• Jim & Jesse McReynolds

• Bob & Sonny Osborne

• Don Reno & Red Smiley

• Classic Seldom Scene

• Carter & Ralph Stanley

• Mac Wiseman

Generation 2 - The Builders


Generation 3 the innovators l.jpg

examples (of 246): cloud

• Sam Bush

• Rodney Dillard

• Jerry Douglas

• Bela Fleck

• Hot Rize

• Doyle Lawson

• Laurie Lewis

• Tony Rice

• Skaggs & Whitley

• Larry Sparks

• Rhonda Vincent

Generation 3 - The Innovators


Generation 4 the conservators l.jpg

examples (of 69): cloud

• Mike Bub

• Sidney & Suzanne Cox

• Stuart Duncan

• Rob Ickes

• Alison Krauss

• Rob & Ron McCoury

• Russell Moore

• Kenny & Valerie Smith

• Adam Steffey

• Ronnie Stewart

• Dan Tyminski

Generation 4 - The Conservators


Generation 5 the explorers l.jpg

examples (of 17): cloud

• Chapmans (except Bill)

• Michael Cleveland

• Ryan Holladay

• Sierra Hull

• Andy Leftwich

• Nickel Creek

• Brandon Rickman

• Ralph Stanley II

• Josh Williams

• Gabe Witcher

Generation 5 - The Explorers


When were they actively recording l.jpg
When were they actively recording? cloud

322725 252317Med.Age

1927194619591978199119981stRec


What other genres did they record l.jpg
What other genres did they record? cloud

(30)

(56)

(61)

(174)

(73)

(281)

Total (680)

1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec







What happened in the peak years for first recording l.jpg
What happened in the peak years cloudfor first recording?


What happened in the trough years for first recording l.jpg
What happened in the “trough” cloudyears for first recording?


Where were they born l.jpg
Where were they born? cloud

(40)

(52)

(66)

(496)

1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec


What states did they come from l.jpg
What states did they come from? cloud

Overall-

56%

1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec


Primary instrument overall l.jpg
Primary instrument (overall %) cloud

(198)

(157)

(105)

(97)

(82)

(20)

(21)


Overall instrument l.jpg

Ancestors cloud

Pioneers

Builders

Innovators

Overall (instrument %)

Conservators

Explorers


How many were women l.jpg
How many were women? cloud

(605)

(75)

Overall-

11%

1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec


Did they play in the blue grass boys l.jpg
Did they play in the Blue Grass Boys? cloud

Overall-

11%

1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec


How many were band leaders l.jpg
How many were band leaders? cloud

Overall-

33%

1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998 median 1st rec


How many were prodigies 1st recording younger than 18 or late bloomers after 40 l.jpg
How many were prodigies (1st recording younger than 18) or late bloomers (after 40)?

median 1st rec 1927 1946 1959 1978 1991 1998


Some observations l.jpg
Some observations late bloomers (after 40)?

  • Generations alternate between innovation and conservation.

  • In lean times, artists arise from the bluegrass heartland (NC, VA, TN, KY, WV).

  • Interest in bluegrass occurs in adolescence, followed by a 10-12 year apprenticeship, and a median recording career from ages 25 to 53.

  • Long careers “crowd the market” as generations overlap.

  • There is not one African-American or Hispanic in the database.


Some observations31 l.jpg
Some observations late bloomers (after 40)?

  • From 1936 to 1939, 28 banjo players were born.

    - 18% of all 157 banjo players in the database

    - 53% of all 54 musicians born in those 4 years

    - more than double the overall 23% rate of

    banjoists.

    • These included:

    Eddie Adcock Bill Emerson Allen Shelton

    J.D. Crowe Walter Hensley Roni Stoneman

    Doug Dillard Bill Keith Bobby Thompson

    Ben Eldridge Sonny Osborne Eric Weissberg


Some observations32 l.jpg
Some observations late bloomers (after 40)?

• 12-17 years later, Earl Scruggs released his first seven banjo instrumentals.

• Similar but less pronounced concentrations

occurred:

- among mandolin players who were 10-14

when Bill Monroe’s 1940-1942 Bluebirds

were released.

- among guitar players who were 10-15 in the

first flush of bluegrass lead guitar, 1960-1969.


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