Friday, March 30, 2012

Success has more than one father

With the passing of Earl Scruggs, many of the newspaper articles described him as the "father of bluegrass."   When Bill Monroe died in 1996 most of those article described him in the same terms.   So which is right?   You could make the case that Monroe deserves the title because he actually gave Scruggs (and Flatt) their first big opportunity with the Bluegrass Boys in the late 1940s.

But you can also make the case the Scruggs, who had more broad based commercial success is the father of bluegrass.

In reality, both deserve the title.  Monroe spent several decades building a sound and in giving a group of distinguished musicians the opportunity to play.  A wide range of careers were started with the Bluegrass Boys from Del McCoury, to Chubby Wise, to Bill Keith, to Flatt and Scruggs- all had their start with Monroe.

But Flatt and Scruggs opened this music to a range of new listeners from venues where Monroe was mostly not present.  And he mentored a lot of different prominent musicians.

Music evolves as people interpret it.   Thus, the like many other things in life there is certainly room for more than one father of bluegrass.

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