Yesterday and last night was the second in a series of “Music at the White House” – a series started by Mrs. Obama. The first was Jazz at the White House, featuring some of the greats, including the Marsalis family, Paquito D’Rivera, Tony Madruga, Zach Brown, Kush Abadey and Elijah Easton, who is a 17-year-old student at the Duke Ellington School of Music.
Last Night’s performance featured Country greats Charley Pride and Brad Paisley, as well as Bluegrass giants Allison Krauss and Union Station. Earlier, Paisley, Krauss and Union Station taught 120 middle and high school music students from Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia about music and song writing.
Now, BTx3 has some West Virginia Hilltop roots – so I got exposed to, and gained an appreciation of Bluegrass at an early age. One of my cousins was the subject of a PBS special on the roots of Country Music. (That’s right, black folks played old-tyme country music as well, creating the fusion that would eventually diverge to become modern country, R&B, and rock.)
Make no mistake about it, whether in the Country or Bluegrass genre, these guys are a) serious musicians, and b) serious vocalists. Unlike Hip-Hop and the current excuse for Rock music, you can’t cover up a lack of vocal talent or musical skill by overdriving the electronic noise.
Some years ago I was in Nashville on business, and was invited to sit in at one of the studios to listen to a recording being made. I was quite surprised when I ran into Stanley Turrentine, who I knew because he played local jam sessions near his home in Fort Washington, Maryland. He introduced me to Earl Klugh, who was also there to lay down a track for a Country Music heavyweight. I looked in askance at Earl, who before I could voice the question responded – “It’s about the music. These guys are serious musicians, who want the best musicians they can get to play with them”.
If you haven’t heard it, or enjoy some of this style of music like I do – here are a few bits –
This is “Modern” Bluegrass by Allison Krauss and Union Station – one of the differences between Bluegrass and Country tends to be use of acoustic versus electric instruments…
This is the more traditional style by Allison Krauss and Union Station back in 1991 –
This is Brad Paisley with Allison Krauss –
And last but not least is Charley Pride with his mega-hit – “Kiss and Angel Good Morning”-