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Owens & Druha Trava to Headline at EWOB & Tour Europe
Besides being an incredibly fun type of music to listen to and play,
bluegrass music is interesting from a cultural perspective. Most fans agree the classic sound of bluegrass
music jelled in America in the mid-40s when Earl Scruggs, with his unique style
of three finger banjo playing, joined Bill Monroe & his Blue Grass
Boys—including Monroe on mandolin, Lester Flatt on guitar, Chubby Wise on
fiddle and Cedric Rainwater (Howard Watts) on bass. The genre was born in America and
imported around the world, as evidenced by the depth of talent booked for the
10th annual European World of Bluegrass events in Voorthuizen, The
Netherlands, May 17-19.
The roots of bluegrass music, however—the influences that combined in
Bill Monroe’s imagination and musical background, even the instruments
themselves, have very international roots. Monroe was influenced by Scottish and Irish
dance music, in addition to gospel music at church and old-time English ballads
he heard his mother play on the banjo and his
Uncle Pen play on the fiddle. Bill
always credited the “high, lonesome sound” in bluegrass to the influence of blues
guitarist Arnold Shultz, an African American neighbor he played music with as a
boy. The banjo itself comes from Africa, and of course the original designs for guitars,
violins and mandolins all came from Europe. The Dobro, bluegrass music’s “sixth child”
added the line-up later when popularized by Josh Graves in the Flatt &
Scruggs Band, was invented by two immigrants from Slovakia, the Dopyera
Brothers. Bill Monroe’s family on his
mother’s side, the Vandivers, were of Dutch heritage.
Bluegrass is sociologically
interesting in one respect because its roots were drawn from a number of
international influences, they combined and jelled into a classic form in the United States,
and then the music went back out into the world. Today, scores of fans enjoy listening to bluegrass
music and many great bands play it literally around the globe.
The Andy Owens & Druha Trava European tour in May is a graphic
portrait of the international personality of our music, an illustration of
influences combining on one stage to play a common music.