The Meyer Bluegrass Band from rural Sheldon, Missouri, has been playing to audiences in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and Kansas for the last two years, performing a variety of bluegrass and gospel songs.
Bluegrass refers to several species of grasses of the genus Poa (with the most famous being the Kentucky bluegrass)
The term has also been applied to various things that relate to the region in which the grass grows:
American folk music
Country music is a genre of American popular music that originated in the rural regions of the Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from the southeastern genre of American folk music and Western music. Blues modes have been used extensively throughout its recorded history. Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars, fiddles, and harmonicas.
The term country music gained popularity in the 1940s in preference to the earlier term hillbilly music; it came to encompass Western music, which evolved parallel to hillbilly music from similar roots, in the mid-20th century. The term country music is used today to describe many styles and subgenres. In 2009 country music was the most listened to rush hour radio genre during the evening commute, and second most popular in the morning commute in the United States.
American folk music is a musical term that encompasses numerous genres, many of which are known as traditional music, traditional folk music, contemporary folk music or roots music. Roots music is a broad category of music including bluegrass, country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American music. The music is considered American either because it is native to the United States or because it developed there, out of foreign origins, to such a degree that it struck musicologists as something distinctly new. It is considered "roots music" because it served as the basis of music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
Many roots musicians do not consider themselves to be folk musicians; the main difference between the American folk music revival and American "roots music" is that roots music seems to cover a slightly broader range, including blues and country.
Culture of the Southern United States
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of Appalachia. It has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English traditional music, and also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements.
Immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland arrived in Appalachia in the 18th century, and brought with them the musical traditions of their homelands. These traditions consisted primarily of English and Scottish ballads—which were essentially unaccompanied narrative—and dance music, such as Irish reels, which were accompanied by a fiddle. Many older Bluegrass songs come directly from the British Isles. Several Appalachian Bluegrass ballads, such as Pretty Saro, Barbara Allen, Cuckoo Bird and House Carpenter, come from England and preserve the English ballad tradition both melodically and lyrically. Others, such as The Twa Sisters, also come from England; however, the lyrics are about Ireland. Some Bluegrass fiddle songs popular in Appalachia, such as "Leather Britches", and "Pretty Polly", have Scottish roots. The dance tune Cumberland Gap may be derived from the tune that accompanies the Scottish ballad Bonnie George Campbell. Other songs have different names in different places; for instance in England there is an old ballad known as "A Brisk Young Sailor Courted Me", but exactly the same song in North American Bluegrass is known as "I Wish My Baby Was Born".
Southern United States
The Culture of the Southern United States, or Southern Culture, is a subculture of the United States that is perhaps America's most distinct, in the minds both of its residents and of those in other parts of the country. The combination of its unique history and the fact that many Southerners maintain—and even nurture—an identity separate from the rest of the country has led to its being the most studied and written about region of the United States.
"More than any other part of America, the South stands apart. Thousands of Northerners and foreigners have migrated to it...but Southerners they will not become. For this is still a place where you must have either been born or have 'people' there, to feel it is your native ground.
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—is an area comprising the southeastern and south-central United States. The region is known for its culture and history, having developed its own customs, musical styles and varied cuisines that have helped distinguish it in some ways from the rest of the United States. The Southern ethnic heritage is diverse and includes strong European (mostly English, Scotch-Irish and Scottish), African, and some Native American components. Several Southern states (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) were English Colonies that sent delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence and then fought against the English along with the Northern Colonists during the Revolutionary War. The basis for much Southern culture derives from the pride in these states being among the 13 original colonies (and much of the population of the South had fore-fathers who emigrated west from these colonies). Manners and customs reflect the early population of the South's relationship with England as well as that of Africa and to some extent the native populations.
Some other aspects of the historical and cultural development of the South have been influenced by an early support for the doctrine of states' rights, the institution of slave labor on plantations in the Lower South; the presence of a large proportion of African Americans in the population; and the legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, as seen in thousands of lynchings (mostly from 1880 to 1930), the segregated system of separate schools and public facilities known as "Jim Crow", that lasted until the 1960s, and the widespread use of poll taxes and other methods to frequently deny blacks of the right to vote or hold office until the 1960s. In more modern times, however, the South has become the most integrated region of the country and race-relations on par with those elsewhere. Since the late 1960s blacks have held and currently hold many high offices, such as mayor and police chief, in many cities such as Atlanta and New Orleans.
Michelle Nixon is a bluegrass and acoustic country music artist. Born Michelle Denice Thurston on December 10, 1963 she grew up in central Virginia where she became involved in music at an early age. Nixon joined her first band at the age of 14, embarking on a musical journey that found her singing a variety of gospel and classic country music with different Virginia based bands. Gathering inspiration and style from, among others, Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris, Nixon quickly developed her own powerful sound.
William Smith Monroe (September 13, 1911 – September 9, 1996) was an American mandolinist who helped create the style of music known as bluegrass. The genre takes its name from his band, the "Blue Grass Boys", named for Monroe's home state of Kentucky. Monroe's performing career spanned 60 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. He is often referred to as The Father of Bluegrass.
Monroe was born on his family's farm near Rosine, Kentucky, the youngest of eight children of James Buchanan "Buck" and Malissa (Vandiver) Monroe. His mother and her brother, Pendleton "Pen" Vandiver, were both musically talented, and Monroe and his family grew up playing and singing at home. Bill was of Scottish heritage. Because his older brothers Birch and Charlie already played the fiddle and guitar, Bill Monroe was resigned to playing the less desirable mandolin. He recalled that his brothers insisted he should remove four of the mandolin's eight strings so he would not play too loudly.