Stripped Down, What Is Country Music ?

bluegrassA few days ago I was thinking, what is country music when you strip it all down? When you remove the business, the show? For example, maybe when you stripped down Rock n’ Roll it would be a group of guys in a basement or a garage jamming out, or a juke box blaring in the corner, getting people to jump to their feet and dance.

Country music has always been a social media. It brings people together, especially in small towns. Back in the early days of the Grand Ole Opry, Roy Acuff used to open the show saying “Howdy friends and neighbors,” in front of a barnyard backdrop. This is because that is how country music got started, by friends and neighbors gathering together to play music. And even though the Opry was being broadcast to sometimes millions of people, they still wanted to convey the heart of what the music was. This was important, because if you couldn’t do that, the feeling, the soul of the music would not be there.

The bands or artists that really seem to move me are always the ones who can take that essential part of the music and convey it even through a recording, or a live performance in front of thousands of people. When you watch a rock show, if you feel like the performers are really having fun, like they’re just jamming in the basement, you feel that energy; it is conveyed through the music.

And if you’re watching a country or bluegrass show and you feel like your just watching a few people getting together in an old dining hall in a small town, or on the back porch of a cabin to pick and sing, that is where the meat, the nugget of country/bluegrass music is.

In other words, when you strip it all down, THIS is country music:

That was Rachel Brooke on guitar, “Banjer” Dan Mazer (from JB Beverly and the Wayward Drifters) on banjo, and Ziggie Zeitler on mandolin, at the White Crow Conservatory in Saginaw, Michigan.