Old Time Music and New String Bands

I was asked the difference between bluegrass and old time string bands, a distinction I mentioned in a previous post. The real difference between bluegrass and old time music is quite simple and easy to detect.  See below for a brief explanation.

Bluegrass focuses on each instrument taking a turn playing the melody and speedy improvising around it, while the others revert to backing; in this it is quite similar to jazz. I once saw someone refer to bluegrass as solo-oriented.

Old Time music is a simpler and older tradition that features all instruments playing the basic melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment; it lacks the shared improvisation and the solo-orientation so crucial to bluegrass. Think “O, Brother, Where art Thou?”

Though they share instruments, there are definite differences. With that in mind, I will provide you with another list.

This one is of The Top Ten Newish Old Time String Bands .

  1. Old Crow Medicine Show
  2. Avett Brothers
  3. Carolina Chocolate Drops
  4. Uncle Earl
  5. Foghorn String Band
  6. Abigail Washburn (a solo artist backed by a string band)
  7. Crooked Jades
  8. Freight Hoppers
  9. Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops
  10. The Mammals

There you go. Again, check any of them out and you can’t go wrong. They are all available on Amazon and iTunes. I will confess a personal preference for the virtuosity inherent in bluegrass. However, there are times when I prefer the sweet melody and toe-tapping, old time stuff.

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