February 11

My tastes in bluegrass tend to fall on the progressive side of the tracks; Bela Fleck, John Hartford, the String Cheese Incident and the like.


I just dusted off my old copy of Old Train, 1973s recording by newgrass pioneers The Seldom Scene.

It’s funny now to imagine the uproar of the Bluegrass “traditionalists” of the day to a band like Seldom Scene… “Oh my, they’re playing a pop song in a Bluegrass style! That’s heresy!” “An electric bass!?! Get a rope!” Actually, many of the traditional superstars of the genre embraced the newcomers… or was it the other way around? Take a listen to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the Circle Be Unbroken sometime and you tell me.

Listening to Old Train today seems far from progressive, especially viewed through the lens of recent progressive Bluegrass trendsetters like Nickel Creek, or the success of a film soundtrack like O Brother, Where Art Thou? Here’s a video of progressives Ricky Skaggs and The Seldom Scene, you be the judge.

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