Discovering the Roots of Bluegrass

At Music Discovery on June 23 at AMUSE, the Windy Ridge Bluegrass Band transported us in time  from  18th century Appalachian tunes, through contemporary Bluegrass music that is popular around the world.   The band members are all local artists, including Claire Wagner, who teaches banjo at AMUSE,  and fiddler Gwen Koyanagi, who demonstrated a variety of techniques used to create the haunting sounds of Bluegrass on violin.  Hear selections from the band’s album at  “Old Windows”.  The Beach City Cloggers added pizzazz with free-style dancing and lessons for the audience.

Windy Ridge Bluegrass Band, with Claire Wagner, banjo and vocals, Kevin Rhue, mandolin and vocals, Tom Lambert, upright bass and vocals, Gwen Koyanagi, fiddle, and Tim Bryant, guitar and vocals

Windy Ridge Bluegrass Band, with Claire Wagner, banjo and vocals, Kevin Rhue, mandolin and vocals, Tom Lambert, upright bass and vocals, Gwen Koyanagi, fiddle, and Tim Bryant, guitar and vocals

While Bluegrass has its roots in Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English old-time music, it was later influenced by African-American jazz elements.  The word “Bluegrass” was adopted in the late 1950’s and was derived from Bill Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys, which included banjo prodigy Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt.  Today’s singer-songwriters include Gillian Welch, a San Fernando Valley native best known for the platinum-selling soundtrack to the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” starring George Clooney.  Hear Gillian at her website www.gillianwelch.com.

Music Discovery Chair Sandra Clay introducing the Windy Ridge Bluegrass Band and Beach City Cloggers at AMUSE

Music Discovery Chair Sandra Clay introducing the Windy Ridge Bluegrass Band and Beach City Cloggers at AMUSE

Thank you to Music Discovery chair Sandra Clay, and Vice-chairs Ann Ehrenclou and Lois Moore for bringing us this refreshing evening of music, complete with home-made pulled pork sandwiches and all the fixin’s.

Our toe-tapping crowd

Our toe-tapping crowd

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