When you think of the legends of bluegrass music, what names come to mind? Monroe? Flatt and Scruggs? Wiseman? Stanley?
Why is that? Why are those the names you come to? It’s because those artists were original. Regardless of you Bluegrass style preferences you recognize them for their originality. Nobody remembers the guy who sounds like Josh Graves, you remember Uncle Josh.
The reason I bring this up is just a few months ago I met a musician who was not only supremely talented but played his instrument with a style and enthusiasm that set him apart from others and I was pumped. I saw the same guy again recently and he was different. He was much more tame and “normie” he explained that a band member made him tone the “him” down to fit the “normie” style….and I was disgusted. I told him man, don’t let people tone your artist down.
There are so many people that work so hard to sound like Rice, Scruggs, Skaggs, Crowe or whomever that it makes the feat seem mundane. These are the people I call “normies” They put all their effort into sounding just like someone else that they lose all their…..them. The problem with “normies” is they not only suck the life out of Originality but they also force their status quo on the rest of the music. “That’s not how Bill did it” (eye roll)
Be you, soak up the legends and hero’s, find what made them great (to you) and then find that thing that makes you…you and cultivate it.
Will everyone like it? Hell no. The normies won’t like it because they can’t be you. You might not play that Reno lick note by note like Don did but you can sure as *bleep* play it like you.
“normies” will try hard to fit your circle block in their square wholes but eventually you will need to cut your own path and run.
Be original, be you and when the “normies” start their squawking….smile and be you even louder!
Justin Mason, Florida Bluegrass Network