McClurg Jam

McClurg Jam

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bridges to the past

While I am sure others have done this, two modern performers bridged the chasm of time in Old Time music successfully. Jimmy Driftwood 1907-1998 and John Hartford 1937-2001 Both were immersed in OT and had successful careers in Pop music. Both wrote songs that were Old and New at the same time. As if these songs were written back in time yet they were written recently.

When you hear these songs you think, "this must be an old one..." and they are not.

Jimmy used a lot of old fiddle tunes with his lyrics to create many of his hits. Other times he wrote both music and lyrics with an OT feel. Now, you expert ears out there can pretty much tell which of these songs are real OT and modern. No fooling you!

As I have maintained here more than once, both performers are great examples of what can be done to keep OT alive as a living genre of music and not a museum piece of curiosity preserved by quirky nerds. Hmmmmmm? did I say nerds. Naw! We are really not nerds are we? Well, that's the topic for another post.
(No were not nerds)

Both men had real roots in OT. They themselves were "apostolic" in the succession of the tradition in their hands. By this I mean, the "fire" was literally passed down to them from others who were the real deal connected to the foggy past. Hartford and Driftwood were not made up self created performers on the style of Ramblin Jack Eliot or Bob Dylan. (not to diminish the real cred of these guys but they will never be thought of as roots performers grown from the soil)

So, here are songs by these guys to illustrate.

Jimmy's lyrics are the big difference here, in Soldiers Joy. I like his version best.

Along the way in learning to play OT I try to keep in mind that music is locked down in tradition like a bug trapped in Amber. Jimmy and John would tell you this is not the way to keep OT alive. Jimmy was my first OT influence. He planted the seed in me. It's later on when I encountered the straight up no mixer stuff that I responded with my heart and soul because the ground had been prepared well.

It's why I like Alferd Packer Memorial Stringband so much. Creativity within OT in the western context. Just brilliant.

They are excellent examples of what I am talking about here in the greater KC metro region. (in my opinion includes Lawrence)

I have said all this before. I will say it again. It just has to come out.

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