Quick! How many stylistic variations of bluegrass music can you name?
Thats not a trick question, although it could be.
The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, defines bluegrass as A type of folk music that originated in the southern USA, typically played on banjos and guitars and characterized by rapid tempos and jazzlike improvisation.
Thats about as succinct a description as I can imagine of this joyful and storied genre. But what that blunt assessment ignores is that there are many different types of bluegrass some traditional in nature, and some less so. The purists will tell you theres only one true bluegrass, and that was shaped by the late Kentuckian Bill Monroe a legendary figure of American roots music, who outlined the parameters of the style and coined its name with his Blue Grass Boys in the late 30s.
However, since that time, bluegrass has grown in fits and spurts, and luckily for us (but perhaps to Monroes eternal chagrin), it has proven itself to be among the most elastic of American musics.
These days, you can see and hear the distinct influence and echoes of his creation in all manner of venues around the world, from outdoor festivals and fairs that specialize in keeping the flame alive, to smokey rock clubs known more for skin pops than cut time.
Whether its called bluegrass, newgrass (a term for the mid-70s revival that found the genre merging with the country-rock movement), jamgrass (an extension of newgrass appealing to followers of longwinded psychedelic acts like The Grateful Dead and Leftover Salmon), or even Hellgrass (a term preferred by the flamboyant and intense local banjoist Jimmy Wolling) this driving, country variant is more popular now than ever before.
So, lets add another appellation to this Appalachian art form: TwoGrass.
Thats the name the married couple of Eddie and Martha Adcock have given to both their latest album, and to their own unique approach, which freely incorporates aspects of traditional bluegrass, as well as country, gospel, folk, blues, jazz, rock and rockabilly.
This celebrated duo has a knack for finding common denominators between disparate styles, and weaving them together into something most unique.
While each has played professionally for ages, their partnership (both personal and musical) began in earnest just over thirty years ago, and in fact, is intrinsically linked to famed luthier Randy Wood, whos now bringing their act to his Bloomingdale concert hall.
He remembers clearly the day this talented couple first met.
Oh, Lord, Ive known Eddie and Martha since 71 or 72, he recounts.
I was teachin Martha to cut pearl inlays in my guitar shop in Nashville, and Eddie came in and stole her. (Laughs) She only worked for me for a few weeks. Next thing I knew, I turned around one morning and they were both gone. They went out on the road, and I didnt see em again for six months or so.
Over the next several years, the two played with a variety of bands, before settling into the comfortable groove of a life built around art, companionship and constant travel. For a while, they were even a popular draw at River Streets infamous Night Flight Café.
Since then, theyve earned multiple Grammy nods as well as praise for their outstanding instrumental skills and their wholesome, family-oriented live shows.
Wood says hes proud to have them.
Eddies probably forgotten more banjo than most peopled ever know. Hes a world-class guitarist, and Marthas a great singer. Its a good, clean show.
The duo is known for a homespun sense of humor that Randy says is not at all contrived.
Eddies a natural comic. He cant help himself. Plus, his looks are kinda comical, too. (Chuckles) Its always a real fun evening when theyre on stage.
Wood says that due to the small size of his concert hall (it only seats 100), this show is likely to sell out. He encourages people to act fast if they want a seat.
I cant say enough good things about the Adcocks. Theyre great people and we love both of em to death.
Fri., 7:30 pm, Randy Woods Concert Hall (Bloomingdale). Advance tickets on sale now - call 748-1930 for more information.