108th Carnival of Education

February 28, 2007

Aristotle instructing Alexander, image from British Museum


Aristotle teaching Alexander.

Dr. Homeslice hosts the midway this week, the 108th run for the mortar boards.

Rich stuff. Good teachers in need of a union. Bad teachers. Flights of fancy. Coming down to Earth.

Is your contribution there?

Best in bluegrass? Not Tenacious D, certainly

February 28, 2007

Tenacious D fans may find it satisfying, but the bluegrass-styled tribute to D’s work is far from the heights of bluegrass, or even the heights of the odd marriage of rock or blues and bluegrass.

Bluegrass is a uniquely American invention, probably not really well defined until Bill Monroe and the Louvin Brothers started recording it in the first half of the 20th century. Bluegrass is an instrument set as well as a style of music — it usually should include guitar, mandolin, and banjo and bass. Solid bluegrass also includes a Dobro. Fiddle is optional, drums often detract from the music but may be added. Autoharp is an occasional addition — the Carter Family used autoharp with good effect, though they were not exactly in the middle of the bluegrass path.

The late Dick Dabney wrote an article for The Washingtonian in the 1980s that I have been unable to track down, in which he well defined for us lay people what defines bluegrass: The song is a story with consequences. Bad things happen, and people are sorry for the occurrences. Good things happen, too, but that’s to be expected.

Putting bluegrass instrumentation to Tenacious D tunes just doesn’t measure up to Dabney’s criteria, I fear.

Bluegrass could have a role in history classes, selected carefully. Below the fold, I’ll suggest some things you may want to listen to.

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