Last week I featured some traditional Scottish music. Old-time music or old-time string band music is a form of roots music. In contrast with its cousin bluegrass, old-time is deeply concerned with preserving, reviving, and building on the traditional music brought to America from Scotland, England, and Africa.
I’ve always strongly preferred old-time string bands over a bluegrass act. I say always, but I’ve only known the term “old-time” for about a decade. Before that, I just knew it as the music I grew up hearing at events around my small, southern Appalachian town, played by an old man with a fiddle or a mandolin. That, though, was music that was literally dying with the old men who played it. Early in the group’s history, the Carolina Chocolate Drops spent much of their time to Mebane, North Carolina to learn from a 90-year-old African-American fiddler named Joe Thompson. They weren’t just learning to make music, they were engaging in cultural anthropology and historical preservation.
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