American music is something that has always managed to incorporate many, sometimes disparate, influences. A lot of this has to do with so many different cultures living and working together in the American “melting pot.”
Probably the quintessential American music, jazz, incorporated elements of European brass band music, African tribal music and southern blues. Bluegrass blended English reels with African-American blues phrasing. Rock and Roll blended country with rhythm and blues. Hip hop blended American funk with the Jamaican sound system’s thundering bass lines and dancehall toasting, eventually incorporating electronic music, rock, jazz and a myriad of other genres into the mix as well. Taking all of this into account, what we call “American” music is, in fact, a blend of influences from around the world, brought together on American soil and affected by the American experience.
Musicians are constantly looking to re-define what is thought of as “traditional” music and today I focus on three upcoming shows that feature artists that effectively blend traditional music with modern styles. Two are firmly rooted in American roots music while the third takes Eastern European music and mashes it up with experimental and global styles.