Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Classical Meets Bluegrass in the Goat Rodeo Sessions

I’ve got this thing for fiddles. My friends and family don’t really understand it — what’s a city gal doing listening to bluegrass and country music? Sure, they’re pretty broad-minded with their music. They listen to rock and pop, classical and jazz, but down-home, folksy, Americana music with fiddles and banjos? Definitely not their cup of tea.

So when the whole hipster thing started up, I was delighted. I can do without all the ironic facial hair and lumberjack plaid, but the hipster penchant for folk music is right up my alley.  From Mumford and Sons to The Civil Wars, the twang of the banjo and toe-tapping sounds of the fiddle have gone mainstream.

The musicians of the "Goat Rodeo Sessions" (Source: Classical Archives)

Recently, I stumbled upon an amazing collaboration between Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Stuart Duncan (fiddle, banjo, mandolin), Edgar Meyer (bass, piano, gamba), and Chris Thile (mandolin, guitar, gamba). The collaboration is known as “The Goat Rodeo Sessions,” and has become one of my favorite albums to date. According to Wikipedia, “The term ‘goat rodeo‘ refers to a chaotic situation where many things have to go right in order for it to work, a reference to the unusual and challenging aspects of blending classical and bluegrass music.”

The result, however, is nothing short of fantastic. It calls to mind the work of earlier classical composers like Aaron Copland, who wove folk-inspired songs of the “common man” into his work (for those of you in the US who remember the “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” campaign, the theme song was taken from Copland’s “Rodeo“).

The song below, the first track off of the Goat Rodeo Sessions album, just plain makes me feel good, and the video brings a smile to my face. There’s nothing like watching four amazing musicians perform together, and look like they’re having a blast doing it.

Has anyone stumbled upon awesome new music lately? Rave and recommend in the comments below!

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  1. That was awesome! I love bluegrass and fiddles and banjos and Irish music, which is sort of all combined in this one song.

    I like a group called Secret Garden, who are sort of a new age Celtic group, mostly instrumental but some vocals. I was delighted when I stumbled upon their music.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m going to head over to Amazon now and pick up a copy of this cd. I love it!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. I always want to love bluegrass, but I can’t handle the fiddles. I have super sensitive ears and those squeaky notes just grind on me. If I listen from a distance it’s not so bad and I can enjoy the music!

    I’m going to have to check out Secret Garden that Patricia mentioned. I do love Celtic music.
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  3. Karen McFarland

    May 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Okay Lena, that was really cool! Yo Yo Ma playing cello with a bluegrass band. Who would have thunk? Very cool. Now have I stumbled across any new music lately? Sorry to say, I haven’t. And I’m bummed out about it too. I haven’t taken the time to widen out in the music department. I feel stuck if you must know. What does Hugh listen to? That’s what I want to know! 🙂

  4. “What’s a city gal doing listening to bluegrass and country music? ” Simple, sometimes you get fed up with the loud sounds.
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