In the last few months since I started working at WTJU 91.1 Charlottesville, I have been exposed to a locally favorite flavor, old-time. Basically the soundtrack to O’ Brother, Where Art Thou. Overall, it is alright. If that’s good enough for you, you can stop here. In the next few paragraphs, I will explain my stance on old-time music and its representation in Charlottesville today.
What is it?
Old-time music is the acoustic, European and early American music that was written down no sheet music or captured on old phono records at the turn of the 20th century. many of these songs are considered traditional folk classics passed down from one generation to the next with the known author to attribute the original melody to. The melody is used and reused and was a launching ground for modern American pop music today. Old-time, however, does not hold up to pop music of today and is in no way solely responsible for the exposition of new American pop music after 1900. Old-time is not the blues.
What it was.
With that being said I believe it is fair to say that a majority of the serving old-time folk and early-country played today had its spot in the limelight at one point. With absolutely no research into the subject, I can understand and imagine a band busting out “Oh Them Golden Slippers” in front of a large crowd and people getting down. Honestly, its a bop that ear-worm its way into your dreams and memories. Memories of the collective good old days when things were simple and people were bored.
The old-time performer of today.
Keeping the music alive is their goal but they are growing old. The music that is sparking with energy should be sparking with life. The performer is the song and the song is the performer. There is no way around it. I am not angry or accusing but just watch this video. Four elderly musicians seated singing hymns for the fun of it and keeping the music alive, barely. I want to believe they simply aren’t doing it justice. however, I believe that the music too has aged, worn beyond its use. interest has waned to academic and theatrical. this music is great to create a setting like “O’ Brother Where Art Thou” or for study on the early settlers of Appalachia, their beliefs values and practices. This is not club music. Nobody is running to it. Old-time doesn’t even play in old-time themed restaurants. It no longer moves us as a culture and that is FINE.
In conclusion, old is alright music that had its time that has since past. A relatively new revival has people twisting their ears to relive a golden hour that my well has never been seen. All in all old-time is underperformed and over appreciated in the Charlottesville community.