JD Crowe and the New South- Old Home Place

This is a video that’s got to date back to somewhere around the 70’s of the band called “JD Crowe And The New South.”

This band represents a major innovation in Bluegrass Music because till then, the music didn’t have nearly the sophistication that these 5 all star musicians brought to the table.

The band consisted of:

Ricky Scaggs, mandolin
Tony Rice, guitar
Bobby Sloan, bass
Jerry Douglas, dobro
JD Crowe, banjo

What do I mean by sophistication? Well, the timing and cleanliness of THe New South blew most everyone away that was a fan of Bluegrass Music in the mid 70s’- so much so that it created a new standard that many of the newest and tightest Bluegrass bands today still draw inspiration from.

With the exception of Bobby Sloan who is also an outstanding fiddler (left handed I might add), all the band members have had incredible careers- crossing over into many different music forms (with perhaps the exception of JD Crowe who still tours with his band The New South). Even with that, Crowe’s innovations both on the banjo and band is legendary and has influenced almost 2 generations of top flight musicians.

Unfortunately my favorite part of this classic song is Tony’s guitar break, which on this video is focused on his right hand instead of the left.. But it is note for note like the album cut (so is Jerry’s, JD’s and Ricky’s breaks). (If you are not familiar with what is known as a “break,” it is simply a solo section. This is what makes Bluegrass Music so unique and actually more similar to jazz than say country music.

Getting back to Tony’s solo…many guitar players might not know what is creating the fluid sound at the end of the break. This techniques is called “floaters” but Tony was not the first to do this. Floating technique is using any available open note in a scale or run instead of fretting the notes. These chord like patterns using open notes creates a harp like sustaining sound on the guitar. Floating guitar seems to only work on the acoustic, as it is too much sustain on an electric guitar.

Where did Tony Rice learn this from… it wasn’t Clarence???

The answer to that is a fellow New Jersey guitarist and friend of mine named Mike Scap, who showed Rice in a jam session the technique. Rice was amazed and created some of his own interpretations of Scaps floaters.  The actual technique however has been around a long time in classical music, but with fingers and not a flatpick.

I will be discussing this style more in upcoming videos, as that particular technique is the crazy way I learned how to flatpick guuitar, only, I got the concept from Bobby Thompson and not any of these guitarists I’ve mentioned.



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