The Old-Time String Band Ensemble (ETHNMUS 91 and 161Z, section 3), listed in the Schedule of Classes as the Bluegrass and Old-Time String Ensemble, formerly the Anglo-American Ensemble, performs traditional music of rural America. Old-Time is a genre of music that has roots in very old traditional music cultures. It is as much African-American in nature as it is Scots-Irish. This ensemble will delve into the exciting old-time sub-genres of Appalachian fiddle and banjo music, Mid-West fiddle tunes, North Carolina and Georgia string band music, Cajun/Creole fiddle, traditional bluegrass, country blues and jug band music to name a few. This is the early country music of America in its crooked, colorful, droney, funky, lonesome, soulful, danceable and back porch glory.

Unlike mainstream country music, old-time relies heavily on acoustic stringed instruments. The fiddle, 5-string banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass/cello and lap dulcimer are frequently played. They may be joined by spoons, washboards, jugs, harmonica, jaw harp, piano, accordion and even earlier gourd and minstrel versions of the banjo. Instrumentation is usually dictated by the regional old-time style of a particular instrumental piece or song.

Students wishing to participate in this ensemble should already play one of the instruments used in old-time music, or have some experience singing in old-time, southern hymn, or bluegrass styles. Students should be prepared to bring their own instruments to the evening sessions, as the department does not have these instruments in its collection. If you are a truly devoted beginner, David Bragger will help guide you as well.

Welcome to the string band music of “the Old, Weird America.”

Director: David Bragger

For information on the history of this ensemble, go to Ensemble History: Anglo-American Ensemble