Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Homemade Hillbilly Jam (documentary)

It's kinda funny - I've always "known" what a hillbilly was and what hillbilly music is, but in this documentary, they ask people to define "hillbilly" and I have to admit that I don't have a definition of what would constitute a hillbilly. Hillbilly music is - in my opinion, anyway - just another term for bluegrass music, a precursor to Country or C&W music. But I guess I can't define what makes someone a hillbilly, unless they're a copy of the Mountain Dew mascot.

In any case, this docu centers on the band, Big Smith, a modern Appalachian bluegrass combo made up of relative youngsters from an extended family in the Ozarks. Their genetic, religious harmonies are pretty terrific and they are shown in a club date (where they actually do bluegrass, country and even jug band numbers), at home making music with their family (many of who are or have been performers themselves), at church, and performing acapella, and casual acoustic duets or trios.

Some kin-folk continue to sing in the tiny, local church, one is a preacher in a kinda mega-church, and some continue a combo that executes a form of a vaudeville tradition that they have done for decades.But, they all come back for family reunions and sing and play in their living rooms, as well.

Very homemade, very casual (people are hanging out in the background, eating, rummaging through cupboards and chit-chatting while someone is being interviewed), somewhat low-budget and certainly not a definitive study on the subject (which it is not trying to be, of course), but this does show the continued and increasing interest in this style of music today.