Rupp Arena of Contestation Americana

| April 1, 2002

Rupp Arena of Contestation: With the Newbies of Americana, Jimmy Dean Smith,
The soundtrack to 'O Brother, Where Art Thou,' last year's movie by the Cohen brothers, won album of the year at the Grammys and it popularized what hadn't been cool before: bluegrass music. So, when Jimmy Dean Smith of goes to 'Down on the Mountain,' the soundtrack-based tour celebrating traditional bluegrass, he expects a clash of cultures between the authentic mountain culture and the 'newbie culture of the middle-class writer and his Chardonnay-sipping, running shoe-wearing cohorts.' Smith finds himself amidst that group of bourgeois intellectuals that shares an interest in bluegrass' authenticity, but at the same time, he recognizes he's like every other self-conscious baby boomer which earlier endorsed Cajun and Celtic music when it was played on National Public Radio. The entire scene -- with its tweed jackets and jeans, and its New Yorker subscribers -- leaves Smith, a long-time bluegrass enthusiast and Kentucky native, disappointed in the fickleness of music fans.
--Kate Garsombke
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