Rupp Arena of Contestation Americana

Rupp Arena of Contestation: With the Newbies of
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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