Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Louvin Brothers and brother duets

(A hinnae pit ocht on ma blog aboot music in a brave while, so here's a wee yin that'll hiddae dae)

I've been re-listening to lots of the old 1920s - 1950s "brother duet" style of hillbilly and old-time gospel music. The simplicity is just marvellous, two brothers with instinctive untaught harmony singing, often learned in the simple rural churches where they grew up, and traditionally just a guitar/mandolin combination as the only instrumentation.

It's not just that I like this style, in the sense of subjective taste. I have an affinity for it in all its rustic roughness, a sense of connection that goes far beyond just enjoyment. I'm sure it's cultural, an example of the Ulster-Scots-American fusion of styles and faith that emerged from the revivals of the 1850s both here and in America. But that's a whole other blog post!

Meanwhile here are a few YouTube clips about brother duets and the Louvin Brothers in particular. As the voiceover of the first clip says, "Baptists of the hellfire and brimstone variety!"