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Posted: 2011 07-18


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Why we have the word “prodigy”

If you’re not a string playing musician, this is gonna pick you right up. If you are a string playing musician, this is gonna just make ya sick.

These brothers haven’t even put out a record yet — but, God willing, they could break bluegrass into the mainstream.

Bill Monroe was the Father, Flatt & Scruggs loaded up the truck and moved to pop culture with “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” Bela Fleck and others pioneered Newgrass, and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" spread the word, but the skill and the hook of these cute young brothers might finally make bluegrass and musical ability widespread cool. As Letterman & Shaffer joke — This is Not the Jonas Brothers.

On first hearing, I'm thinkin', "I see, it's a banjo virtuoso with his two supporting brothers." Then when the fiddle comes in I'm like, "Oh, I guess two of them can play, and the guitar player's the rhythm." And then HE plays! :-0 — and do not miss his pickin' hand! Or that he's playing that whole solo by feel — not looking at either hand.

And it’s not just their ability and dexterity — but their sensibility. Bluegrass and jazz have the quickest bull-detection of any non-classical music form. You can’t fake it and make it in these worlds. And in all art forms there are prodigies. Many never mature into influential artists, and I’ve never “backed” a baby prodigy before — but I am in this case — cuz what I hear is a beyond-their-years understanding of the eternal source of the music they’re playing.

They’ve got the feel, the spirit, the soul of bluegrass — wooden music, mountain music, the tonality and essence — the joy and the sorrow of why bluegrass exists — the ups and downs that are as fast on strings as Charlie Parker was on saxophone.
Or life itself can be.

In interviews, these 8, 12, and 13 year old brothers are discussing Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs. I imagine a world where these sizzling siblings finally deliver bluegrass from the backwoods of Deliverance to the Hills of Beverly for real.


naturalears's picture

I've watched in dismay as music has been dumbed down over the last thirty years; but these guys break out of the mold to dazzle the audience. Like Monte Montgomery, Will Knaak,
Ariel Abshire and other 'kids' to come out of schools of thought that don't include sheet music, classrooms or traditional learning methods, these guys are the real deal. Families do it best, but woodshedding is always the correct answer, not self indulgent noodling.

I've been running Natural Ear Music for over two decades, teaching kids to play the hardest stuff they can. And they can!!!!

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9 year old banjo boy Jonny Mizzone and his brothers Tommy 13 on guitar, and Robbie 12 on fiddle perform "Flint Hill Special" by Earl Scruggs on the Late Show with David Letterman.

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