Showing posts with label Brush Arbor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brush Arbor. Show all posts

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Brush Arbor Style

I’d fully intended to post the following entry on the brush arbor style this weekend, in connection with the Western Christian holidays of “All Saints Day” (November 1) and “All Souls’ Day” (November 2), the religious holidays that follow Halloween. It is therefore a little late, but the spirit was willing. According to Michael Jarrett, brush arbor is “a variety of sacred country music, similar to bluegrass, characterized by the collision of string-band delicacy and Pentecostal zeal” (p. 205). The brush arbor style takes its name from the Southern practice of making crude shelters that could be used as places of worship. According to Brush Arbor Quarterly:

The Brush Arbor meetings got their name from the crude structures under which these meetings took place. Brush arbors were roughed-in shelters made of upright poles driven into the ground over which long poles were laid across the top and tied together in lattice fashion to serve as support for a primitive roof of brush or hay that served to protect the worshippers [sic] and seekers from the elements.

In many rural areas during those years, no formal church existed. Small congregations were often unable to afford a full-time pastor or shepherd for the believing flock in their little community.

According to Jerry Sullivan (pictured, with Tammy Sullivan), the brush arbor style “is more like families sitting down with a guitar, maybe a mandolin, and playing. They followed the Carter Family sound a little bit. It’s a mixture between the country sound and bluegrass” (qtd. in Jarrett, p. 205). Michael Jarrett relates an anecdote that when Marty Stuart sent Bob Dylan a copy of Jerry and Tammy Sullivan’s brush arbor-inspired album, At the Feet of God (pictured, 1995), “he enclosed a note that read, ‘I hope you enjoy this backwoods, Southern, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel record’” (pp. 205-06).

The fictitious group, The Soggy Bottom Boys, featured in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), are an homage (of sorts) to the Stanley Brothers. Some of the “roots music” featured on that film’s soundtrack is inspired by the brush arbor style.

A Selection Of Country Gospel:

E. C. and Orna Ball, E. C. Ball with Orna Ball (Rounder)
The Chestnut Grove Quartet, The Legendary Chestnut Grove Quartet (County)
Alison Krauss and the Cox Family, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow (Rounder)
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Rock My Soul (Sugar Hill)
The Louvin Brothers, When I Stop Dreaming: The Best of the Louvin Brothers (Razor & Tie)
Jerry and Tammy Sullivan, At the Feet of God (New Haven)
The Whitstein Brothers, Sweet Harmony (Rounder)
Stanley Brothers, The Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers (Columbia/Legacy) [contains "Man of Constant Sorrow," covered by Bob Dylan on his first album]
Various, Something Got a Hold of Me: A Treasury of Sacred Music (RCA)
Various, Southern Journey Vol. 4: Brethren, We Meet Again (Rounder)