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Musical Listening Timeline

After finishing my three-part series "Tracing the Banjo Addiction," I decided to compile my musical listening timeline to show all my shifts in taste over my lifetime. These date ranges are as accurate as I can remember and include my favorite artists at the time.

1979 / I Am Born: Disco tops the charts, New Wave emerges, and Bob Seger pleads for that "Old Time Rock and Roll."

1979-1987 / The Early Years: Memories of popular hits like the Police's "I'll Be Watching You" and Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes," going to my first Kent State Folk Festival, and my parents' influence of the Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, and the "folksingers" of the 1960s.

1986 / First Album: Bon Jovi, "Slippery When Wet," a Christmas gift from my uncle.

1986-1992 / Hair Bands: Poison, Gun N' Roses, and Aerosmith.

1991 / First Concert: Beach Boys at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, June 1, 1991.

1992-1993 / Blowing in the Wind: A brief period of Bob Dylan worship.

1993-1999 / White Boy Blues: My dad always loved B.B. King and Eric Claption, which got me started on my first musical obsession, poring through liner notes and learning about older musicians like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Son House, and Leadbelly. Blues always seemed to fill the gaps of my early musical phases.

1991-1994 / Grunge: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots.

1994-1996 / Guitarist, Not: I got a guitar for Christmas, took lessons for a few months, tried to be in a couple bands with limited knowledge, and gave up the dream because I couldn't play like Tonie Joy.

1994-1998 / Punk: The local punk rock scene in Kent, Ohio, was strong, with many of the bands from my high school and Kent State (Harriet the Spy, Party of Helicopters) influencing my interest in early punk (Clash, Blondie, Sex Pistols), the D.C. scene (Minor Threat, Nation of Ulysses), and the Kill Rock Stars/West Coast groups (Huggy Bear, Jawbreaker, Universal Order of Armageddon). Lots of nights spent at the Europe Gyro and the "Spy House" at 319 E. Summit St.

1996-2000 / Rockabilly and Swing: Starting in my junior year of high school, I got interested in "greaser" culture. I wore white T-shirts, rolled up my jeans, and started smoking cigarettes. Bands like the Stray Cats, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Royal Crown Revue, Brian Setzer Orchestra, and Count Basie were my thing.

1997 / Discovered Tom Waits: Introduced to "The Piano Has Been Drinking."

1998 / Discovered Johnny Cash: Bought an old best-of LP from a thrift store.

1998-2001 / Jazz: My interest in swing music, as well as a fixation with the Beat Generation, developed into an interest in experimental jazz, with Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.

2000 / "O Brother, Where Art Thou?": The first step?

2000-2001 / Do I Like Country? After becoming obsessed with the "O Brother" soundtrack, I briefly explored country styles with Allison Krauss, Cash, and Woody Guthrie.

2000-2004 / Classic Rock: My first attempt at being a fan of country music was derailed by my second Bob Dylan period and an exploration of music from the 1960s and '70s, with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Patti Smith, and Iggy Pop.

1999-2004 / Stoner Rock: One of my closest friends at the time was a big fan of bands like Clutch and Primus, which spurred my interest in heavier music.

2004-2007 / The Wander Years: My tastes began to drift at the end of college and into my early post-graduate years. My tastes varied between indie rock (Okkervil River, Modest Mouse), alt-country (Uncle Tupelo, Whiskey Town), and classic country (Hank Williams, Cash).

2006-2007 / All Banjo, All the Time: This time period was the tipping point of my journey toward learning to play the banjo. I started to delve into early country artists (Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers), got my first taste of old-time music (Smithsonian Folkways "Classic Old-Time Music," Forge Mountain Diggers), explored bluegrass (Flatt & Scruggs, Ralph Stanley), returned to listening to the "O Brother" soundtrack, and became increasingly obsessed with modern banjo-toting, roots-inspired groups like Old Crow Medicine Show, The Avett Brothers, Chatham County Line, Gillian Welch, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Great Lake Swimmers.

2007-Present / Just Old-Time: While I bought my first album of purely old-time music in 2007, I didn't really understand that "old-time" was the name of an actual genre until I learned about clawhammer banjo in late 2008. Like many, I lumped it in with bluegrass or early country. Now, old-time is the dominant music I listen to and the only style I play.


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