Band Names

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Some day you might be faced with the problem of choosing a name for your new band or helping your fellow bandmates decide among various possibilities. A band name can be an important way to identify your music and what you care about as a performer. It can be a straightforward identification of the musicians (e.g. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) or it can be a variation of that (e.g. The Traveling McCoury’s versus the Del McCoury band). It can be a statement of place. My old band was called Old Redwood Highway because we all lived along the 101 highway route. It can be a play on words like the Grass Menagerie (I need to discuss with John Erwin and Rick Cornish about how they came up with that particular name referencing the classic Tennessee Williams play but I’ll bet fellow welcome columnist Rick had a lot to do with it).

Here are some helpful suggestions for choosing your new band name courtesy of Chris Jones of Bluegrass Today:

Band names don’t have to be serious. They can be just for fun, like in a band scramble at a campout for example. My favorite band scramble band was called the Nose Flute Pickers and I think we might have gotten some extra points for originality because honestly we weren’t all that good compared to the other bands.

Sometimes band names change. First you have the Four Seasons. They get famous in part because of their great lead singer and suddenly you have Frankie Valli AND the Four Seasons. The Supremes went the same way when they featured Diana Ross.

Bluegrass Bands are not immune to this renaming phenomenon. Sometimes it’s a good  thing because a good band stays together while the star who is making most of everybody’s income gets to take more of his or her fair share. It might be better to be Gladys Knight but if you’re merely a Pip you can still make some good money.

To be honest, I like band names that feature each performer as an equal. The band might change personnel and founding members might have a more devoted following but they are still a unit: The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene, The Bluegrass Cardinals, The Bluegrass Patriots. Bluegrass music is a genre where everybody in the band can usually pick and everybody sings well together in beautiful harmony.

I guess there are exceptions. The Bluegrass Boys became Bill Monroe AND the Bluegrass Boys. That was appropriate for an icon that founded the style to get special recognition. Doyle Lawson started his bands out as Doyle Lawson and Foxfire, then Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. That’s fine. We recognize the big name and pay attention to the new band accordingly. But when one of my favorite bands, IIIrd Tyme Out became Russell Moore AND IIIrd Tyme out, that didn’t sit as well with me.

What are you favorite band names?

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