I play with a lot of old time players who play everything from dulcimers to autoharps and I do a basic "boom-chuck" rythm when playing with them and try to mininize the bass runs when playing with them. The folks I play with are looking for a old-time straight rythm and nothing fancy.
I would expect different people play it differently according to who you are playing with. It never hurts to just ask and see what they are looking for as far as their sound goes.
I've played with some fiddlers who LOVE it when I play bass runs, and others who stop and scream at me to "Stop that!" if I dare to do one. So, you gotta know your fiddler. Also, it depends on the other instruments playing---if you've got a bass player, then you have to dance around with him---if he does bass runs, then go heavy on your treble chops (unless, of course, there's a mando player.....but not likely in a dance band). If the bass player is just a 1-5 kinda guy, then you can mess around. If you have an old time banjo combined with a fiddler....whooeee, then your role as a guitarist becomes pretty minimal....just simplify and minimilize. It's all about context, I reckon. My favorite combo is a good fiddler, a 1-5 bass guy (he's just keeping the dancer's feet hitting the floor in time) and me. Then I get to have some fun!
But your best bet is to learn from Steve Kilby---he's the BEST! Check out all his great instructional stuff.
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