Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and it is a sub-genre of country music. It has its own roots in Irish, Scottish and English traditional music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland (particularly the Scots-Irish immigrants in Appalachia), as well as jazz and blues. In bluegrass, as in jazz, each instrument takes a turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others revert to backing; this is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment. Bluegrass is distinctively acoustic in instrumentation, not using electrical instruments of any kind.
Notable artists[edit | edit source]
First Generation[edit | edit source]
- Bill Monroe Considered the father of bluegrass music. Can be a little harsh to listen for beginners.
- Stanley Brothers Contemporary with Bill Monroe. Carter Stanely, in my opinion, had one of the most purest voices in bluegrass.
- Jimmy Martin played with Bill Monroe. Commonly called the King of Bluegrass. He was a hard living man, but an amazing singer and frontman.
- Flatt and Scruggs. Some people say that when they joined Bill Monroe, that's when bluegrass started. They left Bill Monroe and started their own band, doing VERY well in the bluegrass world.
- Reno and Smiley. Reno ALMOST joined Bill Monroe, but went to war and Scruggs filled his spot. Red Smiley is another voice that is amazing.
- Osborne Brothers. These guys added drums and steel guitar to bluegrass. They also did a vocal stack of high lead, low baritone and lower tenor. One of my favourite bands.
- Jim and Jesse. Brought those amazing "brother harmonies" like this Louvin Brother song. Also brought cross picking (mandolin and George Shuffler on guitar) to bluegrass.
- The Country Gentlemen Charlie Waller (January 19, 1935 – August 18, 2004) was the lead singer and guitarist for the legendary bluegrass band the Country Gentlemen. Waller was involved with the Country Gentlemen for 47 years. As a member of the Country Gentlemen, Waller was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1996.
Second Generation[edit | edit source]
Third Generation[edit | edit source]
- Tony Rice Unit
- The Bluegrass Album Band
- Newgrass Revival - second iteration. Bela Fleck with Sam Bush and John Cowan on vocals. Pat Flynn floating guitar picking. Crazy stuff.
- Nashville Bluegrass Band. Stuart Duncan sold his soul to play fiddle like that.
- Johnson Mountain Boys. Let's go back to the roots. With Dudley Connell. I love Dudley.
Current[edit | edit source]
Sub-Genre[edit | edit source]
- [Bluegrass Gospel]
Cross-overs[edit | edit source]
- Slaughter of the Bluegrass is a band that plays unplugged versions of metal hit songs. The first hit song recorded was At The Gates - Blinded By Fear, which drew some attention on the internet, and was aired on swedish radio. The song was recorded in Studio Precision, Stockholm, Sweden in July 2008.
- Redgrass Chinese classical and Bluegrass.
- Gangstagrass Bluegrass and Hip-Hop
Essential compilations[edit | edit source]
- The Rough Guide To Bluegrass This Rough Guide features some of the greatest contemporary Bluegrass artists, from Ricky Skaggs to Kathy Mattea. Listen on: Deezer, Rdio Spotify
- American Gothic : Bluegrass Songs of Death & Sorrow This is a great collection of songs. They are mostly newer recordings, made in the last 30 years, or so, but they still retain that old-time sound. Sad songs are not really en vogue, anymore, especially in country music. Not that the sad songs are no longer relevant, but people choose not to confront the unpleasant side of life, these days. When these songs were written, people didn't have a choice. Death, disease and misery were constants, especially in rural America. Definitely not an album to listen to if you need cheered up, but still great, nevertheless. Listen on: Deezer, Rdio Spotify
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the soundtrack of music from the 2000 American film of the same name, written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Goodman. With the film set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, the soundtrack, produced by T-Bone Burnett, uses bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and folk music appropriate to the time period. With the exception of a few vintage tracks (such as Harry McClintock's 1928 single "Big Rock Candy Mountain"), most tracks are modern recordings. Listen on: Deezer, Rdio Spotify
- Down From The Mountain (Soundtrack) Down from the Mountain is a 2000 documentary and concert film featuring a live performance by country and traditional music artists who participated in the Grammy-winning soundtrack recording for the Joel and Ethan Coen film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? The concert, held on May 24, 2000 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, was a benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The documentary was directed by Nick Doob, Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker. The artists in the concert also participated in a Down from the Mountain concert tour. Listen on: Deezer, Rdio Spotify
- Classic Bluegrass from Smithsonian Folkways It all began in 1956 with the release of the historic Folkways album American Banjo: Three-Finger and Scruggs Style (SFW 40037), the first-ever full-length bluegrass LP. From that point on, Folkways Records was synonymous with great bluegrass music. Folkways founder Moses Asch released scores of bluegrass albums, and this collection comprises the cream of the crop from these recordings, including works from giants of the genre such as Red Allen & Frank Wakefield, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, the Stanley Brothers, and The Country Gentlemen. It serves as an outstanding introduction to the wealth of great bluegrass Smithsonian Folkways has to offer. Listen on: Deezer, Rdio Spotify
- Reddit Essential Bluegrass Collaborative playlist on Spotify
Foundations[edit | edit source]
- Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys 1950-1958 This set is split over multiple CDs: A, B, C & D. Listen on: Deezer, Spotify
Blogs[edit | edit source]
- Bill's Blog
- CMT Blog: Bluegrass on the fence
- Doppelstopp (streaming)
- Lonesome Lefty's Scratchy Attic
- Second Cousin Curly (streaming video)