Recommend me some Bluegrass

Exactly what it says on the tin. My exposure is basically limited to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and a few features/interviews on radio.

I’ve got a cover/version of “man of constant sorrow” by Alison Krauss’ band and that’s it, where do I go next?

Well, the family band (I think) that contributed a couple of songs to O Brother were just in Newsweek not too long ago, and I think they were discussing some of their newer work. That was the Stanley brothers, I believe.

Though you and I basically have the same exposure and the same desire for bluegrass. I’ll be watching this thread closely.

Ok, that sounded a lot less creepy in my head.

The O Brother soundtrack is old time, not bluegrass. This is what you’re looking for.

If you’re going to go bluegrass, why not just go for “father of bluegrass” Bill Monroe.

Or maybe other old timers like Doc Watson?

Any modern bluegrass band is basically just going to be covering one of these guys.

Bill Monroe (pronounced MONroe, btw) is awesome.

Bill Monroe, Flat & Scruggs, Ralphy Stanley and clinch Mountain Boys, Del McCoury.

More modern is Nashville BlueGrass Band, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.

If you like Oh Brother, Grab Will the Circle be Unbroken which just about everyone in roots music at the time. A little grass but a lot of roots, old country Merle! etc.

Bluegrass this roots is pretty cool b/c you can trace its influence on No depression, the Dead and other such acts. Vassar Clements on fiddle, Earl Scruggs on banjo and some of the others played with a lot of current acts.

Believe Doc Watson, Scruggs, McCoury and Stanley are still touring.

I downloaded this New Lost City Ramblers collection and have enjoyed it:

I saw Del McCoury a few years ago, with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. He was great; a good, more traditionally bluegrassy counterpoint to the jazz-grass (blue-jazz?) stylings of Bela and company.

Allison Kraus and Union Station are good, too.

I’m not a huge country/bluegrass fan, but my dad is. Let me tell you that there is NOTHING more fun than seeing Del McCoury, Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Skaggs and/or The Whites or any of those other folks live at the Grand Ol’ Opry. Amazing.

Also, I sort of divide bluegrass into a couple of categories. There’s the Flat & Scruggs stuff, which is usually frantically fast (think Deliverance) and usually involves a guitar, a 5-string finger-picked banjo and maybe an upright bass. This is my least favorite kind.

Then there’s the bigger bands, like Del McCoury’s act and Ricky Scaggs, where there’s mandolin and usually dobro, and the mandolin often is keeping time almost as a percussion instrument. Alison Kraus does this kind of music sometimes.

Then there’s country or pop music that gets by with calling itself bluegrass because it incorporates bluegrass instruments. This is mostly what Alison Kraus does. It’s pretty good stuff, but I wouldn’t call it bluegrass.

Some other recommendations:

Thanks for the suggestions guys, will check them out.

I won’t argue with the lady from Nashville on this.

I ended up liking this album.

I highly recommend you check out Bela Fleck’s The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet Volume II. Bela Fleck (who is incredible in his own right) plays with bluegrass greats like Sam Bush and Earl Scruggs.

I love me some Duhks. Don’t have their newest album as I wasn’t impressed by the song samples, but the previous albums are excellent.

Punch Brothers with Chris Thile are also very good.

And there’s a new artist that just came out with a debut album; Sarah Jarosz.

This is a great album to get a taste of the different styles and important bands:

You’ll find that you have particular tastes when it comes to bluegrass, Ralph Stanley is usually a love/hate relationship, as are a number of the older groups with the flat, hound-dog style of singing. Pretty much everyone loves Flatt and Scruggs doing breakdowns, but the singing styles are very particular to certain people.


Newgrass, it’s called. (No, really.)



May offend bluegrass purists, but Gillian Welch and the collaborations between Jerry Garcia and David Grisman are excellent. In particular:

Garcia, Grisman, and Rice, The Pizza Tapes.

Gillian Welch, Hell Among the Yearlings.