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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:59 pm 
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Hehe, the first link yov picked was 4 songs by the Osborne Brothers ;) [Georgia Pineywoods, Don't Let the Smokey Mountain Smoke Get in Your Eyes, Country Roads, and Little Cabin Home on the Hill] http://www.youtube.com/user/plunky123
Some of them will show up on this CD: Country Bluegrass by the Osborne Brothers

I also managed to find some of the music vison has mentioned:

Baptizing by Seldom Scene

And, after a bit of digging: No School Bus in Heaven by The Stanley Bros and the Clinch Mountain Boys It's one of the last tracks on the second disc.

Ang mentioned The Chieftain's Down the Old Plank Road as well.


Yeah, I think I am using the word 'bluegrass' to mean mountain music, so I'm including various folk traditions that aren't technically bluegrass at all. My interest in all of this is very non-technical, so I apologize. Bill Monroe was obviously strongly influenced by a lot of the folk music, but he also did some things that were a bit unique, so I guess bluegrass did branch off and become its own thing. It's all so interconnected, though.... I also grew up with Mississippi Delta Blues, so it all falls into the category of 'music I remember from childhood.'


Sorry you don't like the insanely fast picking stuff, yov - that's what I gravitate towards. Orange Blossom Special for some great fiddle playing. And Lonesome Fiddle Blues Both are Del McCoury Band with Vassar Clements. You might want to take vison's suggestions into account, as they are more soulful than mine. My interest in bluegrass is...music I can dance to, barefoot on a brick floor as a 7-yr-old girl.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:36 pm 
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MithLuin wrote:
You might want to take vison's suggestions into account, as they are more soulful than mine. My interest in bluegrass is...music I can dance to, barefoot on a brick floor as a 7-yr-old girl.


Even if that's not my interest - that's awesome. :banana: :D

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:42 pm 
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what struck me was how the music was like American Roots Music, as they call it now, these black women sounded an awful lot like Maybelle and Sarah, and some of the music wasn't so very different.


One could argue that the separation of the various co-mingling streams of ARM was an unintentional byproduct of radio. Once geography and demographics became variables, people suddenly had a reason to perform (and record) more homogeneous material.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:32 pm 
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There was a lot more cross-influence between "black" and "white" music in the southeast than is often realized, especially in Gospel. Part of the dividing line is due to the age of recording, and an industry which strictly segregated its labels and 'genres.' But it's also due to the distortions, perhaps unconsciousand perhaps not, of folklorist/folk musicologist Alan Lomax, who made his field recordings with the idee fixee that blues was "black" and string bands "white," and so rejected performers who didn't fit his preconceptions. (To a certain extent the Gospel-rooted Elvis was a return rather than something entirely new.)

This is an especial shame when one thinks about the musical traditions that were never recorded and so lost before radio and records forever changed American music; and absurd when one reflects that the banjo-based string band was of black origin- and that Piedmont blues was both black and white, including mixed-race bands (the difference between Atlantic South and Gulf South racial attitudes would be a book in itself).


Last edited by solicitr on Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:36 pm 
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Extra credit: Compare and contrast the varying roles of Nashville and Memphis in American popular music. 200 miles and a world apart--or that's the way it seems now.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:14 am 
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Fëanoriondil
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Sure, if you'll let me analyze just one song to do it ;). "Blue Moon of Kentucky"

Bill Monroe - Nashville

Elvis Presley - Memphis

Patsy Cline - Nashville

Leann Rimes - Texas

some guys in Ireland

Paul McCartney and with other Beatles - does not compute

I give up!


Edit: I had to add Georgia Mules/Windy City by the Osborne Bros. It isn't ultra-fast - it moseys ;).

And now I am going to walk away from this thread for awhile......


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:45 pm 
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I think of Bluegrass as having been through two major phases. The first, the traditional phase, has been pretty well covered here by Mith. It covers the period from the beginning of the genre with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys in the mid 1940's through the late 1950's. This was the Golden Age of Bluegrass, when groups like The Stanley Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs were commercially successful acts that sold lots of records and made big bucks for Nashville. The emergence of rock and roll in the late fifties brought about the end to this classic period and although the musicians continued to play, and devoted fans began going to the first Bluegrass festivals, the style then became, and has ever since remained, a niche genre, usually considered a sub-genre of Country (a classification that I personally would dispute, but that’s just me).

I won’t say too much about the traditional style - like I said, Mith has given a good representation of it - but as to the question of what constitutes Bluegrass music, there is a simple answer (although certainly not the only answer). Unlike most forms of music, Bluegrass is one that really can trace it’s development back to one person- Bill Monroe. Yes, it’s true that Monroe did not spin Bluegrass out of whole cloth - he was working from the tradition of the Scots-Irish folk music that was prominent in the Appalachian mountains where he grew up and the blues of African Americans who lived there as well. But Monroe did set out to create his own personal style, and for most of the “classic” period of Bluegrass, when the question came up of what kind of music bluegrass was, the answer was simple: music played the way Bill Monroe would play it. And that is as good a starting place as any for defining it.

So how did Monroe play it? First of all, his band was a five piece acoustic string band consisting of mandolin, fiddle, banjo, acoustic guitar and upright bass. The songs were traditional folk songs, played at a very fast pace, with a syncopated rhythm, and the guitar and bass forming the rhythm section with the other three instruments taking turns playing lead, each one playing an improvised solo during the course of the song. Vocals, if there were any, were high pitched and nasally, leading to it’s description as the “high lonesome sound”, and often included layers of two, three or even four part harmony. This was, for all intents and purposes, the definition of Bluegrass for most of its classic period. The only real deviations from this formula were one of the lead instruments might be missing, a steel guitar might substitute for the acoustic, and Monroe’s own belief that the fiddle shouldn’t play on gospels. Other than that, the elements of the Monroe style were the hard and fast rules of the genre during its heyday.

For me personally, though, while I love the old-timey stuff, I have really been more interested in the second, more modern phase of Bluegrass, which has reveled in breaking all of those rules. Bluegrass went through a renaissance during the late sixties and early seventies when its popularity began to grow again and expand to a new audience. Two things in particular lead to this - first the emergence of the band New Grass Revival. This was a group of instrumental virtuosos who really wanted to see how far they could push the boundaries of the genre. They did such unorthodox things as using an electric bass instead of an upright, and, horror of horrors, putting things like drums and keyboards in some of their songs. They were also long-haired hippie looking types who were as different from the looks of Bill Monroe as you could get. But they were well versed in the traditions of Bluegrass and could play a mean Foggy Mountain Breakdown when they wanted to. Their line-ups included two of the great legends of modern Bluegrass, Sam Bush, the originator of what came to be known as Newgrass, and Bela Fleck, who has gone on to establish himself as one of the most accomplished musicians in the world, not only in Bluegrass but also Jazz (he has won several Grammys for his Jazz work), Classical and World music.

The other thing that happened in the early seventies was the release of an album called “Old and In the Way” by a group of the same name. Unlike New Grass Revival, this band played strictly in the traditional style of Monroe, in fact two of their members had been in Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys band - guitarist Peter Rowan and fiddle great Vasser Clemments. What really set this group apart though was their banjo player, Jerry Garcia, yes that Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead fame. Garcia had actually started his music career as a bluegrass banjoist, and had made friends in the Bluegrass field before turning his attention to rock. In 1973 his friend David Grisman talked him in to doing a Bluegrass gig. They only played a handful of shows in 73, and it wasn’t until 1975 that they released a live album, but that record went on to become the best selling Bluegrass album of all time. It introduced the genre to a whole new audience of hippies and rock fans and to this day you can go to any Bluegrass festival in the world and see people who look like they just crawled out of Woodstock. Grisman went on to form the David Grisman Quintet, a breeding ground for some of the most influential modern Bluegrass artists.

There is a handful of people who have come to exemplify this new phase of Bluegrass, who I refer to as The Usual Cast Of Characters because they seem to make a living by showing up as guests on each others records. Whenever you see one of their names you are likely to see several of the others. Most of them came from, or were associated with, New Grass Revival or the David Grisman Quintet. Among them are:

Sam Bush - Mandolin and fiddle player, and the originator of Newgrass, Bush is a prolific artist who has recorded with everybody under the sun.
Playing a trditional Bluegrass number:
Ridin’ that Bluegrass Train
And a contemporary number with New Grass Revival:
Metric Lips

Bela Fleck - Banjoist, more known for his Jazz playing these days with his band The Flecktones (an awesome group by the way - their live shows will blow you away. It’s worth it just to see Future Man!), Fleck has made more recordings than I can count. While a member of NGR he put out a few solo Bluegrass albums before moving on to Jazz, but he returned to his roots in 1999 to record The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales From the Acoustic Planet Vol. 2 with The Usual Cast Of Characters including Jerry Douglas, Tony Rice, Vasser Clements and Ricky Skaggs. This is one of my favorite records of all time, from any genre. Here he is playing one of those songs at The Grand Ole Opry:
Major Honker
With NGR:
Deviaiton
And just for shits and giggles, a clip with the Flecktones et.al. - weird strangeness ensues:
A Moment So Close

David Grisman - Mandolin player, nicknamed Dawg by Jerry Garcia, Grisman has perhaps done more to foster the development of acoustic music than anyone else, and I don’t know of anyone who is more fun to watch perform.
Here he is with the David Grisman Quartet:
Eat My Dust
One of the Old And In the Way tunes:
Pig In A Pen
And the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience
Gray Fox 08

Jerry Douglas - Steel guitar, Douglas is another one who has played with nearly everyone under the sun (Wikipedia says he has played on over 1600 albums), he is currently known for playing in Alison Krauss’ band Union Station, but has also been in such notable bands as J.D. Crowe and the New South and the Bluegrass Album Band (with The Usual Cast Of Characters).
With Bela Fleck - this looks to be in the mid 70's sometime:
Cincinnati Rag
At Merlefest with his own band:
Patrick Meets the Brickbats
With Allison Krauss and Union Station
My Poor Old Heart

Tony Rice - Acoustic guitar - a David Grisman Quintet alumni, Rice is known as one of the world’s greatest flatpicked guitar players, a style he has refined over his nearly 40 years of playing. He has a lengthy list of accomplishments, but I was nearly brought to tears the first time I heard this recording, which was shortly after he returned to performing after learning that throat problems would leave him unable to sing:
Shenandoah

Edgar Meyer - Bass, Meyer is as well known as a classical and jazz player as he is for Bluegrass.
With Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas at Rockgrass (wave to Ellie!):
Rockygrass
With Chris Thile playing really fast:
Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile

Darol Anger - Fiddle, another DGQ alumni, and another multi-genre player mixing jazz, classical and bluegrass.
With his band Republic of Strings:
Duck River Medley
Playing Psychograss with the usual cast of characters:
Psychograss

Mike Marshall - Mandolin, one more DGQ member and a frequent collaborator of Darol Anger (see the Psychograss clip above), Marshall is known for his forays into world music, especially Brazilian music. He also has done a few albums with Chris Thile, another mandolin virtuoso. I got to see them play a few years ago - they were unbelievable, just two mandolins, nothing else. It was awesome.
With Chris Thile:
Fisher’s Hornpipe
With a bunch of hotshot mandolin players (Marshall is the one closest to the camera:
Hot Mandolin Picking!!

Tony Trischka - Banjo, Trischka was Bela Fleck’s banjo teacher and he also played with Marshall and Anger in Psychograss.
Here he is with Steve Martin and Bela Fleck playing on the David Letterman Show:
The Crow

Some other names in this group to look out for are Mark O’Conner, Dan Tyminski, David Bromberg, and John Cowan. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. These were all people who came into prominence in the 70's and 80's, and they have all worked together and on other Bluegrass artist’s projects. A few notable pieces to look for are Natalie MacMaster’s Blueprint with Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas and John Cowan, and I believe Ang already mentioned The Chieftains Down the Old Plank Road and the follow-up Further Down the Old Plank Road. The Chieftains, by the way, are also spectacular in concert, if you ever get the chance to see them, go. You won’t regret it. Another spectacular album to look for is The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

Ricky Skaggs should probably be mentioned along with this group, although he switched over to mainstream Country at one point, he has come back into the fold of Bluegrass in recent years. And of course Allison Krauss is very well known for her Bluegrass work, although she too crossed over to more mainstream pop oriented version of country in recent years. And her recent project, which I’m getting to.

One of the stellar newcomers on the scene has been the band Nickel Creek, who have already been mentioned. They are a threesome, brother and sister Sean and Sara Watkins on guitar and fiddle and Chris Thile on mandolin. They are all incredibly talented musicians, but Thile in particular is just insanely good. I’ve seen them play several times, once in a formal opera hall, and the last time in their farewell concert (they are on hiatus right now) with Fiona Apple, which was surprisingly apt somehow. And of course I got to see Thile and Mike Marshall together, which was just mind bogglingly good.

On a personal note, I did not come to Bluegrass naturally. I didn’t grow up with it, never heard it as a child, my parents didn’t listen to it. I just fell in love with the sound of it the first time I heard it and have never looked back. The ironic thing, or so I thought, was that the first place I ever heard that sound, of all places, was in a live recording of Led Zeppelin playing their song That’s the Way. There was a mandolin solo, couldn’t have been more than ten or fifteen seconds long, but it mesmerized me, and I spent years looking for something that replicated that sound. I finally found it in Bluegrass. I always thought how odd it was that I came to Bluegrass through a rock band like Zeppelin.

Turns out it wasn’t so odd after all. In 2003 John Paul Jones, the bass player for Led Zeppelin (he also played mandolin on that solo bit I loved so much) showed up unannounced at the Merlefest Bluegrass festival in North Carolina and jumped up on stage with Nickel Creek and started jamming with them. That lead to a collaboration that is still going on today. In 2004 Jones toured with the members of Nickel Creek and Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket as part of a project called Mutual Admiration Society. Just recently he produced the new solo album by Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek.

And then there’s Robert Plant, Zeppelin’s lead singer, who just this year turned down the chance to reunite with his old bandmates and make ungodly gazillions of dollars so that he could go back into the studio and record another album with Allison Krauss. Their 2007 album Raising Sand, which won several Grammys last year, was not in any way a Bluegrass album, but Krauss certainly brought her sensibilities for traditional Americana to the project, and even helped Plant learn how to sing harmony, a staple of Bluegrass.

Music does form a circle.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:48 pm 
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tinwë, have you heard The Pizza Tapes, by Garcia, Grisman, and Tony Rice? Rice was doing some recording with Grisman and Garcia dropped by and they ended up jamming and playing a bunch of songs. Amazing stuff. The contrast in the styles of the two guitarists really works.

And Bela Fleck is currently touring with Toumani Diabate, probably the most accomplished kora player in the world. I'll be seeing them in August, here in Santa Cruz. That should be pretty amazing. (Kora, for those who don't know, is 21-string harp-like instrument from West Africa.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:26 am 
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Thanks so much for that informative post, tinwë! :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:27 am 
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:bow: :bow: :bow: at tinwë's encyclopedic knowledge.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:33 am 
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Yov, you're welcome! :)

V, I have heard of The Pizza Tapes, but I have never actually heard The Pizza Tapes. These people collectively have produced an enormous body of work, and I have only scratched the surface of it. But that is one that I would like to hear sometime. I saw a documentary DVD about their relationship not too long ago and really liked it.

But there's so much there that I want to see and hear, sometimes even I don't know where to start. Like I said, the amount of material put out by these people is huge. Somewhere on YouTube there's a clip of Bela Fleck talking about his affinity for Bach, and how he related to his writing style as the same sort of stream of consciousness as his own playing - they just start at a point and go. It's like their brains are always in creative mode and they are writing music all the time. I don't have enough time or energy to listen to all of it, I can't imagine how they are able to write so much.

But any concert with Bela Fleck is bound to be good. And interesting. Have fun!

:)

Edit: Ang - :bow: at Wikipedia and the internet. ;)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:55 am 
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Out of curiosity, what do the bluegrass aficionados here think about the not-just-bluegrass-but-still-all-rootsy O Brother soundtrack?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:00 am 
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Quick side note:

Quote:
mandolin, fiddle, banjo, acoustic guitar and upright bass


was EXACTLY the lineup I saw at the Prairie Home Companion show that was in town the other week: Del McCoury and his group, including two sons. Which ties in with what I was going to say to Yovargas: I liked the OBWAT pieces where close harmony was central best. Close harmony is something where family acts (think Carter Family) have a natural advantage.

And what about the Dillards?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:34 am 
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I liked the Cobain version of 'In the Pines'/'Where Did You Sleep Last Night?' very much! The others...not so much. Sorry. I guess I'm one of those people who just doesn't appreciate this genre.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:49 am 
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yovargas wrote:
Out of curiosity, what do the bluegrass aficionados here think about the not-just-bluegrass-but-still-all-rootsy O Brother soundtrack?


I love it. I’m not sure anything on there could rightfully be called Bluegrass, except maybe Angel Band and I’ll Fly Away, both of which are quite a bit older than Bluegrass itself, but have been recorded in Bluegrass style many times (Angel Band appeared on one of the Old And In the Way albums). The songs are more strictly Folk, Blues, Gospel or Americana. If you’re into that sort of thing you really might want to listen to the Allison Krauss and Robert Plant album I mentioned. T-Bone Burnett was the musical director for both projects and there are definite similarities, although Raising Sand isn’t the old-timey stuff like O Brother

Gillian Welch is another one that I really like (she sings I’ll Fly Away and Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby on O Brother). I saw her with her partner David Rawlings at one of the Nickel Creek shows I went to. You might like them more than some of the other Bluegrass stuff. They are a bit more melodic than some of the fast paced Bluegrass.
Here’s one of my favorites of theirs:
I Wanna Sing That Rock 'n Roll

Man Of Constant Sorrow is my theme song on the golf course ;).

And O Death gives me chills every time I hear it.

The musicians from O Brother did a concert after the film called Down From the Mountain that eventually came out as a DVD documentary. You might want to check that out too. I haven’t seen it, but it’s bound to be good.

Another one you might like is an album called The Three Pickers with Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and Ricky Skaggs. Earl and Ricky are obviously Bluegrass, but Watson plays a sort of bluesy folk style that is a bit softer and more melodic than Bluegrass. Some of the songs on that album are closer in style to the ones on O Brother. Here’s a link to their website - there are samples of the songs in The Music tab.
The Three Pickers

I like the Dillards too (they appeared as The Darlings on the Andy Griffith Show ;))

Impy, I like that Cobain version too. That entire concert with Nirvana is a classic in my opinion.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:02 am 
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I love this board sometimes.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:22 am 
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I'm going to see Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction this Friday, just to point out the eclecticness of my musical tastes.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:43 am 
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And I'm not.

Durn. :(

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:42 am 
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yovargas wrote:
Out of curiosity, what do the bluegrass aficionados here think about the not-just-bluegrass-but-still-all-rootsy O Brother soundtrack?


I like it. It's a really good cross section of folk and folk inspired music from this region.

And here's my personal favorite Gillian Welch song - Orphan Girl

axordil wrote:
I love this board sometimes.


:suspicious: Sometimes? :suspicious:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:06 am 
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I can't believe I missed this thread! Better late than never, I guess. yovargas, I've been a pro bluegrass musician for many years. I was in a bg band that toured throughout the USA and Europe from 1988-2003 and recorded with Sugar Hill Records. I've had the great pleasure of sharing the stage with many of the artists mentioned here. Of the first generation artists, I've always been partial to the Stanley Brothers and the Carter Family (But Bill Monore, and Flatt & Scruggs are essential listening too). Of the more current artists Del McCoury, Laurie Lewis, Lynn Morris and the Nashville Bluegrass Band are all great. Going back a little while, The Seldom Scene, J.D. Crowe, and the Country Gentleman (best stuff for these bands is from the 70s). Most of this material has been released on CD. I have a large collection of this type of music. In fact, I'd be happy to send you a little bluegrass CD sampler if you like. :)

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