Bluegrass vs. other genres — what makes it bluegrass?

Hi friends! In this video, I talk about what distinguishes bluegrass music from folk-influenced rock/pop, as well as what distinguishes it from old-time music.

Here’s the listening list I promised in the video:

Classics and Modern Classics

Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys – Little Maggie

Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys – Uncle Pen

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard – The One I Love Is Gone

Del McCoury Band – Nashville Cats

Dolly Parton – Travelin’ Prayer (This video is hilarious! Great performance. And yes, to the haters: I know this is a Billy Joel song. But Dolly’s version is straight-up bluegrass.)



New Grass Revival – Can’t Stop Now

Alison Krauss & Union Station – Oh Atlanta

Sarah Jarosz – Come On Up to the House

Here’s what it sounds like when rock and pop influences are conscientiously introduced into bluegrass by pickers who are deeply rooted in the bluegrass tradition. Hear how it’s radically different from the classic stuff, but the instrumental playing is still very much based on how the more traditional bands play?

Compare this to jam bands that may casually be called “bluegrass” but might really be incorporating folk influences into rock and pop music, rather than the other way around. (It’s worth noting that the musicians above don’t necessarily market these recordings as “bluegrass,” either.)



You might also like:

Megan Lynch Chowning on Texas style vs. Bluegrass.

Salt Creek: 1, Kat: 0, and what you can learn from my epic fail.

What to play when you don’t know what to play.

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