Jorma Kaukonen "Blue Country Heart" -DSD Mastered SACD
Doc & Merle Watson "Pickin' the Blues" -Analogue Productions Gold CD
David Grisman "Tone Poems, vols. 1-3" -Acoustic Disc HDCD
Bluegrass isn't only picked by whitey. Check out John Jackson on the Arhoolie label (highlights from his three excellent Arhoolie lps are available on one cd) to hear how one of the more underappreciated blues greats mixes bluegrass (as well as ragtime, country, and other genres) with an outstanding finger-picking, piedmont blues style (on banjo and acoustic guitar).
Lots of bluegrass boys here. Don't miss the Alison Krauss/Union Station live double CD, as well as Patty Loveless'bluegrass release titled Mountain Soul. Real shivers up and down the spine stuff on that one. Wires and Wood is another good one. And of course the Oh Brother soundtrack which covers bluegrass, old-timey and country blues. Lets not forget the Linda Ronstadt/Dolly Parton/Emmy-Lou Harris Trio and Trio 2, either.
Don't know if she falls sollidly into Bluegrass, but I love any and all of the offerings from Gillian Welch who is always accompanied by incredible guitarist David Rawlings. See them live if you can. The earlier albums are probably just a bit more true to her bluegrass roots:
Hell among the Yearlings
Don't miss the wonderful, truly classic "Old and In the Way" CDs, all recorded live in 1973 and featuring an ad hoc bluegrass group of all stars--Vasar Clements, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, John Kahn, and Peter Rowan--who perform like they'd been working together all their lives. And don't be put off by the early recording date: a Nagra recorder and the very best associated equipment was used by an expert recording engineer to deliver sound that is superb and absolutely natural. Rarely has live concert sound and excitement been captured so well. These are absolutely delightful, toe-tapping CDs, all three of them. I've tried them on many listeners who didn't think they cared for bluegrass, and who after hearing them wanted to know where they could buy them. If you're only going to get one, I'd recommend the original "Old and In the Way" CD. (The two excellent follow-ups are "That High Lonesome Sound" and "Breakdown.") If you don't respond to these, you're probably ready for your box.
Bill Monroe is the ol Dad of Bluegrass, you should have some first generation stuff. There are boxed sets of Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys, from different eras on the Bear Family label. More recent ones have better fidelity of course.......there are some single live CD's from the early 90's that have come out recently that are good too.
For a current traditional BG band, Del McCourey & his sons have a stellar band......Del was a BG Boy with Bill Monroe, when he was coming up.
I like anything with David Grisman, but it isn't all BG, more a fusion of jazz with BG roots. He has a double CD titled Home Is Where The Heart Is...it has numerous BG greats on various cuts. His Old and In The Way band with Jerry Garcia was a link to the authentic BG for a whole generation of Grateful Dead hippie types like myself, who had never heard of Flatt & Scruggs or Bill Monroe or Jim & Jesse prior to OAITW. He has recorded an Old and In The Gray CD more recently. I prefer his Dawg music hybrids to his straight BG, but Grisman can play it real authentic when he wants to.
Tony Rice is another one to look for, incredible guitarist and was once a great singer too, in his youth before voice problems.....he has his own output and was in a band just called The Bluegrass Band, with an all star lineup, they recorded 5 or 6 great BG Cd's. There is a Ricky Scaggs / Tony Rice duet CD that is remastered with GREAT fidelity, it is like the original Monroe Bros. just mandolin & guitar with voice.
Emmylou Harris: "Roses In The Snow", from 1980, all acoustic, incl. Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Albert Lee, Brian Ahern, Emory Gordy, Jr., Jerry Douglas, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, etc. Awesome backup vocals on "Jordan" by Johnny Cash. (Warner Bros. 3422-2.)
Also fun is the recent DVD "Down From The Mountain" concert from The Ryman Theater. Includes backstage rehearsals and chatter along w/ great performances. Excellent sound quality.
Not only do I only listen to gospel bluegrass, but I go to the festivals. One near my home, check it out at Gettysburgbluegrass.com. Some of these groups you have mentioned have been there. Great concerts, highly recommend Blue Highway, Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Scaggs. You jazz lovers try this cd, Irl Hees, I'm just a bass player. A must have if you like the string bass. Heard him in person, awesome! I owe my love to this bluegrass to little Roy Lewis who is up in age now. What great showmanship on stage when playing the banjo. If you want a great vacation come to PA at Gettysburg in Aug when the festival is on. I could stay on here for hours for this is my love. This music is played from the soul. Why it got it's roots from gospel music in the mountains. Country rocks, but BLUEGRASS RULES!
For classic bluegrass, find any Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys when he had Flatt and Scruggs. That's when the bluegrass sound really gelled. And was before studios started adding a lot of reverb (mostly a 50 and 60's trend).
Some old favorites include :
Flatt and Scruggs - The Complete Mercury Sessions
Bill Monroe and the BBG - Live Recordings 1956-1969 Vol 1
The Stanley Brothers - The Complete Mercury Recordings
(The classic for the gentler "duet" sound)
Any live bluegrass releases from the Newport Folk Festival on Vanguard
Some newer ones with the traditional sound :
Ricky Skaggs - Bluegrass Rules ! (Highly recommended)
Dolly Parton - The Grass is Greener (Her best BG release)
Patty Loveless - Mountain Soul
Anything by Del McCoury
Some favorites that stretch the boundaries a bit :
Any live Kentucky Colonels
Seldom Scene - Live at the Cellar Door
Tony Rice - Manzanita
One that's gotten well reviewed for sound quality is the recent live one by Hot Rize called "So Long of a Journey".
Wow! Looks like there is a lot of interest. Now I don't want to start a flame war but IMHO some of the acts mentioned aren't really bluegrass (for example, the Kaukonen disc). I have it, and while it is good music to me it just doesn't have that hard-driving bluegrass sound.
I have the 4-disk MCA Bill Monroe box set. It is a great collection, and the included book is first-rate.
I think I should mention some older recordings:
JD Crowe & the New South "JD Crow & the New South" (a lot of people consider this to be the best bluegrass album ever)
The Johnson Mountain Boys "Live at the old Schoolhouse"
The Country Gentleman "Calling my Children Home" (one of the first all-gospel bluegrass albums)
Speaking of live shows I am going to see Ralph Stanley perform tonight! I can't wait!
the dillards-tribute to an american duck/roots and branches bgo cd twofer...they are the beatles of bluegrass.
Sam Hill out of Portland, OR
Of course all the Tony Rice and Norman Blake you can stand.
One of the longstanding bandmembers of Union Station (which is the Alison Krauss group) is Ron Block. He has recently come out with his own CD which I highly recommend. It features the regular cast with all original material from
Ron Block. Inspirational!!
For some great harmonies, and maybe more modern subject matter, check out Hot Rize. They are excellent!!! My favorite of their CD's is "Untold Stories".
I agree with many of the obove answers........ go back to Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs etc. then check out some of the more modern stuff too Hot Rize, (Tim O'Brien solo as well), New Grass Revival, Tony Rice etc. Be well rounded, blue grass is great music especially if you dig a little (check out some of the old Vanguard or Smithsonian issues of Kentucky mountain music (Clarence Ashley etc.)).
Here's an interesting pick that I just purchased.
Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band-Mountian
A nice mix of one of todays top song writers (Earle) and todays best BlueGrass Bands (McCoury).
BTW, Steve Earle, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, NickelCreek, Lucinda Williams, EmmyLou Harris and more were in Cincinnati last weekend for the Tall Stacks Festival. I caught several of the acts "up-close and personal". It was a real treat!!!!
I have a special affinity for bluegrass and most all of the above already have a place in my collection. Some of the early Bill Monroe on Decca are just great. Stanley Brothers, too. In addition to those already mentioned, there is the Osborne Family in various combinations, the Dillards (some of whom were the Darlings on the old Andy Griffith Show), Bela Fleck did a couple of "Bluegrass Session" release including Earl Scruggs and others. I will throw out there Norman Blake (virtuoso guitar), as well. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" is a classic as is "Symphonian Dreams". Kind of a hybrid bluegrass/rock/country that I've always liked is the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, especially the "Men From Earth" LP.
Lots of great suggestions here. I'll have to mention Jorma Kaukonen's "Blue Country Heart" again. I have really enjoyed that album.
I also highly recommend you check out Yonder Mountain String Band. They put on a *great* show, and are touring A LOT. Their CDs are nioce, but the show is where it is at. Bluegrass with a bit of improv and a tip of the hat to some psychedelia.
Mhedges, I saw Ralph Stanley last week. It was a great couple hours of music. His "Death Song" is incredible. That ole boy can still sing! I also saw a Doc Watson
festival in Boone NC this summer which was a real treat. After the show I sat around a camp fire and listened to the Krueger Brothers play for another two hours.
I am becoming a real fan of live Bluegrass. Besides the great music, I think the fans that show up at these shows are some of the most appreciative music fans I've experienced. Anybody ever been to Merelefest? I think this is the quintessential blue grass festival. I may go next year. I've also heard that the Bluegrass festival in Telluride is spectacular.
I like all the suggestions above. The old school stuff never gets tiresome. (The Allison Krause & Union Station LIVE DVD is a must have for any Bluegrass fan)
But there are some great young musicians out there. One I like is "Snake Oil Medicine Show" A little like Betty Boop meets Bluegrass... very original and fun. Another new favorite is "Deep Canyon Rangers."... Fabulous musicians... Their live recordings are at there best when they get on a roll on a long jam.
Allison Krouss got me into bluegrass also Ralph Stanley,great stuff!
I have played,sung and recordrd Bluegrass for 40 years and did it for a livibg in Georgia 1972-82. One of the hottest cds i have ever heard is out right now : Dwight McCall "Kentucky Piece of Mind " on Lavinir Records out of Cimcinnati.The recording is flawless and the picking and harmony singing is amazing.
Ricky Skaggs and Nickel Creek would be my two current faves, though my bluegrass collection is admittedly thin (though hoping to grow significantly). Being a fan of a huge variety of music, I am always amazed at how involving good bluegrass can be. He's not bluegrass (and in fact he's hard to characterize), but while looking for new bluegrass material, I stumbled onto Bob Wills (the King of Country Swing) a few years back. His music involves some elements common to bluegrass, and his music puts a smile on my face like none other.
anything by Doc and Merle Watson.
Check out the Gibson Brothers on Sugar Hill records
For a lesser known band try Special Consensus. Greg Cahill is a fantastic banjo player and the band, which changes members frequently is always tight. They play alot in the midwest and some areas in the east. Not much out west unfortunately. A really good live band.
Try Steve Earle and the Del Mcoury Band "The Mountain". You will not be dsiappointed!
Try Should Have Seen It Coming by Split Lip Rayfield. They have been called the Metallica of bluegrass, they can flat out play. As a plus, they have a good sense of humor. They put a new spin on traditional music.
Doc Watson, The Seldom Seen, Flat & Scruggs, Jerry Douglas.
J. D. Crowe & The New South - "flashback"
A Rounder release "Bluegrass Mountain Style"
Not true bluegrass but nevertheless there's Doc & Merle Watson's "pickin' the blues" (well recorded CD from Analouge Productions)
The collaboration of David Grisman, Vince Gill, Herb Pederson, Jim Buchanan, Emory Gordy, Jr. on "Here Today"
I've liked Vince Gill's voice since he was with Pure Prairie League.
Larry Sparks, "40" blugrass album of the year ('05) w/special guests is REALLY good also
anything by the Seldom Scene especially the first 4 or 5 albums.
Count me in! Tony Rice Church Street Blues, and Tony Rice Me and My Guitar. Both are LPs from Sugar Hill. Good recordings.
the dillards were the beatles of bluegrass and decade waltz was their sgt. pepper
I great new release is a "Cherryholmes". They are the IBMA entertainers of the year.
I picked up the new CD from the Greencards. I'm not crazy about the female lead's voice, but overall well recorded with talented instrumentals, not a bad disc.
Thought I would revive this thread. Some great stuff so far. I will add "Hot Buttered Rum" for a fun modern bluegrass band.
Thank you for this thread. Ever since o brother where art though (the motion picture) I have loved blue grass. know absoloutly nothing about it, just love it. I can never ask about it because in my area it isn't around. So now I have something to go buy. I only know that when I hear something I like, I don't even know whom it's buy. Thanks
This album is from the seventies and is great on vinyl, (if you can find it) or you can order a good sounding cd from Tut Taylor. Find him on the web and order (I did). This is TT, Norman Blake, Sam Bush, Dave Holland,Vassar Clements etc jamming together. It includes "sweet Georgia Brown" and is truly wonderful bluegrass with a jazzy flavor. I CANNOT recommend this album highly enough. If you like bluegrass, you have to have this album, period....
Check out this site. I bought the Hot Tuna and David Bromberg discs good live sound.Lots of bluegrass
Another thread that should not die ... how about Railroad Earth?
Anyone going to Telluride for the 35th? Here's a quick run-down:
Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon) and Bill Nershi (String Cheese Incident)
John Cowan Band
Yonder Mountain String Band
Steep Canyon Rangers
Brett Dennen (not really bluegrass, what a song-writer)
Chick Corea & Bela Fleck
Great American Taxi (Vince Herman of LOS)
Amazing lineup ... sure wish I was going this year.
Chris Hillman, originally of the Byrds, is into bluegrass with his buddy Herb Pederson. Touring soon.
I am going to have to troll back in time here and see something I may have overloooked. Thanks folks.
Try the Waifs - you may be pleasantly suprised - they are a gem from downunder.
I'm a big 'grasser. I got into it about 6 years ago and haven't looked back. I'm a guitar player so I naturally gravitated toward Tony Rice. He is the greatest IMO. Current shredders like Bryan Sutton are also phenoms in their genre.
I love Alison Krauss and the "newgrass" sound as well.
Spacegrass....yeah you can't beat Tony & Bryan Sutton is awesome. Checkout David Grier, Lone Soldier for some great guitar. Infamous Stringdusters, Greencards, Scythian were the last best live stuff I've heard
Anyone heard Blueground Undergrass? I heard one of their live recordings on a college station in the either Tennessee or North Carolina. It was awesome!
Saw Bryon Sutton last summer when he was touring with Chris Thile. Awesome player, wonder why Chris changed up his current touring group?
Many, many good websites for bluegrass but one that I have persnally enjoyed is acousticdisc.com.
A few that stand out are:
THAT HIGH LONESOME SOUND
Old and In the Way
This is a very cool and young all star band that includes Peter Rowan, David Grisman and Jerry Garcia. Despite these musical giants, the musician who stands out and I begin my worshipping, is Vassar Clements. I get the sence that the other band members know that Vassar is in the zone, like a basketball player with the hot hand, and they set him up and get out of his way. Just a great band with phenominal musicians who don't let their egos get in the way.
Everything with Grisman and Garcia is excellent.
"Doc and Dawg" Doc Watson and David Grisman... need I say more?
Not exactly all bluegrass, but two more suggestiosns who like music of this ilk are: The whole tone poem series and "Stephane Grappelli and David Grisman Live."
Lots more good stuff at this site.
I agree with Scramman on Railroad Earth. I like the two disc live set "Elko." I also recently picked up "The Steeldrivers" debut after reading about it in all places-The Wall Street Journal. They are all session players from Nashville with impeccable musicianship. The lead singer's whiskey soaked gravelly voice is not to be missed. The Steeldrivers are the most exciting band to hit the bluegrass scene in quite a while.
If you don't already have the self-titled "Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby," you need to at least listen to it. I would also very highly recommend Tim O'Brien's "Cornbread Nation" and anything by Nickel Creek. Their album "Resons Why: The Very Best Of" is a great start to the new sound of bluegrass.
If you're anywhere near Cincinnati, there is a super band called the Bluegrass Allstars that play at The Comet in the northside of Cincinnati.
Maxnewid...thanks for the Steeldrivers recommend...really nice....cheers
I enjoy Nicklecreek, as well as the Jerry Garcia bluegrass outfits.