flying fish, sugar hill, rounder are all decent labels with plenty of bluegrass artist to choose from and the price is reasonably cheap ... don't need to spend big dollars on audiophile pressings for bluegrass.
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Actually, you will find that a lot of bluegrass music is well recorded. Most bluegrass musicians are fanatical about their gear (old Martin guitars, etc.) and give a lot of attention to the recording process. Try some of Ricky Skaggs more recent recordings. He does a lot of old Bill Monroe and Stanley Bros. music and his band (Kentucky Thunder) is made up of incredible musicians. Same is true with the Del McCoury Band. Also, one of my personal favorites is a now defunct band called Hot Rize. Also, do a search. There was a recent thread about bluegrass music and listed a lot of good music/artists. Enjoy!
Do a Wiki look-up on "Strength in Numbers"(band).
Released in the late 80's. Some times called "NEW GRASS"
With Bella Fleck,Mark O'Connor,Sam Bush,Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer.The playing will knock your sox off and the quality of the recording will push your system to the limit. On MCA Nashville ENJOY!
Some good ideas already. A few more thoughts:
The Allison Kraus live sacd/cd is great and features a nice little mini-set by Jerry Douglas. "Popgrass", but awfully good, anyway. Very nice sound, as well.
The soundtrack to the broadway show "Fool Moon" features the Red Clay Ramblers with the wonderful (and wonderfully named) songwriter Bland Simpson. It was also nicely recorded.
I don't think that Krauss, Fleck, Grisman, O'Conner, et al are "old school" bluegrass by any stretch of the imagination. Even on Audiogon. As already suggested, you might try the Del McCoury Band and Bill Monroe. Ralph Stanley, of course, as well. When bluegrass was born they were in the operating room. And pretty much anyone on the Rebel label. The first album by the Seldom Scene "Act 1" pretty much plumbs traditional forms. Norman Blake is probably one of the most notable contemporary artists playing traditional bluegrass music. And I can recommend some compilations mastered by the great Steve Hoffman on the Rural Rhythm label, my favorite being "Front Porch Pickin'". Good luck!
I am always looking for the SUGAR HILL label-- lp's--most seem to be superb recordings. All the Peter Rowan lp's are very good and the Ricky Scaggs/Tony Rice duo lp is outstanding as far as music and is superbly recorded. The Kenny Baker album "Plays Bill Monroe" is one of the best instrumental albums and keeps getting better over the years. My personal policy is to avoid ANY recording that strays too far from the traditional elements of the genre-most notably electric bass and drums- those are big red flags for my taste. There are several newer cd's of a traditional quartet with Peter Rowan and Tony Rice that retain the tradition and offer a more contemporary flavor. I really don't make a concerted effort to keep up with the current Bluegrass stuff,but have always loved that sound and when it is nicely recorded that is a plus. If you want to go a little bit farther afield try the Steve Earle Blugerass album with Del McCoury. The documentary "The high lonesome sound" is essential viewing if only for Roscoe Holcomb. Of course-Bill Monroe-the father figure of Bluegrass-it seems everyone went through his band before they started their own. There really is a wealth of great music in this Genre,not to mention the old timey string bands of the 30's and the Western Swing of the 40's,but those are other stories to be told and great music to hear.Enjoy!
Don't forget Doc Watson for amazing flat picking. Get "Down South" (Rykodisc) for sure. I now live in Texas and really miss my North Carolina mountain music. If you can stand the crowds you should go to Merle Fest in NC and see for yourself what you like.
Mentioned earlier, Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band's "The Mountain" is really killer performance-wise, and well recorded. "Skip, Hop and Wobble" (Rounder I believe) by Jerry Douglas et all is amazing too. All acoustic. New Grass Revival is essential listening--with Sam Bush. You can enjoy the 70s version with Curtis Burch, or the slicker, 80s version with Bela Fleck, but it's all good. They have a remastered "greatest hits" that would be a good dip--2 CDs and pretty good SQ. Have fun--it's the real deal.
My first exposure to Bluegrass was one Sunday night driving into the office (I was on call) and hearing a little girl with a band called Nickel Creek on the Prarie Home Companion radio show. I got on Amazon and purchased the LP that night. They have some fantastic recordings out including an SACD of the self named album. It is utterly fantastic.
I also love Alison Krauss + Union Station and Jerry Douglas.
If you like Bluegrass another genre to listen to is Hawaiian music as popularized several years ago by Iz. I know it sounds odd but lots of steel guitar and ukulele - great stuff.
As mentioned above, the other thread re. bluegrass has some great suggestions. The Bear Family label has a very good selection of traditional bluegrass. A lot of the lp's that are and have been out of print, they have bought the rights to use the original masters and have arranged them in chronological order and re-issued in the form of cd box sets...not cheap though. I can confirm that the quality is as good as it gets for the dates they were recorded, I own quite a few. They also have a limited selection of vinyl.
Monroe (The father), Jimmy Martin (The King), Flatt and Scruggs, and The Stanley Bros. If you start with this group and research all of the people that have played in their bands and who have went on to form their own/other bands...you will need to find more shelf space.
Happy hunting, MD
Many great suggestions ... Monroe, Stanley, Watson, Scruggs, Skaggs, etc. I'd recommend one that really surprised me at how well it was done - Steve Earle, "The Mountain". The Del McCoury Band backs him on this extraordinary effort. (p.s. I am lucky that I live near Atlanta. Red Top Mountain State Park has free bluegrass concerts at a pavillion in the woods every Saturday night. Awesome!)
I strongly recommend The Mountain, a bluegrass recording by Steve Earle, with one of the best bluegrass bands (Del McCoury) playing along with him. Truly a great great record. I was luck enough to see the tour in support of this recording, and Steve wore a nice suit, a big change from his previous and recent stage garb. he is one heck of a talented artist.
I enjoy bluegrass and particularly some of the newer artists grouded in the "old timey" traditions. You have some great suggestions listed above and will find some of the best quality recordings from this group:
Del McCoury I like "Del and the Boys" He also has a recent greatest hits collection.
Nicklecreek/ Chris Thiel the best mandolin player on the planet
Mark O'Connor he plays in several genres, but his fiddle/bluegrass recordings are great.
believe it or not, Steve Martin's latest bluegrass cd is good.
I have very little patience with the "its not really bluegrass" arguments but here are some great albums that pretty much everyone agrees upon:
JD Crowe and the New South: JD Crowe and the New South
The Johnson Mountain Boys: Live at the old schoolhouse
The Country Gentlemen: calling my children home
Now here are a few newer albums that some may object to but are great music nonetheless:
The Gibson Brothers: Bona Fide
The Lynn Morris Band: Shape of a Tear
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver: Gospel Parade
If you like any of these let me know and I can make some more recommendations. I have a pretty large Bluegrass music collection :)