Looking for some 'grass

What's the best Bluegrass group, album, CD, or cut, you've heard in some time?

Please do mention if it is by content, or quality of the recording.... SACD, DVDA, etc.

It is hard to get past efforts from Skaggs & Krauss naturally, but I do favor the "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" volumes from the Dirt Band & friends.

But I will try a few here anyhow.

"Mountain Soul" from Patty Loveless... and "Little Sparrow" by Dolly Parton are super overall.

Charlie Sizemore's efforts as well should be considered at the very least.

Melonie Cannons last two CDs are noteable works also.

So there...

Who, what, or Which, do you like most as of late, or just overall?
You might do a search for the thread about Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, there were many great suggestions there . . . including the essential Old & In the Way recording on Acoustic Disc.

Another incredible, but often overlooked, bluegrass album is from the mid-1980s band The Dreadful Snakes, which included Pat Enright, Bela Fleck, and Jerry Douglas, among others.
Check out these, all are redbook and beautifully recorded:
1. Greencards-"Weather and Water" and "Viridian"
2. Charlie Haden-"Rambling Boy"
3. Bela Fleck-"Heartland-An Apalachian Anthology"
The Seldom Seen LP's One of the best Bluegrass groups. While I am here I will relate a very embarrassing bluegrass story. I took my first wife and another couple to see Bill Monroe at the Old Town Folk Center in Chicago. Maybe in '83 The venue was very small maybe a 50 people on folding chairs. We were in the front row smack in front of Bill himself. I could reach out and touch him. During the performance I looked over and my wife and her friends had dosed off. Needless to say this 'Ol Kentucky Boy has another wife, and though she is Japanese-American she can pick a pretty mean bluegrass riff!
Try anything by Alison Krauss & Union Station for great bluegrass/newgrass that is very well recorded.

I also like Nickel Creek for that genre.

the dillards-tribute to the american duck
Dr. Ralph Stanley. He has a live album with his son that is really well recorded to boot. Email me if you can't find it. If you've never made it to the Telluride Blue Grass Festival you owe it to yourself to go. The catch is you've got to make reservations now. The festival is in June. While not Bluegrass per say David Byrne will be there this year. Not to be missed!
Great start... thanks a lot.

Didn't know about a few of these.. do now. Good.

Steve Martin, the comedian, has a new work out that looks interesting, and has done some other things with great grass musicians... Bella, yo yo, etc.

I've been meaning to get the Old & In The Way stuff for a while, but keep forgetting too.

I met Bill when I was much younger... and a fair number of others as my mom's side of the family centers about the Nashville area.... and again that was a long while ago.
i'll 2nd the Seldom Scene, especially their 1st four or so albums. also you might enjoy....

Larry Sparks, 40
Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet
The Infamous Stringdusters, Fork in the Road
Bill Frisell, The Willies (his version of bluegrass)
Can't believe no one mentioned Del Mccoury. Wins lot's of awards, and the interplay with his band (two are his son's) is amazing.
The Red Clay Ramblers are worth checking out. At one point - mid 1980's? - someone built a full Broadway musical around the band. As a special bonus, the main Rambler has one of the best names in showbiz "Bland Simpson". Bland is a terrific songwriter and if your taste also runs to pop music/female vocals, the wonderful singer Marti Jones does a first class cover version of Simpson's "Follow You All Over The World".

Great responses so far. I agree with all.
A few others:

Steve Earle "Train a Comin"
Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band "The Mountain"
Del McCoury
J.D. Crowe
Doc Watson
Ricky Scaggs
Marty Stuart
Wildwood Valley Boys

Dread Clampitt - this is a band from Walton County Florida on the Florida panhandle. One of the most beautiful areas of the country. They are local, but have 3 CDs available from their website. They are great, trust me, you will like them.

I would check out the band Hot Rize - my favorite of their albums: Untold Stories. Greate singing and playing.
I agree with your mention of Dolly Parton's and Patty Loveless' albums, good stuff from unlikely sources.

One of my favorite bluegrass artists is Laurie Lewis. She is an excellent vocalist and fiddler. She has a plaintive voice that was made for bluegrass.

She has roots deep into traditional bluegrass but she is able to add elements of other genres without sounding contrived. She's really good at it.

I would recommend starting with "Earth and Sky" on Rounder. It's a compilation of her own songs written prior to 1997 when it was released. Don't stop there though, she has a number of really good cds.

The sound is very good, but it's the music that I never get tired of. Great songs, vocals, fiddle and supporting musicians.
Glad you asked.
One of the best Bgrass Cds is John Reischmann, South of The border.
Performance is excellent, musicians play with power, passion and fire. Tunes are mostly original with a Latin, Jazz flair, but it is Bluegrass music.
It is not on LP, but the quality of the recording is also excellent. One mic with the mandolin, banjo, guitar, fiddle and acoustic bass. As each takes a solo, they step closer to the mike. No vocals
I would be happy to send a few cuts on a burned CD so you can be convinced it is well worth a purchase.
Similar to Grisman, but more fire, IMO.
A little hard to find, but worth it: New Grange, a short-lived all-star band comprised of Darel Anger, Tim Rice, Alison Brown, Phil Aaberg, and Mike Marshall. Each is a virtuoso on their instrument.
The Be Good Tanya's - I like "Blue Horse" and "Chinatown" but their new one's pretty good too, though doesn't seem as well recorded.

The Wailin' Jennys are new to me but definitely worth checking out.

Anything at all by Gillian Welch - You cannot go wrong there.

Abigail Washburn, "Song of the Traveling Daughter"

"Oh Brother Where Art Thouw" and the companion version..."O Sister" both have a fun cross section of stuff you may like. The former is an excellent soundtrack.

Speaking of great soundtracks; the soundtrack to the film "Songcatcher" is also excellent and right along the same lines as this thread, but more right to the roots of it.
Jax2, I'm a big fan of all of your suggestions, but there's very little bluegrass in those selections. The "Oh Brother" soundtrack and the popularity of Alison Krauss has watered down the definition of what passes for "bluegrass" these days. I've been listeing to Alison Krauss since she was a teenager and I'm a huge fan. Her early albums are certainly bluegass, but in the later years not so much. The best traditional bluegrass band today is the Del McCoury band. Instrumentally they are fantastic, though they wear on me after a while. My favorite bluegrass band of all time is probably Hot Rize. Great instrumentalists and vocalists and great songs.

Jsaah, its Tim O'brien in New Grange, as opposed to Tim Rice. Anything by Tim O'brien is good (he was in Hot Rize), though his stuff is not all bluegrass either. You may have been thinking of Tony Rice, who is one of the all time great bluegrass guitarists and vocalists, but sadly lost his voice many years ago due to a medical condition. But Rice has some great bluegrass albums.

Other good bluegrass recommendations are Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Blue Highway, Mountain Heart, Front Range, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.
Claire Lynch, Rhonda Vincent, Dry branch Fire Squad, Grascals, Cherryholmes, Flatt and Scruggs, Olabelle Reed, compilations from Rural Rhythms, Smithsonian amd Rounder (though these can be old timey music), any Wayne Henderson cd for some bluegrass guitar music, the Pickin' On series, especially Pickin' On Led Zepelin, any of the Bluegrass Albums by the Bluegrass Album Band. Heck, just go to the local internet book and music seller and type in "bluegrass music". The ones I saw on the A site that came up were compilations I have and were all good, though like I said, they may be old timey. Have fun!
Jax2, I'm a big fan of all of your suggestions, but there's very little bluegrass in those selections.

I guess I have to check out some of your selections then, as that's as close as I can come. Yeah, I suppose those are fringe, and bluegrass-influenced selections. They are mostly fusing bluegrass, folk and country. I'd say that Abigail Washburn and Gillian Welch have the strongest leanings towards the traditional. I guess I prefer them over more pure bluegrass, though I have not listened to much of what folks are recommending here.

Here's a few more, as far as my own tastes and exposure reach...

Iris Dement, "Infamous Angel"
Old Crow Medicine Show (self-titled CD)
Sierra Hull is excellent as well.
Sierra Hull is excellent as well.

Yes, she's an amazing young musician. Check this out:

Tony Rice Unit, "Manzanita." Start with this.
Gee thanks much…

I’m not terribly keen on Ralph Stanley’s vocalizations, but his content and contributions go without saying as being awesome.

When I think about the Stanley Brothers the Osbornes come to mind along with any number of other formative and inspirational contributors to the Bluegrass genre itself… like The Carter Family.. Clinch Mountain boys, John Hartford, The Whites, and Bill Monroe.

Rhonda Vincent crosses over some, but the statements and social issues she addresses with her music are outstanding and spot on. She has good range and a powerful voice.

Melonie Cannon follows in her footsteps with still more biting topics and insightful tracks ranging from the music business to drug addiction, on her self titled initial disc, and now the latest one, “And The Wheels Turn”.. cuts off that one not to be missed are “Cactus in a Coffee Can” and “The Day before You”.

I was sort of surprised no one had yet mentioned the Chieftans… “Down the Old Plank Road, and Further down the Old … Rd.” come to mind as pretty good albums, notwithstanding the pop musicians that come on board as contributors on the reprise album similarly titled.

Earl Scrugs did a compilation which included the Likes of billy Bob Thornton, Sting and Elton John called “Earl Scruggs & Friends”

“The Foggy Mountain Breakdown” cut on that CD is one of the best I’ve heard to date. In lieu of the pop influence, with a celebration of musicians giving up instrumental solos by Steve Martin, Vince Gill, Randy Scruggs, and marty Sturart, just to name a few. There is a dobro, organ, and piano solo in it as well! There are several other worthwhile tracks… A pretty good CD overall, with a well recorded senseibility and professionalism! A great sampler CD for the uninitiated or the aficionado.

Robin & Linda Williams CD “Sugar for Sugar” is a Folksy ‘grass album with a few outstandingly contrived tracks with ‘The Cheapest Kind’ being my overall fav.

From the same locale that brought us Patty Loveless, The Judds and others, Dwight yoakam continues to spring up on any number of Bluegrass comps contributing his insightful and traditional styling’s to the intended mix of country twang and roots music.

Two of his CDs came to mind as almost ‘must haves’ … 'acousticdotnet’ and Dwight’s Used records… the latter provides a combination of takes on John Prines “paradise” which are just exceptional! As with most of Dwight’s Cds, they are also very well recorded. The intended solo acoustic effort covers as great a slice of life as any other musical album I’ve experienced thus far.

Cajun ‘grass too is interesting and lots of fun too… What do they call that style? Zydygo?

Clearwater, and Summervilla don't get much press as with many indipendant local groups... one from the Birmingham area with rock roots is called "A Roll in The Hay".. good stuff.
For an excelent DVD, a must see is "High and Lonesome". Wonderful historical documentery about the origins of Bluegrass with an emphasis on Bill Monroe.
Blindjim, there are a couple of good internet bluegrass stations that are good resources for bluegrass music. Two that come to mind are the Bluegrass and Newgrass channels at RadioIO.


That's an outstanding idea. i usually leave the cable box on the music channels now and then, so I can see who's doing what, IF something ear'catching comes on.

Some of the online radio joints don't show their NOW PLAYING selection though, oddly enough... and still more require subscriptions lately.

iTunes includes a lot of these in varying genres by default.

I'll check out the one you noted. Thanks.
I usally don't respond to these things but I will put in my 2cents for what it's worth because bluegrass in one of my passions.

If you are looking for knowlege in the roots of the music and how the sound was formed over it's first few decades go to 'the father' and 'the king'. Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin should be at the top of the list. Any of the first generation players are worthy. As far as recordings, the Bear Family has a great catalog of box sets of a lot of the classics. More that you can probably stand. Flatt and Scruggs alone has 3 box sets that are 4, 5 and 6 discs each. You will find Monroe, F&S, Martin, Osbornes, Country Gents, Mac Wiseman, etc. They do a great job and the quality is as good as you can find out there...not cheap though.

As far as modern day, I will have to agree with Cruz123 in that most of the things on the radio would not be considered bluegrass. The new term is 'contemporary bluegrass'. It is kind of the same thing that happened to classic country music. I am by no means saying that there is anything bad about it, it's just not bluegrass. The albums I tell people to listen too, if they are unfamiliar with the genre, is the 'Bluegrass Album Band'. Any and all of the 6 volumes. Tony Rice, Doyle Lawson, JD Crowe, Bobby Hicks, Jerry Douglas, Todd Phillips and one even has Vasser Clemens for the twin fiddles. All covers of great traditional tunes played they way they were ment too. Killer from start to finish.

For those that are keeping that tradition sound alive today... here are some of my favs. Jame King Band, Michael Clevland, Del McCoury, Mark Pruitt's new band 'Balsam Range', Brian Sutton, Blue Highway, Doc Watson, JD Crowe and the New South, Doyle Lawson...to name a few.

The internet radio thing is also a great tool. I will ad a plug for our local radio station WNCW. You can stream it. Saturdays they play 8 hours of bluegrass music, straight from the heartland.

Hope this hels you on your quest.

Hope this helps.
Yes, WNCW (88.7) is great. I have it programmed into my Squeezebox and listen most every Saturday when I'm at home.


Thanks.. right down my alley. 'preciate it.
check out the steeldrivers, they are really talented musicians and the singer is awesome