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It has its bases mixed in traditional Scottish, African-American, English, Wales and Irish music. The genre was inspired by the music of immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland (in particular Scottish-Irish immigrants in the Appalachian Mountains, between Kentucky and Tennessee).

Traditional bluegrass usually uses a set of stringed acoustic instruments: mandolin, guitar, 5-string banjo, fiddle, dobro and double bass, with or without vocals.

Bluegrass has attracted and attracts loyal followers all over the world.

Its main pioneer, Bill Monroe, characterized the genre in this way:

Bluegrass is a form of American music and is one of the main genres of country music

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It is music that brings a good story.

It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound.

It's old-time fiddle. It is Methodist, Holiness and Baptist.



Bluegrass is music that matters.

It is music played from heart to heart and will play yours.

Bill Monroe

   It was decided that, considering that Bill was the first, emerged from the state of Kentucky (which is nicknamed "bluegrass state" because of a specific grass that is in the state) and had his band Blue Grass Boys, the genre would be called "bluegrass".

    From 1946 to 1948 Bill Monroe's band, which featured Scruggs on the banjo, singer and guitarist Lester Flatt, fiddler Chubby Wise and bassist Howard Watts, created the ultimate instrumental format and configuration, which remains a model for nowadays. For a while, while the Blue Grass Boys were the only band playing this type of music, it was just their unique style, it could not be considered a musical genre, as there were no other bands playing in a similar way. In 1947, the Stanley Brothers recorded the traditional song "Molly and Tenbrooks" in the same style as the Blue Grass Boys, so this can be traced to the beginning of bluegrass as a style. In 1948, bluegrass emerged as a genre in the postwar country music industry. This period is characterized as the “Golden Age”, which was the starting point of the “traditional bluegrass”.

    Bluegrass as a genre was developed during the mid-1940s. Parallel to its emergence, in the world of music, Bebop was developing and Rock'n Roll would emerge about eight years later. As with any musical genre, nobody intended to invent it. It comes from a mixture of old-time music, gospel, blues, and ragtime. However, the early bluegrass can be attributed to a specific band. Today Bill Monroe is referred to as the "father and founder" of bluegrass music so that the style was named after his band Blue Grass Boys, formed in 1939. In 1945, the addition of Earl Scruggs's banjo is considered the moment- key to gender development.



Monroe Brothers



        The s bluegrass musicians of the first generation dominated the genre since its stary in the mid-1940s to mid-1960s.

This group of artists is composed of those who were in action during the "Golden Age", the late 40s, early 50s, including Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, The Stanley Brothers, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs (ex Bluegrass Boys ) with Foggy Mountain Boys, Reno & Smiley, Hylo Brown and The Timberliners, Ervin T. Rouse, The Sauceman Brothers, Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, Jim & Jesse, Jimmy Martin, The Osborne Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Stringbean, Wade Mainer and his Mountaineers , Mac Martin and The Dixie Travelers, Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers, Buzz Busby, The Lilly Brothers and Jim Eanes.

This is a time when bluegrass is increasingly consolidating itself as a musical genre. Its audience is still an audience linked to country music, but it begins to expand after sitcon Beverly Hillbillies brings interpretation of Flatt & Scruggs to the theme song,"The Ballad of Jed Clampett".

Flatt & Scruggs



      A second generation of bluegrass musicians started playing, composing and recording in the mid-1960s, although many played in first generation bands when they were young.

    After the arrival of Rock'n Roll, there was a general decline in country music, however, new audiences started to hear and become interested in bluegrass, with the folk music audience being one of the main ones. Another key point was the film Bonnie and Clyde, in 1967, with the theme of the song Foggy Mountain Breakdown, bringing bluegrass to new listeners. This era was marked by a rebirth of style and major bluegrass festivals. Some artists of this generation are JD Crowe & The New South, Doyle Lawson, The Country Gentleman, Larry Sparks, John Hartford, Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Frank Wakefield, Harley "Red" Allen, Bill Keith, Del McCoury, the young Tony Rice and Sam Bush. As they improved their style, the New Grass Revival, Seldom Scene, The Kentucky Colonels, The Dillards and Country Gazette developed progressive bluegrass. Hazel Dickens also marks this generation as one of the first women playing the genre.

    In a collaboration, first-generation violinist Vassar Clements, progressive mandolinist David Grisman, Grateful Dead lead singer Jerry Garcia (banjo) and Peter Rowan on vocals formed the band called “Old and In The Way”. Garcia, Chris Hillman, the Stanley Brothers, and others in 1960 and 1970 helped to introduce progressive and traditional bluegrass to rock listeners. Bush, Grisman, Clements put many of the elements of jazz in their interpretations - Clements liked to refer to his music as "country jazz" - but without ever leaving the roots of traditional bluegrass.

Jd Crowe

   The third generation is developed in the mid-1980s Bluegrass has grown, matured and expanded from the music played in previous years. Many of the second generation were also in evidence in this Third. This generation has redefined "mainstream bluegrass".



The sound equipment, which was already high-quality, allowed each member of the band to be miked independently, like Tony Rice Unit and The Bluegrass Album Band. Tony Rice presented very elaborate guitar solos and other bands followed his style. Some bands have started using electric bass, an alternative to traditional bluegrass acoustic bass, but that has not become the standard. The other instruments remained acoustic. Non-traditional chord progressions have also become more popular and accepted. At the same time that there was this evolution, this generation saw the revival of traditional songs played in the new style. Johnson Mountain Boy s was one of the most popular of the decade

The bands and musicians who stood out during this period were Tony Rice Unit, Alison Krauss, Mark O`Connor, New Grass Revival (with Bela Fléck), Nashville Bluegrass Band, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, Ricky Skaggs (who also played country music ), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Bela Fléck (solo).

Tony Rice

Country music artists like Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band also started recording records in honor of bluegrass or using their instrumentation.

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    In recent decades, bluegrass has reached an even wider audience. Major artists from the mainstream of country music continued to record bluegrass albums, including Patty Loveless, Dixie Chicks and Steve Earle. Since the 1990s, Ricky Skaggs, who started out as a bluegrass musician but left for country music in the 1980s, came back for bluegrass with his band Kentucky Thunder. Alison Krauss & Union Station, since 1989 stood out in this new generation, reaching sales records and winning numerous Grammy Awards. The movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou? ”, Released by the Cohen Brothers in 2000, with a soundtrack full of old-time music and bluegrass, ended up bringing countless new fans to the style and generating the tour and the documentary" Down From The Mountain ".

     Meanwhile, festivals like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rocky-Grass in Lyons (Colorado), ROMP (Kentucky), and bands like Yonder Mountain String Band, Blue Highway, Rhonda Vincent, and Druhá Trava (Czech Republic) attract large audiences and expanded the range of progressive bluegrass in atmospheres of jams in university bands, often called "jamgrass". Bluegrass merged with jazz in the music of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Tony Rice Unit, Sam Bush, Doc Watson, and others.

    Currently, artists like Chris Thile, Molly Tuttle, Billy Strings, Sierra Hull and Sarah Jarosz have been adding a lot of energy and a new sound to the style, since they are from a generation that did not necessarily grow up listening only to bluegrass classics, but many other branches of contemporary music. It was precisely this mixture of influences that formed the sound of the style that we love so much: bluegrass.

Alison Krauss - Bluegrass Fiddle
Desenvolvimentos Recentes
Main Sources:


The Bluegrass Reader - Thomas Goldsmith

Country Music Reader - Travis D. Stimerling

Bluegrass Time - A Musician's Photographs of the Early Days of Bluegrass Festivals - Phil Zimmerman


Bill Monroe Father of Bluegrass Music

High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music

Bluegrass Country Soul

Country Music - Ken Burns

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