Talk:Bluegrass music

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Bluegrass music:
  • Improve references and citations
  • Describe the way in which other genres have influenced bluegrass
  • Add audio samples of bluegrass - Remove Shelby Disaster as an example. That is not a bluegrass song.
  • Geographical spread
  • How does bluegrass fit in the music industry?
  • More (and better) images
  • Eliminate all the lists or move them to individual list articles
  • Write text for "Social and musical impact" section
  • Improve explanation of origin

Gundula Krause[edit]

Does Gundula Krause actually have a connection to Bluegrass music? And if so, is she well enough known to be mentioned? -- Jmabel | Talk 18:45, Jan 15, 2005 (UTC)

I don´t know. But she is really an expert in this kind of music. Audax 12:16, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Having grown up pretty much immersed in bluegrass music and also studying it in school, I have never even heard of Gundula Krause. She may play bluegrass or related music, but she is probably not an artist of significance to merit encylopedic inclusion in a bluegrass article. To me artists listed in the bluegrass article should either be exemplars of the "core" bluegrass tradition (Blue Grass Boys, Flatt & Scruggs, JD Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Dolly Parton) or notable outliers who influenced subsequent musicians (New Grass Revival, Seldom Scene, David Grisman, Béla Fleck). Just being a musician who plays bluegrass, or being a musician who plays music related to bluegrass is not enough, although perhaps some of these could be noted to further explain what is and is not generally considered bluegrass (e.g. although Chris Thiele has recorded bluegrass and the band performs some bluegrass/folk related songs, Nickel Creek is not usually considered a bluegrass band: they never use a banjo, bass does not keep the beat as you would expect in bluegrass - Chris has even said that he does not believe they are playing bluegrass). Cmadler 13:11, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
Yup. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:03, May 1, 2005 (UTC)
Remarking a year later: Krause seems increasingly high profile in bluegrass circles. I have no remaining objection to her being mentioned in the article. - Jmabel | Talk 02:10, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
Dolly Parton an exemplar of the "core" Bluegrass tradition? Please! She recorded a couple of BG-ish records to cash in on a trend. I like her, but she's not BG. Dubc0724 17:30, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, I didn't argue that because it was not the apparent point of the remark. - Jmabel | Talk 00:03, 15 July 2006 (UTC)


The claim that the popularity of Bluegrass is "limited to the Southeast United States and some college campuses" seems to me to be a gross exaggeration. Just by way of some examples to the contrary: the Idaho Bluegrass Association, and a bluegrass festival in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and European World of Bluegrass. None of these are southeastern or collegiate. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:11, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC)

Bluegrass is popular all over the world, for some reason especially in the Czech Republic. It's not as widespread and famous as country or rock, but it has devoted fans everywhere. Tuf-Kat 06:53, Jun 22, 2005 (UTC)
I agree that bluegrass is popular all over the world! Just look at the events listed in Bluegrass Unlimited each month, with listings for Australia, England, and France. My mother and stepfather were founding members of the Adirondack Bluegrass Society in upstate NY, which has been around since 1972 and is still going strong. We even have a very active bluegrass community/society here in Hawai`i! Bluegrass is everywhere. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 3 May 2006.


Someone continues to remove Jesse McReynolds from the "core" list. He has played music with his brother for over 50 years (his brother died in 2002), and has invented a new style of mandolin playing called crosspicking. This has become extremely popular with mandolin players around the country. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for over 40 years. He not only had a TV show, "The Jim and Jesse Show" in the 1970s, but had recorded with Chuck Berry, the Doors, the Who, and John Prine. He is a legend of this music.

I moved Uncle Charlie Osborne to the "known for other stlyes" area, because, while his albums were bluegrass, he was known primarily as a mountain musician.

If someone wants to remove them again, I'd like to see a good reason first.

I made those changes, which, along with the rationale, appears in the page history. Because he is primarily known for his work with his brother, I replaced "Jesse McReynolds" with "Jim & Jesse". I removed George W Osborne; I have never heard of him and his Wikipedia article states, "he never played bluegrass..." I removed Uncle Charlie Osborne for a similar reason; he is known for traditional/folk music, but not as a bluegrass musician (bluegrass music is nowhere mentioned in his article).
Keep in mind that the goal is not a comprehensive list of all bluegrass and bluegrass-related musicians (there is a page for list of bluegrass musicians) but to provide someone unfamiliar with the genre with a short list of exemplars and (potentially) suggestions for listening. We have more than 30 musicians already listed in this article; I think that to keep it from duplicating the list of bluegrass musicians we should probably not increase that number (if a musician/band needs to be added, perhaps a less significant artist can be removed). See the above discussion re: Gundula Krause Cmadler 17:00, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Jesse McReynolds merged with Jim and Jesse, but keep in mind they are major pioneers of this kind of music. As for Charlie Osborne, in his early days he was known as an excellent bluegras session fiddle player if you could convince him to do it. The Stanley Brothers had him on several live shows and uncredited on one or two records. (anon 15 July 2005)

I've missed Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell on the list as "Duelling banjos" is one of the most famous Bluegrass tunes. Melly42 16:44, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

It is a notable tune, and perhaps the article could have a section for notable songs/tunes and notable albums. However, I think Weissberg and Mandell are probably not important enough (apart from this tune) to be added to this list. They certainly could be added to List of bluegrass musicians.Cmadler 12:20, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

I just caught this: (removed The Earl Brothers, nonnotable, the line appears to have been added so they can list Wikipedia on their website)

I put them in to begin with, and I have nothing to do with the band. The Earl Brothers are a nationally touring act that has been featured at IBMA and write almost all of their own material. Their music is innovative while retaining a traditional feel, and many people in the bluegrass community consider them to be the most interesting original development within the genre in recent memory. On what basis are they "nonnotable"? I don't know how to sign this...C. Ruth

I think this whole "4th generation" thing needs more attention, or should get axed. While plenty of young artists/bands may be doing really interesting stuff and garnering attention within certain communities, I don't think those mentioned here, besides Chris Thiele, have demonstrated the level of impact which warrants inclusion in this article.Ninepoundjammer 10:00, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
And what is this "3rd generation"??? Seems just to describe the maturation of the 2nd generation. This history section needs improvement.Ninepoundjammer 10:49, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Charlie Moore, Bill Napier and Curly Lambert[edit]

About a year ago I added names of three people who have contrubited to the music. these were Charlie Moore, Bill Napier and Curly Lambert-- all of whom have died. I am wondering if there is some kind of agenda here for they have been deleted!! Who ever did this it is shame on them. If some one is questioning my credentials here it is. I worked with and recorded with the above mentioned people back in the 1970's. You may check the OLD HOMESTEAD record lables for this info.Dan Proctor, bass player /tenor singer Charlie Moore and the Dixie Partners. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 29 August 2006.

Well, I've yet to remove any names from this page, but I would support this removal. As stated many times elsewhere in these discussions, the "agenda" is to create a good overview and introduction to the music, not to create a definitive history or catalog of bluegrass music. With this goal, it's necessary to restrict ourselves to only the most notable and influential artists. There's a bunch of additional removals I'd like to make. Listing every notable artist is inappropriate. Moore et. al. may very well warrant their own wikipedia entry, but I agree that they are not appropriate for this page. By the way, if you create a user account then people can discuss their edits to your contributions with you, and questioning the "agenda" of other editors is not really constructive. People have different viewpoints and opinions and the whole point of this thing is to find a way to work together and find an agreeable common ground.Ninepoundjammer 22:25, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I have removed names from this page, quite possibly Moore, Napier, and Lambert, for exactly the reasons given by Ninepoundjammer. Cmadler 23:10, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Additionally, it's generally strongly discouraged to edit topics with which one has personal involvement. Objectively, the removal is warranted. Subjectively, this might not make you happy.--Ninepoundjammer 04:13, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

3rd gen. and Recent trad. bg bands[edit]

I have to question whether some of the people removing things really know that much about the music. A few points: there is a "third generation" that is pretty distinct, one of the more popular bands is even called IIIrd Tyme Out in homage to this fact, as is mentioned in the entry. Also, for fans of traditional bluegrass, bands like the Earl Brothers and Open Road are rather important. Both are nationally touring acts who have multiple commercially available recordings and they have both been showcased at the IBMA. The point of talking about NEW bands is that some of the people around the periphery of the music probably will NOT have heard of them. That doesn't mean that they are irrelevant to an introduction, however, because a mention of new currents that those in the know are tuned in to is an appropriate part of such an article. Why are they being removed? I also have a hard time believing that anyone who knows about bluegrass would delete Charlie Moore. The entry is not supposed to be only about bands that only those with the most cursory knowledge of the music have heard of. Also, Chris Thile is more marginal than these names, despite his popularity, because he plays very little bluegrass. —Preceding unsigned comment added by C Ruth (talkcontribs)

I haven't removed anything myself (nor contributed much either), but can you point to a source that discusses the 3rd generation concept as distinct from the Crowe/Bush/Rice era (all of whom are still very active). As for the name of the band IIIrd Tyme Out, the often told story goes something like this:

Choosing a name for the new band turned out to be one of the hardest parts.

"We really didn't want to put anybody's name out in front, because we all wanted to be equals in the partnership. We were looking at road signs, we were looking in dictionaries, we were doing anything we could to try and come up with a name for the band. I asked Ray, 'What do you think about the name 'Third Time Out'? He said, 'Where'd that come from?' I said, 'You know, this is your third professional bluegrass group to be associated with. It's my third professional bluegrass group, and it's also Mike Hartgrove's. So, this is kind of our third time to venture out in the bluegrass world, maybe the third time will be a charm. He said, 'Man, I like that,' so basically, that's where that came from."

The Roman numeral and substitution of 'y' for 'i' in 'Tyme' was, he admits, "just something to catch your eye, and make you look, and hopefully the name would stick in your mind." [1]

I'm not saying you're wrong on all counts, I'm just wondering if it would be better to organize the history in terms of changes in the music that have occurred in various decades rather than somewhat ambiguous "generations". Also, since you seem to know a bit about bands like IIIrd Tyme Out, Open Road, and the Earl Brothers, you might work on some articles for these groups. I suspect they have been removed because they are all red links and thus not very helpful as examples. -MrFizyx 14:08, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments. I was probably wrong about the significance of "IIIrd Tyme Out." The second generation appellation covers a period of time beginning in around the late fifties. In other words, if we deny the existence of a third generation, the first generation is composed of bands that started in about a ten-year period, and the second generation is composed of bands that started in about a fifty-year period. This is unsatisfying, and furthermore the term "third generation" has general currency. However, I will search for documentation to clean up my act here and try to define a third generation.C Ruth 18:21, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Well, the IBMM has a "founders" category which lists bands that began up until 1954. That's the closest I could find to any sort of quasi-official categorization. At the very least, it seems clear to me that bands from the late '70s and '80s constitute a 3rd generation (such as the Johnson Mtn. Boys). I am mystified as to why the burden to provide evidence would be on someone claiming a 3rd generation, rather than someone claiming only two, since the taxonomy that includes a third is in common usage, and many claim a fourth is emerging. The defender of the two-generation taxonomy has to justify one generation lasting from 1945 to 1954, and another lasting from 1955 until 2006. This is extemely counter-intuitive, and therefore I submit that the evidential burden is on the people who say there are only two generations. C Ruth 01:05, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't understand. If "Third generation bluegrass" is a term of common usage then what is the problem with providing a source? If there is no source for a thing, how can it be common knowledge? What generation is Alison Krauss (b. 1971)? Or for that matter Sierra Hull (barely a teenager and already having a festival named in her honor)? Isn't Sam Bush (b 1952) a good bit younger than Del McCoury (b. 1939) and isn't Del already a generation behind Bill Monroe (b. 1911)? I'm not defending the use of two genrations versus three. Both are ambiguous. Could the history be better divided by decades, notable events, or something more clearly defined? One of the great things about bluegrass is that ensembles tend to include multiple generations of people. -MrFizyx 20:10, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

I'm saying that "third generation" is common parlance, not that it has a citable pedigree. Where is any source cited here for generations at all? Why are we even talking about a first generation, then? The fact is that these are loose terms in common usage, not a complete and unified taxonomy. Also, the "generation" label does NOT seem to be applied to when people are born, but when they began playing. The only official source I know of is the IBMM's list, which only deals with first generation. If you'd rather have "first generation," "second generation," and "more recent devlopments," go for it, I won't change it. But "more recent developments" would have to start some time around the late 70s. CRUTH (not logged in)

To support CRUTH on the difficulty of sourcing these terms...Bluegrass has not recieved much attention in academia, nor in popular media (outside of genre media). So while certain terms and definitions may be reasonably widely accepted within the bluegrass music community, providing citations can be very difficult. That said, it is fairly likely that - if it must be cited - the idea of identifying musicians by "generation" has been discussed or at least mentioned at some time in genre media (such as Bluegrass Unlimited). I don't have adequate access to look for this, but I'm sure it can't be that hard to find such a reference. Cmadler 21:59, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm not pressing the issue because I'm not active on this article at the momnet and I don't want to disrupt work that is being done. Still, I've yet to find evidence that this isn't a neologism. I'm reasonably well read on the subject and I've hung around various grass-roots jam sessions and these terms just aren't used much. There are places one might look. Bluegrass Unlimited has three years of searchable content online. A recent and VERY basic (but still fairly academic) overview of Bluegrass can be found in a book by Stephanie P. Legin--I don't recall how she organizes the history, but it might be a place to start. There really are sources out there if one looks. -MrFizyx 04:48, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
Oops I think I had her name wrong (as did the linked page above), it is spelled "Ledgin" and here is her site. -MrFizyx 05:10, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
According to this the Mar/Apr 1994 issue of Bluegrass Now, Vol 4 #2, had an article titled "Third Generation"--could just be about a band with that name or maybe its exactly the reference we are seeking. I dunno, anybody know where to find such an arcane mag.? -MrFizyx 05:53, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

I removed Earl Brothers, Open Road, and Jumping Willies from "recent section". I'm sorry, but there's no reason to select these 3 groups as somehow more notable than a multitude of other great recent groups. Subjective content such as this is just begging for flame wars.--Ninepoundjammer 04:42, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

I have no idea who the Jumping Willies are. I put the Earl Brothers and Open Road in and, not only hasn't there been a flame war, there haven't been any cogent reasons given for taking them out. For fans of traditional bluegrass--still the core of the genre--Open Road is one of the most notable recent bands (recently broken up too, unfortunately). The Earl Brothers have had a lot of buzz on Bgrass-L, just to give a fairly objective reference. Who are all these other bands that could just as well be added? If any are good examples, maybe they should be added, rather than removing these. After all, what's the point of "recent developments" even being in here if we don't want to list any recent developments? And why is it that the only acceptable name under "4th Generation" is someone who doesn't even play bluegrass (with a few exceptions, apparently a song or two on his new album are BG)?
As for the word "generation" being a "neologism" (by which I can only conclude you mean coined by this article), that is just nonsense. For one thing, look at the album "Second Generation Bluegrass" by Whitley, Skaggs and Ralph from the early '70s. A simple scan of Google would have shown you numerous colloquial uses of the term (although not, unfortunately, any authoritative taxonomies).
I have no idea what standards we are supposed to be adhering to as far as "generations" and artists go, but the article is starting to read like its written by dilettantes who may know some artists from the classic years but recently are only familar with country stars who have crossed over to bluegrass, or bluegrass musicians who have gained mainstream acceptance by playing other styles of music, all of which is TANGENTIAL to the putative purpose of such an article, which should be to give an account of the state of BLUEGRASS music. C Ruth 19:38, 22 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm absolutely dumbfounded that someone took it upon themselves to remove the Earl Brothers and Open Road without even bothering to respond to the following: "Also, for fans of traditional bluegrass, bands like the Earl Brothers and Open Road are rather important. Both are nationally touring acts who have multiple commercially available recordings and they have both been showcased at the IBMA. The point of talking about NEW bands is that some of the people around the periphery of the music probably will NOT have heard of them. That doesn't mean that they are irrelevant to an introduction, however, because a mention of new currents that those in the know are tuned in to is an appropriate part of such an article. Why are they being removed?" I will restore them until reasons are given. C Ruth 19:40, 22 October 2006 (UTC)
There may be a number of ways to create objective criteria for who deserves a mention in the article. Here are just some ideas. Have they been on the cover of Bluegrass Unlimited or ranked in their survey? Have they appeared in on the Billboard Magazine's year-end chart for bluegrass artists? Do they frequently appear in the top 20 in Bluegrass Now or have they appeared on the cover of one of their issues? etc. These are just some suggestions. -MrFizyx 21:54, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

C Ruth, you turned this into a flame war long ago. Multiple editors, including myself, disagree with your subjective opinions, and you refuse to adopt any sort of objectivity. I'm done with this article, it's yours to butcher (not that you seem to need my blessing or to exist within the community). Not cool, you've really destroyed my opinion of wikipedia.--Ninepoundjammer 18:32, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure where I've done any flaming. I gave an argument for the inclusion of those bands that you never responded to. Can you name any other notable new bluegrass bands that meet the criteria I presented--nationally touring, featured at IBMA, discussed by BG fans on a national level (see the Bgrass-l listserv for discussions of both bands)? Then list them, I have no idea why your doing so would be objectionable, since "recent developments" is always going to include bands that aren't famous outside of BG circles. Chris Thile, on the other hand, plays almost no bluegrass--I heard there were a couple of BG songs on his new album, but that's the exception, not the rule. Can someone explain to me why someone who is famous and peripheral to bluegrass is a more significant development in bluegrass than someone who is fairly well-known within bluegrass circles, according to verifiable criteria that I have proposed, and--most importantly--ACTUALLY PLAYS BLUEGRASS? Please, give me ONE ARGUMENT as to why my approach is wrong, and I'll stop adding the Earl Brothers and Open Road. Personally, I think if there were 7 or 8 more bands lited under "recent developments" it would be even better--but those are the only ones I can think of that are not basically local acts. C Ruth 21:01, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, I did think of another band that meets those criteria, Cherryhomes. I'm not a huge fan, but they are actually way more popular than the two I originally added. I'm sure there's a few more that would be relevant, and I see no reason why they shouldn't be included. Currently the criterion seems to be mainstream fame, hence all the Alison Krauss/Thile stuff, but I think these bands are more relecant to bluegrass. C Ruth 21:07, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

C Ruth, regarding flames, why don't you read your passage about "dilettantes" above and think a little more carefully before you post such remarks. I am NOT a Cherryholmes fan, quite the opposite, but they're out there headlining small festivals and I could get a hold of a CD easily enough. I can't objectively dissent on their inclusion. If we want to get strict about playing "bluegrass", sure seems that the Earl Brothers consciously avoid the word bluegrass in describing themselves, and there are those that would certainly not call them bluegrass. I'm not such a stickler though. I'm more concerned about how widely these groups are known compared to similar groups. Amazon stocks Cherryholmes. Amazon does not stock the Earl Brothers (available through resellers). That's a fair measure of how many people are actually listening to these groups as far as I'm concerned.--Ninepoundjammer 17:52, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

generation after generation[edit]

"Bluegrass Now" can be found, logically enough, at, as a google search would have revealed to the curious. Here's a reference to the "third generation" from the magazine of record (unfortunately, but that's another story) "Bluegrass Unlimited": "In the years since it briefly flourished, NGR has spawned and inspired not just one but two generations of young newgrass Turks (Nickel Creek being one of the most prominent of the third generation) who have continued to erase boundaries between bluegrass and other popular musical styles while sometimes giving hard-core bluegrassers a bad case of dyspepsia in the process!" ( References to the "first generation" are most common, indeed so common as to be not worth citing, if nobody insists. It stands to reason that if there is a "first generation," there has to be a second. It also stands to reason that if the first generation encompasses ten years, the second probably doesn't encompass 50 years, hence there is probably at least a third. "Third generation" is used in the bluegrass parlance and I have yet to hear a cogent argument against its employment. "Fourth generation " is certainly debatable. The point, however, is that these are terms of convenience--nobody is going to find platonic forms of the generations that end all debate forever. If the terms are somewhat fluid and arguable, it's still preferable to use "third generation" than to make the ridiculous claim that Red Allen and Chris Thile are of the same "generation" of bluegrass. C Ruth 17:52, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

The truly curious might have followed my aforementioned link to the title of the article at "". The problem is that the content of the article is not online so unless one has access to a collection of back issues the article's subject is left to speculation. Who is claiming Red Allen and Chris Thile are of the same generation? My point has been that no taxonomy of generations is sufficiently well-defined to organize a history of bluegrass (I have never said that two is better than three or four or five for that matter, and I wish you'd stop getting stuck on that point). Still, I'm willing to let those actively working on the article organize it however they please for now, but if you can cite a source to define the terms you are using please do. The article really does need better sourcing (as has been noted below regarding the GA re-review). -MrFizyx 20:57, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
Ok, my last post was hasty, in regard to 1. my snide comment about where to find Bluegrass Now, which I apologize for and retract--I assume one could just email them about back issues. And 2. I guess I was still arguing against your earlier post which seemed to suggest there were only 2 generations, but if your thing is to get rid of the generations altogether, I wouldn't object if you did. This is pretty common parlance, but we are probably never going to get a strict taxonomy unless someone takes it upon themself to propose one, unless the book you cited has already done so. I personally am now convinced it would be much better to go by decade, and that would result in a richer and more complete account than we have now, but I haven't the time and energy to do that myself right now. How about a show of hands, as it were, as to whether this is a good idea in principle, though? Ideally, I imagine, it could start with bluegrass precursors in the '30s, and it could mention under the account of the '50s which artists are still considered "first generation." I have no idea what my password is, CRUTH

Ok, I DID find a scholarly taxonomy, although it seems a bit idiosyncratic. I'd still vote for decades, but check it out: C Ruth 14:14, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

The Shelby Disaster[edit]

As a point of reference, "The Shelby Disaster" remains at , the link to it having now been removed from the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:28, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Article lead[edit]

I don't think the article's lead sufficiently summarizes what bluegrass music is. The second sentence touches on it, but the first sentence (50% of the lead) mostly relates bluegrass to other musics (English, Irish, Scottish, blues, jazz, etc.). Not sure yet how to fix it, as the question "What is bluegrass?" is a complex one to which the only answer I've found is the circular response "Bluegrass music is the stuff played by bluegrass bands." Cmadler 16:04, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree, and also find the assertion "Many older Bluegrass songs come directly from the British Isles." seems to be completely without foundation. If we accept the view that bluegrass is a mixed bag of Bill Monroe's various influences (old-time, brother duets, ballads, spirituals, blues, hoe-downs, footing etc, I would love to know exactly how many bluegrass songs in Monroe's repertoire were written by UK bluegrass musicians! Of course there are bound to be a few examples where an old British folk song has been adapted but I would like to see a musicologist's view on how many old-time tunes are directly attributed to the UK and Ireland, and how many of these old-time tunes ended up in what most would accept as the bluegrass repertoire. From what I know of the bluegrass/British connection, the tunes are just too few in number to have a major impact on the genre, and, to a large extent, this assertion (that many older bluegrass songs come directly from the British Isles) just serves to dilute the originality of the final sound that Bill Monroe set out to achieve with entirely new material.
It must also be remembered that what we now accept to be the distinctive bluegrass sound was not associated with Bill Monroe until 1945 when David "Stringbean" Akeman's comic, old-timey style was replaced by Earl Scruggs with his exciting, syncopated, melodic, hard-driving banjo sound. Here are a couple of clips showing Stringbean playing in an old-time banjo style known as frailing and here (actually covering a Bill Monroe song) whereas in this clip he plays a primitive picking style using only his thumb and first finger; it seems rather awkward, mostly played low down the neck and no syncopation. One can easily imagine how Earl Scruggs may have helped to lift Bill's lonesome bluegrass sound to a more sophisticated level - a long way from the cigar-box fiddle and the washboard. Ophir (talk) 23:24, 4 March 2013 (UTC)


This instrumentation section was bothering me, and I wanted to document a few of the more significant actions I took. Mentioning Flatt and Scruggs seemed distracting and out of place, they get their due consideration elsewhere in the article. The "one suggested definition" seems pretty arbitrary and open to wide disagreement within the community -- again, more distracting than helpful and it seemed best just to eliminate that passage. Other than that, just some minor edits.Ninepoundjammer 10:41, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

"Bluegrass music was around more than 100 years..."[edit]

I don't know your format for editing, or suggestion for change.. but dern. This whole article needs re-authored by someone with more knowledge on the subject. You state bluegrass became popular after the 1940's.. Please tell me then what my ancestors were playing after dinner (from my family's oral history) 30 years prior to the civil war? When speaking on the historical side of a subject, it's not typical to date its origins to the era in which the subject's popularity rose. Don't take my statement the wrong way, I'm not saying the whole article is 100% incorrect.. I'm stating that Bluegrass music was around more than 100 years longer than you're giving it credit, and *yes* it was called Bluegrass back then, not "folk" music ,"old time" music, or "Appalachian Folk" music as your article would lead others to believe. I remember many times as a youngster hearing an ancient bluegrass tune about building the slave walls! I'm sorry, if I'm posting in the wrong format. Looking further down [now up] this "edit" page I have no idea what syntax you're using or I'd use it if I did. It's just.. somethings on here should really be tidy'd up a bit.

Thanks guys, this really is a good site with lots of good info. It's just in this case, it could be a lil better. (anon 23 Aug 2005)

You don't offer a citation, so I'm just going to have to go out on a limb and say either your family's oral history is wrong or (if what you are saying can be substantiated) you are sitting on one hell of a scoop. If it's the latter, could you please be more specific than just a claim that basically says "Everything you know is wrong"? (Just for a few stray citations backing up the dates claimed in the article: [2], [3])-- Jmabel | Talk 05:37, August 24, 2005 (UTC)
According to the Rough Guide to World Music, "It goes against every instinct held by a folklorist to assert that a music has been 'invented', but bluegrass comes the closest. In 1938 Bill Monroe... formed a group of musicians which he named the Blue Grass Boys. Monroe was born in Kentucky, the Blue Grass State -- hence the name of the band." Tuf-Kat 07:02, August 24, 2005 (UTC)
As to the age, it is widely accepted that bluegrass music was first performed in the late 1930s or (more likely) early 1940s; what did exist in the 1830s (and may account for some of those songs) was minstrelsy. To add to what Tuf-Kat and Jmabel mentioned, one defining characteristic of bluegrass is that each melody instrument switches off, playing the melody in turn while the others revert to backing; this is something that was picked up from jazz, which developed in the 1890s, in part out of ragtime, which in turn owes a debt to the marches which became popular after the American Civil War, and you can occassionally hear the influence of these older styles in bluegrass (in the structure of the music, for example). Cmadler 12:42, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
The 'Talk' page usually consists of a series of discussions (such as this one, "Bluegrass music was around more than 100 years...") with the most recent discussions at the bottom of the page, and newest posts toward the bottom of the discussion (or below the post to which they are responding). Kind of like when you sort email by conversation. Cmadler 12:46, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
Minstrelsy: Yes, but minstrel music (probably the first specifically commercial music with American folk roots) doesn't sound much like bluegrass. "Turkey in the Straw" and "Oh, Susannah" are about the closest it comes. -- 23:05, August 24, 2005 (UTC)
I was just suggesting a possible source for a "tune about building the slave walls." There are a lot of songs commonly played in bluegrass which predate its beginning: White House Blues, Molly and Tenbrook, and John Henry, for example probably began life as broadsheet ballads (or something like that) in 1901, 1878, and the 1870s or 1880s, respectively. Cmadler 12:06, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Appalachian music of the 1920s and earlier does however sound like bluegrass. I've heard examples, and my own grandfather played bluegrasslike music going back to before this says bluegrass existed and I have recorded samples of his playing to prove that. Just because a people lacked record deals or the connections to get on sheet music doesn't mean they cease to exist. There is an oral history, and among modern historians this can be deemed quite valid. "Bluegrass" as a term is a creation of Bill Monroe in the 1930s, but as a kind of music it is far far older. Traditional Scottish fiddle music from the 1700s is what I'd consider the origin, not "minstrelry." The person who complained was right too and the dismissals of the complaints strike me as a bit of snobbery.--T. Anthony 03:22, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

I think I may have found my confusion. International Bluegrass music association mentions part of the origins being from Scotland in the 1600s.[4] However this kind of music was apparently called "mountain music"[5] or North Carolina Scots-Irish music.[6]. To be honest I think the North Carolina Scots-Irish traditional music and "mountain music" sound enough like bluegrass they're often now just called bluegrass. That's probably what I, and the complaining person, were thinking of. The article mentions many songs now counted as bluegrass are traditional Appalachian folk medlets. The main difference being bluegrass took these influences and added others to make it more populist.--T. Anthony 03:33, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, like all genres of music, bluegrass' exact boundaries are fuzzy. "Mountain music" does sound like bluegrass, but it's not the same thing, and it isn't usually called bluegrass, I think. Bluegrass evolved out of, among other things, the largely Scots-Irish music of Appalachia, of which North Carolina mountain music is a regional variety (and, IIRC, a particularly important one in influence on bluegrass). This article doesn't really cover origins too well, I think, but does mention and link to "old-time music", which amounts to more or less the same thing in this context. Tuf-Kat 04:52, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Having grown up in Central Virginia (b. 1957), and spent many idle childhood to teenage summers in the mountains of Southwest Virginia (which is the only creditation I have) I would say Bill Monroe:

1) Followed up in A.P. Carter's footsteps by bringing mountain music to the masses. Your own article on Mr. Carter talks about him recording staples like Keep on the Sunny Side before 1940, as well as Carter bringing a blues musician with him to help transcribe the music in the mid-30's. This sort of shows bluegrass' influence on Blues, IMHO.

2) Gave the music it's name.

3) Found Earl Scruggs. Again, an opinion, but I believe Scruggs had as much to do with Monroe's sucess as the other way around. The banjo was pretty much strummed (ala ragtime, also influenced by mountain music) before Scruggs. He brought it to the front, and gave the music another lead to alternate. This was always done with the mandolin and fiddle, until Scruggs.

Monroe was definitely important, and he may have formally named it, but he didn't invent it. And I think Bluegrass is the influential music on country, ragtime, and jazz, not the other way around. IF, the music was invented by Monroe in the 40's (66 years ago?) how does a guy 90 years old play it? And I saw guys in their late ages (60's 70's 80's...) playing at MANY, MANY "Fiddler's conventions", "Bluegrass festivals", whatever you want to call them, in the 70's.

How long have the Western North Carolinians been "clogging"? You need Bluegrass music to clog, or (as we called it) flatfoot to. These are the styles of dance. And, again, I've seen OLD guys flatfotting at Fiddlers conventions. What I mean is, a guy in 1975, a person that was, say 60 (being conservative), would have been 25, and just going to WW2 in 1940. Their music was Big Band. Now, he's flatfooting to bluegrass in the mid 70's. If the guy was 70, he was 35 when Monroe hit it. Will either of these guys ( at the ages of 25 and 35, in 1940) be learning new dances? Not likely. They learn to dance to it when they are 10. That means a guy 75 years old, flatfooting to bluegrass in 1975, learned how in 1910. And he learned it from his sister, or cousin, or maybe his mother and/or fatner to help socialize at gatherings. Which means it was taught by someone maybe 20, who learned it from... well you get the idea.

Mountain music has been around(in some form) just about as long as English, Irish and Scots have been in the US. It evolved and changed, slowly, because the players were mountain folk. It wasn't played in town much, it was always Old Timey. But it changed and evolved. A. P. Carter took it one step, Bill Monroe another. But the people have played it and danced to it for a long time.

Bluegrass is a very specific style of music. It is related to musics that have been around for longer. To some degree, the line separating bluegrass from other styles is blurry and arbitrary, as it is for all music genres. Tuf-Kat 02:39, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
To take an analogous matter in very different music: sure, in retrospect early Jonathan Richman sounds like punk, and so does even much of the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls and maybe even very early Who, but we don't usually say anything before 1976 or so was "punk". - Jmabel | Talk 00:06, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

I would say that modern day blue grass is probably somewhat different in some aspects than that of the Civil War era, but some sort of blue grass most definitely existed back then. If you listen to songs like What Wondrous Love, Old Dan Tucker, etc, you find a very banjo oriented country beat —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:32, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

  • There are key differences. Old Dan Tucker would have been played using minstrel stroke style (unfortunately, we don't yet have an article about it), which is quite different from the banjo styles used in bluegrass music (Scruggs, Keith, Reno). If you were to hear it performed in the style that would have been used then, and then hear it in a bluegrass style, the difference would be immediately apparent. Wondrous Love, is a sacred song from the shape note tradition -- it was published in the Southern Harmony and the Sacred Harp -- and it almost certainly would have been sung a capella. Going further, and considering the beat in general, bluegrass music tends to feature a strong backbeat (mandolin, banjo, guitar, etc. playing non-melodic backing), while mid-nineteenth century minstrel songs put more emphasis on the downbeat (tamborine and bones). Songs often pass from one style of music to another, and sometimes some of the same instruments may be used, but that doesn't make it the same kind of music. Consider another such song, "Blue Yodel #8", better known today as Mule Skinner Blues. The melody is the same, the words are the same, and some of the instruments are the same (e.g. guitar), but if you listen to Jimmie Rodgers' recording of it and then to a recent performance -- say, Rhonda Vincent's version on Ragin' Live (2005) -- you should be able to hear the difference. cmadler (talk) 12:56, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

With all due respect, I am pretty sure that the music you are talking about is old time, and not bluegrass. Bluegrass is a descendant of old time, and shares many of the same songs and even many of the same musicians. It's slightly reductive to say this, but you could argue that it's the same music played with a different mentality and attitude. Bluegrass tends to be more focused on virtuosity and lead breaks, and old time is more focused on the song or the tune. Bluegrass is almost defined by Scruggs style up picked banjo playing, where old time is strongly (but not exclusively) associated with down picked clawhammer banjo playing. Bluegrass also tends to be flashier and faster. I'd say they are two facets of the same thing, so you are partially right in saying that. If you go check out a self defined "old time" session and a self defined "bluegrass" session, you'll see what I mean. Also, having both the "Oh Brother" and "Cold Mountain" soundtracks, I don't hear any bluegrass on them, but I do hear old time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:15, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

I haven't really listened to the "Cold Mountain" soundtrack, so all I can say about that is that I don't recognize many bluegrass musicians (just O'Brien and Kraus) or songs, and AllMusicGuide does not list any form of bluegrass among its styles. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" definitely does contain a significant portion of bluegrass -- without going through and listening, I'd guess about 1/4 to 1/3 of the soundtrack -- and AMG recognizes this, listing "traditional bluegrass", "bluegrass", and "bluegrass-gospel" among its styles. So perhaps Cold Mountain should be removed, but O Brother retained. cmadler (talk) 16:13, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
I've removed "Cold Mountain" from the list, as well as a bunch of others that don't seem to have meaningful bluegrass music content. In each case I looked at the relevant Wikipedia article, checked All-Music Guide, and used some common sense. I'm not sure about Chrystal (didn't find anything about its music) so feel free to re-add that one (with a source), but I'm reasonalbly confident about the rest of the movies I removed. cmadler (talk) 16:32, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

"Notable artists" section / How close to featured?[edit]

I suggest that the "Notable artists" section be removed, possible replaced with a link to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor; inductees have been deemed notable by IBMA and the bluegrass community (as opposed to our current Wikipedian generated POV list). Also, as this page has become fairly complete and stable, perhaps we should request a peer review? Cmadler 19:23, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

  1. I'd have no problem with changing over to just a link to International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.
  2. Peer review is usually a last step before pushing to Featured Article status. This article is a looonnng way from that.
Jmabel | Talk 04:25, September 7, 2005 (UTC)
What areas of the article do you see as needing improvement to get there? Cmadler 11:06, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
Just for starters:
  1. Most of it is unreferenced.
  2. It talks about what genres influenced bluegrass, but doesn't give any description of the nature of the influence (what came from what genre, what was dropped?).
  3. It's about a genre of music, but there are no musical snippets.
  4. We don't track the geographical spread, and we don't say much about how it fit into the music industry.
  5. We don't have a notably good reference list for further reading
  6. The one image in the article is pretty indifferent.
Jmabel | Talk 01:37, September 8, 2005 (UTC)
I will begin working on 1,2,4,5. I can easily get more images, but what do you think they should be of? (A band on stage? Any specific musician? etc.)
I have asked (but not gotten an answer) on Wikipedia talk:Copyrights/Can I use... about snippets of music; do you know how much of a copyrighted work can be used (either percentage or raw duration) without getting permission from the copyright holder (fair use, or something like that)?Cmadler 11:59, 8 September 2005 (UTC)
I think that if we have a non-copyright photo of either a band even just a pick-up band playing at a festival, that would be good. I'd like to see one image that obviously is from the "home turf" of bluegrass in the U.S. Border States and another that is equally obviously from elsewhere.
There's no firm answer on music snippets, but 20 seconds should be pretty safe, especially if it's not a super-high-quality sample. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:10, September 9, 2005 (UTC)
I am beginning to add audio samples, and have created a category for them (Category:Bluegrass recordings). How do you think these should be presented in the article? Cmadler 21:41, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
The notable artists should probably be moved to list of bluegrass musicians, then we can link to that (and International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor). Tuf-Kat 05:02, September 7, 2005 (UTC)
Done. Cmadler 11:18, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
I've reorganized this a bit into a format that is more like how Wikipedia's music genre articles are evolving. (it's not really standard yet, but they're moving in that direction) The "social and musical impact" section may or may not be necessary in this case (it's hard to think of any social impact, though there's certainly some musical impacts that could be stated). I've put the movies in a subsection there, though that really ought to be made into prose or moved to list of movies with bluegrass music or something -- I know there's a bluegrass book I read once that had a whole chapter on bluegrass in soundtracks, but I'm not sure which one. I've also removed the whole "notable artists" section as unnecessary. The Associations, Publications and Museums sections could probably be merged, along with festivals, into a section (maybe "Organizations, media and festivals"?), which would need to be prose, not a list. Tuf-Kat 02:52, September 8, 2005 (UTC)
Social impact was, I suppose, not divisible from musical impact, but bluegrass has played a role in various interpenetration of cultures: it's been one of the bridges between Southern traditions and the counterculture, and it's been a worldwide symbol of aspects of America that are not as slickly commercial as most pop music. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:10, September 9, 2005 (UTC)

Bluegrass rock[edit]

"Bluegrass bands have included instruments as diverse as drums, electric guitar, accordion, harmonica, mouth harp, and piano, though these are not widely accepted within the bluegrass community."

Have electric versions of other string instruments also been used? Is there any information on Bluegrass rock?

All of the common bluegrass instruments have been played in an electric version. I know of the following being used: electric guitar, electric mandolin (possibly also electric mandola), electric fiddle, electric bass (guitar or upright), electric banjo (very rare), electric keyboard/piano, pedal steel. I have never heard the term "Bluegrass rock" before, but I can certainly think of some instances in which it might apply. (New Grass Revival in the late 1970s playing with Leon Redman, Earl Scruggs Revue, Osborne Brothers as well as New South in the mid-70s, Druhá Tráva, etc.) Most of those groups used drums, electric bass, electric guitar, and possibly electric fiddles and keyboards. This is more commonly just considered an outgrowth of Progressive bluegrass. In considering the idea of "Bluegrass rock" you would also have to consider the flip side ("rock" or other "mainstream" musicians influenced by bluegrass), which could include Elvis Presley, The Byrds, and cross-over artists such as Ricky Skaggs. This also raises the question of where you draw the line between electrified bluegrass and country music. I suspect it comes down to use of the banjo and (as anyone who has played with J. D. Crowe would say) timing. Cmadler 12:47, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Bluegrass in Movies[edit]

What are you shooting for with "Bluegrass in Movies"? Excepting "That High Lonesome Sound" and "King of Bluegrass: The Life and Times of Jimmy Martin", it seems to be a list of commercial movies with examples of a few pieces of bluegrass music in the soundtrack. I would suggest a more comprehensive listing or a correction in your heading. For instance, "The Ralph Stanley Story" directed by Herb E. Smith in 2001 and "Earl Scruggs: His Family and Friends" directed by David Hoffman in 1971 as well as many other films aren't mentioned. -AFinney 04:46, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

I think the eventual goal is to eliminate such lists and have a commentary on "social and musical impact" or something along those lines. (See the "Notable artists" section / How close to featured? section above.) Cmadler 12:43, 31 December 2005 (UTC)
And now an even odder inclusion: Blues Brothers 2000? Is there any significant amount of bluegrass in the movie? Presumably, this is not intended as a list of every film in which a bluegrass song is played. - Jmabel | Talk 00:36, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't believe there is any significant amount of bluegrass in BB 2000. For list inclusion guidlines, I like what is suggested on Talk:Mount Rushmore (see "Appearances section"). Cmadler 18:08, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Associations section[edit]

I have removed the "Associations" section (below) because it is getting long and unwieldy, and many of the listed associations are geographically limited and so of small interest to most people. Cmadler 12:18, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Would it be appropriate for Wikipedia to have a list of bluegrass associations article, similar to the list of bluegrass musicians article? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 3 May 2006.
Maybe not. Since most of these groups don't have articles this would likely become a page of external links (like the list below) and that does not suit Wikipedia's intended purpose (see WP:EL) Still, I can see why such a directory might be useful, I'm just not sure if there is a way for us to do that here. If there is such a directory somewhere else on the web, we could link to that. -MrFizyx 14:48, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
I've added this one which looks pretty good, feel free to replace it if you find a more useful link:
-MrFizyx 14:55, 13 October 2006 (UTC)


Publications with bluegrass content[edit]

I have removed the "Publications with bluegrass content" section for several reasons:

  • This article already has too many lists, which need to be replaced by text.
  • This list is not necessary or helpful to achieving an understanding of bluegrass music.
  • Upon a quick look, none of the listed publication place any special emphasis on bluegrass music. Many publications have some bluegrass content sometimes, and listing them all does not really help this article.

Cmadler 11:00, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Publications with bluegrass content[edit]

Yeah, but we could include "Bluegrass Unlimited", "Bluegrass Now", etc. Dirty Linen has a fair amount of BG material, as does Frets. But No Depression is more of an Alt-country mag. Dubc0724 17:28, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
I see your point on the other hand, all of the above are a heluva much better source than Rolling Stone. At one time Mags like Sing Out! would've been the only place to read about bluegrass. -MrFizyx 23:27, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

GA Re-Review and In-line citations[edit]

Members of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles are in the process of doing a re-review of current Good Article listings to ensure compliance with the standards of the Good Article Criteria. (Discussion of the changes and re-review can be found here). A significant change to the GA criteria is the mandatory use of some sort of in-line citation (In accordance to WP:CITE) to be used in order for an article to pass the verification and reference criteria. Currently this article does not include in-line citations. It is recommended that the article's editors take a look at the inclusion of in-line citations as well as how the article stacks up against the rest of the Good Article criteria. GA reviewers will give you at least a week's time from the date of this notice to work on the in-line citations before doing a full re-review and deciding if the article still merits being considered a Good Article or would need to be de-listed. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us on the Good Article project talk page or you may contact me personally. On behalf of the Good Articles Project, I want to thank you for all the time and effort that you have put into working on this article and improving the overall quality of the Wikipedia project. Agne 03:32, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

possible links between bluegrass and reggae[edit]

Does anyone know of a source that talks about possible links between bluegrass and reggae. I have noticed that fast bluegrass always has a strong offbeat emphasis from the rhythm instruments while the bass hits the downbeat. That is very similar to reggae and current popular music in Africa. A good history of Bluegrass seems like a good place to start looking. There isn't anything mentioned in the article about this offbeat in bluegrass. I have seen lots of people in webpages talk about that. Need sources. It would be nice to describe why bluegrass is different than country. I've talked to foreigners who can't tell the difference between pop and country and its getting hard these days.-Crunchy Numbers 23:21, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Sam Bush's frequent covering of "One Love" comes to mind (see here, Sam in concert wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt). Its hard to think of a good source that writes about this in any depth. Lemme think on this. -MrFizyx 01:45, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Still not quite what you're looking for: "Peter Rowan and Crucial Reggae jam on Jubilee." -MrFizyx 02:31, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Very cool. Thanks.-Crunchy Numbers 04:20, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Reasons for GA Delisting[edit]

This article's GA status has been revoked because it fails criterion 2. b. of 'What is a Good Article?', which states;

(b) the citation of its sources using inline citations is required (this criterion is disputed by editors on Physics and Mathematics pages who have proposed a subject-specific guideline on citation, as well as some other editors — see talk page).

LuciferMorgan 18:09, 8 November 2006 (UTC)


I generally find the definitions of musical genres to be tedious and needlessly obtuse - they have a tendency to be described in terms of differences and similarities with other genres, creating one gigantic circular definition - and while I thought this page might at least tell me what certain bluegrass fans defined it as, I was not expecting to go away much enlightened. I was very pleasantly surprised. The tone of the article, the NPOV, and above all the explanations are spot-on. Thank you 09:10, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Bluegrass in pop media?[edit]

as we're listing a few notable movies with bluegrass music in 'em, might we not also mention a couple of other easily-recognizable media "sources" for bluegrass? to NPR-listenin' liberal elitists like myself, the Car Talk radio show theme music (by Grisman; cannot recall the title at the moment) is pretty well-known, and there are a number of fairly popular TV shows using bluegrass and bluegrass-influenced music: South Park and Dirty Jobs come to mind, and of course, the venerable Beverly Hillbillies :) Johndoh75 19:40, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

The Car Talk tune is called "Dawggy Mountain Breakdown", a nod to Earl Scrugs "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" (Dawg is a nickname given to Grisman long ago by Jerry Garcia). I think a "popular media" section is kinda silly. Sure, a tune like the Bevery Hillbillies theme (a.k.a. "The Ballad of Jed Clampett") or the "Dueling Banjos" scene in Deliverance might be worthy of note somewhere in the article since they may have had some effect on popularizing or changing public perception of bluegrass, but these are just two of dozens of standard tunes. It would be better to note the influence of things like O' Brother in a general history section rather than have a popular media section. -MrFizyx 16:59, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Howdy Doody[edit]

I added The Country Gentlemen to the 1st generation list. If anyone has not heard these guys I highly recommend that you treat yourself. : Albion moonlight 09:30, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I've removed that. They really don't belong in the "1st generation". You might want to make note of them in the second generation, but the goal here should be to present a history of bluegrass not just list influential bands (although the Country Gents certianly are one). -MrFizyx 17:04, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Sub-genre of country?[edit]

Maybe this is a dumb question, but is it possible to source the claim that bluegrass music is a sub-genre of country music? My impression is that while music-industry marketing tends to treat it as such (when they treat it at all), many people involved with each genre (and perhaps especially bluegrass purists) see them as distinct types of music -- albeit with overlapping listener bases and a history of bidirectional influence -- rather than as umbrella category and sub-genre. Obviously, it depends a lot on one's definitions; "country," especially, is a difficult term to pin down. Still, if the opinions I've encountered are at all mainstream (and they may not be), another phrasing might be less controversial. E.g., "Commercially, it is often promoted as a sub-genre within the 'country' marketing niche." Other impressions? (talk) 01:32, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

My understanding of American Country music and how bluegrass fits in starts with the "mountain music" from southern Appalachia (with its British Isles roots). As stated in Roughstock's History of Country Music: "It wasn't until August 1, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee, that Country Music really began. There, on that day, Ralph Peer signed Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family to recording contracts for Victor Records." Jimmie Rodgers has come to be known as the "Father of Country Music". (Hank Williams later made a major contribution to the genre.) And "the Monroe Brothers from Kentucky contributed greatly to the advancement of traditional country music. . When the brothers split up as a team in 1938, both went on to form their own bands. Since Bill was a native of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, he decided to call his band 'Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys,' and this band sound birthed a new form of country music." (Bluegrass Music: The Roots) "While many fans of bluegrass music date the genre back to 1939, when Monroe formed his first Blue Grass Boys band, most believe that the classic bluegrass sound jelled in 1945, shortly after Earl Scruggs, a 21 year old banjo player from North Carolina, joined the band." (Bluegrass Music: The Roots) The "mountain music" that served as a launch pad for all this is now (and even then according to Roughstock) called Old-time music (among other variations of this name). Country music has since come to include all manner of other types, e.g., cowboy, Western, folk, etc. If this lays out the overall picture in broad strokes, perhaps it could be researched, referenced, and included as a simple line narrative of how bluegrass fits into the broader Country music.Artaxerxes (talk) 12:46, 13 November 2008 (UTC)


This article should be semi-protected because it is heavily vandalized by IPs. --Metal of Head 22:20, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

Overall accuracy of the article[edit]

I did not find the post on Bluegrass music as a genera to be very accurate and like many Wikipedia posts simply nonfactual. One simple example would be the statement that the music did not exist prior to WWII. This assertion is simply made in ignorance of what the music is. Really the genesis of Bluegrass was the adoption of reels, jigs, and other music to fiddle, guitar and banjo in rural Appalachia as the region was settled by the English, Scottish, and other islanders. Bill Monroe later fit the mandolin into a Bluegrass style which he made famous starting in the 40's. This music has a rich heritage and is truly and American gem. One suggestion I have for Wikipedia is that they get their article material from credible sources such as IBMA or Pinecone found at They would be a good starting point for information. Scott Jackson, Ph.D. 1/10/09 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jacksosh (talkcontribs) 20:29, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

The IBMA page reference says, "When the [Monroe] brothers split up as a team in 1938, both went on to form their own bands. Since Bill was a native of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, he decided to call his band "Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys," and this band sound birthed a new form of country music...While many fans of bluegrass music date the genre back to 1939, when Monroe formed his first Blue Grass Boys band, most believe that the classic bluegrass sound jelled in 1945, shortly after Earl Scruggs, a 21 year old banjo player from North Carolina, joined the band." This clearly supports this article's assertion that Bluegrass music began during WWII. Certainly this music has roots in far older styles/genres (that's nearly always the case), and the roots are mentioned, right there in the lead! cmadler (talk) 21:18, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

The Carter family[edit]

Are Sara and Maybelle(?) Carter considered to be Bluegrass? I listen to a bluegrass station and they are always referring to them. But they are not listed in the article as founders/forerunners of Bluegrass. Setwisohi (talk) 22:31, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Although they play a very important role not only in bluegrass but country music in general (evidenced by their inclusion in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Bluegrass Hall of Honor, etc.), they are generally considered to precede bluegrass. However, various elements of their style, as well as many songs they popularized have since become common in bluegrass. Similarly for Jimmie Rodgers. cmadler (talk) 13:30, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Aha, I see. Thanks for the info. That should maybe go into the article someplace too? Setwisohi (talk) 23:08, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

West African[edit]

I can see some justification for this in the fact that a very significant part of BG music involves instrumental improvisation, often virtuistic, with the lead being passed around from player to player. This is also a basic element of jazz, which obviously has African origins. Of course, the quintessential BG instrument, the Banjo, is also of African origin. Wschart (talk) 18:12, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Its just as African as it is Scottish. The African influence is certainly diluted, but it is still factually there much as the Celtic influence is. Bluegrass takes quite a bit from jazz and blues, both of which are descended partially from West African music.-- (talk) 05:42, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

black spirituals and bluegrass both have a very southern rhythm to them, i can see the relation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:22, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

Who removed the recognition of west African influence, and why? African Americans had a tremendous influence on Bluegrass. Even though this article does not explain the musical structure of Bluegrass, African influence should still be mentioned, especially since there is such a focus on the chioce of instruments; including the banjo, wich even Wikipedia says was developed by west African slaves. Sawbar (talk) 01:07, 3 December 2010 (UTC)


Not a diehard bluegrass fan, but I found it odd that AKUS is mentioned only once in this article. Doesn't AKUS have the most grammies for bluegrass? Perhaps the folks who have worked hard maintaining this page would give this a second look? Thanks in advance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:06, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Alison Krauss has 26 Grammys, which is the most for a woman and third overall. However, when you look at Bluegrass-specific awards, such as Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and IBMA awards, the awards reflect that her music has veered away from what most people consider bluegrass. For example, in 2009 she won 5 Grammys for a collaboration with Robert Plant. She won Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album (previously Best Bluegrass Recording) in 1991, 1993, 1998, 2002, and 2004. 2004 seems to be her last bluegrass Grammy nomination, and her last IBMA award; that IBMA award also went to Joe Nichols, Rhonda Vincent, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, James Taylor, Vince Gill, Terri Clark, Merle Haggard, Carl Jackson, Ronnie Dunn, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Glen Campbell, Leslie Satcher, Kathy Louvin, Pamela Brown Hayes, Linda Ronstadt, Patty Loveless, Jon Randall, Harley Allen, Dierks Bentley, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Dolly Parton, Sonya Isaacs, Marty Stuart, Del McCoury, Pam Tillis, Johnny Cash & the Jordanaires for "Best Recorded Event". For comparison, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder won the bluegrass Grammy in 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007, and 2009. Take a look at the IBMA awards list. The names that come up by far the most are the Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, and Rhonda Vincent & the Rage. Members of those bands also dominate the instrumental performance awards. Not that Alison is not a great musician (she is), but I'd argue that her musical significance within bluegrass is smaller than a lot of the other names mentioned. Thanks, cmadler (talk) 10:30, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Looked at IBMA and she won female vocalist 4 out of the first 6 years they had the award (as listed). (I need to check out Rhonda Vincent). And Dan Tyminski won male vocalist three years in a row. One less than Del McCoury and tied with Ronnie Bowman. While I did see some others you mentioned alot, if you are going by awards won, then AKUS would still get a mention ahead of some others in the article. Also, every video performance I have seen of them, they are using "traditional" bluegrass instruments, so they should rate a mention in that section of the article as well. I'm just passing through, but I stand by my view that AKUS is under-represented in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:22, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Carolina Chocolate Drops and Blind Boys of Alabama[edit]

  Would like to receive input concerning who, other than the performers,  profit from the use of these marketed names.  —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pointofgrille (talkcontribs) 15:49, 27 February 2010 (UTC) 


Bluegrass almost certainly has many roots predating world war 2. By that time in the American South and the mountains, similar if not the same music would have been heard. Maybe it wasn't a record selling industry until the second world war —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:18, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

It sounds like Spanish folk music from La Mancha, and guitars are from Spain, so perhaps Spanish origins should be mentioned. The banjo replacing the bandurria. American folk music shows stronger Spanish origins than British. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

Rolling Stone article: BLUEGRASS MUSIC'S CIVIL WAR: WHY NEW AND HERITAGE ACTS DON'T SEE STRING TO STRING--Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas and others weigh in on the never-ending musical argument in the bluegrass community by Deborah Evans Price; October 2, 2014.--Artaxerxes 18:08, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Christian music genre?[edit]

There is a category on this article for Christian music genre. However, I can not find anything saying that Christianity is significant aspect to bluegrass. Is it actually appropriate to be in this category? Munci (talk) 14:20, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Not a sub-genre of country music[edit]

The quote in note (1), says: "Musicologist Cecil Sharp collected hundreds of folk songs in the Appalachian region, and observed that the musical tradition of the people "seems to point to the North of England, or to the Lowlands, rather than the Highlands, of Scotland, as the country from which they originally migrated. For the Appalachian tunes...have far more affinity with the normal English folk-tune than with that of the Gaelic-speaking Highlander."

Please note the following:

  • The quotation doesn't talk about "bluegrass" but Appalachian folk songs.
  • England and Lowlands of Scotland are their origin
  • African-Americans are not mentioned. (talk) 19:01, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

What you're pointing out isn't exactly clear. Bluegrass grew from Appalachian folk music as its primary root, with influences from other sources such as jazz. The citation refers only to the English and Scottish roots of the music. The other influences also need citations. Eastcote (talk) 14:43, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and is a sub-genre of country music.

I believe this is backward. From what I've read, what we refer to as "country music" did not originate from Appalachia, which is where bluegrass' immediate antecedents originate. Country music is a commercial sound that drew from elements of bluegrass, as well as old-time southern gospels. Bluegrass has distinct elements of British, Irish and Scottish jigs and reels, as well as some aspects of the blues. In the USA, jigs and reels as a basis for rural music forms are relatively unique to Appalachia, which means mainstream country is/was not the antecedent of bluegrass.

Unless someone strenuously objects, I am removing the sub-genre reference.

Bigdumbdinosaur (talk) 18:48, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Being a "sub-genre" of country music does not have to mean "mainstream country" was the antecedent of bluegrass. Many forms of music became what is today "country music". Old-time hillbilly music, bluegrass, honky tonk, cowboy swing, call them what you will but there were a lot of "sounds" out there that by the 1950s/60s were recognized as "country and western". They are all sub-genres, but that doesn't mean one led to another. Bluegrass IS a sub-genre of country music. Eastcote (talk) 14:19, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Bluegrass IS a sub-genre of country music.

Except that there really is nothing to support that statement. What we call bluegrass was evolving well before the so-called country and western music industry even began (that is to say, prior to the development of the phonograph, which was late in the 19th century). The mountain folks back then who performed what we call bluegrass were relatively isolated from the more urbanized C&W scene (e.g., the Grand Old Opry milieu) and had developed a musical style that embodies features not found in other forms. All of the elements that gelled into bluegrass were already being performed by the time Bill Monroe was born.

...there were a lot of "sounds" out there that by the 1950s/60s were recognized as "country and western".

Just because someone thinks ("recognizes") a particular form of music is XYZ doesn't make it so. I believe the reason bluegrass tends to get the "country sub-genre" label is because those who don't really know the music and its history assume that all musicians with "southern sounding" voices that play fiddles and guitars are all the same. While so-called progressive bluegrass does have a C&W feel to it, that's only because commercial interests made it that way. Real bluegrassers perform for the art, not the big recording contract.

As a bassist who has played bluegrass for quite some time (and without benefit of a southern accent or even a Stetson), I can assure you that traditional bluegrass (the only real bluegrass—all else is a corruption of the original form) has a much different sound, style and feel than a typical commercial country ditty. Someone like Taylor Swift would be perilously close to being booed off the stage at some bluegrass events I've attended.

Bigdumbdinosaur (talk) 04:43, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Mountain folks were not performing "bluegrass" in the late 19th century. There was s similar sound in the 1920s and 30s to what became bluegrass, as radio and recordings began to influence "old time" and "hillbilly" music with jazz and other elements. The Grand Ol' Opry began with these "hillbilly" type sounds, among others -- and Bill Monroe with his newly coined term "bluegrass" was part of the Opry scene. Indeed the whole genre was often called "hillbilly" music till the more polite "country and western" label came along. The C&W industry as we know it didn't begin till the 1950s or so, and all the various types of "southern" (for lack of a better term) music were rolled into that genre. Bluegrass was one of the elements that went into what became "country and western". C&W continued synthesizing and commercializing into various other sounds such as Nashville or Bakersfield in the 50s and 60s, and on into the various things that pass for "country" music today (which cause my father to lament that "country just ain't country anymore). What "support" is there that bluegrass is NOT a type of country music? Eastcote (talk) 12:52, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
BDD, I reverted a few of your recent changes. Whether or not bluegrass is a sub-genre of C&W is currently under discussion. Some other assertions that you made are questionable. For instance, "the style and instrumentation can be traced back into the eighteenth century" is most certainly incorrect. In the 1700s, the "jazzy" style of bluegrass had not been invented, and its doubtful if the instrumental lineup of banjo, mandolin, fiddle, etc., were to be found on the pre-revolutionary frontier. You've also deleted statements supported by a specific citation, but left the citation in place. I agree the lead is not all that great (all those "citation needed" tags), but let's try to craft a better lead, rather than replace it with something that is also doubtful. Eastcote (talk) 15:19, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm also dubious of BBD's assertions in this regard. Every reasonably reliable source I've seen generally matches what Eastcote has described; I'd want to see some solid sources supporting BBD's statements before we consider putting that in the article. cmadler (talk) 19:30, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
True, Swift would be near booed at a bluegrass event but fans of traditional and real country music would do the same.-- (talk) 19:19, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Origin of name[edit]

BDD recently added a cited statement that "The Oxford Companion to Music suggests an etymology related to the "Blue Mountains [sic] of Virginia."" I don't doubt that the OCM may suggest this, but I also don't doubt that they are wrong to do so. Rosenberg is the authority on bluegrass, particularly the early years, and his account -- reinforced by the Ralph Stanley interview -- is far more reliable than an entry in a broad-based music encyclopedia. I'm not even sure the OCM assertion merits mention in this article; it's a tertiary source that's directly contradicted by highly reliable primary (Stanley interview) and secondary (Rosenberg) sources. cmadler (talk) 14:24, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


I capitalized most instances of "Bluegrass". If this is wrong, please correct me Lady Mondegreen (talk) 03:41, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

I believe that is incorrect, because "bluegrass" is simply the name of the genre. Perhaps this corresponding section in the Wikipedia article on capitalization can be consulted. :) -- Tomz0rs (talk) 03:57, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
According to the Wikipedia manual of style, genre names should not be capitalized unless they include a proper noun. Will edit, time permitting. Uncas80 (talk) 22:01, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Possible Bluegrass Wikiproject[edit]

If there is anyone who is interested in being involved in a Wikiproject about bluegrass music, please leave me a message at this page: User talk:Anne Delong/Bluegrass Topics, or check out what I've done so far at: User:Anne Delong/Bluegrass Topics. There are about 500 pages linked to the article "Bluegrass music" and many could use a little sprucing up. —Anne Delong (talk) 01:54, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

"New" grass sub-genre[edit]

This proposed sub-genre is confusingly named given the existence of Newgrass Revival and of newgrass generally referring to the progressive bluegrass sub-genre. Perhaps creating a section that discusses the influence of bluegrass on other genres or incorporation of aspects of bluegrass in other genres would be appropriate? Uncas80 (talk) 22:44, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

First Generation/Second Generation[edit]

Maybe someone with more knowledge of the genre could add some details here. Currently the section seems to only list musicians that would fit in these categories rather than explain what is the difference between the generations. -Xcuref1endx (talk) 18:29, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Bluegrass music/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Last edited at 22:22, 2 January 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 09:52, 29 April 2016 (UTC)