photo: Kim Ruehl/About.com
Jerry Douglas is, by almost any account, one of the best Dobro players to have ever met the instrument. Now a fixture in Alison Krauss' band Union Station, Douglas is also an accomplished solo artist, and has lent his gift to artists like the Country Gentlemen, J.D. Crowe & The New South, Paul Simon, Earl Scruggs, James Taylor, and the list goes on.
Another protegee of Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin started with the Blue Grass Boys in 1949, when he was the lead singer of the group. After leaving the Blue Grass Boys, he formed his own group called the Sunny Mountain Boys. Jimmy came to be known as the "King of Bluegrass" and "Mr. Good n' Country."
Singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale has had a hand in styles of music ranging from folk to bluegrass and country, and he's been one of the most succesful bluegrass songwriters in the history of the craft. He's one numerous awards including Grammy Awards and American Music Awards, and has released 17 albums in all.
Originally a member of the Stanley Brothers' Clinch Mountain Band, for whom he eventually became the lead vocalist after Carter Stanley died. He started the Lonesom Ramblers in 1970, which gave rise to artists like Ricky Skaggs and others. He's been awarded the IBMA's Male Vocalist of the Year honor twice, and has become one of the most influential artists in traditional bluegrass.
Since winning the coveted IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year honor in 1999, Mountain Heart has quickly become one of the most notable bands in the genre. They're as adept at their lightning-fast picking as they are at integrating other styles (blues, country, pop) into their work.
The Nashville Bluegrass Band originally formed in 1984 to tour as a backup band for Minnie Pearl and Vernon Oxford. They soon signed a deal with Rounder Records, and began turning heads with their adaptations of black gospel tunes. They've toured all over the world, playing in some of the most notable venues, as well as being the first bluegrass band to play in China.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is another one of those supergroups who have, throughout their rather extensive run, had a hand in the country, folk, folk-rock, and bluegrass worlds. They've played with Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Martin, and others. They've recorded more than 30 albums and gone through nearly a dozen line-up changes, but their influence is still felt across the musical spectrum to this day.
Rhonda Vincent (along with her band The Rage) has become one of the most influential women in contemporary bluegrass. Her skill as a mandolin player is impressive, as are her gifts on guitar and fiddle. She started out in her own family band, the Sally Mountain Show, but has established herself as one of the most remarkable women in the industry. She's recorded more than a dozen albums and received several awards from the IBMA and SPBGMA.
With a career that spans nearly thirty years, Ricky Skaggs has come to be known as Bluegrass Music's Official Ambassador. Ricky began his career as a singer and mandolin player with JD Crowe and the New South in the 1970s. Twenty years later, he opened up his own label, Skaggs Family Records. His first release on his own label brought new standards to the way Bluegrass was played.
Ben Eldridge (banjo), Dudley Connell (guitar, lead vocals), Fred Travers (dobro, vocals), Ronnie Simpkins (bass, vocals), and Lou Reid (mandolin, vocals) are one of the most cutting edge bands in Bluegrass today. Their members have played with folks from Ricky Skaggs to The Tony Rice Unit and Johnson Mountain Boys, and their music has been described as "fiery" and "masterful."