The roots of American bluegrass music include everything from jazz to Celtic folk, but since the 1950s, the genre has become widely popular and even more remarkably diverse. Today's bluegrass players range from old time and country-influenced artists to those that are more mainstream, and even showcase their rock & roll or pop influences. If you're a new fan of bluegrass music, this list of players can give you a really good start on your new hobby. (Listed in alphabetical order by the artist's first name.)
Originally from Washington, D.C., the Country Gentlemen counted among its members bluegrass greats like Charlie Waller, Doyle Lawson, Jerry Douglas, Ricky Skaggs, Bill Emerson, John Duffey, and Eddie Adcock, among others. They alternated between traditional bluegrass and more contemporary styles, and many of their songs have become standards.
The Dillards were one of the first bluegrass bands to go electric in the '60s. They appearead as The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show from 1963-66, where they achieved much of their acclaim. With their innovative blend of bluegrass and rock, the Dillards were influential in the advent of folk-rock and alt-country.
Earl Scruggs began as a banjo player with Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys. He later left the group and started a new one with Lester Flatt (the Foggy Mountain Boys). Scruggs' three-finger picking style innovated the way the banjo was played.
Women are not exactly flying across the stages at bluegrass music festivals, but this hard-hitting lady with the great voice and acoustic guitar strumming is as great and notable as any male group on the circuit. Hazel Dickens has been compared to the likes of Woody Guthrie as well as Kitty Wells, and tons of folks in between.
The Infamous Stringdusters started out as a group of well-traveled, well-placed Nashvillian session and touring players. They got together in 2006 and recorded Fork in the Road, which quickly became one of the most remarkable debuts in the bluegrass and folk worlds. Their instrumentalism is incredible, and it's paid off, as they've earned numerous IBMA Awards.
Banjo player J.D. Crowe is one of Bluegrass music's biggest pioneers. He started playing with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys when he was a teenager. From there, he went on to join up with the band The New South. He's received Grammy Awards, IBMA awards and several other acolades, and is considered one of the greatest players in Bluegrass.