A beginner’s guide to bluegrass, courtesy of Bluegrass Junction + the International Bluegrass Music Awards

The International Bluegrass Music Awards are coming up (hear the entire show live Thursday 10/2 at 7 pm ET on Bluegrass Junction, Ch. 61), which got us thinking: Bluegrass is such a diverse musical genre, containing elements of everything from country to jazz, and it certainly has a massive cultural following. But ask an average Joe to name a bluegrass band? Well, you might be met with crickets and a blank stare.

That said, we caught up with Bluegrass Junction programmer and on-air personality Kyle Cantrell to school us in all things bluegrass. For example, if we like pop music, which bluegrass bands should we check out? Or how about rock? Or metal?? (Yep, there’s a bluegrass band for that.)

Read on for Kyle’s “If you like …, then you’ll like …” picks!

If you like rock, then you’ll like…

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen: “Nominated in four categories, this young group represents the progressive side of bluegrass music, pairing superb instrumental talent with innovative songs and approaches.”

The Boxcars: “Leading the pack with 14 nominations, this group is regarded as the ultimate when it comes to overall ability. They can play it all — traditional, progressive, in-between — and would be appreciated by anyone who likes instrumental talent.”

Jens Kruger: “Nominated for Banjo Player of the Year, Jens is a Swiss-born picker who is thought of as one of the most astute and thoughtful composers for and masters of the instrument. Anything but traditional, his music would be appreciated by a wide range of tastes.”

Sam Bush: “The ‘father of newgrass’ and a founding member of Newgrass Revival, Sam has spent most of his career fusing bluegrass and rock music, with much success.”

If you like pop, then you’ll like…

Alison Krauss, Claire Lynch, Tim O’Brien, Del McCoury: “These artists are among the highest-profile and best known of the solo performers in the genre, which would give them appeal to those who are casually acquainted with bluegrass.”

If you like country, then you’ll like…

“Bluegrass is, of course, a sub-genre of country music and the cross-appeal is most strong in this area.”

Alison Krauss: “Because of past country hits and her CMA award for Female Vocalist of the Year a few years back, Alison is already known to many country fans.”

Flatt Lonesome: “This upstart group has succeeded, in part, to their covers of country classics by a variety of artists, from Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert to Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.”

Balsam Range: “Country fans would appreciate this group for their superb original songs and tight harmonies.”

Del McCoury: “Another high-profile artist and member of the Grand Ole Opry.”

Dailey & Vincent: “Here’s another band well-known to many country listeners. Over the years, they have recorded many country songs, and their live shows are as much country as they are bluegrass. Musically, they are known for their ‘brother duet’-style harmony and flair for showmanship on stage.”

If you like folk, then you’ll like…

Claire Lynch, the Gibson Brothers and Tim O’Brien: “Each of these artists write, record and perform with ‘one foot’ in the folk genre, in terms of that time-honored folk tradition of thoughtful storytelling and social conscience.”

If you like metal, then you’ll like…

Jens Kruger, Frank Solivan, Adam Steffey, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush: “Finding bluegrass artists who might appeal to metal listeners might be challenging, but on the assumption that they might appreciate–again–instrumental prowess and a feel for the more progressive and adventuresome side of the music, these names can’t be beaten. Each of them is nominated individually in the instrumental performer categories for their instrument, and is acknowledged as among the best there is in his field.”

So! Now that you’re a bona fide bluegrass expert, don’t forget to tune into the International Bluegrass Music Awards when they air Thursday 10/2 at 7 pm ET on Bluegrass Junction!

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