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Progressive bluegrass

Progressive bluegrass

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Progressive bluegrass is one of two major subgenres of bluegrass music
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

. It is also known as newgrass, a term attributed to New Grass Revival
New Grass Revival
New Grass Revival was an American progressive bluegrass band founded in 1971, and composed of Sam Bush, Courtney Johnson, Ebo Walker, Curtis Burch, Butch Robins, John Cowan, Béla Fleck and Pat Flynn. They were active between 1971 and 1989, releasing more than twenty albums as well as six singles....

 member Ebo Walker. Musicians and bands John Hartford
John Hartford
John Cowan Hartford was an American folk, country and bluegrass composer and musician known for his mastery of the fiddle and banjo, as well as for his witty lyrics, unique vocal style, and extensive knowledge of Mississippi River lore...

, New Grass Revival
New Grass Revival
New Grass Revival was an American progressive bluegrass band founded in 1971, and composed of Sam Bush, Courtney Johnson, Ebo Walker, Curtis Burch, Butch Robins, John Cowan, Béla Fleck and Pat Flynn. They were active between 1971 and 1989, releasing more than twenty albums as well as six singles....

, J.D. Crowe and the New South
New South (band)
The New South is a bluegrass band formed around 1973 by banjo player J. D. Crowe. Their first two albums, Bluegrass Evolution and the eponymous record known by the album number, "Rounder 0044," established them as a dominant force in bluegrass, though the two albums are wildly different.-Band...

, The Dillards
The Dillards
The Dillards are an American bluegrass band from Salem, Missouri, consisting of Douglas Flint "Doug" Dillard The Dillards are an American bluegrass band from Salem, Missouri, consisting of Douglas Flint "Doug" Dillard The Dillards are an American bluegrass band from Salem, Missouri, consisting of...

, Boone Creek, Country Gazette, and the Seldom Scene pioneered innovations in the genre. Some groups began using electric instruments and importing songs from other genres, particularly rock & roll. Progressive bluegrass became popular in the late 1960s and 1970s, but it can be traced back to the banjo
In the 1830s Sweeney became the first white man to play the banjo on stage. His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth-string. There is no proof, however, that Sweeney invented either innovation. This new...

 and contrabass
Contrabass refers to a musical instrument of very low pitch; generally those pitched one octave below instruments of the bass register...

 duets that Earl Scruggs
Earl Scruggs
Earl Eugene Scruggs is an American musician noted for perfecting and popularizing a 3-finger banjo-picking style that is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music...

 played even in the earliest days of the Foggy Mountain Boys
Foggy Mountain Boys
The Foggy Mountain Boys were an influential bluegrass band founded by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in 1948, shortly after leaving Bill Monroe’s band. They recorded and performed together up until 1969.-Biography:...

. The four key distinguishing elements of progressive bluegrass are (1) instrumentation, frequently including electric guitar
Electric guitar
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

s, drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

s, piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

, and more, (2) songs imported or styles imitated from other musical genres like jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 and others, (3) non-traditional chord progressions, (4) lengthy "jam band
Jam band
-Ambiguity:By the late 1990s use of the term jam band also became ambiguous. An editorial at jamband.com suggested that any band of which a primary band such as Phish has done a cover of be included as jam band. The example was including New York post-punk band Talking Heads after Phish performed...

"-style improvisation. However, not all these elements are always present in progressive bluegrass.

Progressive bluegrass continues to be performed by bands today. Innovative groups include ��Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones is a primarily instrumental group from the United States, that draws equally on bluegrass, fusion and jazz, sometimes dubbed "blu-bop". The band formed in 1988, initially to perform once on the PBS series Lonesome Pine Specials. The Flecktones have toured extensively...

, Nickel Creek
Nickel Creek
Nickel Creek was an American progressive acoustic music trio consisting of Chris Thile , Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins . The band was founded in 1989 and released 6 albums between 1993 and 2006...

, Yonder Mountain String Band
Yonder Mountain String Band
The Yonder Mountain String Band is an American progressive bluegrass group from Nederland, Colorado. Composed of Dave Johnston, Jeff Austin, Ben Kaufmann, and Adam Aijala, the band has released five studio albums and several live recordings to date.- History :The band's history stretches back to...

, Free Grass Union, Trampled By Turtles
Trampled By Turtles
Trampled By Turtles is a progressive bluegrass band from Duluth, Minnesota. The group is most famous for its high-tempo, fast-paced songs but also features lead vocalist Dave Simonett's lyric writing abilities in slower ballads. Their high-energy concerts have attracted an ever-growing,...

, Crooked Still
Crooked Still
Crooked Still is an alternative bluegrass band consisting of vocalist Aoife O'Donovan, banjo player Dr. Gregory Liszt, bassist Corey DiMario, cellist Tristan Clarridge and fiddler Brittany Haas...

, The String Cheese Incident, Punch Brothers
Punch Brothers
Punch Brothers are a progressive bluegrass band. The band consists of Chris Thile , Gabe Witcher , Noam Pikelny , Chris Eldridge , and Paul Kowert...

, and Railroad Earth
Railroad Earth
Railroad Earth is a roots and Americana-based newgrass band from Stillwater, New Jersey. Their name was borrowed from the Jack Kerouac short story "October in the Railroad Earth," to which the band also has a song by the same name...

. Many older newgrass musicians, along with music festivals such as NedFest
The Nederland Music & Arts Festival is an annual three-day outdoor music, arts and microbrew festival with camping located in the mountains of Nederland, Colorado on the shores of Barker Meadow Reservoir, just 17 miles west of Boulder, Colorado in the United States, typically held the last...

, DelFest
Del McCoury
Delano Floyd McCoury is an American bluegrass musician. As leader of the Del McCoury Band, he plays guitar and sings lead vocals along with his two sons, Ronnie McCoury and Rob McCoury, who play mandolin and banjo respectively...

, and Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Telluride Bluegrass Festival is held annually in Telluride, Colorado by . Although traditionally the festival focuses on bluegrass music, it often features music from a variety of genres. In 1974, its first year, it attracted 1000 participants. Currently the festival's attendance is capped at 10,000...

, have been instrumental in cultivating the continued popularity of progressive bluegrass.

See also

  • Progressive country
    Progressive country
    Progressive country is a subgenre of Texas country music started in the early 1970s in Austin, Texas. The term was coined by programmers at Austin's KOKE-FM in 1972 as a way to differentiate the style of country music in Austin from that being made in Nashville...

  • Traditional bluegrass
    Traditional bluegrass
    Traditional bluegrass, as the name implies, emphasizes the traditional elements of bluegrass music, and stands in opposition to progressive bluegrass. Traditional bluegrass musicians play folk songs, tunes with simple traditional chord progressions, and on acoustic instruments of a type that were...

  • Progressive rock
    Progressive rock
    Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

  • Folk Music
    Folk music
    Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....