Ten bluegrass albums that will change your world

Bluegrass might be the punk version of country.
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BILLY STRINGS – Me/And/Dad – 2022

William Lee Apostol – AKA Billy Strings – exploded onto the national scene when he was just 21, releasing an album with mandolinist Don Julin. In his subsequent solo releases, Strings blew audiences away with the skill and breadth of his playing. He was immediately hailed as perhaps the greatest guitar player in bluegrass history and began incorporating many other musical styles into his famous jams.

In a genre that has been engaged in the same argument Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs had fifty years ago about how much to incorporate new sounds into traditional mountain music, Me/And/Dad was the warmest of hugs. Strings – the guitar hero to many – recorded with his own personal hero, his stepfather Terry Barber. The opening track, “Long Journey Home,” opens with classic banjo picking before reflecting that Kyle Tuttle quote to a tee. Fast music – tragic lyrics. You have to be hooked.

Barber sings the classic country song “Life to Go,” with fiddle, guitar, and mandolin effortlessly carrying him along. A joyful “Little White Church” features Michael Cleveland’s fiddle. He also takes a nice little solo on the high-octane “Dig a Little Deeper (in the Well),” which also gets some fiery banjo from Del’s boy Rob McCoury. Jerry Douglas’s dobro is there, as it is on so many seminal modern bluegrass albums. And by the end, Debra Apostol – Billy’s mom – joins in singing “I Heard My Mother Weeping.”