Ten bluegrass albums that will change your world

Bluegrass might be the punk version of country.
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COUNTRY GENTLEMEN – Country Songs, Old and New – 1960

Not all bluegrass came from Kentucky, or even from Appalachia. Almost as soon as popular festivals began springing up, new bands that brought different perspectives to the form began emerging as well. The first and most important of these early new bands was formed in Washington, DC in the late 1960s. Charlie Waller, Tom Gray, John Duffy, and Eddie Adcock played traditional bluegrass, but they couldn’t help but bring something a touch more modern to their songs.

Country Songs, Old and New, their first album, put it in stark relief. Their three-part harmonies, with high tenor leads, predicted a lot of both folk and rock and roll that was to come. Duffy’s mandolin and Adcock’s banjo began altering rhythms to create a fresher sound.

Give a listen to the instrumental “Weeping Willow,” and you’ll hear the old and new promises in the title.  Then we’re back to the breakneck speed of “Tomorrow’s My Wedding Day,” which could have come right from Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in the ‘40s.

Country Gentlemen were among the very first of the newer groups to be identified with progressive bluegrass, which came to be known as “newgrass” for those too lazy to say “progressive.”