The Roots of Bluegrass Music

Bluegrass music as we know it today has a long history, one that many agree dates back to the 1700s and 1800s, when America experienced an influx of English, Irish and Scottish immigrants.  They settled in the Appalachian region of the United States (an area off the eastern coast spanning from New York, south to Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia) and brought their musical traditions with them.  Traditional English and Scottish ballads and Irish dance music, which focuses on the fiddle, were integral to the formation of the bluegrass sound.  However, it was African-Americans who introduced the banjo to the genre.

Bill Monroe, 1978

Bill Monroe is widely considered to be the founding father of bluegrass music.  He was of Scottish heritage, born in Kentucky and played the mandolin.  He and his brother, Charlie Monroe, formed a band that was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s.  But the two went their separate ways in 1938.  After his first group disassembled after only 3 months, Bill Monroe went on to form “Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.”  His home state’s nickname—the Bluegrass State—provided Bill with inspiration for the name.  However, it was not until the 1950s that the term “bluegrass” was formally used to describe the musical genre.

Chicago is home to many great bluegrass musicians.  In fact, two of Flatts & Sharpe’s own—James Weigel and Brian Koehler—used to play in a bluegrass group called The Henhouse Prowlers.  James is fond of bluegrass music because it seems to fuse other great genres of music together, such as folk, blues, country music, and even rock and roll.  If you are interested in learning the guitar, banjo or dobro (resophonic guitar), James is your man!  Contact Flatts & Sharpe today about setting up music lessons in Chicago!

~ by flattsandsharpe on March 16, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Roots of Bluegrass Music”

  1. I had no idea bluegrass was such a “new” genre.

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