10 Essential Bluegrass Artists You Need to Know

If the recent passing of music legend Earl Scruggs left you wanting to know more about bluegrass, then you’re in for a treat. Anna Schwaber and Chris Cloyd, the filmmakers behind The Porchlight Sessions, an exciting new documentary that traces the evolution of the sound, have kindly offered to walk us through some of their favorite artists in the genre.

“What the film discovers is that the community of bluegrass lovers is as diverse and unique as the variations that bluegrass has taken over the years,” they explain of the project. “Documentation is important to bluegrass. As a predominantly oral tradition, it is necessary from time to time to preserve the vitality of the genre while capturing the spirit of the community from which the music springs.” Click through to check out their picks, and be sure to visit their Kickstarter page to help the duo raise enough money to license the archival film footage, historic recordings, and still photos necessary to bring the story of bluegrass to life. They’ve only got a week to go!

Bill Monroe – “Uncle Pen”

No top 10 list of bluegrass would be complete, or exist at all for that matter, without Bill Monroe. The undisputed father of the genre, Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys blended the sounds of country and blues with with string band music and infused it with the improvisational elements of jazz to create a sound all their own. When Flatt & Scruggs left the band, people didn’t know what to call their style of music and the term “bluegrass” was born. Uncle Pen recounts the driving fiddle playing of Bill’s uncle Penn Vandiver, solidifying the instrument as a staple of the genre.