Bluegrass has catapulted from the depths of country music subgenres back to the top of the scene, and Molly Tuttle has been a big part of that.
Hailing from California, Tuttle grew up in a musical family and quickly found her passion for just about any instrument with strings, including a special affinity for the guitar. She began releasing solo music in her early 20s, and after three albums over the next several years, she eventually formed her current band Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway.
Fresh off of the band’s first full-length record, April 2022’s Crooked Tree, Molly Tuttle & the Golden Highway have become one of the hottest acts in all of country music, and show no signs of letting up. One of my favorite albums of this past year, Crooked Tree is 13 tracks of pure bluegrass perfection with intricate instrumentation and improvisation, as well as captivating storytelling and imaginative lyricism. Not to mention the deluxe version that came out a few years later has a couple of awesome bonus tracks and live versions of my two favorite songs, too.
And luckily, while this isn’t the case for enough of our genre’s best talents, Tuttle has gained some pretty awesome recognition for her amazing music. With seven International Bluegrass Awards under her belt, including the first ever female artist to win “Guitar Player of the Year” in 2017 and again in 2018, among other awards, it’s safe to say Tuttle’s trophy case is filling up quickly.
But perhaps the most career changing, monumental recognition she has received of late are her two 2023 Grammy nominations for “Best New Artist” as well as “Best Bluegrass Album” with Crooked Tree, which went on to win.
And just so there isn’t any confusion… she was nominated for best new artist across every genre, out of all of the music out there, not just bluegrass or country. That’s impressive.
As part of her Grammy nomination, and in tandem with Spotify Singles, Tuttle was asked to record two songs as part of an artist spotlight for her:
“Had a blast recording a new version of “Dooley’s Farm” and covering “good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo at the Spotify studio for their Best New Artist campaign.
I was asked to reimagine one of my songs and choose a song by a past Best New Artist Grammy winner.
Here’s a little peek behind the scenes from the studio day with Sierra Hull, Kyle Tuttle, Shelby Lee Means and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes.”
In the accompanying video, Tuttle goes on to elaborate on both of the songs she chose to record.
Tuttle provides an interesting explanation for the inspiration behind one of my favorite songs off of the album, “Dooley’s Farm,” originally recorded with the help of bluegrass king Billy Strings. He may not be involved in this newest version, but there is an awesome mandolin solo from Sierra Hull to make up for it.
“The idea for ‘Dooley’s Farm’ came from a song called ‘Dooley’ which was a song recorded in the 1960s by a band called the Dillards. And it’s a bluegrass song that I grew up listening to, it’s about a moonshiner whose daughters help him run the moonshine still in the holler where he lives.
And I thought it would be fun to kind of update Dooley, cast him as a modern day outlaw weed farmer, and write the song from the perspective of his granddaughter.”
Tuttle also recorded a cover of last year’s Best New Artists Grammy winner Olivia Rodrigo’s “good 4 u.”
I have to admit, I must live under a rock when it comes to pop culture, because I had no clue who Olivia Rodrigo was, and obviously she’s a big deal. But either way, Tuttle kills this cover, and I always think it’s cool to hear bluegrass artists cover other genres.
“I chose to cover ‘good for u’ by Olivia Rodrigo who won the Best New Artist Grammy last year. And when I first heard this song I just thought it was such a great song. I love the teenage angst to it. It kind of reminds me of like the pop punk music that I grew up listening to, and playing with my friends back in high school.
So I thought it would be really fun to cover this song and put a bluegrass spin on it. I think there is kind of this crossover of bluegrass music and that kind of high energy punk spirit that Olivia brings to this song.
And so it was a lot of fun to work it up on our acoustic instruments and put a different feel to the song.”
Molly Tuttle is the real deal, and hopefully she can take home the gold at this year’s Grammy Awards. I think it’d be a great sign for the direction country music is headed in.
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway are incredible live, too.
So while we’re on this subject, watch this video of them playing “Castilleja” from their latest album Crooked Tree live this past summer.
And lastly, in case what you were wondering what the original versions of “Dooley’s Farm” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” sound like, I’ll drop them here for your reference:
“Dooley’s Farm” ft. Billy Strings
“Good 4 U”