Bluegrass has skyrocketed within the country music genre over the last few years, and there is no denying that artists like Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle (and perhaps Sturgill Simpson) have played an integral part in bringing the sound to mainstream listening.
Strings and Tuttle have been lucky enough to ride the wave of playing some of the biggest stages; it also leaves room for fans of these artists to discover some other phenomenal up-and-coming groups.
As a bluegrass lover, I am bestowing upon you some bands that I have been listening to non-stop so that you do not have to sort through the sea yourself.
Let’s dive in…
Clay Street Unit
Clay Steet Unit is a new find, but I cannot get enough. The group was formed in 2021 out of Denver, Colorado, combining their love for bluegrass with folk and Appalachia sound.
The group is newer to the scene, being formed in 2021, and released their first EP in 2022. Their upbeat and fresh sound will have you hooked from the first listen.
Check out their latest single, “Tired Of Being Tired.”
East Nash Grass
The name of the group says it all. Based out of East Nashville, East Nash Grass features James Kee on guitar, Cory Walker on banjo, Harry Clark on mandolin, Gaven Largent on dobro, Maddie Denton on fiddle, and Jeff Picker on bass. They have roots in traditional picking styles and fused their wild and spontaneous personalities into their melodies.
Each musician in this band is a superstar on their own, creating something extraordinary when combined.
Check out one of my favorite sessions they recently did, performing “Railroadin’ & Gamblin.'”
The Wooks have been a staple in my bluegrass lineup since my brother introduced me to them in 2020. Their Kentucky bluegrass roots are fused with elements of southern rock, creating the ultimate pickin’ and jam ballots.
Dobor player Allen Cook described the group as:
“This band is definitely not a band that is set on keeping things to the way they sounded on the record.
We’re all about keeping these songs fresh and new-sounding as shows go on.”
Their 2022 album, Flyin’ High, expands on the sound they established in their earlier works and expands on their efforts to push the limits of modern bluegrass. While this album is filled with great tracks, my go-to songs are found on their debut album Little Circles.
That says a lot about the band: their early songs can draw in and keep fans.
The Mountain Grass Unit
Alabama is represented strongly in this lineup with The Mountain Grass Unit. Made up of three Birmingham string pickers, the group is new to the scene but is making their presence known.
They released their debut EP, Where I Land, in 2021 and quickly followed it up with their debut album, Places I’ve Been, in 2022, and as a young group, they are hungry to make it.
Their picking style is very traditional while still bringing in rock and jazz elements. Their all-acoustic melodies are made complex with their layered tracks and harmonies.
Listen to the Audiotree session of their track, “Shays’ Rebellion.”
Greensky Bluegrass is no stranger to the bluegrass world, but their incredible talent deserves to be highlighted if you are just tapping into bluegrass groups… these guys will be a staple for you.
Formed in 2000, Greensky Bluegrass is a mega group having received many successes, including a recent three-night run of sold-out shows at the historic Red Rocks amphitheater.
These guys embrace tradition in the best way possible, still finding ways to keep it fresh.
“There’s a duality to this band.”
Anders Beck, the dobro player, noted.
“On one hand, we improvise and go outside the box on stage. The studio brings out our artistic side.
We grow every time we make a record. I hope you hear and see the evolution.”
If you want some honest bluegrass listening, Greensky is your group.
The Infamous Stringdusters
Another group that is well established within the bluegrass community. The five-string band, The Infamous Stringdusters, highlights their progressive sound through their extensive discography.
With a won Grammy, numerous nominations, and many awards from the International Bluegrass Awards, their critically acclaimed bluegrass melodies, and catchy lyrics make their style easy to listen to for hours on end.
They also have some killer covers of classic pop songs with a bluegrass twist. Most recently, they covered Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” which is a phenomenal twist on the hit single.
While covers are always fun, check out one of my favorites from them, “Blue Ridge Cabin Home.”
This list of bluegrass groups hardly skims the surface of the unbridled talent in the space today.
I could go on typing for scrolls and scrolls, but if you find yourself a new bluegrass listener after getting into an artist like Billy Strings, this is the perfect starting list… some more established groups, some newer groups, but a whole lot of pickin’.
If you like what you heard here, check out our Bluegrass Pickin’ playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.