Early bluegrass musicians

Early bluegrass musicians

Early bluegrass musicians laid the foundation for a genre as American as apple pie. Their music, steeped in tradition and raw emotion, resonates with fans today. It’s an art form born out of hardship and heartache yet filled with joy and hope.

Early bluegrass music

Early bluegrass has centuries-old origins, when settlers from Ireland, Scotland, and England brought their traditional folk tunes across the Atlantic. These melodies often told tales of everyday life and were played on stringed instruments like fiddles.

In its nascent stages, country artists like Jimmie Rodgers popularized yodeling while Hank Williams introduced heartfelt lyrics about love lost or unrequited, significantly shaping this genre.

1. Bill Monroe

The world of bluegrass music owes a lot to Bill Monroe, the man fondly known as its father. His original bluegrass band, the Blue Grass Boys, revolutionized this genre with their unique and powerful sound. The genre itself is named after this band.

Born in Kentucky’s heartland in 1911, young Bill was raised amidst melodies that would shape his musical journey. Influenced by Uncle Pen Vandiver’s fiddle-playing style, he grew up immersed in traditional folk tunes and fiddle songs.

You can still experience early recordings of classic tracks like “Blue Yodel No. 4” and “I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky”. These pieces perfectly capture what makes bluegrass tick – quick tempos paired with complex instrumental solos and high-pitched harmonies.

FROM WIKI-Bill Monroe, 13 years older than Scruggs, was prominent in country music at the time. His career started with the “Monroe Brothers”, a duo with his brother Charlie. Bill sang the high tenor harmony parts, a sound called “high lonesome”, for which he became noted.[20][21] The brothers split up in 1938 and Bill, a native of “the Bluegrass State” of Kentucky, formed a new group called Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. They first played on the Opry in 1939 and soon became a popular touring band featuring a vocalist named Lester Flatt.[21] The name “bluegrass” stuck and eventually became the eponym for this entire genre of country music and Monroe became known as “the father of bluegrass”.[22]

The Monroe Brothers

The Monroe Brothers began as a trio performing square dance songs, traditional tunes, and gospel numbers. The band initially consisted of Birch, Charlie, and Bill Monroe, with Birch playing the fiddle, Charlie on guitar, and Bill on mandolin.

In 1932, Bill and Charlie started touring professionally with the WLS touring company as dancers and secured sponsorship from the Texas Crystals Company. This sponsorship led to radio appearances that boosted their popularity. They later transitioned to RCA’s Bluebird imprint, recording around 60 sides in the next two years.

Although their music showcased elements of the brother duo tradition, Bill’s distinctive harmonies, mandolin leads, and energetic tempos set them apart. Their innovative use of the mandolin and fiddle-influenced style influenced the course of country music.

In 1938, Bill and Charlie parted ways due to disagreements, leading them to form separate bands. Charlie’s group was called the Kentucky Pardners, while Bill formed the Blue Grass Boys, further evolving his style into what is now known as bluegrass.

The Blue Grass Boys

In 1938 came an important milestone when Monroe formed his own group named after his home state’s nickname – ‘The Blue Grass State.’ The initial lineup featured Cleo Davis on guitar, Art Wooten on fiddle, Amos Garren on bass, and mandolin player Bill leading vocals.

Come October 1939 at Grand Ole Opry marked not just a turning point for them but also for country music itself, which had not often seen such energy before. Their popularity soared, drawing large crowds wherever they performed.

Earl Scruggs joined The Blue Grass Boys in 1945, bringing along an innovative three-finger banjo picking style, further evolving their sound into something even more distinctly ‘bluegrassy.’

By the end of 1945, the members of the band were Bill Monroe (vocals/mandolin), Lester Flatt (guitar/vocals), Earl Scruggs (banjo), Chubby Wise (fiddle), and Howard Watts (bass). This Blue Grass Boys line-up is often referred to as ‘the classic’ one, setting standards against which all future bands were compared, demonstrating how crucial these musicians were towards shaping today’s face of bluegrass music.

2. Earl Scruggs

This legendary musician introduced a unique three-finger banjo-picking style that became synonymous with the classic sound of this genre.

Born in North Carolina in 1924, into an environment rich with country and blues influences, Scruggs picked up the banjo at a young age. He developed his signature technique, which diverged from traditional clawhammer or frailing styles where players used their thumb and index finger to strike down on strings. Instead, he utilized three fingers (thumb, index, middle) for upward plucking individual strings – thus giving birth to the “Scruggs-style” playing known for its speed, precision, and complexity.

In 1945, when he joined Bill Monroe’s original Blue Grass Boys band, it further solidified his status as one of the pioneers defining what we now know as bluegrass music. The tracks “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” exhibit his dexterity, while tunes like “Foggy Mountain Chimes” highlight his melodic sensibilities.

The Earl Scruggs Revue

Apart from shaping traditional sounds through The Blue Grass Boys, Earl also played a significant role in expanding boundaries with progressive projects such as The Earl Scruggs Revue.

This group came together after Flatt & Scruggs split due to creative differences over incorporating contemporary elements into their songs. While Lester preferred sticking close to tradition with Nashville grass Band, it was different for Earl, who embraced change along with his sons Randy, Gary, and Steve, forming the revue. They experimented with combining rock ‘n’ roll elements and were well received, especially among younger audiences, broadening their appeal beyond the core fan base.

Besides innovating musically within the confines of genres, they actively participated in promoting social causes, making them one of the influential bands of their era.

3. Lester Flatt

Lester Flatt was a prominent American bluegrass guitarist and mandolinist renowned for his influential partnership with banjo player Earl Scruggs in the celebrated duo Flatt and Scruggs.

Flatt’s musical journey extended across several decades, with notable milestones that began with his tenure as a member of Bill Monroe’s band in the 1940s.

Apart from his collaboration with Scruggs, Flatt engaged in a range of solo projects and partnerships, showcasing his versatile musical talents. One of his defining moments occurred when he gained widespread recognition through his performance on “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” the iconic theme song for the popular television series “The Beverly Hillbillies.” This exposure brought his music to a broader audience during the early 1960s.

The Kentucky Pardners

The Kentucky Pardners were an early bluegrass band formed by Bill Monroe’s younger brother Charlie Monroe, of which Lester Flatt was a member.

After parting ways with his brother Bill Monroe and the Monroe Brothers duo in 1938, Charlie Monroe went on to form his own bands. The Kentucky Pardners was one of those groups, established in the late 1930s. The band was known for its blend of bluegrass, country, and hillbilly music, reflecting the evolving sounds of the time.

While the group’s lineup changed over time, the Kentucky Pardners provided Charlie Monroe with a platform to showcase his individual musical style and develop his own approach to bluegrass. The Kentucky Pardners performed on radio shows and live stages, helping to keep the spirit of traditional country and bluegrass alive during a period of musical transition. Although their impact may not have been as enduring as some of the more iconic bluegrass bands, they contributed to the broader tapestry of country and bluegrass music during a pivotal time in its history.

Flatt & Scruggs

Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys were a highly influential and iconic bluegrass band formed by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. The band’s music and contributions played a significant role in shaping the bluegrass genre and bringing it to a wider audience.

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were both part of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in the late 1940s, where they developed their distinctive musical styles. In 1948, they left Monroe’s band and formed their own group, initially known as Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. The band’s name was derived from the song “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” one of their most famous instrumental compositions.

The Foggy Mountain Boys achieved fame and popularity during the 1950s and 1960s with their energetic and innovative approach to bluegrass music. Earl Scruggs’ revolutionary three-finger banjo picking style became a defining characteristic of their sound, and Lester Flatt’s smooth vocals and rhythm guitar playing complemented Scruggs’ banjo perfectly.

The band’s repertoire consisted of traditional bluegrass songs, original compositions, and adaptations of folk and country tunes. One of their most recognizable songs, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” served as the theme song for the television show “The Beverly Hillbillies,” which introduced their music to a mainstream audience.

Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys recorded numerous albums and singles throughout their career, showcasing their virtuosity and dedication to preserving the traditional roots of bluegrass while also incorporating contemporary elements. Their live performances were marked by tight harmonies, instrumental prowess, and an infectious energy that captivated audiences.

However, like many partnerships, creative and personal differences led to Flatt and Scruggs parting ways in 1969. Following their split, both artists pursued their individual musical paths. Despite their separation, their legacy continued to influence bluegrass and other genres, and their recordings remain revered by fans and musicians alike as essential contributions to the history of American roots music.

Nashville Grass

Nashville Grass was a bluegrass band led by Lester Flatt during the latter part of his career. After the dissolution of Flatt and Scruggs in 1969, Lester Flatt formed the Nashville Grass in 1970. The band became a platform for Flatt to continue his bluegrass legacy and share his musical talents.

Nashville Grass featured a rotating lineup of skilled bluegrass musicians over the years, and they toured extensively, playing at various festivals, concerts, and events. The band’s performances showcased Flatt’s signature guitar playing and vocals, along with the distinctive sound of traditional bluegrass instrumentation, including banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and bass.

Throughout the 1970s, Nashville Grass recorded albums and continued to contribute to the bluegrass music scene. The band’s repertoire included a mix of classic bluegrass tunes, traditional folk songs, and original compositions. They maintained the high level of musicianship and tight harmonies that were characteristic of Lester Flatt’s approach to bluegrass.

Lester Flatt’s leadership of Nashville Grass allowed him to remain connected to his bluegrass roots and keep the genre alive. The band’s performances and recordings continued to influence and inspire bluegrass musicians and fans, contributing to the enduring legacy of one of the genre’s most influential figures.

4. Ralph Stanley

Ralph Stanley (February 25, 1927 – June 23, 2016) was an American bluegrass musician, singer, and songwriter who made a profound impact on the genre. He was best known for his distinctive singing style and his role in popularizing the traditional “Stanley style” of banjo playing. Ralph Stanley’s contributions to bluegrass music earned him a revered place in its history.

Ralph and his older brother, Carter Stanley, formed the Stanley Brothers duo in the 1940s. Together, they developed a unique sound characterized by tight harmonies and emotional depth. Their music, rooted in Appalachian folk and gospel traditions, resonated with audiences, and they became an integral part of the early bluegrass movement.

Tragedy struck when Carter Stanley passed away in 1966. Following his brother’s death, Ralph Stanley continued to perform and record music, leading his own band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. He gained further recognition for his soulful singing, which often featured a distinctive a cappella style known as “high lonesome.” His rendition of the traditional song “O Death” was particularly notable, garnering attention beyond the bluegrass community after it was featured in the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Ralph Stanley’s banjo playing was also highly influential. He was known for his “clawhammer” or “frailing” style, which was characterized by its rhythmic and melodic complexity. His banjo work, combined with his singing, created a unique sonic tapestry that defined his sound.

Throughout his career, Ralph Stanley received numerous accolades and awards, including multiple Grammy Awards and inductions into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. His commitment to preserving the traditional roots of bluegrass, along with his ability to infuse the music with his own emotions and experiences, solidified his status as a true bluegrass legend.

Ralph Stanley’s influence continues to resonate through bluegrass and beyond, as his music and legacy inspire generations of musicians and listeners to appreciate the rich heritage of Appalachian and American folk traditions.

The Stanley Brothers

Ralph and Carter Stanley, famously known as The Stanley Brothers, were pioneers who helped shape bluegrass during its early days. Their unique blend of Appalachian folk with rootsy country elements still echoes in contemporary bands like Alison Krauss & Union Station.

Songs like “Man of Constant Sorrow” or “Rank Stranger” are timeless classics showcasing their impeccable harmonies and instrumental prowess, which continue to inspire modern mandolin players around the globe.

The Clinch Mountain Boys

The Clinch Mountain Boys were a renowned bluegrass band led by the legendary musician Ralph Stanley. Formed in the aftermath of the passing of Ralph’s brother and musical partner, Carter Stanley, The Clinch Mountain Boys played a crucial role in continuing the Stanley Brothers’ legacy and contributing to the ongoing development of traditional bluegrass music.

After the death of Carter Stanley in 1966, Ralph Stanley faced the challenge of continuing their musical journey. He reassembled a group of talented musicians, naming them The Clinch Mountain Boys after the Clinch Mountain range in Virginia where he grew up. The band’s lineup evolved over the years, with various members joining and departing, but the quality and authenticity of their music remained consistent.

The Clinch Mountain Boys were known for their adherence to the traditional Stanley sound, characterized by Ralph Stanley’s distinctive high-lonesome vocals and his skillful clawhammer banjo playing. Their repertoire consisted of a mix of traditional Appalachian and bluegrass songs, as well as original compositions that upheld the spirit of the genre. Their performances were marked by tight harmonies, expert musicianship, and a deep connection to the roots of bluegrass.

Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys continued to tour extensively and record albums, preserving the traditional bluegrass sound while also incorporating their own interpretations. Their music continued to resonate with audiences who appreciated the band’s dedication to honoring the Stanley Brothers’ legacy while pushing the boundaries of the genre.

The Clinch Mountain Boys contributed significantly to keeping the Stanley sound alive and relevant within the evolving landscape of bluegrass music. The band’s name became synonymous with quality and authenticity, a testament to Ralph Stanley’s commitment to preserving the heritage of Appalachian music and sharing it with generations to come.

5. Reno & Smiley

In 1951, banjo virtuoso Don Reno joined forces with Red Smiley, creating a duo revered for their swift banjo tunes paired perfectly with synchronized vocal harmonies. They played pivotal roles in introducing gospel themes into mainstream bluegrass tracks, much like Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder ensemble later did.

Reno & Smiley were a prominent and influential bluegrass duo composed of Don Reno and Red Smiley. Together, they left a significant mark on the bluegrass genre, both as talented musicians and as a dynamic partnership.

Don Reno (1927–1984) was a skilled multi-instrumentalist known for his innovative banjo playing and his contributions to the development of the three-finger picking style. He was not only a virtuoso banjoist but also a proficient guitarist and mandolin player. Red Smiley (1925–1972) was a gifted guitarist and vocalist with a warm, inviting singing voice that complemented Reno’s instrumental prowess.

The duo came together in the 1950s after both musicians had gained experience in various bands, including their tenure with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. Reno & Smiley’s music showcased tight harmonies, intricate instrumental work, and a blend of traditional and original songs. Their sound was deeply rooted in traditional bluegrass, yet they also incorporated elements of country and honky-tonk, giving their music a distinctive flair.

Reno & Smiley were known for their energetic stage presence and engaging performances, making them popular not only with bluegrass enthusiasts but also with a broader audience. They recorded numerous albums and singles, many of which are considered classics of the genre. Their songs often featured storytelling lyrics that resonated with listeners, touching on themes of love, heartbreak, and everyday life.

One of their most enduring compositions is “I’m Using My Bible for a Roadmap,” which became a bluegrass standard. Reno & Smiley’s influence extended beyond their own music, as they played a role in nurturing the talents of other musicians who would go on to make their mark in bluegrass.

Sadly, Red Smiley’s untimely passing in 1972 marked the end of their formal collaboration. However, their legacy continues to live on through their recordings, which showcase their dedication to preserving the traditional bluegrass sound while adding their own creative twists. Reno & Smiley’s contributions to bluegrass music remain cherished by fans and musicians alike, and their impact on the genre’s development remains significant.

6. Jim & Jesse

Twin brothers Jim & Jesse McReynolds brought fresh vibes to bluegrass music by marrying traditional melodies seamlessly blended within a modern soundscape. Their five-decade-long career is marked by hits like “The Flame In My Heart.”

Jesse’s innovative cross-picking technique on his mandolin inspired future generations, paving the way for new-age experimentalists and further expanding horizons beyond the original concepts set forth by these early innovators.

Jim & Jesse, composed of brothers Jim McReynolds (1927–2002) and Jesse McReynolds (b. 1929), were a highly respected and enduring bluegrass duo. They made significant contributions to the genre with their tight harmonies, innovative instrumental work, and a career that spanned several decades.

Formed in the 1940s, Jim & Jesse were known for their seamless vocal harmonies and their commitment to preserving the traditional sound of bluegrass music. They often performed with a mix of traditional bluegrass songs, gospel tunes, and original compositions. Jim played the guitar, while Jesse was notable for pioneering a unique mandolin technique called “crosspicking,” which involved playing melodies with a flatpick while using fingerpicks for added ornamentation.

The duo’s energetic performances and warm stage presence made them a hit with audiences, and they gained popularity through live shows, radio appearances, and recordings. Their music stood out for its authenticity and heartfelt delivery, contributing to the enduring appeal of bluegrass across generations.

One of their most well-known songs is “Diesel on My Tail,” which exemplified their blend of traditional bluegrass with contemporary themes. They recorded for several labels during their career and experienced successes both on the charts and within the bluegrass community.

Jim & Jesse’s influence extended beyond their own performances. They played an instrumental role in introducing bluegrass music to new audiences, including the folk revival of the 1960s. Their appearances on television and radio programs helped them connect with a wide range of listeners.

The duo’s commitment to bluegrass was recognized with numerous awards, including inductions into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and the Grand Ole Opry. Even after Jim’s passing in 2002, Jesse McReynolds continued to perform, ensuring that their music’s legacy remained alive.

Jim & Jesse’s impact on the bluegrass genre continues to be felt today. Their harmonious vocals, innovative instrumental techniques, and dedication to the traditions of bluegrass have left an indelible mark on the music and the community that embraces it.

7. Stringbean

Stringbean, whose real name was David Akeman (1915–1973), was a beloved American musician, comedian, and entertainer. He is best remembered for his contributions to country and bluegrass music, as well as his appearances on the television show “Hee Haw.”

Stringbean’s career began in the 1940s when he joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys as a banjo player. He gained attention for his unique style of banjo playing and his distinctive, high-pitched voice. Stringbean’s performances often combined traditional country and bluegrass songs with his comedic talents, creating a charming and engaging stage presence.

His nickname “Stringbean” stemmed from his tall, thin physique. He often dressed in overalls and a straw hat, adding to his iconic image. In addition to playing the banjo, he also played the guitar and harmonica.

One of Stringbean’s most significant contributions to popular culture was his role as a regular cast member on the television variety show “Hee Haw.” The show, which aired from 1969 to 1997, showcased country music performances, skits, and comedy sketches. Stringbean’s humorous sketches and interactions with fellow cast members made him a fan favorite.

Tragically, Stringbean’s life was cut short in 1973 when he and his wife, Estelle, were murdered in a robbery at their home. His untimely death shocked the country music community and marked the end of a unique and influential career.

Stringbean’s legacy lives on through his recordings, his appearances on “Hee Haw,” and his contributions to the country and bluegrass genres. His musical talents and comedic spirit continue to be celebrated by fans of traditional country and bluegrass music.

8. The Osborne Brothers

The Osborne Brothers, consisting of Bobby Osborne (b. 1931) and Sonny Osborne (1937–2020), were an American bluegrass duo known for their exceptional harmonies, innovative instrumental work, and contributions to the evolution of bluegrass music. They played a significant role in shaping the genre and gaining a wide following both within the bluegrass community and beyond.

Bobby Osborne was known for his clear tenor vocals and his skillful mandolin playing, while Sonny Osborne was recognized for his distinctive banjo playing and baritone vocals. The brothers’ seamless harmonies and instrumental virtuosity set them apart, and they are often credited with introducing elements of country and rock into their bluegrass sound.

The Osborne Brothers began their career in the late 1940s, gaining experience as members of various bands before forming their own duo. They became known for their hit recordings, including the popular “Rocky Top,” which became one of the most recognized and enduring bluegrass songs of all time. Their rendition of “Rocky Top” also became an official state song of Tennessee.

Throughout their career, the Osborne Brothers experimented with different styles and incorporated contemporary influences into their music. This willingness to push the boundaries of traditional bluegrass led to both critical acclaim and commercial success. Their innovative approach helped broaden the appeal of bluegrass music to new audiences.

The duo’s performances were marked by their energetic stage presence and their ability to connect with audiences through heartfelt renditions of songs that ranged from classic bluegrass to popular hits. They toured extensively and recorded numerous albums that showcased their versatility and adaptability.

The Osborne Brothers received numerous awards and honors for their contributions to bluegrass music, including Grammy nominations and inductions into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor. Their impact on the genre continues to be felt, as their recordings and influence inspire generations of bluegrass musicians.

The passing of Sonny Osborne in 2020 marked the end of an era for the Osborne Brothers, but their legacy lives on through their music and the enduring impact they had on the evolution of bluegrass.

9. Clarence Ashley

Clarence “Tom” Ashley (1895–1967) was an American musician and singer known for his contributions to folk and old-time music. He played a significant role in popularizing traditional Appalachian songs and influencing subsequent generations of folk and roots musicians.

Ashley was born in North Carolina and learned to play the banjo and guitar at a young age. He developed a distinctive style of banjo playing that incorporated both fingerpicking and clawhammer techniques. His unique playing style and rich vocal delivery became his trademarks.

He gained early recognition through his recordings in the late 1920s and early 1930s, particularly as a member of the Carolina Tar Heels, a musical group that included Gwen Foster and Garley Foster. Their recordings featured Ashley’s banjo skills and showcased the vibrant and enduring Appalachian folk tradition.

In the 1960s, during the folk revival, Clarence Ashley experienced a resurgence in popularity as younger folk enthusiasts and musicians sought out his music. He was rediscovered and performed at various festivals and events, sharing his authentic Appalachian sound with new audiences.

Ashley’s influence extended beyond his own performances. He indirectly played a role in launching the careers of other musicians. One of his acquaintances, the late Doc Watson, gained recognition through his association with Ashley and later became a highly respected and influential figure in folk and bluegrass music.

10. Kenny Baker

Kenny Baker was a highly acclaimed American bluegrass fiddler known for his exceptional skill, technical mastery, and contributions to the genre. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and revered fiddlers in the history of bluegrass music.

Baker was born in Kentucky and grew up in a musical family. He began playing the fiddle at a young age and quickly developed a prodigious talent for the instrument. His playing was characterized by its smoothness, precision, and impeccable technique. Baker’s fiddling style was deeply rooted in the traditional Appalachian and bluegrass music, and he had a deep understanding of the nuances and intricacies of the genre.

One of Kenny Baker’s most significant contributions was his tenure as the fiddler for Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, a position he held for over two decades. He joined Monroe’s band in 1957, and his fiddling became an integral part of the band’s sound. His collaboration with Monroe helped shape the modern bluegrass fiddle style and set a benchmark for technical excellence.

Baker’s influence extended far beyond his role with Bill Monroe. He recorded numerous solo albums, showcasing his virtuosity and mastery of the fiddle. His playing was often characterized by its smooth, melodic approach and his ability to convey emotion through his instrument.

In addition to his solo work and collaborations with Bill Monroe, Kenny Baker was known for his partnership with guitarist and fellow Blue Grass Boy, Josh Graves. Their recordings as a duo further highlighted Baker’s fiddling prowess and his ability to complement other musicians.

Baker’s impact on bluegrass fiddling can’t be overstated. His recordings continue to be studied by aspiring fiddlers, and his influence can be heard in the playing of countless musicians who have followed in his footsteps. He was recognized with multiple awards, including induction into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Kenny Baker’s legacy lives on as his recordings remain cherished by bluegrass enthusiasts, and his innovative fiddling style continues to shape the genre and inspire fiddlers and musicians worldwide.

FAQs about early bluegrass musicians

Who were the first bluegrass musicians?

The earliest pioneers of bluegrass music include Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Lester Flatt, who formed bands in the mid-20th century.

Who were the pioneers of bluegrass?

Pioneers of bluegrass music are typically credited as Bill Monroe, known as “The Father of Bluegrass,” along with influential artists like Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt.

Who is known as the father of bluegrass?

Bill Monroe is widely recognized as “The Father of Bluegrass” for his significant contributions to shaping this genre through his band, The Blue Grass Boys.

What was the first bluegrass song?

“Mule Skinner Blues” by Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys, released in 1940, is often considered one of the first recorded songs that defined what we now know as traditional bluegrass music.


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