10 Bluegrass Artists and Alumni Thrive in Modern Nashville
The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee is where bluegrass got its start in 1945, and the Station Inn is Nashville’s famous club for bluegrass music. But those are just two of Music City’s hotspots for old-school solo songs these days.
In East Nashville, the American Legion Post 82 organizes jams and performances during “Bluegrass Wednesdays”. Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Madison, Tennessee, features the standout band East Nash Grass on Monday nights — as well as an old-school jam on Sunday nights — that sometimes spills out around the house. ‘a home. Joelton Hardware, Feed and Farmacy north of town offers underground country legend Greg Garing the chance to lead a young bluegrass band every week. Jane’s Hideaway, a downtown venue, hosts a bluegrass house band in Greenwood Rye and offers a weekend bluegrass brunch, as well as regular bookings from traditional artists.
Recently, WMOT Roots Radio launched “The Old Fashioned”, the station’s first bluegrass and old-time show, to support and celebrate the traditional side of Americana. I took my 30 years of experience as a fan, amateur guitar picker and journalist, and joined forces with violinist Amy Alvey, part of the touring duo Golden Shoals, to organize an hour a week of acoustic music, mainly from younger artists who are perpetuating and growing the tradition. Here are ten local artists we play, with songs to kick-start your journey into bluegrass and the ancient art of Nashville.
East Nash Grass
After five years as a local collective holding Monday nights at Dee’s, East Nash Grass is consolidating its official staff of five and bringing its tightly knit, mostly traditional sound to national venues and radio.
Becky Buller has won awards as one of the finest violinists, singers and songwriters in the industry over the past decade. This single from his 2020 album distance and time features many special bluegrass star guests.
George Jackson and Hasee Ciaccio
George Jackson is originally from New Zealand and grew up in fiddle culture before moving to Nashville in 2016. He has released two solo albums, including 2021’s. Hair and Hiding. Here, with ubiquitous bassist and vocalist Hasee Ciaccio, they share an evening at the Station Inn.
In the single “Big City,” 24-year-old Mason Via sings about his move from his native North Carolina to Nashville. One of the rewards was becoming the newest member of the Old Crow Medicine Show, but he’s also pursuing a solo career, with a bluegrass album due out this summer.
Mike Compton is the mandolinist behind the original Nashville Bluegrass Band and more. His new project uncovers and arranges never before recorded Bill Monroe instrumentals with top Music City selectors.
Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
This quintet honed their sound over the years playing as a house band at a distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys are award-winning bluegrass favorites for keeping up with the 2020s classic. New member Laura Orshaw is also a solo artist with an album due out this spring.
George Jackson and Hasee Ciaccio return as part of a supergroup that caters to the old-time youth brigade that has moved to Nashville in recent years. Here too, from the special project Adjust hashGolden Shoals members Amy Alvey (fiddle) and Mark Kilianski (guitar) plus Frank Evans (banjo).
Rafe Stafanini left his native Italy for the United States in the 1980s to pursue his love of music and became a major figure in the traditional violin. Recently he brought his rich history in traditional music to Nashville.
Thom Jutz and Tammy Rogers
Thomm Jutz is an IBMA Songwriter of the Year and a superb guitarist. Tammy Rogers is a violinist and composer for The Steeldrivers. It’s the cut track from their intimate 2022 collaboration.
Kelly Bosworth and Libby Weitnauer
This gorgeous 2020 EP which includes “Cindy” pairs fiddler Libby Weitnauer and guitarist Kelly Bosworth on classic tunes from the old days.