BSR Beats: Newgrass

Forget any preconceived notions you may have of bluegrass. Dueling banjos, moonshine and hillbillies do not define this genre.

Bluegrass is a careful balance of stringed instruments that intricately intertwine throughout songs, drawing influence from improvisational jazz and the traditional sounds of the Appalachian region. 

Newgrass, or progressive bluegrass, is a modern take on what the first generation of bluegrass musicians played on their front porches.  If you’re interested in exploring the greatly underappreciated genre of bluegrass, this playlist of newgrass is a great place to start.  


“Julep” -Punch Brothers

This track comes from the progressive bluegrass band’s latest album, “The Phosphorescent Blues.” An airy and dreamlike sound is created through Paul Kowert’s soft upright bass and Chris Thile’s musings of memories past. This song is a gentle introduction into the bluegrass world.


“Wild Bill Jones ” -Run Boy Run

Iconic to bluegrass is the chilling murder ballad. This classic has been covered by bluegrass greats like Alison Krauss and The Stanley Brothers, and now Run Boy Run gives us a new take on this gruesome tale.


“Sing to the Mountain” – Elephant Revival

In 2008, Elephant Revival released their debut self-titled album featuring this song. Haunting harmonies and banjo rolls invite listeners to a revival of the bluegrass sound.


“Where Is My Mind ” – Trampled By Turtles

This cover of The Pixies’ “Where is My Mind” blends together two genres –alternative and bluegrass – and the result is nothing short of brilliant.


“Ain’t No Grave ” – Crooked Still

Vocalist Aoife O’Donovan makes this somber traditional American gospel song her own with a refreshing, upbeat mood. You can find this track on the band’s 2006 album “Shaken By a Low Sound.”