In the 1940s Kentucky-based mandolin player BILL MONROE pioneered a form of music that came to be known as “Bluegrass.” He and his band, “The Blue Grass Boys”–a band that eventually came to include extraordinary musicians like guitar player LESTER FLATT and banjo player EARL SCRUGGS–used “mountain music” as their foundation but played it faster and with virtuosic vigor. Bluegrass included melodies and rhythms from gospel, country music, blues and laborers’ work songs. A bluegrass band’s banjo, fiddle or mandolin would play melody, while guitar and upright bass would keep the rhythm bounding forward. Monroe’s nasal, plaintive vocal style, known as “high lonesome” and is still a staple of the genre.

[Watch Monroe perform “Uncle Pen” and “I’m on my way back to the old home” | Watch Bill Monroe play with Earl Scruggs in 1972 | Watch Flatt & Scruggs perform the jaw-dropping “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,”  | This is truly the “Best Bluegrass Clog Dancing Video Ever Made“]

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