of the 40s and 50s
Father of Bluegrass and one of America’s greatest musicians.
Prodigious songwriter and innovative mandolin player, his
high pitched vocals formed the basis for bluegrass singing.
Always carried top level players and was a veritable training
ground for countless bluegrass musicians. Lester Flatt, Earl
Scruggs, Carter Stanley, Don Reno, Jimmy Martin, Sonny Osborne,
Chubby Wise and Vassar Clements are among the former Blue
Flatt & Scruggs
Left Bill Monroe and formed their own band. By the 1960s
they were more well-known than Bill Monroe. Earlier
material is best (pre-1960s). Some consider Flatt &
Scruggs of the 50s the greatest bluegrass band ever.
Very tight rhythm, innovative tasteful banjo playing and smooth
vocals. Little mandolin playing in the band, they added Josh
Graves on dobro in 1955.
Celebrated for the haunting mountain old-time style of singing
duets and trios. Carter Stanley wrote many mournful songs, which he sang with an understated,
poignant feel. Ralphs
banjo playing was stellar, though less adventurous than Scruggs, and his high tenor voice blended perfectly with his brother's.
Like Flatt & Scruggs, they de-emphasized the mandolin.
They added some lead guitar playing.
Very strong singer and forceful rhythm guitar player. Jimmy's voice was on the country end of the bluegrass spectrum. Always
had very tight vocals and top banjo players like J.D. Crowe
and Bill Emerson, but on some recordings electric bass and
drums were added. Jimmy passed away in 2005.
Jim & Jesse
Smooth vocals featuring Jims ability to sing very high
without straining and Jesses polished lead singing.
Brought in lots of older brother-duet songs, especially the
Louvin Brothers. Always carried top musicians, although they
tried the country sound for awhile. Jesse developed a unique
cross-picking style of mandolin playing.
Reno & Smiley
Don Reno was a very talented banjo player who played very
complicated solos, way ahead of his time, but also at times
outside the bluegrass norm. He also flat-picked guitar, sung
tenor and wrote hundreds of songs. Smiley was a decent singer
who blended well with Reno, more in the style of some of the
Known for stacking the harmonies underneath the lead, this
enabled Bobby Osborne to sing lead at the top of his range
during verses, and stay on the high lead in the chorus. Very
smooth harmonies, but without the lonesome quality. Sonny
Osborne plays banjo very much in the Scruggs style with a
few of his own ideas thrown in. Also added drums to their
recordings for awhile.