Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Gateway album

I had some friends from Minnesota drop by and music came up. They asked what kind I played, and the wife said that she didn’t like bluegrass.

If you had a friend who “just isn’t into bluegrass” and you wanted to play for them one album to try to give them the bug, which one would it be? My first thought was either Kentucky Thunder “Bluegrass Rules” or AKUS “So long so wrong.”

What do you all suggest?

Definitely AKUS as you said I might try Old Crow Medicine Show too. That might bring them along as well. This is a tough one depending on the person and what they have always listened to. Hmmm Gateway bluegrass… interesting!

Better live than digital sound but you go with what you have. For me if I really wanted to gateway someone to Bluegrass a live show would be the way to go . also have some slow bluegrass with guitar as the lead . it has a way of wrapping around your soul . Of course it is not for everyone so be prepared for failure.

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For me if I really wanted to gateway someone to Bluegrass a live show would be the way to go .

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I think you are right… I think a (decent) picking circle would probably be a good introduction.

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I might try Old Crow Medicine Show too.

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I hadn’t thought of that. Any particular album?

“Big Iron World” or the album “Old Crow Medicine Show” either one should hook 'em like right now! :laughing:

Good topic Mike!

I think that most people who don’t like Bluegrass, either simply don’t understand it and haven’t been interested enough to give it a chance, or they think of the older Bluegrass as banjo and mandolin heavy (especially banjo) and somewhat clanky sounding. I don’t mean this in a bad way and don’t want to offend anyone but I believe that’s how people perceive it. That style and our predecessors are why we are here today doing what we’re doing. I also think it’s important to go back to our roots and learn as much as we can about the early bluegrass.

Today’s bluegrass to me is more evenly spread out between all the instruments, especially allowing more guitar breaks. This makes me happy, not sure about everyone else.

So to answer your question, I would have them listen to anything modern but still sticks to the roots of Bluegrass. AKUS would be a perfect album to start with. I asked my wife your question (she’s not the biggest Bluegrass fan but does like some of the later groups) and she immediately answered “Dailey and Vincent”! Brilliant I thought. I also think the Alan Jackson Bluegrass CD would be a good one along with Della Mae if she wants to hear an all female group.

Ken’s right. Seeing a live show can give someone the bug. This happened to my Mom. She hated Bluegrass my whole life, until she went to a live show and saw Joe Mullins and Radio Ramblers (there’s a good one that sticks to the roots) and now she’s a dedicated follower.

Once they get the bug, they realize the real talent in Bluegrass music and develop an appreciation.

Good Luck!

I’m not exactly a BG die hard, but the album that got me interested was ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’, the 3 disc set the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band did with a slew of guests like Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Earl Scruggs (playing some nice guitar too at one point), and many others. They did a Volume 2 and Volume 3 much later, copying the format, but neither one of those follow-ups felt as genuine to me. The first volume was the Father of that ‘O Brother’ soundtrack that came out 3 decades later.

Good suggestions, thanks. Jim brought up “O brother, where art thou?” I suspect that movie has been a pretty good gateway as well.

Goin Across The Sea by Tim May, Al Goll, and Charlie Chadwick. May be more folk than bluegrass but its a great instrumental album.