He began his career playing banjo with a variety of bluegrass bands, including the Sunny Mountain Boys, the Kentucky Mountain Boys and probably a few other bands with "mountain boys" in the name. But J.D. Crowe was no traditionalist -- though his playing could possess all the foot-stomping finger-ferocity of his main influence Earl Scruggs, Crowe was determined to expand the genre. When J.D. Crowe & the New South first came out in the mid-1970s, Bluegrass was permanently changed, for Crowe drew on rock, blues and jazz for a more richly varied style similar to what David Grisman was doing with his "Dawg" music. The New South became a launching pad for many of Bluegrass's most enduring stars -- the original lineup featured Jerry Douglas on dobro, Tony Rice on guitar and vocals, and Bobby Sloan on fiddle. Crowe is mostly a studio cat these days, but occasional concerts continue to prove his rolling mastery of the banjo.