by Jim Allen | May 7, 2013
Though bluegrass is ostensibly one of the most traditional, roots-oriented styles of American music, it ultimately proved just as susceptible to the shifting winds of cultural change as any other sound. In the '60s, while rock was being revolutionized by big talents with bold visions, the high-lonesome mountain soul of bluegrass started undergoing an evolution of its own. Bands like The Country Gentlemen, The Kentucky Colonels and The Dillards began mixing old-school bluegrass with rock, pop and jazz influences, kickstarting a progressive bluegrass movement that would never stop growing and changing.
In the '70s and '80s, a new crew of bluegrass upstarts -- including Tony Rice, David Grisman and The Seldom Scene -- took the music even further. Eventually people started referring to this blend of the modern and the traditional as "newgrass." By the time eclectic artists like Bela Fleck came to prominence in the '80s, freely working everything from classical to jazz fusion flavors into the music, it seemed like anything was possible. In the early 2000s, the crossover success of acts like Alison Krauss and Nickel Creek brought newgrass into the mainstream, and opened the floodgates for an onslaught of artists who continued pushing the boundaries of bluegrass into uncharted territory.