What is newgrass? The term new does not refer to a temporal component, but a progressive style. The name is directly connected to the group New Grass Revival.
Sam Bush is often heralded as the Father of New Grass. More on him here: http://bluegrasstoday.com/sam-bush-documentary-trailer-goes-live/
Lesser known groups who have had a huge impact on the shifts in bluegrass include jazz/americana bands like the more experimental Dixie Dreggs:
Tony Rice is also a different type of progression and has encouraged performers in different directions. His introduction of singer/songwriter material, the lyrical shifts (he’s not singing about home… at least not all the time) and the movement of the guitar from a rhythm instrument to a lead “voice” within the band made a huge impact on those who heard him.
Today, Mountain Heart, The Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain, and Greensky Bluegrass are perhaps examples of both influences (as well as popular country). As we learned in Chris Pandolfi’s Manifesto, these bands cater to different than audiences than traditional bluegrass bands.
Traditional bluegrass is alive and strong as seen from the billboard and Bluegrass Today charts.
How does one identify? How are they identified? What are the modern uses of labels?
Traditional bluegrass bands who play to more typically traditional audiences are also influenced by new grass, Tony Rice’s style and use of singer songwriter material, as well as the proliferation of Acousticana and Americana scenes.
For example, some even sing (and win IBMA Awards doing so) of the difference between bluegrass in 2015 and 1945:
And some sing to traditional crowds, using traditional material, while the instrumental and vocal arrangements are unquestionably influenced by newgrass/spacegrass/doggrass movements:
Hull’s phenomenal guitarist is actual influenced by jazz via Tony Rice.
And then there’s Thile.
Many young performers are drawn to the music through more typically traditional artists and a goal to preserve or conserve music and traditional music’s folkways.
Further, educational programs that focus on performance seem to encourage a firm foundation of “traditional” sounds within their curriculum:
To put this conversation of traditional music being made within a “new” scene or to more clearly present the ways in which we place a temporal quality to sound, we can look to the current country music scene.
Imagine country radio.
The artists are currently releasing albums (and both have cross over connections from bluegrass) :
You may remember him from the Steel Drivers…