Next week, the International Bluegrass Music Association will hold its 31st Awards show. And while the ceremony will be online instead of live in Raleigh, NC, the honor will be no less for the new inductees into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame: the fiercely energetic 1980s band the Johnson Mountain Boys, Station Inn owner/promoter J.T. Gray and the game-changing New Grass Revival. In recognition of NGR’s epic influence on American music, WMOT caught up with its entire 1980s lineup, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Bela Fleck and Pat Flynn.

The Americana Music Association today offered its first look at this Fall’s annual gathering, starting with a new name. AmericanaFest has been recast as an online suite of events called Thriving Roots: A Virtual Community Music Conference and set for Sept. 16-18. The AMA is leaning in to high profile guest speakers and panelists to add value, announcing appearances by Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, Mavis Staples, Jackson Browne, Rhiannon Giddens and T Bone Burnett to start. 


The sentiment that the future of bluegrass is in good hands is as perennial as, well, grass. It's music that does indeed grow its new generations from the ground up with a formal and informal support system for youth musicians in training and emerging artists in the professional realm. Last week's World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC proved that once again.


C Havighurst

While their musical terrain overlaps, there’s a foundational difference between the recently concluded AmericanaFest in Nashville and World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, and that’s the picking. Picking is what ensues when musicians, professional or amateur, friends or strangers, encounter each other, hang out and jam on tunes they share as a common language. Americana people come to Nashville as either performers or listeners. They do not pick amongst themselves. Bluegrass people pick ubiquitously in a liminal overlap of performer and audience.