Music

The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists 

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Updated June 21, 2020 25.6k votes 4.8k voters 596.2k views 167 items

List Rules Not to be confused with folk artists, vote up the best bluegrass bands and musicians since the Bluegrass Band started it all.

Over the years, bluegrass music has spread from being a strictly American genre of roots music and country music to a standalone musical style. Emerging from Appalachia, in particular Kentucky, bluegrass bands use elements of Scottish, Welsh and English folk music. Unlike traditional old time music, each instrument plays a role in driving a song's melody while the other parts involve jamming around it. Bluegrass artists are also known for breakdowns where the tempo speed up, the chords are more challenging and thus, becomes a glorified jam session. Bluegrass bands first emerged in the 18th century, but bluegrass music as we know it today (that incorporates country western) first became relevant post-World War II.

So, who are the best bluegrass bands? Any list of bluegrass artists has to include names of famous male and female bluegrass singers, including Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Old Crow Medicine Show, Nickel Creek, and the Stanley Brothers. These are some of the best bluegrass bands and with good reason - while new bluegrass bands come and go, these are classics with staying power. Their songs resonate with many fans and are very catchy. There have been multiple generations of bluegrass bands and multiple subgenres, yet when people think of bluegrass, they think of the best groups of the genre.

This list includes both classic and modern / contemporary bluegrass musicians and bands, as well as the names of the places where each got its start. That said, it's up to you to determine what are the best bluegrass bands. If you notice that a band is missing from this list feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best bluegrass bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest bluegrass musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular bluegrass bands that you might've heard of.
list ordered by
1
Bill Monroe is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
2
Alison Krauss & Unio... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Lester Flatt & Earl ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
4
Ricky Skaggs is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Doc Watson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Ralph Stanley is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Earl Scruggs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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The Stanley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Rhonda Vincent is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Doyle Lawson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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The Osborne Brothers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Old Crow Medicine Show ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Lester Flatt is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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The Seldom Scene is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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The SteelDrivers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Tony Rice is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Lonesome River Band is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Jimmy Martin is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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J.D. Crowe and the New S... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Sam Bush is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Patty Loveless is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Hayseed Dixie is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Nickel Creek is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists
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The Dillards is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists