Randy Scruggs, session guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and four-time Grammy winner, died in Nashville April 17 after a brief illness. His dad was Earl Scruggs, (1926-2012) five-string bluegrass banjo innovator and co-leader of the now-iconic Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.
In a time when bluegrass is being constantly redefined by others claiming their music fits the genre (whether it does or doesn't), five-string banjoist Bill Keith, who died Friday of cancer at age 75, was one of the genre's genuine innovators. While he wasn't of the South, like the first-generation artists, he became one of those who genuinely expanded the music and even the technology of the banjo itself.
Comedian-actor-author and banjoist Steve Martin is to receive the International Bluegrass Music Association's Distinguished Achievement Award on October 1 in Raleigh, North Carolina. An accomplished five-string banjoist who initially used the instrument as a comedic device, over time Martin began to incorporate his longstanding love for bluegrass and his considerable skills on the instrument into his show, playing on other artists' albums, recording himself and touring with the highly regarded Steep Canyon Rangers and Edie Brickell.
With different bluegrass styles abundant nowadays, and many younger players only slightly aware of the music's origins, this punch list offers a bit more insight into a genre with a narrative that's often oversimplied by fans and scholars with preconceptions.