It’s December 12th – Bluegrass Music Appreciation Day!

Image635539558625595147Starting in 2012, December 12 was declared as a day for musicians and fans to share the love of bluegrass music and its rich legacy as an American art form.

The date was chosen by South Carolina banjo player, Lee Marcus, founder of a Bluegrass facebook community with more than 47,000 followers. Bluegrass associations, artists, fans and the media are encouraged to celebrate the day by sharing this uniquely American music with others.

Each year, fans share their favorite videos on social media, and give shout-outs to favorite artists. Radio programs boast special segments and interviews. Businesses are urged to consider playing Bluegrass in the workplace.

Bluegrass is a form of American Roots and Country Music, inspired by the music of Appalachia. With roots in Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English traditional music,  Bluegrass was later influenced by African-American jazz elements. From its earliest rural roots in the 1940’s to the wide range of sub-genres today, Bluegrass music, similar to Jazz, is all about musical self-expression. It is characterized by tight vocal harmonies and skillful instrumental solos, played with acoustic and stringed instruments. A typical bluegrass band includes, in some combination,  fiddle, acoustic guitar, upright bass, mandolin, five-string banjo, and resonator guitar, (often referred to by the brand name, ‘Dobro’).

“Bluegrass music was mainly regional in the 1940’s. The nation became aware of it on the Grand Ole Opry and more widely later with the 1960’s Beverly Hillbillies TV show theme. More recently, artists like Alison Krauss, who broke out with her very broad appeal, and the movie ‘Oh, Brother Where Art Thou’ brought Bluegrass back into the mainstream,” says Tim Surrett of the award winning band, Balsam Range. “There’s so much more variety to Bluegrass than the stereotypes suggest. It’s a very complex and sophisticated musical form.”

Bluegrass has a diverse following with festivals held worldwide. In a recent Rolling Stone Magazine interview, Detroit rock legend Bob Seger noted that he often listens to “the bluegrass channel on Sirius” [Sirius XM’s Bluegrass Junction].

The annual World of Bluegrass convention and fan fest, sponsored by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), held in Raleigh, NC, saw attendance this year of more than 180,000, up from 146,000 in 2013. The event includes the annual IBMA Awards, honoring the top performers in the genre. This year’s ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR and VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR is Mountain Home Music Company recording artist BALSAM RANGE. The band, which plays elements of Traditional Bluegrass, Gospel and a more contemporary Jazz-infused variety, also boasts the IBMA MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR, singer/fiddler Buddy Melton.

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