At Rockygrass, the same old instruments yield brave new sounds

High Noon July 27, Lyons – Standard bluegrass instrumentation, band to band, at the 41st Rockygrass Festival, is virtually identical: guitar, mandolin, bass, banjo and fiddle with an occasional dobro. That’s the way bluegrass deity Bill Monroe said it had to be. You – meaning non-bluegrass geeks – would think it would get incredibly boring to hear set after set.

It isn’t, at least here in Lyons. Take the band playing right now on the main stage. The Deadly Gentleman are a fine, youthful progressive bluegrass band that includes Sam Grisman (son of David). Some parts of their songs do sound like bluegrass, but more often you hear echoes of contemporary folk, rock (especially the vocals) and classical. In other words, the band is more akin to the Punch Brothers than Flatt & Scruggs.

The experiment continues. Next up at Rockygrass: I Draw Slow, the Old Time Kosmik Trio, Blue Highway, Sam Bush & Del McCoury, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Jerry Douglas’ Earl of Leicester.

* Tickets to Rockygrass are sold out. Information: KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, will air portions of Rockygrass 9 to 1 p.m. July 27 and 28. Highlights from the 2012 Rockygrass including Ralph Stanley, Punch Brothers and Infamous Stringdusters can be streamed at:

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