You can’t think Kentucky without thinking bluegrass. The state lays claim to many musical heroes of the genre and its music venues are landmark institutions where every day new talent takes the stage in a bid for fame and fortune. Still not convinced? Here are our top three reasons why Kentucky deserves to be called the Bluegrass State.
Not many places can claim its own unique sound, but Kentucky is where the Bluegrass Ballad was born. The settlers from Ireland, Scotland and England probably had no idea that they’d be creating a new genre when they introduced their music to the people of the Appalachian hills back in the 1600s, but we’re glad they did. This new country music took America by storm, thanks in particular to Kentucky’s own Bill Monroe. He fondly described Bluegrass as, “Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin’”—a sound with a legacy still alive in Kentucky today.
THE MUSICAL MOTORWAY
Route 23, also known as the ‘Country Music Highway’, winds along the backbone of the state, providing visual splendour and an introduction to the many musical legends born of these ancient Appalachian hills. If you want to immerse yourself in the history of Monroe’s ‘ole-time fiddlin’’, fire-up your car’s engine, stick some Ricky Skaggs on the radio and hit the road for a musical road-trip. Highway markers signal the home towns of country stars from Patty Loveless to Hylo Brown.
There’s more to add to Kentucky’s musical accolades; ‘Travis picking’ is a finger-picking style of playing the guitar crafted by Kentucky native Merle Travis. It involves playing a steady bass pattern with the thumb and filling out some syncopated rhythms with the fingers of the right hand, and if you’ve ever been partial to a strumming session, it’s likely you’ve already benefited from the influence of this unique playing style.