This playlist begins the same way that bluegrass did: with Bill Monroe. It was his band, the Blue Grass Boys, that gave the genre its name because of their seminal contributions to it. They defined the prototypical line-up of acoustic guitar, upright bass, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo; they also created the template for the bluegrass song structure with tight multi-part harmonies, fast tempos, and improvised solos (or breakdowns) of impressive musicianship.
You'll find plenty of other examples of traditional bluegrass here as well from Del McCoury, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, the White Brothers and Ricky Skaggs, while Roscoe Holcomb's high and lonesome Appalachian folk music hints towards a time before bluegrass was genre-fied. Country-rock stars like Jerry Garcia, Stephen Stills and the Byrds have all paid homage to the influence of bluegrass, bringing the music to a wider audience while adding their own sensibilities to the music (the Byrds performance included here is from the Clarence White-era of the group). Bela Fleck and the New Grass Revival were proponents of progressive bluegrass, incorporating more complicated chord progressions and ideas from other genres into the music, a trend you can also hear in songs by Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, Chris Thile's Punch Brothers and the Avett Brothers.
All told, these 30 songs provide nearly two hours of the best bluegrass in the Wolfgang's Vault archives, from the high and lonesome to the down and dirty and all stops in between. Enjoy!