The Bluegrass Situation is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022, and this essential online community for bluegrass, roots, and folk music is pulling out all the stops. Over the next few months I’m going to link to some of their anniversary features, beginning with their list (from 2017) of the 50 greatest bluegrass albums made by women.
There’s not a false note in this list, which is too extensive to cover here. Just a handful of videos will have to suffice to whet your appetite and encourage you to explore their full list.
Claire Lynch has two albums on the list — Moonlighter and 2016’s North by South — the latter a tribute to her favorite Canadian songwriters. From that album, take in Black Flowers, a haunting, evocative ballad by Lynn Miles.
Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick are two West Coast musicians who have blazed their own trails through the bluegrass world, helping form the Good Ol’ Persons band and then leaving to headline their own groups. The Lewis and Kallick 1991 album Together features a version of the Delmore Brothers tune Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar dedicated to two other women pioneers — Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard — with thanks for “breaking trail.”
Rhiannon Giddens should be included, as BGS notes, on any list of the best fifty albums by women. She’s that impressive. Her Freedom Highway is an amazing work that travels the outskirts of bluegrass yet brings forward the African American influences in roots music. Take a listen to the title track.
There you have a small sample of four out of fifty. Of course, I could just as easily have chosen the Alisons (Brown and Krauss), Missy, Dale Ann, Dolly, Emmylou, Leyla, Lynn, Patty, Rhonda, Rose, Sara, Sierra…and the musicians who would jump on this list with albums released in the last five years!
Oh, I just have to include Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten and the classic Freight Train.
Now I’ll stop. Just enjoy.
More to come…