If you thrive for the sound of bluegrass mandolin, fiddle and banjo, there’s no doubt you will love New Grass Revival. The band consisted of Sam Bush, Courtney Johnson, Ebo Walker, Curtis Burch, Butch Robins, John Cowan, Béla Fleck and Pat Flynn and was active between 1971 and 1989. They were a group of musicians who wanted to show the world what bluegrass instruments could perform beyond the confines of original bluegrass.
They were quite contradictory to the “traditional” attire of bluegrass music at the time, growing their hair out and wearing whatever they pleased instead of matching with short hair cuts. Many people did not like what this group was doing with bluegrass music, even stating that Bill Monroe did not mean for bluegrass to be played that way. While the band never meant to disrespect, Monroe actually enjoyed their spin on bluegrass.
Their music incorporates the sounds of bluegrass instruments but their melodies are much more geared toward folk and rock, with singer John Cowan bringing that sound to the group through his soulful voice that in my opinion is a prime example of someone who truly feels what he is singing and can convince you of it with every syllable he sings. A great example of what I’m talking about can be heard in their song “Love Someone Like Me.” The band’s highest charting single is called “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” I would also suggest listening to “Dark As A Dungeon.” This song is much more on the side of soulful soft rock, but compliments John Cowan’s voice beautifully.
No matter what age you grew up in this music is sure to move you. Their songs prove what diversity music can have, even within what genre they label themselves as, bluegrass. Today you can go watch Béla Fleck and The Flecktones, one of the members of the band, who played banjo. Their performance is jaw-dropping and covered in talent with Victor Wooten, the famed bass player, also performing. Béla plays many songs on banjo and will give you a taste of what you missed out on in the '70s and '80s with New Grass Revival. So go revive yourself of the same old music you always listen to and take on the challenge that New Grass Revival took on, to break the confines of what they knew.