Rockygrass: The banjo lineage from Earl Scruggs to Sammy Shellor and Noam Pikelny

Banjoist Sammy Shellor performs July 27, 2012 at the Rockygrass Festival in Lyons, Co. (Photo by Lisa Lehndorff/ For the Aurora Sentinel)
5 p.m. July 27, Lyons, Co. – As musical genres go, bluegrass isn’t that old but there have been three or four generations since Bill Monroe codified his fusion of blues, ))Irish, gospel in the Bluegrass Boys. After Bill and the Stanley Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs new bands emerged in the 1970s including the Seldom Scene (who play Sunday at Rockygrass), Colorado’s Hot Rize and the Lonesome River Band which is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a band onstage right now. It’s a tight, well-polished 50-something ensemble now playing mainly original material that cling to the trad bluegrass format with high harmonies. I can only take so much Southern twang but I soaked up this set including such happy tunes as “I Know What It’s Like to Be Lonesome,” especially the stellar picking by Sammy Shellor, winner of this year’s Steve Martin Banjo Prize. In the audience was last year’s winner, Noam Pikelny, who delivered a great, much more progressive-accented set this a.m. Shellor, along with Hot Rize’s Pete Wernick, are the standard bearers for neo-traditionalist driving banjo, along with Ronnie McCoury who’ll pick with Bela Fleck and Peter Rowan in coming days.It’s a great weekend to be a banjo fan.

Next up is something completely different, the band Trampled by Turtles, a clearly third gen band that takes off from bluegrass but leans into alt-folk and more.

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