Music: Bluegrass from the heart |

Music: Bluegrass from the heart

Bluegrass music is played from the heart.

Whether instrumentals or songs …

Whether slow or fast …

Whether traditional or progressive…

Whether leaning toward folk music or leaning toward country …

A handful of musicians, each with a different instrument, can make a symphony together. The music is very polished.

Usually there are three to five musicians in a bluegrass band. The instruments played are guitar, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, and fiddle, The resophonic guitar (Dobro) is also acceptable, as is a second guitar. Occasionally there will be a cello, harmonica, or drums.

The instruments are acoustic, some with an audio pickup so the sound can be heard over a PA system, especially in an outdoor setting or large indoor venue. The “high lonesome” sound is a nasally, twangy vocal style begun by Bill Monroe and carried on by many vocalists, just as his mandolin style is carried on.

I think that this is an acquired-taste for the listener. Of course, many bluegrass musicians talk with a twang! Today, most vocalists just sing in their own style. Originally, a single microphone was the only amplification on stage. Now it is acceptable for there to be several mics for the vocalists, and mics for instruments as well.

Live bluegrass music has an energy that you can feel — not a booming, beating energy, but an energy of the heart. Some musicians that do this for me are Alison Brown, banjoist; Uwe Kruger, vocalist; Chris Thile, mandolin player; Bryan Sutton, guitarist; and Jim Hurst, vocalist. The Steep Canyon Rangers and The Infamous Stringdusters are two of the best bands in the industry. There are many, many more musicians who have this energy.

On KAFM’s Bluegrass and Beyond, which airs on Mondays from 4-6:30 p.m., I have a segment called “The Spotlight at 5 (O’Clock),” which is a 30 minute feature of a musician who has been influential in roots music. In addition to music, there are always snippets of information on the artist. In the past, Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick, Alison Krauss, and Jens Kruger have been in the spotlight.

Is there a musician you would like to hear? Email me at


Pea Green Saturday Night will be held Feb. 22, at the Pea Green Community Center from 7-9:30 p.m. The community center is between Delta and Olathe on Hwy. 348 at the intersection of Banner Road. PGSN features quality bluegrass, folk, and old-time entertainment by Western Slope musicians with different musicians each month. This month’s entertainment is The Gotta Be’s, an acoustic group from Montrose; Big Daddy and The Runaways, who play old-time and mountain music; and Bone Tree, a bluegrass band from Grand Junction who have an interesting story about their name.

You should try to get there by 6 p.m. as seating is limited. You are invited to share a snack at the community table. The price of admission is “half a sawbuck” at the door. That’s only $5. Bring an extra $1 to purchase a Pea Green supporter pin.

Regular bluegrass jams are held on Friday nights in Grand Junction and are free to the public. The location changes weekly. Check the website for the calendar of events: Copper Club Brewery in Fruita hosts a weekly jam on Thursday evenings at 8 p.m.

GJ Free Press music columnist Veta Gumber, aka Vetabluegrass, hosts a weekly show on KAFM 88.1, Bluegrass and Beyond, every Monday, from 4-6:30 p.m. Tune in to hear old and new bluegrass, from traditional to progressive; from Doc Watson to The Boxcars to Hot Buttered Rum, and beyond! She can be reached at or on Facebook.

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