The most influential bluegrass artists in the world are my parents. They played their way into my heart and soul with their sweet sound. And I’m not just talking about my parents, but also all of the other musicians that influenced me growing up.
My dad was a huge country music fan, so I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson and Toby Keith. My mom loved classic rock from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin to Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower.” In fact, she loved it so much that she taught herself how to play guitar when we were younger because her favorite song was “Stairway To Heaven.” So while there is no one artist who has had more influence on my music than the other, it’s not hard to imagine that I would be playing bluegrass if it weren’t for my family.
It all started when my brother taught me how to play guitar at age ten. He was a big fan of metal bands like Pantera and Metallica, but he also liked some older country music legends like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr. and Merle Haggard. I quickly learned how to play the songs that my brother taught me, only to write my own songs a few years later.
My grandfather loved bluegrass too, so he showed me some of his favorite musicians like Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and Kenny Baker. Eventually, I began listening to bluegrass more often by myself, which is what led me to YouTube videos.
I grew up in a tiny town in the heart of Kentucky, so everything about my hometown reflected bluegrass music. I remember when I was younger, there were never any “modern” restaurants or stores in my little town besides 6th st., where all of the college kids go to hang out and listen to bluegrass music.
When I was growing up, almost every big festival in the summer was a bluegrass-themed one as well. The farmers’ market would be set up along Main Street with live bands playing all day long. My grandpa would always take me there on Saturday mornings before going to the store. There were bluegrass festivals at the local park every weekend in the summer, so I’d have to spend time with my grandfather to get out of bed early on Saturday mornings.
My parents also took me to see every big country music concert when I was younger. It ranged from smaller shows at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium to big shows at the city’s Bridgestone Arena. All of my favorite country music artists would stop by my home town on their world tours, so I got to hear them play live as much as possible!
As you can see, I grew up in a very bluegrass-oriented environment, and it didn’t take me long to love the genre too. If you ever wanted to learn how to play guitar or banjo, all you have to do is follow your parents’ footsteps!