Denis Gainty On Japanese Bluegrass

Dec 3, 2016

On this week’s show we tell the fascinating story of how bluegrass music – born in the hills and hollers of the North Georgia mountains and Tennessee, and in rural communities in South Carolina and West Virginia more than 200 years ago – has crossed the Pacific Ocean and been enthusiastically embraced by a large fan base in Japan. Our guest is Denis Gainty, an associate professor of history at Georgia State University. He’s now researching and writing a book about Japanese bluegrass.

Our starting point is Nashville, where, the story goes, bluegrass music was elevated to new heights the night that Bill Monroe invited the great banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitar player Lester Flatt to join his band on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Here’s the video of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys with Scruggs and Flatt singing ”Uncle Pen,” which you’ll hear in today’s show:

Denis shares with us some of his favorite Japanese bluegrass bands, including:

The Nakashima Family Band

The Bluegrass 45s

Bluegrass Police

Finally, here’s a video of the New Grass Revival playing their extraordinary jam “Sapporo,” which Denis asked we play to close out the show.

Hope you enjoy the show!