J.D. Crowe and the New South Band: Progressive Bluegrass Musician

Like a lot of bluegrass musicians, J.D. Crowe gained his first musical exposure in church and at home. Growing up surrounded by music, and with an almost obsessive dedication to learning the banjo from a very early age, Crowe grew into one of the most important and influential bluegrass musicians of the century. Although he is almost fully retired, his music continues to influence the bluegrass tradition, and many of the musicians who played with him are recognized as the best pickers in the genre.

Crowe was still a teenager when he was called up by Jimmy Martin, “The King of Bluegrass,” in the mid-1950s. Crowe’s time in the band coincided with some of the best years of performance for Martin, but Crowe eventually set out on his own, forming the Kentucky Mountain Boys to keep on performing while working a day job. Over time this grew into a full-time touring group.

The New South

From 1973 and beyond, the release of their last album in 2006, J.D. Crowe and The New South band represented progressive bluegrass in a variety of forms. Their most influential album is best known by its record company number “Rounder 0044,” and featured such talents as Ricky Skaggs on mandolin, Jerry Douglass on dobro, and Tony Rice on guitar. Later versions of the J.D. Crowe and the New South band featured the vocalist Keith Whitley. The New South changed bluegrass, and its influence can still be heard today in today’s progressive bluegrass bands.

During his career, J.D. Crowe played Gibson banjos, and even had a production model designed to his specifications. With a style as instantly recognizable and unique as his, Crowe had specific modifications that he made to his own banjos. If you hear his name connected to the spacing of the strings on the banjo, that is because he preferred a slightly wider bridge, to add more space between his strings.

If you’re looking to emulate that J.D. Crowe and the New South Band style or sound, or the talents of any other of your favorite pickers, pay a visit to our store to check out the best instruments available.