With humble origins in the central Kentucky region, bluegrass music started as a rustic folk song genre combining the influence of Scottish and English ballads, which the region’s settlers brought over from Europe.
Its story is deeply intertwined with the country and hillbilly tradition, as heard in the strings of the banjo that make the genre unique.
Kentucky’s agricultural landscape is changing, and hemp production blooms in the region, as shown by top-quality growers like Cornbread Hemp, which take advantage of the state’s perfect geological and meteorological conditions to grow some of the finest flowers in the country.
Soon the possibility of mixing in weed and the region’s musical tradition became too tempting to resist.
We found that bluegrass is a merry genre to dive into while stoned, offering jolly detachment, cinematic emotion, and a mellow country vibe. Frolic in the grass with these recommendations:
Virginia-born Jesse and Jim McReynolds brought a new array of string sounds to bluegrass, as brother Jesse picked on the mandolin with his own patented cross-picking and split-string methods. The 1970s We Like Trains (a baffling confession) has the duo at their best, letting jiggy melodies and wistful baritones carry the music.
A Freight Train in My Mind is one of the performative climaxes on the album, and perfectly reflects the heavy worry of day-to-day human struggle and the desire to let go of the burden. In that sense, just like a subtle smoke sesh at the end of a hard day at work, this track is made to unwind.
A classic bluegrass sound palette to get your quest into the genre started.
Kentucky legend Chris Stapleton’s debut solo album after a long career of touring with legendary bluegrass acts veers away from classic bluegrass proceedings, leaning heavily on the blues to create a classic American dive bar aesthetic.
With a title and a vibe like it has, it’s impossible not to bring it up in this conversation. The heartbreak of the country singer, lonely at the bar, blazing up to kill the time, and the memory, it’s all too perfect.
“Since the whisky’s gone, I might as well get stoned” is a one-liner for the Kentucky stoner hall of fame.
Hailing from Nashville, these new wave bluegrass veterans should hit a distinct note if you’re just approaching the genre. Imagine yourself on the road, leaving the city behind, driving, hiking, and horseback-riding your way to freedom in the Appalachians, that’s what they feel.
Especially so on the opener to their 2015 album The Muscle Shoals Recordings, Long Way Down, the freewheeling nihilism of bluegrass music lets its flag fly. The fiddle passages are sublime, and the loose fingerpicking on both banjo and mandolin gives this track a sweet sunset flair.
This is one to play on that weekend getaway, while you light the first joint of the whole outing and it feels as though you shed the weight of the world.
Bluegrass sensations Old & In The Way is one of the strongest representatives of the genre out west, and part of their success is owed to the way in which they nailed the covers on their first, self-titled, album. In addition to a stellar version of The Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses, the album features this liberating rendition of Peter Rowan’s own Panama Red.
An all-time bluegrass classic, you can light up and let the fiddle drive you and your crew crazy with the bravado of the west.
The album became one of the best-selling bluegrass albums of all time, and propelled the band to fame and ultimately a reunion tour under the name Old & In The Gray. Spin these versions for a generational twist on your high.
Here’s a suggestion from the noughties, coming from three of the six Peasall sisters; Leah, Sarah, and Hannah. The magic in their sound lies in their vocal harmonies, and how they play off each other’s sweet melody to create breathtaking sonar landscapes.
Their sound recalls a warm country morning, with the chirping of the birds and the dew fresh on the grass. So if you’re looking to bask in lovey country nostalgia, try giving this group a listen, starting off with the haunting Gray County Line.