Here’s What Communicators Can Learn from Pickin’ the Brains of Bluegrass


Here’s what communicators can learn from pickin’ the brains of bluegrass



With the right players, a solid stage and a lot of practice, comms can hone the art of acoustic messaging.

Ashley Bush, Director of Communications, Southwire

Jumping up from the hallowed, wooden bench of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the lingering reverberations of mandolin strings from the Punch Brothers’ final chord struck deeper than the palpitations of my heart.

Despite standing in a hall of 2,360 other music lovers, it still felt like I was alone with the music.

At the time, I chalked that memory up to it simply being one of the most powerful concerts I’d ever attended. But as a communicator, I’ve come to realize that there is much to learn from the art of bluegrass music, and that we, too, can create intimate connections with individual audience members in a crowd.

Bluegrass music emerged in 1940s Appalachia as a synthesis of many cultures and backgrounds The genre is a fantastic example of the beauty that can come from embracing inclusivity and creating an exchange of diverse traditions and experiences.

The genre typically features acoustic, stringed instruments (think guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, stand-up bass) playing high energy, instrumental improvisations, unique harmonies and complex chords. Famous bluegrass musicians include Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss, and “newgrass” has emerged over the last couple of decades with bands like Nickel Creek, Yonder Mountain String Band, Sierra Hull and my personal favorite, Punch Brothers. Other stars including Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton and even Steve Martin have found some of their notable successes in bluegrass music.

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