When looking for evidence of Folk Music's continued popularity in the Adirondacks today, one need look no further than the Adirondack Bluegrass League...

Since 1972, the Adirondack Bluegrass League has made it their mission to promote local artists and encourage the spread of traditional bluegrass music. Folk and bluegrass have a few key differences, the most important of which being bluegrass' focus upon instrumental solos over folk's focus upon lyrics. Nonetheless, many consider bluegrass a susbset of the folk genre because its roots are in traditional music that was passed orally from person to person. As such, the Bluegrass League's mission "to promote bluegrass music and local bands and musicians in a family oriented atmosphere" makes them one of the biggest proponents of folk music in the park today. 

The Adirondack Bluegrass League is incredibly active, with over 200 members, some who drive from the furthest reaches of the park to attend the monthly meetings and jam sessions. In addition to these meetings, the League hosts live bluegrass shows throughout the year, one of which I was lucky enough to attend in November. These shows usually consist of two bluegrass bands who play for about an hour each at a local restaurant, making for a couple hours of good food, good company and, most importantly, good music. The November show opened with Chad Darou & Stealing Time, a bluegrass band whose tight orchestration and strong vocals has gained them national attention. Chad, the head of the band, began each tune with some crowd-pleasing jokes and a short description of the song. A few of the song were written by band members, but Chad attributed many to other bluegrass musicians who had passed the song along to him, another characteristic that bluegrass shares with folk.  

Here is Chad Darou & Stealing Time playing a song by Bill Monroe, The Father of Bluegrass, called "Dark as the Night, Blue as the day." The first minute and a half consist of friendly banter between the band and audience, which created a friendly community atmosphere that I have come to associate with folk and bluegrass music. As you enjoy the music, make sure to notice each of the instruments present. Chad is playing a unique type of resonator guitar called a dobro, which is held differently from a normal guitar and produces a twangier sound. Besides this unique instrument, also notice the fiddle, bass, guitar, mandolin (which looks like a small guitar and has a higher, more pure sound), and banjo. All of these instruments are staples of both the bluegrass and folk sound.

Here's another sample from Chad's band, an original song written by Chad himself called "High, Dry, and Lonesome." In the folk tradition, the song tells the story of a broken-hearted youth whose ladylove has left him.


Chad Darou & Stealing Time were followed by another nationally-recognized bluegrass group, the James King Band. The band had traveled all the way from Tennessee to be present at the show, but the fatigue they must have felt was not apparent in their lively playing. Enjoy a sample of their portion of the show: