The New South is a bluegrass band formed around 1973 by banjo player J. D. Crowe. Their first two albums, Bluegrass Evolution and the eponymous record known by the album number, "Rounder 0044," established them as a dominant force in bluegrass, though the two albums are wildly different.
Current and past members include: J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Tony Rice, Larry Rice, Bobby Slone, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Keith Whitley, Jimmy Gaudreau, Mike Gregory, Steve Bryant, Tony King, Phil Leadbetter, Robert Hale, Darrell Webb, Curt Chapman, Barry Crabtree, Dwight McCall, Rickey Wasson, Harold Nixon, and Ron Stewart.
J.D. Crowe formed the prototype for the New South, the Kentucky Mountain Boys, in the late 1960's. The original line up consisted of Doyle Lawson (guitar), Larry Rice (mandolin) and Bobby Slone (bass). The group recorded two albums, Blackjack, which could be described traditional bluegrass influenced by the Flying Burrito Brothers, and a gospel album, The Model Church. Lawson left the group in 1971 to join the Country Gentlemen, and was replaced by Larry Rice's younger brother, Tony Rice, a guitar prodigy and student of Clarence White.
The Kentucky Mountain Boys released their second secular album, "Bluegrass Evolution". This album seems to have been influenced by the Osborne Brothers and by more mainstream country music; it incorporates drums, pedal steel and electric instruments to a far greater degree than most bluegrass bands of the period.
After "Bluegrass Evolution", Larry Rice left the band. A young Ricky Skaggs replaced him, and Jerry Douglas also joined the group. The band's name was changed the new personnel as well: the Kentucky Mountain Boys became "The New South". Stylisticly this album marked a sharp turn from Bluegrass Evolution, while still experimenting with pedal steel, percussion and a piano on the tracks "You Are What I Am" and "Cryin' Holy", the majority of the album featured songs played with traditional bluegrass instrumentation (although on the slower numbers, Skaggs doubled his fiddle with a Viola) by up and coming singer songwriters such as Gordon Lightfoot, Utah Phillips and Rodney Crowell, as well as incorporating more traditional songs such as "Old Home Place," "Some Old Day," and "Sally Goodin." This one album changed the nature and direction of bluegrass music to an extent that everything after it has to be viewed in light of this album, and today this album is considered a landmark in bluegrass music without which no collection is complete.
Not long after Rounder 0044's release, Rice departed the band to join David Grisman's band. Skaggs and Douglas soon followed suit, forming their own band, Boone Creek. After experimenting with a few lineups, Crowe hired bassist Steve Bryant, Mandolinist Jimmy Gadreau, as well as former Ralph Stanley guitarist Keith Whitley. This band produced three albums: My Home Ain't In the Hall of Fame, Live in Japan, and Somewhere Between. All three of these albums saw the band returning toward the sound of the Bluegrass Evolution album, incorporating more Country elements, with Crowe even playing electric guitar more than banjo on "Somewhere Between".