flatpicking

Caught here onstage in Berkeley, California, in February '23, Jake Eddy plays one of his solo flatpicking performances, which is a testament to his ability and confidence as a player.

Photo by Joe Readel

These four young firebrands are kicking the doors of bluegrass guitar wide open.

The fine folk art of bluegrass flatpicking has probably never been on the minds of more music fans than it is today, thanks to the rise of Billy Strings as an arena-scale artist. His chops and musicality, combined with strong songwriting and a superb band, have made him a different kind of guitar hero—one whose own heroes include Doc Watson, Tony Rice, and Norman Blake.

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The happy reunion of Mark O'Connor and his old Martin resulted in a sequel to his foundational 1978 acoustic guitar album, Markology. Back then, he was already a star violinist and a mandolin player of note. Photo by Maggie O'Connor

Photo by Maggie O'Connor

When an injury sidelined his 6-stringing 20 years ago, he committed to violin superstardom. Now, O'Connor returns to his 1945 Martin D-28 for the rapturous, virtuosic Markology II.

In 1997, Mark O'Connor faced every guitarist's worst fear. He was teaching at his O'Connor Method String Camp that summer when he developed a debilitating case of bursitis in his right elbow. "Doctor's advice was that I limit or discontinue some of the activity that caused the bursitis, as the condition wasn't going to disappear entirely," O'Connor explains. As a multi-instrumentalist with a high-level violin career, he had a choice to make. "I sacrificed the guitar and mandolin to preserve my violin playing. I was very sad to see it go, but I needed to preserve my ability to play the violin, because it was the thrust of my career."

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