As traditional bluegrass bands go, The High 48s are about as non-traditional as they come.

In a genre created and dominated by artists from the South, The High 48s were born and raised in the Upper Midwest. In a music scene where playing standards is the norm, The High 48s are a band of songwriters who perform their own material in addition to the “festival favorites.” And in a tradition where most musicians pick their first bluegrass tunes before graduating from Saturday morning cartoons, The High 48s are relative latecomers to bluegrass who found a passion for the music after playing rock, alternative country, indie rock, punk and jazz.

Since arriving on the Minnesota bluegrass scene in 2006, The High 48s have achieved national recognition, taking first place in the prestigious RockyGrass Bluegrass Band Competition in Lyons, CO, (the first band from the Upper Midwest to win the honor), touring the national bluegrass festival circuit and earning the respect of bluegrass musicians and audiences North and South.

Comprised of Rich Casey (bass), Eric Christopher (fiddle and vocals), Chad Johnson (mandolin and vocals), Marty Marrone (guitar and lead vocals) and Anthony Ihrig (banjo), The High 48s formed in Northeast Minneapolis in 2006, taking their name from the railroad slang term for boxcars on the fast-moving Hotshot freight trains.

The High 48s’ third CD release, “Up North,, released in March 2010, is a collection of original and classic bluegrass, featuring guest appearances by Grammy-winners Randy Kohrs (Jim Lauderdale, Hank William III, Dierks Bentley) on dobro and Mike Compton (O Brother Where Art Thou!, Elvis Costello, Nashville Bluegrass Band) on mandolin. Recorded in Minneapolis and Nashville at the end of a busy touring season, Up North is a road-tested collection of eight High 48s originals, two bluegrass classics (The Stanley Brothers’ “Paul and Silas” and Ola Belle Reed’s “I’ve Endured”) and a song from outside the bluegrass genre, “Dirty Old Town,” written by the Scottish songwriter Ewan MacColl and popularized by the Irish folk-rock band The Pogues.

This year also saw the release of The High 48s’ first all-gospel CD, simply titled “The Gospel Album.” With its mix of classic bluegrass gospel and contemporary and outside-the-genre cuts, “The Gospel Album” captures some of The High 48s most compelling vocal performances to date, including a stirring a cappella recording of the Stanley Brothers’ classic “Gloryland.”