In the thoroughly collaborative bluegrass world, where musicians continually embark on new lineups and side projects with kindred pickers in their circles, it's hardly a given that a band would last a decade — especially one with a beginning as facetious as Della Mae's. Early on in the tenure of what was once the only string band on the circuit made up entirely of women, fiddle-playing founder Kimber Ludiker was often called upon to recount the group's origin story. In once such telling, she wrote, "When I started this band, I started it actually as a joke. Late at night with a group of friends at a music camp in California, we were joking around about how fun it would be to start an all-female bluegrass band that played high-testosterone, really fast bluegrass music — what we called 'mangrass.'"
The hook wasn't merely that the women in the band would be playing instruments people were accustomed to seeing in the hands of men. It was also the chosen musical approach: They would perform with a virtuosic, hard-driving vigor presumed to be a masculine domain. (Recall that Alison Krauss, by far the biggest female star to emerge from a contemporary bluegrass background, has received far more recognition for applying ethereal refinement to her interpretations of sophisticated ballads than for displaying hearty mastery on fiddle.)