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The Spinney Brothers Celebrate #1 with "My Music Comes From Bill!"

Sat, 08/29/2015 - 22:18

August 28, 2015 (Nova Scotia, Canada)—The Spinney Brothers, Canada's International Bluegrass band, are thrilled to announce their latest single, "My Music Comes from Bill," has reached #1 on the National Survey's Top 30 Songs Chart for September. Their single, "My Music Comes From Bill" is very special to them. "We fell in love with it the first time we heard it and are so fortunate that its songwriters, Bill Castle and Steve Watts allowed us to record it! The song has been a real favorite for everyone."

The Spinney Brothers could be considered by some to be an “overnight success” story even though they've been performing together for well over 20 years. With their latest three releases on Mountain Fever Records and an increased tour schedule that keeps them on the road over 200 days a year, the Canadian duo has catapulted into a whirlwind of notoriety and recognition by the bluegrass and acoustic music scene.

Their 2012 release, Memories, garnered plenty of attention which helped to name the band as a final nominee for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Emerging Artist of the Year in 2013. And their previous release, No Borders, proved just that - there were no boundaries that could hold this highly entertaining band back! In fact, No Borders broke barriers for all international bands by reaching the #1 spot on the National (US) Bluegrass Survey’s Top 15 Albums chart, holding tight for 2 months (January and February 2014), and garnered the band two more IBMA nominations; Emerging Artist and Song of the Year for "Grandpa's Way of Life."

With their latest project, Tried & True, released in October 2014, The Spinney Brothers have enjoyed consistent chart success with the CD on the Top 15 Albums chart eight consecutive months and three tracks appearing on the Top 30 Songs chart including "My Music Comes from Bill" reaching #1 in September. Altogether, the band has now reached a career milestone with three #1 chart-toppers to their credit.

The Spinney Brothers plan to return to the studio this winter to begin work on their fourth album for Mountain Fever Records, due for release in 2016. Until then, they continue to have a very busy touring schedule and will be performing at the following venues over the next few weeks:

  • September 3rd & 4th - Fort Fairfield, ME
  • September 5th - Stewiake, NS, Canada
  • September 13th - Sackville, NB, Canada
  • September 23rd - Bean Blossom, IN
  • September 24th - Buena Vista, VA
  • September 25th - Manteo, NC
  • September 26th - Upperco, MD
  • September 27th - Canterbury, CT

For more information on The Spinney Brothers including a complete list of tour dates, visit

Tags: The Spinney BrothersSingleMy Music Comes From BillCD ReleaseTried & True

Full Wide Open Bluegrass Free StreetFest Schedule Released

Sat, 08/29/2015 - 22:15

Nashville, TN -- The full schedule of artists and performances for Wide Open Bluegrass StreetFest, the free street festival portion of Wide Open Bluegrass, has just been announced. The roster of artists performing at Wide Open Bluegrass StreetFest, held October 2 and 3 in Raleigh, North Carolina, includes a broad mix of local, national and international bluegrass talent. Wide Open Bluegrass, presented by PNC, is part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s five-day World of Bluegrass event in Raleigh, North Carolina, September 29-October 3. The PNC-presented free Wide Open Bluegrass StreetFest, held in downtown Raleigh along Fayetteville Street, will feature more than 80 bands, five music stages, a dance tent, vendors and concessions.

The Youth Stage – a special stage near the Convention Center – will feature performances and activities from the future stars of bluegrass. The performers were chosen by IBMA’s Youth Council, which is made up of youth members from across the U.S. and Ireland.

Additionally, StreetFest will contain a Bluegrass Expo Hall and a Masters Workshop Stage in the Raleigh Convention Center.

“Audiences will encounter a unique bluegrass experience while roaming the streets of downtown Raleigh,” said William Lewis, Executive Director of PineCone and producer of Wide Open Bluegrass. “True to the Wide Open brand, performances will range from bluegrass music’s folk roots in blues and old-time string band with Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton & The Down Hill Strugglers, to traditional bluegrass performed by one of Bill Monroe’s former Blue Grass Boys – fiddler Bobby Hicks, to the modern stylings of Special Consensus, to the future of bluegrass by way of one of its most promising stars, mandolinist Sierra Hull. The lineup includes special projects, as well, including The HillBenders presenting ‘Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry’- a grassy spin on The Who’s rock opera; and Jayme Stone’s ‘Lomax Project’ – a reimagining of songs collected by folklorist Alan Lomax. We aim to inspire, entertain, and educate folks about the depth and breadth of bluegrass music today.”

"The PNC Porch at StreetFest will be back again this year, and we encourage festival-goers to stop by outside the PNC Plaza on Fayetteville Street," said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president, Eastern Carolinas. "StreetFest is free to the public and features an amazing array of bluegrass artists, with interactive, fun activities for people of all ages. We hope everyone will come experience bluegrass and the festival that makes Raleigh such a vibrant, creative city."

In addition to the free Wide Open Bluegrass StreetFest, the ticketed concerts for both days will take place at Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater. Tickets for Red Hat Amphitheater are limited, and expected to sell out before the performance dates. To purchase tickets for this portion of Wide Open Bluegrass, go to

“What makes IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass a festival experience like no other is the combination of the terrific free StreetFest stages and the stellar lineup scheduled for the Red Hat Amphitheatre on October 2nd and 3rd,” said Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of IBMA. “William Lewis of PineCone detailed some of the amazing performers who will take part in the StreetFest. Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, The Earls of Leicester and so many more world-class artists will be part of the ticketed weekend shows at Red Hat – so don’t forget to get your tickets for that, too, so you can enjoy the full Wide Open experience!”

The full schedule of artists and performance times for various stages at the free Wide Open Bluegrass StreetFest is available on, and on the free Wide Open Bluegrass app (available for Android and iPhone devices), which also contains special offers for event attendees from local businesses, program schedules, maps, vendor listings and locations, transportation details, official news and social media updates, related events happening at local venues during the week, and other helpful information for festival attendees.

For the third year in a row, the NC Pork Council’s Whole Hog Barbecue Championship will take place as part of Wide Open Bluegrass, as well.

Barbecue lovers will find multiple options to learn about whole hog barbecue and tempt their palates during the festival, including three dining options and the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship. Friday night will kick off at 5 pm with a N.C. Barbecue Experience Dinner featuring Matthew Register of Southern Smoke. Die-hard fans can start Saturday morning early while watching the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship judging at 8:45 am, followed by a championship barbecue sandwich lunch benefiting the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Saturday night’s barbecue festivities finish strong with another N.C. Barbecue Experience Dinner with Linwood Parker of White Swan from 5-9 pm. For more details about the Championship or dining events, visit, the Whole Hog Barbecue Facebook page or the NCPC Facebook page.

IBMA – the International Bluegrass Music Association – is the professional trade organization for the global bluegrass music community.

Sponsors of the Wide Open Bluegrass street festival, presented by PNC, include: Bud Light, Big Boss Brewing Company, Lone Rider Beer, Natty Greene’s Brewing Company, Great America, Ron and Nancy McFarlane, Food Lion, Move Loot, Central Carolina Chevrolet Dealers, Boone, Red Hat, WakeMed, Martin Guitar, Blue Cross, Citrix, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP, Covington Vodka, Go Ape, NC Railroad, Highwoods, GoTriangle, Pepsi, Nature’s Twist, Cheerwine, Stanley Martin Homes, Duke Energy, Link Glenwood South, North Carolina Arts Council, Raleigh Marriott City Center, Sheraton Raleigh, Holiday Inn Downtown Raleigh and Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Raleigh. Media sponsors include: WRAL,, WTVD, WNCN, The News & Observer and Curtis Media.

The Youth Stage is made possible this year by PBS from a grant awarded to UNC-TV that encourages the support of public television and the arts, Amtrak, NC Amtrak, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and 919 Magazine.

The StreetFest is brought to you by collaboration among the City of Raleigh, Raleigh Convention Center, IBMA, PineCone, and Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau.

PNC Bank is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC ( is one of the United States' largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management.

Tags: Wide Open BluegrassWorld of BluegrassIBMAEventStreetFestConvention

Lonesome River Band Announced Special Album “Coming Back Home To You”

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 22:29
Lonesome River Band is proud to announce the release of a special compilation album of their earlier Mountain Home releases. Coming Back Home To You includes selections from Window Of Time, Head On Into Heartache and Road With No End albums.

Coming Back Home To You is now available in both physical and digital formats at stores, online, and at your next Lonesome River Band performance.

Each track was hand selected by Sammy Shelor and the band in response to fan requests for some titles that were no longer available in CD format. “The time between 2002 through 2006 were years of transition for Lonesome River Band. We feel this is a great representation of songs and personnel of those years of the three albums released by Mountain Home. We hope you enjoy,” said Shelor.

The tracks selected include performances by beloved LRB alumni Shannon Slaughter, Barry Barrier and Jeff Parker.

Coming Home To You includes:

  • Window Of Time:
    1. "Down The Line"
    2. "Missed It By A Mile"
    3. "Weary Day"
    4. "Tune Of A Twenty Dollar Bill"
  • Head On Into Heartache:
    1. "Tears In My Tracks"
    2. "Coming Home To You"
    3. "Raleigh and Spencer"
    4. "Little Birdie"
  • The Road With No End:
    1. "Lonesome Won't Get The Best Of Me"
    2. "Won't Be Over You"
    3. "A Step Away"
    4. "Hillbilly Cat Fight"

The band’s other current Mountain Home Music album, Turn On A Dime, continues its success with three tracks garnering 2015 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Award Nominations for: “Her Love Won’t Turn On A Dime” for Song of the Year, “Cumberland Gap” for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year, and “Holding To The Right Hand” for Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year. Shelor, a five-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Award Winner, received another nomination in that category.

LRB fans can pick up their autographed copy of Coming Back Home To You at one of their numerous live performances including September 4 at the Kentucky Bluegrass & Bourbon Experience (Louisville, Ky.), September 5 at their sold out show at Bluegrass Underground (McMinnville, Tenn.), September 6 at the Floyd Yoga Jam (Willis, Va.), and many other events.

The history of Lonesome River Band, along with more information on the award winning talents of Sammy Shelor, Brandon Rickman, Mike Hartgrove, Barry Reed, and Jesse Smathers, can be found at

Tags: Lonesome River BandCD ReleaseComing Back Home To You

Urban Monroes New Single “William’s Still Alive” Honors Civil War Relative

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 22:27

For the past four years the U.S. has been involved in the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, remembering both the heroic and the horrible of the country’s deadliest conflict. The 150th anniversary rightly spawned numerous books, movies, documentaries, podcasts, and songs. It was an age worn piece of paper from a different, but related anniversary however, that inspired the Urban Monroes’ latest single release.

Found in the midst of her family’s treasures and trash, the Urban Monroes’ Fran Kent uncovered a century and half old document. Dating from August 1865 and bearing her great-great-great-grandfather’s name, it was a discharge paper from the 108th Illinois Infantry of the Union Army. William F. Perdue had served three years and was now only 19 as he received his final pay and was sent on his way back home from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Added in red ink at the top of the page, was the list of 11 battles he had both fought in and survived. This piece of paper cemented Fran’s relationship to an ancestor she never knew and moved her to write about it and about him on the 150th anniversary of his discharge.

The song entitled “William’s Still Alive” is about both the discovery of the discharge papers and the realization of the life it represents. The song will be on the band’s forthcoming CD, but has already been released to DJ’s through Airplay Direct at the following url as well as through the band’s website: Anyone interested in seeing the actual discharge papers can do so at the band’s Facebook page:

Tags: Urban MonroesSingleWilliam’s Still AliveCivil WarFran KentAirPlay Direct

FreshGrass Presents FreshScores - Original Music Set to Silent Films

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 22:54

North Adams, MA -- FreshGrass, a three-day festival dedicated to preserving, supporting, and creating innovative grassroots music and the artists who make it, begins a new commissioning project with FreshScores: original scores by contemporary artists performed live to classic silent films. Alison Brown, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and 2013 FreshGrass artist Mamie Minch perform four FreshScores on Friday and Saturday of the FreshGrass festival, held on September 18-20, 2015, in North Adams, Mass.

FreshGrass kicks off on Friday, September 18, with Punch Brothers, Houndmouth, Flatt Lonesome, and 2014 FreshGrass Band Award winner Twisted Pine. Saturday, September 19, features Dwight Yoakam, Leftover Salmon, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz & Aoife O’Donovan, Alison Brown, Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Mr. Sun, Ballroom Thieves, Birds of Chicago, FreshGrass Award winners Quiles & Cloud and Cat and the Moon, and bands from Berklee College of Music’s American Roots Music Program. Sunday, September 20, keeps rolling with The Del McCoury Band, Jerry Douglas presents Earls of Leicester, Greensky Bluegrass, Willie Watson, Peter Rowan, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, and The Man in Grass: A Tribute to Johnny Cash. On Saturday and Sunday, 19 acts compete for the FreshGrass Award in the band, duo, banjo, and fiddle categories.

FreshScores Friday
Friday features the first-ever FreshScore performances. Grammy Award-winner Alison Brown performs her haunting banjo score to the D. W. Griffith short A Child of the Ghetto (originally commissioned by the 2015 New York Jewish Film Festival), followed by old-time blues guitarist and singer Mamie Minch’s brand new score to Winsor McKay's innovative 1921 animation The Flying House.

A short tale of the hardships of the Lower East Side at the turn of the century is captured in A Child of the Ghetto, as a young heroine struggles to support herself as a seamstress after the death of her mother and eventually must flee the city after she is falsely accused of stealing money. Director Griffith’s 1910 film captures the hustle and bustle of the city at the height of his Hollywood career, showcasing his storytelling power and editing techniques, all while portraying New York City as a threatening place for American Jews, arguing that they would improve their lives by moving out of the city ghettos.

Set to blues maven Mamie Minch’s original score, The Flying House tells the story of a woman who has a vivid dream in which her husband, in order to escape an increase in their mortgage payment, decides to put a gigantic propeller on their house and flies it to a new location where they won’t have to pay their mortgage. Flying across the ocean, much of the world, and eventually into outer space, the woman is only awoken from her nightmare after a huge giant attempts to swat the house out of the sky.

FreshScores Saturday
Saturday’s FreshScore performances feature Cajun rabble-rouser Lost Bayou Ramblers’ accompaniment to Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 classic The Great Train Robbery, and a second showing of guitarist and singer Mamie Minch’s score set to 1921’s The Flying House.

At just under 12 minutes long, Porter’s energetic Western film is considered a milestone in filmmaking. The Great Train Robbery uses a number of unconventional editing and shooting styles and is one of the earliest films to use the technique of cross-cutting, in which two scenes are shown to be occurring simultaneously, but in different locations. In 1990, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

In addition to FreshScores and the music happening across three stages and two courtyards and throughout galleries, FreshGrass offers a hearty lineup of instrument workshops, luthiers, family programming, downtown camping, late-night dance parties, legendary jam sessions, and the FreshGrass Award — celebrating fresh talent on the bluegrass stage with 19 finalists competing in the band, duo, banjo, and fiddle categories for cash and prizes totaling $25,000, a performance spot at next year’s festival, recording sessions at Compass Records, and hand-crafted instruments from Deering and Eastman. Admission to MASS MoCA's galleries — where festival-goers find concerts set amidst dramatically scaled exhibitions of contemporary art such as Jim Shaw’s Entertaining Doubts — is included in the price of festival admission.

FreshGrass, September 18–20, 2015, at MASS MoCA, continues to be one of the best values on the festival circuit. Three-day festival passes are available for $99 for adults, $115 day-of, $89 for students, and $46 for children 7 to 16. Friday passes are $38 in advance, $42 day-of, $28 for students, and $20 for children 7 to 16. Saturday passes are $52 in advance, $56 day-of, $40 for students, and $28 for children 7 to 16. Sunday passes are $46 in advance, $50 day-of, $36 for students, and $24 for children 7 to 16. Available for $300, FreshPass is a deluxe festival experience offering preferred seating at all stages, meet-and-greet opportunities with FreshGrass artists, access to the FreshPass lounge, and locally sourced snacks and beer. Children 6 and under are admitted for free. Museum members receive a 10% discount on the regular ticket prices. Museum admission is included in the price of the festival pass. The festival will be held rain or shine.

FreshGrass is sponsored by No Depression, Compass Records, the American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music, Deering Banjo Company, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Eastman Guitars, Stop & Shop, Chronogram, D’Addario, the Porches Inn, Berkshire Magazine, WKZE, WGNA, WKZE, WRSI, the Fretboard Journal, and Take Magazine. Additional support is by Berkshire Gas as part of its music series at MASS MoCA.

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MASS MoCA) is one of the world’s liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today’s most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. More platform than box, MASS MoCA strives to bring to its audiences art experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.

Through September 7, MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays, when performing arts events are often featured. Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. Beginning September 8, MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. The museum is closed on Tuesday, September 8. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit

Tags: FreshGrassFreshScoresMASS MoCABluegrass FestivalEventFilm

Folk Revival Festival Returns to Long Beach, CA Sept. 19

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 22:52

Long Beach, CA – Save the date for the third annual Long Beach Folk Revival Festival September 19, 2015 from 11am to 10pm returning to Rainbow Lagoon Park. Just across from Shoreline Village and the Marina in Downtown Long Beach, CA, this beautiful ocean front location sets the perfect stage for showcasing the best in Folk, Roots, Americana, & Bluegrass music acts. There's also a banjo contest so now is the time to get entered for that event too.

This family-friendly festival is all about bringing the community together to enjoy a slice of “True American Music”. Once again music plucked out on a banjo or crooned over an old guitar is gaining popularity! In addition to the great music, all the fan favorites from last year are back including our signature contests, amazing gourmet food & craft beers, interactive kid’s area, our “Vintage Bazaar” shopping experience & so much more.

This year's Banjo Contest, sponsored by Deering Banjo Co., is free to enter and will be a lot of fun. We are looking for the best of the best! All levels of pickers are welcome to enter the contest but we are looking for the very best so please keep this in mind. We have a total of 25 slots and we will limit it to 10 entries online and leave 15 spots for sign up at the festival. This is first come first serve so don’t sleep on it!

Each contestant will get 60 seconds to show the audience what they got! This year we are allowing 1 back up musician to accompany and all music styles are welcome. After all contestants are finished the audience will vote by their applause, hoots, & hollers and the top 3 contestants will be determined by our judges. There will be prizes for the overall winner as well as prizes for second & third place. Prizes include gift certificates, products from local businesses, and grand prize winner will receive this custom Deering Goodtime Banjo Ukulele which is a new product for Deering!

The contest is run by the Long Beach/Orange County Bluegrass for Beginners Meetup which is a gathering of Bluegrass, Old Time, and Celtic acoustic music fans who wish to improve their musical skills with other like-minded musicians in a convivial, low pressure atmosphere. They welcome, even encourage rank beginners as well as intermediate, even more advanced players, who just want to play music. They have only one rule, that you do your best and not worry what others think.

Join us for the 3rd annual Long Beach Folk Revival Festival set for September 19, 2015 from 11am to 11pm returning to Rainbow Lagoon Park. Just across from Shoreline Village and the Marina in Downtown Long Beach, CA. This beautiful ocean front location sets the perfect stage for showcasing the best in Folk, Roots, Americana, & Bluegrass music acts.

Get ready for a good old fashion jamboree complete with beards, banjos, craft beers & more! The third annual Long Beach Folk Revival Festival takes place on September 19, 2015 from 11am to 11pm and is serving up a slice of “True American Music” for every member of the family. Enjoy picturesque views on the grassy lawns of Rainbow Lagoon Park in Downtown Long Beach while enjoying the best in Folk, Roots, Americana, & Bluegrass music acts.

This year indie-folk rockers Deer Tick hailing all the way from Providence, Rhode Island will headline the festival along with LA’s very own He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, Legendary Shack Shakers who will be supporting a new album, The Tillers from Ohio who are making their West Coast debut, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit who people couldn’t get enough of last year, The Brothers Comatose, Possessed by Paul James, Moonsville Collective, Snakearm, The Haunted Windchimes, Sawtooth, Wimberley Bluegrass Band, Tom Vandenavond, Bearcoon, Jamie Wyatt, Smooth Hound Smith, Phil Celia Band, Fiddle & Pine, Yellow Red Sparks, & Lovely Outlaws.

This family-friendly festival is all about bringing the community together and nothing seems to do that better than live music, tasty food, and a unique experience you won’t find often in SoCal. Once again music plucked out on a banjo or crooned over an old guitar is gaining popularity! In addition to the great music, all the fan favorites from last year are back including our signature contests, amazing gourmet food & craft beers, interactive kid’s area, our “Vintage Bazaar” shopping experience & so much more.

The Long Beach Folk Revival Festival showcases popular & emerging folk, roots, bluegrass, and americana musicians with a deeply community-centric vibe. All the music & vendors have been carefully curated to create an authentic experience you won’t find anywhere else this side of the Appalachians. This family-run homegrown music festival is fueled by a love of everything local, builds a sense of community, and proudly supports sustainable practices.


Tags: Folk RevivalMusic FestivalLong Beach Folk Revival FestivalFolkEvent

Mountain Faith to America's Got Talent Semi-Finals

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 11:44
The bluegrass music community has been watching in anticipation as a family band from Sylva, NC has been progressing through America's Got Talent competition. From their first appearance, this band has shown America's households what bluegrass music can be. The band's high energy level, great professional presentation, happy and cheerful attitude and a wonderful sense of presence has helped propel them into the semi-finals of the competition.

Even late in the afternoon when the shadow of Cowee Mountain stretches across the family tire shop, passersby can catch the bright notes of Appalachian bluegrass drifting from the back room of the service station where Mountain Faith – the SPBGMA Bluegrass Music Awards nominated band from Sylva, North Carolina – rehearses between customers. Everybody’s there: Sam McMahan keeping time on bass, Summer McMahan playing the fiddle and singing lead and harmony, Brayden McMahan plucking the banjo and singing harmony, Luke Dotson strumming the guitar and singing lead and harmony, and Cory Piatt picking the mandolin.

Since 2000, Mountain Faith has played their unique brand of bluegrass to audiences in civic centers, auditoriums, arenas, fair grounds, parks, and churches across the United States and Canada. Their fresh Appalachian take on gospel, bluegrass, folk, R&B, and pop music has earned them televised appearances on Daystar and, most recently, America’s Got Talent. When not touring the bluegrass festival circuit, Mountain Faith performs on the stage of Dollywood where they have quickly become a crowd favorite.

The excitement has been building since their first appearance on the program June 30th.

After their explosive acceptance for their performance there, the family band put a bluegrass twist on the rock song "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness for the Judges Cut...

Here then is their performance from the Quater Finals that they place in moving them one step closer to the grand prize.

Fans continue to vote and praise this band for their wonderful exposure of bluegrass music to millions of American households. The artistry and talent of this group has been a great way to give bluegrass national exposure. Please continue to cheer them on and support them with your votes when you can.

Tags: Mountain FaithAmerica's Got TalentCompetition

Gibson Brothers Set #1 On Bluegrass Unlimited Album Chart Record

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 22:23

Nashville, TN -- Beloved bluegrass group the Gibson Brothers is celebrating a previously unprecedented feat: with the ascent of their album Brotherhood to the number one spot on Bluegrass Unlimited’s album chart, they become the first band in the chart’s history to reach the top spot over eight consecutive albums.

The band previously topped the chart in August, 2003 with Bona Fide, Long Way Back Home in 2004, Red Letter Day in 2006, Iron and Diamonds in 2008, Ring the Bell in 2010, Help My Brother in 2011, and They Called It Music in 2013. Brotherhood, the band’s debut recording for Rounder, was released in February of this year.

2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for the Gibsons. In May, Eric and Leigh Gibson were honored by the State University of New York (SUNY) with honorary degrees of doctor of fine arts at SUNY Plattsburgh’s spring 2015 commencement. A month later, they graced the cover of Bluegrass Unlimited, widely considered the premier magazine of bluegrass music.
On October 1, The Gibsons will host the 26th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, which will take place at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. They are nominated in five categories this year, including Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, and Album of the Year.

For more than two decades, they have been among the most admired and sought-after groups in the bluegrass world. Over the course of their career, the International Bluegrass Music Association has bestowed eleven awards on the Gibsons, including two consecutive “Entertainer of the Year” honors in 2012 and 2013.

The Gibson Brothers – two-time IBMA Entertainer of the Year recipients and one of the hottest touring acts in contemporary bluegrass – will be hosting the IBMA’s 26th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, scheduled for October 1 at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Known as bluegrass music’s biggest night of the year, the International Bluegrass Music Awards acknowledges the year’s outstanding talent and achievements, honors new Hall of Fame inductees, and waves the worldwide flag for bluegrass music.

Tags: The Gibson BrothersChartsBluegrass ChartBluegrass Unlimited#1

Dry Hill Draggers Play Carter Family Fold Aug 29th

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 22:20

The Dry Hill Draggers started out in 1981. From Franklin County, Virginia, the group included Jimmy Boyd on banjo and his brother, Billy. Although several of the founding members are now gone, the group has continued in the mountain tradition of a multi-generational, traditional, old time string band. While jamming in the 1970s in the Dryhill and Ferrum area, some of the musicians were falling behind. Edgar Crowe said since they were dragging behind on their timing, he was going to call the group the Dry Hill Draggers. That name has stuck now for the past 30 years. The Ferrum, Virginia, area is home to most of those performing in the group today. They played at the 1982 World’s Fair, and they’re favorites at the Floyd Country Store and the Blue Ridge Music Center. Their knock-down driving beat is anything but “dragging.” In 2011, they placed second in the old time band category at Galax. Fold audiences who remember Larry Sigmon and Barbara Poole will love this old time band.

The group cut their first album in 1982. Over the next several years, the Draggers recorded and released eight albums and CDs. In 2011, they released an anniversary CD celebrating 30 years. They’re now working on their 10th release. Stacy Boyd plays the doghouse bass. Jamie Boyd plays claw-hammer banjo. Billy Woods and Chris Prillaman play both fiddle and guitar. Jason Hambrick plays guitar, and founder Jimmy Boyd still performs with them just as he has for the past 30 years.

If old time is what you like, the Dry Hill Draggers will deliver. Flat-footers and two-steppers are welcome to come out and shake a leg with the Draggers. The group is known for their knock-down, hard-driving beat, and there will be lots of fiddle tunes and rare old time tunes that aren’t often heard commercially today. Bring along your dancing shoes, and get ready for some old time, mountain family fun! For more information on the Draggers, go to their web site –

Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at

Saturday, August 29th, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of old time music by the Dry Hill Draggers. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. Carter Music Center is part of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. You can visit the Crooked Road Music Trail site at Partial funding for programs at the center is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For recorded information on shows coming up at the Fold, call 276-386-6054. The Fold is on Facebook – page Carter Fold – and Twitter – Twitter @carterfoldinfo.

Tags: Dry Hill DraggersCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

AirPlay Direct's Industry Panel Presentation At IBMA

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 22:18

Nashville, TN -- This year at IBMA Business Conference 2015, on September 30th at 8:30am EST, AirPlay Direct will be presenting a 1 hour exclusive industry panel on “Who We Are”, “What We Do” and how we benefit “You” directly. This panel is specifically designed for the artists, record labels, radio stations, radio promoters, PR firms, managers, publishers, etc. that comprise the professional, global bluegrass community at large. This panel will feature Robert Weingartz, Chairman & Creator – AirPlay Direct, Lynda Weingartz, CEO – AirPlay Direct and 2 “Featured Guest Panelists”.

"The music industry today provides a number of challenges for artists, labels, and agents as they work to get music into the hands of radio stations and DJs. AirPlay Direct has developed an effective and easy platform for overcoming these challenges. It is rapidly being embraced as a key tool for efficiently moving recordings to the radio.

We are excited that Robert and Lynda Weingartz will be hosting an IBMA Business Conference session to demonstrate how AirPlay Direct works and how it can help so many professionals in bluegrass music today." -- Paul Schiminger, Executive Director - IBMA

As a “Special Bonus”, AirPlay Direct will be doing 2 random drawings for all panel attendees at the end of the presentation. The total prize package is valued at $5,000...! Each of the prizes will be an AirPlay Direct global "Marketing & Awareness" Campaign which is valued at $2,500...!!! You must be present to win...! AirPlay Direct will draw a winning ticket in each of the 2 following categories: 1st Winner - Recording Artist or Songwriter & 2nd Winner - Music Industry Professional (record label, radio station, radio promoter, PR firm, artist manager, publishing company, booking agent, etc.)

So, whether you are an artist, record label, radio station, radio promoter, PR firm, manager, publishing company, etc., this is a wonderful opportunity to present your music to our 9,800+ radio programmers globally and grow your brand around the world via AirPlay Direct marketing & advertising to the professional, global music industry at large.

“This is yet another terrific opportunity to enhance your industry knowledge, grow your brand, meet the AirPlay Direct Executive Management Team and take full advantage of all that IBMA is offering to you at the IBMA Business Conference 2015" commented Lynda Weingartz, CEO - AirPlay Direct.

The IBMA Business Conference is the premier industry event and trade show where top bluegrass professionals—including artists, agents, journalists, merchandisers, record labels, publicists, publishers, talent buyers and more—come to share and discover the latest tools, strategies, technology and sounds. The 2015 conference with take place September 29 - October 1 at the Raleigh Convention Center in beautiful downtown Raleigh, NC.

About AirPlay Direct: AirPlay Direct is an e-based artist marketing, promotion and education platform that allows artists, record labels and music publishers to securely deliver broadcast-quality music and digital Press Kits / DPKs to music industry professionals worldwide. Our system allows, radio programmers and film / TV music supervisors globally to connect to new music, create music calls, browse top downloaded artists and immediately download music and related artist information.

AirPlay Direct also provides our artist / label members our genre-based APD Global Radio Indicator Charts which track the download activity that our members' music receives from our worldwide radio panel. We have a national and international reach of 9,800+ radio station and programmers in 90+ countries.

Tags: International Bluegrass Music AssociationIBMAWorld of BluegrassAirPlay DirectBusinessConvention

Bluegrass Music Across the Great Urban-Rural Divide

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 22:03

Bluegrass Music is facing a unique challenge. Here is a genre that was spawned in the Appalachian Mountains of poor immigrants who worked the mines, mills, factories and fields of the region. People existing through the Great Depression. The primary form of entertainment was entertaining themselves with music played on the front porches of the cabins in the hills and hollows. Stringed instruments comprising guitars, banjos an occasional mandolin and such. This is the true roots of bluegrass and old-time music. Based on hard work, family, church and rural living.

Their songs reflected their lives in these primarily rural settings. Rain on tin roofs, floods along the rivers, the making of moonshine in the hills, simpler times, the Blue Ridge, cabins of any type and location, dirt roads, mules, rural places of no significance, the civil war and others. What their songs didn't reflect was city life. Nothing about shopping in the city. Their clothes came from cloth flour sacks instead. Nothing about big yellow school buses as most never went to school. Not a word about fancy cars, night life and such. If anything came around regarding cities it would be the trains that dropped off folks and picked them up.

There is a massive divide between urban and rural living. Just as in politics, the left and the right never agree on much, the same is true with rural and urban dwellers. The chasm is deep and wide. If one writes a song about rural living such as The Fabulous Bagasse Boyz song "Day After Day," when they talk about "chickens lookin' for something to do", only a person who's been around barnyard chickens would understand. Hoeing a line straight behind the plow means little to those whose entire existence has been in a city.

One of bluegrass music's branches reaches into gospel and legends like Doyle Lawson have made a very successful career of this. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have won awards in both bluegrass and gospel year after year after year. This is a band that has found a niche that they honestly fill quite well.

Today, Bluegrass is seeking a broader audience and wants to bring more people into their audience. Bluegrass songs, for the most part, aren't city songs yet, those the music seeks to entice into their fold are city people. The great dilemma is born. How do we bring people into the music, keep the music traditional in nature and yet relate to those who have no experience with the theme of the songs? Not an easy task. Most city people aren't too interested in chickens, coal trains, run down cabins with no utilities, and such.

How do you write a bluegrass song, keep to the roots of the music and have lyrics that are devoid of rural living? Sure, you can take the approach of pop-country of trucks, beer and chasing women but that isn't where bluegrass lives and it certainly is no part of nothin'. Sure, you can write about dogs as Cedar Hill's tear-jerker "Echo Mountain" did but, that song didn't receive a lot of airplay. It was just too emotional. Just what does city life offer to write great traditional bluegrass songs about? Suburbs and cul-de-sacs, crime and congestion, home owners associations and covenants, cars speeding, shopping malls, or maybe Wal-Mart? Frankly, there isn't much that touches traditional roots and urban living.

To start off, we expose bluegrass in a new way to city folks. New Grass, Psycho Grass, and other alternatives to bluegrass. It doesn't sound like bluegrass but probably uses the same instruments. Electrify the instruments, add drums and bring on the big state lighting. While this may expose that audience to something between rock music and bluegrass music, it isn't the same thing as exposing them to bluegrass music in its natural, organic and pure form. Now we need song lyrics that are something our urban listeners can relate to.

Some bands have taken hits from the past and bluegrassed them like The HillBenders recent "Tommy" rock opera, "The Who’s TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry." This is definitely music generations of city people can instantly relate to. Others have taken individual songs and done the same thing. The Cache Valley Drifters were early innovators in this area. Today more bands are doing their best to find new material to attract a new audience. What makes the task difficult is that the artists want to maintain the rural roots of the music's traditional sound and find a bridge to the other side of the great divide between urban and rural life.

The challenge is real. A bigger audience should equate to higher revenues for bands. Bluegrass was born in 1939 by Bill Monroe, according to common historians. That was over 3/4 of a century ago. It is probably about time to bring some newer concepts into the music to make it more contemporary. Those could be urban or rural in nature but the music needs more hooks into those who haven't experienced rural life. It can and is being done. I don't, however, believe a lot of attention to the detail is planned -- it just sort of happens. Even the founders of the genre, including Monroe himself, moved forward with the times. They moved forward with tradition and kept the theme close to the music's roots. I think we can still do that and keep that authentic legendary style with a fresh coat of paint. Lets close the chasm and spread the music far and wide.

Tags: EditorialOpinionBob CherryRuralUrbanBluegrass Music

Public Television and Marty Stuart Present Chuck Wagon Gang

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 22:17

Their first audience was made up of fellow farmhands. Their first album was recorded out of a rented room at San Antonio's Gunter Hotel in 1935, yet the Carter family's Chuck Wagon Gang - America's beloved gospel group - have gone on to sell forty million records over their eight decade career, and haven't stopped touring and recording. "America's Gospel Singers - The Legacy Lives On," a documentary executively produced by Marty Stuart and airing on Public Television stations this fall, chronicles the 75-year history of the Chuck Wagon Gang, sharing their stories through rare family photographs, poignant personal stories, old recordings and live performances.

Dan Rather, Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels, Connie Smith and other guests make appearances to tell the story of The Chuck Wagon Gang, who served as America's guiding light through the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the upheaval of the 60s and 70s. Growing up in rural Texas during the Depression, Dan Rather recalls listening to the Chuck Wagon Gang on the radio. "Any glimmer of hope was seized upon, and here come the Chuck Wagon Gang... It lifted spirits. When the radio went off spirits would go down again, but they were higher than when the program came on."

The Chuck Wagon Gang's most recent release 'Meeting in Heaven' (New Haven Records) finds the band singing the songs of Marty Stuart, who also served as executive producer on the album.

Today, the The Chuck Wagon Gang, led by third generation member of the Carter clan, Shaye Smith, carries out and preserves the grand legacy of the group. This band is a heirloom in more ways than one though. The quartet is also part of a larger American inheritance, and has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian Institution's classic American recordings. As Marty Stuart puts it, "Heaven only knows how many hearts have been touched by the music of the Chuck Wagon Gang."

Much like the Carter Family (no relation) of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia who were present at the establishment of the country music industry, the Carter family of Texas was called upon to help lay the cornerstone of American gospel music. In the simplest yet most elegant of musical terms, armed with only a guitar and a song, the Chuck Wagon Gang sang the American public out of the Great Depression, through wars, assassinations, revolutions, flag burning, scandals of church and state, numerous Presidents and a revolving door of changing times. Then as now, their music serves as a guiding light beckoning from a peaceful distant shore. Their message bears truth yet condemns no one. The lyrics of the Chuck Wagon Gang do, however, prompt the same question asked by the old union labor song "Which Side Are You On?" It's up to the listener to decide.

If the Chuck Wagon Gang had done nothing except record the original version of Albert E. Brumley's "I'll Fly Away", their legacy as American gospel greats would've been secure. The song is now so globally known, and has been interpreted in so many ways that it is often crushed by the weight of its own fame. But upon hearing the orig. inal recording one is reminded of its beauty and offered a glimpse into the majesty of heaven: song, songwriter and messengers in perfect union. At face value, the recording appears to be just good country singing of a familiar old song. However, the further

down into the grooves you go, layer upon layer of greatness unfolds. The tones and nuances inside of that country singing are other-worldly, mysterious, vast in scope. If you look deep enough you can almost see the anointed power sent forth which propelled "I’ll Fly Away" into the ages.

The beauty of the Chuck Wagon Gang was how humble in spirit they were in the midst of the matter. The group simply showed up at a recording appointment, tuned the guitar, warmed up, hit the famous chord, gathered around the microphone and sang a song they believed in. I'd be willing to bet the farm that on the way home from the session no one said, "That Fly Away song we did today is going to be the one that is going to set the world on fire." The song chose them.

One of the listeners the Chuck Wagon Gang touched with that song was an Arlington, Mississippi cotton farmer named Elry Lee Johnson. He was my grandpa. I was in his presence the first time I heard the group sing. It was around the noon hour on some weekday in the mid 1960s. Pa had come into the house to eat lunch after working in the field all morning. After lunch he tuned into Philadelphia, Mississippi's WHOC radio station to listen to their noontime gospel broadcast before going back to his work. I've never forgotten the look on his face as he sat with his eyes closed in his favorite chair, wearing his dusty work clothes and brogan shoes, listening to the Chuck Wagon Gang sing. While the song played, he patted his foot just enough that I could hear the nail head on his leather soles lightly keep time on the linoleum floor. The look on his face could only be described as a perfect portrait of peace and contentment. When it was over, he stood up and said, "That's mighty good," put on his hat and went back to work. It was mighty good. Good enough after one listen to become a part of me for a lifetime. That's the effect the Chuck Wagon Gang and their music have had on people since the very beginning.

I wish that I could have been present when Dad Carter gathered his children to sing songs on the porch at the end of the day for their fellow migrant farmers and their families. I can only imagine how beautiful those harmonies must have sounded as the sun was setting into the west. The words and music were surely a healing balm for a weary people. Nothing's changed. Now, well into the twenty-first century, David Parker Carter's descendants are still serving in the same way the patriarch of the family designed many years ago. At the close of day we can still gather around the Chuck Wagon Gang and have the privilege of hearing them sing heaven's songs of peace, hope and promise to all of us migrants living in this loud, clattering world below.

Tags: Chuck Wagon GangMarty StuartGospel SongsPublic TelevisionBroadcast PBS

Inaugural Bluegrass at the Beach Festival

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 22:12

Destin, FL -- From seasoned Bluegrass veteran bands to contemporary twists on Bluegrass sound to sensational rising stars, the inaugural Bluegrass at the Beach produced by Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) will be an art-filled family-friendly musical showcase that appeals to all ages. Presented with support from ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals and Real Estate as part of MKAF’s 20th anniversary celebration, the daylong Bluegrass at the Beach music festival will be presented at the Cultural Arts Village — located in the scenic coastal town of Destin on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast — on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Blue Highway will headline a dynamic roster of seven local, regional and national acts along with a special appearance by rising bluegrass star Danielle Yother. But that is just the beginning of the excitement for Bluegrass at the Beach 2015. This inaugural staging of the Northwest Florida’s first bluegrass festival also will feature a bluegrass-themed artist demos, workshops and hands-on art stations for young bluegrass fans, plenty of food and drink, along with several other surprises, too.

Sixteen year-old rising bluegrass star Danielle Yother will kick things off by performing as music lovers enter the Cultural Arts Village beginning at 10 a.m. Dismal Creek will open the show with its sizzling Southern sound around 11 a.m. followed by local hometown folk favorites, Dread Clampitt just after noon, then Arizona’s Run Boy Run gives the roster ‘Appalachian punch.’ Kicking things up in the afternoon is the fresh faced Moore Brothers Band followed by the soulful sounds of Alabama-based Willie Sugarcapps around 5 p.m. and then The Hillbenders high octane performance will begin around 7 p.m. and include songs from the “Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry” named one of the Top Country Album of 2015 by Rolling Stone magazine just before. Finally, Tennessee’s award-winning five-member band, Blue Highway — one of bluegrass music’s most accomplished and seasoned bands — is this year’s headliner and will take the stage around 8 p.m. All performance times are subject to change.

In between music performances and throughout the daylong concert, attendees will be treated to Pickin’ & Paintin’ — a series of live performances, bluegrass-inspired artist demonstrations, lively storytelling sessions by professional actors and colorful folk art exhibits. Below is a list of some of the bluegrass-inspired things to do, hear and see for all ages.

Calling all young bluegrass pickers to create and craft away. Build your very own banjo or get into the spirit by painting a bluegrass-inspired picture. Music and art lovers can check the schedule of performances and demonstrations throughout the day. Activities include Banjo Makin’ with John Lohr (Key West.) Experience the fine art and craft of fiddle making first hand with a live demonstration peppered with stories by seasoned instrument craftsman, music lover and life long learner John Lohr.

Special guest artist Danielle Yother is a South Carolina-based singer/songwriter and accomplished musician playing guitar, mandolin and bass, who was recently featured in Flatpicking Guitar magazine. Though just 16 years-old Yother has already made an impression on the bluegrass and country worlds having played with or for renowned musicians such as Blue Highway, Wayne Henderson, The Boxcars, Steve Martin, Vince Gill and Rhonda Vincent.

Franko “Washboard” Jackson was born in Oklahoma and took up washboard in New Orleans in 1975 at the age of 25. While there he has played with many music legends including Professor Longhair. Come browse folk art pieces available for sale courtesy of the Eileen West Gallery and check out Washboard’s as he jams in between main stage acts.

The Emerald Coast Theatre Company presents a dramatic reading of “Meet Smoky Mountain Rose, an Appalachian Cinderella.” Gather around to see and hear this “Smoky” story. A musician/narrator — accompanied by acoustic strings narrates while two costumed improv performers act out all the parts of this fairytale story with a bluegrass twist.

Hands down, the Americana Music Wall is one exhibit you won’t want to miss. All ages are invited to discover the magic of the music making at this interactive display of creative and repurposed materials. Do not touch, does not apply here.

The Festival offers up a culinary arts experience, too. A collection of local restaurants and eateries will serve up samplings of savory seafood from 790 On The Gulf, tasty tacos from The Big Red Truck, award-winning barbecue from Jim N’ Nicks, small bites from Wild Olive along with tasty sweet treats by Rosey’s Kettle Corn and Mark’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice among others. Foodies can toast the arts with select domestic and imported wine and beer in the Wine Bar & Beer Garden. Gather with family and friends to enjoy your meal al fresco, while taking in the Festival scene and listening to the stellar music line up.

Be sure to stop in the various hospitality tents hosted by Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau and ResortQuest Wyndham Vacation Rental & Real Estate.

Tickets purchased in advance for the daylong festival are $45/MKAF members and $55 for general admission. Tickets purchased the day the event will be $55/MKAF members and $65 general admission. Children (under 12) are free. VIP tables are $750 each. They include premium seating for eight and 16 drink tickets. Tickets are available for purchase online here. Proceeds to benefit MKAF’s cultural arts and education outreach programs.

Doors open at 10 a.m. Parking is available on-site as well as at convenient satellite parking areas with free shuttle service. Park for free at Grace Lutheran Church located adjacent to the Cultural Arts Village or at Emerald Coast Centre, located on Highway 98 near Beall’s Department Store, and ride the free continuous shuttle service right to the main entrance. The Cultural Arts Village is designed as an ADA compliant venue with available handicap parking.

For more information, schedule, where to stay and other details, visit

Tags: Bluegrass at the BeachBluegrass FestivalBlue HighwayHillbendersTommy: A Bluegrass OpryEvent

Sierra Hull Headlines Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 22:07

Mocksville, NC -- The Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival takes place September 12 in Mocksville, NC (1988 Jericho Church Rd.) Mandolin prodigy, composer and vocalist Sierra Hull is headlining America’s only bluegrass festival that promotes Bible study, camping and wholesome recreation. The line-up also includes the Snyder Family Band, luthier Wayne Henderson and flatpicker Clay Lunsford, and Tim White and Troublesome Hollow from the PBS program Song of the Mountains.  The festival includes an exhibit of Ford Model A's and other classic cars, as well as a Pickers' Place jam tent, and multiple free activities for kids.

Hull was the first bluegrass musician to be awarded a Presidential Scholarship to the prestigious Berklee School of Music.  She has produced a formidable and growing collection of exceptional music while managing to stay fully grounded (one writer called her “a perfect balance of humility and capability”).  A versatile and grounded musician, her performances have included Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the National Prayer Breakfast.  Hull’s latest CD is entitled Daybreak and includes seven of her own compositions.

The Snyder Family Band hails from Lexington, NC. Virtuosos Zeb Snyder on guitar and Samantha Snyder on fiddle will be joined by their dad, Bud, on bass, and scene-stealing younger brother, Owen, on guitar. The Snyders continue to drive their performances to new heights every time they take the stage, whether exploring traditional bluegrass or making occasional forays into Celtic, blues, or southern rock. Their newest release is the acclaimed Wherever I Wander! which includes originals, classic rock covers, and even a western swing selection.

Internationally known luthier Wayne Henderson of Rugby, Virginia is the subject of the New York Times bestseller Clapton’s Guitar, having built a guitar on request for Eric Clapton. He will play a set with special friends including Clay Lunsford, founder and president of the North Carolina Thumbpickers. The organization promotes and preserves the musical guitar style known as thumbpicking that was popularized by the late Chet Atkins.

A very special name in bluegrass will open the fourth annual festival. Tim White, host of the PBS syndicated television show Song of the Mountains, will perform with his group, Troublesome Hollow . This trio is known for their musical talent, comedy and “magic tricks.” 

Advance tickets are $15.00 at . Children under 12 are admitted free. Seating is general admission festival style. Guests should bring their own chairs and blankets, but leave alcohol, tobacco, pets and coolers at home. The food line-up includes barbeque and sides for $12 a plate, or $6 hamburger plates with sides for children. Fresh sweet tea and other beverages will be available, along with cooked-from-scratch desserts and concession snacks. 

A limited number of sponsorship and VIP ticketing opportunities with reserved seats and reserved parking are available. Limited handicapped parking is available. Limited RV parking with hook-ups is available for an additional fee. Vendor, volunteer, and fundraising opportunities are also available. The festival will be held rain or shine. 

Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival is an alcohol-free, tobacco-free festival held on the grounds of Carolina Bible Camp in Mocksville, NC. Families will enjoy a variety of complimentary kids’ activities. The campus features a basketball court and a sand volleyball court that will be available for play. A substantial outdoor play set will also be open to children and also old-fashioned sidewalk games. Volunteers will supervise free craft areas for children to create artwork from recycled items. Free face painting artists will be on hand as well. 

The fourth annual festival features the CBC Pickers’ Place for musicians who enjoy jamming together. The CBC Festival Arts  area will feature unique, high quality handcrafted items, pottery and tie-dyed t-shirts for purchase. A new booth, Baked with Love, will feature home-baked breads, cakes, and pies just in time for next day’s Sunday lunch. All proceeds benefit the Carolina Bible Camp’s scholarship and capital development funds. 

This year’s Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival is sponsored in part by Carolina Hearing Doctors, the Eye Care Centers of Salisbury, Statesville and Hickory, and the law firm of Brewer Brewer & Sorel. Media sponsors include WBRF 98.1 Classic Country, WNCW, the Lexington Dispatch and the Davie County Enterprise.

Carolina Bible Camp is located on sixty-eight scenic acres at 1988 Jericho Church Road in Mocksville, N.C. It is a non-profit, non-denominational camp dedicated to the youth of America.  Campers are accepted without regard to race, creed or nationality.  For more information, call Carolina Bible Camp at (336) 492-7802 or visit the website at  or   Like us on Facebook at

Tags: Sierra HullCarolina Bible Camp Bluegrass FestivalEvent

FreshGrass Award Finalists Confirmed

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 22:45

North Adams, MA -- Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MASS MoCA) FreshGrass celebrates the freshest talent on the bluegrass stage with 19 finalists participating in the 2015 FreshGrass Award Contest. Finalists in the band, duo, banjo, and fiddle categories perform for a panel led by Grammy Award-winner and master banjoist Alison Brown on Saturday and Sunday of the festival, with winners announced on Sunday afternoon. Open for all festival-goers, the contests showcase the future of bluegrass and roots music when the bands play original and traditional tunes. With cash and prizes totaling $25,000, winners receive a performance spot at next year’s festival, recording sessions at Compass Records, and hand-crafted instruments from Deering and Eastman. FreshGrass hosts three days of music, with almost 50 acts taking the stage in North Adams on September 18-20, 2015.

FreshGrass kicks off on Friday, September 18, with Punch Brothers, Houndmouth, Flatt Lonesome, and 2014 FreshGrass Band Award winner Twisted Pine. Saturday, September 19, features Dwight Yoakam, Leftover Salmon, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz & Aoife O’Donovan, Alison Brown, Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Mr. Sun, Ballroom Thieves, Birds of Chicago, FreshGrass Award winners Quiles & Cloud and Cat and the Moon, and bands from Berklee College of Music’s American Roots Music Program. Sunday, September 20, keeps rolling with The Del McCoury Band, Jerry Douglas presents Earls of Leicester, Greensky Bluegrass, Willie Watson, Peter Rowan, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, and The Man in Grass – A Tribute to Johnny Cash.

With the Award now in its third year, the festival celebrates the success of past winners who have played the FreshGrass stage. Inaugural band winner Cricket Tell the Weather has toured the Northeast, released its debut album, and is in the process of creating an album of fiddler Andrea Asprelli’s original music. Asprelli and Cricket’s style pulls from many music stylings, something that the FreshGrass Award has always encouraged. “[Our] aesthetic borrows from bluegrass, and it borrows from old-time music and folk and spirituals,’ [Asprelli] says, noting that she’s not aiming for a pristine re-creation of any one style” (The Boston Globe). 2014 Award finalist Molly Tuttle hits the road this fall on an extensive tour and makes time in the studio to record her debut record, looking to expand her bluegrass roots.

Band Award Finalists

The classically trained The Blackberry Bushes Stringband brings a distinctive brand of Americana to FreshGrass all the way from Seattle, Washington. The band’s classical roots shine through, with elements of jazz and pop songwriting, anchored by fiddler Jakob Breitbach’s prestige. Blackberry Bushes maintains an active touring and recording schedule, with a debut record scheduled for release on August 28.

Some of the finest instrumentalists to emerge from Berklee School of Music in the last few years have assembled behind frontman Max Wareham to form Max Wareham & the Morning Bugle. With crystal-clear harmonies and a rough-around-the-edges flair, this quintet will be fresh off its first national tour when it blows through FreshGrass.

Tony Trischka says, “Mile Twelve is carrying the bluegrass tradition forward with creativity and integrity.” Each element of this quartet is absolutely top-shelf, but its most remarkable trait is its unity of sound, drawing equally from jazz, bluegrass, and even old-time swing music. Fans of The Seldom Scene and Johnson Mountain Boys race toward Mile Twelve.

Old Salt Union finds influence in the bluegrass roots of the Del McCoury Band and Sam Bush, while stretching the boundaries of traditional bluegrass music by incorporating in-depth musical arrangements, catchy hooks, and an uncanny pop sensibility. The band won the STL Riverfront Times “Best Bluegrass Band” in 2013 and “Best Country Band” in 2014, all while traveling the country.

Stash Wyslouch is one of bluegrass’ great young genre-bending pioneers. He got his start as a guitarist in metal bands before immersing himself in the sounds and structures of roots music, forming The Deadly Gentlemen (a FreshGrass 2013 alum) to release an acclaimed debut on Rounder Records. Here he appears with his brand new quartet, Stash Wyslouch Stringband, featuring a who’s-who of players from around the Northeast.

Duo Award Finalists

Fiddle/banjo player Stephanie Coleman and guitarist Kristin Andreassen developed their sound around campfires in New Hampshire and at bars in Brooklyn – in fact, they’ve hosted the legendary Monday night jams at Lowlands bar for the past five years. Kristin is an award-winning songwriter, percussive dancer, and in-demand square dance caller whose performances are at once “inventive” (The New Yorker) and deeply rooted in tradition. Stephanie is a perennial finalist at the renowned national fiddle contest in Clifftop, West Virginia.

The Littlest Birds hail from California with a fresh take on the old-time duo. With banjo, cello, and a rope of two-part harmony, Sharon Martinson and David Huebner evoke the open plains with equal nods to Bill Monroe and Aaron Copland. They visit FreshGrass on a 25-show Northeast tour.

Rachel Sumner of 2014 Band Award winner Twisted Pine returns to FreshGrass with her new folk/bluegrass duo Sumner & Moss. She sings and plays alongside Sam Moss, "a fingerpicking guitar virtuoso who characterizes the folk spirit in the finest sense" (Paste). The songwriting is pan-roots, pulling inspiration from country along with classic bluegrass.

Husband-wife duo Zoe & Cloyd swap fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin in tightly woven arrangements. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, their songwriting is equally at home in the Smoky Mountains or the Berkshires.

Banjo Award Finalists

Based in Prairieville, Louisiana, Matt Blaize is a multi-instrumental tour de force. A master of the jazz flute and electric bass (he placed as a finalist at the International Society of Bassists competition in Kalamazoo, Michigan), he appears here with his banjo, with which he boasts an unusually lyrical and expressive style of picking.

Boston-via-New Zealand banjoist Catherine Bowness studied with Tony Trischka and Bill Evans, and worked with David Grisman and Julian Lage. Her rhythm is impeccable, earning her second place in the prestigious RockyGrass competition in 2012. She also appears in the contest with her band, Mile Twelve.

15-year-old Victor Furtado is a genuine banjo prodigy, with a host of national contest appearances since the age of 11. Bluegrass Today says of his debut album, “This is a young man with an absurdly precocious talent and a depth of understanding of old-time music that is at odds with his age.” He visits FreshGrass from Front Royal, Virginia.

The Blackberry Bushes Stringband banjoist Alex Genova takes the spotlight for a solo performance and a chance at the FreshGrass banjo crown. Hailing from Washington state, he is a blazing Scruggs-style picker with a talent and humor that recalls a young Ralph Stanley.

Douglas Jay Goldstein first appeared at FreshGrass with the 2013 Award winner Cricket Tell the Weather, and has since become a festival fixture. He appears here with a set of Eastern-inflected banjo compositions under the name DOUGMORE.

Fiddle Award Finalists

New York-based fiddler Rob Hecht left his stamp on countless records in just ten years on the scene. He appeared on Abigail Washburn’s Tiny Desk Concert, guested with bygone-swing kings Cangelosi Cards, and has worked in-studio with Noam Pikelny. He brings his trademark blend of old-time, jazz, and classical to the Hunter Center stage.

Bronwyn Keith-Hynes is quickly becoming one of the country’s most in-demand fiddle players, appearing onstage recently with Peter Rowan, The Milk Carton Kids, Anais Mitchell, Joe Pug, and Tony Trischka. Last year, she won first prize in the Walnut Valley Fiddle Competition in Winfield, Kansas, arguably the highest honor in the field. She also appears at the festival with her band, Mile Twelve.

Fiddler Carolyn Kendrick began playing violin at the age of four. Now a student at Berklee School of Music and a member of the Berklee World Strings, Kendrick culls her fiddle style from a wide range of genres that include roots music, jazz, and funk.

Avery Merritt has played violin since the age of four and is equally at home in classical, bluegrass, rock, and jazz repertoire. He is currently enrolled in the Berklee College of Music American Roots Music program. This is his first FreshGrass festival.

At the age of 20, Kathleen Parks is already a world-class innovator on the fiddle. The daughter of jazz trumpeter Eric Parks and hailing from a deep-rooted Irish family, she fuses these two threads in her playing style and compositions. You may recognize her from FreshGrass 2014 Band Award winner Twisted Pine.

In addition to the music happening across three stages and two courtyards and throughout galleries, FreshGrass offers a hearty lineup of instrument workshops, luthiers, family programming, downtown camping, late-night dance parties, and legendary jam sessions. Admission to MASS MoCA's galleries — where festival-goers find concerts set amidst dramatically scaled exhibitions of contemporary art such as Jim Shaw’s Entertaining Doubts — is included in the price of festival admission.

FreshGrass, September 18–20, 2015, at MASS MoCA, continues to be one of the best values on the festival circuit. Three-day festival passes are available for $99 for adults, $115 day-of, $89 for students, and $46 for children 7 to 16. Friday passes are $38 in advance, $42 day-of, $28 for students, and $20 for children 7 to 16. Saturday passes are $52 in advance, $56 day-of, $40 for students, and $28 for children 7 to 16. Sunday passes are $46 in advance, $50 day-of, $36 for students, and $24 for children 7 to 16. Available for $300, FreshPass is a deluxe festival experience offering preferred seating at all stages, meet-and-greet opportunities with FreshGrass artists, access to the FreshPass lounge, and locally sourced snacks and beer. Children 6 and under are admitted for free. Museum members receive a 10% discount on the regular ticket prices. Museum admission is included in the price of the festival pass. The festival will be held rain or shine.

Tags: FreshGrassMASS MoCACompetitionFinalistsAwardsEventBluegrass Festival

More Artists Added to AmericanaFest Lineup

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 22:39

The Americana Music Association unveiled an additional 30+ artists to its 16th annual AmericanaFest lineup this week. Known for its “spirit of eclecticism” (New York Times) and community, the festival will offer more than 170 official showcases across more than a dozen Music City venues including newly announced performances by Glen Hansard, Jewel, Hot Rize featuring Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, Jay Farrar (performing songs from Son Volt’s “Trace”), Buddy Miller & Marc Ribot, JD McPherson, Parker Millsap, Joel Rafael, Nellie Clay, Madisen Ward & The Mama Bear and the Watkins Family Hour.

The Americana Music Festival & Conference, presented by Nissan, officially kicks off on Tuesday Sept. 15, with registration pick-up starting at 5 PM CT at The Basement followed by an Early Bird Kick-Off Bash presented by The Bluegrass Situation at 8 PM CT. Additional opening night events will include the annual Australiana @ Americana event at The Bluebird Cafe and a special book signing by Jewel at City Winery Nashville, both at 6 PM CT. Jewel will also perform later that evening along with Donnie Fritts & John Paul White , JD Souther, and JD and the Straight Shot in the traditional showcase format. On the other side of Nashville, you will find the Eastside Throwdown – Sin City vs Guitar Town, bringing the community together from far and wide.

The Festival & Conference Registration ($415 for members / $515 for non-members) is the premier ‘pass’ to experience the “Booming Genre” (Entertainment Weekly) offering priority admission to all showcase venues and invitation only events; access to daytime educational panels and parties and a ticket to the critically acclaimed Honors & Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium. Click here to purchase your Festival & Conference registration. Walk up rates will go up to $515, so act now and save. Tickets to the Honors & Awards are reserved for full Festival and Conference registrants only***

Just interested in the music? AmericanaFest wristbands cost ONLY $60 and get you admission into all participating nighttime venues to experience more than 170 acts over five nights, sanctioned cocktail parties and a weekend stocked with music and community events. Wristbands do not get you admission to the Ascend Amphitheater, the Ryman Auditorium or the Hutton Hotel

$60 ALL VENUE Wristbands are currently on sale at Grimey's New and Preloved Music, 1604 8th Avenue South, Nashville, 37204 or at The Groove New and Used Vinyl & Cd's, 1103 Calvin Avenue, Nashville 37206 and online at

This years AmericanaFest also features two special separately ticketed events for the entire community. The Tribute to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (SOLD OUT) Monday, September 14 and the multi stage outdoor event at the Ascend Amphitheatre on Saturday September 19 featuring Loretta Lynn, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, Nikki Lane, Tift Merritt, Valerie June and more. Tickets for this event at Nashville’s newest outdoor venue are still available and start at $25. Purchase your tickets here: - Conference Registrants will receive a discount code to purchase discounted lawn tickets.

More information on AmericanaFest, The Americana Music Festival and Conference, presented by Nissan, is available at

Tags: AmericanaFestAmericana Music Festival & ConferenceAmericana Music AssociationLineupEvent

Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line

Sat, 08/22/2015 - 22:10
Dust-to-Digital is excited to present the first in-depth look at the life of Ola Belle Reed, a groundbreaking artist who ranks highly among the all-time greatest performers of authentic, old-time music.

"What do you do when different musical forms come into a kind of fusion of what today is called old-time music, and country music, and the folk song revival? I think that story is in Ola Belle." - Henry Glassie, co-author of Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line

This deluxe edition highlights Ola Belle’s deep repertoire – folk ballads, minstrel songs, country standards, and originals – and traces the impact her music made and is still making today. Included are in-depth essays and liner notes by noted folklorists Henry Glassie and Cliff Murphy, as well as incredible sounding audio transferred by Doug Peach and remastered by Osiris Studio.

New Book and CD Set Sheds Light on the Music and Legacy of Ola Belle Reed

Dust-to-Digital is excited to present the first in-depth look at the life of Ola Belle Reed, a groundbreaking artist who is one of the all-time greatest performers of authentic, old-time music. Ola Belle Reed’s 1960s recordings, some of the earliest she ever made and available here for the very first time, are counter-balanced by a disc of modern-day field recordings of her descendants and those within her Appalachian community that she inspired. This deluxe edition highlights Ola Belle’s deep repertoire – folk ballads, minstrel songs, country standards, and originals – and traces the impact her music made and is still making today with 58 newly-remastered recordings and texts by Henry Glassie and Cliff Murphy.

One of the more interesting record labels for older music with a unique twist has always been Dust-to-Digital. The label has just announced their Book and CD media package Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line. This latest collection by Henry Glassie, Clifford R. Murphy and Douglas Dowling Peach should be a welcome addition to those who cherish the traditional mountain music of the past.

Ola Belle Reed was born Ola Wave Campbell on August 17, 1916, in Grassy Creek, North Carolina and has placed her indelible mark in traditional mountain music. She has performed with the North Carolina Ridge Runners, New River Gang, and was an active musician throughout the region often performing with other family members including her husband, Bud Reed, David Reed, Ralph Reed, Herb Campbell, and Alex Campbell.

Ola Bella Reed's autobiographical song, "I've Endured"

Last year's ALTA Awards featured performances by Danny Paisley, Dave Reed and Hugh Campbell to highlight their participation in the forthcoming Dust-to-Digital multi-media production of Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line. Due to be released this year, this piece of folklore has been recovered, remastered, and reproduced along with a profile and history of this outstanding woman and her contributions to America's musical heritage.

Tags: Ola Belle ReedOla Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon LineCD ReleaseBookDust-to-Digital

Hot Rize Releases 'Your Light Leads Me On' Video

Sat, 08/22/2015 - 22:07
Hot Rize is releasing their new video for 'Your Light Leads Me On' filmed in the streets of New York City/Times Square with Mason Jar Music. Pete Wernick commented, "As the only native New York City boy in the group, very familiar with Times Square, it was wild and weird to be picking banjo there, plowing along through the curious onlookers, not to mention Batman, the Statue of Liberty, Disney characters, etc. The lights of the giant video billboards really contrast ironically with what the song is about... a lonesome driver saying to the moon, 'Your Light Leads Me On'."

Following the release of When I’m Free, Hot Rize will tour nationwide this fall and into 2015, sure to please not only longtime fans of the band, but countless new fans who’ve discovered bluegrass and Americana music in more recent times. Says Sutton, “Nobody’s been a bigger Hot Rize fan than me, and that’s a perspective I’ve tried to maintain as a member of the band. I’m excited about this new record, and I can’t wait to introduce new fans to the Hot Rize experience.”

Here is the video for "Your Light Leads Me On"...

The band released another video, "A Cowboy's Life" a few months ago. That video presented a clear juxtaposition between the city views of New York and the performance of a more traditional bluegrass group.

Here is their first video for "A Cowboy's Life"...

With writing and rehearsals placing Hot Rize firmly back in their groove, recording When I’m Free took just five days at the solar-powered Studio at eTown Hall in Boulder. The musicians eschewed booths and headphones in favor of sitting in a circle and recording live off the floor – “the first time I’ve recorded like that since 1971,” muses Wernick. This organic approach resulted in an album that crackles with the energy of a Hot Rize live show, even if the band’s Western Swing alter-ego sidekicks, Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers, aren’t present.

Tags: Hot RizeVideoYour Light Leads Me On

Mountain Faith Releases Single from Upcoming Album

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 22:00

Willis, VA -- Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce the release of brand new music from America's Got Talent rising stars, Mountain Faith. "Emily (It's Love)" is available to radio and consumers today and is the first single from the band's upcoming album titled That Which Matters, due for release this fall.

North Carolina's Mountain Faith is Summer McMahan on fiddle and lead vocals, her brother Brayden on banjo, their dad Sam, on bass, with Luke Dotson on guitar, and Cory Piatt on mandolin. Although the band has been performing together since 2000, it's only been in the last few years that the music industry has begun taking note of the talented ensemble. In fact, Mountain Faith just received their first IBMA Awards nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year while Summer received a nomination for IBMA's Momentum Award in the Vocalist category. The awards will take place on Thursday, October 1st in Raleigh, NC and the band hopes to be in attendance.

While bluegrass fans may have been on the Mountain Faith "bandwagon" for a few years now, the rest of the country is really taking notice of the family band as they appear regularly as contestants on NBC television's popular show, America's Got Talent. Thus far, the band has made it through the Judge Cuts and will now be voted through to the finals by the television viewing audience. The band has gained a vast amount of new fans through their performances of popular songs in a bluegrass style. Their next performance will be live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 25th. The show will air at 8:00pm ET on NBC and everyone is encouraged to watch and place their vote for Mountain Faith. If the band wins the competition, they'll be awarded a prize of $1,000,000—allowing them to ease up their work schedule at their family business, High Country Tire in Sylva, NC, and concentrate more on their music business.

When Mountain Faith isn't appearing on national television or working at High Country Tire, they are traveling across the country performing at various events. And, they've managed to find time to work on their latest album for Mountain Fever Records, That Which Matters, due for release this fall. "Emily (It's Love)" is the first single from the new album. Of the single, John Lawless of Bluegrass Today says, "Battistelli included the song on her 2011 album, Hundred More Years, as a duet with Dave Barnes who co-wrote with her, but here Summer McMahan sings it solo with a slurry, slippery style that is very modern while remaining true to her bluegrass roots. Simply brilliant."

Consumers may purchase the song through iTunes. For more about Mountain Faith, visit

Tags: Mountain FaithSingleEmilyNew Release

We've Lost that Loving Feeling: What Happened to the Music?

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 22:00

Emmylou Harris pointed out years ago that the soul is lost in today's music. We've lost that front porch or livingroom essence of the music. Today, it is polished, spit-shined, buffed and massaged into what the band/producer perceives as perfection. In the process, we've lost the soul. Why do Charlie Poole, Hylo Brown, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, Appalachian and Hillbilly bands endure today more so than many of the top bands in the last 20 years? Because they have that extra piece that isn't comprised of notes or recording techniques. Some of the finest music didn't have the luxury of fancy recording studios, expensive microphones, exotic digital "effects" systems, etc. What they did have is a dimension that has been lost as artists strive for the perfection. They don't realize that their perfection is what hurts their sound.

Before Bill Monroe created Bluegrass music, very similar styles already existed. 3-Finger style banjo existed before Earl Scruggs invented it. Listen to Tom Paley, Snuffy Jenkins, Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon, Doc Boggs and other banjo pioneers for examples. Lester Flatt drop-thumb method of guitar playing didn't even use a flat-pick yet that is today's method du jour and it is always entertaining to listen to people attempt the Flatt G-run sound but play the guitar differently. William Lake gets it and is doing a fine job in recreating that Flatt guitar sound.

Part of the problem is that with today's exposure to top bands being blown wide open by the digital age, a false sense of security has evolved. Make an album just like the top album and it will sell. These are the albums I try and avoid. I first recognized the problem distinctly when female artists started pouring out albums with the Alison Krauss sound (Tina Adair, et al). Some tried so hard to emulate even her voice that their albums were almost clones of Alison's voice. A total turn-off for me. Today, there are way too many bands that all sound the same. I understand that they are following the model of what sells but it isn't selling for the long haul. Sure, over time, they all evolve into their own musical personality but for now, way too many are all the same.

It is when these bands do evolve into their own unique blend of music, voices and personality that they really take off. Some go their own direction and others try and follow tradition. There is no right or wrong -- it is natural evolution of music. Some bands can really bring a new perspective to Bluegrass. That's where the fire in this style of music lies. That's its future and surprisingly, it's future roots.

Some bands over the years just popped onto the scene and blow you away. The SteelDrivers, Seldom Scene, Charlie Waller, Lonesome River Band, Blue Highway are just a few that made one sit up and take notice of Bluegrass. Founded in tradition, a unique sound, lacking all the polish, even having grit, they survive the test of time. A band's sound is, to my ears, more pleasant when they are just starting out than it is after they have recorded a couple of albums and have been on the road for a while. Some of my favorite Bluegrass albums will never be award winners because they lack the cosmetics that much of today is using to cover the imperfections. Maybe they're trying harder or they're testing the waters. Whatever it is, their early music flows naturally and freely.

There are those talented artists that can pull it off. Lonesome River Band being one prime example. Sammy Shelor's banjo has "it." That pick a microsecond before the beat works and he does it effortlessly. That intentional and musical "imperfection" is just perfect! While other banjo players can play his songs, they can't do it his way. All the members of LRB have that special "touch" and this is why LRB gets awards while others that may sound the same just aren't the same.

Blue Highway has solid roots in the Appalachian region and you can hear it. It has the soul and the essence. It's played right by a superb group of musicians that know when too much is too much and when not enough is not enough and how to balance it all together into a real Bluegrass sound. It's no wonder that this band has remained a favorite for over two decades. Their collection of awards and their popularity across the nation attest to their staying power. It doesn't get much better than this when you're looking for "that sound" that keeps the music alive.

The importance of the Big Bang of Country music by Ralph Peer in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia can not be over stated. From the well known Carter Family to the Stoneman family and from the Stamps Quartet to the Smyth Country Ramblers, the foundation of what was to become Bluegrass was well laid and established. Another musical evolution of hillbilly Appalachian Mountain Music would be shaped and molded later by Bill Monroe. These early recordings of the country mountain music of Appalachia, captured for a broader distribution and broadcast, probably did more for today's music than even Bill Monroe himself. The foundations of Bluegrass were all there in those hills and hollows surrounding the mines, mills, factories and farms. If you're trying to capture the soulful essence of the music, that is squarely where it is. More long-enduring country and Bluegrass artists came from that region of the country than anywhere else. There's a reason. Bands that can retain that piece as well as the mechanics of playing the notes and singing are the bands that make it for the long run. They're the few that capture my attention and keep me listening.

In the days of vinyl and only vinyl, I learned to follow the labels. From Bluegrass to underground European rock, following the labels took me on uncharted paths of music that I never regretted. There are those labels today that peak my interest. Patuxent Records, Rural Rhythm's "Heritage Collection" and Mountain Home Records are always worth checking out. Rounder and Rebel were certainly primary labels to follow during the mid 80s and 90s. Others have come and gone including Turquoise, Flying Fish, and a host of others. Generally the artists on these labels were artists to explore and hear. Some made the big time and others didn't however, it was rarely, if ever, boring. The music on these labels during their respective peak times is music to be cherished, even today.

The soulful sound is there. You may need to look for it but, its there. If you want it live, you'll need to venture into the territory where it was born and where it is still healthy and growing today. Some of the bands aren't even real bands -- they're more of just some good friends who get together regularly to perform. Maybe this is why festival campground jams are such an important part of Bluegrass. Why some buy their tickets yet never venture to the stage area. They have found their true nirvana of Bluegrass enlightenment.

Tags: EditorialOpinionBob CherryBluegrass MusicMountain MusicAppalachia