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Joshua Palmer Defines Met-a-cog-ni-tion

Sun, 04/26/2015 - 22:00

The most difficult quality to achieve in music these days is originality. Human endeavor has simply produced so many sounds, styles and approaches to music that is all but impossible to not sound influenced by something that has come before. However, Joshua Palmer manages to be unique. Joshua plays mandolin as if he picked it up and not only learned to play, but became proficient, without ever having heard one played before. As presented on his first album, Metacognition, Palmer has managed to develop a style that doesn't sound like the next branch of one of the great "mandolin trees," (Monroe, Bush, Thile, et al.) and yet remains thoroughly musical and satisfying throughout. With strong, clear notation and an keen sense of time, Palmer takes the same tools available to the rest of us mandolin players and builds with them something new.

Its not surprising that Joshua has developed such a singular style given his eclectic musical background. From Owls Hollow, Alabama, Palmer began playing piano at age three, and had written his first song by the time he was five. At age eleven, inspired by Gene Autry and Roy Rogers cowboy songs, he picked up the guitar. However, after his brother had bought and lost interest in a mandolin, Joshua got his hands on it. "I picked it up and started applying what I knew about guitar and piano notes to mandolin. I started taking lessons two weeks later." After taking lessons from family friend Gary Pettus and Stan Wilemon of David Davis and Warrior River Boys fame, it was a couple of lessons with Wayne Benson, "just to get a broader spectrum on technique and notation," that really lit the spark of creativity. Palmer sums up his influences this way, "My sister, who is eight years older, used to listen to Nickel Creek and that was the extent of my bluegrass influence on music until I was fourteen... Other than that it was just Classical Music, Gene Autry, Roy Rodgers, blues, Christian rock, Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin."

Those divergent influences manifest themselves in the opening number, "Train of Tears" an ode to imminent heartbreak that takes some unexpected turns, with dobroist Andy Hall adding some excellent flourishes and fills. But the true opening statement of this collection is the second and title track, "Metacognition," which best encapsulates the style and approach of a new talent, accompanied by a cast of master musicians possessing the sensitivity and expressiveness to take on such material (Kenny Smith, Scott Vestal, Mark Schatz, Nate Leath and Andy Hall). Mark Schatz’s clawhammer banjo brings to life Palmer's ode to his hometown, "Owl's Hollow," While his bowed bass sets the tone for "The Dusk" and Leath's fiddle swells pull the lonesome out of "Hour Glass Waltz." However, Palmer keeps the focus centered on his unique talent and style, exhibiting his love for twin mandolins, classical music and Edgar Allen Poe (one would assume) with a duet of twin mandolin masterpieces, "Poe" and "The Raven and the Crow" which punctate a collection of tunes by a new and unique talent among mandolin players, Joshua Palmer.

The album features Joshua Palmer – mandolin & lead vocal, Andy Hall - dobro, Nate Leath – fiddle, Mark Schatz – bassand clawhammer banjo on “Owl’s Hollow”, Kenny Smith – guitar and Scott Vestal – banjo.

Track Listing for Metacognition

  1. “Train of Tears”
  2. “Metacognition”
  3. “Owl's Hollow”
  4. “Apollo 11”
  5. “Hammer Down”
  6. “Poe”
  7. “Anthem-Revelation”
  8. “The Shipmaster”
  9. “Pride of Man”
  10. “The Dusk”
  11. “The Raven and the Crow”
  12. “Misty Morning”
  13. “Hour Glass Waltz”

MerleFest 2015 Commemorates Another Banner Year

Sun, 04/26/2015 - 22:00

Wilkesboro, NC -- MerleFest, presented by Window World, has wrapped up its 28th year. Early estimates show that, from its start on Thursday, April 23, to its close on Sunday, April 26, aggregate participation over the festival’s four days exceeded 78,000 participants, an increase from last year’s numbers. MerleFest, held on the campus of Wilkes Community College, is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

Many incredible performers contributed to the success of MerleFest 2015, including The Avett Brothers, Dwight Yoakam, The Marshall Tucker Band, Trampled By Turtles, Lee Ann Womack, Hot Rize, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Robert Earl Keen, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Kruger Brothers with the Kontras Quartet performing “Lucid Dreamer,” Jim Lauderdale and North Mississippi Allstars, The Earls of Leicester, the Del McCoury Band, Sam Bush Band, Bruce Robinson and Kelly Willis, Scythian, The Spinney Brothers, Willie Watson, The Gibson Brothers, Peter Rowan, Blue Highway, JOHNNYSWIM, The Steel Wheels, Paul Thorn and many more.

Every year, music fans at the festival experience what has become known as “MerleFest Moments” – special groupings of performances, jam sessions and events that get the whole festival talking and become legendary in the festival’s rich history.

One of those sets this year was Saturday night’s highly anticipated set from The Avett Brothers on the Watson Stage. The band often credit both Doc Watson and MerleFest with having a tremendous impact on their career and are one of the most requested performers by festival attendees. During a midday press conference that The Avett Brothers did with Peter Rowan, Scott Avett mentioned that the self-titled album from bluegrass supergroup Old & In The Way was a major influence on his musical development. A few hours later Rowan, one of the members of Old & In The Way, joined The Avett Brothers to perform a song from that album, “‘Til the End of the World Rolls ‘Round.”

“Since MerleFest has often served as a launching pad for rising talent, fans spread the word about new ‘must see’ bands that they’ve discovered at MerleFest. A few bands that had fans talking this year were Mipso, Jesse and Noah Bellamy, Brandon Whyde and The Devils Keep, The Honey Dewdrops and Del Barber,” said Steve Johnson, artist relations manager.

The Hillside Album Hour, which draws thousands of fans each year to the hillside on Saturday afternoon, was hosted by The Waybacks with special guests Joan Osborne, Jim Lauderdale, Sam Bush and Jens Kruger. The performers featured Bruce Springsteen’s seminal 1984 album “Born in the U.S.A.”Fans filled the hillside to find out what album would be featured, which is always a closely held secret until the show begins.

The Midnight Jam on Saturday, presented in partnership with The Bluegrass Situation and hosted by The Steel Wheels, featured special guests The Gibson Brothers, Front Country, Jim Lauderdale, New Country Rehab, The Honey Dewdrops, Moore Brothers Band, Willie Watson, Mipso and Stephen Mougin, with a few other invited guests. During the jam, many of the assembled musicians filled the stage to perform hits like the bluegrass classic “Cherokee Shuffle,” “Midnight Special” led by Willie Watson and “Good Luck, Back Luck,” a collaboration between The Ragbirds and the Moore Brothers Band.

MerleFest continues to celebrate the life and music of Doc and Merle Watson because the legacy of their music is the artistic center of the festival. Musician, composer and storyteller T. Michael Coleman joined Doc and Merle to tour the world and help create countless Grammy-nominated and Grammy-awarded recordings. Coleman has joined the festival in its mission to keep Doc and Merle at the heart of MerleFest. His annual Saturday “Memories of Doc & Merle” set is part of that mission.

“Musicians and fans alike think of MerleFest as a way to come together as a family to pay tribute to these very special musicians. The ‘memories’ set is pretty much based around our connections with Doc and Merle,” Coleman said. “All the artists participating have a direct connection to Doc and Merle and were influenced by them greatly.”

That includes names like Sam Bush, David Holt, Happy Traum, Peter Rowan, Jack Lawrence, The Kruger Brothers and many others.

Coleman continued, “We’re here because of these two musicians, and the guys on stage performing during the set are the closest you can get to them. It’s family. Doc and Merle were the nucleus to these friendships that have remained all these years. It’s a family reunion on stage that the audience just happens to be a part of. And for those of us on stage, it’s almost as if Doc and Merle are there on stage with us.”

BearWallow of Morganton, N.C., won the MerleFest Band Competition held on Saturday. The band is a unique blend of progressive bluegrass and a little bit of country.

In addition to promoting "traditional plus" music, a term coined by Doc Watson to describe the wide variety of musical genres and styles celebrated at MerleFest, the festival also featured heritage crafts demonstrations, instrument picking lessons and jam sessions, dancing, instrument contests, music education workshops and the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.

The Shoppes at MerleFest, located in the center of the festival grounds, was a popular area filled with heritage crafts, merchandise vendors, the official MerleFest Gift Shop, concessions and valuable services like an information tent, lost and found, overnight storage and more. There was also an R&R tent for festival-goers who needed to take a break and escape the weather.

A significant part of MerleFest's mission is to give back to the community. In that spirit, the outreach program took place on Thursday, with MerleFest artists giving performances for nearly 7,000 children at local schools. In addition, on Friday morning more than 3,000 school children from Wilkes and surrounding counties attended the festival.

“We deeply appreciate the support of the great citizens of Wilkes County, everyone who works here at the college, and of course our volunteers and fans, for making this all possible,” said Ted Hagaman, director of the festival. “With over 100 artists playing on 13 stages, representing everything from bluegrass and blues, to gospel, country and Americana, we feel that we succeeded again in giving our festival guests a great value for their entertainment dollars."

MerleFest 2015 is presented by Window World. MerleFest is grateful to 90+ sponsors and advertisers for their support in making the event possible, including: Belk, Pepsi, Charlotte and Greensboro area Burger King restaurants, G&B Energy, Tyson, Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority, The InterFlex Group, Hardee's, Winston-Salem Journal, WXII 12, the Law Offices of Timothy D. Welborn, Bojangles', Carolina Ford Dealers, Carolina West Wireless, CenturyLink, Lowes Foods, Wilkes Communications, Wilkes Regional Medical Center, Wells Fargo and Mast General Store. A complete listing of all MerleFest sponsors and additional information about all aspects of the festival can be found at

MerleFest 2016 will be held at Wilkes Community College on April 28-May 1, 2016.

MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of "traditional plus" music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

ETSU Old Time Band at Carter Fold May 2nd

Sun, 04/26/2015 - 22:00

Hiltons, VA -- Bands with the ETSU Bluegrass and Country Music Program have performed at the Fold since the beginning of the program at ETSU in 1982. The ETSU program has grown so popular that students travel from all over the world to study there. There are now almost twenty different bands maintained by the program. ETSU’s bands have performed in Japan, Belgium, and Russia. Some of the finest students the Bluegrass and Country Music Program has to offer will be performing with the ETSU Old Time Band. Saturday, May 2nd, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert by the ETSU Old Time Band. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free.

Roy Andrade, Assistant Professor and Band Director for both the Old Time and Bluegrass bands with ETSU, will be heading up the group. From exploring the history of mountain music to traveling the country in a string band, old time banjo musician Roy Andrade has a passion for the music of Appalachia. He’s currently passing on that fervor as a teacher at ETSU. Roy gives individual instruction on bass and guitar, and he teaches guitar classes at the university. Roy was raised in Asheville, N.C., and has carried around an instrument as long as he can remember. He was playing accordion by the time he was four. Later he picked up the fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and other instruments. Andrade first came to ETSU as a student in the Appalachian Studies program. While in Johnson City, he met three other old time musicians and started the band Reel Time Travelers. The group traveled for six years, playing over 600 shows alongside notable musicians like Alison Krauss and Ralph Stanley. They produced a CD and cut a track for the movie Cold Mountain. After the band split, Andrade returned to ETSU to finish his degree. When he isn’t teaching, Roy spends most of his free time picking with area musicians.

If you like old time music, don't miss Roy Andrade and the ETSU Old Time Band. Their instrumental work is outstanding, and their vocals and harmony defy description. Don't forget your dancing shoes. The group puts tremendous energy and drive into every performance. For more information, go to

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

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 – @carterfoldinfo.

Tags: ETSU Old Time BandCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

MerleFest Congratulates Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

Sat, 04/25/2015 - 22:00

Wilkesboro, NC -- The Austin Stage was packed for MerleFest 2015’s 23rd Annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Writers of the following twelve songs were selected from 639 entries and competed on the Austin Stage at MerleFest on Friday, April 24. Each of the 12 finalists enjoyed admission and lodging for three nights at MerleFest and received a songwriting workshop with Jim Lauderdale, Jesse Bellamy and Peter Rowan. As the grand prize, renowned label Pinecastle Records presented a one-song contract to each first place winner in all categories – bluegrass, gospel/inspirational, country and general categories – along with $500 to record their winning songs. Pinecastle Records will manufacture a four-song compilation CD of the winning songs and distribute it to radio stations across the United States and Canada. The first place winners also received $500 cash from MerleFest and a performance slot on the Cabin Stage on Friday night.

The first-round judges were: Singer/songwriter/musician Tift Merritt; David Mayfield, singer/songwriter/musician and Grammy-nominated producer; Joe Lurgio, Tenbooks Media; Ashlee-Jean Trott of Music City Roots; Judy McDonough of JEMMedia; Megan Bedford of Sugar Hill Records; singer/songwriter/musician Jason Lee McKinney; Whitney Holmes of the Americana Music Association; and singer/songwriter/musician Joseph Terrell, who is a member of Mipso and won the CASC general category last year for his song “Angelina Jane is Long Gone.” Tift Merritt won MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in 2000 and served as a first-round judge at MerleFest 2014.

Critically-acclaimed Americana artist Jesse Bellamy, famed Texas singer-songwriter Bruce Robison and legendary bluegrass icon Peter Rowan will judged the on-site final round of this year’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Judging is based on a song¹s originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential. The contest is open to those whose primary source of income (50 percent or more) is not derived from songwriting or publishing.

Jim Lauderdale asked the audience members how many are songwriters. Most everyone in the audience admitted to be aspiring songwriters by a show of hands. Jim advised them to never give up on songwriting and to enter the songwriting contest. One representative from Yep Rock Records admitted that the songwriting contest is her favorite part of MerleFest.

The first-round judges were: Singer/songwriter/musician Tift Merritt; David Mayfield, singer/songwriter/musician and Grammy-nominated producer; Joe Lurgio, Tenbooks Media; Ashlee-Jean Trott of Music City Roots; Judy McDonough of JEMMedia; Megan Bedford of Sugar Hill Records; singer/songwriter/musician Jason Lee McKinney; Whitney Holmes of the Americana Music Association; and singer/songwriter/musician Joseph Terrell, who is a member of Mipso and won the CASC general category last year for his song “Angelina Jane is Long Gone.” Tift Merritt won MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in 2000 and served as a first-round judge at MerleFest 2014.

MerleFest congratulates the 2015 winners:

  • Gospel/Inspirational
    • 1st Place – Robert Holthauser (Poplar Springs, N.C.) and Rick Pardue (Poplar Springs, N.C.) – “Brother Paul”
    • 2nd Place – Benjamin Luckhaupt (West Harrison, Ind.) and Titus Luckhaupt (West Harrison, Ind.) – “Seven Times”
    • 3rd Place – Dave Herring (Charlottesville, Va.) – “Though I Walk”
  • General
    • 1st Place – Carter Sampson (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – “Wild Bird”
    • 2nd Place – Kristen Grainger of True North Band (Salem, Ore.) – “Doris Dean”
    • 3rd Place – Laura Kaufman (Boone, N.C.) – “Through the Grave”
  • Bluegrass
    • 1st Place - David Morris (Gaithersburg, Md.), Mitch Matthews (Hamtramck, Mich.) and Dawn Kenney (Waltham, Mass.) – “Something About A Train”
    • 2nd Place – Buddy Guido (Mohawk, N.Y.) and Paul Kelly (Santa Fe, N.M.)– “Deer in the Headlights Look”
    • 3rd Place – Donna Hughes (Trinity, N.C.) – “Blackbeard”
  • Country
    • 1st Place – Hunter and Suzy Owens (Sydney, Australia) – “It Would Be Easier”
    • 2nd Place – Savannah Smith (Asheville, N.C.) – “Mississippi”
    • 3rd Place - Carri Smithey (Burlington, N.C.), Josh Coe (Saxapahaw, N.C.), Ryan Burgess (Burlington, N.C.) and Keith Ingalls (Burlington, N.C.) – “No More.”

The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is a unique opportunity for aspiring writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of this year’s volunteer contest chairperson Jim Lauderdale. Judging is based on a song’s originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential.

Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest help support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the scholarship has awarded over $38,000 to 81 deserving students. Previous winners of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest include Gillian Welch, Tift Merritt, Michael Reno Harrell, Adrienne Young, Martha Scanlan, David Via and Johnny Williams.

For more details about the contest, visit

MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of "traditional plus" music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

"Lila Mae" Video by Lonesome River Band

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 22:00
The hauntingly beautiful music video, Lila Mae, by Lonesome River Band has been released. The song was written by Alex Cline, Kirk Sauers, and our very own Brandon Rickman. The video was filmed at the Wheatland Plantation in Sevierville, Tennessee. Based on one of the songs from their latest album, Turn On A Dime, both the song and the rest of the album are receiving rave reviews from the bluegrass music community.

The video was directed by Kim White at View Finders TV and produced by Mountain Home Music Company. The video features Josh Trivett from Moonstruck Management as well as Natalie Moore and Nathan Morrison in the lead roles. The video and song theme are typical of traditional bluegrass music and should become a fan favorite.

Lonesome River Band continues their reputation as one of the most respected names in bluegrass music. Led by five-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year and Virginia Country Music Hall of Famer Sammy Shelor, the group holds a powerhouse line up of award-winning players including vocalist and songwriter Brandon Rickman on guitar, Mike Hartgrove on fiddle, Barry Reed on bass and Randy Jones on mandolin and vocals.

The band is celebrating their Billboard Top 10 Bluegrass Album, Turn On A Dime released on Mountain Home Music Company. The album certainly showcases Lonesome River Band at the top of their creative game. When masterful players and vocalists combine with top notch material and thoughtful arrangement, the result is a dynamic release. This long awaited project includes numerous chart songs including the hit “Her Love Won’t Turn On A Dime” that reached the #1 spot seven times on the Bluegrass Today Top 20.

Lonesome River Band’s enduring career includes 17 albums, three of which were released in 2012 in celebration of the group’s 30th anniversary. The band received the 2012 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Award for Instrumental Recorded Event of the Year for their song “Angeline the Baker” from their CHRONOLOGY Volume One album along with Sammy Shelor taking home his fifth win as the 2012 IBMA Banjo Performer of the Year. Lonesome River Band has received other awards from IBMA including Album of the Year, along with numerous awards from SPBGMA including being named Bluegrass Band of Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Song of the Year and Shelor as Banjo Player of the Year.

Sammy Shelor received the 2nd Annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. In honor of this award, Lonesome River Band with special guest Steve Martin made an appearance and performed on the Late Show with David Letterman on November 11, 2011.

For over 30 years, Lonesome River Band continues set the standard in the bluegrass music world. Whether performing on the famous stage of the Grand Ole Opry or headlining major concert events & festivals, their loyal fans continue to support one of the most loved and most influential acts of our time.

We invite you to follow LRB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our website at We'll be offering prizes throughout the year to those that share LRB pics and tag #LRB and #lonesomeriverband, so keep those pics and shares coming!

Tags: Lonesome River BandLila MaeVideoTurn on a DimeSingle

Laura Orshaw Fiddles Her Way to a Fine Solo Project

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 22:23

Nashville, TN -- Laura Orshaw is an exciting voice on today’s acoustic music scene. Fast-becoming one of today’s celebrated emerging artists, she is a multi-instrumentalist and compelling singer. Laura earns die-hard fans across the country with her energy and her earnest performance, playing and singing with joy and drive.

Songs of Lost Yesterdays is Laura’s brilliant solo project, available now. The album is a pleasing mix of 11 tracks, both originals and covers, with guest artists including: Matt Witler (mandolin), Catherine “BB” Bowness (banjo), Tony Watt (guitar), Alex Muri (bass), Michael Reese (guitar and vocal harmony), Mark Orshaw (vocal harmony) and John Mailander (fiddle harmony). Laura took great care and consideration in choosing songs, with each one having its own story.

The album includes some traditional folk standards like “Sailor on the Deep Blue Sea,” “Row Number Two, Seat Number Three,” and “Going to the West.”

Laura commented on the finesse and insight that went into creating a “songs of yesterday” list that would fit the album concept. “My dad and I spent a lot of time driving the highways and back roads of Pennsylvania. Each time we got in the car I knew that Norman Blake would be on the stereo. I knew every obscure old time fiddle tune and English ballad by heart,” Laura exclaims. “Without question, I was going to pay homage to Norman on this album, and being a fiddle player, I couldn’t think of any better song than “Uncle.”

“Getting Over You” has an old country feel, but on this album Laura morphs the song by creating an old swing feel. “Charlie Moore’s ‘Cotton Farmer’ came into my repertoire through some good musicians and friends,” Laura reminisces. “They’d argue about who learned it first, and then they’d move on to whose dad played it first, whose arrangement was stolen from who, and so on. I found the multi-generational competition over this song pretty comical, but I couldn’t argue that it was a good song!” “Guitar Man” is one of the originals, written after Laura heard John Prine’s “Unwed Fathers.” Reminded of a friend who had to leave school early due to an unexpected pregnancy, Laura was inspired to write something that would be intimately relatable for women.

Laura’s “New Deal Train” was inspired by stories her grandfather told about growing up during the Great Depression. “It seems like little boys always loved trains, but to a boy growing up during the Depression, a train was especially meaningful. During FDR’s New Deal, trains delivered food and supplies to the poorest towns across America. Families would line up near the tracks and wait for a bag of flour, or a pair of shoes—this was quite an exciting outing for a little boy who didn’t have much.”

Providing sensitive insight into the life and musical history that Laura experienced and learned over the years, Songs of Yesterdays pays tribute to acoustic greats and also offers a pleasant new twist on tradition through the compelling voice and playing of Laura Orshaw.

Songs of Lost Yesterdays is available from iTunes, Amazon and other digital retailers. For more information visit:

Tags: Laura OrshawFiddleCD ReleaseSongs of Lost Yesterdays

Frank Fairfield & Trace Bundy Underground May 2nd

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 22:21

Will 2015 be the year that old-time music finally hits the mainstream? Old-time music, bluegrass' much older brother (or is it father?) has been on a tear the past few years. Old Crow Medicine Show went platinum with "Wagon Wheel" and even became Grand Ole Opry members. That sound is about to get another major bump from Orthophonic Joy, the Carl Jackson-produced tribute to the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions that gave the world the first recordings of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Old-time music gets weekly TV exposure on RFD-TV's Marty Stuart Show, in the hands of clawhammer master and "The Sultan of Goodlettsville," LeRoy Troy.

Perhaps the year's most promising crossover is the duo of Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck, who played the cave last month as part of our PBS series taping (Season 5 airs in September; set your DVRs.). Abby's non-resonator open-back banjos hold their own with her husband's fingerpicked 1937 Gibson Mastertone, and frankly, she steals the show. Given that they're spending 2015 playing Bela's circuit of major-market performing arts centers and massive national music festivals, Abby's playing to new audiences for clawhammer banjo, people unfamiliar with her solo work or her band Uncle Earl. Not surprisingly, at least anecdotally, I keep meeting more folks trying to learn clawhammer style, picking up the old-time banjos which, like most other vintage-style instruments are being made in huge numbers by indie luthiers as well as Asian/American companies like Eastman, Gold Tone and Recording King. It's not a ukulele-size craze, but it's steadily becoming one.

It makes sense. It always seemed like old-time music would fit the young hipster crowd more than bluegrass, in that there are fewer rules and and a more rocking, bluesy sound to the old-time stringbands. Back in the '70s, the Highwoods String Band and the Hotmud Family carried that banner; in the '90s it was the Horseflies; and in this century, bands like Uncle Earl and OCMS brought in new, younger audiences. Until now, it seemed unlikely to become a major new movement, but like Chicago Cubs fans have said for so long, old-time music lovers are now saying, "Thiscould be our year."

Which brings us to our next Bluegrass Underground artist, a multi-instrumentalist who was way ahead of the clawhammer curve, old-timey before old-timey 's latest resurgence of cool.

Frank Fairfield has been playing old-time banjo, hillbilly ragtime guitar and raw-toned mountain fiddle for years, and his sizable following mixes hard-core traditionalists with alt-rock fans, as the California native tours clubs and festivals of all sorts.

He's a veteran of BGU and a human time machine who will transport the Volcano Room back to the 1920s, when Ralph Peer and the Lomaxes were making their Southern field trips in search of new old sounds.

For a taste of what he does, one of Fairfield's Youtube videos features him tearing up the banjo on "Nine Pound Hammer" ( Or check him out online. He'll be performing as part of the April 29 lineup of our sister show Music City Roots, and you can stream the show live at And, as great a venue as the Factory in Franklin is, nothing beats seeing Frank Fairfield at Bluegrass Underground, under that antique crystal chandelier in the natural cathedral that is Cumberland Caverns' Volcano Room.

Visit the Bluegrass Underground for tickets and more information.

Tags: Frank FairfieldTrace BundyBluegrass UndergroundConcertEvent

The SteelDrivers Unveil "The Muscle Shoals Recordings"

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 22:15

Nashville, TN -- The SteelDrivers’ innovative, soulful brand of bluegrass has made them one of the most successful bands on the contemporary bluegrass scene. The band, which has earned three Grammy nominations and garnered tremendous critical acclaim, has announced their fourth album for Rounder, The Muscle Shoals Recordings, which will be released on June 16, 2015.

Rolling Stone Country is offering an exclusive premiere of “Brother John,” which features slide guitar by Jason Isbell, who also co-produced the track. Listen to it here:

The album is largely inspired by Muscle Shoals, an area of confluence and consequence, of intermingling, experimentation, and exultation, and a legendary music mecca. It’s also the hometown of the SteelDrivers’ lead vocalist and guitarist Gary Nichols, whose bandmates – fiddler and vocalist Tammy Rogers, banjoist Richard Bailey, mandolinist Brent Truitt, and bassist and singer Mike Fleming – made the two-and-a-half hour trek from Nashville to Sheffield, Alabama, to the NuttHouse Recording Studio to record eleven new original tunes, mostly written by Rogers and Nichols.

There, they conjured a singularly compelling sound, drenched in soul, blues, bluegrass, R&B, country, and rock’n’roll. Jason Isbell – Nichols’ friend and musical compatriot since childhood, and himself an extraordinary singer, songwriter, and guitarist – co-produced two of the album’s 11 tracks and contributed slide guitar to two (the aforementioned “Brother John, ” and “Ashes of Yesterday”).

Gary Nichols has emerged as a vocalist of distinction, as a monster acoustic guitarist, and as a songwriting force who wrote or co-wrote five of Shoals Recordings’ 11 songs, including the plaintive “Here She Goes,” and the dark ballad “Brother John.” Tammy Rogers stepped up her songwriting as well, and she has credits on all but one of the album’s remaining songs, including the stirring waltz “Ashes of Yesterday,” and the somber, reflective album closer, “River Runs Red,” a meditation on the Civil War. Richard Bailey composed the lone instrumental, the joyous, rousing “California Chainsaw.” The one outlier on The Muscle Shoals Recordings is “Drinkin’ Alone,” a romp penned by Jay Knowles and former SteelDriver Chris Stapleton.

The SteelDrivers have inspired accolades from critics like NPR’s Ann Powers, who praised their “dazzling bluegrass musicianship,” and PopMatters’ Arnold Pan, who extolled the band’s “virtuosic ‘bluesgrass’ songs that take classic Americana instrumentation and give it an intense, soulful inflection.”

One thing is for sure: Nichols and the SteelDrivers speak in their own accent, one that charms and sears and beguiles. This is a band like no other, by inclination, but not by calculation.

Tags: The SteelDriversCD ReleaseThe Muscle Shoals RecordingsRounder Records

AirPlay Direct Honors Sam Passamano with "Iconic Innovators" Award

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 22:13

AirPlay Direct is the leading secure digital file transfer system for the music industry, with a national and international reach of 9,400+ radio station members and over 39,000 artist/record label members. AirPlay Direct has created a special award to honor the innovators who have openly embraced digital innovation in the music industry. The AirPlay Direct "Iconic Innovators" Award is presented annually to the member of AirPlay Direct that best embraces the vision and opportunities that digital innovation in the music industry has and continues to create.

Sam has throughout his career embraced change and has evolved himself and his company to take advantage of all of the new digital innovations that assist artists and record companies in spreading the word and delivering music to countries around the world. Sam and Rural Rhythm Records were one of the first record companies to see the value and possibilities of AirPlay Direct and fully support our mission and vision.

“This year proved to have a very strong field of candidates for this award. However, the AirPlay Direct Selection Committee were all in agreement that Sam Passamano, II, President – Rural Rhythm Records was the perfect executive to be honored. His professional track record and that of his label Rural Rhythm Records clearly demonstrates that this award was earned by a true ‘Iconic Innovator’ in his prime”.
 ~ Lynda Weingartz, CEO – AirPlay Direct

As an integral component to the “Iconic Innovators” Award, AirPlay Direct is honoring Mr. Passamano with a $50,000 AirPlay Direct “Marketing & Awareness” Campaign for his legendary and award winning Bluegrass / Gospel label, Rural Rhythm Records.

“I am honored to be this year’s recipient of the “Iconic Innovators Award” from AirPlay Direct. After 37 years in the music business and being a second generation record guy, I have learned that success follows hard work, clearly defined goals, well thought out marketing strategies and last but not least, a constant eye on new and innovative ways to get our artists music to the right people in efficient and effective ways.

Several years back Robert at AirPlay Direct and Sammy III, (the third generation record guy in our family), at Rural Rhythm set up a new way for D.J.’s to receive new music in a digital format from our Rural Rhythm artists. Many years later the service that AirPlay Direct provides artists and record labels has now become the industry standard that is used by major & independent artists and record labels.

Rural Rhythm recognizes and appreciates the foresight and importance of AirPlay Direct and we are extremely grateful to Robert, Lynda and their staff for all their contributions and hard work helping Rural Rhythm get its artists music into the right hands and ears over the years.”

AirPlay Direct’s consulting division, Collective Evolution, will continue to work closely with the Rural Rhythm Records team to develop and execute an advanced “Global Radio Strategy” for the Rural Rhythm Records catalog and brand.

Sam Passamano, II has been associated with an abundance of music business family history and veteran experience through the years that surrounds his career in the music business. Sam, Sr. passed on to his son the knowledge, hard work ethics, music industry knowledge and credibility that followed him throughout his 37 year career as a distribution executive with DECCA, UNI and MCA Records. Also, Mr. Passamano, II has passed on the tradition to the next generation. His oldest daughter and oldest son both have key positions in the Rural Rhythm Records’ family business.

As Director of Marketing at MCA Records Mr. Passamano, II acquired many areas of responsibility including management of all Marketing activities overseeing In-house and Field Product Managers, Advertising, Merchandising, Publicity, development of all marketing campaigns and was involved in the development and execution of many successful titles released by Elton John, Olivia Newton John, Steely Dan, Tom Petty, The Who, George Strait, Merle Haggard, Bill Monroe, Reba McEntire, Barbara Mandrell, Don Williams, Conway Twitty, Oak Ridge Boys, etc.

In 1987 Mr. Passamano, II purchased Rural Rhythm Records which included a treasure trove of recorded masters by many legends and pioneers in old-time Country and traditional Bluegrass and Gospel genres including Mac Wiseman, Reno & Harrell, Red Smiley, Hylo Brown, J.E. Mainer, Curly Fox, Lee Moore, Vassar Clements, Dale Potter and many more.

AirPlay Direct is an artist marketing, promotion, and education platform that delivers premium digital services and is the leading secure digital file transfer system for the music industry. We are a centralized, professional eco-system that connects artists, labels, radio stations, as well as equipment and services. All of our subscribers are qualified music industry participants. We have a national and international reach of 9,400+ radio station members in 90 countries with over 39,000 artist / label members. We give direct access to the primary target market of artists, musicians, labels, and radio stations of all musical genres.

Tags: Sam Passamano IIAirPlay DirectRural RhythmIconic Innovators AwardAward

15th Annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Lineup Announced

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 22:11

Bristol, VA/TN -- Birthplace of Country Music (BCM), parent organization of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, revealed a stellar lineup of artists for the 15th annual festival. The 3-day music celebration honoring Bristol’s unique music history as the site of the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions will be held September 18 — 20, 2015 in Historic Downtown Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia.

Deborah Denney, this year’s festival chairwoman, welcomed media, city leaders, and visitors to the press conference held Wednesday in the Performance Theater at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. A festival volunteer for more than a decade, Denney talked about how the festival has grown and stressed the important role volunteers play at the event.

“We had more than 60,000 visitors, artists, vendors, and volunteers last year,” said Denney. “Already we’ve seen an increase in ticket sales from this time last year. Volunteers are the backbone of the Reunion and we are grateful to everyone who has served.”

BCM Executive Director, Leah Ross talked about additions and changes to this year’s event, as well as old favorites that will return.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we held our first Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion,” said Ross. “Every year we listen to our visitors and volunteers to see what can be improved upon and added for the following year, and what they enjoyed. Among the improvements planned for this year’s festival: increased shuttle services and tent camping options.”

Measures will be taken to ensure more buses and better communication in order to help decrease wait times at shuttle stops for those who choose to park remotely or camp. The new RFID wristbands used last year helped to identify peak times when buses were needed and where the heavy entry points were. This will play a major role in developing a strategic plan to better serve our visitors.

Ross also discussed plans to remove the Dance Tent Stage in order to relieve congestion on State Street and accommodate growing attendance. It will be replaced by a larger outdoor stage (similar to the 6th Street Stage) to be located in the parking lot at Shelby and 7th Streets.

“With the 100-year-old L. C. King factory and the old Bristol Post Office within view, an outdoor stage at that location adds a fresh atmosphere for visitors who may have only viewed those landmarks in passing upon entering or exiting the festival. The buildings and their past are part of Bristol’s unique history.”

BCM is partnering with Thunder Mountain Campground and Holston River Brewing Company to bring festival-goers a unique camping experience during Bristol Rhythm that includes 100 primitive campsites, pop-up, camper, and RV camping packages, and after-hours entertainment at the brewery. Packages will be sold exclusively through Thunder Mountain will provide limited shuttle service to and from the festival, and event shuttle buses will also provide services to the site. Holston River Brewing Company is located near Bristol Motor Speedway on Volunteer Parkway beside Earhart Campground. Shuttle service is also provided for carpoolers who choose the free parking option at Earhart Campground.

Visitors will be getting more information about a special partnership with Music Maker Relief Foundation and an outdoor exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum during the festival. Located downtown but outside festival gates, visitors are urged to tour the museum to learn more about Bristol’s history as the birthplace of country music and see the special exhibit “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.”

Several Reunion favorites will return this year. This includes the festival’s free Children’s Day events in Cumberland Square Park. With more than 800 participants and growing, the 5k Run/2 Mile Fun Walk isn’t going anywhere. However, there will be routing changes in 2015. The start/finish line will move to Anderson Street Park. Changes will be made to the route but will still take participants through both states. Amateur chefs will still be cookin’ at the tastiest competition at Bristol Rhythm, the Chili Cook-off. BCM will also bring back the popular Wernick Method Bluegrass Jam Camp and Youth Music Competition. Applications and entry forms can be found at

A festival tradition since its inception, the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion poster artwork is an event in itself. Each year fans are as anxious to collect the poster — and poster t-shirts — as they are to see the lineup. This year the award-winning fantasy artist Charles Vess was contracted for the design and helped present framed prints to the mayors of Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia, Lea Powers and Catherine Brillhart, respectively.

Following the poster presentation, Bristol Rhythm Music Committee Chairman Brent Treash was called to reveal the 15th annual artist line-up, saving top headliners until last.

“As Music Committee Chair, I can say with all honesty that every year I am surprised by what we are able to achieve,” said Treash. “We are a festival that appeals to today’s youth and more mature listeners. We do our best to balance the music so it has broad appeal, and that’s very exciting.”

The 15th Annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion line-up is as follows: Steve Earle & the Dukes, Dr. Dog, Delbert McClinton, Hot Rize with Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, Rusted Root, Vintage Trouble, Moon Taxi, John Anderson, Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Review, The Districts, Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Black Lillies, Spirit Family Reunion, The Gibson Brothers, The SteelDrivers, Dale Watson, Kopecky, Strand of Oaks, Della Mae, Folk Soul Revival, Willie Sugarcapps, Balsam Range, American Aquarium, Steve Gunn, Lindi Ortega, Jarekus Singleton, Samantha Fish, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Lonesome River Band, Dom Flemons, The Whiskey Gentry, The Dustbowl Revival, TAUK, Quiet Life, The Suffers, Goodnight Texas, Kripplekrunk, Wayne Hancock, Lera Lynn, Daniel Romano, Billy Strings & Don Julin, The Stray Birds, Fly Golden Eagle, Desert Noises, Swear and Shake, Girls Guns and Glory, Jim White vs. The Packway Handle Band, Rosie Flores, M.S.G.-The Acoustic Blues Trio, Levi Lowrey, Boo Hanks, Blank Range, Los Colognes, Ryan Culwell, Lance Stinson, The Black Twig Pickers, Ancient Cities, Grayson Capps & Corky Hughes, Ian Thomas: Band of Drifters, Annabelle’s Curse, Corbin Hayslett, The Church Sisters, Ed Snodderly, Hello Stranger ft. Dale Jett, David Childers, Margo and the Price Tags, Cale Tyson, Bryan Elijah Smith, C2 & the Brothers Reed, Christopher Paul Stelling, Banditos, The Appleseed Collective, Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats, Bill & the Belles, Wise Old River, Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen, The Successful Failures, Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome, Amythyst Kiah, NewTown, Old Line Skiffle Combo, Duty Free, Suzi Ragsdale, Jeff Little Trio, Symphony Rags, These Undowners, ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, ETSU Old Time Pride Band, MidDay Farm Report, The Corklickers, Motel Rodeo, Will Kimbrough, Josh Oliver, Justin Fedor, Sigean, ETSU Celtic Pride Band, Wayne Graham, The Hermit Kings, Sugarcane Jane, Lauren Penley, The Railsplitters Old Time String Band, The Ransom Notes, Emily Roberts, Breaking Tradition, The Empty Bottle String Band, Mountain Soul, R. B. Morris, The Loose Strings Band, My New Favorites, The Farmhouse Ghost, Ron Short & The Possum Creek Playboys, The Harlow Experience, The Rose Sisters, Poor Valley Girls, The Ordinary Bitters, Clay Prewitt, Chris Rose, The Honey Badgers, Dori Freeman, Logan Fritz & Co., Sam Gleaves, Aaron Woody Wood, Joy Blair, and The Sandy Shortridge Band

For more information about Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, visit

Tags: Bristol Rhythm & Roots ReunionMusic FestivalBristolSteve Earle & the DukesHot RizeThe Gibson BrothersThe SteelDriversDella MaeLonesome River Band

Blue Highway Honored with Six-Show Series on The Bluegrass Mix

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 22:36

Bristol, TN/VA -- Highly-esteemed bluegrass band Blue Highway will be featured in a six-part series beginning April 22 on "Bluegrass From the Country Store." The Ron Cornett-hosted weekly show airs on Wednesdays from 5:00-8:00 pm ET on

"It's an honor to do this series of interviews with all the members of Blue Highway," said Ron Cornett. "Being able to cover their new individual projects, their newest #1 album The Game, and ending with a special program Twenty Years with Blue Highway will be a highlight of my career."

Fans can look forward to six months of "Blue Highway Wednesdays" featuring music and interviews with Blue Highway and its members on the fourth Wednesday of each month from April to September.

"Ron is very good, nice, and knowledgeable," said Tim Stafford. "We're having a great time doing this series with him! Hope all our friends and fans will tune in!"

The Blue Highway series launches this Wednesday, April 22, with a show featuring the band's dynamic mandolin player and gifted songwriter Shawn Lane. Lane's newest album "Mountain Songs" was released in August 2014, and although it had only been out four short months was named #19 on the Top 20 Albums of 2014 list by critic Daniel Mullins.

A complete listing of "Blue Highway Wednesdays" scheduled to air on "Bluegrass From the Country Store" at is as follows:

  • April 22 - Shawn Lane - "Mountain Songs"
  • May 27 - Tim Stafford - "Just to Hear the Whistle Blow"
  • June 24 - Wayne Taylor - "It's About Time"
  • July 22 - Rob Ickes - "Three Bells"
  • August 26 - Blue Highway - "The Game"
  • September 23 - "Twenty Years with Blue Highway"

"Bluegrass From the Country Store" show times are Wednesdays from 5:00-8:00 pm ET.

Blue Highway have earned 24 collective IBMA Awards, 6 SPBGMA Awards, one Dove Award, and two Grammy nominations. Tim Stafford was recently honored as 2014 IBMA Songwriter of the Year and 2015 SPBGMA Guitar Player of the Year. Rob Ickes reigns as the Most Awarded Instrumentalist in the history of IBMA with 15 Dobro Player of the Year honors, and was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album for his collaborative album "Three Bells" with Jerry Douglas and the late Mike Auldridge.

As momentum builds for the 20-year strong powerhouse band, Blue Highway break into 2015 with Sold Out shows accounting for half of their concerts to date. Their newest album "The Game" recently reigned at #1 for 7 consecutive months on the Bluegrass Unlimited album chart (June-Dec 2014), and was named the #1 Bluegrass Album of the Year by critic Daniel Mullins in his end of the year Top 20 Albums of 2014.

For more information on The Bluegrass Mix, or to Listen Live On-line, please go to For more information on Blue Highway, please go to and

Tags: Blue HighwayThe Bluegrass MixBroadcast

IBMA Announces 2015 "Bluegrass Ramble" Showcase Artists

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 22:33

Nashville, TN -- The first round of artists have been announced for the Bluegrass Ramble, an innovative series of showcases which will take place at select venues throughout downtown Raleigh, North Carolina during the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)’s World of Bluegrass 2015 event, September 29 – Oct 3.

From among 150 artists/bands who applied for just thirty slots, the following were selected by the IBMA Showcase Selection Committee as Bluegrass Ramble Showcase artists: April Verch, Ash Breeze Band, Big Virginia Sky, Blue Mafia, Bradford Lee Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys, Caribou Mountain Collective, Charm City Junction, Chris Henry and The Hardcore Grass, Detour, Donna Hughes, Front Country, Gold Heart, Greg Blake, Hank Smith & Lindsey Tims, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, Mipso, Rex McGee, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, Ryan Cavanaugh, Songs of the Fall, Steve Gulley & New Pinnacle, Taarka, The Lonesome Ace Stringband, The Missy Werner Band, The Original Five, The Steel Wheels, The Tyler Williams Band, Unspoken Tradition, Vickie Vaughn Band, and Wood & Wire.

In addition to these “official” showcase performers, additional artists will be added to the Bluegrass Ramble via co-sponsored shows at the venues along with privately hosted “After Hours Showcases” (Tuesday – Friday) at the Marriott.

New this year, the IBMA is adding Afternoon Showcases to its business conference from Tuesday-Thursday. These showcases, open only to business conference attendees, give artists and agents the chance to showcase before a concentrated audience of talent buyers, labels, agents and decision-makers in the bluegrass community.

IBMA showcases and the Friday – Saturday “Wide Open After Hours” format will provide over 250 opportunities for bands to perform at sanctioned IBMA events during World of Bluegrass 2015. The full Bluegrass Ramble schedule will be available in the coming months.

As last year, the Bluegrass Ramble will have a dedicated transportation system with extended hours, running non-stop between hotels and showcase venues. Provided by the city of Raleigh, the Ramble-dedicated transportation will be available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during World of Bluegrass 2015, from 7 p.m.- 2 a.m.

Admission to the Bluegrass Ramble is available to both IBMA Business Conference attendees (with ID) and to the general public, via Bluegrass Ramble showcase wristbands, or a per-venue, per-night fee at the door. Three-day and single-day tickets are available online.

Those interested in co-sponsoring a Bluegrass Ramble showcase may contact Eddie Huffman at IBMA: (615) 256-3222 - 888-GET-IBMA –

The Bluegrass Ramble showcases will be held in the following venues:

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass event, a five-day annual bluegrass music homecoming and convention, consists of four parts: the IBMA Business Conference, September 29 – October 1; the 26th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, scheduled for Thursday evening, October 1; Wide Open Bluegrass, October 2-3 (which includes both free stages and ticketed festival performances) and the Bluegrass Ramble, an innovative series of showcases, taking place September 29 – October 1.

IBMA – the International Bluegrass Music Association – is the professional trade organization for the global bluegrass music community. The organization’s six-year stay in Raleigh is the result of a partnership with The Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, PineCone—The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, the City of Raleigh and a local organizing committee.

Tags: IBMAWorld of BluegrassBluegrass RambleInternational Bluegrass Music AssociationShowcase

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out Release "Brown County Red" to Radio

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 22:00
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out are proud to announce the long awaited release of new music on their newly formed label, Break-A-String. Written by Kyle Burnett, "Brown County Red" is the first single from a new album due for release this summer. A quick three-quarter time signature, the song will immediately grab the attention of listeners for its uniqueness. Add in the swift fiddle kick supported by solid mandolin chop, some of the finest banjo picking and bass playing in the business, and then top it off with Moore's unmistakable power-driven vocal and signature IIIrd Tyme Out harmonies akin to the very early years in the band's history, and "Brown County Red" will make for a sure-fire hit!

For nearly 25 years, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out have proven their staying power and have firmly marked their place in bluegrass music as a powerhouse, headlining group, due in part to over 50 industry awards to their credit. But when it comes right down to it, it's the music, their own unique sound fronted by the golden voice of Russell Moore, that will be archived in the music history books long after the band has played their last note. IBMA's most awarded male vocalist with five trophies under his belt, along with veteran members Wayne Benson on mandolin and Justen Haynes on fiddle welcomed the two newest members, Keith McKinnon on banjo and Blake Johnson on bass at the end of 2013.

Even after being a professional musician his entire adult life, Moore is still on fire with enthusiasm and is quick to want to speak about the new configuration of IIIrd Tyme Out and the band's next chapter. "Keith and Blake have been in the band now for a little over a year and we're all very excited about the makeup of the group as it is right now," he states. "The stuff that they bring to the group to make the IIIrd Tyme Out sound is special. We've been looking forward to getting in the studio, to document and to put something down that shows what we have to offer now." The excitement from Moore continues when the subject of starting his own record label comes up. "A couple years ago we decided to start our own music label and it's called Break-A-String. It's exciting to be in that much control of everything that's going on around you."

Watch "Behind the Scenes with Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out - The Making of 'Brown County Red'"

With new breath of life into the band, a new record label, and an armful of first rate songs in tow, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out sought out a new recording venue with only one familiar piece requested; that they bring Grammy Award winning engineer Brandon Bell back on board. Bell engineered the band's previous album and the team discovered that the combination worked like a well-oiled machine. And with that, the band landed at Southern Ground Nashville, owned by country music star Zac Brown, where Bell is the studio director and chief engineer. The studio's staff welcomed the band with open arms and were thrilled to have this supergroup as the first band to record a bluegrass record at the historic site.

Tags: Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme OutSingleBrown County RedRadio

Country's Family Reunion's Biggest Bluegrass Combo

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 22:00

What if there was a Bluegrass series that featured artists like Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, John Hartford, Mac Wiseman, JD Crowe, Leroy Troy, Walter Bailles, Pappy Sherril, Ramona Jones, Jeanette Carter, Jimmy Shumate, Melvin Goins, The Osborne Brothers, The Roys, Charlie Louvin and more... over 50 bluegrass legends all in one collection? Well now there is... Except it’s actually two collections in one great combo! It’s the Country’s Family Reunion’s Biggest Best Bluegrass Combo!

Foot tapping music-hilarious stories...all on 15 DVDs... That’s right 15 DVDS with over 17 hours of the best bluegrass content we’ve ever shot collected in one place.

This is a special combo offer from Country’s Family Reunion... When you order, you’ll receive all 10 Volumes of the Grassroots to Bluegrass collection, featuring over 20 member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, many of whom are no longer with us. This series focuses on the history and importance of Bluegrass.

The combonation package includes the 5 DVD series, Simply Bluegrass, hosted by Ricky Skaggs celebrating the finest in today's Bluegrass world. This amazing, 17 hour series is not available anywhere else but through this offer.

So, for the best foot tapping, finger snapping, melody-making music you’ve ever heard, sung and told by the legends and stars of the Bluegrass World, the Biggest Best Bluegrass Combo can be yours. A must have series for any fan of Bluegrass music.

Country's Family Reunion has it all on 15 DVDs... That’s right 15 DVDS with over 17 hours of the best bluegrass content they have ever shot collected in one place... and with this combo, you’ll save over $55 dollars through this special offer. The cost is just 5 payments of $29.95 plus shipping and handling. CLICK HERE for a sample.

This is a special Combo offer from Country’s Family Reunion... When you order, you’ll receive all 10 DVD’s of the Grassroots to Bluegrass collection, featuring over 20 member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, many of whom are no longer with us. This series focuses on the history and importance of Bluegrass.

But that’s not all, you’ll also receive 5 more DVD’s with the series, Simply Bluegrass, hosted by Ricky Skaggs celebrating the finest in today's Bluegrass world. This amazing, 17 hour 15 DVD series is not available anywhere else but through this special Combo Offer.

So, for the best foot tapping, finger snapping, melody-making music you’ve ever heard, sung and told by the legends and stars of the Bluegrass World, the Biggest Best Bluegrass Combo can be yours for just 5 payments of $29.95. A must have series for any fan of Bluegrass music.

Tags: Country's Family ReunionCD ReleaseBluegrass ComboSimply BluegrassPromotion

The Ellnora Guitar Festival Unveils 2015 Artist Lineup

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 22:00
Urbana, IL -- On September 10, 11, and 12, 2015, a stunning display of the world’s most remarkable and significant guitarists will gather for the sixth installment of ELLNORA - The Guitar Festival, presented by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Situated in a vibrant micro-urban setting, the internationally recognized, biennial event features, “a prodigious array of the world’s most distinctive and influential guitarists” (Premier Guitar) from around the globe, including for 2015 artists rooted in Mali, Australia, China, Spain, Palestine, India, Mexico, and from throughout the United States. 2015 performing artists include Punch Brothers, Bela and Abigail Fleck, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and outstanding artists from almost all genres. This is the festival of the guitar.

ELLNORA is anything but your typical music festival. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts incorporates seven unique, state-of-the-art performance spaces—both indoor and outdoor, both formal and informal—that make it particularly well suited to showcase the festival’s impressive range. This year’s incarnation of ELLNORA incorporates 11 individually ticketed events including performances by Rodrigo y Gabriela, Punch Brothers, Los Lobos, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Dan Zanes, and Drive-By Truckers, along with at least 11 free shows (including concerts by John Scofield and Jon Cleary, Valerie June, Andy McKee, Earth, David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot, and Jessica Lea Mayfield). View the full 2015 ELLNORA lineup HERE.

For 2015, ELLNORA will once again feature an artist-in-residence. Triple Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin is an ELLNORA alum whose incredible career has included over 25 albums and the distinction of founding the Juilliard School’s guitar department, in addition to currently helming the guitar department at the Aspen Music Festival. Isbin, whose work spans baroque, Latin, and jazz-fusion, is also a noted author, recipient of Guitar Player’s “Best Classical Guitarist” award, and subject of the one-hour documentary Sharon Isbin: Troubadour which will be shown along with a question and answer session featuring Isbin herself at The Art Theater in Champaign the evening before ELLNORA begins.

2011’s artist-in-residence Luther Dickinson will also return, this time with brother Cody for an opening night Southern blues set by their North Mississippi Allstars incarnation. The $5 Opening Night Party will also include sets of electrifying sacred steel blues from the AJ Ghent Band, Terakaft’s genuine desert-blues rock, John Jorgenson Quintet filling the Amphitheatre with gypsy jazz, and Mia Dyson, one of Australia’s “top 25 guitarists” sharing her blues-rock riffs in an open-air set.

ELLNORA, which bears the name of its venue’s visionary founder, Ellnora Krannert, provides a vital showcase for some of today’s most prominent female artists. In addition to Sharon Isbin and Mia Dyson, female artists for 2015 include Valerie June and her “organic moonshine roots music,” the first lady of the banjo Abigail Washburn (alongside husband Béla Fleck), bluegrass virtuoso Rhonda Vincent, Hawaiian hula dancer and chanter Moanalani Beamer (alongside the slack key artistry of Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson), pipa player Min Xiao-Fen, and noir-rocker Jessica Lea Mayfield, among others.

Originally known as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival before being rechristened ELLNORA in 2009, the event is organized by Krannert Center’s director, Mike Ross, and his staff in collaboration with curator and artistic advisor David Spelman, who is also founder/artistic director of the world-renowned New York Guitar Festival. In the years since its debut, ELLNORA has served as a model for other events in the United States and around the world.

Tags: ELLNORA - The Guitar FestivalGuitarPunch BrothersRhonda Vincent & the RageBéla Fleck & Abigail WashburnMusic FestivalEvent

15th Anniversary Banjo Camp North Celebration May 15-17

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:00

Banjo Camp North is a three-day celebration of the five-string banjo, featuring instruction, demonstrations, concerts, and jamming presented by some of the best and best-known banjoists on the planet. They provide in-depth instruction in Bluegrass, Old Time and Folk styles. We always have top-flight fiddlers and guitarists on hand as well to lead classes on those instruments and provide support onstage at faculty concerts and demos and at the many jams that run throughout the weekend. In addition, this year we’re excited to offer classes on singing and harmony vocals at several levels.

The camp has invited several top flight fiddlers and guitarists to teach about playing with other instruments and jamming, and to be on hand to help make those all-night jams something special. Plus we will emphasize banjo and fiddle duet playing. Other areas of study include singing, solo and group.

Banjo Camp North features the best instructors and musicians in Old Time and Bluegrass Music. Learn from some of the best including Tom Adams, Bob Carlin, Bill Evans, John Herrmann, Bill Emerson, Casey Henry, Paul Brown, Dick Smith, Terri McMurray, Adam Hurt, Ned Luberecki, Lorraine Hammond, Mac Benford, Ryan Cavanaugh, Brad Leftwich, Howie Bursen, Steve Arkin, Michael Miles, Marc Horowitz, Lukas Pool, Bob Altschuler, Tim Rowell, and many more!

2015 marks our 15th Anniversary and a new page in the history of the camp. In 2014, founder Mike Holmes passed ownership and management of both Banjo Camp North and Mandolin Camp North to the enthusiastic and capable hands of Mike Kropp and Richard Pertz, both long-time camp participants. Mike and Richard have retained Phil Zimmerman as Bluegrass Music Director and have brought BCN/MCN veteran Martin Grosswendt onboard as Associate Director and Old Time Music Director. The new team is eager to carry on the Music Camps North tradition of stellar instruction and a warm, friendly learning environment in clean, comfortable surroundings. We think BCN 2015 will be all that and more.

This year we’re reworking the schedule to make camp more relaxed and even more enjoyable for campers and instructors alike. There will still be plenty of high-quality, intensive instruction but we’re also making more time for individual mentoring sessions, jamming, workshops and demos.

As always, the Bluegrass and Old Time Beginner’s Tracks will offer five sessions over the weekend to give novices and beginners a solid grounding in the basics of each style.

There will also be a great selection of vendors this year, providing everything from picks, capos, straps, and strings to new and vintage instruments — maybe even the banjo of your dreams. And of course we will have a fully stocked artist’s table, selling the staff’s CD’s, books and videos.

Banjo Camp North is held at Prindle Pond Conference Center, a comfortable, up-to-date facility in a beautiful, wooded setting in Charlton, Massachusetts. Buildings are heated, so you don’t have to worry about our unpredictable New England weather. Occupancy in the dorms is two to a room. There are a limited number of single rooms available, as well. Meals at Prindle Pond are a treat; the food is fresh and well-prepared, and there is always a vegetarian option available. Off-site accommodations are also available in nearby Sturbridge for those who prefer additional privacy or conveniences.

Banjo Camp North will begin with registration at noon on Friday, May 15th, and classes will start at 2:30. Then it’s all things banjo until camp ends at 3:00 PM on Sunday, May 17th. Visit for all the details and registration information.

Tags: Banjo Camp NorthBanjo CampBanjo WorkshopEducation

J.P. Mathes & Kentucky School of Bluegrass Ensemble at Carter Fold

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:00

Saturday, April 25th, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of bluegrass music by J.P. Mathes and the Kentucky School of Bluegrass Ensemble. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. JP Mathes has been performing at the Carter Fold since he was 16 years old - first as a member of the ETSU Bluegrass Band and later as the Ensembles Director of Hazard Community College’s Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music (KSBTM). The student performers include Caleb Edwards (mandolin) from Indiana; Bobby Earl Whitaker III (guitar) from Jackson, Kentucky; and James Colwell (bass) from Hazard Kentucky. Special guest performers will include Dean Osborne, two-time Grammy award winner, Curtis “Dr. Dobro” Burch, and on fiddle Leona Tokutake Mathes from Tokyo, Japan.

JP has performed all across the United States and the world as a student musician, music professor, and as a private performer. Performance highlights include 12 tours of Japan, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Ole Opry, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, bluegrass and music education tours of Alaska and Hawaii, and many others. JP will be touring Japan again this summer for 6 weeks with his wife Leona as ambassadors of bluegrass music. The duo along with Japanese musicians will be performing at music venues throughout Japan and holding workshops for Japanese college students who are learning bluegrass and traditional American music.

The Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music is an accredited program that operates under Hazard Community & Technical College’s: College of Heritage, Humanities, and Fine Arts. Students can receive an associate’s degree, diploma, and certificate in Bluegrass & Traditional Music. The KSBTM is located at a satellite campus in Hyden, Kentucky. Students who enroll at the KSBTM take courses such as ensemble, individual instruction, bluegrass history, audio recording, harmony singing, and much more. The program will unveil its state of the recording facilities in the fall semester of 2013, which includes a large professional level recording studio, a smaller studio B, and three enclosed student audio workstations. The KSBTM has already welcomed students from 18 states since it’s opening in 2007. Faculty members at the KSBTM include Dean Osborne, Curtis Burch, Chris Mullins, Grand Ole Opry member and bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne, and JP Mathes. For more information or to schedule a tour of the school visit the Facebook page at

For some of the finest bluegrass music the southeast has to offer, don’t miss the Kentucky School of Bluegrass Ensemble at the Fold. There will be traditional bluegrass tunes, lively fiddle tunes and instrumentals, gospel tunes, and beautiful harmony. Don’t forget your dancing shoes, and be sure to bring along your friends!

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

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: J.P. MathesKentucky School of BluegrassConcertCarter Family FoldEvent

Andy Edmonds Joins South Carolina Broadcasters

Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:00

David and Ivy Sheppard of the South Carolina Broadcasters are excited to announce that Andy Edmonds has joined the trio. A resident of Pilot Mountain, N.C., Andy comes from a family of guitar and banjo players, and gospel singers. He met the late, great Benton Flippen when he was a young man, and played guitar and banjo for over a decade with Benton Flippen & The Smokey Valley Boys. In his time playing with Flippen, Andy also learned a great deal about playing the fiddle, and now counts it as his primary instrument, winning numerous prizes at area fiddle contests.

“Music is an integral part of our lives, and we are thrilled to welcome Andy, who also dedicates his life to the rich music of the Blue Ridge region,” Ivy said. “We look forward to playing as much music with him as we possibly can!”

David Sheppard, when not traveling across America playing and singing the music he loves, restores and repairs vintage musical instruments. He is a much sought-after luthier with nearly 40 years of experience, and has recently joined Lowe Vintage Instrument Company of Burlington, N.C., as its in-house luthier.

Fiddler, banjo player, and singer Ivy Sheppard works at legendary radio station WPAQ in Mount Airy, N.C., hosting the popular show, "The Surry Spotlight," featuring bluegrass and old-time music from in and around Surry County (NC) every Tuesday at 2 p.m. The show is largely comprised of rare and obscure field recordings and one-off press distribution albums and non-commercial releases. Listen at 740 AM locally, on-line at or via the tunein app.

Tags: South Carolina BroadcastersAndy edmondsBroadcastBlue Ridge

Junior Sisk Invites Fans to Their Home Festival Man 22-23

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 22:00

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice is excited to welcome fans to their home festival, the Chantilly Farm Bluegrass & BBQ Festival, held at Chantilly Farm in Floyd, Virginia on May 22-23.

Sisk and his band began a partnership with Chantilly Farm last summer. Since then, the special events venue and campground has served as an official touring sponsor of the group. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice is based out of nearby Franklin County, Virginia, making Chantilly Farm a natural "home" festival for the band. The group has been a frequent performer at the festival in the past, and is looking forward to what this year's festival has to offer.

The festival will celebrate its fifth year in 2015, and will also expand to two days full of music, arts and crafts, children's activities, and more. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice will perform both days, and will be joined by award-winning bluegrass favorites like Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, the Lonesome River Band, and Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers. RV and tent camping are available on the festival grounds, and numerous food vendors will be on site throughout the weekend.

Advance tickets are available until May 21, and can be purchased from the Chantilly Farm website or by calling 540-353-5898. For more information, visit

Tags: Junior Sisk & Ramblers ChoiceBluegrass FestivalChantilly Farm Bluegrass & BBQ FestivalEvent

Brad Davis: A Bluegrass Tribute to George Jones

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 22:00

GRAMMY Winner Brad Davis has launched a bluegrass project that is sure to gather an outpouring of well deserved attention, 'A Bluegrass Tribute to George Jones'. This album has everything: great music, great vocals, and great songs!

At the time Brad started work on this, Jones was on his final tour and through the recording process we lost a great music icon. The final result is a project that is a great balance between Brad's own bluegrass styling, formed by a lifetime of bluegrass influences as well as a tribute to George.

There are bluegrass versions of songs from various stages of Jones' recording career and there's even a bonus cut of a possible missed hit. It's a great Brad Davis project and it's a great George Jones tribute!

Tags: Brad DavisGeorge JonesTributeCD ReleaseVideoSingleWhite Lightening