MISSION STATEMENT - This site is dedicated to professional music photographers. Our mission is to advocate sound business practices, warn against predatory client practices, provide helpful and educational resources, and foster a sense of community. All discussions related to capturing, processing, cataloging and licensing music photographs are welcome.

You are here

CyberGrass.com - Internet Blue Grass News

Subscribe to CyberGrass.com - Internet Blue Grass News feed
Cybergrass Bluegrass Music News
Updated: 38 min 17 sec ago

Mountain Faith to America's Got Talent Semi-Finals

8 hours 26 min ago
Mountain Faith BandThe 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.

Categories: Music Industry

Gibson Brothers Set #1 On Bluegrass Unlimited Album Chart Record

21 hours 47 min ago

 BrotherhoodNashville, 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.

Categories: Music Industry

Dry Hill Draggers Play Carter Family Fold Aug 29th

21 hours 50 min ago

Dry Hill DraggesThe 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 – www.dryhilldraggers.com.

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 http://www.carterfamilyfold.org. Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at http://www.carterfoldshow.com.

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 http://thecrookedroad.org. 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.

Categories: Music Industry

AirPlay Direct's Industry Panel Presentation At IBMA

21 hours 52 min ago

AirPlay Direct and IBMANashville, 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. http://www.ibma.org/world-of-bluegrass

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. www.AirPlayDirect.com

Categories: Music Industry

Bluegrass Music Across the Great Urban-Rural Divide

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 12:03am

Bluegrass Music Across the Great Urban-Rural DivideBluegrass 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.

Categories: Music Industry

Public Television and Marty Stuart Present Chuck Wagon Gang

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 12:17am

Chuck Wagon GangTheir 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.

Categories: Music Industry

Inaugural Bluegrass at the Beach Festival

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 12:12am

Blue HighwayDestin, FL — (Aug. 24, 2015) 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 http://www.mattiekellyartsfoundation.org/bluegrassatthebeach.html

Categories: Music Industry

Sierra Hull Headlines Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 12:07am

Sierra HullMocksville, 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  www.cbcbluegrass.com . 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 www.carolinabiblecamp.com  or  www.cbcbluegrass.com.   Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CBCBluegrass

Categories: Music Industry

FreshGrass Award Finalists Confirmed

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 12:45am

FreshGrassNorth 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.

Categories: Music Industry

More Artists Added to AmericanaFest Lineup

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 12:39am

Americana Music AssociationThe 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 mercylounge.com.

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: http://concerts.livenation.com/event/1B004EFBCBD56EE5?bba=1 - 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 americanamusic.org.

Categories: Music Industry

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

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 12:10am
Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon LineDust-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 and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line

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.

Categories: Music Industry

Hot Rize Releases 'Your Light Leads Me On' Video

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 12:07am
Hot RizeHot 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.

Categories: Music Industry

Mountain Faith Releases Single from Upcoming Album

Sat, 08/22/2015 - 12:00am

EmilyWillis, 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 www.mountainfaithband.com.

Categories: Music Industry

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

Sat, 08/22/2015 - 12:00am

Mountain MusicEmmylou 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 captured for a broader distribution and broadcast, the country mountain music of Appalachia did more for todays music than probably even 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.

Categories: Music Industry

“Run Away Tonight” by Chris Jones & The Night Drivers Available Today

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:00am
Run Away TonightNashville, TN -- Part of the musical depth of Chris Jones & The Night Drivers’ new Mountain Home release is due to the longevity not just of the group, but of this lineup. Chris Jones founded the band in 1995, marking 20 years this year. Chris was joined in 2003 by bass man Jon Weisberger and by banjoist Ned Luberecki. German-born mandolin player Mark Stoffel signed on in 2008 and since then, the quartet’s turned into one of the genre’s tightest and most empathetic ensembles.

is available today, 8/21/15. In celebration of the release, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers will be performing Friday, August 21st at Nashville's legendary Station Inn. Show starts at 9 PM.

Ask Chris Jones about reaching the 20th anniversary of his career as front man for the Night Drivers and the answer is likely to be some expression of Jones’ characteristic sense of humor. “Three of us have been playing together for well over half of that time, and our newest member has been with us more than eight years. We should at least know each other’s phone numbers by now.”

“In all seriousness, though,” he continues, “I’m grateful for this lineup of the Night Drivers and the length of time we’ve been blessed with to really have a chance to gel and understand each other musically and personally. represents an exciting new chapter for us.”

With two award-winning songwriters in the band—Jones took the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Song of the Year trophy in 2007, while Weisberger earned the organization’s first-ever Songwriter of the Year title in 2012—it’s no surprise that focuses on original material. The duo co-wrote the first single, the infectious, old-time-flavored “Laurie,” and six other songs. Luberecki and Stoffel each contribute one new instrumental, making Chris Jones & The Night Drivers one of the few contemporary bands to continue the old bluegrass tradition of two instrumentals per album.

Guest appearances by Hall of Famer Del McCoury, legendary fiddler Bobby Hicks, former Night Driver Casey Driessen, and label mates current IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year Buddy Melton and Darin & Brooke Aldridge are more in the nature of enjoyable bonuses than necessities. And while the group chose to work for the first time with an outside producer—Balsam Range’s Tim Surrett, who also contributed some appropriately spooky dobro—the focus is squarely on Chris Jones & The Night Drivers.

The combination of talent, persistence, humor and thoughtfulness makes this band one of music’s most distinctive and durable acts. Twenty years? For Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, it’s only the beginning.

Categories: Music Industry

Steep Canyon Rangers play the Blue Ridge Music Center August 29

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:00am

Steep Canyon RangersGalax, VA – The Steep Canyon Rangers bring their original bluegrass sound to the Blue Ridge Music Center on Saturday, August 29, at 7 p.m., as the North Carolina band’s ninth studio album, Radio, makes its debut. The same day, the Blue Ridge Parkway is looking ahead to its yearlong celebration of the National Park Service’s 2016 centennial anniversary with kick-off festivities at the Music Center.

The Steep Canyon Rangers effortlessly walk the line between festival favorites and sophisticated string orchestra. It’s that mix of serious chops and good-natured fun that earned the Steep Canyon Rangers the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2013 (Nobody Knows You). Last winter, band members Woody Platt (guitar), Graham Sharp (banjo), Charles R. Humphrey III (bass), Mike Guggino (mandolin), Nicky Sanders (fiddle), and Mike Ashworth (box kit) stepped into the studio with 14-time Grammy winner and producer Jerry Douglas (John Oates, Alison Krauss, Del McCoury Band) to record Radio at Echo Mountain Recording Studio in Asheville, NC.

Mountain Park Old Time Band, one of the most popular old-time music dance bands in the region, opens the show. The friends and talented musicians that make up the group are Nancy Gentry (bass), Johnny Gentry (multi-instrumentalist), C.T. Janney (washboard and dancing), Roger Stamper (fiddle), and Mark Handy (banjo, vocals, dancing). The band performs regularly at the Alleghany Jubilee in Sparta, NC, and is an audience favorite at the Rex Theatre in Galax and The Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, VA

Visitors can arrive early to kick off the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary celebration, which will be marked with events along the Parkway throughout 2016. Starting at 1 p.m., visitors can talk with the multiple groups that support the mission of the Blue Ridge Parkway through volunteer efforts, fund-raising, cultural enrichment, land protection, and additional contributions. Participating partners are the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, Blue Ridge Parkway Association, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Eastern National, and Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There will also be live music by members of The Wolfe Brothers String Band from noon to 4 p.m. on the breezeway.

At 5 p.m., the Blue Ridge Music Center will host a ticketed Taste of the Mountains reception at the Luthier Shop, featuring bites from local restaurants Bogey’s, Scoots, and The Galax Smokehouse, beer from Creek Bottom Brews, and wine.

Steep Canyon Rangers + Centennial Celebration takes place Saturday, August 29th at noon in the Blue Ridge Music Center, 700 Foothills Road, Galax, Virginia - just off Milepost 213 - Blue Ridge Parkway.

Noon to 4 p.m.: Midday Mountain Music (free)
1 to 7 p.m.: Centennial Celebration Partner Showcase (free)
5 to 7 p.m.: Taste of the Mountains Reception (ticketed)
7 p.m.: Concert with the Steep Canyon Rangers and Mountain Park Old Time Band (ticketed)

The Midday Mountain Music performance and Centennial Partner Showcase are free. Tickets for the Taste of the Mountains reception are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the event, $10 for Music Center members. Tickets for the Steep Canyon Rangers concert are $20. For tickets, call (866) 308-2773, ext. 245, or visit www.blueridgemusiccenter.org. Reception tickets are limited and only available by phone in advance or at the gate the day of the event while supplies last.

Categories: Music Industry

Steve Martin & Edie Brickell to Release 2nd Album October 30

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:00am
So FamiliarRounder Records has announced that Steve Martin and Edie Brickell are releasing their latest album, So Familiar on October 30th. A preview track of "Won't Go Back" can be heard below. Preorder your copy of the record today at a chance to win one of several great prizes directly from Steve and Edie!

The duo released their debut album in 2013, Love Has Come For You, and the album was a remarkable project consisting of 13 eloquently rootsy compositions that combine Martin’s inventive five-string banjo work with Brickell’s distinctive vocals and vivid, detail-rich lyrics. They won a Grammy award (Best American Roots Song) for "Love Has Come for You" off the album of the same title.

Steve and Edie also recorded Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell Live following their live PBS "Great Performances" broadcast which aired March 4th, 2014 on WNET. The deluxe two disc DVD & CD pack was released following the event.

Steve Martin is up for another IBMA Award this year. Martin has been named as one of the 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award recipients by the International Bluegrass Music Association. The Distinguished Achievement Award is second only to induction into the IBMA Hall of Fame award and exists to honor those in bluegrass music who have proven to be forerunners in their particular field of endeavor, and/or fostered bluegrass music's image with developments that will broaden the music's recognition and accessibility.

Categories: Music Industry

Rhonda Vincent goes from Bluegrass Queen to Global Trailblazer

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00am

Rhonda VincentNashville, TN -- To say that 2015 has been a big year for 'The Queen of Bluegrass' Rhonda Vincent would be an understatement. She has transcended beyond the All American Bluegrass Girl who stole the nation's heart with her genuine songs and charismatic personality, by expanding her sound globally. With a highly successful European summer tour, IBMA and Dove nominations, along with a Christmas album on the way, it has been a monumental year for the 15-time "Entertainer of the Year."

"I was so surprised to find out the Czech Republic is the "Bluegrass Capitol" of Europe. The response to our shows was overwhelming" said an excited Rhonda Vincent. "I guess you could say we're bluegrass jet setters, as we've traveled to 9 different countries in only the last 30 days, and I'm loving every minute, as we share our music with the World!"

The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) announced their finalists for the 2015 awards ceremony, and Vincent has secured a nomination for "Female Vocalist of the Year." After winning this exact award an unprecedented 7 consecutive years, from 2000 - 2006; in addition to "Entertainer of the Year" in 2001, she is no stranger to this annual event. Also, up for "Guitar Player of the Year" is fellow Rage member Josh Williams, who is already a 3-time winner in this category.

After exploding into the Gospel genre with her 2012 album Sunday Mornin' Singin' LIVE!, Vincent returns to this familiar territory, after picking up 2 nominations at the 46th Annual Dove Awards, both coming in the category for "Bluegrass Song of the Year." The song, "God is There," is the inspirational collaboration with fellow Bluegrass singer/songwriter Lizzy Long. The cut comes from Long's latest album, Blueberry Pie, and sees Vincent and Long trading vocals back-and-forth on the touching ballad. Also nominated is the track, "Daddy Was an Old Time Preacher Man," which is part of Volume Five's latest album Voices. The song was originally written and recorded in 1970 by Country icon Dolly Parton, alongside the late Grand Ole Opry Member and TV star Porter Wagoner. The awards take place in Nashville, Tenn. on Oct. 13 at the Allen Arena.

Not to be limited by genre boundaries, Vincent is also featured on two brand new Pop and Folk songs. "One Life" is the latest single by Canadian sensation Chris Janz, and was released earlier this month. The encouraging tune takes listeners on a journey, with its heartfelt lyrics and catchy melody. Vincent is also featured on Jon Pousette-Dart's brand new album Talk. The project, produced by Nashville's legendary producer Bil VornDick, was released in late July.

Vincent is also back in the United States, following her SOLD OUT 2015 European Tour. The extraordinary excursion kicked off in Jablonec, Czech Republic on July 9 with what was supposed to be one show, but turned into a two-show affair after the first quickly sold out seven months in advance. The area has a history of being major supporters of the genre, often being referred to as the "Bluegrass Capitol" of Europe. From there, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage made their way to Breim, Norway, where they performed a show at a historic church, and at Norsk Country Treff for over 8,000 fans. Next, the most awarded band in bluegrass music history, traveled to Amsterdam to play at the world famous Paradiso, which has hosted some of the biggest names in music, including The Rolling Stones. Then came the Best Music 2015 on the Marketplatz in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany, and to close things out, Vincent made her highly-anticipated return to Laufen, Switzerland for two more sold-out shows.

Rhonda Vincent & The Rage will soon hit the road again, aboard the Martha White Bluegrass Express, and begin a countdown of 41 remaining performance dates for 2015. They travel next to Canada, then back to the USA for the rest of the year!

Categories: Music Industry

Marion, Virginia Proclaims August 15 as Nathan Stanley Day

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:00am

Nathan StanleyNashville, TN -- At just 23 years old, Bluegrass singer/songwriter, Nathan Stanley, has no easy task of carrying on the legacy created by his Grandfather, the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley, but he is taking steps towards doing just that. In addition to winning two Grammys and being the distinguished recipient of the "Living Legend Award" in 2006, an honor presented by President George W. Bush, Dr. Ralph Stanley has propelled the Stanley name to become one of the most recognizable names in all of music. This past Saturday at a very special Birthday celebration concert, Nathan Stanley was presented with a key to the city of Marion, VA, and August 15 was declared "Nathan Stanley Day," an honor conferred by town Mayor David Helms.

"I'm very humbled that Mayor David Helms presented me with such an honor" said an excited Nathan Stanley. "I'll cherish this, and that will be a night that I'll never forget."

The star-studded, SOLD-OUT show, took place in Marion at the Lincoln Theatre, a venue which Nathan has headlined on multiple occasions. The ticket also featured special guests, including Bluegrass icon Dr. Ralph Stanley, Country chart-topper T. Graham Brown and Country/Gospel singer Bob Smallwood. Birthday wishes also came from Josh Turner, Bobby Osborne, Gaither Vocal Band member Wes Hampton and more.

So far, 2015 has been a solid year for Nathan, having recently released his latest album The Legacy Continues. The album features collaborations with both Dr. Ralph Stanley and Country superstar Brad Paisley. The project features everything from the Stanley family-favorite "Rank Stranger" to the upbeat "Papaw I Love You," which was written by Nathan to pay tribute to his Grandfather. Nathan was also featured on Dr. Ralph's critically acclaimed album, Man of Constant Sorrow, alongside Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Dierks Bentley, LeeAnn Womack, Josh Turner and more. The project was released earlier this year and is available exclusively at Cracker Barrel.

Categories: Music Industry

Song of the Mountains Sale Agreement Signed

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 12:14am

Song of the MountainsMarion, VA 17 August 2015 – On Friday, August 14, principals of The Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia and Appalachian Music Heritage Foundation (AMH), a Marion-based non-profit corporation signed agreements officially transferring ownership of Song of the Mountains from The Lincoln to AMH. Under the agreement, AMH will rent The Lincoln Theatre for the Song of the Mountains monthly stage show and television production.

Song of the Mountains is a long-running stage show and nationally syndicated Public Television music series featuring Bluegrass, old-time, and Americana music. AMH is now responsible for the production of the stage show and the television series. The first show under the management of AMH will be held at The Lincoln on Saturday, September 5th. Tim White, the original host of Song of the Mountains, will return as the show’s permanent host.

The Lincoln’s newly installed President of the Theatre’s Board of Directors, Dr. Dana Chamberlain, and the President of AMH, Joe Ellis signed the documents.

In an August 5 letter to the Friends of the Lincoln, a Theatre support group, Kristin Untied-Barnett, the Theatre’s Executive Director, said of the sale, “The Board of Directors determined the best solution for the sustainability of both The Lincoln and Song of the Mountains is to separate the two entities. The change will be managed in such a way that ensures the program, which brings many tourists and national recognition to the theatre and the Town of Marion, will continue to operate from the Lincoln.”

AMH’s principals are Marion residents Joe Ellis, Ed Stringer, and Sam Russell. Ellis and Russell founded Song of the Mountains in 2003 and the first Song of the Mountains production was staged at The Lincoln in May of 2005. Tim White, the show’s host and booking agent, was brought aboard in 2004. Ed Stringer, President and CEO of The Bank of Marion, was a supporter of the show from the beginning. In recognition of the potential for economic development in the Town of Marion and the surrounding area that The Lincoln/Song of the Mountains partnership would bring, The Bank became one of its first underwriters.

“We are very gratified that our sales and rental agreements have been finalized and signed,” Sam Russell stated today. “This has been a long process, but both The Lincoln and AMH have worked hard to do what’s best for the Theatre, the show, the Town of Marion, downtown businesses, and the legions of Song of the Mountains from all across America.”

Categories: Music Industry