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Updated: 38 min 46 sec ago

Thoughts & Observations of the IBMA Board

11 hours 13 min ago

Board of DirectorsFirst of all, this is an opinion piece -- not a news story. I've been reading comments through social media, the web, emails sent to me and comments on Cybergrass. There are certainly a lot of upset people and a lot of frustrated people. There are also many members that don't know what their own association is doing. Only a small percentage of members are really active in the IBMA. As one member said, "What is going on? I am a voting member, but do not know anything about the board." Another said, "Apathy is strong within the IBMA." Others have voiced similar thoughts. This indicates many card carrying members just carry the card. IBMA has never been an association to do something for you. It is an organization that members contribute to. For the decade that I was a member, I contributed constantly for various programs, regional rep program, created their first web site, worked on several Bluegrass in the Schools activities, spoke on sessions, mentored others and more. My hands were always involved in something the association was working towards. That is the true nature of IBMA. It really hasn't changed over the years.

If members are joining IBMA to get something out of it, I would first need to ask, "What are your expectations?" "What is it you want or need from the association?" I'm sure I'd get as many answers as people I ask but, I'm sure that very few would say, "I want to contribute to the growth of the association." IBMA has never been an association to provide for the members in concrete or physical terms.

What IBMA does is to provide an image of Bluegrass Music professionalism. That is it. They do this through World of Bluegrass, their awards show and some educational programs. People get decals that they can proudly display on instrument cases and logos that they can display on websites, association newsletters and the like but, they don't get funding, advertising or promotion, publications or anything physical that they can use to enhance their individual success in the music. Unlike the CMA that contributes millions to education and strives to really enhance what they consider country music, the IBMA doesn't really do that -- even on a much smaller scale.

Just a quick note on awards. The IBMA Awards Show is definitely a highlight of the IBMA's activities. The Grand Finale of the World of Bluegrass. Awards are meaningful in that artists, with a mantle covered with awards, can generally charge more for their performances because, the awards conveys a level of recognized and established quality with the artist. An Entertainer of the Year recognition can certainly be used for financial gain. Within a small voting membership, it is not unusual to see the same names getting awards year by year because it is the same people voting year after year. Is the image behind the award real? Probably not. Not everybody who votes has heard every radio station up for a Broadcaster of the Year award. Not everybody voting for the music has hear all the available nominations. The same for other awards. Members are global in scope but many award categories are quite small and in regional size. This pretty much renders the award hollow at best. Some awards are very meaningful and others, not so much.

According to their own charter, the IBMA does not exist to promote Bluegrass Music. It does not define what Bluegrass Music is. According to the association, "IBMA is the trade association that connects and educates bluegrass professionals, empowers the bluegrass community, and encourages worldwide appreciation of Bluegrass Music of yesterday, today and tomorrow." It is an "association" which, by definition, is nothing more than a group of people. In this case, they all have a common interests -- Bluegrass Music. There is nothing about promotion, nothing about providing a service of any kind, nothing about providing resources either. Cutting through the babble-speak, there is nothing that the association does per their own admission. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception throughout much of the membership.

So, then, why are so many upset that they don't get anything out of IBMA? Didn't they read about the association before purchasing a membership? Probably not any more so than they read the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) for some software they bought? They don't. People join because its "the thing to do." It's cool to flaunt that IBMA logo. Its almost expected to say "ya, I'm one of you IBMA people." For many people, that status alone is worth the membership fee. They are part of an association of professional Bluegrass Music people.

Don't get me wrong, the IBMA does offer some services and some members do benefit from those offerings. These include mail lists, session recordings and such but, overall, these benefits only serve a very small percentage of the overall membership. Does the Lonesome River Band really care about the number and location of bluegrass associations in South Dakota? Probably not.

So, lets get back to the topic at hand. The association has a pretty busy membership out on tour or buying talent for next year's event or whatever. These are busy members. They don't really have the time to contribute to an association built on a foundation of their contribution. For the most part, members probably don't even think about IBMA outside of World of Bluegrass or when their membership dues come due. Lets be honest here. Do you think about how you can contribute to the IBMA at least once every month of the year?

It may not be that the membership is apathetic but, rather too busy and they don't have the time resources to do more. It is a matter of priorities. That's fair and probably an honest assessment. But, that same membership wants more. At least, they want the appearance and perception that they are getting more for their membership dues. Unfortunately, that is not in the IBMA's charter and, that is not what the association does. If they bought a membership expecting more, then, they made a mistake.

This is, unfortunately, a common thought thread within the member comments I have read over the past several years. How can the IBMA address this? They need to give the impression that the membership's concerns are being heard and addressed! That doesn't happen today. Sure, a topic may find its way between the covers of International Bluegrass but, does it ever go any further? Is there ever a measurable return on membership investment? Not really. Many turn to KickStarter when then need additional resources for a project -- not the IBMA. Members get frustrated because their respective special interest doesn't get addressed. With a board of representation that includes their interest, it is no wonder that they expect something more.

This is why a board built upon special interest representation is wrong. It cannot meet its expectations -- especially in an organization that defines nothing of benefit to its membership in the first place. The false sense that representation creates, by its very existence, contributes to generating a level of frustration among its members. A board is nothing more than a group of human beings trying to work together to create the best results for the organization they are charged with directing and protecting.

While simple enough in concept, its composition is different for every organization, company or corporation. The key is working together. A study by the authors of Decide and Deliver: 5 Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization determined that the optimum size for a decision-making group was seven people and that for each person added above this, the group’s decision making effectiveness was reduced by 10%. Some do well with five and as high as nine but the number seven keeps showing up.

So, what then should a board look like? 5, 7 and worst-case 9 members? While there are organizations with larger number (AMA, Folk Alliance, etc.), that doesn't imply that larger is better. In fact, according to many experts and studies, Fewer is better if you want to get anything done. The IBMA has 19 board members (13 today per the IBMA website). That's too many board members. You can't get anything done that way. Eight of those are for the professional categories of membership -- those special interest categories. Each and every board member needs to be concerned with the entire association and an advocate for every member of the association. No more special interests. And finally, because the association is a business, it is time to start operating it and treating it like one. Board members must all be PR agents and fundraisers for the association. They need to seek sponsorships, grant funding, business and community support, create budgets, design the path to the future with real and achievable milestones, etc. The board is a business board consisting of people who know how to navigate a business through all kinds of economic and market weather.

Non-profits are special. They get tax exempt status because they serve a public interest. Their ethics and standards must be the highest to earn that public trust. Trust is everything and in some organizations, the board members are referred to as "Trustees." For a board to earn the trust of its members, it must maintain high levels of ethics, professionalism and rise above the rest. This board has lost the trust. The members don't trust it. The outsiders don't trust it. After the recent events, many businesses no longer trust it and, due to all the recent resignations, some on the board don't trust it. That is a very serious problem. You can't be a trustee of the association if the trust part is missing.

The executive staff and other staff are the ones who handle the day-to-day activities. They would support sales/marketing, operations, media relations and newsletters, membership drives, World of Bluegrass planning and such. You could easily have staff positions that report to the board and ED for the eight categories but, these positions certainly do not require board level status. The staff would perform the functions that the board directs. The category representatives would give the board input. The board members would be experts hired to direct and drive the business. This would also be a huge step to regaining trust because special interests are not eliminated from the board but would still exist. Board representation would be to the association as a whole -- not a small subgroup of members. All board and executive staff positions would be filled with new faces with their new goal to progress the association as a whole. No more pitting one group against another. No more false perceptions of favoritism. This is the right way to go.

You will note that there is nothing regarding the membership in this board model. The CEO and board of a big corporation are concerned with the health and financial status of the corporation. The same is true with a small business. IF the business succeeds, then the stockholders (members) succeed. What would be an awesome concept would be to treat membership certificates as stock certificates. You buy your $100 membership in IBMA and hope to receive a financial dividend at the end of the year.

When the association becomes a real business being run as a business, the association can get down to figuring out what their product is. World of Bluegrass is certainly a big piece but, now, maybe the association can find a way to give a return on investment back to it's membership. If the association can achieve significant sponsorship of their World of Bluegrass and Awards Show, that would leave some revenue to address real membership concerns and maybe take the association into the realm of promoting the music in new ways.

But, nothing will go anywhere with apathy. Nothing will go forward without a forward thinking business leadership. Nothing will change if the problem is just silently swept under the rug waiting for the next reason to rear its ugliness. The membership needs to get involved, vocal and active in the design and formation of their leadership. Trust gets restored, the appearance of favoritism gets eliminated, purpose gets defined, and a return on membership dues gets established. Otherwise, everything will remain the same. The same frustrations. The same concerns. The same false expectations. The same as it has always been.

Its your association. Its your choice.

Categories: Music Industry

Nashville or LA: Session Aces Rate Two Schools of Recording

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 12:51am

CMA Close Up/CMA/By Michael Ross
During a recent conversation, session guitar whiz Guthrie Trapp casually referenced a distinction between classic Nashville studio procedure and what he described as Los Angeles or New York types of sessions being done in Music City.

In his view, Nashville sessions are geared toward producing the maximum amount of music in the minimum amount of time, whereas producers from the East and West Coasts require more hours in the studio.

“There are people from many cities recording many ways in Nashville now,” said Trapp, whose credits include Dierks Bentley, Kellie Pickler and Pistol Annies. “One scenario is you get a call to be at a studio at 10 o’clock with certain instruments. The songwriter plays the song or you hear a tape. Someone charts it out. They make copies. And then we go in and start playing the song. We might play it three to five times. By that time, you have dialed in what you are going to do. This might be a demo session or an indie session where they don’t have a big budget. I have worked on some sessions where we have done as many as 17 songs in a day. At the end of the day, you can’t remember what you played on anything. A week later, someone might come up to you and say, ‘I loved what you played on that song,’ but you have no idea what it was.”

The velocity of a Nashville-style session may vary, depending on the type of recording date. “On a demo date, they will want four or five songs in three hours,” said Richard Bennett, whose 46-year ongoing career has included sessions with Alabama, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and George Jones. “On those, you just put your head down and go. You get one or two passes and boom! If it’s a record date, it’s more — usually two tunes in a three-hour period.”

Higher-budget Nashville Country sessions might have the relaxed feel of an L.A. or New York date, whereas tight budgets on indie projects might require the hurry-up clip of a Nashville demo session. “More modern Country might have someone programming parts, so it might take a little longer,” said Brent Mason, who is responsible for some of the most memorable licks in Country on sessions for Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Shania Twain and countless others. “These days in Nashville, instead of cutting the whole album in one week, we might just cut a couple of songs and then come back days or weeks later and do some more. In the old days, we used to do three songs in a three-hour session — maybe more.”

Regardless of how a session is run in Nashville, it’s often the caliber of the players that turns a take into a home run. “You have great players, great engineers and great studios,” Trapp said. “People have been making records forever in Nashville. The guys can make music in a couple of minutes that is good enough to go on a record.”

“Sometimes you can crawl up your own backside when you have too much time,” Bennett agreed. “But one way is not right and the other wrong. They are both valid.”

2014 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Categories: Music Industry

International Songwriting Competition Launches Two Special Promotions

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 12:49am

International Songwriting CompetitionNashville, TN -- Do you have a great love song? Do you have a great song about a social cause? ISC is opening entries from November 18 - December 4, 2014 for songs relating to either of these topics. To enter, go to http://www.songwritingcompetition.com/submit ISC's "Sing Your Heart Out" promotion is for songs about love, falling in love, heartbreak, or anything to do with love. ISC's "Pick Your Cause" promotion is for songs about any sort of social cause. When you enter either promotion, you will receive a free Radio Airplay account, have your love song included on the Jango.com "Independent Love Songs" or "Sounds Of Social Cause" radio station, and receive 100 free spins, per entry, to your Radio Airplay account whether you are a new or existing Radio Airplay member. A group of winners will also be selected and will receive promotion and airplay from Jango.com and Radio Airplay.

Entrants will also be automatically entered into the ISC 2014 competition. ISC Prizes include over $150,000 in cash, merchandise, and services (including a Grand Prize of $25,000 cash). ISC is open to amateur and professional songwriters from all over the world, including bands and solo performers. Winners are selected by a panel of high-profile recording artists and music industry executives.

Over the years ISC has become a benchmark for songwriting talent, and winning ISC can be a tremendous career booster. Winners have included artists such as Gotye, Kimbra, Gin Wigmore, The Band Perry, Passenger, Bastille, Kasey Chambers, Gregory Porter, Lindsey Stirling, and many more. Many winners have gone on to record label deals and have secured publishing deals, licensing deals, and distribution deals, in addition to getting more gigs, fans, and recognition.

The complete list of 2014 ISC judges includes:

  • Recording Artists
    • Tom Waits
    • American Authors
    • Sarah McLachlan
    • Pat Metheny
    • Sara Evans
    • Bastille
    • Casting Crowns
    • Avicii
    • Wayne Shorter
    • John Hiatt
    • Keane
    • DJ Snake
    • Robben Ford
    • Danilo Perez
    • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
    • Natasha Bedingfield
    • Martina McBride
    • Newsboys
    • Jon Secada
    • The Chainsmokers
    • Jason Isbell
    • Afro Celt Sound System
    • London Grammar
    • Michael W. Smith
    • Craig Morgan
    • Gerald Casale (Devo)
    • Jean-Luc Ponty
    • James Cotton
    • Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes)
    • Darryl McDaniels (Run D.M.C.)
    • Matt Thiessen (Relient K)
    • Chayanne
    • J. Holiday
    • Femi Kuti
    • and Bela Fleck
  • Industry Executives
    • Monte Lipman (Founder and Chairman/CEO, Republic Records)
    • Craig Kallman (Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records)
    • Dan McCarroll (President, Warner Bros. Records)
    • Jeff Castelaz (President, Elektra Records)
    • Alison Donald (Co-President, Columbia Records UK)
    • Ted Cockle (President, Virgin Records UK)
    • Mike Smith (President, Mercury Records UK)
    • Nir Seroussi (President, Sony Music Latin)
    • Ed Vetri (President, Wind-Up Records)
    • Rosie Lopez (President, Tommy Boy Entertainment)
    • Glen Barros (President, Concord Music Group)
    • Rex Rideout (VP of A&R, Motown Records)
    • Jay Landers (Executive VP of A&R, Verve Music Group)
    • Bryan Stewart (VP of A&R, Curb Records)
    • Jason McArthur (VP of A&R, Provident Label Group / Sony Music Entertainment)
    • Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records)
    • Edward Chmelewski (President, Blind Pig Records)
    • Angel Carrasco (Sr. VP A&R, Latin America, Sony)
    • Keith Naftaly (Executive VP of A&R, RCA Records)
    • Steve Lillywhite (Producer)
    • Joseph Burney (VP of A&R, RCA Inspiration/Sony Music Entertainment)
    • Richard Stumpf (CEO, Atlas Publishing)
    • Steve Greenberg (CEO, S-Curve Records)
    • Kim Buie (A&R, Thirty Tigers)
    • Albert Schilcher (VP of Music and Music Marketing, MTV International)
    • Gary Briggs (Senior VP of A&R/Producer, New West Records)
    • Lori Teig (VP of Talent, VEVO)
    • Jermaine Hall (Editor-In-Chief, Vibe Magazine)
    • Jamie Masada (Owner, Laugh Factory)
    • Cory Robbins (Founder/President, Robbins Entertainment)
    • Julie Kertes (General Manager, National Parenting Publications Awards, NAPPA)
    • Claire S. Green (President, Parents' Choice Foundation)
    • Leib Ostrow (Founder/CEO, Music For Little People)
    • Nate Dern (News Editor, Funny Or Die News)
    • Shannon O'Neill (Artistic Director, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre NY)
    • and Wende Curtis (Owner, Comedy Works)

ISC is sponsored by: Ableton, Airplay Direct, Berklee College Of Music, Celebrity Access, D'Addario, Disc Makers, George Stein, Esq., Hammond USA, Indie Pro Mix and Final Mix, Inc., Gauge Microphones, Indie Venue Bible, LowdenGuitars, Lurssen Mastering, Slate Digital, SongU.com, The Music Business Registry, Taxi, Thayers, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

Categories: Music Industry

IBMA Board Hemorrhaging Continues with Three More Resignations

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:14am

IBMAThree more board members of the International Bluegrass Music Association have tendered their resignations. Brian Smith, Henri Deschamps and Elizabeth Wightman joined others who have earlier submitted letters of resignation including Executive Director Nancy Cardwell, Craig Ferguson and Dwight Worden. Board Chairman Jon Weisberger had also offered to resign however the recent board vote was to not accept that resignation.

Resigning members have offered differing reasons but all follow on the heels of the resignation of Executive Director Nancy Cardwell following a "no-confidence" board vote after she pulled off the most successful World of Bluegrass event in the Association's history and, restored its image to members and non-members alike. Once again, the common element that keeps popping up is the Chair, Jon Weisberger. Weisberger's strategy to have a board of his friends make the resignation decision, instead of himself, has once again worked in his favor and effectively shifted the blame of his retention on the board to others. What he should have done was just resign. He was also the focus in the previous board uprising episode when the IBMA lost David Crow.

After the massively successful World of Bluegrass including the move to Raleigh, support from Raleigh's business community, rave reviews from one end to the other, and a financial success for both the organization and the community, a positive new image for IBMA, the board somehow found it necessary to hold a closed board meeting that resulted in the no confidence vote for their Executive Director. This shocked the membership, community, businesses, fans and apparently some on the board. How so many could see the positive impact of Cardwell's leadership, while some on the board could not, remains a mystery. Was this another buddy-buddy board decision? We will probably never know.

The IBMA board has been way too big for many years. An association of this structure should have a board of no more than 9 members (odd numbers desired to avoid tie votes). The board could probably function very well with seven. The current structure is for 19 members -- way too many. Also board members should be business oriented and not necessarily function oriented. The board's goal is to drive the entire association forward as a business -- as a whole. Having a board comprised of narrow interests within the association may not be serving the board the way it should. While based on good intentions and good ideals, the reality is that it may not be functioning as intended.

A board comprised of a sponsorship, contracts and grant writer, treasurer and budgeting, business development/outreach, and other business functions would probably be preferential to one designed for songwriters, labels, artists, etc. Each board member should represent all of the members and serve the entire association as a whole. Selective interests in specific areas can create a tug-of-war for the recognition and also, over the limited resources available, as each tries to gain as much as possible for their respective constituents. A board of 7 or 9 is all that is necessary. Any more adds too much confusion and noise to the picture.

A significant part of the membership has indicated a distrust of the board, or at least some members of the board, for many years. Cardwell did much to turn that perception around and to regain a lot of that lost trust back. The association saw real and positive change under her watch. Trust returned. Image improved. Excitement and energy were restored into the feel of IBMA. Then came the board's reaction to Cardwell's performance, two more resignations and now three more. If that doesn't send up a bright flare that there is trouble in the core of the board, then probably nothing will. Apparently, to some, their remaining on the board is more important than the survival of the association and its board.

Elizabeth Wightman seemed to sum it up best when she wrote, "I cannot continue to serve on a board which I feel blatantly disregards the wishes and requests of the members it serves. The board has taken no true action to address the membership’s lack of faith in our current leadership and I cannot support that lack of action. There are significant issues that are essentially (in my opinion) being swept under the rug."

This is a topic which, over the years, I've mentioned in these columns many times before. The association seems to address internal issues with silence. Shut up and the issue will go away. They hope that in time, people will just quit talking about the problem(s) and life will settle down and go on as it has before. Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was. The problem is that the poison doesn't go away -- only the discussion about it vanishes, for a while anyway. That poison continues to ferment and grow until it resurfaces again and again with the same silent treatment as the cure. Each time the board has erupted, the eruptions have become greater in scope. The silent treatment solution has repeatedly proven not to work for over a decade. I believe this is what Henri is referring to when he says he is still waiting to see fundamental change that never seems to occur.

Brian Smith echoed this when he wrote, "I share neither the chair nor the majority of the board’s assessment of our current situation, of the changes needed, of the significant challenges we face, style, logic or order in which change must occur; all required to move forward in the all-important areas the IBMA needs to improve in."

Smith also noted, "I deeply believe the organization is quickly in need of introspective review and experienced senior leadership, not only at the Executive Directors position but other positions as well and do not feel I can offer acceptable guidance under the current model. I do not wish to be a distraction to the board, which is made of up esteemed colleagues and friends and in order that they move forward I felt this was the only prudent option remaining."

All three commented around the topics of leadership, the chair, and the necessity for change. There has been a world of discussion about change within the IBMA and its direction but, not a lot of communication indicating the desired destination or route to get there. Without knowing where you want to go, it is difficult to plan a navigation route in that direction. To that end, it isn't clear what the change is that these board members were seeking. We have a chair and his supporters on the board. Whatever the chair desires, the chair gets. This is not the way a healthy and functional board operates. Where even the appearance of a conflict of interest exists, trust will be lost. That appearance is a strong image today.

To make the necessary changes will be a difficult but, not insurmountable, task for the association. It will be a structural change with a new paradigm necessary to change how things are done. I don't see any current board members remaining if this is to happen. They can't and expect the trust element to be healed. Moving from a representative board to a business functional board would be a good thing. This way, every board member represents the entire membership -- not just their peer sub-group. Every functional board position serves to improve the entire association -- not just a small faction of it. And, finally, the functional board treats the association as a real business with functions defined by real business need. It would be a good and healthy change.

The membership sincerely questioned the move to Nashville. The topic has really never settled down. Raleigh was an ideal new venue for the annual trade show and convention, World of Bluegrass, and its associated functions. The members liked it. The Raleigh community liked it. The businesses supported it. The image of the IBMA improved an order of magnitude. It looked, for awhile anyway, that the association was finally going to give the membership and the fans what they wanted. The only thing that remained a problem, in the eyes of many, was that the association was still rooted in Nashville. Deep down in the bowels of the association something is still smoldering and building up steam. We are seeing that repeat eruption, that has happened before, occurring once again.

The association needs to stop, take a step back and, as Smith noted, take a deep review and inspection of where they are, how they managed to get into this situation. Without knowing that, they can't find their way out. Much of this all started with the decision to relocate the IBMA to Nashville a decade ago. A large amount of discontent with that decision has been on the back burner for a very long time. In fact, that was a significant factor in the decision to move World of Bluegrass out of Nashville.

The association is hemorrhaging its top leadership board members and its Executive Director. The focal point keeps indicating the Chair and his friend board members. If the IBMA is to survive long-term, it needs to actively address the root of its problem and not go silent once again. It is possible that a reorganization of the board structure is now required. It may even be necessary to sever the ties to Nashville. If the association is to survive, it will need a professional board that can work together addressing business needs, revenues and image. They were almost there. They were close. Raleigh 2014 is proof of that.

They seemed to be on the right track but the left rail. There is nothing wrong with starting over with all fresh people, ideas and experiences. Just don't do it as knee-jerk reaction. If the association decides to take this approach, it will need to be an reasoned, architected and planned migration. It won't be an instant change. Patience and tolerance will need to coexist with the reality of the here and now. If the board and its chair decide to go quiet again and sweep the problem under the carpet in hopes that it will just go away, as they have done in the past, it will come back as an even bigger problem down the road. I sincerely believe the IBMA is fixable. It is a good organization but, I also believe that the entire board needs to be replaced in order to regain the trust of the board.

Categories: Music Industry

How to Grow a Band Limited Edition 2 CD Set Released

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:12am

How to Grow a BandHow to Grow a Band is a documentary film about Punch Brothers. The deluxe, limited-edition version of How to Grow a Band is now available. The two-disc set contains three hours of previously unreleased bonus material and makes a handsome holiday gift for any Punch Brothers completist or lover of single-camera documentary. And it’s a must own for graduate students hoping to successfully defend their Punch Brothers dissertations.

The two-disc set offers an extended look at the early days of a band on the rise and is only available in what some in the movie business call “the vinyl of the future” – aka DVD or BluRay.

A lot has happened in the seven years since the cameras first began to roll. But through the power of video, this collection provides a one-of-a-kind visual record of Punch Brothers circa 2008 -- a time capsule, if you will, packed with three more hours of outtakes, extended interviews and musical moments captured as the world was first hearing what this band had in store for them.

As you may know, the creation of these limited-edition sets was made possible by our 678 Kickstarter backers. Each of their names is memorialized as part of a twelve-page booklet, which sits inside a six-panel, eco-friendly* package. Of course, as this is a limited-edition collection, supplies are limited.

Domestic orders made by 12/18 will arrive by 12/24. We do ship internationally too. Please check out our Holiday Shipping Deadlines to learn more. Keep on Growing,

Categories: Music Industry

Happy Thanksgiving from Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out!

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:10am

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme OutThanksgiving Message from Russell Moore:
It's amazing to realize that our touring for 2014 is almost at an end and that Thanksgiving, Christmas and a new year are just around the corner! We're excited about our upcoming performances in Myrtle Beach, SC and Raleigh, NC on the 27th & 28th before taking a rest in December for some anticipated family time during the holidays. This past year has been wonderful and fruitful in so many ways and we are so blessed with the support of everyone in the industry from the promoters and DJs to our friends, families and fans, and I'd like to offer our sincere appreciation to all who have made it possible for us to continue to live our dream!

A multitude of people have asked about Blake Johnson's recovery and his current condition and I can't tell you how many have offered support and prayers for Blake and his family and the band! Blake has had a tough time but he finally got to go home on the 14th of this month after spending about 8 weeks in Duke University Hospital. That was some really good news, but wait.....it gets better! After talking with Blake on Tuesday (the 18th) he feels like he'll be able to close out the year on stage with us and perform in Myrtle Beach and Raleigh!! This is very exciting for all of us and, no doubt, will be to the delight of all who attend these shows! Words absolutely cannot express our appreciation for the outpouring of concern and support and, especially, for all the prayers for Blake's recovery!

2015 is gearing up to be another great year for the band and we're really looking forward to 'living our dream' once again! If we don't see you before then, our hopes are that your Thanksgiving is happy, your Christmas is merry and that the holidays are spent with friends and loved ones, and that 2015 is the best year you've had in many! Stay tuned!

Categories: Music Industry

The Gibson Brothers Pay Tribute To Brother Acts On Rounder Debut

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:37am

 BrotherhoodNashville, TN -- On February 25, 2015, The Gibson Brothers will release Brotherhood, a loving homage to the brother duos that have inspired them since childhood. “Making an album like this is something we’ve always talked about,” explains Leigh Gibson. “At some point you have to stop talking and start doing. Older brother Eric elaborates: “We love that tradition of brothers singing together, and to pay tribute to that shows people where our hearts are.”

For Brotherhood, Eric and Leigh chose fifteen songs from country, bluegrass, and early rock ‘n’ roll brother acts, including some that will be familiar to most listeners, such as Phil and Don Everly; Charlie and Ira Louvin; Jim and Jesse McReynolds; and Carter and Ralph Stanley. The album also features covers of songs recorded by some lesser-known acts, including the Blue Sky Boys, the Church Brothers, and the York Brothers.

Leigh Gibson reflects, “These are the acts that pointed us in our direction musically. After we got going, we went our own way for a while.” He adds, “But the process of making this record brought us back to the music we were listening to when we were just getting started. So many of these songs, when we sing them, I feel like I did when I was 15 years old, sitting in our living room in the farmhouse and learning how to play. This music is a part of our soul.”

The material is familiar, yet in some ways Brotherhood is an album of firsts. It’s the Gibson Brothers’ first album on Rounder Records, their first covers project, and it’s also the first release that includes the newest member of the band, award-winning mandolin player and vocalist Jesse Brock, who joined the group in late 2012.

The band, which is led by guitarist Leigh and banjo player Eric, also includes longtime band members Mike Barber (bass) and Clayton Campbell (fiddle). For Brotherhood, which was largely recorded live in the studio, they were joined by a stellar group of guests, including Ronnie and Rob McCoury, who contribute mandolin, banjo, and vocals; former Osborne Brothers sideman Ronnie Reno;, pedal steel guitarist Russ Pahl, and percussionist Sam Zucchini.

Brotherhood is the Gibsons’ twelfth album since their 1993 debut, Underneath a Harvest Moon. 20 years on, Eric and Leigh have matured considerably as musicians, writers and performers, causing an ever-growing legion of bluegrass fans to take notice and garnering impressive amounts of critical acclaim: not only did the band win IBMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award in 2012 and 2013, but the organization presented Eric with the prestigious Songwriter of the Year Award last year as well.

The Gibson Brothers have truly come into their own, combining their wide-ranging influences into a unique style that honors tradition while still sounding refreshingly new.

Categories: Music Industry

Music, Magic, and Fire on the Mountain: FloydFest 2015 Announced

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:35am

Floyd Fest 2015Floyd, VA -- For many longstanding summer music festivals, finding new and exciting ways to draw fans back for another season can prove challenging — but not for FloydFest. At Across-the-Way-Productions, the fires of creativity are burning brighter than ever. With its “Fire on the Mountain” theme, FloydFest is roaring into its 14th year with a fully streamlined reinvention of its roots, celebrating the authenticity of the music, people and setting that have sparked a music festival revolution. From July 22 to July 26, 2015, FloydFest is bringing a full five days of music and magic in the mountains, filled with endless opportunities to enjoy incredible music, healing arts, outdoor activities and more.

Located on a pristine, 80-acre plateau in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, FloydFest has created a limited-capacity event with an authentic atmosphere where fans can experience an unparalleled intermingling of music, scenery, community and self-discovery. Following a renewed focus on logistics for 2014, FloydFest is turning inward for inspiration in 2015, going back to early roots and embracing a family-centric vibe coveted by fans who have been with FloydFest since its humble beginnings.

“We aim to be a boutique festival that continually exceeds the standards of our patrons, and that begins and ends with listening to our fans,” FloydFest Co-Founder and CEO Kris Hodges said. “Our fans said they loved being able to park on-site, so we’re providing more on-site parking. They like to jam to Bluegrass, Americana and Rock n’ Roll, so we’re adjusting our line-up to reflect that. Our fans are our family, and we’re going to give them the best FloydFest has to offer.”

The November artist line-up announcement hints at a healthy dose of FloydFest fan favorites and suggestions for 2015. Already on-board for FloydFest 14: Drive-By Truckers ~ Leftover Salmon ~ Lord Huron ~ Shovels & Rope ~ Greensky Bluegrass ~ Sam Bush Band ~ Nikki Bluhm & The Gramblers ~ and many more TBA.

The re-invented musical line-up will pave the way for an increasingly down home, community-centered atmosphere, featuring patron-led panel discussions, group outdoor activities and evening s’mores sessions around campfires. Based on patron feedback, the Global Village will be completely revamped to offer patrons a full-fledged glamping experience with upgraded camping offerings, a café with continental breakfast and evening song and campfire sessions. The main field will bring an even greater diversity of offerings than in years past, bringing back the much-beloved circus trapeze and fire performances, added to the Healing Arts Village, extensive Children’s Universe, more than 100 unique artisans and crafters, gourmet regional food trucks and concessions and a wide variety of outdoor activities both on and off the festival site.

Now on sale for 2015, 5-Day, 4-Day and 3-Day Adult General Admission tickets can be purchased as a bundle with a General Admission Tent Tag. Coming with friends? Even better — this year, FloydFest is offering special HOV EZ Pass Bundles for groups of friends and family who travel to FloydFest together. The HOV EZ Pass Bundle include 4 Adult General Admission tickets, 2 Tent Tags and 1 Onsite Parking Pass. To learn more about ticket bundle options, visit http://www.floydfest.com/tickets.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit http://www.floydfest.com or call 1-888-VA-FESTS. Find FloydFest on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FloydFestVA and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/floydfest.

Categories: Music Industry

Mountain Heart Announces New Band Formation, Album

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:54am

Mountain HeartNashville, TN -- Mountain Heart, the power acoustic band who has revolutionized music since their creation in 1999 is thrilled to announce their new partnership and an upcoming studio album, their first since 2010! Mountain Heart Entertainment is the new official partnership created after purchasing from former member Barry Abernathy. Abernathy left the band to focus on family, however, fans can still expect him to make some surprise appearances. The band is now officially a team on and off stage. For the first time in the band's 17 year history, Mountain Heart represents a group made up of all equal partners to create and share their music with fans everywhere!

"We ask for your continued support and we look forward to offering everything we can every show to the people who make this all possible - the fans, promoters, radio stations, business partners, our family and friends ... YOU!" -Josh Shilling, Mountain Heart

Original member, Grammy nominated producer and solo artist, Jim VanCleve, will remain with Mountain Heart. In addition, young guitar phenom, Seth Taylor, is returning after a year-long hiatus! Seth, Jim, long time front man Josh Shilling, and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Ramsey have added the immensely talented Jeff Partin in the all-important bass, Dobro, and vocal role. "Words can't express how excited I am that all the stars aligned to make this possible! It's just incredible." said an enthusiastic Jim VanCleve. "We are already on fire about the new music we're creating and the new show we're putting together. Having what I consider a dream team of youthful musicians, partnered and motivated to grow together is overwhelmingly exciting for us all and a once in a lifetime situation. Get ready, we are all going to have a blast!"

The band is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on their new album, which will contain ALL NEW material, slated for release in early 2015. Music lovers can look forward to hearing the first single very soon with accompanying video content. There are many more surprises in store, as Mountain Heart sets their sights on the New Year.

Throughout the band's storied history, members past and present have dedicated their time, talent, and creativity to the group, leading to their hard earned reputation as one of the most exciting and unforgettable live shows anywhere in the world. With a new team in place, Mountain Heart is beyond excited for this new beginning and journey ahead.

To keep up on the latest news visit www.MountainHeart.com

Categories: Music Industry

Breaking Grass and Detour Give Back In Season of Thanks

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:49am

Breaking GrassWillis, VA - Mountain Fever artists Breaking Grass and Detour have focused their energy on giving back in a season where thankfulness is at the front of our minds. Mississippi's Breaking Grass has been deeply touched by their involvement with a young girl from their hometown named Amber Peeks who has left an indelible impression.

Guitarist Cody Farrar and principal songwriter for Breaking Grass says, "The inspiration behind our original, "Fly" (Amber's Song), was written about a young lady by the name of Amber Peeks. Amber battled cancer for the majority of her life. Aside from the shaved head and fragile frame, you would never have known that Amber was sick. She always had a smile on her face; always a kind word or gesture. She impacted our small, hometown, and everyone in it, in a tremendous way. We wanted to pay tribute to Amber and penned the song "Fly" in her honor."

With a great effort to complete the song in time for Amber to hear it, the band was able to get it finished and roughly recorded in time for her to enjoy. Breaking Grass was honored to have Amber's Song played at her homegoing service.

Farrar continues, "It is our goal, now, to share Amber's story with all who will hear it. She was more than a little girl with an incurable disease. She was a role model."

Family and friends created the Amber Peeks Scholarship Foundation to aid others in paying for their education and to keep Amber's spirit of giving to others alive. ALL proceeds from the download of the single "Fly" will be donated to the Amber Peeks Scholarship Foundation. The band is urging fans to listen, download it, and donate. Donations can be made directly to the Northeast Development Foundation 101 Cunningham Boulevard Booneville MS 38829 or by calling Tiffany Johnson (662)-720-7185. Credit, debit cards and checks are accepted.

L-R Jeff Rose (Detour), John Bratten (Veteran, Recipient of Patriot Place Good Move Award 2014) and Kathleen Arndt (Patriot Place Program Director)Detour's commitment to giving back is strong this fall as they recently presented additional funds to Goodwill’s Patriot Place Project from proceeds of the sale of their songs “Soldier’s Sorrow” and “Homeless of the Brave.” Band member Jeff Rose presented Kathleen Arndt, Patriot Place Program Director, a check in the amount of $2,000. An additional $3,000 in matching funds will also be donated from Detour’s fans along with future donations from the band’s record label, Mountain Fever Records.

“Soldier’s Sorrow” appears on the Detour’s current album, Going Nowhere Fast on Mountain Fever. “We are honored to be able to be part of this effort to assist homeless Veterans. All of the friends of Detour have been so supportive of this effort and we thank them for buying our music to make these donations possible. You just can’t beat the Bluegrass Music family,” said Rose.

Mountain Fever Records President, Mark Hodges certainly agrees saying, “Bluegrass is the most personable genre of any music. It’s more like one big family and when you have such big hearted and humble people like Jeff Rose and Missy Armstrong along with the rest of Detour, it’s easy to see how their fans and friends are so willing to help out and get involved with this great cause that they have chosen to support. I’m proud to know them and honored to work with them.”

Several years ago, Rose wrote “Homeless of the Brave” (from their previous album A Better Place) as a direct response to a story that he heard on the radio about the plight of homeless veterans. He was stunned to learn that there are approximately 70,000 homeless veterans in this country and over 600 in northern Michigan alone. He then made the decision to donate proceeds of the sale of the song to Goodwill’s Patriot Place that is a transitional housing community for Northern Michigan’s homeless veterans.

Categories: Music Industry

Musician Teri Chism Joins Circa Blue

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:45am

Teri ChismSteve Harris announced that multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Teri Chism has joined the Circa Blue band. Harris welcomed Teri saying, "Teri brings a wealth of experience and skill, and is a perfect fit. With the recent addition of fiddle player/vocalist Malia Furtado and Teri, it has added a whole new dimension to Circa Blue."

“Circa Blue” is the perfect description of what we represent. We are “about” bluegrass ... not completely traditional, not completely contemporary. We write a substantial portion of what we perform, and any covers that we do, we make them our own via arrangements and our own interpretations. Good music is good music, regardless of its origin!

We strive to be unique and entertaining to all audiences, so everyone will discover something they enjoy. Tight vocal harmonies, clean instrumentation, and creative arrangements keep audiences tapping their toes or dancing in their seats ... whichever they prefer.

Our self-titled debut CD was released in February 2012. Comprised of five original tunes and five covers, it was received very well. The album featured guest appearances by the late great Mike Auldridge and fiddle virtuoso Christopher Sexton. Bluegrass Today and Bluegrass Unlimited, to name a few, gave it rave national reviews, and it continues to receive radio airplay from DJ’s through the US and abroad.

Our sophomore album, “A Darker Blue”, was released March 2014. Comprised of 8 original tunes and 5 covers, it was also well-received. Bluegrass Today and Prescription Bluegrass gave it great reviews, and as of nine months after its release it continues to hold the radio charts.

Circa BlueTeri Chism grew up in a music loving family. She started playing guitar as a teenager, singing with her brothers and sisters, and became interested in Bluegrass music in her early 20's. She played guitar in several local DC area bands until transitioning to bass in the early 80's, and subsequently honed her bass skills with various local Northern VA bands. In 1991 she moved to the Northern Shenandoah Valley near Winchester, VA and became the permanent bassist for Patent Pending. She later was a member of Cliff Waldron and the New Shades of Grass. When Cliff retired from music, she joined her long time friend, Bill Emerson, and was a founding member of Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie. Teri lives near Winchester, VA and provides lead and harmony vocals for Circa Blue in addition to her bass duties.

Steve Harris grew up in a family of bluegrass lovers. When he was 14 years old, his dad purchased acoustic instruments for each of his five children. The ultimate result was Steve playing guitar, dobro and banjo in The Harris Family Band. The group played mostly gospel bluegrass and performed at various churches and other gatherings. He took a break from playing for many years and, in 2007, the fire was rekindled after attending the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival. Steve started playing the banjo and guitar again, and started writing music. In 2010, he decided it was time to start his own band, and that band is Circa Blue. Steve plays guitar and sings lead and harmony vocals.

Matt Hickman is a talented, self-taught banjo player following in his grandfather’s footsteps. At age 11, his parents bought his first banjo and he soon began to learn the clawhammer style of playing. Matt’s desire to learn to play the “bluegrass” style began when he was introduced to Earl Scruggs’ music. Over the years, he honed his skills in not only Scrugg’s style, but melodic as well. He has performed with bands such as Long Meadow Mining Company, Red Moon, Southern Sage, and Hickory Ridge. In addition to playing banjo for Circa Blue, Matt is an accomplished instrumental songwriter.

Ron Webb began playing mandolin at the age of 12. His grandmother, Cora Jane, taught Ron his first song and he played with his dad’s band through his teen years. He went on to play in the Hazel River Band, The Darren Beachley Band and many others. In 2008, his superb mandolin skills were recognized and he was bestowed the honor of Maryland State Mandolin Champion. In addition to playing mandolin and singing lead and harmony vocals for Circa Blue, Ron is also an accomplished songwriter and guitar player.

Malia Furtado from the Northern end of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, grew up surrounded by music. She started playing classical violin at the age of three; at age seven, her family started playing bluegrass after going to the Galax Old Fiddler's Convention. Combining her classical and bluegrass repertoire, she established herself as an award winning musician, placing first at the Loudon County, Chesterfield, Burlington, and Galax Fiddle Contests, to name a few. Additionally, she has performed at some notable venues that include the Kennedy Center, Ryman Auditorium, America's Cup of Polo, ROMP, and the Carter Family Fold. Previous bands she has played in and for include her family band, All 4 Hymn, Blue Light Special, Driving Force, No Speed Limit and Heather Berry. Although recently on a three-year hiatus to travel and do full-time volunteer work, Malia has returned to her true passion. Malia plays fiddle and sings harmony vocals with Circa Blue.

Follow the band at www.Circa-Blue.com | www.facebook.com/CircaBlue | www.twitter.com/CircaBlueBand

Categories: Music Industry

Bluegrass Junction Track-by-Track Hosts Breaking Grass Starting Today

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:44am

 Just As StrongWillis, VA -- Mountain Fever artists Breaking Grass visit with SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction host Kyle Cantrell this week as they feature Just As Strong, their newest CD on Mountain Fever.

The broadcast of Bluegrass Junction Channel 61 on SiriusXM will air at one of the following times (EST):

  • Wednesday 11/19 - 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Thursday 11/20 - 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Friday 11/21 - 8:00 am – 9:00 am
  • Sunday 11/23 - 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

The North Mississippi Daily Journal said, “Breaking Grass has found a sweet spot in its sound, heavy on bluegrass. This album proves Breaking Grass is worthy of its title, and the band has a bright future.”

The first single from the album, "Raining in Virginia," written by guitarist Cody Farrar, released to radio last April to great success.

Prescription Bluegrass said , "From heartfelt emotion to barroom romance to a Texas Two-Step to a genuine good-old-fashioned barn-burner, Breaking Grass lacks nothing in mixing it up. It's refreshing to hear a band that truly is different...different from any other and even different from within."

With their fresh sound, original material, strong vocals and innovative musicianship, Breaking Grass is doing exactly what their name implies. Although not quite traditional, the music they present is without a doubt steeped in the timeless genre they grew up listening to. Comprised of Cody Farrar on guitar; Tyler White on fiddle; Thelton Vanderford on banjo; Zach Wooten on mandolin; and Britt Sheffield on bass; this relatively new band formed with one goal in mind – to make music that all ages could enjoy.

Categories: Music Industry

Cody Shuler Releases His First Solo Album

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:23am

Cody ShulerNashville, TN -- Rural Rhythm Records and Cody Shuler have enjoyed a successful association since 2008 when the Dove nominated gospel album Pickin’, Praisin’ & Singin’ was released by Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad and debut #3 on the Billboard Bluegrass Album Chart. Six years later Rural Rhythm is proud to announce the single release “My Home Is On This Ole Boxcar” written and performed by Cody Shuler. The debut single, “My Home Is On This Ole Boxcar”, has now been released to radio and the album is scheduled for an early 2015 release.

“It seems like Bluegrass lovers never get tired of hearing train songs. Maybe because it takes them back to another place in time to when trains were the fastest way to run from something, come home, or just ride. A lot of people would like a life of just traveling from place to place with no worries, that's what this upbeat song is about, a Hobo with his only home an ever moving boxcar”, says Cody Shuler.

Produced by Cody Shuler and engineered by Alex Hibbitts, “My Home Is On This Ole Boxcar” contains the unmistakable vocals and mandolin of Bluegrass veteran Cody Shuler and backed by an impressive Bluegrass group of All-Star musicians including; Ron Stewart, (banjo), Rob Ickes, (resophonic guitar), Tim Crouch (fiddle), Eli Johnston (guitar), Matt Flake (bass) and Scott Linton (percussion).

“As a songwriter, Cody Shuler continues to add to his catalog of great material with "My Home Is On This Old Boxcar". I always look forward to hearing his latest creations! As an artist, Cody continues to expand his horizons with the ability to combine tradition with innovation. This new single is the perfect example of that...the story of the old hobo on the boxcar, delivered with a more contemporary approach. While listening, you may just find yourself becoming a bit jealous of the old hobo with his worry-free travel and no need to have a watch. Fine singin' & pickin'. Friends, enjoy!”
- Cindy Baucom, "Knee-Deep In Bluegrass

“Cody Shuler is back! He has a new CD coming from Rural Rhythm and if the first single is any indication it is going to be GREAT STUFF! The single written by Cody is “My Home Is On This Ole Boxcar” and got those classic elements that makes it a keeper, it’s a train song, it’s a hobo/rambler song, it’s a story song, but mostly it’s a great bluegrass song. It’s got all you look for in a traditional bluegrass tune and best of all it’s got Cody’s vocals driving it down the track. It has been too long since we heard from him and he’s still got it! Welcome back Cody Shuler!”
- Gene Skinner, Great Stuff Radio Network

"My Home Is On This Ole Boxcare" is available now on AirPlay Direct and will be included on the new Rural Rhythm FRESH CUTS & KEY TRACKS Radio CD going out to radio this week.

Cody Shuler has written or co-written a multitude of hit songs over the years in the Bluegrass and Gospel music genres including; “Clementine”, “Cindy Mae”, “My Eyes Shall Be On Cannan’s Land” and “Do You Wrong Kind Of Girl” and the Grammy ® nominated song “Big River” performed by Daily & Vincent to name a few. Many of these hit songs have reached the top of the Bluegrass Today and Bluegrass Junction - SiriusXM radio charts.

Cody has been collecting a strong group of original songs he has written and the time is right for him to release these special songs on his first solo album early in 2015 on Rural Rhythm Records. The album will showcase the singer / songwriting talents of Cody Shuler and feature some of the top musicians in the Bluegrass community, including past members of Pine Mountain Railroad.

Cody has owned and managed the band Pine Mountain Railroad since 2006. He has played some of the biggest stages in Bluegrass and Gospel music including, The Grand Ole Opry, Merlefest, The National Quartet Convention and many, many more. Cody Shuler will be touring heavily in 2015 with Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad to promote his new solo album. Visit www.PineMountainRailroad.com for a complete list of tour dates.

Categories: Music Industry

Bela Fleck: How to Write a Banjo Concerto (Documentary) Premieres Nov 20

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:12am
Bela Fleck PerformingOn Thursday, November 20 at the IFC Center in New York City, 15-time Grammy winner Béla Fleck will premiere his new documentary, How to Write a Banjo Concert (Argot Pictures). The screening begins at 7:15pm and runs 96 minutes, followed by a Q&A with Béla. “Béla Fleck: How To Write A Banjo Concerto” follows banjo trailblazer Béla Fleck through one of his most challenging musical journeys, into the world of the Symphony Orchestra. Béla is commissioned to compose a banjo concerto, possibly the first of its kind, for banjo and 80 piece symphony orchestra. It begins before he has written a note, and concludes a year later, with the sold out premiere concert with the Nashville Symphony. An intimate look at the process of composition and collaboration, “How to Write a Banjo Concerto” features Earl Scruggs, Chick Corea, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Zakir Hussain, Abigail Washburn and other close musical friends of Béla’s.

Banjo master Béla Fleck has taken on the lifelong task of emancipating his instrument from stereotype and misconception. In 2006 he went to Africa to research the banjo’s roots, and jam with incredible acoustic musicians around the continent. This resulted in the award-winning documentary “Throw Down Your Heart”. Now, Béla is back on screen with a new musical adventure: He’s been commissioned to write a major banjo concerto for the Nashville Symphony. Despite having no experience creating orchestral music on his own, no ability to read and write standard music notation, and no formal training in classical composition or orchestration, he takes on the project with his customary single-mindedness, creating an amazing new work - all in front of the cameras.

The film begins before he has written the first notes, and ends a year later with a sold out premiere performance with the Nashville Symphony. Pressures build throughout, and viewers can see, from the closest vantage point possible, the amount of work it takes to visualize, create and perform such an ambitious and groundbreaking piece. Some of the film was shot by Béla himself during the composition process, and these scenes capture the ephemeral moments when creative forces galvanize, and music is created before the viewers’ eyes and ears. Throughout the film, a window is also let open to Béla’s private life, with friends (and musical luminaries) like Earl Scruggs, Chick Corea, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Zakir Hussain and Abigail Washburn making appearances.

Other important relationships explored in the film are with Béla’s classical “big brother”, Edgar Meyer, Béla’s wife Abigail Washburn, and Béla’s stepfather Joe Paladino, who played cello and exposed Béla to chamber music at a young age. Joe passed away since “How to Write a Banjo Concerto” was made, and the film is also dedicated to him. Other cameos by Hilary Hahn, Pope Benedict XVI, the Sesame Street funky chickens, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, and many others add breadth to the film.

Béla is also forced to deal with some of his own demons in this film, mostly involving the “father issues” he has accumulated. His parents split when he was a year old, and he didn’t meet his father until his forties. Béla’s father named him after three classical composers, including Béla Bartok, and Béla has been reticent to embrace Bartok’s music - until now. Writing the piece becomes a cathartic experience for Béla, and this reckoning with his father, and his namesake, makes the importance of creating something truly great all the more vital.

Lastly, the film chronicles Béla’s own exploration of the classical orchestra through interviews with the principal orchestra musicians, and by having them demonstrate and explain their instruments and what they love about them. These scenes crackle with life, as the classical performers excitedly play for Béla, and fill him in on the quirks and qualities of their respective instruments. Many people don’t understand or have exposure to the orchestra in the modern world, and this film serves as a thrilling gateway to understanding the intricacies and interactions of the symphony concert hall.

Béla is used to being an outsider, as he has spent much of his life putting the banjo into unusual settings. In this concerto he imagines the banjo as an “impostor”, sneaking into a masquerade party (in this case the symphony orchestra) and making believe it belongs. And while his instrument keeps up the charade for a while, at the very end of the piece Béla lets the cat out of the bag with a blast of Earl Scruggs-style bluegrass banjo, and the audience (and the orchestra) finds out that it doesn’t really belong there. Or does it?

One part personal journey, one part exploration of modern day classical music-making, and one part joyful concert film, ‘How To Write A Banjo Concerto’ delights as much as it informs, and provides an intimate and revealing look at the creative process of one of modern music’s giants.

Categories: Music Industry

The Bus of Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome Gets a Name

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:09am

Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome with BusLast September we ran an article about Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome's new bus and a contest they were running to find a fitting name for their big blue new mode of transportation. They have now announced the winner and the name for their bus.

Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome recently purchased a bus to facilitate transportation for the band and asked fans to help give it a name. The band hosted a Name That Bus contest and is proud to announce that the winning name is Midnight Flyer submitted by Teresa Jewell of Rosedale, VA. We were overwhelmed with the outpouring of nearly 200 names. It was a hard decision to make because we received a lot of really good entries.

  • Teresa will receive the prize package of:
    • 2 tickets to see Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome at the 1st Annual Bristol Bluegrass Spring Fest
    • Autographed Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome photo
    • Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome T-Shirt
    • JBSL Sticker

    1st Bristol Bluegrass Spring Fest is a new indoor festival event to be held March 27-28, 2015 in at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Bristol, VA. Other entertainers featured include Blue Highway, Lonesome River Band, Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers, Junior Sisk, Ralph Stanley II, Marty Raybon, Nathan Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys, Paul Williams, Randall Hibbitts, Darrell Webb Band and Kody Norris & The Watauga Mountain Boys.

  • Categories: Music Industry

    The Marksmen Quartet Reach Across Generations with Latest Release

    Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:21am

    The Marksmen Quartet, from left, Earle Wheeler, Aaron Johnson, Mark Wheeler, and Darrin Chambers share music from their new CD recently on WGGS-TV in Greenville, S.C.Three-time Dove nominees the Marksmen Quartet of Murrayville, Georgia cross the Generations with their latest CD. From the first song – Albert E. Brumley’s classic “I Firmly Promise You,” the smooth harmonies, which have made the group a Southern gospel and bluegrass mainstay for the last 47 years, blend the talents of three generations from the act’s most enduring families.

    The quartet founded by Earle Wheeler in 1967 currently features Earle and his son Mark Wheeler along with 29-year Marksmen member Darrin Chambers and the latest addition Aaron Johnson. Darrin is the son of former long-time tenor singer and mandolinist Keith Chambers and Aaron is his grandson. The recording also features guest appearances by Mark’s children – Will and Sarah Grace singing and playing mandolin and fiddle, respectively.

    “With the addition of Aaron to the group, it hit me that we reached our third generation of performers and audience,” Earle said. “So the theme of the latest project came to us easily.”

    There are singers whose voices make them immediately identifiable; Earle’s unique Southern gospel vocal stylings have made the Marksmen sound recognizable in three music genres – Southern gospel, bluegrass and country. His leadership has garnered them countless awards in each genre including Dove nominations for their latest three CDs. Earle is featured on “Why Can’t You Believe?” and “Will You Meet Me Over Yonder.”

    This CD features songs that highlight each member; it is Mark’s traditional country lead that through the years has become a pivotal part of the sound beside his father’s unique voice. Mark adds three more new songs to his songwriting catalog. He delivers a haunting performance -- “The Spirit Moved,” his song penned with Jim Green. He also features “No More Sin,” composed with Lance Carpenter.

    Mark’s original song written with former Marksmen David Waller – “The Folly of a Fool” is sang by Darrin Chambers and is a commentary on believing in evolution. A classic hymn written to feature a bass vocal “He Understands and Cares for Me” also highlights Darrin’s talents. “Darrin continues to be a vital part of what we do musically and vocally,” Earle said.

    Reaching back into some of the songs the group popularized early in their career with tenor Keith Chambers “I Have a New Life” and “Payday,” the group passes the torch now with his grandson carrying the prominent part in these audience favorites. “Aaron’s approach is different vocally, but folks who follow us have shared how much they are enjoying his smooth sound,” Mark said.

    The third generation of the Wheeler family adds their contribution as young Will Wheeler singing with his father and sister on “I’m Not Going to Hell.” Sarah Grace joins her father and grandfather on “Time Has Made a Change.”

    Mark features his banjo stylings on “the Old Cross Road” continuing a family tradition passed through the generations in his family.

    Solid Gospel radio host Les Butler makes a guest appearance singing baritone and playing mandolin on the bluegrass standard “The Old Cross Road.” Fiddler Lynn Shook adds his talents to “Payday.”

    “We hope that our friends will enjoy our latest CD,” Earle said. “This is my 44th album and each time we create a new one, its is just as exciting as the first time, the creativity, the love that is shared through the music, and the hope that God uses it to reach those who need to hear his message.”

    The CD is available at for download on ITunes, Amazon.com and CDBaby. For more information, visit www.marksmenquartet.com, Fans may like Marksmen Mountain Music Camp on Facebook.

    Categories: Music Industry

    New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters Trotting to Carter Fold Nov 22

    Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:08am

    New Ballard's Branchy BogtrottersThe New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters took their group’s name from the original Bogtrotters, the famous Galax, Virginia, area band of the 1930s, and because band leader Dennis Hall lives on Ballard’s Branch. Galax is home to the world-renowned Old Time Fiddler’s Convention, and the area has traditionally produced some of the country’s finest old time string bands. Carrying on that rich musical tradition, the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters features Dennis Hall on guitar, Leon Frost on mandolin, Jesse Morris on bass, Eddie Bond on fiddle, and Josh Ellis on banjo. The guys have been playing together for over twelve years. Saturday, November 22nd, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert by the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters, an old time band. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to11, under age 6 free.

    Eddie Bond’s four great grandfathers were old time banjo players. He was raised by his grandmother who was a singer and guitar player. His family on both sides is packed with musicians who played the traditional music of the Blue Ridge. Eddie began performing at age 3 dancing for quarters. Through the years, he’s added guitar, autoharp, fiddle, and banjo to the list of instruments he plays. He grew up in Fries where some of the first old time music had its beginnings at the Washington Cotton Mill from 1923 to 1929. Fries is about six miles from Galax.

    Dennis Hall is a grand nephew of Uncle Eck Dunford – the droll voiced fiddler and spokesman for the original Bogtrotters. Their dance band was recorded by Alan Lomax in the 1930’s. Lomax left a trove of important recordings by the Bogtrotters and others at the Library of Congress. Uncle Eck was very conscious of his Ulster Irish background and his name. The Bogtrotter heritage is closely tied to that of Eck Dunford. Dennis is noted among old time musicians for his unerring and rock-solid guitar time. In addition, he’s a master carpenter and home builder. Dennis is the keeper of a rich score of older, historic music.

    Jesse Morris is a bassist and the son of a bassist. His timing is rock solid. Jesse comes from a musical family. His father, Dale Morris, has been a string band musician for many years, working in many Galax bands; he’s also a respected scholar of traditional music. When he isn’t playing music, Jesse teaches high school agriculture classes.

    Josh Ellis was a Clapton-style rock and roll guitar player when he came to Galax, but all that changed when he picked up a banjo. Like the other Bogtrotters, Josh is very passionate about timing. The banjo and fiddle are the original string band created by Virginia slave musicians in the early colonial period. Keeping with that tradition, Josh works closely with Eddie to adhere to that ancient musical combination. Josh manages a business in Galax and has helped construct many beautiful homes in that area.

    Leon Frost is the irrepressible mandolin player who bounces around the stage putting his mandolin chop lick and occasional burst of melody exactly where they belong for the drive and rhythm of the Bogtrotters. Leon comes from a musical family as well, and members of his family were among the earliest pioneers to record Galax area music. Leon is a master carpenter who has built many fine log homes.

    The group won the old-time band competition at the Galax Fiddler’s Convention on six different occasions. In addition, they have played their music at such regional and national festivals as the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, Merlefest, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the University of Chicago Festival. Having performed many times at the Fold, they’re a favorite of Carter Fold audiences. This group covers it all – great fiddle and dance tunes, outstanding vocals and harmony, beautiful gospel numbers, waltz tunes, and some of the finest instrumentals you’ll ever hear. For more information, check out the Bogtrotters on Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube.

    If you love old time music and dance, don’t miss the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters at the Carter Family Fold. Everyone loves the Bogtrotters, so get ready for an evening of old fashioned fun. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes – and 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 http://www.carterfamilyfold.org. Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at http://www.carterfoldshow.com.

    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

    Detour Presents Check To Goodwill Patriot Place for Homeless Veterans

    Sun, 11/16/2014 - 12:20am

    L-R Jeff Rose (Detour), John Bratten (Veteran, Recipient of Patriot Place Good Move Award 2014) and Kathleen Arndt (Patriot Place Program Director)Detour is proud to announce they have presented additional funds to Goodwill’s Patriot Place Project from proceeds of the sale of their songs "Soldier’s Sorrow" and "Homeless of the Brave." Yesterday, band member Jeff Rose presented Kathleen Arndt, Patriot Place Program Director, a check in the amount of $2,000. An additional $3,000 in matching funds will also be donated from Detour’s fans along with future donations from the band's record label, Mountain Fever Records.

    "Soldier's Sorrow" appears on the Detour's current album, GOING NOWHERE FAST on Mountain Fever. “We are honored to be able to be part of this effort to assist homeless Veterans. All of the friends of Detour have been so supportive of this effort and we thank them for buying our music to make these donations possible. You just can't beat the Bluegrass Music family,” said Rose.

    Mountain Fever Records President, Mark Hodges certainly agrees saying, “Bluegrass is the most personable genre of any music. It's more like one big family and when you have such big hearted and humble people like Jeff Rose and Missy Armstrong along with the rest of Detour, it's easy to see how their fans and friends are so willing to help out and get involved with this great cause that they have chosen to support. I'm proud to know them and honored to work with them.”

    Several years ago, Rose wrote "Homeless of the Brave" (from their previous album A BETTER PLACE) as a direct response to a story that he heard on the radio about the plight of homeless veterans. He was stunned to learn that there are approximately 70,000 homeless veterans in this country and over 600 in northern Michigan alone. He then made the decision to donate proceeds of the sale of the song to Goodwill's Patriot Place that is a transitional housing community for Northern Michigan’s homeless veterans.

    For more information on Goodwill’s Patriot Place, please visit their website. For more information on Detour, please visit www.DetourBluegrass.com and www.MountainFever.com.

    Categories: Music Industry

    Donna the Buffalo Announce Florida New Years Run & Winter Tour

    Sun, 11/16/2014 - 12:19am
    Donna The BuffaloAsheville, NC -- Donna the Buffalo just passed the marker as their 25th year as a band and have proven to be a consistent purveyor of American music. What’s the recipe? To be sure, it’s infused with more spices than you’ll find at a Cajun cookout by way of a southern-fried, rockin’ country old-time jamboree. “For the dizzying array of styles and genres with which they work, Donna The Buffalo maintain a surprising level of consistency. The New York-based band has played around with folk, zydeco, and many other musical ideas over the course of their 25-year career, but they retain a sharp focus that has helped them create some truly lasting music,” writes Elmore Magazine.

    Donna the Buffalo will be celebrating the New Year in Florida starting with three nights at Skippers in Tampa (12/30/14- 1/1/15) and three days of shows at the Green Parrot in Key West (1/2-4), followed by shows in Boca Raton, Orlando, and Valdosta before making their way up for further shows in Atlanta and Raleigh. They pick back up again on Winter Tour towards the end of January with shows in Asheville, NC and Falls Church, VA. February brings the band to Charlotteville, VA; Saranac Lake, NY; Ardmore PA and then back down to Florida to Miami for the Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival. Stay tuned to DonnaTheBuffalo.com for additional Winter Dates.

    Donna the Buffalo is Jeb Puryear (vocals, electric guitar) and Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, fiddle, accordion, scrubboard) joined by David McCracken (Hammond organ, Honer Clavinet & piano), Kyle Spark (bass) and Mark Raudabaugh (drums). “It's been really fun with this lineup,” Puryear says. “You get to the point where you're playing on a really high level, things are clicking and it's like turning on the key to a really good car. It just goes.”

    “You have to do just what you want to do, and everyone likes different things,” Nevins says. “Both Jeb and I come from this background of old-time fiddle music, which is very natural, very real, very under-produced, and all about coming from the gut—flying by the seat of your pants. So we have that in us, too.”

    Donna the Buffalo debuted their first studio album in five years Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday, in the spring of 2013 via Sugar Hill Records. All Music Guide says the album, “highlights everything this consistent band does, and it has a warm, live-sounding production… This is what 21st century Americana sounds like, a little bit of this and that from anywhere wrapped up into a poignant, jamming dance reel, a place where the past and history meet easily in the immediate now and everybody feels like dancing.”

    The group draws its inspiration from a cherished part of the American heritage: the old-time music festivals of the south that drew entire towns and counties together. “Those festivals were so explosive, and the community and the feeling of people being with each other, that's the feeling we were shooting for in our music,” Puryear says. “Donna the Buffalo is an extension of the joy we've found.”

    Over the years, the band has also built a following that proudly calls itself The Herd, along with a well-deserved reputation for crafting social narratives and slipstream grooves without equal. To merely call this “roots music” does it disservice, for the roots nurtured by Puryear and Nevins run wild, deep and strong—a tribute to how much Donna the Buffalo marries musical trailblazing and tradition.

    "It’s a great feeling to promote such a feeling of community, like you’re really part of something that’s happening, like a movement or a positive force…” Nevins says, “All those people that come and follow you and you recognize them and you become friends with them — you’re all moving along for the same purpose. It is powerful. It’s very powerful, actually."

    Donna the Buffalo has toured the nation for over twenty five years with an ever-evolving grassroots sound and plans to keep on doing so for many years to come.

    Take a look at their offical music videos:

    “Working On That”

    “I Love My Tribe”

    Donna the Buffalo On Tour 11/13 Thu - Narrows Center For the Arts - Fall River, MA 11/14 Fri - Lake Placid Center for the Arts - Lake Placid, NY *3 11/15 Sat - Buffalo Iron Works - Buffalo, NY *3 12/4 Thu - Infinity Hall - Norfolk, CT 12/5 Fri - State Theater - Ithaca, NY *1 12/6 Sat - Jay Peak Resort - Jay, VT *1 12/7 Sun - The Egg - Hart Theatre - Albany, NY *1 12/12 Fri - Ziggys By The Sea - Wilmington, NC *4 12/13 Sat - Ziggy’s - Winston-Salem, NC *5 12/30/14- 1/1/15 Tue-Thu - Skipper's Smokehouse - Tampa, FL 1/2-4/15 Fri-Sun - Green Parrot - Key West, FL 1/6 Tue - The Funky Biscuit - Boca Raton, FL 1/7 Wed - The Social - Orlando, FL 1/8 Thu - Lucky’s - Valdosta, GA 1/9 Fri - Red Clay Theater - Duluth, GA (Atlanta) 1/10 Sat - The Lincoln Theatre - Raleigh, NC 1/23 Fri - The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC *6 1/24 Sat - State Theatre - Falls Church, VA *6 2/6 Fri - Mauch Chunk Opera House - Jim Thorpe, PA 2/7 Sat - Jefferson Theater - Charlottesville, VA 2/12 Thu -The Waterhole Winter Carnival - Saranac Lake, NY 2/14 Sat - Ardmore Music Hall - Ardmore, PA 2/19-22 Thu- Sun - Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival - Miami, FL 2/27 Fri - Neighborhood Theater - Charlotte, NC 3/20 Fri - City Winery - Nashville, TN 4/16-19 Thu-Sun - Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival - Silk Hope, NC 4/23-25 Thu-Sat - MerleFest - Wilkesboro, NC 7/3-5 Fri-Sun - Great Blue Heron Music Festival - Sherman, NY *1 w/ Hot Tuna *2 w/ Boy = Girl *3 w/ The Falconers *4 w/ The Deluge *5 w/ Rock n Roll Attoms *6 w/ Driftwood

    Categories: Music Industry

    The Roys Capture 4th Consecutive ICM Bluegrass Artist Award

    Sat, 11/15/2014 - 12:48am

    The RoysNashville, TN -- Brother/sister duo The Roys won the Inspirational Country Music's Bluegrass Artist of the Year Award for the fourth consecutive year at last night's 20th Annual ICM Faith, Family & Country™ Awards show. "Truly humbled once again," noted Elaine of the honor. "We thank the Lord Jesus and Mom and Dad," added Lee. Following their acceptance of the award, The Roys delivered a stellar version of the poignant "Mended Wings" from The View, their fourth Rural Rhythm Records' release. The disc hit stores in September, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 10 Bluegrass Albums chart, and generated a #1 single with "No More Lonely" on the Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart.

    The popular Bluegrassers were previously honored with the following ICM Awards: 2013, 2012 & 2011 Bluegrass Artist of the Year; 2012 #1 Inspirational Country Single ("I Wonder What God's Thinking"), and the 2010 & 2009 Duo of the Year.

    The star-studded 2014 Awards show was hosted by legendary entertainer Ray Stevens and Megan Alexander of Inside Edition, and was taped for future broadcast across multiple outlets. Performances by Rhonda Vincent; American Idol finalist and BMG recording artist Danny Gokey; Grand Ole Opry member John Conlee; CMA award-winner John Berry, and Curb recording artists Sweetwater Rain and Rachel Holder made for an outstanding evening of music.

    Stay social with The Roys at www.theroysonline.com and on Facebook or on Twitter.

    After years of hard work, siblings Lee and Elaine Roy have firmly established themselves as one of the pre-eminent acts in Bluegrass today. As The Roys they bring immaculate harmonies, impeccable musicianship and strong songwriting to their music, combining a traditional vocal styling with a progressive instrumental attitude to enchant fans around the world. Proud to continue the “family harmony” sound started by such groups as Hall of Fame inductees The Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers and The Osborne Brothers, The Roys revel in exploring new facets of the genre while remaining true to their roots.

    Born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and raised across the border in Coal Branch, New Brunswick, Canada, The Roys’ early childhood days were filled with music. “Our Grandma LeBlanc played Acadian tunes on her fiddle while my aunts and uncles joined in,” Elaine recalls. “It was truly ‘Roots’ music. We fell in love with that ‘honest’ sound, and our harmonies seemed to fit that style of music,” adds Lee. Growing up in a family where guitar pulls were a normal occurrence, Lee became adept on drums, bass and mandolin and joined his first Bluegrass band at the age of nine. Elaine learned guitar and began singing at age five, making her first on-stage appearance at the tender age of 10.

    Though the siblings were keenly aware of each other’s talent, they had no idea that they shared a common hope for the future. “I had always dreamed about going to Nashville,” states Elaine. “I was amazed when I learned my brother shared that vision as well.” For Lee, “It was something that we both wanted – and it just seemed natural to pursue it.”

    Since making the decision to move to Nashville seven years ago, it’s been one success story after another for the duo. Growing up on traditional Country and Bluegrass music had given them a strong stylistic base, and their sound developed into a blend of Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Roots and Gospel music that resonates with the listener. Songs like the rollicking “Workin’ Girl Blues” and the timeless “Beautiful” earned them a strong following among fans while helping them forge strong bonds with programmers, talent buyers and critics across the country. Phone lines began to light up with requests for their music, and the crowds at their live appearances began to grow.

    Categories: Music Industry