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SPBGMA Awards Highlight the Best in Bluegrass Music

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:22

The 42nd Annual Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) Bluegrass Music Awards took place during the society's 32nd National Convention February 7, 2016 at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The awards show is always the highlight of the annual event and bluegrass music's biggest stars were there participating in performances as well as collecting their respective trophies. The trophies have been awarded, the celebrations have begun and everybody is getting ready to make more great bluegrass music in 2016.

The Farm Hands captured four awards during the evening taking home the Bluegrass Gospel Group of the Year and Bluegrass Vocal Group of the Year trophies. This group has become a popular favorite at SPBGMA and deservidly so. Farm Hands' own Daryl Mosley was also awarded Songwriter of the Year honors. Tim Graves received Dobro Player of the Year making this one outstanding evening for this group.

The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) inducted “Bluegrass Music’s Youngest Old Timer,” Ronnie Reno, into the Preservation Hall of Greats. Reno’s name will be added to an incredible list of Bluegrass legends and seminal performers who have been inducted since 1984, beginning with Bill Monroe and including such notables as Hylo Brown, Mac Wiseman, Larry Sparks, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, The Osborne Brothers, Doc Watson, Carl Story, Rhonda Vincent, Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Harrell. Reno’s name will also join his father’s, Don Reno, who was inducted into the Preservation Hall of Greats in 1985 along with Red Smiley.

“I am so incredibly humbled to be listed among artists who have inspired me throughout my entire career. While I’ve known a lot of them personally, I have also studied their licks, admired their music and respected their craftsmanship to the point that I’ve dedicated a great deal of my career getting their performances archived on film and in audio files so that others can benefit from their work,” said Reno. “To find myself listed among them is just mind-blowing! I just don’t even know what to say.”

The awards for Male Vocalist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year were presented to two of bluegrass music's favorites being Russell Moore and Rhonda Vincent respectively. Both of these outstanding vocalists and artists have garnered these trophies before and, like in previous awards, they are well deserved. The fans appreciate these artists over the long term. Rhonda also was awarded the coveted Entertainer of the Year!

Bluegrass Band of the Year and Bluerass Album of the Year honors were awarded to Flatt Lonesome. This group is also a national favorite with their works in the tops of the charts and a draw to festival goers everywhere.

SPBGMA serves to preserve the traditional spirit and art form of Bluegrass music. The organization also offers a management service for any community desiring to hold a Bluegrass festival and/or to organize and conduct Bluegrass Band competitions. In all SPBGMA sponsored events, instruments must be traditional acoustic instruments, no electrified instruments permitted. SPBGMA encourages professionalism in appearance and showmanship by the performers at SPBGMA events as well as encouraging the support of various Bluegrass publications and associations.

This event is always a favorite and includes the Showcase of Bands, Workshops, opportunities for promoters and talent buyers to view new and existing artists to see what's new. There are trade exhibits, record companies and more available for the artists and the fans. Of course, this is also an exciting time in bluegrass music where the fans and their favorite artists get to mingle and socialize as well. It is definitely and friendly, up close and personal experience for all involved.

Listed by Category, Here are the 2016 SPBGMA Award Winners:

  1. Bluegrass Promoter of the Year
    • D.A. Callaway
  2. Bluegrass Radio Station of the Year
    • Sirius XM 61-Bluegrass Junction
  3. Bluegrass DJ of the Year
    • Kyle Cantrell-Sirius XM 61
  4. Bluegrass Songwriter of the Year
    • Daryl Mosley
  5. Bluegrass Album of the Year
    • Runaway Train – Flatt Lonesome on Mountain Home Music Company
  6. Bass Fiddle Performer of the Year
    • Mickey Harris
  7. Dobro Performer of the Year
    • Tim Graves
  8. Guitar Performer of the Year
    • Josh Williams
  9. Mandolin Performer of the Year
    • Danny Roberts
  10. Banjo Performer of the Year
    • Kenny Ingram
  11. Fiddle Performer of the Year
    • Michael Cleveland
  12. Female Vocalist of the Year (Overall)
    • Rhonda Vincent
  13. Male Vocalist of the Year (Overall)
    • Russell Moore
  14. Bluegrass Gospel Group of the Year
    • The Farm Hands
  15. Bluegrass Vocal Group of the Year
    • The Farm Hands
  16. Bluegrass Instrumental Group of the Year
    • Rhonda Vincent & the Rage
  17. Bluegrass Band of the Year (Overall)
    • Flatt Lonesome
  18. Entertainer(s) of the Year
    • Rhonda Vincent
  19. Song of the Year
    • "The Last Parade" by Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers on Rebel Records

Congratulations to all the nominees and our gratitude for all the fine bluegrass music during the past year.

SPBGMA also hosts the International Band Championships during their National Convention. Bands compete for their share of $10,000 in prizes for placing in the top ten. This year's winners are:

  1. Bluegrass Outlaws
  2. The Turkey Creek Band
  3. Clay Bank
  4. The New Balance
  5. Bluff City
  6. Spring Fever Bluegrass Band
  7. Iron Mountain Boys
  8. The Baker Family
  9. Tennessee Tradition
  10. Amanda Cook & Kennesaw Ridge

Again, Cybergrass congragulates all of those who took home awards and trophies from this year's event.

Tags: SPBGMAAwards ShowSociety for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of AmericaAwards

High Test Grass Heats Up Carter Fold Sat. Feb 13

Sun, 02/07/2016 - 22:19

Formed in the summer of 2015, High Test Grass is a band that prides itself on delivering a high-octane bluegrass sound. The band draws heavily on material from both 1st and 2nd generation classic bluegrass bands and mixes in a measure of contemporary bluegrass material. Saturday, February 13th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of bluegrass music by High Test Grass.

Eric McMurray is featured on the mandolin and fiddle. Mitch Bentley plays the upright bass. They met each other at the 2015 Galax Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention when both were asked to be members of a competing bluegrass band. Shortly after, Mitch contacted Eric to fill in for a few shows with a band he and Jeff Osborne were in together at the time for which Jeff was playing guitar. Eric knew Jeff through the local bluegrass community.

Eric, Mitch, and Jeff quickly recognized the vocal harmony stacking potential of the trio, so they began attending local jam sessions and scheduling practice sessions. When the three of them were ready to make the band official, Jeff recommended Kris Rasnake to play banjo, and Kris accepted the invitation.

Eric is well-known to Fold audiences. A versatile and accomplished musician, he can pretty much play anything he picks up. If you love bluegrass music, High Test Grass is a group you won’t want to miss. Solid and strong instrumentally, the group will also deliver with their tight and beautiful harmony. Check them out on the web. For further information, go to For an evening of great bluegrass music, join us at the Fold for their special concert.

Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at

Carter Music Center is part of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. You can visit the Crooked Road Music Trail site at Partial funding for programs at the center is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For recorded information on shows coming up at the Fold, call 276-386-6054. The Fold is on Facebook – page Carter Fold – and Twitter – @carterfoldinfo. To speak to a Fold staff member, call 276-594-0676.

Tags: High Test GrassCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

The Infamous Stringdusters Release “Ladies & Gentlemen”

Sat, 02/06/2016 - 22:23

Nashville, TN -- Standing at the crossroads of modern bluegrass and newgrass, The Infamous Stringdusters are a band that is “stretching [bluegrass] from within” (New York Times). For their sixth studio album, Ladies & Gentlemen, the band invited a dozen of their favorite female singers to join them. The list of featured guests includes some of the most dynamic and innovative artists from across the roots music, Americana, and country worlds: Nicki Bluhm, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jennifer Hartswick, Sarah Jarosz, Claire Lynch, Aoife O’Donovan, Joan Osborne, Joss Stone, Sara Watkins, Abigail Washburn, Lee Ann Womack and Celia Woodsmith. Each artist guested on a different original song or tune written by the members of the band specifically for this project.

Ladies & Gentlemen was produced by GRAMMY-winner Chris Goldsmith and shows the breadth of The Infamous Stringdusters’ musical vision and talents. Band members Andy Hall (dobro), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle) and Travis Book (upright bass), play alongside the vocalists with the circuital unity of the seasoned bluegrass band that they are. Big harmonies and exploratory compositions, along with the band’s profound commitment to presentation, seem bound to inspire traditionalists and newcomers to stomp their feet on common ground. With a new voice for each song, world-class instrumental backing, captivating song structure and unexpected combinations, Ladies & Gentlemen is sure to please at every turn.

The Infamous Stringdusters’ resume includes five studio albums, three International Bluegrass Association awards and a GRAMMY nomination.

Tags: The Infamous StringdustersCD ReleaseLadies and Gentlemen

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn Release 'Banjo Banjo' EP on Vinyl

Sat, 02/06/2016 - 22:20
On February 5, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn will release the Banjo Banjo EP on vinyl, available exclusively through Barnes & Noble. This collection of unreleased music marks the follow up to the couple’s self titled, 2016 Grammy-nominated debut (Best Folk Album & Best American Roots Performance for “And Am I Born to Die”).

The previously unreleased studio songs are arrangements of age-old Chinese folk, Bartok and metal. “Hao Hua Hong,” (“Beautiful Red Flower”), sung by Washburn in Mandarin (she’s near-fluent), is adapted from the Buyi people who live high in the mountain forests of Guizhou (the video premiered on NPR Music for Chinese New Year). Béla honors his namesake with “Evening in Transylvania,” and the centerpiece for the EP might just be their instrumental of Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” arranged for the A.V. Club’s Undercover series. “I never heard this song before,” Fleck tells the Onion. “Because I was really busy in the '80s.”

"Béla Fleck has been experimenting with the banjo for decades, taking the instrument into many genres, from rock to jazz (with the Flecktones and in duets with Chick Corea and others) to classical,” writes The New Yorker. In the process, he’s won fifteen Grammy Awards. A few years ago, he married Abigail Washburn, a similarly freewheeling musician. She is a gifted clawhammer banjo player, a seraphic vocalist, and an uninhibited songwriter…”

Banjo Banjo track listing:

  1. “Banjo Banjo” (live) (Fleck / Washburn)
  2. “Hao Hua Hong” (“Beautiful Red Flower”) - Sung by Washburn in Mandarin, the song adapted from the Buyi people who live high in the mountain forests of Guizhou. The video premiered on NPR Music for Chinese New Year in 2015 (February 8, this year).
  3. “Shotgun Blues” (live) (Fleck / Washburn)
  4. “Evening in Transylvania” (Bartok)
  5. “Railroad”
  6. “The Final Countdown” (Tempest) - Dual-banjo version for The Onion’s A.V. Club Undercover Series
Tags: Béla Fleck & Abigail WashburnNew ReleaseBanjo BanjoVinyl

Surprise Radio Album Release Shoots Circa Blue to #2 on APD Chart

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 23:45

Orange Blossom Records is proud to announce the new Circa Blue album, Once Upon a Time is now available to radio stations via AirPlay Direct. The album went live this morning and has already jumped to #2 on the service’s Top 50 AirPlay Direct Bluegrass Folk Albums monthly chart. Stations may also request a private digital download from the label. Physical copies will be mailed to stations in the coming weeks and the label will soon announce the official retail street date.

Circa Blue Surprises Radio with Full Album Release and Immediately Hits #2 on the AirPlay Direct Bluegrass Folk Album Chart

circa-blueCirca Blue is a Martinsburg, West Virginia based group that includes the talents of Steve Harris (Guitar, Lead & Harmony Vocals); Malia Furtado (Fiddle, Lead & Harmony Vocals); Ashley Stewart (Bass, Lead & Harmony Vocals); Garrett Wren (Mandolin, Lead & Harmony Vocals); and Matt Hickman (Banjo).

Once Upon a Time features 10 songs that include several co-writes with Steve Harris and songwriters David Morris and Dawn Kenney, an Award-Winning song by Brink Brinkman, a Dawn Kenney original, a collaborative effort between Canadian Star Matt Naveau, David Morris and Steve Harris, public domain standards, and a Juice Newton cover thrown in for good measure. The title cut “Once Upon A Time” was written by Steve Harris and Malia Furtado.

Once Upon a Time was recorded, mixed and mastered at National Media Services, Inc. in Front Royal Virginia, engineered by Will Shenk, and produced by Steve Harris. "We are excited and honored to be partnered with Orange Blossom Records LLC for our latest release. Our future grows brighter every day,” said Harris.

Once Upon a Time tracks include:

  1. "Carolina Dust" (3:36) Mark “Brink” Brinkman
  2. "Before You Leave Here" (3:12) Matt Naveau, Steve Harris, David Morris
  3. "Once Upon A Time" (2:23) Steve Harris, Malia Furtado
  4. "Angeline the Baker" (3:35) Public Doman
  5. "Cold Frosty Morning" (3:34) Public Doman
  6. "I Sing Your Song" (3:49) Steve Harris, Dawn Kenney, David Morris
  7. "Tripped Stumbled and Fell" (2:51) Dawn Kenny, Rick Lang
  8. "Queen of Hearts" (3:47) Hank Devito
  9. "Rain and Snow" (5:03) Public Domain
  10. "Whispers of the North" (3:09) Gordon Lightfoot

Stay up-to-date on future announcement including the official album release by visiting and

Tags: Circa BlueAirPlay DirectChartsCD ReleaseOnce Upon A Time

Bluegrass, Country Legends Perform Charity Concert in Brentwood, TN

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 22:43
Brentwood, TN -- Several bluegrass and country music artists who have written hundreds of hits and/or performed with some of the industry’s biggest stars will perform in Brentwood, Tennessee, on Saturday, February 13, to raise money for a humanitarian program in Ecuador. Songwriters Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley will headline the “Mission of Love” concert, along with acclaimed vocalist Val Storey. Proceeds will help fund essential needs of San Jose Obrero, Good Shepherd’s sister church in Mante Ecuador.

Carl Jackson has a long list of credits as a country and bluegrass songwriter, singer and producer and has won many awards, including two Grammy Awards and three International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards. He has worked with such superstars as Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Alison Kraus and many more. One of his recent projects is the critically acclaimed 2-disc album “Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited” and an accompanying documentary.

Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley are also among Nashville’s most prolific songwriters. Cordle has written for such artists as Ricky Skaggs, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, The Osborne Brothers, Rhonda Vincent, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire John Anderson, Trace Adkins, Diamond Rio and more. Among his best known songs was the hit single “Murder on Music Row,” which was first recorded by George Strait and Alan Jackson.

Jerry Salley, meanwhile, is a seven-time Dove Award nominee, and was named SESAC's 2003 "Country Music Songwriter of the Year.” He has had over 400 songs recorded by other artists, including two tracks on albums currently nominated for Grammy Awards, for Chris Stapleton and The Steeldrivers.

The three friends often perform on Monday nights at The Station Inn in Nashville, with Val Storey, one of Nashville’s leading session singers, whose own album includes performances by Carl Jackson, Curtis Wright, Ruby Lovett, Euna Deaton and The Jordanaires. She also sang background vocals on Dolly Parton’s album “Blue Smoke” and on Sonya Isaacs’ self-titled country album.

Opening the “Mission of Love” concert will be emerging singer/songwriter Kaitlyn Baker, whose single “Coal Train” was included in the 2015 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards ZinePak, a 2-CD compilation of songs by ACM Award nominees and new artists.

The “Mission of Love” concert will take place at on Saturday, February 13, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 1420 Wilson Pike, Brentwood, TN 37027. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6:00 p.m. The concert will begin at 6:45, with a reception to follow. Tickets are $20 for adults; Ages 18 and under: 2 for $20. Babysitting will be provided at no extra charge. For information, visit or call (615) 332-1222.

Tags: BluegrassCountryConcertCharityBrentwoodCarl JacksonLarry CordleJerry Salley

Bluergrass Underground Bluegrass Valentines Concerts Feb 13

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 22:40

Bluegrass Underground is for lovers and to keep things in a Valentine's Weekend mood, we're offering our Bucket List packages, prime reserved seats that also include lodging and meals at Fall Creek Falls' beautiful lakeside lodge. So for a great getaway that will look like you've been planning it for months, come join us for some steamy romance and red-hot bluegrass in the Volcano Room on Feb. 13. Featuring the Sweethearts of Bluegrass, Darin & Brooke Aldridge and Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, the cave will have a true blue red hot bluegrass show.

And if you're looking for a really special gift for that really special BGU fan, we have a few Bucket List & Underground packages available for the April 1-3 weekend taping of Bluegrass Underground VI, the next season of our nine-time EMMY winning PBS series. Almost all the general admission tickets are gone, so that's the only way you'll get to experience the world's biggest subterranean music fest. Bucket List tickets include accommodations at Fall Creek Falls State Park and meals, as well as prime seating and exclusive Bluegrass Underground PBS weekend swag.

On Feb. 13, St. Valentine's Eve, there's romance in the air along with the ringing banjos, fiddles, mandolins and the occasional bat (think of them as tiny, leather Cupids). That's when Darin and Brooke Aldridge, The Bluegrass Sweethearts, will be making their Volcano Room debut, co-headlining a bill with Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers in one of the best true bluegrass shows we've had in a while.

The Aldridges have been winning fans with their latest album, Snapshots, featuring Brooke singing the Johnny Cash hit, "Tennessee Flat Top Box", later covered by his daughter Rosanne, who called the Aldridges' recording, "a beautiful jewel of a rendition." Bluegrass fans agreed and "Tennessee Flat Top Box" became their first No. 1 bluegrass hit. The couple hails from the great bluegrass state of North Carolina, which gave us folks like Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, and though the band is young, Darin has done stints with groundbreaking bands like Acoustic Syndicate as well as the more traditional Country Gentlemen. They carry a great band of their own and it looks to be a wonderful way to start the year.

They'll be sharing the stage with one of the premier traditional bluegrass bands of our time, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers. They hail from another hotbed of bluegrass, Southwest Ohio, which gave us the Osborne Brothers, Larry Sparks, Red Allen, Harley Allen and the Allen Brothers, Frank Wakefield and many more. Including me, who was part of that scene from 1978 to 2007, when my Tennessee visa was approved and I moved down here. So I've known Joe since he was kid and I will say, without fear of contradiction, that he is one of the absolute best Scruggs-style banjo players performing today. He's the son of bluegrass legend Paul 'Moon' Mullins, a triple threat as fiddler, songwriter (Ralph Stanley's "Katey Daley) and disc jockey. Joe was raised on the music and his banjo was driving his dad's band The Traditional Grass years before Joe was old enough to drive anything else.

He was later part of the all-star bluegrass band Longview, but it's with his own band The Radio Ramblers that he's really made a name for himself. Check out The Radio Ramblers' newest CD, Another Day From Life. And for a look at Mullins' days with his dad's band, Rebel Records recently released a Traditional Grass compilation album. Just like love, bluegrass doesn't mean a thing unless it's true, and these guys are the realest of deals.

On the home front, don't forget to set your DVR this month. Feb. 19, Bluegrass Underground will get its own prime time national PBS TV special, looking back at the first five years of the TV show, featuring Old Crow Medicine Show, Jason Isbell, Lee Ann Womack, Mike Farris & The McCrary Sisters, Vince Gill and as many more incredible performances as we can fit into an hour. Check your local listings. And yes, it's great TV, but nothing beats experiencing it 333 below. We'll see you underground.

Tags: Bluegrass UndergroundDarin & Brooke AldridgeJoe Mullins & The Radio RamblersConcertEvent

Empty Bottle String Band at Carter Fold Saturday

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 22:37

Hiltons, VA -- Saturday, February 6th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of old time music by the Empty Bottle String Band. The Bottles are made up of Stephanie Jeter on autoharp, bass and vocals; Kristal Harman on guitar and vocals; Tyler Hughes on banjo, banjo uke, and vocals; and Ryan Nickerson on fiddle and mandolin. The band has become a favorite at festivals and venues throughout the southeast region and one of East Tennessee’s most popular old time groups.

The Empty Bottle String Band specializes in playing old-fashioned, toe-tapping, highly danceable, traditional Appalachian music. They are known for their upbeat fiddle tunes and feel-good music, with the occasional murder ballad thrown in for good measure. Their impressive stage presence is coupled with a delightfully self-effacing strength and confidence in their music. Their sound is inventive, while still staying close to the old time string band tradition of the 1930s. The Bottles promote the close connection between old time string band music and traditional dance, frequently playing for contra dances and square dances.

For some of the best old time music our region has to offer, don’t miss the Empty Bottle String Band at the Carter Family Fold. All the band’s members have performed previously at the Fold with various groups connected with the ETSU Bluegrass and Old Time program – so they know just what keeps our audiences happy. Bring along your family and friends – and don’t forget your dancing shoes! For more information on the band, visit their website or find them on Facebook.

Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at

Carter Music Center is part of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. You can visit the Crooked Road Music Trail site at Partial funding for programs at the center is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For recorded information on shows coming up at the Fold, call 276-386-6054. The Fold is on Facebook – page Carter Fold – and Twitter – @carterfoldinfo.

Tags: Empty Bottle String BandCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Serenade Patients at Colorado Hospital

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 22:29

Nashville, TN -- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band members Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden and Bob Carpenter delivered the healing power of music to patients, visitors and staff during a visit to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado.

“Our visit and tour of the hospital was the highlight of our weekend - getting to see firsthand the amazing work that the doctors, nurses and administrative staff are doing was humbling and inspiring. It was our pleasure to play a few tunes for the patients, their families and staff. We gained the most from that experience. We’re really glad we were there,” Jeff Hanna said.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band also performed at the 2016 St. Anthony Hospital Gala for more than 900 in attendance. The gala, organized by the St. Anthony Hospital Foundation, raises money for St. Anthony Hospital programs and services.

Jeff Brickman, Group President, Mountains and North Denver Operating Group and President and CEO of St. Anthony Hospital was thrilled that the band took time out of its schedule to visit with Hospital staff, visitors and patients. “Music is therapeutic and provides another mechanism for healing. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it,” Brickman said.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band continues to tour in celebration of their 50th anniversary, with additional dates to be announced. Select shows will feature special guests.

The iconic and profoundly influential Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, often cited as a catalyst for an entire movement in country, rock and American roots music, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of nonstop touring and recording vital music. Formed in California in 1966, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band consists of founding members Jeff Hanna (guitars/vocals), Jimmie Fadden (drums/harmonica/vocals), John McEuen (banjo/fiddle/guitar/mandolin), and Bob Carpenter (keyboards/accordion/vocals), “The New Guy” since 1977.

The group has lasted longer than virtually any other country-based group of their era with multi-platinum and gold records, including legendary hits “Mr. Bojangles” and "Fishin’ in the Dark” (certified platinum for digital downloads in 2014 and the longest recurrent country radio song of all time). Their groundbreaking 1972 Will The Circle Be Unbroken album, which assembled the living legends of country, bluegrass and mountain music to record what many critics have hailed as "an American treasure,” has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame, paving the way for generations of what’s now known as today’s “cross genre movement." "Mr. Bojangles" was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010. Most recently the Nitty Gritty Dirty Band was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, class of 2015.

Tags: Nitty Gritty Dirt BandCharity

Wilson Pickins BG Promotions Welcomes Tyler Williams Band

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 22:20

Wilson Pickins Bluegrass Promotions is proud to announce the addition of the Tyler Williams Band to our Artist lineup. Singer, songwriter Tyler Williams, born in central Ohio, is a young man with big dreams that started when he was just 2 years old. By the time he was 4, he began playing piano attracting the attention of everyone around him. Although Williams was born with Cerebral Palsy and became blind at infancy, he remained determined in his pursuit of becoming an entertainer despite the obstacles.

Over the years, Tyler has been diligently studying and performing every chance he gets to refine his skills, including performances with some of his heroes such as the legendary Tony Rice, Lonesome River Band, and Balsam Range. One of the most recent accomplishments of this young artist is his Bachelor’s Degree major in Broadcasting and minor in Bluegrass, which he graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University.

His hard work has been supported by a powerful voice and original style that is often talked about throughout the industry. Tyler has assembled a talented band applying all the knowledge he has gained throughout his journey and is well on his way to taking his career as an entertainer all the way.

Tyler and the Band will be performing down at SPBGMA, with guest banjo player Steve Wilson of Wilson Banjo Co., on February 6th, or you can catch them at Fletcher Feed & Seed on February 12th. If you would like more information or to book the Tyler Williams Band, please contact Wilson Pickins Bluegrass Promotions at 864-359-7999.

Tags: Tyler Williams BandTyler WilliamsWilson PickinsPromotionBusiness

Huck Finn Jubliee Lineup Announced

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 22:49

Ontario, CA -- Producers of the Huck Finn Jubilee Bluegrass Music Festival, the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau are proud to announce some of the greatest national headlining bluegrass names will be on stage for the 3-day event. Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park in Ontario will be the site for this annual event June 10 thru 12, 2016 when thousands of bluegrass fans arrive to experience a family friendly festival that celebrates traditional Bluegrass music, education, activities, and the evolution of bluegrass music.

Huck Finn Jubilee Bluegrass Music Festival is a 3-day music festival, held on the second weekend of June annually, celebrating Bluegrass - America’s genuine roots music. Founded in 1975 by the Tucker Family, the Huck Finn Jubilee Bluegrass Music Festival continues to evolve and has become a premier 3-day showcase of traditional Bluegrass and Jam grass music. This family-friendly event is a community of music-driven campgrounds with endless pickin’ parties, music workshops and instrumental roots education for all ages, outdoor recreation and Tom Sawyer Island dedicated to all day kid’s activities.

The Lineup* of entertainment, featuring an array of musicians spanning across local, regional, and national Grammy nominated and award-winning bands, includes:

Friday, June 10:
David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Peter Rowan Band, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Balsam Range, The Special Consensus, and The Mountain Faith Band. An ‘80’s Retro Late Night Party featuring Love Canon will conclude the first day.
Saturday, June 11:
Soggy Bottom Boys, Leftover Salmon, The Cleverlys, Dan Tyminski Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Della Mae, The Boxcars, and The Church Sisters. The Late night square dance will feature the Hogslop String Band.
Sunday, June 12:
Punch Brothers,The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, Mountain Heart, Dailey & Vincent, Sweetwater String Band, and Flatt Lonesome.

Additional artists will be announced prior to the event. In addition to the musical performances several workshops will be available to attend. Guests are invited to bring their own instruments for these workshops and of course impromptu jams amongst festival attendees is encouraged. *Lineup of entertainment is subject to change.

Tickets go on sale March 1 at 10am with several options to satisfy all attendees with prices starting at $45.00. Options to purchase VIP tickets, 3 day passes or reservations for hotels, camping or RV sites are available on line as well at Huck Finn Jubilee is produced by The Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau, the official destination marketing organization to promote the cities of Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga California to visitors nationally and internationally.

Huck Finn Jubilee Bluegrass Music Festival, produced by the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau (a non-profit 501c 3), supports the cross-pollination and belief in the evolution of this music while honoring its rich history. This unique festival showcases an array of musicians spanning across local, regional, and national Grammy nominated and award-winning bands alike. Huck Finn Jubilee is committed to presenting exceptional headlining musicians as well as emerging artists dedicated to creating sounds for the future while preserving the deeply imbedded roots of Bluegrass. Bluegrass music tells a story and narrative of the lives of the everyday American people. For more information visit

Tags: Huck Finn JubileeMusic FestivalLineupEvent

Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Feb. 12 - 14. Framingham, MA

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 22:45

Boston, MA -- The Boston Bluegrass Union writes, "We're entering the homestretch ahead of next week's 31st Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, February 12 - 14, at the Sheraton Framingham. Everyone at the BBU and the Sheraton are making every effort to ensure you have a wonderful weekend. It looks to be a mighty fine time, with great lineups on the Main and Showcase stages, Master Classes, Workshops, Kids Academy, Vendors and much more."

IBMA Hall of Fame member and the main man in bluegrass, Del McCoury returns to Joe Val. The Del McCoury Band will close out the Sunday portion of Joe Val. Del and his band will share the stage with The Gibson Brothers, Traveling McCoury's, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Sister Sadie, The Spinney Brothers, David Parmley and Cardinal Tradition, Foghorn Stringband, Special Consensus, Steve Gully and New Pinnacle, Jim Gaudet and The Railroad Boys, The Reunion Band, Mile Twelve, ...and more.

Established in 1985, the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival celebrates the legacy of the late Joe Val, a pioneering Massachusetts-based vocalist, musician, and bandleader, whose riveting performances, recordings, and generous nature did so much to spread the popularity of bluegrass in the Northeast. From its humble beginnings as a local tribute to Joe and the regional bluegrass scene, the festival has grown to become one of the most celebrated bluegrass events in the country. In 2006, the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival won the prestigious Event of the Year award from the IBMA. And in 2012, the festival was listed by USA TODAY as one of the Ten Great Places to Go to Bluegrass Festivals.

Master Classes, Fast Track and Kids Academy - we still have space in all these fine education programs. Check for expanded details and registration. We like to think we're training the next generation of pickers with the JV Kids Academy. Please pass along the info on this program if you know of a child who wants to advance his or her musical skills. We provide a full weekend of interaction and training that closes with a Sunday performance on the Main Stage.

Hotel rooms - Rooms at the Sheraton are long gone, but we have spaces still available at area hotels. Again, check the festival website for details.

Tickets - Weekend and single day tickets are available for purchase online. Get your tickets in advance of the big weekend. You'll save some $ and time when you arrive at the Sheraton. And a reminder that all festival activities are ticketed events. So do yourself a favor and visit

Weather - At this point last year, we had piles of snow and more on the way. Right now, the long range weather report looks pretty good. I've got my fingers crossed.

Main Stage, Showcase Stage, Workshop Schedules - we're finalizing the schedules and hope to have them posted by this weekend. Lots of moving parts, and attempts at scheduling over fifty workshops is pretty daunting work. We appreciate your patience here.

Bluegrass Trivia and band videos - I'll continue to feature trivia from Bill Nowlin's Rounder Bluegrass Trivia book as well as historic photos, videos, and ephemera on the BBU and Joe Val Facebook pages. Visit Stay on tip of things by liking the page. Check back frequently as I'll also post any late breaking news there. in fact, I just posted a highlight video from last year's Joe Val.

Joe Val is always a favorite event to warm you up and kick off the new year. The region’s top wintertime roots music festival features three days of national and regional artists on the Main Stage, the next generation of rising stars on the Showcase Stage, and an extensive lineup of educational programs including Master Classes, Workshops, instructor-led Jam Sessions, and the renowned Joe Val Bluegrass Academy for Kids. The Festival features all this, plus instrument vendors, luthiers, and of course, picking around the clock.

Tags: Joe Val Bluegrass FestivalBoston Bluegrass UnionBBUEventBluegrass Festival

Andy Leftwich Releases Sophmore Album "Instrumental Hymns"

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 22:43

Instrumental Hymns, the long-awaited sophomore album from Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist Andy Leftwich has been released. From the energetic fiddle/banjo driven tunes like “Glory to His Name” and “When We All Get to Heaven” to the thoughtful Celtic tones of “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” and “Be Thou My Vision”, Andy delivers heartfelt original arrangements of favorite “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” that promise to lift your spirit and encourage your heart.

Four-time Grammy winning instrumentalist Andy Leftwich began playing the fiddle at the age of six, entering his first contest at seven, and winning the National Championship for Beginners at the age of twelve. Adding mandolin and guitar to his arsenal, Andy began playing professionally at the age of fifteen. Since joining Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder in 2001, Andy has completed a solo album (“Ride”, Skaggs Family Records), recorded two critically acclaimed albums as a member of trio Three Ring Circle (with dobro player Rob Ickes and bassist Dave Pomeroy), and built an impressive list of studio credits, lending his talents to acts such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Dailey & Vincent, and many more. Most recently, he’s added “Producer” to his resume, with gospel group Point of Grace (“Directions Home”, Word Records).

Although just 26 years old, the youngest member of Kentucky Thunder undoubtedly possesses all the musical talent of his older-more experienced fellow band members, and more. Meet Andy Leftwich, the gifted young fiddler from White House, Tennessee, who has enjoyed playing alongside the legendary pickers in Ricky Skaggs' all-star band, Kentucky Thunder, for three years.

Last year, as part of Kentucky Thunder, Andy was honored by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) with the distinguished 'Instrumental Group of the Year' award - an honor the IBMA has bestowed on Kentucky Thunder six out of the past seven years!

Andy feels very blessed to work with a Christian band-leader like Skaggs in a healthy Christian environment -- "God's been opening up so many doors for me since I started playing with Ricky...I am blessed to have this job to glorify God with."

Instrumental Hymns track list:

  1. "Glory to His Name"
  2. "Heavenly Sunlight"
  3. "In the Garden/Wonderful Peace"
  4. "My Jesus, I Love Thee"
  5. "How Great Thou Art"
  6. "Satisfied"
  7. "Grace Greater Than Our Sin"
  8. "How Deep The Father’s Love for Us"
  9. "Be Thou My Vision"
  10. "When We All Get to Heaven"
  11. "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"
  12. "Amazing Grace"
Tags: Andy LeftwichCD ReleaseInstrumentalInstrumental Hymns

50th Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival Lineup Announced

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 22:35

Bean Blossom, IN -- Bluegrass music fans from around the world will flock to the Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground, located in southern Indiana’s Brown County, this June to celebrate the 50th Annual Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. The event is the oldest continuously running bluegrass festival in the world and will take place June 11-18, 2016.

To help celebrate the 50th annual event, park owner, operator and event promoter, Dwight Dillman has brought together some of the finest performers in bluegrass music. The full-line-up includes the talents of:

Saturday, June 11
Jesse McReynolds & Virginia Boys, Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time, Dailey & Vincent, Ronnie Reno and the Reno Tradition, Tommy Sells and Big Country Bluegrass, Ralph Stanley II, Nightflyer, Feller & Hill & Bluegrass Buckaroos, and the Bull Harman Band, and Volunteer State Band.
Sunday, June 12
Seldom Scene, Dave Adkins, Joe Mullins and Radio Ramblers, Audie Blaylock & Redline, Martha & Eddie Adcock, The Churchmen, Farm Hands, Balos Family, and Steve Gulley and New Pinnacle.
Monday, June 13
Dry Branch Fire Squad, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, Danny Paisley and Southern Grass, David Davis and Warrior River Boys, Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome, Little Roy & Lizzy Show, Wildfire, Kevin Prater Band, Nu-Blu, and Jesse Gregory Band.
Tuesday, June 14
Del McCoury Band, Raymond Fairchild & Maggie Valley Boys, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Wildwood Valley Boys, Ernie Thacker & Route 23, Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show, Blue Mafia, Randall Hibbetts & Appalachia, and Sideline.
Wednesday, June 15
Special Consensus, Blue Highway, Larry Stephenson Band, Crowe Brothers, David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition, Band of Ruhks, Spinney Brothers, Edgar Loudermilk featuring Jeff Autry, and Larry Gillis & Swampgrass.
Thursday, June 16
Lonesome River Band, Marty Raybon & Full Circle, Special Consensus, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, Tennessee Mafia Jug Band Darrell Webb Band, Flatt Lonesome, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Punches Family, and Larry Efaw & Bluegrass Mountaineers.
Friday, June 17
The Grascals, Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, Blue Moon Rising, Rickey Wasson Band, James King Band, Tommy Brown & County Line Grass, Becky Buller, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, and Punches Family.
Saturday, June 18
Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press, Larry Sparks and Lonesome Ramblers, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Dale Ann Bradley, Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, Rickey Wasson Band, James King Band, and Tommy Brown & County Line Grass.

Camping and Ticket Reservations can be made by calling 800-414-4677. Discounted festival tickets can be purchased online before June 1. They range from $20-$30 for daily tickets and only $165 for all 8 days. Juniors 13-16 years old save $5 off per day and Children 12 & under are Free.

The Bean Blossom Bluegrass Youth Boot Camp, now in its 11th year, is led by Sarah Wasson and is sponsored by the Central Indiana Bluegrass Association. When the students complete their 15 hours of instruction, they hit the Bean Blossom main stage for what is always a spectacular performance and certainly one of the highlights of the week. For more information on the camp or to become a sponsor, please contact Sarah Wasson 606-663-0600 or email her at

Sirius XM Bluegrass Junction radio host Kyle Cantrell, the legendary Tommy Lamb, and the infamous Sam Jackson will serve as Emcees for the festival. Sound will be provided by Tom Feller & J&R Productions.

The Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival was the winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Event of the Year Award in 2013. For more information on the numerous festivals taking place at the park this year, please visit or beanblossom.US.

Tags: Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass FestivalLineupEventBluegrass Festival#beanblossom50

Eastman Guitars Endorses Singer-Songwriter Dave Adkins

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 22:32

Pomona, CA -- Eastman Handcrafted Guitars and Mandolins is proud to announce their endorsement of Singer-Songwriter Dave Adkins. “We are thrilled to welcome Dave Adkins into the Eastman family,” said Artist Relations Manager Tim Finch. “We couldn’t be happier to have him on board and are very excited about his upcoming album release and tour.”

“I have always been a fan of Eastman Guitars and I am thrilled that such a reputable guitar company believes in my music. I look forward to the new album releasing and hitting the road with my new Eastman Guitar,” said Adkins.

In in the coming weeks, Eastman will present Dave with a custom made Eastman E20D Dreadnought guitar. Built with the methods and materials of the “Golden Era” of the 30’s & 40’s Solid Adirondack spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides. The full-bodied tone and room-filling volume will be a perfect fit for Adkins’ powerful live performances at both indoor and outdoor venues.

Mountain Fever Records recently announced the release of the first single, “Change Her Mind” from the self-titled new album by Dave Adkins releasing February 26. The album is now available for pre-order at iTunes, Amazon, Mountain Fever,, and more sites. In February, Dave sets off on a busy radio tour and will perform at several album release concerts to promote the album's release. For more information, please visit

When Qian Ni, an accomplished flute player from Beijing, founded Eastman Strings in 1992, he never imagined that over the course of 20 years, the company would grow from a small business operated out of the back of his car into a global music supplier. Committed to a high standard of quality, Eastman Guitars use of premium tone woods and fine appointments, alongside the talent and accomplishment of its designers, craftsmen, and company philosophy continues one of the most fascinating musical traditions the world has known. For more information, please visit

Tags: Dave AdkinsEastman Handcrafted Guitars & MandolinsSponsorBusinessGuitar

Ashleigh Caudill Releases Fresh Take on Bluegrass with Looney Bird

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 22:29

Nashville, TN -- Songwriter, bassist and banjo player Ashleigh Caudill's take on traditional folklore is catching the ears of both music enthusiasts in Nashville and beyond. Her newest collection, Looney Bird, is out April 1, and creates a journey full of adventure, hope and love lost and found.

Caudill's new album is brimming with the promise Nashville's young music scene has to offer, thanks to the help of talent including Jenni Lyn Gardner (Della Mae), Caroline Spence and David Grier. Co-produced with Jim Hurst, the album "exemplifies one of the most exciting musical trends to be heard today," according to award-winning songwriter and bluegrass staple Jon Weisberger - that is, traditional roots music with a new spin, a different take on the themes and sounds that have shaped American music past.

Though eight of the 12 songs were solo writes by Caudill, she does enlist Weisberger on "Wait for the Sun to Shine Again," a foray into the importance of keeping hope alive, while "Living on the Countryside" is a bright opener to the collection, and songs like "Looney Bird" and "Franklin County" offer a unique approach to traditional bluegrass.

A celebrated bassist, Caudill has played with Angaleena Presley (Pistol Annies), David Grier, Jenni Lyn Gardner (Della Mae), Charlie Sizemore, and Jon Stickley, among many others. She grew up in a musical family in Colorado and began playing bass at an early age, which helped her achieve a scholarship to prestigious Berklee College of Music. In Boston, she discovered her love of both clawhammer banjo and songwriting. Caudill placed second in Merlefest's Chris Austin Songwriting Contest two years in a row, and one of those songs, "Row by Row," was recorded by Balsam Range. It reached number one of the Billboard Gospel chart, was nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association's recorded gospel performance of the year and was part of the album, Papertown, which won album of the year.

Now a resident of Nashville, Tenn., Caudill's life has taken on an air of the adventure she sings about - sometimes living in her van (named Shevannegains), remaining dedicated to her love of music and storytelling. Her sweet yet powerful vocals, mellow tones of her open back banjo and old-timey storytelling tradition have caught the attention of listeners and celebrated media including Bluegrass Unlimited.

Tags: Ashleigh CaudillCD ReleaseLooney Bird

The McLain Family Band Honored with 2016 Lifetime Achievement LEXI Award

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 21:38

The Lexington Music Awards seek to honor the present and past glory of Lexington's entire music industry. With 31 categories spanning the music industry including best female vocal artist, best male vocal artist, Song of the Year, best music venue, and best educator, this is truly a comprehensive awards program. The McLain Family Band was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Also included are J.D. Crowe, Ricky Skaggs, Vince DiMartino, and J.P. Pennington. The awards took place Sunday, January 31st.

Direct from the hills of Kentucky, The McLain Family Band has become internationally known as one of the most spontaneous, creative and spirited groups performing contemporary Appalachian bluegrass music. During the years 1968 – 1990, they performed in all 50 states and 62 countries during 14 international concert tours, some as musical ambassadors of the U.S. Department of State. The McLain Family Band played at the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Center and the Carter Fold. They were featured at thousands of festivals and concerts and performed as soloists in more than 230 appearances with orchestras.

Raymond K. McLain formed the McLain Family Band in 1968 with his son Raymond W. and daughters Ruth and Alice. Mr. McLain was a Carter Family Memorial Music Center board member from the day the center was created. Raymond W. now serves on the Music Center’s board of directors and assists as Artistic Director at the Fold. Raymond K. McLain served for many years as Executive Director of Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky. He studied folk music at Harvard and later at the University of North Carolina, then went on to develop and teach the first college courses in bluegrass and in Appalachian Music at Berea College in 1971. His mother, Beatrice “Bicky” McLain, was also a significant figure in American folk music, founding the Southern Regional Folk Life Center at the University of Alabama and serving as its’ first director. Raymond died in 2003.

For eleven years, The McLain Family Band hosted The McLain Family Band Festival which was featured on NPR’s Folk Festival USA and produced by Kentucky Educational TV for national distribution. Other television appearances include NBC’s Today Show, the CBS Morning News, Good Morning America, the Pearl Bailey ETV Special, the BBC, TNN’s Nashville Now and the Johnny Cash Christmas Special.

Affectionately dubbed the LEXIs by the local music community, these awards have reached their second annual presentation in 2016. The LEXIs have a one-of-a-kind nomination and awards process. The public submits nominations through an online ballot during a designated period of time. "The public" consists of music fans, industry professionals, and community members. Once the online voting ends, nominations are counted and the top 3-4 nominees for each category are contacted. They are then asked to help "peer review" the nominations and choose a recipient of that year's award amongst themselves. Popular vote meets industry peer review for every single award. It's the best of both worlds!

Tags: McLain Family BandLifetime Achievement AwardLEXIAward

Sierra Hull Releases First Album in 5 Years, “Weighted Mind”

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 22:01

Weighted Mind is a landmark achievement, not just in Sierra Hull's career, but in the world of folk-pop, bluegrass, and acoustic music overall. With instrumentation comprised largely of mandolin, bass, and vocals, this is genre-transcending music at its best, with production by Béla Fleck and special harmony vocal guests Alison Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens adding to the luster. Hull speaks eloquently, in her challenging and sensitive originals, her heartfelt vocals, and once again breaks new ground on the mandolin. Béla Fleck special guests on banjo on two tracks and duo partner, Ethan Jodziewicz, not only anchors the record on bass, but introduces us to a major new instrumental voice.

Sierra announced the release of her first new album in five years. Weighted Mind was released on January 29, 2016. It is nothing like what we thought it would be. It is nothing like what we’ve heard before, from anyone. It is singular and emphatic, harmonious and dissonant. It is the realization of promise, and the affirmation of individuality. It is born of difficulty and indecision, yet it rings with ease, decisiveness, and beauty.

“She plays the mandolin with a degree of refined elegance and freedom that few have achieved,” says Bela Fleck, the genre-leaping banjo master who produced Weighted Mind. “And now her vocals and songwriting have matured to the level of her virtuosity.”

Alison Krauss, who has won more Grammy awards than any female artist in history, says of Hull, “I think she’s endless. I don’t see any boundaries. Talent like hers is so rare, and I don’t think it stops. It’s round.”

Hull came to us as a bluegrass thrush, a teen prodigy. Krauss called her to the Grand Ole Opry stage when Hull was 11-years-old. Two years later, she signed with Rounder Records, and soon became known as a remarkable mandolin player, a tone-true vocalist, and a recording artist of high order. She made two acclaimed albums. She played the White House, and Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center, and she became the first bluegrass musician to receive a Presidential Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music.

15-time Grammy winner Béla Fleck produced the recording, which features eleven compelling new compositions written or co-written by Hull, and one traditional tune for which she and Fleck provided a new arrangement. While Hull’s ethereal voice and fluid playing take center stage here, she receives ample support from bass marvel Ethan Jodziewicz. Béla Fleck’s banjo adorns the elegant “Queen of Hearts/Royal Tea,” and Alison Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens add enchanting harmonies.

Though she is best known for her work as a mandolin player, on these songs, Hull reveals her abundant gifts as a composer and lyricist. Themes of loss and restoration run through the album, starting with the muscular opening number, “Stranded,” and continue on the stirring “Compass,” on which she declares, “I’ve thrown away my compass, done with the chart...I’ll just step out, throw my doubt into the sea, for what’s meant to be will be.” The gentle, dissonant title track ponders existential questions, while the haunting “Birthday” and “Fallen Man” offer somber reflections on strained relationships and impossible choices. The album closes on an optimistic note, with the sweetly assertive “I’ll Be Fine,” and the uplifting, philosophical closer, “Black River.” Fleck, Giddens, Krauss, and Washburn all guest on this track, on which Hull reflects, “A thousand years is but a day, and maybe in a thousand years, I’ll find my way.”

Veteran music scribe and fellow musician Peter Cooper writes, “Hull’s bluegrass roots inform and inspire this soundscape, but bluegrass does not define or limit Weighted Mind. This is not bluegrass music, or chamber music, or pop music. This is original music, from a virtuoso who tells the truth and speaks from herself.”

Hull has earned the admiration of her peers and the press alike: The Bluegrass Situation dubbed her a “mandolin-playing wonder,” and Music City Roots praised her “uncommon maturity—musical and personal,” and noted “one might say she embodies the perfect balance of humility and capability.” The New York Times lauded her as a “prodigious talent,” and for 8 consecutive years, the International Bluegrass Music Association has nominated her for Best Mandolin Player. Her friend and mentor Alison Krauss proclaimed, “Sierra is a remarkably talented, beautiful human being. Success could not come to a more worthy person.” Béla Fleck concurs: “Sierra and Ethan proved themselves to be powerful artists, with extremely high standards. I am so glad to have ended up being a part of this project.”

Sierra Hull will tour extensively this year which kicked off with a CD release show at Nashville’s City Winery on January 28th.

Tags: Sierra HullCD ReleaseWeighted Mind

Larry Keel Independently to Release "Experienced" Feb 26

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 21:44

Lexington, VA -- Flatpicking guitar phenom Larry Keel dazzles music-lovers once more with his 15th self-released album Experienced, due out February 26, 2016. The album is an entirely original work that showcases both Larry’s and bandmate Will Lee’s exceptional songwriting, singing and jaw-dropping instrumental performances, accompanied by Keel’s equally talented wife Jenny Keel on upright bass and harmony vocals. It was recorded at Wally Cleaver Studio in Fredericksburg, VA with engineer (and guest drummer) Jeff Covert and mastered by the award-winning industry great Bill Wolf (Willie Nelson, Tony Rice, Doc Watson) in Arlington, VA.

Added to the raw sophistication of Keel’s progressive acoustic style are several guest-musician-friends who appear on various tracks of Experienced, a list of artists that reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of icons and new stars including Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter (The Del McCoury Band), Mike Guggino (Steep Canyon Rangers), and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass). According to Larry, “This project is a collection of my songs and Will Lee’s music, developed further with the amazing talents of some of our musician friends and heroes. Very real. Very fresh.”

The seven tracks on Experienced reflect Keel’s musical personality, from frenzied and raunchy to mystical and sensitive, and through it all, Keel’s honest attitude shines, fearlessly and with throttle wide-open. As Sam Bush (who plays mandolin and fiddle on the fiery opening track “Ripchord”) says, ‘Enjoy the music... Larry does!” “‘Lil Miss” follows up with a cynical gibe at a mock Miss Prim and not-so-proper young lady of modern day society, set to a down and dirty blues-rock riff.

“Memories” (co-written by Larry and Jenny) is the portrait of the artist (Keel) gently swept away by life’s vast gallery of experiences and personal connections, and the poignant emotions that spring from it all. As the third track, it cools down the pace of things, letting the listener settle into the musical journey Keel has orchestrated.

A blazing journey of music featuring special guests:
Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter, Mike Guggino, and Anders Beck

“Larry Keel is a triple threat... songwriter, guitar player, entertainer. He can do it all,” says Del McCoury, who is featured on the playful and rollicking “‘Fill em Up Again” along with Carter and Guggino. “I think what makes Larry so powerful is that he has lived his songs, he’s not sitting in a room trying to write the hit of the week, he’s writing what’s in his heart and on his mind.”

“I love me some Keels. There is a certain genuine authenticity that Larry and Jenny possess,” says Keller Williams. “When we get together, our wonder-powers unite to form a giant, impenetrable sphere of open-minded, Appalachian psychedelic goodness.” Appropriately, Keller plays on the swelling and rolling “Miles and Miles,” which is a sort of metaphoric travel log of life on the road as a musician (and as a human being)... the key being to stay true to one’s own ‘voice’.

“The Warrior” is loosely based on the Carlos Castaneda book The Teachings of Don Juan and the search for knowledge by an old Yaqui Indian brujo. Peter Rowan joins on percussion instruments, yodeling and throat singing, adding a burning tension to the music, as the tale is sung in Keel’s gravely baritone. “The warrior is seeking the power... Standing tall he will never cower... He can see the spirits in the air... He can see the things that are not there.” The musicianship, lyrics and magical production combine to bring the listener down into the depths of the mystics and back out again in revelation.

Following “The Warrior,” the album’s gentle and refreshing closing melody, “Another Summer Day,” emits the feeling of resurfacing into the world, relaxed and carefree to enjoy the daylight and breeze. The tune was written and sung by Will Lee, with Anders Beck lending his intuitive touch on dobro and Jeff Covert carrying it along with a light drum beat.

“Larry is the yin and the yang,” declares Beck. “He will break your heart with a waltz, but he can also scare the hello out of you in the next song. He plays on the edge… no, strike that.. he creates genius guitar solos while staring over the edge and laughing maniacally.”

“This studio album was a complete blast to make, from start to finish,” says Jenny Keel. “Larry, Will and I, along with our exceptional engineer Jeff Covert coalesce into a working musical unit that push each other to higher and higher heights of magic, skill, art and energy. Add to that this cast of guests with all THEIR unique talents, and you have a recording that is pure enjoyment. Every detail of it!”

Throughout his prolific career, Keel has released 15 albums, including Experienced, and is featured on 10 others. Along with those that guest on the new album, Keel has performed with a multitude of top acoustic and electric musicians alive, and some now gone, including Vassar Clements, John Hartford, Tony Rice, Bill Monroe, Bob Weir, Jorma Kaukonen, Little Feat, Trombone Shorty, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon and many many others. Larry has written songs being performed by the likes of Del McCoury Band, Infamous Stringdusters and Yonder Mountain String Band and has a tune on Del McCoury’s GRAMMY-winning album The Company We Keep" [2005] entitled ‘The Mountain Song.’

Experienced Track Listing:

  1. "Ripchord" [Lee] 6:09 w/ Sam Bush
  2. "'Lil Miss" [Keel] 4:22
  3. "Memories" [The Keels] 4:00
  4. "Fill’em Up Again" [Lee] 2:55 w/ Del McCoury, Jason Carter, Mike Guggino
  5. "Miles and Miles" [Keel] 4:37 w/ Keller Williams
  6. "The Warrior 4:38 " [Keel] w/ Peter Rowan
  7. "Another Summer Day" [Lee] 4:47 w/ Anders Beck, Jeff Covert

*All tracks with The Larry Keel Experience: Larry Keel, Will Lee, and Jenny Keel

Find out more and stay up to date with news from Larry Keel at,,

Tags: Larry KeelCD ReleaseExperienced

Nu-Blu Kicking Off 2016 Tour After NAMM Show

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 22:49

Nashville, TN -- Nu-Blu, the fastest-growing act in bluegrass and Americana music, is kicking off 2016 with a blockbuster tour across North America, including a stop in Baja, Mexico. The group recently performed during The NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim, California while supporting their partners Peterson Tuners, D'Addario, QSC Audio, Sennheiser/Neumann.Berlin, Hercules Stands and Kirlin Cables.

Nu-Blu returned to the 2016 NAMM Show for the fourth consecutive year to entertain fans with multiple showcase performances. Each sponsorship offers the most unique and innovative products on the market, which other band's like Nu-Blu depend on for each and every show. Nu-Blu also got a chance to interact with attendees at the event, showing each product to new, potential users.

The bluegrass chart-toppers recently inked a deal with NS Design for a new bass, which is played by power-house vocalist Carolyn Routh. "Carolyn Routh's vocals shine with distinction, bringing tones of Melissa Etheridge's biting soul combined with diva Paula Cole's crafty melodic sense and range," said NS Design's Artist Relations Manager Corey Redonnett. He adds, "NS is proud to add Carolyn as a RADIUS bass endorser to a long list of creative and hard-working artists."

Carolyn Routh raves about NS Design, stating "I've been searching for a long time to find the perfect bass guitar to fit my needs and add a new dynamic to our stage show. The NS CR4 Radius is that bass."

Another recent endorsement for Nu-Blu comes from Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co, who provides top-of-the-line instruments for acts in all genres. Multi-instrumentalist Clint White has already began hitting the stage with his brand-new AX A-style mandolin that delivers a fantastic blend of traditional and modern sound.This is the introduction of this model Sorensen mandolin, as it makes its recording and touring debut with Nu-Blu.

As the new year begins, Nu-Blu also reflects back on a memorable 2015, which propelled them to new heights with their hit song "That's What Makes the Bluegrass Blue" featuring Rhonda Vincent. In addition to hitting No. 1 on Sirius-XM Bluegrass Junction's Most-Played Songs chart, the song also charted in Bluegrass Today's Top 30 most played songs of 2015. The band is already hard-at-work on the follow-up to their critically-acclaimed album, All The Way.

Tags: Nu-BluTour2016NAMMSponsorBusiness