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Official IBMA Kick-Off Party with Lonesome River Band

1 hour 20 min ago

Raleigh, NC -- The Official International Bluegrass Association’s World of Bluegrass Kick-Off Party, sponsored by Moonstruck Management, will feature Lonesome River Band who are nominated for four IBMA Awards this year. The party will take place on Tuesday, September 27, 6:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre located 126 E Cabarrus Street in Raleigh.

Music fans will be admitted with an IBMA Business Conference Badge, or a Bluegrass Ramble wristband. Shuttle service will be offered for conference attendees from the Convention Center to the Lincoln Theatre immediately following the Keynote Address.

At 7:00 p.m., immediately following Lonesome River Band’s Kick-Off Party, the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble showcase will begin. At 10:00 p.m., bluegrass music fans are invited to remain at the Lincoln Theatre for the Moonstruck Management Showcase featuring performances by NewTown at 10:00 p.m., Lonesome River Band at 11:00 p.m., Trinity River Band at 12:00 a.m., followed by the Moonstruck Mash featuring the incredible talents of: Sammy Shelor, Dave Adkins, Brandon Rickman, Jesse Smathers, Kati Penn Williams, Jr. Williams, Sarah Harris, Joshua Harris, and Travis Anderson. Dave Adkins, who had one of the most successful bluegrass albums of 2016, will also serve as Emcee for the night.

On Wednesday, September 28 at 3:30 p.m, Lonesome River Band will perform at the Mountain Home Music Company’s Showcase being held from 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. in Room 305 A-B of the Raleigh Convention Center.

Later that evening, Sammy Shelor will also be part of the Virginia is for Music Lovers Ramble at The Architect Bar & Social House from 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. The event features Jim Lauderdale and Friends Sammy Shelor, Wayne Henderson, Virginia Luthiers, Dani Flowers, The Church Sisters, and Hackensaw Boys

Lonesome River Band's four IBMA Award Nominations this year includes one for Album of the Year for Bridging the Tradition. This groundbreaking album, released in March on Mountain Home Music Company, features two nominated tracks - “Thunder and Lightning” written by Adam Wright for Song of the Year and “Rocking of the Cradle” written by Kim Williams and Doug Johnson for Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year. Sammy Shelor, received a nomination for Banjo Performer of the Year - an Award he has been presented with five times during his impressive career. Lonesome River Band will perform during the 27th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards Show. This special event will be held Thursday, September 29, 2016 at Raleigh’s Duke Energy Center for The Performing Arts. Shelor will also present an award during the event. For more information on IBMA, please visit

For more information on Lonesome River Band, please visit and join them on Twitter and Instagram.

Nothin' Fancy Releases "Where I Came From"

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 19:35

Willis VA -- Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce the release of brand new music from Nothin' Fancy. "Where I Came From" is available to radio today and is the title track of a new album due for release October 7th.

Where I Came From is Nothin' Fancy's sophomore album for Mountain Fever Records since signing with the Virginia-based label in 2015. Nothin' Fancy, also based in Virginia, is comprised of Mike Andes on mandolin, Mitchell Davis on banjo, Chris Sexton on fiddle, Tony Shorter on bass and Caleb Cox on guitar. Together, the band hosts one of the most successful fall bluegrass festivals in the country annually, drawing thousands to Buena Vista located in the Shenandoah Valley region of the state. With this year's festival happening September 22nd through 25th, it only made sense for the band to introduce an audience of their most loyal fans to their new single, touting their love for their home-state.

"Mike Andes writes much of the material for Nothin' Fancy including 'Where I Came From,'" stated Mark Hodges of Mountain Fever Records. "In the song, the singer laments of missing his home in Virginia and longing to return. When it became clear that would be the title of the album, it made sense to launch the title track as the first single and release it to radio the same week as the Nothin' Fancy Bluegrass Festival. Some of the band's most loyal fans travel from all over the country to join the band for this event each year so it was just a natural fit."

"Where I Came From" is the first single from the band's second album for Mountain Fever Records and radio programmers may download the single via AirPlayDirect.Consumers may download the first single and preorder the album here. Where I Came From will be released everywhere great music is sold on October 7th. For more about Nothin' Fancy and the Nothin' Fancy Bluegrass Festival, visit For more about Mountain Fever Records, visit

Tags: Nothin' FancyCD ReleaseWhere I Came FromMountain Fever Records

Larry Stephenson Band to Release “Weep Little Willow”

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 20:12

Nashville, TN -- Whysper Dream Music is proud to announce the new album, Weep Little Willow by the Larry Stephenson Band, will be released on Friday, October 14, 2016.

Pre-orders are available now at and coming soon on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and more fine retail outlets. Radio programmers are being serviced the first single, “Yesterday’s Gone” today.

The band is offering a special on their Facebook page for the first 25 fans who pre-order Weep Little Willow. They will receive a FREE autographed copy and a digital download for the Larry Stephenson Band’s last album – the award-winning Pull Your Savior In.

This Friday, September 23, they will perform songs from the new album at the Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival in Buena Vista, Virginia.

Next week, they head to Raleigh, North Carolina for the annual International Bluegrass Music Association’s highly attended World of Bluegrass where they will perform at the MerleFest Showcase on September 28 at 10:00 p.m. to be held at The Vintage Church at Longview Center located at 118 South Person Street.

On September 30 at 2:45 p.m., be sure to catch the Larry Stephenson Band's performance at the exciting IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass Street Festival on the Davie Street Stage.

Mark your calendars for the Weep Little Willow Album Release Concert on Friday, October 14, 2016 at Lorraine’s Coffee House in Garner, N.C.

Weep Little Willow was produced by Ben Surratt and Larry Stephenson. The album and band includes the talents multi-award winner Larry Stephenson on lead vocals and mandolin with Kenny Ingram on banjo and vocals, Kevin Richardson on guitar and vocals, and Matt Wright on upright bass and vocals. For more information on the band, please visit

Throughout his 25-year career fronting his own band, and almost forty years as a major touring performer, Larry Stephenson has been well-recognized and awarded by fans and his peers in the recording industry. In 1996, Stephenson was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame by the Virginia Folk Music Association. Since that time, he has garnered numerous other awards including being named Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year by the Society and Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA.)

Tags: Larry Stephenson BandCD ReleaseWeep Little Willow

Wayne Henderson and Friends at Carter Fold Saturday

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 19:59

Hiltons, VA -- Saturday, September 24th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert by an old time band - Wayne Henderson and Friends. Wayne Henderson's top-notch finger-picking is a source of great pleasure and pride to his friends, family, and neighbors in Grayson County, Virginia. His guitar playing has also been enjoyed at Carnegie Hall, in three national tours of Masters of the Steel-String Guitar, and in seven nations in Asia. In addition to his reputation as a guitarist, Henderson is a luthier of great renown. He is a recipient of a 1995 National Heritage Award presented by the National Endowment for the Arts. He produces about twenty instruments a year, mostly guitars; he is almost as well-known for the mandolins he has made. Doc Watson owned a Henderson mandolin.

Some of Henderson's instruments are intricately decorated, but they are most respected for their volume, tone, and resonance. Blues guitarist John Cephas said that Wayne Henderson "is probably the most masterful guitar maker in this whole United States." There is a waiting list for Henderson's guitars made up of the "famous (and not-so-famous)." He built a custom guitar for Eric Clapton. Above and beyond his great talents as a musician and instrument maker, Wayne Henderson is known as a "friend to everyone" and shares his talents and knowledge unselfishly. Wayne is one of the finest people you'll ever meet. He works tirelessly to promote the music of the mountains. You will never find a more humble, down-to-earth person than Wayne. He represents our region in a way few others could. There probably isn't a guitar picker anywhere who can out-pick Wayne. You truly have to see him to believe it.

Rounding out Wayne's group of friends accompanying him will be Helen White on fiddle and guitar, Greg Cornett on banjo and vocals, and Herb Key on bass. You couldn't find a group of finer musicians if you tried.

Helen is as good on fiddle as she is on guitar, and her vocals are exceptionally beautiful. A very accomplished musician, Helen has worked all her life with young people. Once of her biggest accomplishments was getting the JAM program active – not only in the state of Virginia – but the entire region. JAM stands for Junior Appalachian Musicians; their web site is Just a few weeks ago, our audience saw the evidence of all the hard work and devotion Helen and others put into getting JAM into our area schools when students from the Scott County JAM program played a couple of numbers on stage at the Fold as guests of the ETSU Old Time Pride Band. It was heartwarming to see the group of young people – nearly 20 of them – playing their hearts out. The songs they did were quite good, and these talented children of Appalachia now have the option of pursuing music as a career should they choose to.

Greg Cornett is perhaps best known for his banjo playing - and he's great. He also plays guitar, does beautiful vocals, and can whistle like no one you have ever seen. Greg is well known in the area not only as a fine musician, but as a friend to anyone who's lucky enough to meet him and get to know him. He's warm, entertaining, talented, and so sweet you just want to take him home with you. A good friend of Dr. Joe Smiddy, everyone who works at Wellmont knows Greg. Dr. Joe Smiddy first introduced him to Fold audiences, and he's been a part of the Fold ever since. Dr. Smiddy has graciously served on the Carter Music Center's Board of Directors since it was set up in 1979. In addition, he willing accepted the Fold's reigns after Janette Carter's death and served as the Board's president. Introducing us to Greg is just one of the many fine things he's done for the Fold. For more information on Greg, go to

Herb Key is unlike anyone else you'll ever meet. One of the finest doghouse bass players there is, he's good at everything he does. In addition to playing bass, Herb will be doing some old time songs. He knows lots of them. Herb is a friend to our music, and he's a true southern gentleman. A serious gardener, he and Uncle Joe Carter used to swap tomatoes and tales and tricks of gardening. You will never see Herb without a sweet smile on his face. Talented, warm, and gracious, Herb is an example of all that's good about our Appalachian region. When it comes to bass players, Herb Key ranks right up there with the best there is.

For one of the best nights of old time music you can imagine, don't miss Wayne Henderson and Friends at the Carter Family Fold. Concert admission is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. Be sure to bring along your dancing shoes – and your friends! For more information on Wayne and all the work he does for our area's music, visit

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 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: Wayne HendersonCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

Introducing the New

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 19:07

Charlottesville, VA -- Rebel Records is excited to announce the roll out of its new and improved website. The site,, highlights Rebel's outstanding roster of current talent while also reflecting on the significant impact the label has had in shaping bluegrass music for the last half century.

Fans and bluegrass industry members alike will find the site to be a great resource to learn more about Rebel's notable stable of artists. Whether looking for a short bio of a group or wanting to learn more about a particular album, both current and upcoming, the website provides a gathering place for this information. Each artist's page features a biography, a discography of their currently available releases (complete with 30-second audio clips of every track from the album) and links to their website and social media pages.

President of Rebel Records Mark Freeman says, "We are thrilled to offer a user-friendly website where folks can quickly and easily find out the latest happenings of our bands as well as learn more about the Rebel legacy."

In a nod to Rebel's historical importance, the site includes a detailed narrative of the Rebel story over the last 55+ years as well as a "Catalog Artist" section devoted to the many acts who have recorded for the label over the years. Biographies and discographies of a few select bands are currently up with more to be added in the coming weeks.

Folks who are interested in purchasing a Rebel release can do so through the site's secure online store. Shipping is free within the United States.

"Our ultimate objective is to present the story of Rebel Records, past and present, in a clean, accessible format," says Freeman. "I hope in the end we have created a site where people can come and get lost for a little while."

Tags: Rebel RecordsWebsiteBusiness

Bluegrass Fiddler Michael Cleveland Announces New Album

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 19:08

Nashville, TN -- Michael Cleveland is one of bluegrass music's great treasures: a 10-time IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year, 4-time Instrumental Group of the Year winner and 2016 nominee, Cleveland captured the attention of the bluegrass community as a child prodigy who performed on the Grand Ole Opry with Alison Krauss when he was only 13 years old. But he became a viral video sensation this summer with a virtuosic impromptu performance of "Jerusalem Ridge" that racked up over 6 million views in just a few days. Now mainstream music fans are discovering what the bluegrass community has known for years—that Michael Cleveland is one of the most important fiddle players of his generation.

With his new release, Fiddler's Dream, Cleveland delivers his finest studio album to date: full of the fire and finesse that has earned him fans from across the globe. Highlights include a blistering performance of the Arthur Smith penned title track "Fiddler's Dream," a step out vocal from Sam Bush on the John Hartford classic "Steamboat Whistle Blues," and a twin fiddle show down on the Bill Monroe classic "Tall Timber" featuring Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band).

Fiddler's Dream also showcases Michael's masterful guitar playing on "Earl Park" and mandolin playing on "Blues for Bill," "Lonesome Desert" and "Earl Park." Additional guests include Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Jeff Guernsey (guitar), Lloyd Douglas (banjo), Andy Statman (mandolin), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Vince Gill (vocals), and co-producer, Jeff White (guitar and vocals). Michael Cleveland has undeniably achieved a new personal best with Fiddler's Dream and in the process has raised the bar for all aspiring fiddle players to follow.

Fiddler's Dream will be released October 7th on Compass Records.

Tags: Michael ClevelandMichael Cleveland & FlamekeeperCD ReleaseFiddler's Dream

Wayne Taylor to be Inducted into Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 18:50

Bristol, VA/TN – Blue Highway's highly respected bass player, songwriter, and vocalist Wayne Taylor will be honored as the 2016 Inductee into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in a ceremony to be held at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds at 10300 Courthouse Road in Chesterfield, VA, on Saturday, October 8, at 7:00 pm.

One artist or band who has significantly contributed to country or bluegrass music is chosen annually by a board sanctioned by the Governor of Virginia, with past inductees including legends such as Patsy Cline, the Statler Brothers, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Dean, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Roy Clark.

The Executive Board of the Virginia Folk Music Association (VFMA) selected Wayne Taylor as the 2016 Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee, and Governor Terry McAuliffe will sign a congratulatory letter to accompany the induction proclamation, according to board member Yvon Jackson.

The VFMA was founded in 1947, with the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame being created in 1972, and the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame Museum being dedicated in 2011.

Wayne Allan Taylor, the Virginia native honored with the 2016 Hall of Fame Induction, epitomizes the pure American dream.

A child of humble parents, Wayne overcame four early years spent on crutches and in a wheelchair to become a coal truck driver in the mountains of southwest Virginia for 18 long years before a golden door opened for him to become a founding member of one the most influential and respected bluegrass bands in modern history, Blue Highway.

Wayne's musical path started when his cousin taught him two chords on a guitar as a teenager. As an adult, Taylor played in garage bands at night, in a gospel group called The Christian Heirs, and in several regional bluegrass bands, which led to his friendship with Tim Stafford. Tim and Wayne, along with Shawn Lane, Jason Burleson, and Rob Ickes, formed Blue Highway in 1994.

The 22-year strong, internationally heralded Blue Highway has earned 25 IBMA Awards, 6 SPBGMA Awards, one Dove Award, and two prestigious Grammy Nominations as a band.

The gifted songwriting and pure vocals of Taylor, Stafford,a nd Lane have been like rocket fuel for Blue Highway, helping skyrocket each of their 10 studio albums to #1, with their last album 'The Game' reigning at #1 for 7 consecutive months on the Bluegrass Unlimited Album Chart. With powerful songs from 'The Game,' Blue Highway charted the Most Radio Airplay of Any Bluegrass Artist in 2014.

Blue Highway was also recently voted the Favorite Bluegrass Artist of All Time in April 2016 by the readers of Bluegrass Today.

"I want to thank the Virginia Folk Music Association for this honor," Taylor said. "This took me completely by surprise. I never imagined I'd be named in that group, with people like Patsy Cline – that's the greatest honor in the world."

Taylor's formal induction will be on October 8 during the 18th Annual Jumping Bluegrass Festival, an October event created by the VFMA in 1998 to host each year's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and help preserve the heritage of country, bluegrass and gospel music. Wayne will be inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame at 7:00 pm, followed by a performance by Taylor and his band Blue Highway.

Tickets for the four-day Jumping Bluegrass Festival are $40 prior to October 1, with single-day tickets ranging from $10-$20. Single-day tickets for Saturday, October 8, the day of Taylor's induction, are $20 each. For more ticket info, please go to, or call 804-832-0950.

Tags: Wayne TaylorBlue HighwayHall of FameVirginia Folk Music AssociationVirginia Country Music Hall of Fame

Rounder Records Readies Three Mark O'Connor Digital Reissues

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 23:08

Nashville, TN -- Rounder Records is pleased to announce the digital re-release of the first three albums by acoustic multi-instrumentalist Mark O’Connor. O’Connor’s early recordings document not only the start of a career that would make its mark on the full range of American music, from bluegrass to classical to jazz, but also a portrait of a young virtuoso who could hold his own with many of the best musicians in bluegrass and old-time music. The three albums, which were never released on CD, are now available on all digital and streaming platforms.

Mark O’Connor has had a storied career, beginning as a contest-winning teen (he won the Grand Ole Opry’s Grand Masters Fiddle Championships at the age of 13). He has performed and recorded with mentors such as Stéphane Grappelli and Benny Thomasson, as well as with renowned musicians Wynton Marsalis, Reneé Fleming, Béla Fleck, Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Alison Krauss, and The Dregs (of which he once was a member). His symphonic compositions, including "Fanfare for the Volunteer" and "American Seasons" were recorded for Sony Classical. The O’Connor Method of violin instruction, which teaches traditional American repertoire for beginning players, is becoming the standard in many music education programs.

O’Connor comments, "I’m excited to announce the reissue of my early albums on Rounder Records from 40 years ago. I recorded these LPs beginning at age 12, documenting my burgeoning career as a young national fiddle champion and national flatpick guitar champion. As the O’Connor Band travels the country performing music from our new number one bluegrass album on Rounder, Coming Home, I am always reminded by many fans that they still treasure my first recordings as some of the best in the genre."

Three classic albums from the 1970s
are now available digitally for the first time ever.

Four Time National Junior Fiddle Champion

This 1974 set of bluegrass and fiddle tunes finds O’Connor in the company of Charlie Collins on guitar and Norman Blake on mandolin. He was 12 years old at the time, playing fiddle exclusively on his debut recording. Includes the previously unreleased “Grey Eagle.”

Pickin’ in the Wind

On this 1976 release, O’Connor again plays fiddle exclusively in the company of Sam Bush, Norman Blake, Charlie Collins, John Hartford, and Roy Husky. Pickin’ in the Wind was an early best-seller for Rounder.

On the Rampage

1979’s On the Rampage shows O’Connor finding his wings as a composer, as he began to stretch the boundaries of bluegrass. Many tracks are built with overdubbed layers of his own guitar and violin, with Bill Amatneek, Sam Bush, John Cowan, David Grisman and Tony Rice also in support.

Rounder’s VP of A&R, Scott Billington, adds, “These three albums have not been available since LP days, and they sound as fresh today as they did forty years ago — the energy of young Mark O’Connor realizing his voice. They also show Rounder’s perceptive early investment in bluegrass — both in the musicians and the genre — that helped to pave the way for the bluegrass scene we know today."

Tags: Mark O'ConnorRounder RecordsDigital Downloads

New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters at Carter Fold

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 23:06

Hiltons, VA -- Saturday, September 17th, 2016, 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.

The 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, Carolyn Beverley on mandolin, Eddie Bond on fiddle, Bonnie Bond on Bass, and Josh Ellis on banjo. The Bogtrotters have been playing and singing for nearly twenty years now.

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 three - 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. Eddie does most of the lead singing for the Bogtrotters. One of the finest old time fiddlers around, he’s not only a perfect southern gentleman – he’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Eddie’s beautiful wife, Bonnie, plays the dog house bass for the group. Her lead and harmony vocals are exceptional. A southern lady through and through, Bonnie and Eddie are a match made in Heaven.

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.

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.

The Bogtrotters are proud to welcome their new mandolin player – Carolyn Beverley – from Elkins, North Carolina, to the group. This show will mark Carolyn’s first Fold performance, and we want to extend a heartfelt, warm welcome to her.

The band 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. You may also visit their web site

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 Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet 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: New Ballard’s Branch BogtrottersCarter Family FoldEventConcert

Rhiannon Giddens Wins Steve Martin Prize For Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 22:40
Los Angeles, CA -- Critically acclaimed singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is the recipient of the seventh annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Described by T Bone Burnett as one of the “most profound musicians active today,” Giddens is the co-founder of the GRAMMY Award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she sang and played banjo and fiddle. That group has long investigated and promoted the foundational role African-American performers and songwriters have played in folk-music history, while making recordings that are vital, contemporary, and exuberant.

"Rhiannon has made a rare contribution to American music,” said Steve Martin. “She - along with the Carolina Chocolate Drops - has resurrected and revitalized an important part of banjo history."

Giddens began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett–produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. The elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit that brought the audience to its feet that night is also abundantly evident on Giddens’ critically acclaimed solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess. Giddens is currently working on her follow up album and will have a recurring role in the fifth season of the hit TV show Nashville.

The Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass provides the winner with an unrestricted cash prize of fifty-thousand dollars, as well as a bronze sculpture created specifically for the prize by noted artist Eric Fischl. Created to bring recognition to an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in the field of five-string banjo or bluegrass music, the prize highlights the extraordinary musicianship of these artists and bluegrass music worldwide. The winner is determined by a board consisting of J.D Crowe, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, Anne Stringfield, Alison Brown, Neil V. Rosenberg, Béla Fleck, and Steve Martin.

The award is given to a person or group who has given the board a fresh appreciation of this music, either through artistry, composition, innovation or preservation, and is deserving of a wider audience. Recipients must be a professional or semi-professional and should currently be active in their careers.

The award is funded personally by the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation. Its first winner was Giddens’ Nonesuch Records labelmate, Noam Pikelny of Punch Brothers.

Rhiannon Giddens occupies a unique position in the world of banjo music, bridging contemporary and traditional forms and the cultures of three continents. Few musicians have done more to revitalize old-time sounds in the last decade. Drawing from blues, jazz, folk, hip-hop, traditional African, Celtic, and jug band music, she has brought tremendous vitality and artistry to her live and recorded performances. Her work as a solo artist and with the Carolina Chocolate Drops has highlighted the banjo’s history as an African and an African-American instrument, and resurrected black string band music for a new generation.

Her musical career began with opera training at Oberlin College, then segued into Scottish and Celtic music, with a sideline in calling contra dances. In 2005, Giddens attended the Black Banjo Gathering at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, a conference dedicated to exploring the roots of banjo music. There, she met Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson, with whom she founded the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The three started making weekly trips to play and study with veteran fiddler Joe Thompson. Albums, touring, and widespread acclaim ensued, including a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album for Genuine Negro Jig in 2011. In recent years, she’s branched out into solo recording projects, including Tomorrow is My Turn, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Folk Album in 2016. In addition to the contemporary five-string banjo, she has performed on gourd banjo, nineteenth-century minstrel banjo, and the three-stringed African akonting. She has emerged as a multi-instrumentalist who is passionate about bringing the sound and feel of old-time black string bands into the twenty-first century. Along the way, she has become a historian as well as a musician.

In an interview in the February 2016 issue of Banjo Newsletter, Giddens said “I was attracted to the banjo before I knew the history of it. I just loved it. In the beginning I felt like I was kind of an interloper, and then I realized actually it’s everybody’s music. When you look at the history of it, it’s everybody’s music. It doesn’t belong to anybody. And then getting into the African roots of it I was just flabbergasted. . . . It’s a huge history that nobody talks about. And that really drew me.” Giddens’s work recognizes how big and versatile and multicultural the banjo can be, and how deep its roots go. Her electrifying performances have made the banjo exciting to new audiences, while simultaneously reaching back to the instrument’s earliest origins.

Tags: Rhiannon GiddensSteve Martin Prize for Excellence in BanjoAwardBanjo

Blue Highway's “Original Traditional” is Blue Hot!

Sun, 09/11/2016 - 22:00

Original Traditional is the highly anticipated new studio album from the GRAMMY-nominated and multi-IBMA award-winning progressive bluegrass ensemble Blue Highway. If any Blue Highway album perfectly exemplifies "the essence of bluegrass music," this is it, combining the spirit, themes, and topics of traditional bluegrass, but through a set of 12 all-new originals from the band and co-writers. Original Traditional may well be the record that everyone has been waiting for from Blue Highway. From callous killings to struggling with sobriety, to the majesty and magic of the mountains, the songs evoke the timeless quality of bluegrass past, but showcase the voices and instrumental prowess of Blue Highway present, capturing a contemporary group at its creative peak.

Blue Highway is fairly unique in being one of the very few bands that boasts three lead singers - Shawn Lane, Tim Stafford, and Wayne Taylor - who are also accomplished songwriters, each of whom brings his own distinctive voice and personality to each of the songs.

On Original Traditional, Shawn Lane's s contributions include "Don't Weep For Me," "What You Wanted," "A Long Row to Hoe," and "Top of the Ridge." "Don't Weep For Me" could well be an old-timey murder ballad, complete with retribution and hanging. "A Long Row to Hoe" is an ode to the farmer, and "Top of the Ridge," a song of redemption, "no need to worry about the things I miss/I'll see a whole lot better from the top of the ridge," lovely in its simplicity.

A veteran of both Doyle Lawson's and Ricky Skaggs's bands, prized for his voice as well as his mandolin and fiddle virtuosity, Lane has been a key component of the Blue Highway sound, and has contributed many outstanding original songs to the band's oeuvre.

Tim Stafford, the band's resident music historian, is admired for the depth and breadth of his knowledge, his amazingly fluid guitar style, and his prowess as a singer and songwriter. Stafford penned "She Ain't Worth It," "Wilkes County Clay," the bluesy, laid-back "If Lonesome Don't Kill Me," and the heartbreaking ballad "Last Time I'll Ever Leave This Town."

Wayne Taylor's resonant voice is one of the wonders of the bluegrass world, the perfect instrument for expressing his own songs. On this album, his directness and emotional power come through loud and clear on "Water From the Stone," and "The Story of My Life." As dependable and solid as ever, his strong bass playing nails the band's pulse in place.

Jason Burleson, who hails from rural North Carolina, rounds out Blue Highway with his powerful banjo playing, though he also is a noted multi-instrumentalist, not limited to bluegrass. His knowledge of string band jazz and other forms of music runs deep, and his musical sophistication is reflected in his original tunes in the band's repertoire, a wonderful example of which is the new instrumental, "Alexander's Run."

Blue Highway recently welcomed a new addition to their lineup: abundantly gifted Dobro player Gaven Largent, who has more than risen to the challenge, and has already won over many of the band's longtime admirers.

As music scribe Dan Mullins summed up in the album's liner notes, "With Original Traditional, Blue Highway chose to look ahead by looking back." In so doing, they have never sounded better.

Tags: Blue HighwayCD ReleaseOriginal Traditional

The O’Connor Band Releases “Coming Home” Video

Sun, 09/11/2016 - 22:00
The O’Connor Band was number one again on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart again this past week. The O’Connor Band has just released a new video of the band performing “Coming Home” which features some skateboarding fiddle playing by Mark. Consisting of four master instrumentalists, The O'Connor Band is all family -- Grammy and CMA Award-winning Mark O'Connor (violin); Mark's wife, Maggie (violin); his son Forrest (mandolin); and Forrest's fiancé, Kate Lee (violin). 'Coming Home,' their 12-track debut album on Rounder Records, debuted at number one on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart last month. For all the instrumental virtuosity on display here, it is the songs - both Mark's instrumental compositions, and the vocal songs written by Forrest and Kate, the band's lead singers -- that are at the heart of this project. “Coming Home” is just one fine example presented on this album.

“Coming Home” is the title track on the group's newest project. "I've recorded on at least 500 albums," O'Connor says, "but I have to say, there are very few, if any, that I've been as proud of as this O'Connor Band album. With the help of Grammy winners Gregg Field [co-producer] and Neal Cappellino [chief engineer], we're bridging the gap between progressive bluegrass, country, and indie folk and yet creating something that is also very commercially viable."

Multi Grammy and CMA Award-winning fiddler and composer Mark O’Connor returns to progressive bluegrass and country music with the O’Connor Band and their debut album, Coming Home. O’Connor embarked on a prolific career as an American Classical music composer, hot swing violinist and legendary bluegrass fiddler collaborating with the likes of Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Earl Scruggs, James Taylor, Wynton Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma. The New York Times has described O’Connor’s career as “one of the most spectacular journeys in recent American music.”

Coming Home is a perfect balance of contemporary songcraft by Forrest and Kate and intricate instrumentals featuring the band’s triple fiddle lineup. The O’Connor Band is rounded out by national flatpick champion Joe Smart on guitar and University of Miami DMA candidate Geoff Saunders on bass and banjo. Co-producer and Grammy-winner Gregg Field says, “At the heart of any album is the songwriting. Kate and Forrest have seductively crafted alluring stories and colorful characters in their songs, some biographical and each one sounding like a new standard.”

The album opens with guest guitarist Joe Smart's bright arpeggios on the Jim Shirey-penned tune "Always Do," followed by a lively triple-fiddle-fueled "Coming Home" and a rousing version of the old Osborne Brothers hit "Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man?" After weaving traditional country and progressive bluegrass throughout, the record closes with the instrumental "Fiddler Going Home."

Mark himself has the name that fans of many different musical styles will immediately recognize. A former child prodigy and national champion on the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, Mark has won his share of Grammys and CMA Awards, and has collaborated with a dizzying array of iconic artists, including Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Randy Travis, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, and Yo-Yo Ma. He has also written numerous violin concertos, which he has performed with hundreds of major symphony orchestras around the world. In addition to performing, he has authored a groundbreaking and now best-selling instructional method for strings, The O’Connor Method. Hailed by The New York Times as having followed “one of the most spectacular journeys in recent American music,” O’Connor’s career has been unique and inspirational.

Tags: O'Connor BandCD ReleaseComing HomeVideoMark O'Connor

Grand Master Fiddler Championship Crowns 2016 Master

Sun, 09/11/2016 - 22:00

The Grand Master Champion for 2016 is Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Denton took home $1,200 in cash, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of D’Addario, a Grand Master Fiddler plaque, and will appear on the Grand Ole Opry. The two-day 45th annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship is the nation’s premier championship event held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville on September 3 and 4, 2016.

“We saw the greatest attendance of fiddling enthusiasts that we have seen in years,” said Howard Harris, GMFC President. “Fiddlers came from coast to coast exhibiting such an amazing level of skills that brought cheers from the audience and impressing scores from the judges.”

Fiddlers competed for over $10,000 in prizes. Competitors showed their talents amongst some of the leading performers in acoustic music including The Riders in the Sky, Kentucky Just Us, and the Main Stage Explosion and Revolution Square Dance teams.

In honor of its founder, the organization presented the Dr. Perry F. Harris Award to Woody Paul Chrisman of The Riders in the Sky for his work in support of the traditional art of fiddling.

Actor/entertainer Randall Franks, “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” served as celebrity host for the event and was joined by co-hosts Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale, music journalist Craig Havighurst, from America’s Morning Show – three-time CMA Award winner Kelly Ford.

“I am so pleased to see the growth in the number of fiddlers in the traditional and youth categories,” Franks said. “The amazing prowess, attention to detail, and variety of styles exhibited by these fiddlers reflects the rich history of the instrument.”

Other organizers include Grand Master Fiddler Championship Executive Vice-President Ed Carnes, directors Lisa LaFortune, Trey McClain, Crystal Plohman, Gayla Tanaka-Bollinger, Charlie Smith, and Bobby Taylor.

“We could not make this contest the success it is without the judges and all of volunteers who work each year to help us set the stage so the contest can run smoothly,” Carnes said. “We also have the tremendous support of the staff from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.”

Contest judges were Matt Hartz, Daniel Carwile, Aynsley Porchak, Amy Carwile, and Bobby Taylor.

Among the sponsors were Fletcher Bright Company, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Purity Foundation, Ezell Foundation, D’Addario, Goo Goo Cluster, Tennessee Arts Commission, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and Lockstep Technology.

The other top winners included in descending order: Trustin Baker of Birchtree, Missouri, Katrina Nicolayeff of Meridian, Idaho, Ellie Goodman of Brooklyn, New York, Mia Orosco of Lorena, Texas, Andrew Lin of Lexington, Kentucky, River Lee of The Woodlands, Texas, Harrison Schumann of San Antonio, Texas, Eli Bishop of Nashville, Tennessee, and Billy Contreras of Nashville, Tennessee

Eli Bishop of Nashville, Tennessee received the Charlie Bush Traditional Fiddler Performance Award from the GMFC presented in honor of late director Charlie Bush.

The Grand Master Traditional Champion is Brian Christianson of Nashville, Tennessee who won $300, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of D’Addario, a Grand Master Fiddler plaque, and will appear on the Grand Ole Opry. Other winners in descending order are Henry Barnes of Columbus, Ohio, Kelsey Wells of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Henry The Fiddler of Arvada, Colorado, Hillary Klug of Shelbyville, Tennessee, Travis Inman of Belmont, Mississippi, Chris Gray of Smyrna, Tennessee, and Clelia Stefanini of Nashville, Tennessee

The Grand Master Youth Champion is Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tennessee, She won $300, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of D’Addario, a Grand Master Fiddler plaque, and will appear on the Grand Ole Opry. Other winners in descending order are Benjamin Lin of Lexington, Kentucky, Celeste Pena of Palo Cedro, California, Alex Tormala of Sequim, Washington, Mary Lynn Keller of Nampa, Idaho, Beth Davis of Carbondale, Illinois, Sophie Pena of Palo Cedro, California, David Lin of Lexington, Kentucky, Kate Ward of Kuttawa, Kentucky, and David Tormala of Sequim, Washington

Winning guitar accompanists are Anthony Mature of New Waverly, Texas, Hyatt Hopkins of Porter, Texas, Jim Reina of Conroe, Texas. Ray Brandin of Oakdale, La., Ronnie McKee of Kennedy, Alabama Mature, who took first, won $200 and a certificate.
Like or watch on YouTube For more information, visit

Tags: Grand Master Fiddler ChampionshipsMaddie DentonFiddlerContestAward

Radio Host, Joe Mullins, Receives Multiple Nominations

Sat, 09/10/2016 - 22:42

Nashville, TN -- Salem Media Group and Singing News Radio are proud to announce Joe Mullins, host of Front Porch Fellowship, has received multiple nominations for this year's International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards. Additionally, Mullins' son, Daniel Mullins, freelance writer for Singing News Magazine has also received an IBMA nomination.

Joe Mullins, who has enjoyed over 30 years in broadcasting through his own network of radio stations in Ohio, joined the Salem Media Group team as host of their syndicated radio show, Front Porch Fellowship, in 2015. In addition to broadcasting, he also fronts his own national touring band, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, enjoying a full-time career in bluegrass music. Last month, the IBMA Awards nominees were announced and acknowledged Joe in the Broadcaster of the Year category as well as his band in the Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year category for "All Dressed Up," from their latest Rebel Records release, Sacred Memories. "All Dressed Up" was written by two very well known writers in gospel music, Diane Wilkinson and IBMA Songwriter of the Year nominee Jerry Salley.

Mullins is a second generation broadcaster, following in the footsteps of his father, Paul "Moon" Mullins, and enlists the help of his son, Daniel, also a broadcaster, in co-programming Front Porch Fellowship each week. Additionally, Daniel Mullins is a freelance journalist who contributes to Signing News Magazine monthly. For his work as a journalist, Daniel has been recognized as an IBMA Nominee for Print Media Personality of the Year as well as Best Liner Notes for his work on Rebel Records' The Blues Are Still The Blues a retrospective collection of music from The Traditional Gass, a popular band from the 1990s featuring Paul and Joe Mullins.

The International Bluegrass Music Association Awards will take place during World of Bluegrass, the association's annual conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina later this month. For more information, visit

Recently, Joe Mullins visited the Salem Media Group's Nashville, Tennessee office and was surprised by the staff with a reception celebrating Front Porch Fellowship's growing list of affiliate radio stations. "Front Porch Fellowship is now heard on 200 stations each week and is featured both Saturday and Sunday on over 50 of those stations, as well as online at The Southern Gospel world is getting a great bluegrass education and hopefully, plenty of inspiration, too," states Mullins.

For more information on Joe Mullins and his band, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, please visit For more on Front Porch Fellowship, visit

Tags: Joe MullinsIBMANominationGospel

“There’s A Storm Coming”, a New Project by Carl Towns is Brewing

Fri, 09/09/2016 - 22:00

Time flies. Seven years have gone by in a flash.(Kind of like lightning.) That’s how long it has been since Carl Towns has released a new project into the Bluegrass world. His previous, “Songs From My Childhood Vol. 1”, came out in 2009 and remained strong for several years. And like that project, “There’s A Storm Coming” will be an all-gospel release. But this time it will be full of Carl’s original material, along with a few traditional songs.

As the title implies, this themed project will be centered around “storms” as part of the song content. Several songs will be songs about “The last days” spoken of in the Bible. Others will be about those “storms” of life we face every day.

Carl goes into the studio to begin recording this 14 song project on September 15th, 2016 and it is rumored that there may be an “Easter Egg” aka bonus track, planned for the CD. The first single is scheduled to be sent to DJs by November, 2016, while the full project is scheduled for a January, 2017 release.

Carl is a songwriter, who has had some success with his song, "Midnight Train" and "Cherokee Wind" among others. You can hear some of his original songs and covers in his band. The Carl Towns band is looking for bookings for the 2016-2017 season across the Nation.

Carl was born into this tradition, and first got serious about playing an instrument in 1980 as he learned the Upright Bass, then Guitar and then Mandolin. Carl began playing with his family, "The Bluegrass Harmoneers" at the age of 14 as Bass player and sometime singer.

As he grew in skill and confidence, he switched to Mandolin and more lead singing. This ultimately led to Carl signing with Greenback Records in 1998 and touring as Carl T. Towns singing country and bluegrass music around Europe and the United States. After his stint with Greenback, Carl formed Cherokee Wind and began touring again performing strictly Bluegrass music.

After members of Cherokee Wind became sick(including his mother), Carl chose to travel with Blue River in the early 2000s and tour with them instead of pursuing Cherokee Wind further. he played for several years with Blue River which was the house band for Hoofers Gospel Barn in LaGrange, Georgia.

Stay up to date with Carl at

Tags: Carl TownsCD ReleaseThere’s A Storm ComingGospel

Cybergrass Celebrates 24 Years of Bluegrass on the Net

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 22:25

On Friday, September 9th, Cybergrass - The Internet's Bluegrass Music News Magazine will celebrate 24 years of promoting bluegrass music on the world wide web. What started out as a learning and research project has evolved into one of the most popular bluegrass web sites in the world. Cybergrass, the world's oldest and highly respected bluegrass music web site, changed over to a new format a few years ago. The site continues to grow even with all the thousands of other bluegrass sites on the web. What a wonderful way to celebrate almost a quarter century of bluegrass information on the web!

Bob Cherry, owner of Cybergrass, credits the site's popularity and growth because of the vision of the site. The site has a history of "firsts" on the web and certainly in bluegrass. As Cherry says, "we're the site that others try to copy. That means we're obviously doing something right." He's actively promoting bluegrass music for 24 years and that is a great achievement to Cybergrass and a wonderful service to the bluegrass community.

The site was one of the first 10 sites on the World Wide Web and has been in operation for 24 years. Started on September 9, 1992 as a text only site, Cybergrass has matured over the years to an international award winning site. The site has had five major facelifts and many web addresses since it was created.

The site was first hosted on a Xerox research server that ran on a DEC Vax running BSD Unix. Today, it is hosted on a service that provides connections to all major backbone internet providers and 24x7 support.

Just a few of the accomplishments and achievements of the site are:

  1. The first bluegrass web site (September 9, 1992)
  2. The first web site to carry a music awards show (Grammys)
  3. The first web site to carry the IBMA awards show
  4. The first web site licensed (BMI) to carry music on the net
  5. The first web site to have a free, event calendar online
  6. The first web site to carry artist profiles
  7. The first web site to carry bluegrass music news
  8. The first web site to syndicate bluegrass content
  9. The first web site to carry syndicated bluegrass news from others
  10. The first web site to carry daily bluegrass news
  11. The first bluegrass blog
  12. The first bluegrass News Network online - BMNN

Cherry also created the original IBMA and IBMM Web sites. As the web's growth was unfolding, He also helped many others get started on the web and many of those sites are still operating today.

Over the past years, his Cybergrass site has received awards including the New York Times best bluegrass site, SoftQuad's International Metalworker's finalist three years in a row, Main Street Earth Award, Sound Bits and Bytes site, Select site for Omega, Whole Internet Catalog, Magellan Review and Excite. Cybergrass is also a member of the HTML Authors Guild.

As Cybergrass creates or introduces new features, they are sure to pop up on other bluegrass sites -- sometimes the same day. The same is true for the articles that Cybergrass researches and publishes. For example, their article on the first Bluegrass Music in the Middle East was carried on a competing site the next day. Cybergrass has published over 25,000 articles on line, including reviews, artist profiles, events and other content since it was created.

Cherry says, "it really doesn't matter about the copying. If what we're doing wasn't the best for bluegrass, others wouldn't be doing it too. The bluegrass community knows who brings this technology to bluegrass." It certainly seems so. Cybergrass has been a leading source for bluegrass music news for 24 years and the amount of information on their site shows his dedication and love of the music.

Cherry said the 24 years on the web has been exciting and rewarding. He's not sure what will be around the next bend but he's sure that once again, the future will be fun and exciting. Cherry has over 30 years of information technology experience in research and engineering and holds patents on the Optical Mouse, Satellite Broadcasting System, and Low-Noise Active VLSI Testing. He has been published by the International Symposium on Test & Failure Analysis, Library Journal, EDGE and others.

Cybergrass has grown and evolved based largely on reader input. It has exceeded all of the initial expectations for the site. Cherry would like to see more forum activity and comments on the articles but when its a hot article or subject, people do respond and almost always favorably. The future should be just as exciting as the world of the Internet is still unfolding.

So today, Cybergrass celebrates its 24th Anniversary and begins its journey towards 25 years on the Internet.

Tags: CybergrassAnniversaryInternetBob Cherry

Listening to Music - The Consumer and the Studio

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 22:23

Back in the day, all the top hit albums were recorded on tape. Some on just four to eight tracks mixed down to two. Recording studios were populated with Teac, Ampex, JBL speakers, Tascam boards and, for the most part, were pretty much the same. The age of digital alteration didn't exist. You got what the mics recorded. Bands had to be good in the studio and well as on stage. Many albums were done in just a few takes -- some in just one. That music is still some of the finest ever recorded. No fancy exotic gear like we have today.

I recently scored a pair of JBL Century L-100s (aka JBL 4312 which are basically the same) and there is a reason I wanted them. These were the speakers that a majority of music of my era were mastered with. Lots of studios used the JBL 3-way speakers -- they were the standard of the industry for a very long span of time for recorded vinyl. Listening to them would be a lot like what was heard when the albums were mastered.

People used to spend hours in the brick & mortar record stores perusing the bins of 12 inch vinyl in every category under the sun. Every genre from ever country and going back to the beginnings of recorded music up to the day -- it was all there is the massive stores. You often met people with similar music tastes and would talk about the artists. You would find a label that always seemed to have what you wanted and you'd start to follow the label. Often just a single musician would be on various albums and, if it was someone you were interested in, you could follow them by reading the liner notes as well. The great music social scene was in the record stores.

People used to enjoy their music. I mean, really get down and enjoy listening to the music. They would invest in the best amps or receivers, speakers and turntables, cartridges and such. They would set up an area in their home for just sitting back and absorbing all the music comfortably. That was the day when power was real power. Why a 100 watt stereo receiver would draw 5 amps out of the wall and weigh almost 70 pounds. Today's 5 channel, 100 watt per channel home theater systems only draw 1 or 2 amps and weigh maybe 20 pounds. There is a reason for the difference. Power was measured differently back in the days of blue lights and silver faced equipment. An old amp wouldn't even struggle to deliver 100% regardless of the signal and, both channels could deliver 100% simultaneously. Not true with today's equipment.

I spent a great deal of time setting up my listening environment. Surprisingly, its pretty basic and simple without a lot of gadgetry. Vintage receiver, DBX compander, stereo octave equalizer, good turntable & cart, and speakers. Add in some tube amps and the JBL speakers and I can pretty much guarantee that what you're going to hear is pure, clean, alive and balanced. But, one must also remember that a listening room to listen to all styles of music is not the same as a recording studio. Both environments have totally different purposes and sound requirements. While a studio may want flat without acoustic reflections and such, the listening environment needs to be musical. You want the music to open up in a listening environment.

Today's consumer isn't really a listener. They no longer immerse themselves totally into the album. They're happy listening to compressed and lossy MP3 audio through cheap 99¢ ear buds connected to their phone. They aren't likely to follow a label, songwriter or artist across multiple projects. They are also not likely to purchase music for years of listening pleasure. Today's popular music consumer often treats music as a disposable commodity.

So, while the JBL L-100s are a nice addition to my audio collection, they are definitely not the most desirable speakers to use for listening. They are, however, great for comparison. Musical speakers, in my opinion, need to be efficient, handle lows well without a subwoofer, not be too focused, image well and be good across a wide range of angles before them. My all time favorite speakers are the Klispchorns followed by the Pioneer HPM 100s. Technics SB-7000A are a linear phase design that is quite pleasing with their 15 inch woofers. I would love to acquire a pair of them. The Altec A7 are good but the horn can be overpowering. There are many others but the class at the top remains a very limited group.

In the amplifier department, I like around 100-200 watts per channel of old school amplifiers. The general consumer high end equipment was extremely good even by today's standards. I loved my Pioneer SX-1010 receiver but unfortunately it died. The Sansui 9090db was an awesome piece of gear but restoration of those is a massive amount of work. I'm looking for another SX-1010. I also enjoy the McIntosh tube amps for their warmth. The MC-100 100 watt mono amps are hard to beat. Some music just naturally sounds better with tubes. I doubt if I would seriously consider any of today's consumer grade amplifiers or receivers.

Recording studios have an entirely different requirement for music. They are, after all, the source and not the consumer. This is where all the elements of an artistic creation come together. The song, of course, then the arrangement and finally, a band putting it all together into what the consumer will ultimately consume. In that process are the producer, the audio engineer and recording studio and others associated with graphics, legal, and other functions necessary to complete the work. My focus will be on the audio engineer and the studio as this article focuses on the music and the equipment. In the studio environment today, we have mixing boards of 64 or more channels. Digital, rather than tape. audio recorders. Racks of equipment to alter the sound and make it perfect, sterile and polished. Effects are computerized offering virtually any "sound" that the creators want or desire. In fact, it isn't unusual for different musicians to add their parts at different times and even in different studios and then its all put together somewhere else. Technology has taken over.

The studio is not a "live" environment. It also isn't really a "listening" environment. No. The studio is an acoustic factory custom shop. A very special custom shop where no two products are ever exactly the same. Some, like the Nashville sound, use the same musicians and the same people directing to the point where even different artists or bands have the same sound. Why? Because they basically are. In Bluegrass Music, we don't see that too much and, in Americana and Roots music, you don't see the sameness of the product either. But in today's pop and country music being marketed and broadcast by the big corporations, you see too much of it.

The studio is kind of a magical place where the wizard is the audio engineer, sound engineer or even a team of engineers who all work together to create something new and exciting that will appeal to the masses. They will use their racks of gadgetry to model, shape, form and massage the material into the final product. These engineers are the ones with the golden ear that are often as artistic as the bands they record.

What the engineers listen to is not even the same as what the consumer listens to. Different equipment. Different environment. Different acoustics. Everything is different. What is even more interesting is that virtually every consumer has all different variables as well. Thus, the engineer attempts to make the product appeal to the masses while retaining the intricate nuances of the music itself. When the audiophile gets into the mix, they want to reproduce the music in its natural form. A difficult task today when it wasn't even recorded in its natural form. In fact, a "natural" sound may not even truly exist at all.

Today, hardly anybody has a "listening room" anymore. There are a few of us who immerse ourselves into the music as a form of relaxation and to get away from the stresses of life. Vinyl sales are rising and vintage Hi-Fi gear is in great demand today. More and more people are getting back into the listening environment to get more out of their music. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Tags: AudioMusictechnologyEditorialOpinion

Loretta Lynn Cancels for Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 22:20

Bristol, TN/VA -- The Birthplace of Country Music regretfully announces that headliner Loretta Lynn will not perform at this year’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival.

According to a statement issued by Ms. Lynn's team, the country music legend is "at home recuperating from a recent fall that left her unable to perform on Labor Day weekend at her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Although her injuries are not serious, she will be undergoing minor surgery and Loretta's doctors have advised her to stay off the road until she's made a full recovery."

The artist has cancelled several other shows on her tour in addition to Bristol Rhythm.

“Loretta Lynn is a living legend in country music and we were so excited about having her in Bristol,” said Leah Ross, Executive Director of the Birthplace of Country Music, the parent organization of the festival. "We know that she would be here if she could, and everyone at BCM wishes her a full and speedy recovery."

The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Music Committee is currently working to book another major artist to perform at the festival which takes place in Historic Downtown Bristol, VA/TN September 16-18.

"Though there is no replacement for such an iconic artist as Loretta Lynn—and we are only days away from the event—our music committee is working hard to try and book another headlining artist that will excite fans. We hope to announce an addition to the lineup prior to festival," said Ross.

Tags: Loretta LynnBristol Rhythm & Roots ReunionEventHealth

Ricky Skaggs Set for Induction Into Musicians Hall of Fame

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 22:12

Nashville, Tenn. (September 7, 2016) -- The musical honors just keep pouring in for country and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs. Last week, Skaggs learned he would receive this year's prestigious ASCAP Founders Award and today it was announced that the 14-time GRAMMY® winner will be inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame.

"What an incredible honor it is for me to be inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame," says Skaggs. "Just to be named alongside so many of my musical heroes is really humbling. I'm grateful to all of the musicians who have gone before me and left a trail that I have followed and learned from. I'm so thankful for this honor."

In addition to Skaggs, this year's inductees include Garth Brooks, the late Jerry Reed, Brooks' studio backing band, the G-Men and the Sigma Sound Studio Rhythm Section.

An induction ceremony and concert will be held on Wednesday, October 26, at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The Municipal Auditorium is home to the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and GRAMMY Museum Gallery™ at Musicians Hall of Fame. Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster on September 12.

From Jimi Hendrix to Hank Williams, the Musicians Hall of Fame celebrates the achievements of musicians from virtually every decade since the golden era of studio recording, starting in the 1950s, and from every corner of the country. With education being paramount, each section of the museum focuses on an important city in the history of American music – including but not limited to Detroit, Los Angeles, Muscle Shoals, Atlanta, Memphis, and Nashville, and explores each area's contributions. The museum focuses on the session musicians who may not be well known to the public, but played on thousands of iconic recordings. The induction ceremony and concert honors new members, nominated by the American Federation of Musicians and other music industry professionals, and ensures the continued growth of the Musicians Hall of Fame.

The GRAMMY Museum Gallery™ is an interactive music space, which permanently opened at the Musicians Hall of Fame in April 2016.

The Musicians Hall of Fame has been awarded many accolades including a Music City Brand Champion by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence, and has been covered in national outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, ABC News, San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Travel. For additional information, please visit

Earning 12 #1 hit singles, 14 GRAMMY® Awards, 11 IBMA Awards, nine ACM Awards, eight CMA Awards (including Entertainer of the Year), two Dove Awards, three honorary Doctorate degrees, a GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame induction, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's 2013 Artist-In-Residence, an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award in the Instrumentalist category along with countless other awards, Ricky Skaggs is truly a pioneer of Bluegrass and Country music.

Since he began playing music more than 50 years ago, Skaggs has released more than 30 albums and has performed thousands of live shows. He started his own record label, Skaggs Family Records, in 1997 and has since released 12 consecutive GRAMMY®-nominated albums. His newest release, Hearts Like Ours, with his wife, celebrated artist Sharon White of The Whites features the couple dueting on handpicked country love songs.

The Grand Ole Opry member has released his first-ever autobiography, "Kentucky Traveler." The book details the life and times of Skaggs and provides a descriptive history of Country and Bluegrass music, as told by the master himself.

In addition to his regular touring schedule with his band, Kentucky Thunder, he has recently performed a string of dates with his better half Sharon White along with guitar legend Ry Cooder on the critically-acclaimed "Cooder-White-Skaggs" tour and from time to time continues to hit the road with versatile singer/songwriter and pianist Bruce Hornsby on another critically-acclaimed tour, "Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby with Kentucky Thunder."

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ClayBank to Release “Playing Hard To Forget” September 30

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 22:07

Nashville, TN -- Rural Rhythm Records is pleased to announce the debut album “Playing Hard To Forget” by ClayBank will be released on September 30th. The current single “Up On Claybank” from the debut album is being received enthusiastically by bluegrass radio. Written by band members Zack Arnold and Jacob Greer, “Up On Claybank” features the lead vocal of Zack Arnold and captures the culture and charm of growing up in this rural community.

“ClayBank is another fine band from North Carolina and their first CD is a dandy. From the opening note to the last, these young men demonstrate, not only a respect for traditional bluegrass, but also an ability to deliver the high lonesome sound that would make Monroe smile with pride. Superb musicianship. Energetic vocals. Tight harmonies. It’s a winner.”- Bob Mitchell, DJ, host of BOB, “Best of Bluegrass” (WKWC-FM, WHPR-FM, WIUP-FM, WBPS-FM, WCHQ-FM, WFPK-FM, WBGJ - The Bluegrass Jamboree / Internet, Southern Branch Bluegrass - Internet, & Phoenix Country Radio - internet)

ClayBank will be featuring songs from their debut album at a very special showcase performance/CD release celebration scheduled at the 2016 IBMA World of Bluegrass on September 30th at the Raleigh Convention Center, Room 305 AB at 2:00 pm. Please watch for additional performances for ClayBank at the IBMA World of Bluegrass to be announced soon.

ClayBank members contributed three original songs to the album, “Foot Of The Phoenix”, “Daddy Would Sing” and the first single“Up On Claybank”. The band also reached out to some of the top songwriters for songs on their debut album including; Becky Buller (“How I Love You”), Milan Miller and James Ellis(“Playing Hard To Forget”, “A Little Bit Of You”), Randall Hylton (“It Almost Feels Like Love”), Eli Johnston and Kevin McKinnon (“Demise of Handsome Molly”), as well as Dennis Linde, Stephen Paul Phillips, Lee Black, Kenna Turner West, Jay Don Johnson.

Playing Hard To Forget Track List:

  1. "How I Love You" (Becky Buller)
  2. "Demise Of Handsome Molly" (Eli Johnston, Kevin Mckinnon)
  3. "It Almost Feels Like Love" (Randall Hylton)
  4. "A Little Bit Of You" (Milan Miller, James Ellis)
  5. "My Baby’s Gone" (Dennis Linde)
  6. "I’ll Stick With The Old Stuff" (Stephen Paul Phillips)
  7. "Up On Claybank" (Jacob Greer, Zack Arnold)
  8. "Daddy Would Sing" (Gary Trivette)
  9. "Foot Of The Phoenix" (Jacob Greer, Zack Arnold)
  10. "I Believe" (Lee Black)
  11. "Playing Hard To Forget" (Milan Miller, James Ellis)
  12. "On My Way Back To You" (Jay Don Johnson)

Produced by Steve Gulley and ClayBank, Playing Hard To Forget delivers drive, high energy and beautiful harmonies that fans have been experiencing at ClayBank’s live shows and can now be enjoyed on their debut album on Rural Rhythm Records.

Hailing from the mountains of western North Carolina, an area that is steeped in the musical heritage of bluegrass, old-time and gospel music, ClayBank has been turning heads in the Bluegrass community ever since their formation a little over a year ago. The band took the grand prize at the 2016 band competition at RenoFest (an event honoring the late and legendary musician, Don Reno) and 3rd place honors this year at the 2016 SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music) National Band Championship.

ClayBank consists of youngsters Zack Arnold (16) on mandolin and vocals and Jacob Greer (17) on guitar and vocals along with Tyler Thompson on banjo and vocals and Gary Trivette on bass and vocals. The band takes their name from the community of Claybank (near West Jefferson, NC) that is not only where they meet together to hone their craft but the place that embodies the very spirit of the music they play. The band members are not related by blood but are tightly knit by the love of the music that they share as well as their love for the Lord.

Playing Hard To Forget” can be downloaded by D.J.’s at AirPlay Direct and will be available now on iTunes, Amazon and wherever Bluegrass music is sold.

For more information and tour dates on ClayBank go to

Tags: ClayBankCD ReleasePlaying Hard to Forget