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Entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition Open

Sun, 10/23/2016 - 18:57

Wilkesboro, NC -- MerleFest, presented by Window World, has begun accepting entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest this month and will continue until February 2017. The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is one of the most acclaimed songwriting contests in roots and Americana music and has a reputation for launching careers and discovering important new talent.

Aspiring songwriters may submit entries to the contest using the online entry form ( or by mailing entries to MerleFest/CASC, PO Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. The deadline to enter will be February 1, 2017.

Early birds take note: During the month of October and November, all entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (CASC) will receive an early entry discount price of $25 per entry. Submissions received in December and January will require a $30 fee per entry.

Applicants should make note that all lyrics must be written in English and no instrumentals will be accepted. To read more about the contest rules and how to enter, visit

Now in its 25th year, the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is an extraordinary opportunity for songwriters to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale. MerleFest, slated for April 27-April 30, 2017, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans that takes place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C.

The first round of the CASC competition takes place in Nashville, Tenn., and is narrowed down to 12 finalists representing four categories: bluegrass, country, general and gospel/inspirational. Finalists are then invited to the final round of the competition, which takes place Friday, April 28, during MerleFest.

The first place winners will receive $500 cash from MerleFest and will perform on MerleFest’s Cabin Stage on Friday night.

“We are extremely proud of the career successes achieved by many CASC alumni. Among these are Gillian Welch (1993), David Via (1997, 2001), Johnny Williams (1998, 1999), Tift Merritt (2000), Becky Buller (2001), Michael Reno Harrell (2003), Adrienne Young (2003), Martha Scanlan (2003), Sam Quinn (2006) and Jeanette Williams (2007),” said Lee K. Cornett, coordinator of MerleFest’s CASC. “More recent alumni include Lara Lynn (2011) and Gary Alan Ferguson (2014). Lera Lynn has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s ‘A Prairie Home Companion,’ performed on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ and now lends her musical talents to the critically-acclaimed HBO series ‘True Detective.’ Other recent discoveries from the contest are Melody Walker of Front Country and Joseph Terrell of Mipso. I encourage all songwriters to put the final touches on your masterpiece and submit it to the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest!”

Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the scholarship has awarded over $41,000 to deserving students. To learn more details about the contest, visit

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

Chris Austin, from Boone, North Carolina, worked as a sideman for Ricky Skaggs for three years, singing and playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. During that time, he was discovered by executives at Warner Bros. Nashville, who offered him a recording contract. While releasing singles including “Blues Stay Away from Me,” “I Know There’s a Heart in There Somewhere” and “Out of Step,” Austin also developed his songwriting skills, as evidenced in “Same Ol’ Love,” recorded by Skaggs in 1991. On March 16, 1991, Austin’s life was cut tragically short when the private plane carrying him and six other members of Reba McEntire’s band, as well as her tour manager, crashed in the mountains near San Diego. Pete Fisher, then of Warnersongs and currently general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, and Kari Estrin, then MerleFest consultant and “Pickin’ for Merle” video associate producer, initiated the songwriting contest to honor Austin’s memory.

Window World, headquartered in North Wilkesboro, N.C., is America’s largest replacement window and exterior remodeling company, with more than 200 locally owned offices nationwide. Founded in 1995, the company sells and installs windows, siding, doors and other exterior products, with a total of over 13 million windows sold to date. Window World is an ENERGY STAR partner, and its window products have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal for nine consecutive years. Additionally, through its charitable foundation Window World Cares, the Window World family provides funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where it was named New Corporate Partner of the Year in 2010. Since its inception in 2008, the foundation has raised over $7 million for St. Jude. Window World Inc. also supports the Veterans Airlift Command, a non-profit organization that facilitates free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families. For more information about Window World, visit or call 1-800 NEXT WINDOW. For home improvement and energy efficiency tips, décor ideas and more, follow Window World on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: Chris Austin Songwriting ContestSongwritingContestMerlefest

Smithsonian Folkways Makes More Than 5,500 Arhoolie Tracks Available

Sat, 10/22/2016 - 21:44

Smithsonian Folkways is making more than 300 standout albums (over 5,500 tracks) from the famed Arhoolie Records catalog available digitally and on CD through the Smithsonian Folkways website starting October 21 ( The remaining titles from the roughly 650-album collection will be released on an ongoing basis. Arhoolie Records is best known for "down home" blues, jazz, country, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, Mexican-American, and world music. Smithsonian Folkways acquired the Arhoolie catalog in May 2016 from its founder Chris Strachwitz and his business partner Tom Diamente. It is the largest addition to the Smithsonian Folkways catalogue since it launched in 1987, bringing the total number of available tracks to almost 60,000.

Some albums of interest to our readers include the bluegrass recordings on Arhoolie Records. Artists include Del McCoury's I Wonder Where You Are Tonight (1967). Stevie Barr with Friends Along the Crooked Road features bluegrass from Virginia's The Crooked Road heritage trail. You'll also find Snuffy Jenkins' album Pioneer of the Bluegrass Banjo and The Vern Williams Band's Traditional Bluegrass and other recordings from the past.

From Blues to Bluegrass and Zydeco to Ukrainian folk music, there is enough roots music to keep you busy day and night being entertained by the vast catalog of roots music from the south and the world.

The collection features seminal recordings by artists such as Bukka White, Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Big Joe Williams, Flaco Jiménez, and Clifton Chenier. More recent releases include titles from the Savoy Family Band, the Magnolia Sisters, and the Pine Leaf Boys. "Hear Me Howling," a collection of recordings made in the San Francisco Bay area during the 1960s, won a GRAMMY Award in 2011. That same year, the label issued a GRAMMY-nominated retrospective box set celebrating Arhoolie's 50th anniversary.

The Arhoolie acquisition brings more than 1,000 new artists into the Folkways family and includes 350+ albums released going back to 1960, as well as recordings from three South Texas regional labels specializing in Mexican music (Ideal, Falcon, and Rio); Andean Huayno music from the Peruvian label Discos Smith; and archival materials. Remaining titles from the roughly 650-album collection will be released on an ongoing basis.

Chris Strachwitz moved to the United States from Germany in 1947 and fell in love with American roots music. His first love was New Orleans jazz, but radio broadcasts from Los Angeles and Baja California introduced him to hillbilly, rhythm & blues, gospel, Mexican norteño music and beyond. A major collector of 78s, Strachwitz travelled to Texas in 1959 to meet his idol Lightning Hopkins, and was lucky enough to hear him perform live in a small beer joint.

Struck by the exchange between Lightning and his audience, and by the poetry of his improvised lyrics, Chris decided right then and there that someone had to capture this man's music live in one of those joints and put it on a record. The following year, Chris returned to Houston only to find Hopkins leaving for California, so he and Mack McCormick, his guide to all things Texas, ventured north out of the city to Navasota, where they encountered and recorded outstanding local songster Mance Lipscomb. A few months later, in November 1960, Arhoolie LP 1001 introduced Chris' new label and that small town Texas songster to the world. (An arhoolie is a field holler; the name was suggested by McCormick.)

Over the next 55 years, Chris and Arhoolie Records put out over 350 albums. A passionate seeker of just the right music, Chris’s many recordings included Cajun, zydeco, norteño, bluegrass, gospel and blues. Regional forms like zydeco may have never had national exposure without Arhoolie. The Smithsonian acquired the Arhoolie label from Chris and his partner Tom Diamant in 2016 to assure that his recordings would survive and remain available to future generations.

A selected number of titles unearthed from Arhoolie's El Cerrito warehouse are also available on vinyl, in limited quantity. They include:

  • Clifton Chenier - The King of Zydeco (12")
  • Michael Doucet & Beausoleil - Parlez-Nouz à Boire (12")
  • Strange Creek Singers - Strange Creek Singers (12")
  • Uncle John Patterson - Plains, Georgia Rock (12")
  • Flaco Jiménez - "Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio" (7")
  • Rose Maddox - "Philadelphia Lawyer" (7")
  • CJ Chenier - Check Out the Zydeco" (7")
  • See a full list on vinyl at

    Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among people through the documentation, preservation, production, and dissemination of sound. Part of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, it is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States.

    Smithsonian Folkways Recordings retail distribution in the US is through ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance) at 800.239.3232. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings releases are available through record and book outlets. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, as well as Folkways Records, A.R.C.E., Arhoolie, Banjo Builders, Blue Ridge Institute, Cook, Collector, Dyer-Bennet, Fast Folk, I.L.A.M., The Mickey Hart Collection, Monitor, M.O.R.E., Paredon, and UNESCO, are available via mail order at 888.FOLKWAYS or 800.410.9815. Visit the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings website at or write to 600 Maryland Ave. SW, Suite 2001, Washington, DC, 20024.

    A few recordings from Arhoolie Records. Click here for more CDs, LPs, and 7-inch singles.

Tags: Smithsonian FolkwaysArhoolie RecordsCD ReleaseBanjoBluegrass

Hogslop String Band at Carter Family Fold this Saturday

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 10:04

Hiltons, VA -- Saturday, October 22nd, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of old time music by the Hogslop String Band. The Hogslop String Band is a Nashville based old time string band comprised of five energetic young musicians hailing from Georgia, Tennessee, California, and North Carolina. Featuring Casy Meikle and Kevin Martin on fiddles, Graham Sherrill on banjo, Gabriel Kelley on guitar, and Casey "Pickle" McBride on the washtub bass, these boys surely raise a ruckus.

Upon forming as a pickup square dance band in the summer of 2009, the Hogslop String Band has since become one of the most sought after old time string bands of the Tennessee Valley area. Known for their outrageous facial hair and a rollicking repertoire heavily based on Georgia and middle Tennessee fiddle tunes, these boys have provided entertainment for fashion shows, political conventions, and whiskey distilleries as well as countless weddings, festivals, and soirees.

Following in the footsteps of such country music luminaries as Uncle Dave Macon and Gid Tanner, they put on a high energy show easily appreciated by young and old alike. Despite an unkempt appearance, their undeniable charm is as certain to steal your heart as it will your daughter's.

"The Hogslop String Band is one of the most unique bands I have ever heard. Their music takes you back to a time when things were real and from the heart. These guys are very talented, and I recommend that you go see them. You will be thoroughly entertained." Reggie Young – guitarist for Elvis, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, & Dusty Springfield.

"Every member of the Hogslop String Band is individually talented and pretty much crazy. As a band, they're as authentic as it gets and an insanely good time." Neal Cappellino – Grammy Award winning engineer.

"Hogslop is the real deal - groovilicious honkin old time string band. Guaranteed old time awesomeness with these fellas around." Abigail Washburn – banjo picker extraordinaire.

"One of the finest square-dance bands on the planet." Jack Silverman – Nashville Scene.

As Executive Director of the Carter Family Fold, I first met the Hogslop String Band when their manager, Josh Trivett, called me to set up an old time tintype photo shoot for the band at the Fold. Having enjoyed working with Josh many times through the years, fascinated by anything historic, and always looking for new groups to perform at the Fold, I immediately agreed. We set up the shoot for a Sunday, and I fell in love with the group the moment they got out of the van. Because tintype photography takes tremendous patience and time, we ended up spending the entire day together. Getting to meet the group and witness the photo shoot and on-site development of the tintype photos by award-winning photographer Lisa Elmaleh captivated me. Never having met them, I immediately felt I had known the guys – and Lisa - all my life. It was one of the most fun-filled and entertaining days I ever spent. I couldn't recall having laughed so much or having so much fun with folks I had just met in my life. We had so much fun, traffic actually stopped to ask what was going on. Not wanting the day to end, I knew I couldn't wait for them to actually play the Fold. They performed last year for the first time, and boy did they put on a show! One of the best old time bands performing today – they have not one fiddler, but two! Hogslop and the Fold are a match made in Heaven.

If you love old time music and just plain fun, you have to see the Hogslop Old Time Band. There are unlike any other group I have ever known. They told me that most places they played were places where people didn't know what slopping a hog was. Boy have they come home! Not only do we know what slopping a hog is, we know what the best old time music is. Bring your friends, your inlaws, your young'uns, and your dancing shoes and join us for a night of old time music unlike anything you have ever seen. Rita Forrester, Fold Director

Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. For more information on the Hogslop String Band, go to their site on the web – Watch them on You Tube and check them out on the web.

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 or our second site – 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. To speak to a volunteer Fold staff member, call 276-594-0676

Tags: The HogSlop String BandCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

Blue Highway's Wayne Taylor Newest Member of Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 19:12

Chesterfield, VA -- Blue Highway's beloved bass player, songwriter, and vocalist Wayne Taylor was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in a ceremony held on Saturday, October 8, in Chesterfield, VA.

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 like Patsy Cline, the Statler Brothers, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Dean, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Roy Clark.

On Saturday, Wayne Taylor's name was added to the list of beloved legends honored in the Hall of Fame.

The Executive Board of the Virginia Folk Music Association (VFMA) selected Wayne Taylor as the 2016 Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee, with Governor Terry McAuliffe signing a congratulatory letter framed for Taylor, along with a formal induction proclamation.

In a warm acceptance speech, Taylor relayed his thanks to God, his cherished wife of nearly 39 years, Sharon; their beloved neighbor who has become like family, Francis Lee; and sincere appreciation for his band brothers past and present in the internationally respected supergroup Blue Highway for the 22 year strong ensemble which helped bring him into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame on Saturday. Taylor co-founded Blue Highway along with Tim Stafford, Shawn Lane, Jason Burleson, and Rob Ickes. Young 19-year old Dobro phenom Gaven Largent joined the Blue Highway family in January 2016 following the departure of Ickes, and has become not only a respected member of the band, but also like a cherished younger brother to Taylor.

"I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet that I've been able to do this and travel all over the world," Taylor said. "I can't make it clear enough how much I appreciate this honor, and the fact that I've been able do what I love for the last 22 years."

Taylor overcame early years in a wheelchair to drive a coal truck for 18 long years in the mountains of southwest Virginia, playing in small bands on the side, until a golden door opened to become a founding member of one the most influential and respected bluegrass bands in modern history, Blue Highway.

The gifted songwriting and pure vocals of Taylor, Stafford, and 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 in a reader poll by Bluegrass Today.

Blue Highway's newest album 'Original Traditional' released on September 9, with their first #1 song from the album "Wilkes County Clay" soaring to #1 just three short weeks after the album's release (Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart - week of September 24).

Nashville entertainment writer Craig Havighurst has credited Wayne Taylor's voice with giving Blue Highway an "inimitable sound," and that sound has earned Blue Highway a rich share of fans, friends, and awards since the band's first show on New Year's Eve 1994 in Kingsport, TN. Blue Highway has earned a collective 25 IBMA Awards, 6 SPBGMA Awards, one Dove Award, plus two Grammy nominations as a band. Wayne was individually honored as SPBGMA Bass Performer of the Year in 2001.

Marian Levy of the band's label Rounder Records also recently praised Wayne's talent and contribution to Blue Highway, writing: "Taylor's resonant lead voice is one of the wonders of the bluegrass world."

Wayne has remained humble through all the awards and praise, always quick to convey his appreciation and praise for those around him, and above all give his thanks to God.

"All the talent that anybody has is a gift from God," Taylor said. "I tell people, if I have any talent, it has to be from Him."

Highly respected freelance writer Tom Netherland eloquently wrote of Wayne earlier this year: "For 18 years he drove the snaking roads of Southwest Virginia by day and played bluegrass on the side by night. Blue Highway gave him a way out of the truck. Their fans made them stars."

Blue Highway's stars were all shining brightly on Saturday, with proof the American dream is still alive and perhaps shining brightest in Virginia's newest Hall of Fame member, Wayne Taylor.

Tags: Wayne TaylorBlue HighwayHall of FameVirginia Country Music Hall of FameAward

Michael and Jennifer McLain Ready to “Hit the Road and Go”

Wed, 10/12/2016 - 19:45

You are cordially invited to a CD Release Showcase for the Michael and Jennifer McLain Band, featuring Dan Kelly! Bluegrass by the Barn will be held at the Arrington Vineyard southeast of Franklin, TN, outside of Nashville. Please join them for a CD Release Party on October 16th! They will be at the Bluegrass Stage (6362 Cox Road, Arrington, TN) from 2 – 6pm. The whole band will be there including Dan Kelly and Kori Caswell. Our new CD, "Hit The Road And Go" is ready for release!

Michael and Dan both have special connections to the rockabilly song, "Restless." Michael was in the studio for the 1991 Grammy winning session with Mark O’Connor and guests Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Steve Wariner, and Dan was touring with Steve Wariner when this song was a hit on country radio.

Michael remembers: “Ricky asked me to bring his guitar rig to the studio on Music Row for the session. For the guitar “shootout” at the end of the song, producer, Jim Ed Norman, told the three guitarists “were not stopping and we’re not going back!” And it was an honor to sit with Steve Wariner while he worked out the twin line for one of the solos.”

Michael and Jennifer come together on banjos for “Lady of Spain.” Michael's dad, Raymond K. McLain, loved to play accordion. They don't have an accordion, so here is the next best thing… two banjos! The album offers more fun surprises. Click Here to hear samples of this exciting new release.

Husband and wife, Michael and Jennifer McLain, both grew up touring and performing in musical families, are both banjo players, and have been playing together since their first date. ?Together they have performed in 27 states from New York to California, Canada, and have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, Kentucky Educational Television, Iowa Public Television, The Nashville Network, Country Music Television, RFD Television, National Public Radio, and the PBS show, Song of the Mountains, which airs on over 180 Public Television outlets across the United States.

Growing up, Michael performed with his family, the McLain Family Band all across the United states in 49 states, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Brazil, including concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum, Lincoln Center, and Chicago's Orchestra Hall. For several years he toured and recorded as part of the Claire Lynch Band as well as with Dale Ann Bradley. He was featured on a CD with Claire Lynch that was nominated for a Grammy. For 13 years, he taught guitar, banjo, mandolin and bluegrass ensemble in the School of Music at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.

Tags: Michael & Jennifer McLainMcLain Family BandCD ReleaseCD Release PartyHit the Road and Go

John McEuen's Latest Project Hits the Charts!

Tue, 10/11/2016 - 19:58

Nashville, TN -- Grammy-winning "String Wizard" John McEuen celebrates early success and applause with his new solo project titled Made in Brooklyn (released September 30). Produced by McEuen (with David Chesky) and featuring special guest performances by David Bromberg, Jay Ungar, Andy Goessling, John Cowan, Steve Martin, Martha Redbone, David Amram, John Carter Cash, Matt Cartsonis, Skip Ward and more, Made in Brooklyn debuted at No. 1 on AirPlay Direct's Americana/AAA chart, No. 9 on Billboard's Bluegrass chart and No. 10 on Amazon's Hot New Releases-Folk chart.

Released by the New York powerhouse Chesky Records (a renown high-definition audiophile recording company), the 16-track project parallels McEuen's previous Grammy and award winning productions. Similar to McEuen's initiation of the genre-breaking, landmark Will the Circle be Unbroken sessions nearly 45 years ago (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), McEuen's Made in Brooklyn once again reveals his collaborative-genius by the same score.

Gathering world-class musicians into one room with all performers playing together around a single microphone, Made in Brooklyn presents select acoustic music in its purest form.

Each song was captured in its entirety, from first note to last--no overdubs, no multi-tracks, no auto-tune. The Chesky sessions were recorded in high-definition using a binaural microphone (a dummy-head designed to provide that same spatial recognition as that of the human ear), giving the listener the impression they are sitting in with the band, rather than simply being at the session.

"Often albums are recorded with a few musicians at a time, with overdubs on different days for different things. 10 people in different rooms at different times can't have a real conversation," McEuen explains. "But when you get these caliber of musicians together in one room and recording at the same time, they play off one another, elevate one another, and get inspired by each others' musical thoughts...that's when the 'magic' happens. That was all I was after."

World-class musicians featured on this project include:

  • David Bromberg —"Godfather of Americana"
  • Jay Ungar — folk musician/composer (Ashoken Farewell)
  • Andy Goessling — multi-instrumentalist/founding member of Railroad Earth
  • Martha Redbone — Native-American blues/soul singer
  • David Amram — conductor/composer/author, "Splendor in the Grass" & "Manchurian Candidate"
  • John Cowan — "Voice of NewGrass"/bass player for the Doobie Brothers
  • Steve Martin — Grammy-winning Bluegrass banjo player/comedian/actor
  • Matt Cartsonis — folk artist/film composer
  • John Carter Cash — award-winning record producer/only child of John & June Carter Cash
  • Skip Ward — Grammy-winning bassist
  • Kevin Twigg — percussionist/member of the Amram Quintet

"Made in Brooklyn reflects the spirit and spontaneity that originally took flight with Will the Circle be Unbroken, proof that great music of a revered pedigree never goes out of style."
~ Lee Zimmerman, No Depression

"Made in Brooklyn deserves a GRAMMY® in either Americana or Bluegrass categories – or both!"
~ Country Music News International

"A breathtaking experience...superbly recorded artistry in motion."
~ Steven F. Adams, SoundwaveOne

"Made in Brooklyn is this year's juiciest slice of Americana music...a wonderful, musical movable feast."
~ Terry Roland, No Depression

"Made in Brooklyn highlights John's wizardry in his own musical interpretations and showcases his talents in surroundings where he is most comfortable--alongside great musicians, recording great music with carte blanche freedom to create."
~ Steve Martin, "Unreal Bluegrass"

"The sound quality has a depth to it that is uncanny. It's as if you're in the room with the performers who are gathered together in connectedness."
~ Three-time Grammy-winning guitarist, Steve Vai

"I believe in my heart that John McEuen is one of the great American Music Legends of our time. He is a pure genius and Made In Brooklyn is proof."
~ Joe Bonsall, 43-year member of The Oak Ridge Boys

"McEuen has the uncanny ability to be both traditional and progressive--often in the same song. This is truly a masterpiece."
~ Orin Friesen/KFDI

"I played Made in Brooklyn on my program and my request lines lit up! This will be my constant companion for many months to come."
~ Al Shusterman, KUBU Radio "Backroads Bluegrass"

"I am completely blown away by this album....I don't think it's hyperbole of me to say this may well be the finest sounding acoustic recording I've ever heard. It is sonically astonishing."
~ Mike Lawson, Journalist (CUbroadcast, San Diego Union-Tribune, etc.)

"This is John's finest work since the Circle album and the variety even outshine's the String Wizards album."
~ Bob Cherry, Cybergrass

For more than 50 years, multi-instrumental "String Wizard," John McEuen has performed over 9,500 concerts, covering more than three-million miles globally with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and as a solo performer. McEuen has recorded over 40 albums (6 solo)--four platinum and five gold, garnering countless awards including GRAMMY and Emmy nominations, CMA and ACM awards and IBMA Record of the Year honors. As a musician, McEuen has built a lasting legacy, including his seminal work on the Will the Circle Be Unbroken album, recognized as "the most important record to come out of Nashville" (Rolling Stone) and "the most important record in country music" (2004 ZAGAT survey).

Beyond performing, McEuen has produced more than 300 concerts throughout his career (the first in 1965 in Long Beach Calif., with Bob Dylan). In 2010, his record production of Steve Martin's The Crow won a GRAMMY for "Best Bluegrass Album."

Additionally, McEuen has a rich history of creating, producing and preserving original, traditional folk and acoustic music and taking it to new audiences. McEuen's The Music of the Wild West was honored with the Western Heritage Award; he scored a GRAMMY nomination for String Wizards II; and earned the Uncle Dave Macon Award for "excellence in preservation and performance of historic music."

John is show host of the popular "Acoustic Traveller" radio show on Sirius/XM's The Bridge (now in its 8th year).

For the latest John McEuen news, please visit:, (, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: John McEuenChartsMade in BrooklynCD Release

2016 Bluegrass IMEA Awards Announced

Mon, 10/10/2016 - 19:37

The awards for the International Music and Entertainment Associations (IMEA) were handed out during the awards celebration held October 8, 2016 at the Tucker Theatred in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Bluegrass Music category contains three award categories for the IMEA trophies.

The purpose and mission of the International Music and Entertainment Association’s IMEA Awards is to honor and recognize the best in independent music, theatre, and live entertainment, internationally. The IMEA Awards, presented annually, highlight excellence in the performing arts and entertainment industries.

The winners for the bluegrass awards this year are:

Bluegrass Group of the Year
Open Rail

Gallipolis Ohio Based Open Rail was selected as Bluegrass Group of the Year for 2016. Open Rail now in the band's 9th year was surprised and humbled to be recognized by industry leaders and peers. Open Rail consisting of John Cardwell on Mandolin, Don Titus on Banjo, Brian Ison on Bass, Shane Lail and Mike Sheppard on Guitar have made the rounds in the world of bluegrass traveling and performing in eight states over the last nine years. Speaking of the award Brian Ison said, "Being from small town USA, and receiving an award for the work and efforts you put in is a wonderful thing. To be honored as an International award winner is more than we could have ever dreamed for." Open Rail continues their busy tour schedule this weekend and throughout the rest of 2016. 2017 is already filling in well and with this award is soon to fill up quickly. For more information about Open Rail, visit

Bluegrass Album of the Year
I Want To Go Home – Kevin Pace & the Early Edition

Kevin Pace & the Early Edition wants to thank everyone for their support! The group won the "Bluegrass Album of the Year" category with I Want To Go Hom". Thanks to all the guys in the band, to producers Jonathan Buckner and Jonathan Campbell, and songwriters Brink Brinkman and Melanie Brown King. Based out of Spokane, Washington, the band consists of Kevin Pace – Mandolin, guitar, lead & harmony vocals; Josh Robertson – Guitar, lead & harmony vocals; Christopher Arndt – Banjo, vocals; and Jim Adams - Bass Fiddle, vocals. The band claims, " It is our goal that everyone leave our show having had a positive experience." They record on the Poor Mountain Record label.

Bluegrass Song of the Year
"Let Her Roll" – Kathy Boyd & Phoenix Rising

Kathy Boyd announced, thanks songwriter Steve Spurgin, producer Mark Gensman, Dennis Nelson for saying, "Hey, we should release a single!" She also gave kudos to Tim Crosby for wackadoodle mandolin, and to Tom Tower (Plato Ravioli) for the ability to make train sounds on his Dobro....and to the whole gang for following her off so many cliffs! Kathy Boyd & Phoenix Rising captured the Bluegrass Group of the Year last year and celebrates bringing home another award this year.

The complete list of award winners is on the IMEA site at

Tags: IMEAInternational Music and Entertainment AssociationOpen RailKathy Boyd and Phoenix RisingKevin Pace & The Early Edition

Nothin' Fancy Releases “Where I Came From”

Sun, 10/09/2016 - 20:21

Willis, VA -- Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce the release of a brand new album from Nothin' Fancy. Where I Came From is available to radio and consumers. 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, 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. On Where I Came From, the band offers more of what their fans have come to expect; excellent musicianship combined with strong material and tight vocals - making their name an oxymoron of sorts.

Journalist Ted Lehmann, who wrote the liner notes for the project, stated it best: "As they've grown in confidence and breadth of vision, Nothin' Fancy's internal creativity has taken a more prominent place in their work, containing a striking combination of Mike Andes' songs about love and loss along with his slightly wacky but always tasteful novelty songs that tickle the funny bone without offending. Andes, himself, wrote six of the songs on this CD with work ranging from a soulful Civil War ballad to the raucous 'Daddy Made Moonshine,' a worthy addition to his catalog. Meanwhile gospel quartet 'Lord, Hear My Plea' reaches out to the heart of the seeker in a heartfelt upbeat song emphasizing the possibility of escaping darkness. Newest band member Caleb Cox has contributed two songs to the present collection, both thoughtful and moving.

As a performing band, Nothin Fancy celebrates humor and wit, both between the songs and within them. Chris Sexton, who brings a deep background in classical violin as well as a lifetime in bluegrass music, can be counted on for vivid responses, while his musical contributions contain pointed allusions to other songs and forms of music. It's never unusual to find classical and pop references in his virtuoso fiddling around. The baritone voice in a band's vocal trio is, perhaps, the most demanding and least audible, yet without it, singing often seems incomplete. Tony Shorter, a fan favorite as the band's ladies' man, is incomparable singing the baritone vocal and rock steady on the bass. Mitchell Davis's banjo voice always brings the instrument's joy and bounce to Nothin' Fancy while anchoring its humor as the sneaky bad boy who doesn't get caught."

Where I Came From is available to radio programmers via AirPlay Direct. Consumers may download the album here or purchase a physical copy wherever great music is sold. For more about Nothin' Fancy visit For more about Mountain Fever Records, visit

Big Country Bluegrass to Carter Fold Saturday!

Sun, 10/09/2016 - 20:18

Hiltons, VA -- Saturday, October 15th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert by Big Country Bluegrass. Big Country Bluegrass was formed by husband and wife Tommy and Teresa Sells in the late 1980s and took its' name from Tommy's coon-hunting buddy Jimmy Martin's instrumental Big Country. The group delivers their own hard driving and heartfelt style of bluegrass music, and it makes them crowd favorites wherever they perform. Whether it's at a festival in Missouri, on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, or at a small intimate concert in their hometown of Independence, Virginia, the band brings back memories reminiscent of the early days of bluegrass music.

All the band's members live in and around the Virginia/Carolina Blue Ridge, and their music reflects much of the deep musical heritage found in this region which is at the heart of the Crooked Road Music Trail. Tommy Sells plays mandolin and handles most of the emcee work. Teresa Sells plays rhythm guitar and sings lead and high harmony vocals. Eddie Gill handles most of the distinctive lead vocals and also plays the guitar. John Treadway, the group's newest member, plays banjo and sings harmony. Tony King plays upright bass for the group. Bluegrass veteran Tim Laughlin of Bristol, Tennessee, plays fiddle and sings harmony with the band.

Big Country Bluegrass plays music that has become known to many as Galax or Mt. Airy style bluegrass. It is straight ahead, hard edged bluegrass with no frills. The rhythm and timing are solid, the instrumental work is clean and tasteful, and the vocals are from the heart.

The band has released over a dozen albums and CDs over the years. The recent success of Big Country Bluegrass on the bluegrass charts has helped spread the word about their traditional sound. Their last Rebel recording, Memories of the Past, and its' title cut I'm Putting on My Leaving Shoes (written by Tom T. & Dixie Hall), garnered the prestigious # 1 spot on the Bluegrass Unlimited air-play chart. The band's latest Rebel Records release Country Livin' is now available. The lead cut The Bluefield West Virginia Blues has also made the same # 1 spot on the Bluegrass Unlimited air-play chart. Big Country has recorded a CD celebrating 30 years as a bluegrass band, and it is due for release in January of 2017. For more information on Big Country, go to their web site -

If you love to dance or if you prefer just listening, Big Country Bluegrass won't disappoint. In fact, the band has become a favorite of Fold audiences. For some of the best traditional bluegrass music the region has to offer, don't miss them at the Carter Family Fold! Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $2 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 or our second site – 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: Big Country BluegrassCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

Molsky's Mountain Drifters, Moonshine Holler for Oldtone Roots Music Series

Sat, 10/08/2016 - 18:13

Introducing Bruce Molsky's brand new trio, Molsky's Mountain Drifters, with Allison de Groot and Stash Wyslouch - Tradition steeped in possibility. Bruce Molsky, "one of America's premier fiddling talents" (Mother Jones) and Grammy-nominated artist on fiddle, banjo, guitar and song is delighted to present his new group already on tour in the US. Bruce's previous collaborations, with Anonymous 4, 1865 – Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War, was released to rave reviews and was on the top 10 Billboard charts for weeks. Bruce is also Berklee College of Music's Visiting Scholar in the American Roots Program.

Allison de Groot combines wide ranging virtuosity and passion for old-time music. With her own bands The Goodbye Girls and Oh My Darling, she has played Trafalgar Square in London, Newport Folk Festival, Stockholm Folk Festival the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and Tønder Festival in Denmark.

Boston-based Stash Wyslouch is one of bluegrass' great young genre-bending pioneers. He got his start as a guitarist in metal bands before immersing himself in roots music as a member of The Deadly Gentlemen. Stash is a veteran festival performer, having played at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Rockygrass, Merlefest, Savannah Music Festival and others.

The Trio is joined by local favorites Paula Bradley and Bill Dillof of Moonshine Holler.

Date: Friday November 11th 8 pm (doors open at 7:30)
Location: Dewey Hall, 91 Main Street, Sheffield, MA 01257
Phone: 413 429 1797
Tickets: available at the door, cash, credit or BerkShares, or at this link: $20.
Beverages available for purchase (Beer and Wine)

Tags: Bruce MolskyMolsky's Mountain DriftersCD Release PartyMoonshine Holler

“The Dailey & Vincent Show” Extended Through December 2016

Fri, 10/07/2016 - 18:41

Nashville, TN -- Due to its popularity and strong ratings, “The Dailey & Vincent Show,” on RFD-TV, sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms, has been extended throughout the remainder of 2016. Country, Bluegrass and Gospel music fans have plenty to look forward to on upcoming episodes of the national variety series, set to air in 63 million households across all 50 states. The program, which is shot on location in Nashville, Tenn., features world class musicians, showcasing a combination of legendary acts, along with current hit makers.

In addition to breathtaking performances, the series also features a special cooking segment, serving up hearty meals with a whole lot of laughter. The show has just announced additional re-airings throughout 2016 featuring performances from artists like Lee Greenwood, Tanya Tucker, Diamond Rio, Jimmy Fortune, Jerry Douglas, Larry Sparks, James Easter and many more (see dates below). Enter your zip code here to find RFD-TV in your area.

"We are thrilled that our show has performed so well on RDF,” says Jamie Dailey. “We are thankful to have additional episodes re-airing throughout the rest of the year".

Hosted by bluegrass superstars Dailey & Vincent, the music-driven show features the dynamic duo appearing alongside artists whose music they love. The 30-minute program airs Friday nights at 9:30 pm ET on RFD-TV, and in addition to musical performances, the hit program also features special guest cooking segments, presented by Springer Mountain Farms. Tune in as celebrity chefs step into the kitchen and cook up some tasty treats, including upcoming guests T.G. Sheppard, Joe Stampley, TV personality Larry Black and more.

Upcoming Episodes of “The Dailey & Vincent Show”:

October 8
Performing Artist: Diamond Rio
Celebrity Chef: T.G. Sheppard & Kelly Lang

October 15
Performing Artist: Doyle Lawson
Celebrity Chef: Mary Beth Oxedine

October 22
Performing Artist: Jerry Douglas
Celebrity Chef: Areeda Stampley

October 29
Performing Artist: Jimmy Fortune
Celebrity Chef: Joe Stampley

November 5
Performing Artist: Dailey & Vincent Family
Celebrity Chef: Joe & Areeda Stampley

November 12
Performing Artist: Doyle Lawson & Terry Baucom
Celebrity Chef: Becky Brown & Kim Corwin

November 19
Performing Artist: Tanya Tucker
Celebrity Chef: Larry Black

November 26
Performing Artist: Teea Goans
Celebrity Chef: Tim & Roxanne Atwood

Dailey & Vincent have a jam-packed tour schedule, where fans will get an up-close and personal experience with the multi-IBMA award-winners. The pair just concluded the second annual Dailey & Vincent LandFest in Denton, North Carolina last month, performing for a record crowd. The next stops will take the ‘rockstars of bluegrass’ to Georgia, where they will appear at 2 different locations. Don’t miss your chance to catch the most in-demand act in American Music today!

Tags: Dailey & VincentDailey & Vincent ShowTV

Donna Ulisse Named 2016 Songwriter of the Year

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 20:03

Donna Ulisse left Raleigh last week named the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association's Songwriter of the Year. It is an award she had been nominated for the past four years in a row with 2016 making it her fifth nomination. Having never won, it caused her to often joke that she was the IBMA's Susan Lucci, in reference to Lucci going nineteen years before winning an Emmy for best Daytime Soap Actress. When former winner Becky Buller announced the award, she smiled at Ulisse's table and said, "You are no longer the Susan Lucci of this award."

Donna tearfully accepted the award saying "my father always told me if I wore a skirt it would snow. Well, instead of that, I ripped it off on the escalator on the way in so it flustered me and I forgot what I was going to say."

While Hampton, Virginia native Ulisse started in the business as a singer with a country deal on Atlantic Records in the 1990's, she turned her attention to serious songwriting in 2000 when she was signed by Hadley Music Group as a staff songwriter. When her publisher noticed the songs she was writing alone had a strong Appalachian and bluegrass flavor, the company decided to take her in the studio to record an album of original material recorded in a bluegrass setting to sell at "songwriter in the round" shows. This became her first bluegrass release, When I Look Back, which yielded several radio favorites including "I'm Calling Heaven Down."

Now, after nine albums released in the bluegrass genre, filled with mostly original material, she has also had many songs recorded by other bluegrass and folk artists including Claire Lynch, The Bankesters, Nu-Blu, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Natasha Borzilova, Diana Jones, Louise Mosrie, The Larry Stephenson Band, Volume Five, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (Grammy nominated album) and The Del McCoury Band (Grammy winning album).

In the past year, she has had a hand in writing the popular bluegrass radio hits "Wilma Walker" recorded by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and "I Am A Drifter" recorded by Volume Five as well as her own radio hits "Hard Cry Moon" and "It Could Have Been The Mandolin" which was #1 for June and July of 2016 in Bluegrass Unlimited's National Chart. She is also a writer on the upcoming title cut to the new Larry Stephenson Band's album Weep Little Willow.

Ulisse is the author of The Songwriter in Me: Snapshots of My Creative Process which gives readers insight into how she goes about the business of getting song ideas out of her head and onto paper into a completed song. When Ulisse and her bluegrass band The Poor Mountain Boys are not on the road performing at festivals and concert venues, she enjoys teaching others about songwriting. She has launched a traveling workshop called where aspiring songwriters can learn the "nuts and bolts of songwriting" as well as creative warm-up exercises, how to co-write and the basics of publishing and copyright.

To learn more about Donna Ulisse visit

Tags: Donna UlisseBecky BullerSongwriter Of The YearAwardSongwriting

Pitt Reso-Guitars Endorses Glen Crain

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 19:56

Veteran resophonic guitar player and fairly new luthier, Jerry Pitt, Pitt Resophonic Guitars, of Melcher – Dallas, Iowa, is proud to announce his endorsement of Glen Crain, one of the most melodically creative and well respected Dobro players in the bluegrass industry today. Glen is plays Dobro with the Edgar Loudermilk Band, featuring Jeff Autry and has played with the guys for many years.

Glen met Jerry Pitt after a Central City, Iowa show on August 27th and an immediate friendship was struck. Jerry let Glen pick on his "Old Hounds" reso-guitars that he handcrafted for the sole purpose of creating the "old Dobro sound, but with the power and ability to sustain like the newer post design guitars." Glen had this to say about the "Old Hounds" guitars:

"He (Jerry) can turn out an excellent resophonic guitar for $999. I want to be able to push a guitar that is handmade yet affordable for a beginner as well as a seasoned player. For me it was love at first sight and I couldn't wait to try it out in a microphone on stage. I did just that in Clarkesville, Georgia and fell in love with my "Old Hound" from Pitt Resophonic Guitars all over again."

Jerry has been playing Dobro for many years but only just got his start as a Luthier back in 2014. "I wanted to provide a guitar that was a high quality instrument with a great sound at an affordable price." Jerry currently builds just the two standard models, which he calls his "Old Hounds."

Tags: Pitt Reso-GuitarsEndorseBusinessGlen Crain

2016 World of Bluegrass Blew My Socks Off!

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 19:42

by James Reams 
I always have such a great time at the IBMA World of Bluegrass conference, but this year the excitement actually started before I even got there. It was literally an airport to airport experience.

I arrived at the Phoenix airport to find Darby Brandli, President of the California Bluegrass Association, and Michael Hall, President of the Northern California Bluegrass Society and Chairman of the IBMA Film Festival Committee (of which I was a member), waiting for their connecting flight to Raleigh...which also happened to be my flight too! Michael and I got to sit together for the cross-country flight and chatted about the upcoming Arizona Bluegrass Showdown and Film Festival as well as the films that would be presented at the conference. Small world.

Once we touched down in Raleigh, it was obvious that the city was buzzing with bluegrass. I was greeted at the airport by a display about the bluegrass music happenings in Raleigh that week, the car service I used knew all about the event, and even the hotel was giving bluegrassers VIP treatment!

After checking in, I took a little walk on the streets outside the hotel and wouldn’t you know the first person I ran into was Steve Martin!! No, not the wild and crazy guy, but the popular webcaster for Unreal Bluegrass. We got into some great discussions about homelessness and my new album, Rhyme & Season’s focus on the disenfranchised and marginalized. As an attorney, he shared some of his encounters about intervening on behalf of runaways. It was great swapping stories with him. Steve and I stopped in at The Pit for some of their world famous BBQ and seated at the table next to us was IBMA Hall of Famer, Dave Freeman, from Rebel Records. So we shook somewhat barbecuey hands and swapped CDs. Bluegrass sure does bring folks together!

That night I attended a special cocktail party for Leadership Bluegrass alumni held on the top floor of the PNC Bank building overlooking the city. It was a magical evening filled with conversations about bluegrass favorite topic! I chatted with Rounder Records’ and Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductees Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin and Marian Levy, as well as folks from all across the world that are influencing our music.

The next morning, I was up bright and early to participate on the panel with Daniel Roth (Nu-Blu) and Joe Newberry (singer-songwriter and award winning musician) for a conference workshop called “Booking Yourself Without an Agent.” The room was packed with the members of new bands and we were so glad to have Nancy Cardwell (former IBMA Executive Director) on hand to offer support. Hands were shooting up everywhere as we were peppered with questions. What resulted was an amazing discussion about how to keep your band active and growing.

The keynote address for the conference was delivered on Tuesday afternoon by a Leadership Bluegrass classmate, Marian Leighton-Levy, co-founder of Rounder Records and 2016 inductee into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. She knocked it out of the park and sent the bluegrass world a strong message, “If music doesn’t discriminate, why should we?” I sure hope the IBMA posts her speech on social media, it was so inspiring and is something no bluegrasser should miss.

Seems like everywhere I went, I kept running into folks I knew. Kyle Cantrell, of Sirius Radio, pulled himself away from his “groupies” to say, “Hey, I know you!” Paul Schiminger, IBMA’s new Executive Director, kept waving at me like a maniac every time we saw each other. We really connected at Leadership Bluegrass this year. And my carved wooden fridge magnets that I brought along to give away were as sought after as Olympic pins! Joe Mullins, winner of the 2016 IBMA Broadcaster of the Year award, even traded me his hand sanitizer for one!

The Momentum Awards Banquet was especially exciting! I shared a table with the Arizona contingent including Bonnie Williams and Ben & Helen Sandoval and just about popped a button when Brad Kolodner picked up the award for Industry Involvement. I really got to know Brad when he and his father performed last year as part of a concert series that I promote in the Phoenix metro-area.

As always, the real highlight of the week was the IBMA award show. Hobnobbing with Bluegrass Unlimited’s Kitsy Kuykendall, bluegrass legend Ronnie Reno, my buddy Larry Stephenson of the Larry Stephenson Band, as well as all the good folks from Bluegrass Today before the show was so much fun. But I had no idea what an emotional experience was in store for me when I arrived that evening. You could have knocked me and a whole bunch of other folks over with a feather when my dear friend, Danny Paisley’s name was called as the Male Vocalist of the Year. I’ve known Danny for just about his whole career. We’ve played at the same festivals, clawing for every scrap of meat off the bluegrass bone we could get. It brought tears to my eyes and to those around me, to see him stand up there, obviously shaken, and accept his award. And he certainly deserved the win. Wow! What a thrill!!

Heading for home after an exhausting week, I was standing in line waiting to board my flight, when I glanced back over my shoulder and did a quick double-take. There sat a long-time idol of mine, Marty Stuart and the rest of the Superlatives. I did what any self-disrespecting groupie would do and quickly pulled out my phone to take a selfie with the legend (unfortunately, all you can see of me is my shoulder!). I scrounged up the guts to hand him one of the 2 remaining copies of my new album and mumbled something about including one of his great songs “Rough Around the Edges” on the album, before I hurried back to the line to board the flight. Because of my long legs, I usually sit in the bulkhead and sure was shocked when Marty and the rest of the band boarded the same plane a bit later. I had a chance to chat with Marty several times during the flight. As we joked and kidded around about the music business, I felt like I was in heaven (especially with the clouds floating by the windows!).

The IBMA World of Bluegrass is all about connections with the world-wide family of bluegrassers. Lord willing, I’ll be back again for next year’s family reunion and hope to see you there too!

Tags: James ReamsEditorialGuest ColumnistWorld of Bluegrass

Blue Highway's Shawn Lane Introduces Space Age I-Tone Picks

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 19:36

Walhalla, SC -- Blue Highway's heralded vocalist, instrumentalist, and songwriter Shawn Lane and Clemson University engineer associate Brad Poore have unveiled a game-changing new flat pick called the I-Tone Pick. The I-Tone Pick is made from the same material used by NASA in construction of the Space Shuttle. The almost indestructible material has one of the highest wear and temperature ratings known to man, and delivers crystal clear tone and clarity when it strikes the strings.

The rare material is almost ivory-like, and dramatically increases the volume, tone, and clarity musicians get from their stringed instruments. Remarkably, it also creates little to no pick noise.

Shawn Lane praised the I-Tone Pick, saying:

"One of the first things that made me a fan of the pick, besides the huge sound it brings out of an instrument, is when I dropped it on a hard surface, it sounded like ivory when it hit. It has a crystal clear tone to it, even when dropped against something that doesn't resonate. It gets the absolute best tone, volume, and clarity out of my mandolin and guitar. As a professional musician for 27 years, I've always been looking for something to make my instrument more connected to me. These picks do just that. If you want to bring out the most powerful, most natural, clear tone from your instrument, you are going to love I-Tone Picks!"

Professional musicians are heralding the I-Tone Pick for the sound it brings from their instrument:

"The I-Tone Pick has solved the problem of how to get the brightest tone with the least pick noise! These things rock!"
  ~ Cory Piatt, of the band Mountain Faith

"Crystal clear highs and warm woody lows -- with no pick noise! What else could you ask for?! I love these picks!"
  ~ Harry Clark, of the band Volume Five

Shawn Lane and Jacob Burleson of the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band are featured in a video, showcasing the I-Tone Pick's sound on mandolin and guitar:

I-Tone Picks are available at and A Launch Week Promotion will enter all orders placed Oct 4-11 on the Official I-Tone Website at to win an autographed set of Shawn Lane's solo albums.

Tags: Shawn LaneI-Tone PicksNew Producttechnology

Dry Hill Draggers Return to Carter Fold Saturday

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 19:10

Saturday, October 8th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of old time music by the Dry Hill Draggers.

In the late 1970s, some neighbors and friends started gathering to play old time music which had been passed down from generations before. Most of these gatherings were in the Dryhill and Ferrum areas of Franklin County, Virginia. One day while playing music and having some fun some of the musicians were falling behind, and Edgar Crowe said since they were dragging behind on their timing, he was going to call the group the "Dry Hill Draggers." So in 1981, the band Dry Hill Draggers established by Jimmy Body and brother, Billy Boyd, along with other band members - Carl Scott, Murphy Shively and Bob Trammel - began playing together professionally at festivals and events. The name Dry Hill Draggers has stuck now for the past thirty years.

The Draggers cut their first album in 1982. It was called Knockin' Around With the Ole Time Sound. In 1983 the album There Will Come a Time came out followed up with Budded Roses a couple of years later. The next album, Pallet on Your Floor, was followed by Don't Get Trouble in Your Mind. Several years passed without any studio work, but in 2009, a CD was released called Take a Drink on Me. In 2011, which marked the 30th year anniversary for the band, a CD was recorded and released with some of the band's favorite songs from all past eight recordings entitled 30th Year Anniversary. The group is in the works on recording their 10th project.

Throughout the years, band members have come and gone and some have passed away, but the tradition and heritage is still going strong today to keep the ole time sound of the mountains alive. Also, throughout the years, the band has traveled around the east coast from New York to Alabama playing. In 1982, they had the privilege of playing at the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Draggers have played at several fiddlers' conventions over the years capturing numerous awards and first place finishes. That includes a second place finish in the Ole Time Band category at the 2011 Galax Fiddlers' Convention.

The group's members today are still carrying on the ole time sound with three second generation members – Stacy Boyd on doghouse bass, Jamie Boyd on claw-hammer banjo, and Jason Hambrick on guitar. The band is also very fortunate to have two outstanding ole time fiddle players – Billy Woods and Chris Prillaman. Both also play guitar. Founder Jimmy Boyd still comes out every once in a while and knocks out a tune with the band just as he has for the past three decades.

If old time is what you like, the Dry Hill Draggers will deliver. Flat-footers and two-steppers are welcome to come out and shake a leg with the Draggers. The group is known for their knock-down, hard-driving beat, and there will be lots of fiddle tunes and rare old time tunes that aren't often heard commercially today. Bring along your dancing shoes, and get ready for some old time, mountain family fun! Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. For more information on the Draggers, go to their web site –

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: Dry Hill DraggersCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

Flatt Lonesome Claims Three IBMA Awards!

Mon, 10/03/2016 - 20:04

Flatt Lonesome claimed three International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards on Thursday, September 29th during the association's annual conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to being named IBMA's 2016 Vocal Group of the Year, the band also won Album of the Year for Runaway Train (Mountain Home Music Company) and Song of the Year for "You're The One" written by country artist, Dwight Yoakum.

The band, who was visibly overcome with emotion upon each win, thanked their parents for teaching them how to sing. Charli Robertson stated "We wouldn't be Vocal Group of the Year without them." Twin brother Buddy followed by saying, "I've spent a lot of hours picking in the house with Dad growing up, and if it weren't for him, I wouldn't be who I am today." Upon winning Album of the Year for Runaway Train, older sister, Kelsi Harrigill said, "This is our first album to have the majority of material to be all original and that is a huge deal to us. We want to pay tribute to those who came before us but we also want to show people what's in our hearts, which includes the three gospel songs that are on this album." Also during the IBMA Awards program, the band performed their hit Gospel song from the record, "In The Heat Of The Fire."

Throughout the IBMA's World of Bluegrass Conference, Flatt Lonesome made several public appearances including Mountain Home Music Company's showcase, The Bluegrass Situation's Hangin' and Sangin', Bristol Radio Sessions, several workshops and panels, and a performance for the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival.

Flatt Lonesome will continue a rigorous touring schedule upon returning home that includes performances this month at the Tennessee Fall Homecoming in Norris, the Grand Ole Opry, Bluegrass Underground and a Bluegrass Cruise. For more information on Flatt Lonesome including a complete list of upcoming performances, please visit

Tags: Flatt LonesomeIBMA AwardsMountain Home MusicRunaway Train

African Roots of the Banjo at BCM Museum Monday Evening!

Sun, 10/02/2016 - 19:02

Bristol, VA/TN -- The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is proud to present "African Roots of the Banjo," a lecture by Dr. Cece Conway, followed by a concert with the renowned Blind Boy Paxton on Monday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m. The lecture and concert is part of the Lift Every Voice Series happening this fall at the museum.

Dr. Cece Conway is a Professor of Appalachian Literature & Culture at Appalachian State University. Her academic specialty is folklore and the roots of mountain music, African roots of the banjo, and ballad keepers. In 2014 Conway received the appointment Alan Lomax Fellow with the John W. Kulge Center of the Library of Congress.

Although only in his 20s, Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton has earned a reputation for transporting audiences back to the 1920s and making them wish they could stay there for good. Paxton sings and plays banjo, guitar, accordion, and the bones and has the eerie ability to transform traditional jazz, blues, folk, and country into the here and now.

Paxton has performed to a sold-out audience for the Lead Belly Tribute at Carnegie Hall with the likes of Buddy Guy, Eric Burdon, Dom Flemons, Tom Paley, and others. He has been nominated for an inaugural International Folk Music Award in the category of Artist of the Year. Attendees of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion may remember Paxton's striking performance at the annual music festival back in 2014. Paxton will be a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, October 7-9, 2016.

For more information about upcoming museum events visit

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, explores the history, impact and legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, which included the first recordings by The Carter Family (the First Family of Country Music) and Jimmie Rodgers (the Father of Country Music). Through multiple theater experiences, video and sound, text and artifacts, and technology-infused displays?along with a variety of educational programs, music programs, and community events?the exciting story of this music and its far-reaching influence comes alive! Rotating exhibitions created in-house and by guest curators and other institutions?including the Smithsonian?will be featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The Museum Store features the handcrafted goods of over 50 regional juried artisans as well as a variety of museum and Bristol Sessions educational and fun items.

The museum is located at 520 Birthplace of Country Music Way in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee. For more information about the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit or call 423-573-1927.

Tags: BanjoBirthplace of Country Music MuseumHistoryEducationEvent

ClayBank's Debut Album "Playing Hard To Forget" Released

Sun, 10/02/2016 - 18:58

Nashville, TN -- Rural Rhythm Records is pleased to announce the debut album Playing Hard To Forget by ClayBank has been released. The current single "Up On Claybank" has appeared on the Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart several times and 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 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 today at the Raleigh Convention Center, Room 305 AB at 2:00 pm.

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.

Playing Hard To Forget can be downloaded by D.J.'s at AirPlay Direct and is available now on iTunes, Amazon and wherever Bluegrass music is sold. For more information and tour dates on ClayBank go to

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.

Tags: ClayBankRural RhythmCD ReleasePlaying Hard to Forget

Foggy Mountain Troubadour: Book Signing with Penny Parsons

Sun, 10/02/2016 - 18:52

Join the fans of Curly Seckler for a book signing with Penny Parsons, author of “Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler” at the Earl Scruggs Center! Refreshment packages including one beverage of your choice (wine, beer, or soft drink) and an assorted fruit and cheese plate are available for pre-order.

Learn more about Penny Parsons’s new book “Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler”. Known for his soaring tenor vocals and trademark mandolin style, Curly Seckler had a seventy-seven-year career in bluegrass and country music. Playing in Flatt and Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Boys in their formative years from 1949 to 1962 secured him a place in bluegrass history.

Parsons tells Seckler’s story from a small town in North Carolina to the Grand Ole Opry and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Author Penny Parsons has been a regular contributor for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine for 35 years. She was marketing and promotions director at Sugar Hill Records for eleven years, worked as the publicity director for MerleFest for nine years, and has served as Curly Seckler’s manager and producer since 2004.

“Let us shower Penny Parsons and Curly Seckler with roses for their wonderful collaboration on ‘Foggy Mountain Troubadour’. Curly Seckler is one of the most beloved and revered of all the first-generation country and bluegrass music pioneers. Ms. Parsons not only illuminates Mr. Seckler’s storied life but also reports rarified accounts that offer us insight into the humanity that underscored the people, songs, live performances, recordings, and travels surrounding what is now considered to be one of the most mythical bands ever to play: Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys. Penny Parsons is not only an authentic biographer, she is also a first-rate musical detective.”–Marty Stuart

CLICK HERE for free event registration and to purchase refreshments.

Earl Scruggs Center
103 S. Lafayette St.
Shelby, NC 28150

Tags: Curly SecklerPenny ParsonsFoggy Mountain TroubadourBookEarl Scruggs Center