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Earls of Leicester to Perform at Country Music Hall of Fame

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 22:27

Nashville, TN -- The Country Music Hall of Fame ® and Museum presents reigning International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year, Jerry Douglas and the Earls of Leicester in concert at 8:00 p.m. Friday, July 22, in the museum’s CMA Theater. Tickets are $38 and $42 and will go on sale June 3, at 10 a.m. To purchase tickets visit www.CountryMusicHallOfFame.org.

Douglas assembled the bluegrass group in 2013 to pay tribute to the music of guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys. The band’s name is a play on the names of Earl Scruggs and Lester Flat who were inducted together into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.

The performance is presented in support of the museum’s permanent exhibit The Precious Jewel, which currently features Earl Scruggs’ Gibson RB-Granada Mastertone banjo and Lester Flatt’s Martin D-28 guitar. The Earls of Leicester are also featured in the museum’s ACM Gallery, which is updated each year to reflect noteworthy events of the prior year. The refreshed gallery features the band’s 2015 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, Douglas’ acceptance speech for the award and more.

The six-man, all-star band includes Douglas and renowned musicians Shawn Camp on lead vocals and guitar, Charlie Cushman on banjo and guitars, Jeff White on vocals and mandolin, Johnny Warren on fiddle and Barry Bales on vocals and bass. Douglas and Bales are also bandmates in Alison Krauss + Union Station. Warren’s father, Paul, was a longtime member of the Foggy Mountain Boys. July 15 the band will release Rattle & Roar, the follow up to their self-titled, Grammy-winning debut on Rounder Records.

The museum will offer a day of special programming on July 22 to support the concert. Family programs will include creating embellished bow ties inspired by those worn by the band from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and beginner banjo lessons at 1 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. The museum will also offer a panel discussion at 12:30 p.m. with Penny Parsons, Charlie Cushman, Johnny Warren, and Eddie Stubbs. The group will discuss the book, Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler, a new biography of the longtime mandolin player and harmony singer with the Foggy Mountain Boys. Guests can also enjoy a screening of Best of the Flatt & Scruggs TV Show, Vol. 1 at 2:30 p.m.

Guests will receive $5 off museum admission with the purchase of a concert ticket. For more information on the concert and programming, visit www.CountryMusicHallOfFame.org. Follow @countrymusichof on Twitter and join the conversation using #HonorThyMusic.

Tags: Earls of LeicesterCountry Music Hall of Fame and MuseumConcertEvent

Tim Stafford to Perform at Prestigious Songwriters Festival

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 22:24

Abingdon, VA -- Blue Highway's Tim Stafford will perform at the 4th Annual Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival this Saturday, May 28, at 6:00 pm at Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) in Abingdon.

Stafford was named 2014 IBMA Songwriter of the Year, 2015 SPBGMA Guitar Player of the Year, and is co-founder of the multi-award winning Blue Highway, a band with 25 IBMA Awards which was recently voted the Favorite Bluegrass Artist of All Time by the readers of Bluegrass Today.

Stafford will perform along side elite songwriters Richard Leigh ("Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue"), Tony Arata ("The Dance"), Wayland Holyfield ("Could I Have This Dance"), and Even Stevens ("Drivin' My Life Away") on Saturday evening.

Stafford's solo set begins at 6:00 pm, with a songwriters round featuring the four Nashville writers at 7:00 pm.

The festival incorporates a Songwriting Contest, with 2015 top winners performing this year, in addition to performances by Stafford and Nashville's elite.

Proceeds from the festival benefit a VHCC program for Foster Care Students called Great Expectations.

Richard Leigh, the Grammy-winning, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and VHCC graduate for whom the festival is named, lost his parents at a young age and was later adopted, so the cause benefiting foster care is one genuinely close to his heart.

The Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival runs Friday-Saturday, May 27-28, in Abingdon, with tickets and info at www.RichardLeighSongwritersFestival.com. Tickets range from $10-$25, with all performances on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College at 100 VHCC Drive, in the Heartwood and the Higher Education Center buildings.

Tags: Tim StaffordRichard Leigh Songwriters FestivalAbingdonSongwriting

Donna Ulisse to Host Four Episodes of Bluegrass Ridge

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 22:22

Nashville, TN -- Bluegrass singer songwriter Donna Ulisse was recently in the studio hosting four episodes of the popular Heartland TV bluegrass video music show, Bluegrass Ridge. The show focuses on showing bluegrass videos but also includes artist interviews and some behind the scenes footage. In addition to hosting the four episodes as well as doing an interview for a fifth episode, Bluegrass Ridge is also adding four of Ulisse's music videos to their music video programming.

The videos will be:

  • "Hard Cry Moon"
  • "Showin' My Roots"
  • "This Is My Father's World"
  • "I Am A Child of God"

Along with Heartland TV, the show also airs on The Family Channel, Angel Two (Dish-TV), AMG-TV, Keep It Country TV-UK/Ireland, Country TV (New Zealand) and DTC Cable (check local listings)
The video Hard Cry Moon will also begin being shown on the Country Fix show which is also on Heartland TV.
Donna's four shows as host are set to air in August of 2016.

The first thing you're likely to notice when you listen to Donna Ulisse - whether live or on a recording - is the voice. Variously described as "rapturous and angelic," strong, supple, warm, rich, companionable and crystalline, that voice commands your attention, adapting readily to whatever song she is singing, wrapping itself around the lyrics and imbuing them with just the right emotion needed to bring the song home.

Ulisse (pronounced You-liss-ee) also has been called "one of the best singer-songwriters in bluegrass." Which leads us to the pen. Nominated as the International Bluegrass Music Association's Songwriter of the year for two years running, Ulisse has been blessed to have her songs recorded by the Del McCoury Band, Claire Lynch, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, The Bankesters and Nu-Blu, among others.

Tags: Donna UlisseHeartland TVBluegrass RidgeHost

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley have The Country Blues

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 22:59

Nashville, TN May 25th, 2016 — Some things you know are just meant to be, but it was still welcome news for Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley when their debut duo album, Before The Sun Goes Down, earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Bluegrass Album. And with the release of their new project, The Country Blues on July 8th, the pair build on the first one’s strengths to take their unique musical conversation to an even higher level.

Fun pervades the 11 tracks, even when the subject matter’s as mournful as the post-romance desolation of Hank Williams’ classic “May You Never Be Alone.” It continues through the powerful Sonny Boy Williamson blues shouter, “One Way Out,” the mixed regret and determination of Merle Haggard’s “I Won’t Give Up My Train,” into the grassy dexterity of their original, “Everywhere I Go is a Long Way From Home.”

They mix it up with insouciant funk of “Pray Enough,” imported from the Wood Brothers and the southern rock of Charlie Daniels on “Willie Jones.” Then there’s the jazzy tour de force instrumental, “Biscuits And Gravy,” written by Ickes as a kind of tribute to pedal steel master Buddy Emmons and even a nod to the Grateful Dead in “Friend Of The Devil,” a dazzling staple of the duo’s live shows.

That organic approach served them well throughout the recording sessions with regulars Mike Bub (bass) and John Alvey (drums) and a select handful of instrumental and vocal guests that included the likes of Ron Block, Vince Gill, Aubrey Haynie, Carl Jackson, Shawn Lane, Andy Leftwich, Robinella and John Randall Stewart.

Tags: Rob Ickes & Trey HensleyRob IckesTrey HensleyCD ReleaseThe Country Blues

The Kruger Brothers Bring Startling Virtuosity to Denver June 18

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 22:49

Nashville, TN -- When we think of the finer things in life, we think of quality, and among the highest quality acoustic music being produced today is that of The Kruger Brothers. The Kruger Brothers are playing a show on June 18th in Denver at Daniels Hall (Swallow Hill Music) located at 71 East Yale Avenue, Denver, Colorado. Show starts at 8 PM. Tickets $20-27.

Inspired by the finger-picking style popularized by Snuffy Jenkins and Earl Scruggs, the Swiss-raised brothers Jens and Uwe Kruger, with bassist Joel Landsberg, personify the passionate, reflective spirit of traditional American folk music, with jazz and classical flavor.

Jens Kruger was awarded the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music in 2013, the fourth recipient of this prestigious honor. Jens is known for his innovative banjo composition and performance, integrating folk music with European classical music. Uwe Kruger shines as a singer who is both direct and emotive, and for his impeccable guitar playing. He is also the lyricist for the group’s original songs. The Kruger Brothers are known for inventive compositions and performances that defy categorization. Their music is at once thoughtful and lyrical, and then virtuosic and complex. The experience is always profound.

Since their formal introduction to American audiences in 1997, The Kruger Brothers’ remarkable discipline, creativity and their ability to infuse classical music into folk music has resulted in a unique sound that has made them a highly respected fixture within the world of acoustic music. The honesty of their writing has since become a hallmark of the trio’s work.

Born and raised in Europe, brothers Jens and Uwe Kruger began singing and playing instruments at a very young age, and began their professional career in 1979. With the more recent addition of New York City native, Joel Landsberg, (who comes with his own noteworthy musical pedigree, having studied with jazz great Milt Hinton), the trio has been performing together since 1995, and is now based in Wilkesboro, NC.

In their ever-expanding body of work – Jens Kruger (banjo and vocals), Uwe Kruger (guitar and lead vocals), and Joel Landsberg (bass and vocals) – The Kruger Brothers personify the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition. Their original music is crafted around their discerning taste, and the result is unpretentious, cultivated, and delightfully fresh.

In addition to their regular concert schedule, The Kruger Brothers perform classical pieces regularly with select symphony orchestras and string quartets throughout the country. Through their numerous CD releases, radio and television performances, lectures, and collaborative efforts, The Kruger Brothers’ powerful artistic statement continues to inspire and enlighten audiences and musicians around the world.

For more information, tickets, directions and upcoming events, visit Swallow Hill Music.

Tags: Kruger BrothersConcertEventSwallow Hill

Former Jonson Mountain Boys Members at Wind Gap

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 22:47

The Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival has announced that they are expectin excellent weather but, the best part of all is that former Jonson Mountain Boys members Dudley Connell and Marshall Wilbourn to perform at Wind Gap! The Jonson Mountain Boys performed each year, at Wind Gap from the festival's first year, 1982 until the band retired. They will be with 'Chris Henry & Hardcore Bluegrass' on Saturday.

Advance ticket purchases have ended. There is no time for me to receive the orders and to mail back the tickets. If you mailed an order by Friday, May 20, I will send them on Monday, May 23rd. If you are arriving on Tuesday May 24th and have not received your tickets, I have the records at the gate and you will get them on arrival. Gate opens at 5:00PM on Tuesday, May 24th. The gate opens each day, Wednesday thru Sunday at 8:00AM

The US Navy band will perform at 7:30PM on Thursday evening. All military and vets will be admitted free on Thursday, May 26th. This offer is for the full day. The stage show starts at 3:00PM. Thank you for your service!

The 11th annual Bluegrass Academy will be held on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. The Academy is designed for school age children K thru 12. Older than school age? Please check out the free professional work shops. Instruction will be given by experienced instructors on any bluegrass instrument, as requested by the student.

New this year - A second stage will be open this year on Friday & Saturday. Times and scheduled bands will be posted soon. We will be presenting a site with sound & entertainment of the highest quality.

2016 Artist Lineup includes O'Connor Family Band, Us Navy Band Country Current, Circa Blue, Hillbenders, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, O'Connor Fiddle Duos, Little Roy & Lizzy, Danny Paisley, The Doerfel's, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, Eddie & Martha Adcock with Tom Grey, Zink & Company, James Reams & The Barnstormers, Mile Twelve, Louie Setzer, Gribillie Project, Creek Bend, Angelica Grim Family Band, Remington Ryde, Stained Grass Window, Mama Corn, Hub Hollow, Strawberry, The Zepp Family, The Dishonest Fiddlers, Chris Henry & Hardcore Grass, Susie Q, Subject to Change, Wg Bluegrass Academy, Bill & Maggie Anderson, Gordon Thomas Ward, and Dave & Megan.

Mountain View Park is located in a scenic section of eastern Pennsylvania. Camping is free with a weekend ticket. Sorry, no camping with one day tickets. A limited number of electric passes are available at $30 for the entire festival, Tue., May 24th thru Mon., May 31th. Please purchase electric pass in advance. In some years, they sell out before the festival. The camping electric has been greatly upgraded over the years, but still won't support air conditioning or electric cooking. In some areas, coffee pots may be a problem. It is for minimal use only, such as a shower pump, keeping your battery charged, breathing machines, minimal lighting, etc. Every vehicle using electric must have a purchased electric pass, even if one camper is plugged into another. Generators allowed only if they are reasonably quiet. If necessary, the festival staff will decide if they are acceptably quiet.

Please visit www.windgapbluegrass.com for more information regarding tickets, accomodations, electric service and more. Information about the Bluegrass Academy is also online.

Tags: Wind Gap Bluegrass FestivalJonson Mountain BoysLineupEvent

New Music from Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 22:23

Nashville, TN -- Mountain Home Music Company has announced a July 8, 2016 release date for Burden Bearer from Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Doyle Lawson is well known for high standards in every aspect of his musical career. Burden Bearer is the latest example of the exquisite precision in vocals, harmony and musicianship of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. The album is reminiscent of a traditional “call to a camp meeting.” It is a special music event of Bluegrass Gospel and A Capella music celebrating the musical legacy of faith, hope, struggle and victory of the spirit. Old time renderings live alongside newly forged Gospel songs that pay tribute to the aged, but timeless Gospel convention music tradition.

Although his musical gifts translate seamlessly from straight-up Bluegrass to Traditional Country, Doyle Lawson is undeniably the masterful purveyor of Bluegrass Gospel. With Burden Bearer, Lawson and his band deliver traditional convention songs such as “The Touch of His Gentle Hand” and “Get Right With God,” delivered in four-part harmonies in the perfected vocal style that only DL&Q can offer. This powerhouse ensemble carries forth with remarkable Bluegrass driven songs like “God “Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign.” New compositions that harken back to yesteryear include “Best Friend” and the title cut, “Burden Bearer.”

Lawson’s current lineup is stronger than ever with lead vocals handled by Dustin Pyrtle, Eli Johnston and Lawson himself. The harmony work on In Session makes it clear why the group has won multiple IBMA Vocal Group of the Year Awards. A noted mandolin master, Lawson always surrounds himself with top-flight players. In Session also boasts the phenomenal Dobro playing and vocals of Josh Swift, the impeccable Joe Dean on banjo and vocals and newcomer Stephen Burwell on fiddle.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have nearly forty albums to their credit, are seven-time IBMA Vocal Group of the Year winners, with enough Grammy, Dove, ICM, IBMA, and SPBGMA nominations and awards to fill a chalkboard. Lawson was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

The power of music is multi-faceted and far-reaching. No matter the trials, fans know that they can experience the transformative power of the music that comes from laying burdens at the altar. Burden Bearer is set for release on July 8.

Tags: Doyle Lawson & QuicksilverCD ReleaseBurden BearerGospel

Rhonda Vincent Announces New Bluegrass Single, "Mama Tried"

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 22:21

Rhonda Vincent is pleased to announce her new single, "Mama Tried," released in tribute to the late great Merle Haggard. Rhonda presents the song with invigorating bluegrass instrumentation, and a sassy vocal, with a familiarity that has everyone singing along. The track is released via Upper Management Music and available NOW on iTunes, Amazon, and wherever music is sold.

"The song was selected to perform on an upcoming Merle Haggard Tribute on RFD-TV's 'Country's Family Reunion.' When I started singing it at our sound checks, we were instantly intrigued with the bluegrass version, and with only a 24 hour notice, we secured a studio and recorded the song, with the intention of releasing it on Merle Haggard's birthday," says Rhonda Vincent. "We were shocked at the news of his passing, and release it now in his honor. We loved Merle and were so thrilled to meet and open a show with him on January 28, 2015. That was such a special moment, and one we will always cherish."

Listen close, because this new version features a rare performance by legendary bluegrass favorite Sonny Osborne singing harmony vocals, creating a family blend with Rhonda's daughter Sally Berry. This classic song has been a favorite of country radio for nearly 48 years, since the original hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart in 1968. It also received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, and most recently was added to the National Recording Registry in 2016.

Tags: Rhonda VincentMama TriedSingleMerle Haggard

Wide Open Bluegrass First Round Artists Announced

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 22:19

Nashville, TN -- The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) released an initial list of performers for PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass, which takes place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in Raleigh, North Carolina. This year’s lineup showcases an array of bluegrass styles, from traditional to progressive and from emerging artists to IBMA Hall of Famers. PNC returns as Wide Open Bluegrass' presenting sponsor for fourth consecutive year.

Wide Open Bluegrass is an urban bluegrass event that includes both ticketed main stage performances at Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater and free stages. A portion of proceeds from the ticket sales of Red Hat Amphitheater go to the IBMA-operated Bluegrass Trust Fund, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to individuals in the bluegrass music community in times of emergency need.

The festival is part of IBMA’s World of Bluegrass events, which begin at the Raleigh Convention Center Tuesday, September 27. A second round of performers and special collaborations for Wide Open Bluegrass will be announced in the coming months.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Del McCoury Band, Soggy Bottom Boys, Earls of Leicester, Marty Stuart, Steep Canyon Rangers, John Cowan, Greensky Bluegrass Among the Performers

The lineup for Wide Open Bluegrass, as announced so far (in alphabetical order by first name):

  • Friday, September 30:
    • Dailey & Vincent: Multiple IBMA Award winners and Grammy nominees Dailey & Vincent perform their entertaining mix of bluegrass, country and gospel music.
    • Jerry Douglas presents Earls of Leicester. Dobro master Jerry Douglas and his bluegrass supergroup the Earls of Leicester return as the 2015 IBMA Entertainers of the Year, ready to share material from their upcoming release on Rounder Records, Rattle and Roll.
    • Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands: Two-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Lewis is one of the leading singers and songwriters in bluegrass music today. Special guest to be announced later.
    • Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives: Five-time Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Marty Stuart explores the crossroads of bluegrass and traditional country.
    • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: As part of their 50th anniversary tour, the iconic and profoundly influential Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, often cited as a catalyst for an entire movement in country, rock and American roots music, will draw from their legendary catalog of hit songs. Their groundbreaking 1972 Will The Circle Be Unbroken album has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame. Special guests to be announced later.
    • Peter Rowan Band: Rowan’s storied career in bluegrass music spans more than five decades, from his early years with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys to his time in Old in the Way with Jerry Garcia to fronting his own bluegrass band.
    • Soggy Bottom Boys: For fans of the blockbuster film O Brother, Where Art Thou? and its Grammy-winning soundtrack hit “Man of Constant Sorrow,” the Soggy Bottom Boys unite for a rare live performance. The band features Dan Tyminski (singing voice for actor George Clooney), Barry Bales, Ron Block; and Pat Enright, Mike Compton, and Stuart Duncan of the Nashville Bluegrass Band.
  • Saturday, October 1:
    • Becky Buller Band: Current IBMA Songwriter of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year, Becky Buller is quickly rising among the ranks of bluegrass music’s premier singers and songwriters.
    • Greensky Bluegrass: Highlighting the genre’s progressive side, Greensky Bluegrass explores the creative space between tradition and innovation, formula and improvisation, and bluegrass and rock sensibilities.
    • John Cowan with Darin & Brooke Aldridge: Newgrass music pioneer and Doobie Brother John Cowan teams up with North Carolina’s own bluegrass duo Darin & Brooke Aldridge for a special set, with other guests to be announced.
    • Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers: Larry Sparks is IBMA’s newest inductee into its Bluegrass Hall of Fame, with 50+ years in the industry.
    • Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out: Celebrating 25 years with a chart topping album It’s About Tyme. Moore is the IBMA’s most awarded Male Vocalist of the Year (5-time career).
    • Steep Canyon Rangers: Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers are enjoying the success of their ninth studio album, RADIO, a project that further illustrates the band’s dynamic songwriting, instrumental virtuosity and high-energy performance. Recorded at Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain Recording Studio, RADIO was produced by Jerry Douglas.
    • The Del McCoury Band: A true American icon and most awarded band in the history of bluegrass.
    • The Kruger Brothers: Fan favorites and acoustic music innovators The Kruger Brothers are cooking up a very special program for the festival, with details to be announced later.

“Wide Open Bluegrass is a remarkable event and an economic boon for our region," said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president of Eastern Carolinas. "Great performers and events are the hallmark of the festival, and this year is no exception. We know all will enjoy the shows in downtown Raleigh.” This is PNC Bank’s fourth year as the festival’s presenting sponsor.

Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of the IBMA noted, “The Wide Open Bluegrass 2-day festival is a combination of stage performances not seen anywhere else in the world. We are excited to offer another spectacular Red Hat artist lineup this year, with more special artists and collaborations to be announced. It will be another fabulous weekend of music that also helps an important cause in our industry.”

William Lewis, Executive Director of PineCone, the local organization that produces the festival in Raleigh, added, “We’re proud to bring a diverse array of musicians to Raleigh, including collaborations you won’t see anywhere else. The festival is a culminating celebration that brings people together to enjoy and appreciate our shared cultural heritage. North Carolina is known for having a vibrant music scene, and this event continues to contribute to making North Carolina a hub for bluegrass and roots music.”

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass event, a five-day annual bluegrass music homecoming and convention, consists of four parts: the IBMA Business Conference, September 27 – 29 ; the 27th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, scheduled for Thursday, September 29; PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass, September 30 – October 1 (which includes both free stages and ticketed festival performances) and the Bluegrass Ramble, an innovative series of showcases, taking place September 27 – 29 in downtown Raleigh and the Raleigh Convention Center.

Single day general admission for performances at Red Hat Amphitheater during Wide Open Bluegrass starts as low as $60 for the general public and $50 for IBMA members. Additional details and pricing information - including member discounts – for Red Hat Amphitheater performances, Bluegrass Ramble Showcase passes, IBMA Business Conference registration, IBMA Award Show tickets and hotel reservations are available at IBMA’s website, ibma.org. Tickets for all events are on sale now and may be purchased at www.ibma.org or 1-800-514-3849.

IBMA is the professional trade organization for the global bluegrass music community. The organization’s six-year stay in Raleigh is the result of a partnership with The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Raleigh Convention Center, PineCone (The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music), the City of Raleigh, and a local organizing committee. For more information: www.ibma.org.

PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit www.pnc.com.

Tags: Wide Open BluegrassWorld of BluegrassEventLineup

Surefire Bluegrass Band a Sure Hit at Carter Fold Saturday

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 22:07

Hiltons, VA -- Officially formed around 10 years ago when friends Tom Isaacs, Robby Norris, and John Bryan decided to turn their collective passion for bluegrass music into a band, Surefire represents some of the best bluegrass the North Carolina High Country has to offer. The band quickly went on to win several local and regional competitions and awards. Over the next few years, the group performed regionally and made a couple of recordings. They continue to perform as a group and individually. Saturday, May 28th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert by the Surefire Bluegrass Band.

Tom Isaacs grew up learning music from his grandmother and other family members. He started playing the violin in school, but found he preferred to play by ear – finding melodies of the mountain music he knew. Soon, he learned to play banjo and guitar, taking his practicing and playing more seriously. Isaacs began playing with various groups, eventually leading to gigs with Ralph Stanley II and with Ralph Stanley on fiddle. He also performed through the years with a local friend, Kody Norris, and as the banjo player for Larry Efaw and Lonesome Will Mullins.

Robby Norris has been performing around the High Country since he was a young boy. Norris started on mandolin and was a featured player in the long-standing local bluegrass gospel band Southern Accent for several years. At a young age, he became fixated on bluegrass music, and he soon learned to play all of the instruments in the band, making solo recordings performing all of the instruments and parts. While Norris plays all of the string instruments, his focus is on the mandolin and fiddle – the instruments he plays with Surefire.

John Bryan now performs with the Grammy Award winning bluegrass band The Grascals. John grew up in a musical family and began singing and playing music as a boy in church. He began playing banjo around age l0, and a few years later met Isaacs.

With Surefire, John honed his strong tenor and lead vocals. Though Bryans’s touring schedule only allows him to perform occasionally with Surefire, Isaacs and Norris have kept the band active in the High Country. Other friends on the local bluegrass scene – banjo player Tim Norris and bass player J.M. Trivette have become staples of the group Surefire.

For more info on Surefire, go to https://www.facebook.com/surefirebluegrass. You can also check them out on You Tube. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free.

For traditional bluegrass at its’ finest, don’t miss Surefire at the Carter Family Fold! Surefire delivers a performance that would indicate they are a band with many more years of experience than they have. Their professionalism, stage presence, and sheer talent will amaze you. Tom, Robby, and the group have played with many other groups at the Fold – Larry Efaw, Lonesome Will Mullins, Travers Chandler – just to name a few. They have a bright future in bluegrass music, and we’re proud to welcome this group back to the Fold.

Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to http://www.carterfamilyfold.org. Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at http://www.carterfoldshow.com.

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. If we don’t answer immediately, we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Tags: SurefireCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

New Banjo Album, "Red Grass" from Ilya Toshinskiy

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 22:00

Hadley Music Group proudly released an instrumental album of original banjo tunes composed and performed by Ilya Toshinskiy on May 20, 2016. Ilya Toshinskiy has always been a bluegrass lover. That fact was beautifully established in the opening scene of the 2003 documentary “The Ballad of Bering Strait,” which follows the brief but memorable trajectory of his former band. A teenage Ilya, in his final exam on banjo at an elite Russian music academy in Moscow, introduces his program — a Bela Fleck number followed by “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” to professors who are clearly unfamiliar with bluegrass music. By the end of the performance, they are believers.

So it should come as no surprise that Ilya’s new solo album, Red Grass (Hadley Music Group), is an instrumental bluegrass album and a dream come true for Toshinskiy. Though acclaimed for his guitar prowess, he considers banjo his first instrument. While being trained in classical guitar as a preteen, Ilya heard another student of his teacher, a bluegrass enthusiast, playing banjo and was mesmerized. He insisted on learning that instrument and quickly excelled, soaking up the influence of Earl Scruggs and others.

In the former Soviet Union, seriously lacking in resources for the bluegrass musician, such a pursuit required a single-minded commitment and ingenuity. There were trips by his teacher to the Lenin Library in Moscow to take photographs of banjo tablatures that had somehow made their way into the shelves there. There were thumb picks made from plastic rulers that were boiled until they could be molded around Ilya’s thumb by his teacher — as well as crude, jagged metal picks made from tin cans. And cheap Korean and West German banjos whose sound was lacking. But dedication paid off.

Ilya went on to become a founding member of the band that ultimately became known as Bering Strait, a coed group of bluegrass-influenced but musically omnivorous Russian prodigies who moved to Nashville as teens in the 1990s, generated a ton of buzz, scored a major-label record deal, received a 2003 Grammy nomination (best country instrumental performance on which Toshinskiy played lead guitar and banjo) and were featured on “60 Minutes” … yet never really caught on at radio.

Enjoy the video below and hear Ilya describe his challenges of learning to play banjo as a young child growing up in the former Soviet Union.

Toshinskiy, who was increasingly being offered session work, struck out on his own before Bering Strait disbanded in 2006. Since then he has shined as a studio musician, a five-time winner of Music Row’s award for top guitar player (for playing on the most Top 10 Billboard records) and a two-time Academy of Country Music player of the year (specialty instruments). Artists whose records his playing has graced include Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, Glen Campbell, Kacey Musgraves, the Doobie Brothers and Rascal Flatts (he played the banjo on the trio’s 2012 chart-topper “Banjo”).

Red Grass offered him the opportunity “to turn the page” with his own album of banjo music. He flexes his instrumental and compositional skills on 10 original numbers (he also plays slide mandolin on one song). The album bears the stamp of a focused, disciplined, fearless artist playing the music of his heart. There are no lyrics, but lyricism abounds in Ilya’s expressive banjo playing, which conveys a range of emotions.

The songs, he says, grew from him jamming on his back porch. Many of the titles hold personal meaning: “Train Station,” for example, refers to the depot in his Russian hometown where he would wait in the cold for the next train to Moscow to the music conservatory.

Ilya praises his dream team of supporting musicians: Bryan Sutton and Jake Stargel on acoustic guitar; Byron House on upright bass; Andy Leftwich and Aubrey Haynie on mandolin and fiddle; Jerry Douglas on Dobro; Luke Bulla on fiddle; Sam Bush on mandolin. “They really elevated the whole record,” he says, compelling him to rewrite some tunes to make them stronger. “I am pretty proud of this effort. Everybody played amazingly, and it was a blast.”

The album-closing “Swan Song” features only Ilya and his banjo, a fitting end to a record that is sure to make believers out of a new group of fans. The album will be available on Amazon.com, iTunes and CDBaby as well as other online stores.

Tags: Ilya ToshinskiyCD ReleaseRed GrassBering StraitBanjoInstrumental

Lau, Sierra Hull Lead Second Lineup Announcement for FreshGrass

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 22:00

North Adams, MA -- FreshGrass, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MASS MoCA) 3-day bluegrass and roots music festival, announces additional bands for its annual September festival. UK experimental folk group Lau, mandolin virtuoso Sierra Hull, Texas blues and roots sensation Ruthie Foster, alt-folk, Northampton-based Parsonsfield, and Mexican bluegrasser Rana Santacruz join the festival lineup, which already brims with Americana favorites including Old Crow Medicine Show, Glen Hansard, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Rosanne Cash, The Devil Makes Three, a Saturday night hoedown featuring The Infamous Stringdusters, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Aoife O’Donovan, Alison Brown, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Stephane Wrembel, John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Mr. Sun, Mile Twelve, and last year’s FreshGrass Award winners Old Salt Union and Zoe & Cloyd.

FreshGrass, at MASS MoCA on September 16-18, 2016, features bluegrass traditionalists and innovators on four stages and in every nook and cranny of the museum’s 28-building, 16-acre campus. This year’s festival marks an integrated partnership with No Depression, the quarterly journal for roots music and online roots music authority.

Lau is at the center of the British folk scene. Featuring guitar, fiddle, squeezebox, and the hearty vocals of its three members (Kris Drever, Martin Green, and Aidan O’Rourke), the band’s name comes from an old Orcadian word for “natural light,” and its music follows suit. “Steeped in folk heritage but with a love for experimentation” (The Guardian), Lau’s shimmering folk melodies and countless instrumental layers shed new light on traditional music. With its debut album released in 2007, Lau won Best Group for three consecutive years at the BBC Folk Awards, has made appearances at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Calgary Folk Music Festival, and wowed a U.S. audience at last year’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival. With three masterful studio albums released, Folk Radio UK names Lau as “the mothership for an extraordinary artistic outpouring and some of the best music being made anywhere in any genre.”

Championed by Alison Krauss as having talent with no boundaries, mandolin extraordinaire and prodigy Sierra Hull hits the FreshGrass stage on her way to a tremendously bright future. Hull began playing mandolin at age 8, was signed to Rounder Records at age 13, and now at 24, after attending and graduating from Berklee College of Music on the prestigious Presidential Scholarship, has already recorded three studio albums, collaborating with mentor Alison Krauss. Her most recent, Weighted Mind, produced by banjo luminary Béla Fleck, is a “stunning coming-of-age album” with which Hull joins the likes of Nickel Creek alums Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins as “pedigreed virtuosos whose youthful, searching musical minds have taken them into postmodern singer-songwriter territory and beyond” (NPR Music).

As a musician who grew up in a family of gospel singers in small-town Texas, Ruthie Foster brings the blues to the FreshGrass lineup this year. Often compared to both Bonnie Raitt and Aretha Franklin, Ruthie has rocked stages around the country with her soulful, heartfelt voice. “Ruthie's voice is such a singular, powerful instrument, and she has such mastery of it,” her producer Meshell Ndegeocello touts. “She can turn it on, belt it out, and bring you to your knees, all in an instant."

Foster’s three most recent albums have all been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and from 2011 to 2013 she earned three consecutive Blues Music Awards. She’s also won three Koko Taylor Awards for Best Traditional Female Blues Artist, an Austin Music Award for Best Female Vocalist, and a Living Blues Critics’ Award for Female Blues Artist of the Year, among others. With appearances on stage with Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, and The Allman Brothers Band, Ruthie Foster is an authentic blues singer who honors the artists before her and captures new musical moments in each and every one of her performances.

Adding some local flavor to the festival, five-piece alt-folk band Parsonsfield, based in nearby Northampton, Mass., give Americana a makeover with its tasteful and rowdy sing-along anthems. Members Chris Freeman (vocals, banjo), Antonio Alcorn (mandolin), Max Shakun (vocals, pump organ, guitar), Harrison Goodale (bass), and Erik Hischmann (drums) made their name relentlessly touring the northeast for the better half of the decade since their nascent days as hobbyist musicians at the University of Connecticut, where agriculture student Freeman met paper artist Alcorn in a folk music club on campus, and they landed their first gig by accident when the club was mistaken for a band.

After the addition of new members and experimentation with new instruments, including electric fan, gourd piano, and saw, the group refined its sound, changed its name and recorded its first album, Poor Old Shine (Signature Sounds, 2013) in Parsonsfield, Maine. “On stage, Parsonsfield will give you rich five-part harmonies one minute, sound like bluegrass on steroids the next, and then rock you over the head with unbearably cool and raucous Celtic rhythms. All with taste and class” (No Depression). Parsonsfield’s next album is due to be released just in time for the band’s FreshGrass festival debut.

Mexican-American alt-ranchera singer Rana Santacruz brings a global atmosphere to the FreshGrass lineup. Born and raised in Mexico City, Santacruz moved to Brooklyn in 2002 to re-invent his musical persona, after playing in the ‘90s alt-rock scene in Mexico City. Inspired by the endless burgeoning talent New York City offers, Santacruz’s music adapted a cosmopolitan flavor that ranges from Irish mariachi to Mexican bluegrass to alternative folk.

He released his debut album Chicavasco in 2010 to rave reviews from critics — NPR Music says his “music is as magical as his persona” — and has since appeared at Austin’s South by Southwest, NPR’s Tiny Desk, New York’s Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. With his 2015 follow-up release Por Ahí, he further embraced his worldly tastes, influenced by “everything from Balkan-influenced dance music, bearded hipster cool, 1920's jazz, and even bluegrass” (NPR Music). Santacruz wields an accordion while he sings heartbreaking songs marinated in Mexican folklore.

In addition to more than 50 band performances, FreshScores — live music played while classic silent films are screened, the FreshGrass Award — 20 emerging artists competing in the band, duo, fiddle, and banjo categories for up to $25,000 in cash prizes and recording time at Compass Records, festival events include workshops, the festival’s legendary jam sessions — during which professional musicians pick and play among the crowd, many of whom bring their own instruments, camping (located a short distance from MASS MoCA’s campus) and family programming. World-class art, some massive in scale, is on view all weekend, as admission to MASS MoCA’s galleries is included with every festival pass. Festival-goers enjoy dozens of pop-up concerts across the museum's 16-acre, post-industrial campus nestled in the bucolic Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts.

Advance 3-day adult tickets are now available for $99, with student tickets priced at $89, $46 for kids 6-16, and free admission for kids five and under. Available for $300, FreshPass is a deluxe festival experience offering preferred seating at most stages, meet-and-greet opportunities with FreshGrass artists, access to the FreshPass Lounge, and locally sourced snacks and beer. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount on festival ticket prices. Single-day tickets may be offered closer to the event, as space allows. FreshGrass details will be updated on the festival website, freshgrass.com. FreshGrass is held rain or shine.

FreshGrass is sponsored by Compass Records, the American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music, Deering Banjo Company, Guido's Fresh Marketplace, Eastman Guitars, Stop and Shop, and the Porches Inn at MASS MoCA. Additional support is by Berkshire Gas as part of its music series at MASS MoCA.

FreshGrass is committed to preserving, supporting, and creating innovative grassroots music. The FreshGrass Foundation, which co-produces the festival with MASS MoCA, funds the FreshGrass Awards and FreshGrass Presents, creates new music through FreshScores and the FreshGrass Commission, and operates the No Depression Fellowship for writers. The foundation operates No Depression — the roots music authority both online and in print.

MASS MoCA is one of the world's liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today's most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. More platform than box, MASS MoCA strives to bring to its audiences art experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.

MASS MoCA's galleries are open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. From June 26 through September 7, MASS MoCA's galleries are open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally, spring – fall. Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit www.massmoca.org.

Tags: Sierra HullFreshGrassBluegrass FestivalLineup

Call for Submissions: IBMA's 2016 Bluegrass Film Festival

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 22:10

Nashville, TN -- The IBMA is excited to present its 3rd Annual Bluegrass Film Festival during World of Bluegrass Week September 27-October 1 Raleigh, North Carolina. World of Bluegrass is the perfect place to showcase quality films produced around the music. The submission deadline for this year is June 15, 2016. Filmmakers who submitted films for consideration in 2014 and 2015, but were not selected, may have their films considered again this year without submitting a new application.

The festival enriches the overall World of Bluegrass Experience! by introducing the bluegrass industry to new bluegrass related films. It serves as a platform for filmmakers to showcase their work, and it also seeks to promote the development of bluegrass-related films. Submit your film today to become a part of the new and exciting World of Bluegrass event!

The festival is comprised of two Featured Films and a series of Festival Films. Featured Films will be screened during the IBMA's World of Bluegrass Business Conference (Tues.-Thurs.) and the Wide Open Bluegrass festival (Fri.-Sat.). Featured film screenings will include an introduction and post-screening Q&A session with the filmmaker or a representative during the Business Conference (but not during the festival). Festival Films will also be screened during Wide Open Bluegrass. All films (featured and festival) will be shown twice during the weekend.

Films will be reviewed by World of Bluegrass Film Committee designated by the chair of the IBMA Board of Directors, with finalists being announced in mid July. In assessing the films, the committee will consider both documentary and fictional bluegrass related films. Short and feature films are welcome to submit. All selection decisions are final.

For submission procedure, rules and information regarding the film festival, visit the IBMA Film Festival website.

Tags: IBMAWorld of BluegrassFilm Festival

A Bluegrass Legend's Road from Cotton Fields to Nashville Grass

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 22:00

With his trademark mandolin style and unequaled tenor harmonies, Curly Seckler has carved out a seventy-seven—year career in bluegrass and country music. His foundational work in Flatt and Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Boys secured him a place in bluegrass history. His role in The Nashville Grass made him an essential part of the music's triumphant 1970s revival.

Written in close collaboration with Mr. Seckler and those who know him, Foggy Mountain Troubadour is the first full—length biography of an American original. A volume in the series Music in American Life, Penny Parsons follows a journey from North Carolina schoolhouses to the Grand Ole Opry stage and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, from boarding houses to radio studios and traveling five to a car on two—lane roads to make the next show. Throughout, she captures the warm humor, hard choices, and vivid details of a brilliant artist’s life as he crisscrosses a nation and a century making music.

“Ms. Parsons not only illuminatesMr. 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

Music journalist Penny Parsons is Curly Seckler’s manager and a regular contributor to bluegrass publications.
A volume in the series Music in American Life

Foggy Mountain Troubadour The Life and Music of Curly Seckler
Penny Parsons
Foreword by Eddie Stubbs
Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0-252-40108-8. $95.00
Paper, ISBN: 978-0-252-08159-0. $22.95
49 Black & White Photographs
304 Pages
Publication date: May 23, 2016

Tags: Curly SecklerPenny ParsonsBookNew ReleaseFoggy Mountain Troubadour

Artists, Insurance and the Future

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 22:00

Hardly a week goes by that I don't read about an artist passing away, coming down with a serious medical condition, major property damage, instruments stolen, long term care becomes necessary, etc. This is always sad news. What is even more sad is that many didn't have insurance of any kind to handle these situations. The benefits begin to help our favorite artists with their immediate needs financially, professionally and socially. The needs are real.

A question that I always have to ponder is: Why? Why don't they have insurance to help their loved ones, their homes and property and even their livlihood? Why don't artists set aside a percentage of every month's pay for those rainy days? What happens to their significant other or their family when the bills come due?

I worked for years and always set a percentage aside for the future -- my retirement. I managed through three stock market collapses, two years unemployment and came out on top. My wife's financial future is intact should anything happen to me.

Part of making us financially secure is that we carry zero debt. The house, car and major expenses are all paid for. Credit cards are paid in full each month. What I put aside for retirement is there and available. I planned ahead for the eventual future whatever it holds in store.

In the past year, there have even been cases where the artist didn't even have a will and their entire estate will now be handled by the government and the courts. This will surely drag out closing the state for years. All of this could have been avoided with a simple will. Again, I do not understand why anybody exists without a will and a living will. It doesn't make sense.

Today, we hear of James King passing and, he had little or no life insurance. $5,000 isn't enough for much. So, another fundraiser is set up to take donations to help bury him respectfully. I don't understand why so many artists leave their family to take care of this situation.

Maybe a good topic for the IBMA sessions would be on financial planning for emergencies and catastrophic events in ones life. Actually, this is true for everybody but artists seem to think "it can never happen to me." Well, it can and frequently does. No spouse should be forced into a financial nightmare because one passes away. No family should be destroyed because of a serious illness or injury. Certainly, one should be forced to continue working beyond their will because they have nothing to live on.

There are many safe avenues one can use depending upon their situation and circumstances however, the one thing that they all have in common is starting today to plan for the future. And, if the future is happy, healthy and good, you'll always have that nest egg to enjoy -- it doesn't go away.

If artists put aside just 5% of their income every month into a zero risk investment for years, that could be both their own funded life insurance, long term care insurance and financial security blanket later in life. Having an emergency fund that protects the artist, their family and their home is essential today. If more did this, benefits could become more of a memorial service rather than a fundraising event. It would be easier on their families and eliminate a lot of questions and stress later on.

Tags: EditorialOpinionMedicalInsurance

James King, "The Bluegrass Storyteller," 1958 - 2016

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 22:00

Nashville, TN -- It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of beloved singer and songwriter James King, who was affectionately known as "The Bluegrass Storyteller." He was 57 years old. King, a recovering alcoholic, suffered complications from a prolonged battle with cirrhosis of the liver.

King died peacefully, surrounded by family and close friends, including his longtime girlfriend, Becky Rhodes; his brothers Andy and Jason, and sister-in-law Leticia; his aunts Debbie Moxley and Nadine Isley; and friends Junior and Susan Sisk, Dudley and Sally Connell, Harry and Louise Rhodes, and Charlie Snelling.

Born in Martinsville, Virginia on September 9, 1958, and raised in Carroll County, King grew up immersed in bluegrass. Both his father and his uncle were professional bluegrass musicians, and during his formative years, King was surrounded by music.

Following a stint in the Marine Corps, King decided to follow family tradition, and launched his musical career. He was signed to Rounder Records in 1992, where he released a series of critically acclaimed and award-winning albums, including his last recording for the label, 2013's Grammy-nominated Three Chords & the Truth.

Among his many achievements, King was a 12-time Bluegrass Music Award Winner, and in 1997, the International Bluegrass Music Association voted the James King Band the "Emerging Artist of the Year."

In 2014, King was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame. Alison Krauss sent along the following remarks, which were read at the ceremony: "Nine years ago, my father and I heard a man singing in a jam session between two campers in Maryland when it was pitch black outside. Our jaws hung open, and then we had to search the festival site to retrieve the top of my head. The voice we heard was magnificent. It was so powerful, emotive, haunting, and one of a kind. It was you, singing 'Cry, Cry, Darlin.'' We had the opportunity to speak with you, and found your spirit and generosity shared the same qualities. I'm so happy you are receiving this award. How proud the state of Virginia must be to be able to claim you as their own, and to give this award to someone whose voice has taken so many of us back to another time when life had such a beautiful, simple dream attached to it. Congratulations James King. FANTASTIC!!!"

Rounder Records co-founder Ken Irwin signed King in 1992, and produced a number of his recordings for the label. Irwin reflects, "James had an uncanny ability to wring the emotion out of every song he sang, and he was one of the most intuitive singers in all of bluegrass. He sang from and to the heart, and had the rare gift of being able to make audiences feel, no matter what it was he was singing about. He was a born storyteller, and loved to tell stories before, during, and after songs." He continues, "His love of singing and entertaining came through in everything he did, and those qualities made him one of the most popular and beloved artists on the bluegrass circuit. James' big voice was only matched by his outsize personality. He was my friend, and I will miss him."

King was predeceased by his daughter Shelby Ann, who died in 2012. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.

Tags: James KingObituary

Susie's Cause Bluegrass-Folk Festival July 30th

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 22:00

Baltimore, MD -- The Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation, Inc. (“Susie’s Cause”) is thrilled to present rising star singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz and old-time bluegrass stalwarts Seldom Scene at its Bluegrass-Folk Festival on Saturday, July 30, 2016, at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Maryland. The legendary bluegrass superstar set to headline this second annual event will be announced on May 30. The Stray Birds, Mipso, Tim and Savannah Finch with the Eastman String Band, and the Ken and Brad Kolodner Quartet round out the bill of this year’s festival, all proceeds of which will benefit Susie’s Cause, the Baltimore-based national nonprofit foundation dedicated to colon cancer prevention, treatment, and support services.

Gates for the rain-or-shine festival open at 11 a.m., with music starting at noon and continuing until 10 p.m. A limited number of early-bird general admission tickets are available until May 29 for $45. General admission tickets will then increase to $55 in advance and to $65 on the day of the festival, including those purchased at the gate. In addition, a limited number of early-bird premier tickets—a new offering at this year’s festival—are available, also until May 29, for $135. Premier tickets will then be available for $155. Premier ticket holders will enjoy free parking, preferred seating, catered lunch and dinner, and libations courtesy of festival sponsor Tito’s Handmade Vodka. One parking pass per car is required to park at the event. Parking passes for non-premier ticket holders are available in advance for $10 and will be sold at the festival for $15. Children ages 10 and under will be admitted free to the festival with a paying adult. Tickets and parking passes can be purchased online, at www.coloncancerfoundation.tix.com.

Gifted multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of acoustic music’s most promising young talents: a singer-songwriter and mandolin and banjo prodigy with the taste and poise to strike that rare balance of commercial and critical success.” Only 24 years old, the precocious, folksy Texan already has three Grammy Award nominations to her credit. Her fourth album, Undercurrent, is scheduled for release on June 17.

With the retirement of Ben Eldridge earlier this year, bluegrass darlings Seldom Scene may have lost their last remaining original member, but the addition to the lineup of virtuosic fiddler Rickie Simpson—brother of longtime Scene bassist Ronnie Simpkins—means the future remains bright as ever for this Grammy Award-nominated quintet, now in its fifth decade of making music.

Susie’s Cause’s Bluegrass-Folk Festival is held in loving memory of Charlotte Bohn, a lifelong Baltimore resident and classically trained singer and performer who had a passion for bluegrass music. “Charlotte was a Susie’s Cause board member who sadly lost her battle to colorectal cancer in early 2015 at age 38, leaving behind two small children and a loving family,” said Susie’s Cause founder and president David Rodman Cohan.

Festival attendees should bring a lawn chair or blanket to relax and enjoy this spectacular summer day of great bluegrass and folk music. Food, including open-pit BBQ, beer, and other adult beverages will be available for purchase. Outside food and beverages are prohibited, with the exception of three unopened bottles of water per person and baby food and snacks.

About Susie’s Cause: The Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation, Inc. (“Susie’s Cause”) has broken the silence about colorectal cancer and worked tirelessly to establish itself as the national grassroots voice championing the critical importance of early screening and detection, healthy living, and aggressive therapeutic intervention in preventing and treating this disease. Also dedicated to funding critical research, Susie’s Cause has raised and donated over $500,000 to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

This year, Susie’s Cause is taking its signature Outreach Health Festival to 10 cities across the United States, including Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and New York. A free day of overall health education, with a particular focus on colon cancer screening and prevention, these festivals are specifically designed to engage underserved communities, in which colon cancer diagnoses and deaths occur at an alarmingly high rate. Founded in 2005 and headquartered in Baltimore, Susie’s Cause, a 501(c)(3) charity, currently has affiliates in California and North Carolina, with plans for further expansion. To learn more, go online to www.coloncancerfoundation.org, or call 410-244-1778.

Tags: Susie's CauseBluegrass FestivalCancerFundraiser

Mountain Heart Debuts on Opry and Billboard & Americana Charts

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 22:00

Nashville, TN -- Mountain Heart’s first new album in five years, Blue Skies, debuted at #2 on The Billboard Bluegrass Album chart and debuted at #37 on the Americana Airplay Chart. Blue Skies finds Mountain Heart completely reinventing themselves with a brand new lineup featuring frontman Josh Shilling, Molly Cherryholmes (of 5-time Grammy-nominees Cherryholmes), Jeff Partin, Aaron Ramsey, and Seth Taylor. The new album has been met with critical praise. Rolling Stone Country says it “feels like a long lost collision between the Allman Brothers and some expert bluegrass players.” Pop Matters stated, “...we are talking about great Southern music here, underpinned with virtuosic musicianship full of heart and soul” while No Depression said “...the prospects for widespread appeal are sunny indeed.”

Shilling, barely into his 30s, is the group’s senior both in age and tenure. A sought after songwriter, he wrote most of the material appearing on Blue Skies, with a Chris Stapleton & Ronnie Bowman co-write and a stellar rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” rounding out the set. The same soulfulness that gave the band its name in the first place is still there, but now voiced through a blend of musicians that make room not just for their bluegrass legacy, but for the excitement of R&B, the introspection of singer/songwriter ballads, the simplicity of classic country, and the atmospherics of modern folk pop.

Americana radio gravitated to the track “Blue Skies’ which has propelled the album into a strong chart position. The fiery instrumental “The Bad Grounds” helped capture the band's social media momentum when their stellar radio performances on WAMU and WSM went viral on Facebook. Their irresistible single “Addicted” cements their reputation as innovators in the bluegrass genre and is sure to have impact at their Opry performance.

Mountain Heart are bringing their new lineup on the road in support of the album release (please see dates below). While the old lineup of Mountain Heart have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry over 130 times, the brand new lineup will make their Opry debut this Saturday night, May 21st.

Mountain Heart Blue Skies Track List:

  1. "Blue Skies"
  2. "Miss Me When I’m Gone"
  3. "Maggie’s Farm"
  4. "No One To Listen"
  5. "She’ll Come Back To Me"
  6. "Addicted"
  7. "The Bad Grounds"
  8. "Have You Heard About The Old Hometown"
  9. "I Can’t Get Over You"
  10. "Hurting"
Tags: Mountain HeartCD ReleaseBlue SkiesChartsBillboardAmericanaGrand Ole OpryDebut

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers - Celebrating 10 Years

Wed, 05/18/2016 - 22:10

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers are celebrating their 10 Year Anniversary this year. The band commented, "We're excited to be celebrating our 10th Anniversary this year! It seems like this past decade has flown by and we are so grateful for all the friends and fans we've made along the way!! Thanks to each and every one of you for all of the support you have given us, all the miles you've traveled to see us, and all the love you've shown! Our hope is that we've returned it 10-fold!"

The band celebrated their first decade with an Anniversary Concert on Monday, May 16th. Hundreds of friends and fans packed the place, making for a SOLD-OUT show! They exclaimed, "We had a ball with all of you!!"

Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers have an energetic mix of quality Bluegrass and Gospel music, a professional presentation, inventive instrumental work, a wide variety of vocal arrangements including a capella quartets and tasteful, down-home humor. Their professionalism and successful, heavily played recordings have kept them in demand with a national audience. JMRR have been seen by thousands of fans across the country at nearly every national bluegrass event.

A contributing factor to their success is their active marketing capabilities, due to Mullins’ network of radio stations in the Midwest, including a 24/7 webcast available at myclassiccountry.com or the new “Classic Country Radio” app for Android and iPhone.

It's only fitting that they kick off their 10th Anniversary with something we've never done before - a European Tour! They will be spending five days covering the United Kingdom and Switzerland and plan to take in as much of the scenery and chocolate as possible! If you happen to be one of their International friends, make plans to come see us at one of these shows:

  • May 19 at 7:45 PM - Old Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK - Square Roots Productions - SOLD-OUT!
  • May 20 - Zweildlen, Switzerland - American Folk Club Rocking Chair
  • May 21 - Willisau, Switzerland - Spring Bluegrass Festival
  • May 22 - Liestal, Switzerland - Kulturhotel Guggenheim
Tags: Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers10th AnniversaryTour

ClayBank Sings with Rural Rhythm - New Album Coming

Wed, 05/18/2016 - 22:07

Nashville, TN -- Rural Rhythm Records is proud to announce the signing of ClayBank. Hailing from the mountains of western North Carolina, an area that is steeped in the musical heritage of bluegrass, old-time and gospel music, the band is currently in the studio working on their debut album for Rural Rhythm Records scheduled for release in the fall. The album's first single is coming soon.

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 (15) 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.

"RenoFest was buzzing with the performances by North Carolina Bluegrass group ClayBank. Their wonderful vocals and harmony sounded so seasoned for such a young group with two vocalists only 15 and 17 years old. Congratulations to ClayBank on winning the band contest at RenoFest this year. I know we are going to be hearing a lot more from this highly talented Bluegrass group in the very near future
  ~ Ronnie Reno (TV Host: Reno's Old Time Music on RFD-TV)

“We are very excited about bringing this talented young group to Rural Rhythm. They encapsulate the essence and direction of the label, as we say around here – Edgy, But True to the Roots. ClayBank’s love for Bluegrass music and their fresh approach with their signature sound, showcases their tight harmonies and strong lead vocals”, said Sam Passamano, II, President of Rural Rhythm Records. Passamano further commented, “I am also very excited about the team ClayBank has put together to support their amazing talents. Rural Rhythm working closely with the Andrea Roberts Agency will provide a strong artist development team for years to come.”

When asked about adding ClayBank to the Andrea Roberts Agency roster for booking representation and management, Andrea Roberts responded, “When I saw this group perform live in Nashville earlier this year I was so happy to hear a new, young band playing bluegrass music and representing the genre with such great respect and outstanding talent. Then, after getting to know the band members, I hoped that it may be possible for me to work with them because I really believe in what they are doing. I am thrilled to be helping ClayBank on their journey in the world of bluegrass…I truly feel that folks are going to love them!”

Tags: ClayBankRural RhythmLabel NewsBand Announcement

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