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Whitetop Mountain Band at Historic Carter Family Fold June 25

Sat, 06/18/2016 - 22:05

Hiltons, VA -- Saturday, June 25th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of old time music by the Whitetop Mountain Band. Whitetop Mountain Band is a family-based band from the highest mountains of Virginia. Whitetop is an area rich in old time music tradition, and this band has deep roots in mountain music. The band’s members have worked tirelessly to preserve the region’s style of old time fiddling and banjo picking and are legendary musicians and teachers of the style.

Whitetop Mountain Band's shows are high energy and unlike any other show you have ever seen. There’s everything from fiddle and banjo instrumentals to powerful solos and harmony vocals on blues, classic country, honky tonk, traditional bluegrass numbers, old timey ballads, originals, four-part mountain gospel songs – and some flat foot dancing. Well-known for their charisma on stage and their ability to engage audiences of all ages, this group has been performing at the Carter Fold since shows first began at the A.P. Carter Grocery in the 1970s.

The Whitetop Mountain Band is one of the most popular dance bands of the Appalachian Mountains. They have a great following at square dances all over Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky at venues like the Carter Fold. The group has performed throughout the U.S. at festivals, concerts, competitions, and colleges. The Smithsonian Folklike Festival, National Folklife Festival, World Music Institute in New York City, the Carter Family Festival, the Dock Boggs Festival, the World’s Fair, the Virginia Arts Festival, Floydfest, Ola Belle Reed Festival, and Merlefest are a few of the many festivals that have featured the band.

The group has toured in England, Wales, Ireland, and Australia. They have taught at workshops and classes all over the U.S. like the Swannanoa Gathering, Cowan Creek Music School, Big Stone Gap’s Mountain Music School, and the Mt. Rogers Combined School. They were featured on a NCTA music tour of the east and west coasts in 2010. Arhoolie, the Virginia Foundation of the Humanities, JuneAppal, Heritage, and Rounder Records are a few of the labels they have recorded for. In addition, they have been featured in many magazines, TV shows, and radio programs. Whitetop Mountain Band was recently given the “Entertainer of the Year” award in the old time category at the ACMA’s Blueridge Acoustic Uprising.

The band originated with Albert Hash in the 1940s. Albert was a well-known and beloved fiddler and luthier. As a teenager, Albert played with Henry Whitter of Grayson & Whitter. Grayson & Whitter recorded in the 1920s. The tune “Hangman’s Reel” that Albert recorded is the same version played by so many old time musicians today. He taught Wayne Henderson, Audrey Ham, and many others to build instruments.

In the 1970s, Albert’s brother-in-law, Thornton Spencer, and his wife Emily joined Albert in the Whitetop Mountain Band. The three also started an old time music program at Mt. Rogers School, a small K-12 public school in Whitetop. The students learn fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, and dancing. Emily Spencer has carried on the program, and it has received a lot of regional and national attention for its’ uniqueness – including Grammy and CMT nominations.

The Whitetop Mountain Band is still carried on today by Thornton Spencer on fiddle and Emily Spencer on banjo and vocals. Their daughter, Martha Spencer plays with the band as well. She is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, fiddle, and bass) and fine vocalist and dancer. Debbie Bramer moved from Michigan to Fancy Gap, Virginia. She plays bass in the band and dances. Debbie has been part of several clogging teams and has been active in many dance workshops and competitions. Ersel Fletcher plays guitar and adds his vocal talent to the group.

The fast-paced mountain music of the Whitetop Mountain Band of Grayson County is definitely a family affair. Be sure to check out the Spencers and their family band at the Fold. Lots of people play old time music, but no one plays it with as much fierce intensity – or absolute fun – as the Whitetop Mountain Band! For additional information on the group, go to http://whitetopmountainband.com/.

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

Tags: Whitetop Mountain BandCarter Family FoldConcertEvent

Irene Kelley’s Debut Album “These Hills” Hits the Street!

Fri, 06/17/2016 - 22:11

Willis, VA -- Mountain Fever Records is pleased to announce brand new music from Irene Kelley is available to radio and consumers today! Produced by Grammy® winner Mark Fain, These Hills is available everywhere great music is sold! Irene Kelley’s signature mix of Bluegrass, Country and Americana appeals to music lovers across all genres.

A native of Latrobe, PA, Kelley discovered her flair for songwriting as a teenager and soon found her way to Nashville, TN where her songs were quickly noticed and recorded by Carl Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White. While recording an album for MCA, independently releasing two more records and touring worldwide, Kelley raised two daughters and scored cuts with Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Loretta Lynn, Pat Green, Brother Phelps, Rhonda Vincent, Claire Lynch, Darrell Scott, The Whites, the Osborne Brothers and others. But it's not just her songwriting that has drawn much deserved attention her way. Kelley's pure and lonesome vocal prowess has tugged at the heartstrings of music lovers for years, making her one of traditional music's most beloved musical story-tellers.

These Hills includes what most would consider an artist's "dream team" of musicians — Stuart Duncan (Fiddle), Adam Steffey (mandolin), Brian Sutton (guitar), Scott Vestal (banjo), Mark Fain (bass) — while also featuring harmony vocals by industry heavy-hitters Claire Lynch, Ronnie Bowman, Sharon White Skaggs, Cheryl White, Dale Ann Bradley, and Steve Gulley, as well as Irene’s daughter, Justyna.

The album kicks off with the hit single "Carolina Wind," which reached #1 on Bluegrass Today's Top 20 Songs chart in May. From there, Kelley shows off her hauntingly rich vocal prowess with "Coal Train" which is only overshadowed by the stunningly sentimental-tinged title track, flowing effortlessly into "Johnson's Hardware Store," a recollection of simpler times from days gone by. And just when you thought your heart couldn't take anymore, Kelley sings of her love of a dog with "Lester's Song," the future anthem for any animal rescue entity across the country. From start to finish, These Hills begs the listener to live in the moments of each flawlessly written lyric, only to find themselves lost in the strikingly angelic melodies that are delivered through an often heartbreakingly beautiful voice.

“This is a record that is so enormously pleasing on so many levels. As a vocalist, Irene Kelley glows with beauty and expressiveness. As a songwriter, she shines with a luster that few of her peers can match. This is music to cleanse the soul. This is music to raise you up. This is music to touch your heart. This is the music of Irene Kelley.”
 — Robert K. Oermann, Music Row Magazine

“Irene is an honest person. That’s evident in every note she sings. And honesty is a virtue, but it isn’t necessarily compelling. Irene Kelley is necessarily compelling. Her voice has a break to it, and in that break I hear truth and love and the places where truth and love come to fragile reconciliation.There’s lots more to her voice, and lots more to her. Irene is nothing like much of what we hear, and something like most of what we seek. She’s tone-true, and full of wild Aster. She’s some melancholy mix that sustains and inspires.”
 — Peter Cooper, Journalist

“These Hills is a study in excellence on so many levels, lyrically, instrumentally and vocally. But more importantly, it possesses that undefinable element of magic that serves as the catalyst of a truly great record. A lifetime in the making, These Hills is already a classic.”
 — Terry Herd, Bluegrass Radio Network and Bluegrass Today

These Hills is available to radio programmers via AirplayDirect or by emailing radio@mountainfever.com and to consumers via these digital outlets and wherever great music is sold. For more information on Irene Kelley, please visit www.IreneKelley.com. For more about Mountain Fever Records, visit www.mountainfever.com.

Tags: Irene KelleyCD ReleaseThese HillsMountain Fever Records

Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley to Headline International Bluegrass Festival

Thu, 06/16/2016 - 22:39

Waterford, Ireland -- Now in its 22nd year, the Guinness International Bluegrass Festival at Dunmore East, is still attracting top international music acts to the Co. Waterford coastal resort. Fans of bluegrass, honky-tonk, blues, country, rhythm ‘n’ roots are in for a real musical treat as the 22nd Guinness International Bluegrass Festival, which takes place Thursday, August 25th to Sunday, August 28th, will feature Grammy nominees Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley.

Trey Hensley is well known and well regarded on the bluegrass music scene. Raised in Tennessee, Trey began playing guitar and singing when he was 10 years old. Invited by Marty Stuart and joined from the wings by Earl Scruggs, he landed on the Grand Old Opry when he was only 11. To date, Trey has played with Johnny and June Carter Cash, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, The Oak Ridge Boys and Janie Fricke. He’s appeared on bills with Sara Evans, Charlie Daniels, Peter Frampton, Randy Owen and Marty Stuart, and has even appeared before former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Rob Ickes has been playing bluegrass with his much-decorated band Blue Highway for over twenty years, during which time he has been adjudged Bluegrass Dobro Player of the year fifteen times. Rob has played on countless sessions, recording with artists such as Merle Haggard, Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss.

Last year the duo was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Bluegrass Album, Before the Sun Goes Down.

Along with the cream of the US country and bluegrass music crop, the festival lineup includes a host of Irish, European and American big name bluegrass acts including US bands Foghorn String Band and Betse and Clarke; from the UK, Doctor Bluegrass, Northern Ireland’s Mons Wheeler Band and Cup O’Joe and Irish acts One Horse Pony, Rackhouse Pilfer, Barefoot and New Bread Winners.

Mick Daly, Festival Organiser is looking forward to this year’s broad range of high calibre international acts and said, “Twenty-two years on the festival line up is as exciting and eclectic as ever. We’re looking forward to seeing the return of some of the festival’s perennial favourites such as the Mons Wheeler Band and Barefoot and are particularly excited about Ickes and Hensley.”

“Rob and Trey are GRAMMY nominees and regulars to some of the biggest bluegrass festivals in the world, so we can’t wait to see them in August, particularly in light of their new album release “The Country Blues” in July. The duo is coming to Dunmore East on the back of their European tour, where they will be playing at Tønder, Denmark’s biggest folk music festival.”

Ickes and Hensley will play two ticketed gigs (€20) at the Marquee at the Lighthouse Bistro, Dunmore East on August 27th and 28th. All of the other events are free to attend and will take place at the Strand Inn, The Three Sisters, The Spinnaker, Powers Bar and Azzurro.

The 22nd Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 25th and heralds the start of three days of dozens of bands, playing almost 50 gigs in the villages’ pubs, restaurants and hotels.

For more information about the 22nd Guinness International Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival in Co. Waterford visit www.discoverdunmore.com. Tickets for Ickes and Hensley available on www.ticketmaster.ie

Tags: Rob Ickes & Trey HensleyInternational Dunmore East Bluegrass FestivalIrelandLineup

Stoney Creek's “Memories & Tears” #1 on AirPlay Direct

Thu, 06/16/2016 - 22:37

Stoney Creek Bluegrass Band finds their latest album, Memories & Tears in the #1 spot on AirPlay Direct.The album has reached #1 on the Top 50 album chart and single chart. All 11 original songs from the album are available for broadcasters to download.. "Come Stay Awhile" is the first single from the band's latest album.

"Come Stay Awhile" is one of eleven original tracks on "Memories & Tears" written by the late Deanna Stottlemyer, sister of Stoney Creek's Libby Files. The band decided to record a full album of Stottlemyer's original material after recording two gospel tunes for 2012's "Are You Ready?" project.

Stoney Creek has been praised as "mainstream bluegrass at its best" by Bluegrass Unlimited. Frank Jurney of the Berryville Bluegrass Series has noted that "Libby [Files] is among the rising number of female vocalists who are making a big impact on bluegrass music."

"Memories & Tears" is the first project to feature Stoney Creek's current lineup, including Libby Files on vocals and bass, Brett Smeltzer on mandolin and vocals, Kenton Catlett on guitar and vocals, and Troy Stangle on banjo and vocals.

Tags: Stoney CreekCD ReleaseMemories & TearsAirPlay Direct#1

Ground Breaking for New Bluegrass Museum Next Week

Wed, 06/15/2016 - 22:05

Owensboro, KY -- Together with the City of Owensboro, Mayor Ron Payne, the Daviess County Fiscal Court and Judge Executive Al Mattingly, the International Bluegrass Music Museum and Hall of Fame is set to break ground on a new $15.4 million facility Thursday June 23 at Noon at 311 West 2nd Street, Owensboro. This fully funded project is a collaboration between the City of Owensboro, the State of Kentucky and the IBMM.

"Not only is this a good thing for Owensboro, but the new and expanded Museum and Hall of Fame is good for the State of Kentucky," said IBMM Executive Director, Chris Joslin "from a tourism standpoint, this is a Kentucky project."

This $15.4 million project will allow IBMM to house the world's foremost collection of bluegrass artifacts, memorabilia, and music recordings in a safe environment for generations to come.

With views of the Ohio River, the new Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame will be the focal point of the city of Owensboro. It will be the only full-scale Bluegrass Music Museum in the world, including a 450 seat concert hall, recording studio, an outdoor concert area to seat 2,000, an expansive gift shop, research library, teaching rooms and a rooftop restaurant overlooking downtown.

Peyronnin Construction of Evansville was awarded the construction contract to build the new Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame; completion is estimated to be the spring of 2018.

The property comprises an entire city block at the heart of the newly revitalized downtown area, and is adjacent to the Owensboro Convention Center, two new hotels, and the world-renowned $64 million waterfront park.
Bluegrass music is a treasured art form performed in dozens of countries around the world, and the IBMM works daily to preserve this rich and vibrant history through its archival and educational programs.

Tags: International Bluegrass Music MuseumIBMMGroundbreakingNew Project

Stringbean Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary This Weekend

Wed, 06/15/2016 - 22:05

Gray Hawk, KY -- The 20th Annual Stringbean Memorial Bluegrass Festival will be held this Thursday-Saturday, June 16-18, at Stringbean Memorial Park in Gray Hawk, KY. Celebrating its 20th year, the festival honors Jackson County native and beloved Grand Ole Opry star David ‘Stringbean’ Akemon. His unique stage attire, traditional claw hammer banjo style, and entertaining stage banter endeared him to fans around the world. ’The Kentucky Wonder’ was best known for his musical comedic performances on the hallowed stage of the Grand Ole Opry beginning in the 1940’s and on the television series “Hee Haw” until his tragic death in 1973.

With a rich history and beautiful locale at Stringbean Memorial Park, the festival has hosted the biggest stars in Bluegrass including the legendary Ralph Stanley who headlined the inaugural event in 1996. Other celebrated Bluegrass royalty brought in by festival founder Phillip Akemon include the Queen of Bluegrass Rhonda Vincent, 14-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs, Hall of Famers Del McCoury and Doyle Lawson, and 25-time IBMA Award winning band Blue Highway.

Larry Sparks and Ralph Stanley II Headline
20th Annual Stringbean Memorial Bluegrass Festival

Hall of Famer Larry Sparks will headline this year’s anniversary event, along with Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Also appearing are local favorites Laurel River Line and the Letterbox Boys, along with festival host Phillip Akemon and his band FlatLick.

Eighteen bands overall will perform at the three-day event, including the GrayHawk Boys, Bear Branch Bluegrass, Crimson Cross, the Morehead Bluegrass Student Band, Sammy Adkins & the Sandy Hook Mountain Boys, and Southland Drive with Richmond’s Bluegrass Express Radio Host Charlie Hall on banjo.

A complete schedule and list of performers can be found at www.StringbeanPark.com. Ticket prices are $15 per day, or a Three-Day Pass for $45. Camping with electric is $25 per day, while primitive camping is Free with a festival ticket.

Tags: StringbeanStringbean Memorial Bluegrass FestivalBluegrass FestivalEventLarry SparksRalph Stanley II

Birthplace of Country Music Museum Receives Merit Award

Wed, 06/15/2016 - 22:04

Bristol, TN/VA -- The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is the recipient of an Award of Merit for their permanent exhibits on the history and legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 71st year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BCMM), a Smithsonian affiliate, opened in August 2014. The museum’s permanent exhibits – through text and artifacts, interactive components, and multiple film experiences – tell the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explore how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlight how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. The Bristol Sessions, the first recordings of The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, along with other early country artists, set the stage for the later commercial country music industry.

The permanent exhibits, along with complementary programming, have been instrumental to the museum’s mission. The exhibits delight and inspire visitors, many of whom have related their strong emotional responses to the content, and the museum has become a significant community resource. By highlighting a story that, until recently, has not been well known outside of academic circles and music fans, and exploring the related history, technology, and lasting impact, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum has taken this music heritage beyond the local community to national and international audiences.

This year, AASLH is proud to confer sixty-three national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2016 AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday, September 16. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to www.aaslh.org.

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American society. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, a monthly newsletter, and maintains numerous affinity groups and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors regional and national training workshops and an annual meeting.

Tags: Birthplace of Country Music MuseumHistoryAward

Misty Mountain String Band Releases “Red Horizon”

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 22:10
On May 27th Misty Mountain String Band released their brand new fan-funded album, Red Horizon, and are taking it on the road for an ambitious touring schedule of shows and festival appearances, including The Master Musicians Festival in their home state of Kentucky where they will play alongside Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band.

Drawing influence from old-time music, Americana, bluegrass, and songs of labor and protest, Misty Mountain String Band doesn’t stray far from their upbringings in Kentucky and West Virginia. Formed as a pickup group for an old-time camp revival, MMSB has evolved into a professional band that’s as at home playing with the Louisville Philharmonia Orchestra as at bluegrass festivals with Americana favorites.

The group connects with fans of folk music around the world, sharing unique string band music written for today but informed by tradition. MMSB has universal appeal, combining high energy with charismatic storytelling and a warm, conversational attitude.

Pickin' out the tunes we have Neal Green on Fiddle, Derek Harris on Bass, Brian Vickers on guitar and Paul Martin on Banjo and Mandolin. These four friends pull from their upbringings in Kentucky and West Virginia, creating modern bluegrass americana music written for today, but informed by tradition. Follow the band and where they'll be playing at http://www.TheMistyMountainStringBand.com

Tags: Misty Mountain String BandCD ReleaseRed Horizon

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley Release "The Country Blues" to Radio

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 23:38

Nashville, TN -- 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 eleven 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 HensleyCD ReleaseAirPlay DirectRadioThe Country Blues

Tennessee Tourism Honors 50th Anniversary Of Dirt Band

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 23:26

Nashville, TN -- In Celebration of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 50th anniversary, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development honored bandmates Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen with special commemorative art pieces that included official Tennessee Ambassador of Goodwill certificates signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. The special presentation took place at Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest, just prior to the band’s debut performance at the stadium. Brian Wagner, assistant commissioner of marketing, Department of Tourist Development, made the presentation to each member of the world-renowned group.

“We are incredibly proud of the impact that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has had on the musical heritage of Tennessee,” said Wagner. “Our brand message notes The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee. Over the past fifty years, the works created by these musicians, in collaboration with legendary country music artists, have served as a touchstone for so many new fans to the genre not just in the United States, but around the world.”

Matted and framed along with the certificates signed by Gov. Bill Haslam was a custom-designed piece of artwork. Text creating a circle border to the design read, “The Unbroken Circle. Part of the Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee. June 11, 2016.” Incorporated into the center of the design was the band’s 50th anniversary logo which states, “Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: 50 Years of Dirt.”

This is not the first acknowledgement Tennessee Tourism has shown for the group, as the department recently supported the group’s star-studded televised PBS Pledge Special, a project that has reached more than 267 million viewers across the country. The show, filmed at the historic Ryman Auditorium, features guest artists including John Prine, Sam Bush, Vince Gill, Jerry Jeff Walker, Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell, Byron House, and Jerry Douglas as well as former members, Jimmy Ibbotson (long-time member for decades) and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and early NGDB member Jackson Browne.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has a full slate of dates commemorating the 50th milestone to run through the end of 2017, with many additional dates to be announced. Plans are extensive with select shows featuring special guests as well as many new exciting show elements.

For more information, visit www.NittyGritty.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Tags: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band50th Anniversary

Clinch Mountain Music Fest Saturday at Carter Family Fold

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 22:27

Hiltons, VA -- Clinch Mountain Music Fest is ready for its 11th annual celebration of mountain music in Scott County, Virginia, on Saturday, June 18, 2016. The goal of Clinch Mountain Music Fest is to preserve and perpetuate the heritage of the Appalachian region through its’ music. Admission to the festival’s concerts is $10 for adults, $2 for children 6-11, and under 6 free. Doors at the Carter Fold open at 5 p.m., and the show kicks off a bit early at 7:00 p.m. – 30 minutes earlier than our normal start time.

This year’s festival is once again dedicated to Jay Dixon who chaired the festival for five years and passed away in January of 2012. Jay was born in Scott County, but he left the area to further his education and pursue his career. We’re especially excited that one of our main sponsors – RACE 1 – the Regional Adult & Career Education Program – is closely linked to Jay and the beginning of his successful career. Jay was himself a GED recipient. He went on to receive multiple degrees, write textbooks for West Point, and serve as a consultant to the U.S. Military. Passing up a chance to be the Under Secretary of Defense, he chose instead to come back to his native Scott County, establish the Southwest Virginia Community Foundation and Clinch Mountain Music Fest, and to take on the monumental task of refurbishing Bush’s Mill in Nickelsville, Virginia.

The Southwest Virginia Community Foundation continues to flourish under the guidance of Jay’s beautiful wife, Carol. After his death, she completed the work he had begun on Bush’s Mill. Jay was, in fact, born near Bush’s Mill and remembered seeing the mill operate as a child. As Jay requested, Clinch Mountain Music Fest was entrusted to the Carter Fold. Headlining the festival and featured at the Carter Family Fold at 7:00 p.m. are two of the area’s best old time bands – the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters and the Empty Bottle String Band. Expect an evening of traditional Appalachian style music and fun!

The New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters took their group’s name from the original Bogtrotters, the famous Galax, Virginia, area band of the 1930s, and because band leader Dennis Hall actually lives on Ballard’s Branch. Galax is home to the world-renowned Old Time Fiddler’s Convention, and the area has traditionally produced

some of the country’s finest old time string bands. Carrying on that rich musical tradition, the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters features Dennis Hall on guitar, Eddie Bond on fiddle, Josh Ellis on banjo, Dallas Hall on mandolin, and Bonnie Bond on bass. The Bogtrotters have been a group for over fifteen years.

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

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

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

The group won the old-time band competition at the Galax Fiddler’s Convention on six different occasions. In addition, they have played their music at such regional and national festivals as the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, Merlefest, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the University of Chicago Festival. Having performed many times at the Fold, they’re a favorite of Carter Fold audiences. This group covers it all – great fiddle and dance tunes, outstanding

vocals and harmony, beautiful gospel numbers, waltz tunes, and some of the finest instrumentals you’ll ever hear. For more information, check out the Bogtrotters on Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube. You can also go to their web site www.newballardsbranchbogtrotters.com/.

The Empty Bottle String Band will also be featured. The Bottles are made up of Stephanie Jeter on autoharp, bass and vocals; Kristal Harman on guitar and vocals; Tyler Hughes on banjo, banjo uke, and vocals; and Ryan Nickerson on fiddle and mandolin. The band has become a favorite at festivals and venues throughout the southeast region and one of East Tennessee’s most popular old time groups.

The Empty Bottle String Band specializes in playing old-fashioned, toe-tapping, highly danceable, traditional Appalachian music. They are known for their upbeat fiddle tunes and feel-good music, with the occasional murder ballad thrown in for good measure. Their impressive stage presence is coupled with a delightfully self-effacing strength and confidence in their music. Their sound is inventive, while still staying close to the old time string band tradition of the 1930s. The Bottles promote the close connection between old time string band music and traditional dance, frequently playing for contra dances and square dances. All the band’s members have performed previously at the Fold with various groups connected with the ETSU Bluegrass and Old Time program – so they know just what keeps our audiences happy. For more information on the band, visit their website www.emptybottlestringband.com or find them on Facebook.

Thank you to our sponsors RACE 1 – Regional Adult & Career Education Program for Wise County Schools in Gate City, Virginia; the Scott County Virginia Star; the Kingsport Times News; Bryant Label Company; the Appalachian Cultural Music Association; the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. For information on Clinch Mountain Music Fest 2016, go to the Carter Music Center web site or the Clinch Mountain Music Fest web site: www.clinchfest.net.

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.

Tags: Clinch Mountain Music FestivalCarter Family FoldCarter Family Memorial Music CenterThe New Ballard’s Branch BogtrottersMusic FestivalEvent

Steep Canyon Rangers, Dori Freeman Perform June 17

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 22:24

The Blue Ridge Music Center is proud to welcome back the Steep Canyon Rangers to the outdoor amphitheater on Friday, June 17, at 7 p.m. Rising local artist Dori Freeman opens the show. The concert is a featured presentation of The Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming.

After 15 years together, the Steep Canyon Rangers are instantly recognized as one of the most successful bluegrass bands touring today. The group’s recordings and dynamic live performances have earned them many accolades, including Grammy and IBMA Awards. These talented musicians play progressive bluegrass music firmly rooted in tradition, with smart, original songs. They are seasoned and dynamic, never failing to thrill audiences with instrumental dexterity and speed, tight harmonies, and the fun they have on stage. Their 2015 concert at the Music Center marked the release of the group’s latest album, Radio.

Dori Freeman is a 24-year-old singer and songwriter from the southwestern hills of Virginia. While her style subscribes to no single genre, the influence of her Appalachian upbringing lies at the core of her music—heard especially in the lulling mountain drawl of her voice. She sings without affect and with striking clarity, delivering each song carefully and earnestly. Her early introduction to musicians like Doc Watson, The Louvin Brothers, and Peggy Lee heavily influenced her modern yet timeless sound. Freeman’s recently released eponymous CD has received widespread critical acclaim as one of the most anticipated roots/country albums of the year by Rolling Stone, No Depression Magazine, NPR’s World Cafe, The New York Times, Twangville music blog, and Blue Ridge Outdoors.

Before the concert, the Music Center is hosting Taste of the Mountains from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Luthiers Shop. The ticketed reception will feature bites and beers from Creek Bottom Brewing, plus wine. Tickets are $30, $15 for season passholders.

During the concert, The Galax Smokehouse will be on site serving its signature barbecue, down-home sides, drinks, and dessert.

The show is also sponsored by Virginia is for Lovers, Winston-Salem Journal, and The Law Offices of Timothy D. Welborn.

The Crooked Road's second annual Mountains of Music Homecoming, June 10-18, celebrates the rich traditional music heritage, cultural amenities, history, and outdoor environment of Southwest Virginia. The Mountains of Music Homecoming region includes 19 counties, four cities, and more than 50 towns during the nine-day festival. Concerts range from the Crooked Road All-Star Bluegrass Band in Critz to the Larry Keel Experience in Bristol. Guests are invited to come for the evening shows and stay for a wide variety of cultural experiences, including community meals, gallery exhibits, history walks, artisan demonstrations, outdoor adventures, scenic drives, workshops, educational opportunities, and more. For a complete list of performances, experiences, and ticket prices, visit www.mtnsofmusic.com.

Steep Canyon Rangers & Dori Freeman + Taste of the Mountains reception takes place from 5-7 p.m., Friday, June 17. Concert 7 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Music Center, 700 Foothills Road, Galax, Virginia 24333, or Milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tickets are Concert $25, Reception additional $30 and are available at the www.BlueRidgeMusicCenter.org or (866) 308-2773, ext. 245. Season passes also available online or by phone.

The Blue Ridge Music Center, milepost 213 near Galax, Virginia, celebrates the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The site includes an outdoor amphitheater and indoor interpretive center used to highlight an important strand of American musical culture, which still thrives in the region. Midday Mountain Music performances are offered free from noon to 4 p.m. daily. In the summer, its beautiful outdoor amphitheater at the foot of Fisher Peak comes alive through a vibrant and diverse concert series. The Music Center also offers scenic trails for the novice and seasoned hiker, educational programs, and the interactive Roots of American Music Museum. The visitor center and museum are open May through October and admission is free. The site is operated through a partnership between the National Park Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. For more information, visit www.BlueRidgeMusicCenter.org.

Tags: Steep Canyon RangersDori FreemanBlue Ridge Music CenterConcertEvent

Larry Cordle, Ralph Stanley II Lend a Hand on ‘Heart of Appalachia’

Sat, 06/11/2016 - 22:20
Wise County, VA -- A new song about Southwest Virginia, by emerging singer/songwriter Kaitlyn Baker, has been tapped as the official theme song for tourism in the region. Baker, who is from Wise County, Virginia, wrote “Heart of Appalachia” with longtime collaborator Scott Arnold.

She then enlisted the help of bluegrass and country legend Cordle to co-produce the record and sing background vocals. Arnold produced the music track, which was later turned over to Larry Cordle, who took Baker into The Gorilla’s Nest Studio near Nashville to record vocals.

“Larry offered ideas to improve how I sang certain phrases, and he had great ideas for harmonies,” Baker said. “He was so easy to work with. I was a little nervous at first, but he put me right at ease.”

Joining on harmonies is Val Storey, a native of Roanoke, Virginia, who is a much sought-after session singer in Nashville.

An accompanying music video features cameo appearances by Larry Cordle and Ralph Stanley II, along with mandolin player Stanley Efaw and banjo player Alex Leach. (They appear in the video, but not on the record.) The video can be seen at www.HeartOfAppalachia.com and below.

Baker donated the song on a non-exclusive basis to the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, a nonprofit organization that promotes tourism in the Coalfield Region of Southwest Virginia, which has taken an economic hit because of job losses in the coal industry.

“I hope ‘Heart of Appalachia’ will encourage more tourism, which could help the local economy,” Baker said. “This area has spectacular scenery, and there’s so much to do here.”

“The roots of bluegrass and country music run deep in the mountains of the Heart of Appalachia Region,” said Kitty Barker, executive director of the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority. “Kaitlyn Baker is an example of the talent that is born and raised in these rugged mountains of Virginia. Her talent is a blessing to the region, and her generosity to give back to her home area is admirable.”

“Heart of Appalachia” is available on iTunes and Amazon. Information about Kaitlyn Baker is available at www.KaitlynBaker.com.

Tags: Kaitlyn BakerLarry CordleRalph Stanley IICD ReleaseHeart of AppalachiaVirginia

Special Consensus Celebrates 40 Years with “Long I Ride”

Fri, 06/10/2016 - 23:01

Nashville, TN -- Long I Ride celebrates Special Consensus’ 40th anniversary as a band with an engaging set of songs and guest collaborations that’s certain to garner more acclaim. The title track, written by former band member Robbie Fulks, showcases each of the three vocalists in the group including newcomer/mandolinist Nick Dumas. Bluegrass favorites Della Mae join the band for a fresh take on the Larry Cordle classic “Highway 40 Blues” and label mates Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, together with producer/banjoist Alison Brown, deliver a blistering version of the Josh Graves penned standard “Fireball.”

Other stand outs include a bluegrass version of Stoney LaRue’s “First One to Know” featuring a guest vocal appearance from Mountain Faith’s Summer McMahan and a western swing tinged Joe Newberry original “Baby I’m Blue” featuring the twin fiddles of Buddy Spicher and Matt Combs. Long I Ride follows on the heels of Special Consensus’ guest laden, multi-award winning album Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver.

The band was founded in 1975 by banjoist (and former IBMA President) Greg Cahill and has since then become the breeding ground for some of the best new talent in bluegrass. The current lineup features Rick Faris (guitar, vocals), Nick Dumas (mandolin, vocals), Dan Eubanks (bass, vocals) and banjoist/founder Greg Cahill.

Formed in the Chicago area in 1975, The Special Consensus is a four-person acoustic bluegrass band with a repertoire that features traditional bluegrass standards, original compositions by band members and professional songwriters, and songs from other musical genres performed in the bluegrass format.

The band has released 18 recordings and has appeared on numerous National Public Radio programs and cable television shows, including The Nashville Network and the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. International tours have brought the band to Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Special C, as they are affectionately known, has appeared in concert with many symphony orchestras nationwide and has brought an informative in-school presentation to schools nationally and internationally since 1984.

Long I Ride Track Listing:

  1. "Long I Ride"
  2. "Life Stories"
  3. "Highway 40 Blues"
  4. "New Shenandoah"
  5. "First One to Know"
  6. "Fireball"
  7. "Where the Wild River Rolls"
  8. "Jesus is My Rock"
  9. "Baby I’m Blue"
  10. "Time for Movin’ On"
Tags: Special Consensus40th AnniversaryCD ReleaseLong I Ride

Mountain Fever Presents “Welcome Home” from The Gospel Plowboys

Fri, 06/10/2016 - 22:59

Willis, VA -- Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce the release of a brand new album from The Gospel Plowboys. Welcome Home is available to radio and consumers today! The Gospel Plowboys, based in Salisbury, NC, combines the talents of David Murph (mandolin), John Goodson (banjo), Michael Jenkins (guitar), David Brown (guitar, bass), Andrew Brown (bass, dobro) and Kris Miller (guitar). Between the six musicians, five are vocalists as well.

While their music is what brings them to the stage, their mission is what brought them together first. As founding member, David Murph says, "Plowing the ground, planting the seed, that Christ died for you. When we play a show, our mission is to present heartfelt music with the message that Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us." And if the band's debut release for Mountain Fever Records, Welcome Home, is anything, it is certainly proof positive that their message is being delivered in a very sincere way.

Drawing songs straight from old church hymnals, to that of writers in bluegrass and gospel music, Welcome Home will surely tug on the heartstrings of every listener. The album opens with "Dearest Friend" written by G.T. Speer and moves quickly into a traditional hymn, "Red River." The band reached back for some bluegrass gospel standards such as the Bill Castle original, "The Dream," first recorded by IIIrd Tyme Out, as well as Ralph Stanley's "Daniel Prayed." The title track, written by Indiana evangelist Billy Fields, is perhaps the crown jewel of the album both in subject matter and performance, fulfilling God's promise to all that answer the gospel call:

Welcome home, I knew you’d come
Welcome home, you’re here for good
Look around, was it worth the wait
Welcome home, step through the gate

These lyrics perfectly sum up a collection of songs that support the very message The Gospel Plowboys carry wherever they go.

"Welcome Home truly sums upThe Gospel Plowboys' motto: 'Plowing the ground, planting the seed...That Christ died for you.' A five star album!"
— John Sentell, The Bluegrass Gospel Hour

Welcome Home Track List:

  1. "Dearest Friend"
  2. "Red River"
  3. "Saved By The Blood"
  4. "Welcome Home"
  5. "Daniel Prayed"
  6. "The Dream"
  7. "Rise and Shine"
  8. "Lord I'll Go On For You"
  9. "Because He Lives"
  10. "Everybody Will Be Happy"
  11. "Forever On My Knees"
  12. "It Is Well"

The Gospel Plowboys' debut album for Mountain Fever, produced by Aaron Ramsey, is available to radio and consumers today. Radio programmers may download the album via AirPlayDirect or through a digital download by emailing radio@mountainfever.com. Consumers may purchase Welcome Home wherever great music is sold, including these digital outlets. For more about The Gospel Plowboys, visit www.gospelplowboys.com. For more about Mountain Fever Records, visit www.mountainfever.com.

Tags: Gospel PlowboysWelcome HomeMountain Fever RecordsCD Release

Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass at Bluegrass Underground Saturda

Thu, 06/09/2016 - 22:39
This Saturday, June 11th at 1pm CST, The Volcano Room will host a microcosm of the classic bluegrass argument, featuring Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass with Cabinet. A double bill of an absolutely, 100 percent classic bluegrass band and a hot young group that is pushing the boundaries of that style just as hard as they can. Read the full preview for this show here... Avoid the crowds and the heat, cave is always naturally cool!

Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass is a second generation bluegrass band that started when Danny's father Bob teamed up Ted Lundy. June 11, The Volcano Room will host a microcosm of the classic bluegrass argument, a double bill of an absolutely, 100 percent classic bluegrass band and a hot young group that is pushing the boundaries of that style just as hard as they can. Get your tickets here before they’re gone here.

Danny Paisley & Southern Grass is a second generation bluegrass band that started with Danny’s father Bob teamed up with Ted Lundy in The Southern Mountain Boys. Bob left and formed his own band in 1979, Bob Paisley & The Southern Grass, Members came and went, but there were always Paisleys and Lundys in the group.

Cabinet takes a considerably more progressive approach to bluegrass but stays on the vine. This show will epitomize our motto "a little bluegrass, a little underground".

If that's not enough we're giving away a pair of front row seat to this show on our Facebook page here. Coming later this month, Sunday June 29th, one of the best, most surprising, most unique and just absolutely coolest artists to play the cave, Davina & The Vagabonds, returns to the Volcano Room. Davina is a superb contemporary singer-songwriter and masterful swing/blues pianist, skills very rarely found in the same human being.

Check out this amazing footage of Fall Creek Falls our Bucket List package hosts, an experience you'll never forget!

Tags: Danny Paisley & the Southern GrassBluegrass UndergroundConcertEvent

Passim to Host 2nd Annual Summer BCMFest July 3rd

Thu, 06/09/2016 - 22:37

Cambridge, MA -- Club Passim will once again bring Celtic music to Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. For the second year, Club Passim will host Summer BCMFest, Boston’s Celtic Music Fest, during Boston’s Independence Day weekend on Sunday, July 3. This year’s Summer BCMFest will include a free afternoon outdoor concert on Palmer Street at 2:30 P.M. followed by a ticketed concert at night in the club.

Summer BCMFest is a warm-weather version of the annual BCMFest (Boston’s Celtic Music Fest), a weekend festival held each January to celebrate the Greater Boston area’s richness of music, song and dance from the Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and other Celtic traditions.

Taking over Palmer Street to kick off the second annual Summer BCMFest are Step About Boston, Boston University’s Irish Dance Club and the Afro-Celtic fun band Soulsha, bringing together Scottish and West African music with a vibrant, infectious big-band energy that includes fiddle, bagpipes, electric bass, keyboards, percussion and horns.

The ticketed evening concert at Club Passim will showcase the diversity of Celtic sounds in Boston with innovative fiddler Mariel Vandersteel accompanied by Owen Marshall. And The Coyne Family Band.

Mariel Vandersteel has connected with folk music in a variety of ways, whether exploring traditional music archives in Ireland, studying the hardanger fiddle in Norway, firing up fiddle tunes from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or finding inspiration through touring places like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India and Bangladesh. She creatively bridges new and old worlds, melding the styles and sounds of the various fiddle communities in which she’s traveled.

Mariel will be joined by Owen Marshall (guitar, bouzouki), who has frequently appeared at BCMFest in various collaborations. Owen also is a member of the acclaimed Maine-based traditional Irish music trio The Press Gang.

The Coyne Family Band embodies the enduring appeal of traditional Irish music across generations. Husband and wife John (bouzouki) and Lisa (flute, whistle) are among the most active and appreciated musicians in the local Irish scene. Their children Josie (fiddle) and Rory (accordion) already are accomplished players. Together, the Coynes present the “pure drop” brand of Irish music with verve and a healthy respect and love for the tradition.

Passim has also announced that the 14th Annual Winter BCMFest will take place January 13-15, 2017. Artist applications for the 2017 festival are now open until July 14th.

Tickets for the Summer BCMFest evening concert with Mariel Vandersteel and Owen Marshall, as well as the Coyne Family Band are available online at www.passim.org, by phone at 617-492,7679 (9:30 A.M. – 5:00 P.M., Monday – Friday) or at the box office 60 minutes prior to the start of the show. Club Passim is located in Harvard Square at 47 Palmer Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. The Summer BCMFest is supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Tags: Boston Celtic Music FestivalCelticMusic FestivalBlackberry Farm Event

Ray Cardwell & Tennessee Moon Preparing Debut Album

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 22:00

After several months in the studio with guitar legend/producer Pat Flynn, Ray’s debut solo album,Tennessee Moon, is almost done and ready to be mastered. To help wrap things up, they have launched a Kickstarter campaign. For info on the project and a list of fabulous perks for supporters, please visit the “Help Ray Finish His CD” page here. There are only eight days remaining in the campaign!

This all started with a meeting with producer/newgrass guitar master Pat Flynn. Ray's sister, Nancy, who was running IBMA at the time, played a demo for Pat. He said he really liked what he heard, and he proposed that they work on a project together.

During the fall and winter of 2015-16 the magic happened at Markus Stadler's Bumpin Heads studio in Madison, TN, just north of Nashville. (There's a low doorway when you walk in. Watch your head!) With Pat in the producer's chair they recorded 12 songs all together--nine that Ray either wrote or co-wrote; plus a song from one of Ray's all time favorite bands, The Dillards; a brand new song never recorded previously from hit writer, Fred Koller; and a killer original from Tennessee Moon band member, Kyle Wood--who you will remember from the band, Crucial Smith. Stylistically, the songs range from straight ahead bluegrass and an A Capella gospel to rootsy blues, acoustic country, and a touch of reggae.

Ray and his band are polishing up four sets of new material in preparation for shows during the summer and fall in Tennessee, Kansas and North Carolina, and we’re currently booking for 2017. Watch for more details at Facebook.com/TheRayCardwell.

Ray Cardwell & Tennessee Moon are looking forward to playing the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas Sept. 16-18, 2016, with special guest Pat Flynn. “Words can’t describe how excited I am about playing this festival,” Ray says. “The Winfield audience was always very supportive and enthusiastic about the music I played there with the New Tradition a few years ago, and I can’t wait to introduce them to my new band.”

During World of Bluegrass Week in Raleigh, NC, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike and Ray Cardwell & Tennessee Moon will appear at a Sept. 27 showcase for BuckleDown Production artists, presented by the Bell Buckle Café, of Bell Buckle, TN.

Tags: Ray CardwellRay Cardwell & Tennessee MoonKickstarterCD Release

The O'Connor Band to Release "Coming Home" August 5th

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 22:00

Nashville, TN - The O'Connor Band, the family band led by acclaimed musician and composer Mark O'Connor, has announced they will release their debut album, Coming Home, August 5 on Rounder. Throughout the 12-song album, the O'Connor Band draws upon a deep well of talent and tradition to make music whose sonic and emotional appeal transcends time and genre, demonstrating an effortless rapport that underlines the group's family roots as well as its prestigious collective pedigree.

The O'Connor Band's diverse musical interests and stylistic backgrounds are reflected throughout Coming Home, which is centered on uplifting, smart, and exploratory original vocal songs. From the evocative rural songcraft of the title track and "Always Do," to the haunting storytelling and colorful imagery of "Blacktop Boy," to the incisiveness of "What Have I Been Saying," the band's originals draw largely upon the writing style of the top country writers of the '80s and '90s, which is refreshing in this acoustic context.

The album is complemented by Mark O'Connor's arrangements of several classics, including a breakneck rendition of "Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man," the Bill Monroe-penned "Jerusalem Ridge," and his memorable original composition, "Fiddler Going Home." While family bands are not uncommon - especially in roots music - it's rare to find one so versatile, and with such a captivating backstory.

Mark O'Connor is a former child prodigy and national champion on the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin; an award-winning musician and composer with many CMA Awards and Grammys to his name; and the author of a groundbreaking instructional method for strings. He has performed with hundreds of symphony orchestras around the world, and collaborated with a who's who of iconic artists over the years. Hailed by The New York Times as having followed "one of the most spectacular journeys in recent American music," O'Connor's career has been unique and inspiring.

In the O'Connor Band, Mark is joined by his wife Maggie (fiddle, vocals), his son Forrest (mandolin, vocals), and Forrest's partner, Kate Lee (fiddle, vocals), all of whom are highly regarded young musicians who already have years of professional experience under their belts.

Forrest O'Connor, a graduate of Harvard University and the former Tennessee State Mandolin Champion, met Kate Lee, a versatile vocalist, fiddler, and frequent performer on the Country Music Association Awards shows, in late 2013, and the two have been writing songs together ever since.

Kate Lee is an award-winning songwriter who has performed with some of the biggest names in country music, including Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Vince Gill, Jennifer Nettles, and Rascal Flatts.

Maggie O'Connor, a Master's graduate of the Peabody Institute, is a highly accomplished violinist and fiddler, and has performed duos with Mark around the world, including with the Mendelssohn Orchestra of Hungary, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, and the Santa Rosa Symphony.

The lineup is rounded out by national flatpick guitar champion Joe Smart on guitar, and University of Miami PhD candidate Geoff Saunders on bass and banjo. O'Connor remarks, "Joe's playing on Coming Home has to be one of the best bluegrass guitar performances of the year, and our co-producer, Gregg Field, praised Geoff as having the best bass sound he'd ever gotten on record. Pretty amazing stuff for players who haven't been on the scene that long yet!"

For all the instrumental virtuosity on display here, it is the songs - both Mark's instrumental compositions, and the vocal songs written by Forrest and Kate - that are at the heart of this project.

All six members of the O'Connor Band possess impressive multi-instrumental abilities that allow the group to explore a wide range of musical configurations. The three-violin lineup is unique amongst contemporary ensembles. The virtuosic playing competes with any bluegrass band out there. The songs (described as "modern-day classics" by co-producer Gregg Field) hold their own with anything you'll hear on a Friday or Saturday night at The Bluebird Café in Nashville. Coming Home may be one of the most impressive debut albums released by any bluegrass band in a long time.

Track List:

  1. "Always Do"
  2. "Coming Home"
  3. "I Haven't Said I Love You In A While"
  4. "Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man?"
  5. "What Have I Been Saying?"
  6. "Jerusalem Ridge"
  7. "The Sweet Ones"
  8. "Blacktop Boy"
  9. "You Too"
  10. "Fishers Hornpipe"
  11. "Old Black Creek"
  12. "Fiddler Going Home"
Tags: O'Connor Family BandMark O'ConnorCD ReleaseComing Home

2016 American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame Honorees Announced

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 22:00

Oklahoma City, OK -- The American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City is pleased to announce the 2016 inductees into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame was established in 1998 to honor jazz age four-string banjo pioneers as well as the contemporary artists, educators, manufacturers and promoters who carried on the traditions of their predecessors. The American Banjo Museum was, in its infancy, an extension of that Hall of Fame.

In the years preceding 2014, the Hall of Fame honored 71 individuals and entities in the four-string banjo world whose career accomplishments might have otherwise gone unrecognized. As the museum grew and evolved to embrace all types of banjos and playing styles, it became clear that the Hall of Fame should evolve as well. As such, in 2013, the ABM Board of Directors voted to establish an annual performance category to honor all styles of five-string banjo playing as well as opening the other previously four-string banjo exclusive nonperformance categories to all types of banjos. With this move the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame was established.

Suggestions for nomination in the categories of Four-String Performance, Five-String Performance, Historical, Education & Instruction, Design & Manufacture and Promotion may be made by any member of the ABM association. Based on these suggestions, nominations are made by the Board of Directors and are then forwarded to the voting body - which consists of the museum board, living members of the Hall of Fame and lifetime members of the ABM association. Like past recipients, Hall of Fame honorees for 2015 have each displayed a lifelong commitment to the banjo in one of five categories. The American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame inductees for 2016 are:

  • J.D. CROWE - Five-String Performance - A second generation Bluegrass pioneer, Kentucky’s J.D. Crowe absorbed and interpolated the musical and cultural nuances of his predecessors such as Earl Scruggs to become the driving force behind the new voice of Bluegrass in the 1970s. Firmly rooted in Bluegrass traditions going back to his early days of performing with Jimmy Martin in the 1950s, Crowe went on to form the Kentucky Mountain Boys and, later, J.D. Crowe and the New South in the 1970s and - with the musical support of icons such as Ricky Scaggs, Keith Whitley, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas and Doyle Lawson - went on to write his own chapter in Bluegrass history.
  • PAT TERRY, JR. - Four-String Performance - Carrying on the tradition of his father, Pat Terry, Jr. began his professional banjo career in the mid 1960s partnering with his dad as "Pat Terry and Son". The duo performed at Radio City Music Hall, Disneyland, Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens and Universal Studios. Pat Jr. was the editor and publisher of International Banjo magazine and hosted several large festivals (including the FIGA convention) in Orlando. He currently insures his family’s proud banjo heritage through his nightly performance as part of the Hoop Dee Doo Revue at the Walt Disney World Resort.
  • GEORGE FORMBY - Historical - From his humble beginning carrying on the traditions of his father as music hall performer in Blackpool, England, George Formby elevated himself to the highest level of recognition and respect in the British entertainment industry. A celebrity equal in world-wide popularity to Bing Crosby during the years of WWII, Formby - sporting his banjo ukulele, toothy grin and delightfully witty songs, lifted the spirits of war torn England as no other entertainer had. His legacy lives on through the thousand of modern banjo, banjo ukulele and ukulele players who emulate the Formby style which introduced countless thousands to the banjo during his lifetime.
  • DEERING BANJO COMPANY - Design & Manufacture - Greg Deering learned woodworking from his father and, at the age of 12, purchased his first banjo and learned to play the music of the Kingston Trio. Deering went on to make his first banjo as an industrial arts major at San Diego State College and, in 1970, joined other enterprising young college students at the American Dream Co-Op doing instrument repairs and building banjos. The American dream became the theme of Greg’s life when he and Janet started the Deering Banjo Company in 1975. Today, over 40 years later, the Deering Banjo Company has seen many a milestone including the launch of the Goodtime Series in 1997. In its 40 years of existence, Deering has delivered hand-built American instruments to over 100,000 musicians… one banjo at a time.
  • ALFRED GREATHOUSE - Instruction & Education - Although current technology affords the availability of many education and instruction options for today’s aspiring four-string banjoist, in the days prior to home video and the internet, the writing, printing and distribution of banjo instructional publications was a major undertaking. At a time when demand for such a publication was minimal, Alfred Greathouse researched, wrote and published a milestone plectrum banjo method entitled The Banjo Players Bible. By simply explaining and presenting proven concepts and techniques of the past, Greathouse compiled what banjo legend Perry Bechtel described as “the best plectrum banjo instruction book every published.”

J.D. Crowe, Pat Terry, Jr., George Formby, the Deering Banjo Company, and Alfred Greathouse will be inducted into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame during gala ceremonies to be held on Friday, September 9th, 2016 in Oklahoma City. The following day, informal performances as well as a very special BANJO IN CONCERT evening performance featuring Andy Eastwood, Mark Johnson & Emory Lester, Gary Davis, Pat Terry Jr., Randy Morris and many others will take place at the ABM as well as the Hudiburg Chevrolet Performing Arts Center at Rose State University.

During their visit, Hall of Fame weekend guests will enjoy recent additions to ABM exhibits including a new blockbuster exhibit, The Banjo World of Steve Martin which features instruments from Martin’s personal collection as well as entertaining video clips and an enlightening interview with the Wild and Crazy Guy himself.

Tags: American Banjo Museum Hall of FameInductionHall of FameBanjoJ.D. CrowePat TerryJr.George Formbythe Deering Banjo CompanyAlfred Greathouse

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