Sep 112014
 

Bill Monroe’s version of bluegrass has traveled far and wide but so has Sam Bush’s newgrass, which was mated with the music of the Grateful Dead to produce jamgrass, now a staple of festivals around the country. We see many jamgrass bands coming through town: Yonder Mountain String Band, String Cheese Incident, any of several configurations from David Grisman and now Greensky Bluegrass, which will be at Headliners Music Hall on September 16. Equipped with the usual bluegrass instrumentation (including Dobro), Greensky rips right along nstrumentally, with harmonies more in tune with various Americana country groups than standard bluegrass four-part harmony. If you like Newgrass, perhaps with the edges smoothed a bit, these boys will make you feel right at home. In fact, they are so good that they won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition in 2006, which is no small deal. They have a brand-new album, If Sorrows Swim, which they wil be performing. Swear and Shake will open. Tickets are $15

Check out “Demons”:


MORE ARTIST INFORMATION

Website: http://www.greenskybluegrass.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greenskybluegrass
Twitter: https://twitter.com/campgreensky
LastFM: www.last.fm/music/Greensky+Bluegrass

Jul 302014
 

Lord have mercy – as if a show featuring Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs and Rhonda Vincent wasn’t enough to make any Bluegrass fan reach for his/her wallet, there’s a Jerry Douglas show on the same day – August 1. This one is at the Kentucky Country Day Theatre, which is very nice, new venue out in the East End. Douglas, for those of you unfamiliar with him, is, arguably, the premiere Dobro player in the world. He spends most of his time as a session player (1,600+ albums and counting), touring with Alison Krauss And Union Station plus recording his own records. His Grammy Awards total is a lucky thirteen and he has won the Country Music Association’s “Musician of The Year” award three times, plus a number of other assorted awards. His bona fides are beyond any doubt, even for a very picky Bluegrass fan. The only considerations are: 1.) do you like resonator guitar music 2.) Do you have enough money and 3) did you not get tickets to see Bush, Vincent and Skaggs? If you answered ‘Yes’ to these three questions, then you should be out a Kentucky Country Day on August 1. Tickets are $25-$35, which are a bit more reasonable than the tickets to the Creekside event.

WAtch “Little Medley”:


MORE ARTIST INFORMATION

Website: www.jerrydouglas.com/
LastFM: www.last.fm/music/Jerry+Douglas
MySpace: https://myspace.com/jerrydouglasband

Jun 242014
 

The Mayfield Family bluegrass band has been splintering and spinning off various members into separate bands (David and Valerie Mayfield, Jessica Lea Mayfield, David Mayfield Parade), all of whom seem to find Louisville a favorite place to play, particularly the two kids, David and Jessica. This time, it’s The David Mayfield Parade, which will hit Zanzabar on June 28. This configuration is also the most recent of the Mayfield manifestations, kicking off in 2011 with his solo debut, The Parade. Prior to that, he was a sideman but decided to see if his own particular brand of music with a comedic edge would find favor. This trip, he’s plugging Good Man Down, for which he did not rein in his weirder producer impulses. That resulted in horns in the bluegrass, among other things. Tickets are $10.

Watch “Human Cannonball”:


MORE ARTIST INFORMATION

Website:davidmayfieldparade.net
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/thedavidmayfieldparade
ReverbNation:www.reverbnation.com/davidmayfieldparade

Jun 022014
 

This isn’t a Waterfront Wednesday show, unfortunately, this one is a pay-for-it show, but, hey, it’s Willie Freaking Nelson, the genuine musical legend himself, along with the altogether amazing Alison Krauss And Union Station with Jerry Douglas, the fabulous bluegrass singer-songwriter and champion fiddler and her band, a headlining act itself. The Wild Feathers are an up-and-coming Americana band from Nashville that puts this (uncredited) summary on their Facebook page: “They’re like if Led Zeppelin & The Band had a baby in Joshua Tree that grew up listening to Ryan Adams covering the Stones 70’s country influenced songs.” Let’s cut to the chase: this is a show for acoustic music fans who like country and bluegrass and all of whom already know these performers and are aware of this show, set for June 6. You either have your tickets already or are just procrastinating in the matter. They are fairly steep for a Waterfront show at $55 adv/ $65 Dos but, hey, it’s Willie Freaking Nelson and Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas.

Watch the music video for “Blue Eyes Cryin In The Rain”:


MORE WILLIE NELSON INFORMATION

Website:willienelson.com/
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/WillieNelson
Twitter:https://twitter.com/willienelson
LastFM:www.last.fm/music/Willie+Nelson

MORE ALISON KRAUSS & UNION STATION INFORMATION

Watch Alison Krauss & Union Station live at a show in Murray, KY last week:


Website:alisonkrauss.com/
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialAlisonKrauss
Twitter:https://twitter.com/AlisonKrauss
LastFM:www.last.fm/music/Alison+Krauss

MORE WILD FESTHERS INFORMATION

Jun 022014
 

Steve Martin is not just a comedian; he’s a fine banjo player as well, having learned from John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and he has proved it by winning a Grammy Awards; in 2002, he scored one (Best Country Instrumental Performance) for his cover of Earl Scrugg’s “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and another one for Best Bluegrass Album The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo in 2010. He has toured with the Steep Canyon Rangers, playing at a number of notable bluegrass festivals over the past decade. His collaboration album with Edie Brickell, Love Has Come For You, yielded a Grammy (Best Roots Song) for the title tune. Now he’s on tour with Brickell and the Steep Canyon Rangers and they’ll be appearing at Horseshoe Southern Indiana on D-Day June 6. Tickets are $49.50, $64.50 and $79.50.

Here’s “Love Has Come For You”:


MORE ARTIST INFORMATION

Website:www.stevemartin.com/
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/SteveMartinofficial
Twitter:https://twitter.com/SteveMartinToGo

May 192014
 

David and Valerie Mayfield have created some serious connections in the music business, particularly via their children, Jessica Lea Mayfield – who vsits Louisville regularly – and David Mayfield, who tours as the David Mayfield Parade. They used to perform as the Mayfield family band One Way Rider, before winding up as “empty nesters.” After that happened, Mom and Dad Mayfield decided to quit their day jobs and go back to working as a duo, which includes making a record with their son David, who is a Nashville producer in addition to performing. They play bluegrass and old-timey music – and we mean old-timey – and have arranged for two stops in Louisville, the first at the Rudyard Kipling on May 23 and then at Decca on July 11. Check with the clubs for ticket information.

Here’s their version of “Satisfied Mind”:


MORE ARTIST INFORMATION

Website:http://davidandvaleriemayfield.com/
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/davidandvaleriemayfield
ReverbNation:www.reverbnation.com/davidandvaleriemayfield
MySpace:

Apr 232014
 

For people of a certain age, hearing the name The Buzzard Rock String Band evokes memories of nights along Bardstown Road, Washington Street and – for some – The Bluegrass Hotel. Harry Bickel Jr., owner of the “Hotel” and member of the Buzzards, has been motivated to regroup as much of the original band as possible, specifically, himself, Doc Hamilton and Harry Sparks, with help from Charlie Cushman and Vince Gill, a former resident of the Hotel now living in Nashville, for the purpose of recording an album, entitled Nobody Special. The tale of how that came about is the subject of some pretty lengthy liner notes accompanying the record. (You’ll have to buy the record or hope the band puts up a web site with the story to read it.) It was recorded at Vince Gill’s home studio in Nashville, with help from Charlie Cushman. Harry agreed to answer a few questions about the record and related matters.
The Record Release party is scheduled for 5 p.m., April 27 at the Red Barn on the U of L campus. It’s also available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/buzzardrockstringband

>1. What prompted you to get the band back together and make a record and how did you get Vince to come along?

About four years ago, Harry Sparks was about to turn 70 and was having a big birthday party. I talked to him several weeks before the party and told him I thought he and I should go in a studio and put down some of the stuff we did together back in the 1970’s. He loved the idea and suggested we get on it after the birthday party was over. During the birthday party, I was calling some of our old friends like J.D. Crowe and Sam Bush so they could wish Sparky a Happy Birthday. I would run up to Sparky with my phone in hand saying “Birthday call for Harry Sparks, birthday call for Harry Sparks”. It was actually pretty funny because he never knew who he was about to talk to. When I called Vince, however, his phone just kept going to voicemail, so I finally gave up. The next day, Vince called me back to apologize for not answering. He had just gotten back from Italy and had crashed. I told him why I called and that Sparky and I had decided to record some of our old stuff. To that he replied “that’s great, I’ve got the perfect place for you to do it.” I said “where?” and he replied, “my house, I’ve just finished building my own studio and you guys are welcome to come down.” Later that day I called Sparky and he was very excited. We decided that we couldn’t do it without Doc, so I called him in Texas and he said he was in. So that’s how the whole thing started.

> 2. When was the last time the band had been together before this project began and what caused you to stop performing?
Sparky, Doc and I performed together as the Buzzard Rock String Band for several years beginning about 1976. Vince was living at the house (the Bluegrass Hotel) at the time and would play with us when his band (the Bluegrass Alliance) wasn’t working. Vince moved away first, sometime in 1976. Doc moved back out West a few years that so Sparky and I added other musicians. FInally, Sparky moved away around 1980. I kept the band together, with different people, until the early ‘90, at which time we started drifting apart. In 1988, the final version of the band recorded an album for June Appal Records called “I’ve Got the Blues for My Kentucky Home.” So, in answer to your question, the three original members had not played together since the late ‘70s. We had not played together with Vince since the mid ‘70s.

> 3. What are you going to do with this project to promote it?

We’re not going to do a whole lot to promote it. Doc lives in Texas, Sparky in Northern Kentucky and I live in Louisville. We just did it to have fun and to leave some of our music behind. It’s available from CD Baby and for download from Amazon and several other places. We’ve also sent it to several magazines for review. I don’t, however, envision any grand tour.

> 4. How do you think the bluegrass scene has changed since you last performed professionally? (Your yearly parties don’t count but what you heard there does.)

This CD is actually Old Time Music, not Bluegrass, but we’ve all continued to be involved in Bluegrass over the years. When we got started back in the 1960s, the traditional bands like Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanleys, etc. were the mainstays. Of course, J.D. Crowe was the top gun in Kentucky. The first Bluegrass festival was in 1965 in Roanoke, Virginia and things really started to take off after that. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Louisville was probably the top city in the country for Bluegrass. The list of musicians who passed through here is amazing. Sometime in the 1980s, things started to die out around here, but a core group of musicians remains, a lot of them centered around Bluegrass Anonymous.

I think Bluegrass Music, itself, has changed a lot over the years. Unfortunately, all of the changes have not been good. Many bands started speeding things up to the point that all of the subtle aspects of the music are lost. Art Stamper, who was one of my closest friends for 40 years, was very disillusioned with the music in his later years. He used to say “they’ve ruined it!” The technical level of the players has increased greatly but the tendency has been to add too many notes to the solos. To that, Art used to say “don’t play everything you know on the first break.” Some bands also try to overpower the audience by playing very loud and all at the same time. Doc calls it a “wall of sound!” Don’t get me wrong, I still love Bluegrass. I just prefer the older, more traditional sounds.

> 5. The technical aspects of recording business have changed since you last recorded – how did everybody adapt to those changes? Did you just record live instead?

The first time I recorded, studios were still using two inch tape and the final products were LPs and Cassette Tapes. Now we’ve gone to all digital and CDs. From the standpoint of the musician, things aren’t all that different. You still sit there and play your music. Making changes or correcting mistakes is a little easier. Mixing on this album was much easier. In the past, I’ve always sat with the engineer and gone through every cut, over and over. This time, since Vince’s engineer is in Nashville, we did it over the Internet, so to speak. Vince brought us CDs of the rough mix. We all listened to them and made some suggestions. I then worked with his engineer, Matt Rausch, via email and Drop Box, a program that allows you to exchange files with others. As far as sound quality, Matt did an incredible job the first time through. I went through each song and told him exactly where to raise or lower instruments or voices and also where we needed Vince to add a break, and in one instance, a harmony vocal. He would send me the new file and I would review it again to make sure it was the way I wanted it. From a technical standpoint, the end result was fantastic. Because there was no time crunch, I was able to listen to each cut, over and over, and with several types of speakers and various types of headphones and ear buds.

We actually did record live as opposed to the way most recordings are made today. We sat around and played and sang and added a few bits and pieces after the fact. Vince prefers to do harmony parts later so he can listen to the way you sing and match it as closely as possible. That’s why everyone in Nashville has wanted him to sing harmony on their records for the past 30 years. I prefer to do our kind of music that way because I think it gives it more of a live feel. With so many recordings today, the musicians never see one another. They come in, record their bit, and that’s it Technically, the recording is perfect but I think a lot of spirit and emotion is lost in the process.

> 6. Since you were there for the beginning of the newgrass/Newgrass subgenre in bluegrass, what’s your opinion about how the many variations on that theme now, particularly the jamgrass kind, have changed the style?

I think I alluded to a lot of this in the question about the Bluegrass scene. I was there for the very first Newgrass Revival gig and followed them closely until their demise. Actually, we literally did follow them once at Winfield. The Buzzard Rock String Band went on stage right after Newgrass finished their set. It was kind of like showing up at a gunfight with a pea shooter. I loved the Newgrass Revival and all of the guys in it. I thought they did a great deal to bring Bluegrass to a wider audience. Of course, they were the offshoot of the Bluegrass Alliance and I think both bands were responsible for catapulting Bluegrass into the modern age. I guess I must be getting old, however, because I don’t even know what “jamgrass” is.

> 7. Dude, aren’t you kind of old for to be gigging and promoting a new record? (Stock audience question)
Of course I’m not too old. I can still feed and dress myself. I don’t think there is any reason to ever stop playing as long as you are able. At some point, you’re not going to play as well as you used to, but that’s no reason for quitting. I sat many times and listened to people like Tommy Jarrell, Virgil Anderson, Mississippi John Hurt, Eck Robertson, Cousin Emmy when they all were at an advanced age, and still came away with something. It’s how you connect with the past. If you don’t know where your music came from, it’s hard to decide where you want it to go.

The show is at the Red Barn on UL’s campus on Sunday, April 27th, beginning at 5pm. I have actually reinvented the Buzzard Rock String Band with two old members and two new members. We will start playing out in the near future. They will all be there on Sunday plus some faces from the past, including Harry Sparks. Doc Hamilton couldn’t come for this gig. It should be a real good time and a chance to show off some of the songs from the album. Excuse me, that’s CD to you young folks.

Thanks, Harry, and for all the music that came out of the Hotel.

Apr 212014
 

The two-time and reigning IBMA Instrumental Group Of The Year band The Boxcars, who rocked a Kentucky Homefront crowd a while back, will appear the IUS’ Ogle Center on April 25, out on the road promoting their third CD. It’s Just A Road, which was created in under four days in the studio. Besides bluegrass, the group understands and incorporates swing, old time and gospel influences into their sound. All together, the Boxcars appeal to old and new fans alike. Tickets to the show are $26.50.

Watch The Boxcars On KET’s Jubilee, singing “Head Over Heels in Love with You”:


MORE ARTIST INFORMATION

Website: www.theboxcars.com/?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBoxcars?
LastFM: www.last.fm/music/The+Boxcars?

Mar 192014
 

The Eighth Annual Itchin’ To Pick Festival happens at the Galt House  on March 21 and 22. It’s a hotel-wide jam session for bluegrass musicians from all around the area and perhaps beyond. All levels of pickin’ skill are welcome. A $5 donation is requested. Show up, pay up and wander around until you find a group to join. Couldn’t get much friendlier. For more information, head over to http://www.itchintopick.com/