Music City Roots hosted by Jim Lauderdale feat. Yarn, Adam Pope, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, John Cowan & Benjy DavisPop/Rock
Since their start in 2007, Yarn’s original Americana sound has developed into music that seekers of the unique see as the soundtrack to their lives. Yarn’s first four albums were recognized by the AMA’s and R&R radio charts, spending time in the top 5 at their highest point. Yarn has become one of the hardest-working and harder-touring bands for this generation’s digital natives and new music folllowers.
2012 brings this grammy-nominated roots band into the music revolution, inspired by today’s music devotee’s hunger for artists to believe in and follow, they are giving it to the fans everyday in everyway possible. Yarn’s devotion to their fans is realized in online and social sharing of their music, whether it’s daily video posts, premiering fresh songs on local radio, or performing live in small town venues across the country. They are bringing songs to American music lovers, and the music lovers are responding.
Yarn’s devoted followers, affectionately called the “Yarmy”, answered the band’s request for aid when they funded their new record through Kickstarter. Raising in excess of $5000 of the $15,000 needed, the “Yarmy” proved their allegiance to Yarn and their music being heard in 2012.
The fans have spoken, and on March 20th, Yarn releases their new album, Almost Home, produced by the multi-Grammy winning, Bil VornDick, who has worked with Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Bob Dylan and many others. VornDick came across a Yarn performance at “Music City Roots”, Nashville’s progessive live music show that showcases some of the best of the Americana music scene. Although they didn’t come together that night, VornDick and his wife heard Yarn on a Virginia radio live remote a few days later as they were traveling. VornDick decided it must be a sign and the rest is Yarn history.
Yarn’s mojo continues to provide as they will be making their first appearance at SXSW in the New Frontier Showcase, and traveling in the “On the Fly” RV, courtesy of their 2012 sponsorship with Firefly Vodka. “It seems every good connection leads to another,” says Christiana, “our fan following has really put us in a place to get noticed and we want to repay them for the huge faith in us.” Yarn’s good karma keeps building, being in the right place at the right time. They were recently featured on CNN’s Out Front, during a cover story on Firefly Distilleries. The band just happened to be in town and their music made a believer out of CNN host, Erin Burnett, who, (as she sings along with the band), proclaims, “They are playing good music and living the American dream. We think Yarn is going to make it big!”
Yarn is led by singer/songwriter and cult-master, Blake Christiana, who carries the torch for the fan-following that will transport Yarn into the promised land. “Our fans are like family. We are so grateful to people that love music and will help support us in creating it. It’s just remarkable,” Christiana says. “That’s half of my love of the road; we’ve got what feels like family in tons of cities across America.”
Yarn’s devoted “family” has them following in the fine tradition of The Grateful Dead and Widespread Panic, whose fans will go to any length to see them live, and this year Yarn’s fans will see them plenty. Their rigorous tour schedule has them out on the road for more than 150 dates per year since 2007 and they are not slowing down.
For Yarn, discussion of life on the road goes right back to the audience and the fan’s benevolence. “They want us to survive and to keep creating music, so they will bring us into their homes, let us sleep in their beds, cook for us...the level of generosity is unbelievable,” says Christiana. The Yarn sextet doesn’t hold back when it comes to rewarding their followers for their loyalty. “We are so exposed to our fans...we don’t sit on the bus or hide in the green room, we are hanging out, drinking beer with them, going out after the show...if anyone wants to get to know us on a more personal level, it’s very easy,” admits Christiana. They also make sure that all their live shows are recorded and online for fans freely. “We have been doing that for a few years, and the fans love it,” says Christiana, “whatever it takes, we want to do for anybody that comes out to our shows.”
Is there a mark of success for Yarn? Christiana states it well, “To live comfortably and make music for our fans. I just want to be able to do what I love and eat...so maybe I’m already there,” he laughs, “we want to make good music and hopefully that makes someone else’s life better.”
"I moved to Nashville in 2006 and started into the music business simply because I was driven to entertain. Over the years, though, my “why” explanation has gotten much deeper and meaningful. I now intend to not only entertain folks, but to enlighten and inspire. I do not wish to simply be background music while the party goes on, but I strive to be a torchbearer of the light, the everlasting light that gives us more than just an emotional, musical high but meets our soul’s deepest yearning for truth and satisfaction. I want it to last long after the shows and well into the quiet, reflective moments in our lives. I hope to validate those holding to truth, give confirmation to the dreamer that they should pursue their happiness. I hope to put laughter in the heart of the stressed, and be a tool that helps the struggling couple finally acknowledge they are in the place those sad song lyrics just described so they can find hope to build upon. I strive to reach out to those who sacrifice for freedom’s sake and show them warmth, appreciation, and love because I know what true freedom is and how rare it is in world history. I love America and I believe that she is a God inspired country who will be great as long as her people are good. As culture progresses I will stand firm on the principles that made this nation great all the while adapting to the circumstances of the present so that I may be relevant and have an impact grounded in truth. My mission is that I will be a conduit that God uses to advance goodness, freedom, and truth in the form of doing what I love to do the most; entertaining."
Darin and Brooke AldridgeChristian & Gospel
Darin and Brooke Aldridge are beautiful young newlyweds who sing and play a rich combination of bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and country duets certain to please fans on any stage or festival, church or concert hall. Their fine harmony work showcases two fine individual voices which blend to perfection, and they are backed by perfect instrumentation.
I’ll Go With You, their well-received gospel recording, first brought the duo to national attention. Bluegrass Unlimited reviewed the project and said it “set a new standard of excellence in bluegrass gospel.” Their new self-titled release on Crossroads Music Label was produced by Nashville music veteran Jerry Salley, and features both secular and gospel bluegrass music. Audiences in every venue have been stunned by the conviction, commitment, and depth of their performances. They present songs of faith in God and love of each other, and have an uncanny ability to communication with both their audience and each other in song.
John Cowan, also known as the Voice of Newgrass, has been singing his heart out for thirty-five years now, and his soaring vocals have only improved with time. A true innovator, John applies his powerful pipes to genres from country, bluegrass, and gospel to soul, jazz, and rock-and-roll – often within the space of a single concert. His ability to move fluidly through multiple styles, and carry mesmerized audiences on the journey with him, has set him apart as one of the most loved and admired vocal artists of his generation, not just by fans and critics but among fellow musicians as well.
John Cowan was born on August 24, 1953, in Minerva, Ohio, and got his musical start in Louisville, Kentucky, where he played in various rock outfits like Everyday People and Louisville Sound Department in the early 1970s. But his rise to fame began in earnest in 1974 when he auditioned to play bass for the then up-and-coming New Grass Revival. The audition went well, and John was offered the gig. It wasn’t until he’d accepted the job that the shy 22-year-old casually mentioned, “By the way, I can sing too.”
With his distinctive, rock-tinged tenor vocal and heart-thumping electric bass, John, along with fellow New Grass Revival band mates Sam Bush, Courtney Johnson, and Curtis Burch, and later Bela Fleck and Pat Flynn, introduced a new generation of music fans to an explosive, experimental and ultimately, eponymous brand of bluegrass. The “newgrass” sound spawned popular jam bands such as Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band in addition to shaping the sensibilities of country megastars Garth Brooks, the Dixie Chicks, the Zac Brown Band, and Darius Rucker.
After New Grass Revival disbanded in 1990, John went on to record a series of critically acclaimed solo albums including Soul’d Out (Sugar Hill, 1986), the self-titled John Cowan (Sugar Hill, 2000), Always Take Me Back (Sugar Hill, 2002), New Tattoo (Pinecastle, 2006), 8,745 Feet, Live at Telluride (2005, re-released by E-1 Entertainment, 2009), Comfort & Joy (E-1 Entertainment, 2009), and The Massenburg Sessions (E-1 Entertainment, 2010).
Over the years, he also has been in high demand as a session musician and boasts vocal and/or bass credits on some 120 recordings, including albums by Garth Brooks, Glen Campbell, Rosanne Cash, Ashley Cleveland, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Hootie and the Blowfish, Janis Ian, Hal Ketchum, Alison Krauss, Delbert McClinton, Reba McEntire, Tim O’Brien, Mark O’Connor, Poco, John Prine, Kenny Rogers, Darius Rucker, Leon Russell, Darrell Scott, Ricky Skaggs, Travis Tritt, Hank Williams Jr., Jesse Winchester, Wynonna, and the Will the Circle Be Unbroken albums.
In the early 1990s, John teamed up with Rusty Young of Poco, Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd, and Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers in a country rock band called The Sky Kings. Despite the successful run of their CMT video “Picture Perfect,” the band’s recordings went unreleased due to a series of personnel changes first at RCA Records and then Warner Brothers, and the group was forced to call it quits in 1997. Shelved for years, The Sky Kings unreleased album, along with 14 additional tracks from the Warner Brothers archives, was finally published in 2000 by Rhino Handmade Records. Meanwhile, John’s alliance with Pat Simmons gained him a slot as bassist for the Doobie Brothers from 1992 through 1995 as well as a songwriting credit for “Can’t Stand to Lose” on the Doobie Brothers 2000 release Sibling Rivalry.
Not content to remain a sideman, however, John left the Doobie Brothers to follow his creative muse in pursuit of a solo career that, at the dawn of the 21st century, found him circling back to his acoustic “newgrass” roots.
“What we did back in the New Grass Revival days was unique,” he says. “Our vision was to take acoustic music somewhere new. What I’ve done with the John Cowan Band is try to recapture the magic of that ground-breaking experimentation and take it to the next level.”
The John Cowan Band, in various incarnations that inevitably feature some of acoustic music’s finest players, has been a force to be reckoned with these fifteen years – and counting. John is a fixture and a favorite at major festivals like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado and Wilkesboro, North Carolina’s “traditional-plus” MerleFest, and he routinely sells out performing arts theaters and distinguished music clubs and listening rooms around the country. Stints in his band have helped launch the careers of Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers), Luke Bulla (Lyle Lovett), and Scott Vestal, among others. The band’s current lineup most often features long-time collaborator and outstanding flatpick guitarist Jeff Autry, renowned and in-demand fiddler Shad Cobb, and mandolinist extraordinaire John Frazier.
Louisiana singer/songwriter Benjy Davis formed the Benjy Davis Project as a folk-rock duo in Baton Rouge in 2001. Originally, the group's only members were Davis and drummer Mic Capdevielle, although the outfit eventually expanded into a six-piece with the addition of Anthony Rushing (violin, mandolin, vocals), Jonathan Lawhun (guitar, banjo), Brett Bolden (bass; later replaced by Matt Rusnak), and Michael Galasso (harmonica, keyboards, vocals). The Benjy Davis Project built up a following while touring nationally as a support act to John Mayer, Better Than Ezra, and the North Mississippi Allstars, as well as playing such prominent local shows as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The group self-released its first album, More Than Local, in 2002, followed two years later by the Practice Sessions EP. The local label Bogalusa issued their second full-length album, 2005's The Angie House, and Real Records stepped in to handle their third, Dust, which appeared in September 2007. The Benjy Davis Project signed with Rock Ridge Music in 2008 and reissued Dust several months later, with new mixing and three bonus songs rounding out the package. By this time, the band had scaled itself back to the core lineup of Benjy Davis and Mic Capdeviell, and a number of studio musicians were called upon to flesh out the group's fourth album, 2010's Lost Souls Like Us. Less than 12 months later, Davis and Capdeviell returned with Sincerely, an acoustic album featuring stripped-down versions of their favorite originals.
Two-time Grammy award winner Jim Lauderdale is a multi-talented performer and songwriter, with successes in both country and bluegrass music. His roots stem from the Carolinas, yet his career has taken him all over the United States and abroad, making him an international recording artist with an ever-growing fan base. He has hosted the Americana Music Awards for the past seven years and won their first Artist of the Year and Song of the Year awards. He is among Nashville's "A" list of songwriters, with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, Dixie Chicks, Mark Chestnut, Vince Gill and George Strait. He also contributed several songs to the successful soundtrack of the film, "Pure Country." His songs continue to strike a chord with a new generation of artists including Gary Allan and Blake Shelton.
Jim's musical influences include the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones. These influences and his unique sense of melody and lyric help forge a sound that is truly his own. As a performer his credits include production, writing and collaborating on albums such as, "Wait 'Til Spring" with Donna the Buffalo, "Headed for the Hills” with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "I Feel Like Singing Today" and the Grammy winning “Lost in the Lonesome Pines” with Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys.