A Benefit for Jim Van Cleve
Dailey + Vincent
Del McCoury Band
Sam Bush Band
and many many more
Sure, the name “Jimmy Jam” may bring to mind one-half of Janet Jackson’s R&B production team, but in fact, this is a jam for the benefit of fiddler, songwriter and producer Jim Van Cleve, a founding member of the ever-evolving newgrass-y powerhouse Mountain Heart and a significant young player in the contemporary bluegrass recording world. Van Cleve contracted dengue hemorrhagic fever from a mosquito bite during a visit to the Virgin Islands back in March, and his road to recovery has been a long and no doubt expensive one. Some of the best and brightest in bluegrass — The Del McCoury and Sam Bush bands, The Grascals, The SteelDrivers, Dailey and Vincent, Guthrie Trapp and Friends, Melonie Cannon and Friends, Sierra Hull, Bryan Sutton, Larry Cordle, Donna Ulisse, Scene contributor Jon Weisberger and too many other fine pickers and singers to squeeze into this word count — will be taking part in this show. Even Mountain Heart itself — and a gingerly back-in-the-saddle Van Cleve — will be playing. And that’s something to be thankful for.
Jimmy Van Cleve
Hendersonville TN | Singer-Songwriter
Jim VanCleve is a founding member of the act that has been taking the Americana scene by storm, MOUNTAIN HEART. In addition to the extensive traveling he does with his band, he is also a full time session musician, and record producer in Nashville, TN.
The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of success for Jim's career.
His debut solo project, "NO APOLOGIES" was nominated for a GRAMMY in the "Best Country Instrumental" Category in 2007. The project was also nominated at the International Bluegrass Music Awards for "Instrumental Album of the Year" that same year. The project had an impressive total of three charting singles and was ultimately awarded Album of the Year honors in the Folk Music Category at the Indie Music Awards.
In addition to all this, the lead-off single from the album, "Let the Big Dog Eat", (a scorching bluegrass tune sung by multi-platinum selling songwriter and bluegrass icon, Ronnie Bowman) held the No. 1 spot for three months.
"NO APOLOGIES" was included in top ten lists for these major Publications: WALL STREET JOURNAL, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, CMT, WASHINGTON TIMES, USA TODAY. Upon it's release, "No Apologies" immediately placed in the top ten in the BillBoard Sales Chart for that week, and remained there in the charts each week for over two months following. All this for a debut solo release!
As a solo artist, it is safe to say, Jim has started off on the right foot!! However, this is but one side of coin...
As a session musician working on an ever-increasing number of albums each year, Jim has built a very impressive resume. All in the last three years, he has been featured on Carrie Underwood's No. 1 hit single, "Don't Forget to Remember Me", from the Multi-Platinum "Some Hearts" recording, featured as part of his band, Mountain Heart, on the recording, "Strumming with the Devil" (with David Lee Roth of Van Halen), and was prominently featured on the "Best Country Album" Grammy Award Winning, "Livin',Lovin', Losin': A Tribute to the Louvin Brothers". As a session musician, these are but a few projects he's been asked to take part in recently.
Jim also was recruited to write and record a new Awards Show Theme Song by the International Bluegrass Music Association (an honor previously held by the great Jerry Douglas, and the incomparable Mark O'Connor before him). The new theme song, "Road From Rosine" was debuted at the 2007 IBMA Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Jim was also recently asked to write an instrumental track for a studio project by Sierra Hull, the young mandolin and vocal prodigy you might have seen on television, either sitting in with Alison Krauss, or as an actress in the new Billy Graham movie. Ron Block (of Alison Krauss and Union Station), and Sierra produced her debut solo project and commissioned Jim to write the song, which eventually was entitled SMASHVILLE. Sierra's album, Secrets, is now available on Rounder Records. Check it out! Last year, Jim was a featured special guest performer on the ACM Awards Show, live from Las Vegas with country superstar, Sara Evans. The song they performed was called "Coalmine", which spent several weeks in the Billboard top ten.
Jim has also become, since the release of his solo project, an in-demand record producer. Recent projects he has produced include the following:
Jim VanCleve - No Apologies
Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain - Self titled
Mountain Heart - Road That Never Ends
Mashville Brigade - Smash Hits of Bluegrass, Vol. 1
Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain - CHHR2
Pickin' On: Taylor Swift (select tracks)
Broken Wire - Demo Tracks to be released
Newfound Road - Same Old Place
In addition to all this, an abbreviated list of some of the artists he has recorded and/or performed with includes... Johnny Cash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Skip Ewing, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Dierks Bentley, Emmy Lou Harris, Joe Nichols, John Cowan, Ronnie Bowman, Linda Ronstadt, Bryan Sutton, Stuart Duncan, Rodney Crowell, Sonya Isaacs, Carrie Underwood, Sara Evans, Ricky Skaggs, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Jerry Douglas, Tony Rice, Glen Cambell, Sam Bush, Chris Thile, Tim O'Brien, Doc Watson, Del McCoury Band, Blue Highway, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Patty Loveless, Terri Clark, Ronnie Dunn, Rhonda Vincent, and Nickel Creek.
Dailey and Vincent
Ashville NC | Country
The most eagerly-anticipated bluegrass debut in recent memory, Dailey & Vincent area a powerful ensemble steeped in bluegrass and country music traditions, but blessed with the drive, talent, and charisma to assert those timeless values proudly onto today's stage. Even before one note of their stunning debut record had been heard, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent earned a standing ovation at the 2007 International Bluegrass Music Association convention and were booked for more than 100 shows. Now that the album is here, the advance accolades are completely understandable. This is music that can stand side by side with any of the most revered bluegrass discs ever made.
Co-leaders Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have already had a profound impact on much of the best modern bluegrass via their contributions to such estimable performers as Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, and Rhonda Vincent & The Rage. The decision to join forces was not taken lightly, as they both held comfortable positions within premier bluegrass bands – Dailey as lead and tenor singer for nine years with Lawson, Vincent as harmony vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with Skaggs. “But when I first heard Jamie sing,” Darrin Vincent recalls, “it absolutely brought me out of my seat. I said, ’That is somebody I need to know.’”
Vincent’s initial instincts were confirmed the instant that he and Dailey sang together. “When I first heard our voices blend, I said, ’There’s something special about that,’” Vincent continues. “It was like, ’OK, we’ve got to pursue this.’ Then I looked around, and Sonny stopped playing in The Osborne Brothers. Jim [McReynolds] from Jim & Jesse passed away. All of a sudden, there weren’t any duos in bluegrass anymore. I thought, ’This is going to be a lost thing if we don’t form a duo.’ It just made sense.”
Dailey agrees, adding that when he met Darrin six years ago, he knew immediately that he wanted to take his next professional steps with him. In 2003, the two began talking seriously about becoming a team.
“I was happy – I had no complaints,” says Jamie of his nine years in Quicksilver. “But I knew probably after being with Doyle three years that eventually I would want to step away, in order for me to fulfill what was in my heart and to get to do everything I wanted to do musically.”
“We’ve been praying about this for about four years,” Darrin comments, “because we were making sure that it’s the right choice. He (Jamie) was making really good money and doing great with Doyle. I’ve been having a ball with Ricky. With all the awards that we’ve won and all the wonderful opportunities that have come along with Ricky, it really didn’t make sense to quit.” But in 2004, Darrin and Jamie recorded “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” as a duet for a bluegrass Christmas compilation album. The response was explosive.
“When we got the response we did off of ’Beautiful Star,’ it was overwhelming,” recalls Jamie. “It just blew my mind. That’s what brought forward the idea that we needed to do our own thing.”
“Their own thing” positively bursts from the speakers from the first notes of their self-titled Rounder debut, Dailey & Vincent, released in January of 2008. The working-man’s laments “Sweet Carrie” and “Poor Boy Workin’ Blues” are vintage-sounding, rapid-fire bluegrass romps. Jamie’s tenor lead vocals on “I Believe” and “Take Me Back and Leave Me There” are high, lonesome bluegrass singing at its purest. Darrin’s upbeat lead vocals on “Don’t You Call My Name,” “Cumberland River,” and “Music of the Mountains” sound steeped in tradition.
The harmonies in “River of Time” and “Place on Calvary” will send shivers up the spine of anyone who loves the classic overtones that only great bluegrass voices can produce. “More than a Name on a Wall” sounds vintage because it is – the song was a 1989 country hit for The Statler Brothers. And as if to remind us that we are in the presence of classic talents, “My Savior Walks with Me Today” and the extraordinary performance of Gillian Welch and David Rawling’s “By the Mark” are performed in traditional, mandolin-guitar, brother-duet fashion.
Indeed, their voices blend with an uncanny, almost familial consonance, reflecting the dedication and mutual respect behind their partnership. “I get along with Darrin like family,” Jamie explains. “For six years, we’ve been working on different projects. But we’ve talked to each other on the phone just about every day all during those six years.”
“I threw songs at him, he threw songs at me,” Darrin remembers, looking back at the formative stages of their collaboration. “We went for timeless things, things we wouldn’t mind singing from now on.”
Darrin’s sister, bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent, has her own studio. Darrin asked her if he and Jamie could use it. The exceptional blend of their voices on songs like “By the Mark” captivated Rhonda and everyone else who heard the sound. Soon they were the most talked about new bluegrass band on the circuit – well before most fans heard any music at all. Pop pianist and songwriter (and bluegrass fan) Bruce Hornsby observed that “Their name is on the lips of everyone in the know, as far as I'm concerned.”
Like most overnight sensations, however, Dailey and Vincent are two men who have paid their dues many times over. Born December 27, 1969, Darrin Vincent first gained notice as a six-year-old tyke in his family’s band, The Sally Mountain Show, in Missouri. In the 1980s, he was in The Rage, the band led by his celebrated sister Rhonda Vincent. He continues to co-produce her acclaimed albums with her to this day. From 1990 through 1997 he backed John Hartford. In April 1997 he joined Ricky Skaggs’ award-winning band, Kentucky Thunder. He is proficient on guitar, bass, and mandolin and is highly regarded for his harmony-singing talent.
“I’m kind of a fish out of water,” says Darrin. “I’ve been behind people my whole life – my sister, John Hartford, Ricky. I’ve never taken front and center stage. Not even one time. I tell you, when I sang ’Cumberland River’ at the IBMA convention, I was scared out of my mind. It was extremely, excruciatingly scary.”
Jamie Dailey, on the other hand, is noted as a lead singer. But forming this duo was a big step for him as well. Born June 9, 1975, he was plucked from obscurity by Doyle Lawson to become the tenor lead vocalist in the much-awarded Quicksilver.
“People would ask me when I was a teenager if I would ever want to do this for a living,” Jamie recalls. “I said, ’Absolutely not. I would hate that. I never want to be on the road.’ I didn’t think I wanted to travel. Around that time, when I was 16, I heard Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. When I heard Doyle for the first time, it changed. I was like, ’That’s what I want to do.’ And then, in August of 1998, he called.”
Having heard of Jamie’s talent, Doyle called to inquire whether the high-singing youngster would like to audition. Jamie graduated instantly from singing in local Tennessee bluegrass groups to playing bass and guitar and singing lead and harmony vocals in one of the most famous bluegrass bands in America.
Taking with them the lessons they’ve learned from their former employers, their friends, and their families, Jamie and Darrin produced Dailey & Vincent themselves. With pride, they included on the sessions their band members Jeff Parker (mandolin, harmony vocals) and Joe Dean (banjo, bass vocals). Adam Haynes has since been added on fiddle. The result is twelve brilliant performances from two men who sound born to sing together, delivered with a thrilling blend of clarity, precision, and soul. Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have given their lives to bluegrass, to both the traditions and the possibilities that it offers, and now they’ve made the album of their lives. Is it possible to be both classic and brand new? Meet Dailey & Vincent.
Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist Sam Bush doesn't seem old enough to be a musical legend. And he's not. But he is.
Alternately known as the King of Telluride and the King of Newgrass, Bush has been honored by the Americana Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association.
"It's overwhelming and humbling," Bush says of his lifetime achievement award from the AMA. "It goes along with the title cut of my new album, Circles Around Me, which basically says, how in the hell did we get this far? In my brain I'm still 17, but I look in the mirror and I'm 57."
But honors are not what drive him. "I didn't get into music to win awards," he says. "I'm just now starting to get somewhere. I love to play and the older I get the more I love it. And I love new things."
Among those new things are the growing group of mandolin players that identify Bush as their musical role model in much the same way he idolized Bill Monroe and Jethro Burns.
"If I've been cited as an influence, then I'm really flattered because I still have my influences that I look up to," Bush says. "I'm glad that I'm in there somewhere."
He's being humble, of course. Bush has helped to expand the horizons of bluegrass music, fusing it with jazz, rock, blues, funk and other styles. He's the co-founder of the genre-bending New Grass Revival and an in-demand musician who has played with everyone from Emmylou Harris and Bela Fleck to Charlie Haden, Lyle Lovett and Garth Brooks.
And though Bush is best known for jaw-dropping skills on the mandolin, he is also a three time national junior fiddle champion and Grammy award winning vocalist.
"In the acoustic world, I've been pretty lucky to play with almost every one of my heroes. I've gotten to play with Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, I've been to the mountain," says Bush with a smile.
But his greatest contribution may be his impact on the future. "I'm secure with what I can do and I know what I can't do," he says. "You just have to stand there and applaud the great young talent.
"Chris Thile, Wayne Benson, Shawn Lane, Matt Flinner, Ronnie McCoury, Mike Marshall—they play in ways that I can't play," he says of today's younger generation of mandolin players. "I'm hoping to be around for is the next generation that comes along after that group. That's going to be something. The music keeps evolving.
Circles Around Me, Bush's seventh solo album and sixth with Sugar Hill, is an aurally inspiring mix of bluegrass favorites and complementary new songs. "I don't know why, but it felt right at this moment in my life to go back and revisit some things that I've loved all my life, which is bluegrass and, unapologetically, newgrass," says Bush. "After all these years of experimenting —and there's experimentation on this record too —I've come full circle."
Produced by Bush, the 14-song set includes appearances by Del McCoury, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas and New Grass Revival co-founder Courtney Johnson (posthumously). The album also employs the phenomenal talent of Bush's band: Scott Vestal, Stephen Mougin, Byron House and Chris Brown.
"I get to play every show with my favorite musicians and I feel real fortunate," Bush says of his band. "I love playing with them. I feel like this group is limitless and they proved it again on this record."
The title cut, which Bush co-wrote with Jeff Black, "is about being thankful that you're still here, that you're still alive walking around," Bush explains. "Why are we the ones still here when we've had fallen comrades and loved ones?"
"The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle," which Bush co-wrote with Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson, is the haunting real-life story of the 1973 murder of Grand Ole Opry star David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife.
Bush and Courtney Johnson, who died in 1996, were reunited thanks to New Grass Revival producer Garth Fundis, who found a previously unreleased recording with Bush and Johnson's fiddle and banjo pairing on "Apple Blossom" from 1976. "It's pretty special and means a lot to me."
Meanwhile, "Souvenir Bottles" and "Whisper My Name" are fine updates of songs Bush first recorded in his New Grass Revival days. "I guess I'm proud that I can still sing it in the key that we first cut it in," Bush says of "Whisper," which was on New Grass Revival's 1972 debut album.
Del McCoury, whom Bush first met in 1970, guests on two Bill Monroe songs, "Roll On Buddy, Roll On" and "Midnight On The Stormy Deep." "Del always encouraged me to sing," Bush says. "So I wanted to do these songs with him. 'Roll On' is one of the few songs Del ever recorded with Bill."
Songs such as "Diamond Joe" and "You Left Me Alone" have roots in Bush's youth. The latter was on an album by the Country Gentlemen that Bush bought in the '60s. "It's a great 6/8 fast waltz tune and I am almost quoting John Duffey's mandolin playing note for note," he says. "It's a great tune and I've never heard anyone else do it."
The Bush-penned "Old North Woods" is a "Bill Monroe-sounding waltz," according to Bush, that features Meyer, his wife, Cornelia Heard of the Blair String Quartet, and their 16-year-old son, George, in his recording debut.
"With Emmy I learned more about singing and more about letting music breathe and I hope this CD is part of that thought," Bush says of Emmylou Harris, his former boss in the Nash Ramblers. "Through her I realized you don't have to whack people over the head with intensity on every song."
There's plenty more of course and Bush fans new and old will find lots to love.
"It's crazy to think about," Bush says of his influence on today's crop of mandolin players. "I'm proud to be part of a natural progression in music. And I hope to still be playing 30 years from now."
That said, it's not surprising that Bush still has goals. "I want to grow as a songwriter, as a song collaborator," he says. "There are still a lot of things I haven't discovered about playing mandolin. I want to be able to be secure in the styles that I know how to play well, but I also want to explore other styles that I haven't learned yet.
"I want to improve as a singer," he adds. "I have to work harder on singing than I do on playing."
"As long as I'm alive I hope I have the ability to play," says Bush, a two time cancer treatment survivor. When the ability to play is taken away, it's humbling. It teaches you a lesson: don't take it for granted."
Here's to the next 30 years.
Great musicians will always find a way to make good music, but for great musicians to make great music, they must form a bond - one that, more often than not, goes beyond the purely musical to the personal. For The Grascals, that bond has been forged at the intersection of personal friendships, shared professional resumes and an appreciation for the innovative mingling of bluegrass and country music that has been a hallmark of the Nashville scene for more than forty years. As their records prove, The Grascals' rare musical empathy gives them an unerring ear for just the right touch to illuminate each offering's deepest spirit - whether they're digging into one of their original songs or reworking a bluegrass classic or a pop standard.
Vocally, the trio of Terry Eldredge, Jamie Johnson and Terry Smith are tighter than ever, cutting loose on driving solo vocals and soaring trios with equal fire and passion. As an instrumental unit, The Grascals have never sounded sharper, with mandolin ace Danny Roberts, fiddler Adam Haynes and banjo player Kristin Scott Benson leading the charge. As a result, their cutting-edge modern bluegrass is delivered with a deep knowledge of, and admiration for, the work of the music's founding fathers. Timely yet timeless, The Grascals make music that is entirely relevant to the here and now, yet immersed in traditional values of soul and musicianship. It's a unique sound that has earned two of their previous releases (THE GRASCALS, 2005 and LONG LIST OF HEARTACHES, 2006) Grammy nominations for International Bluegrass Music Association's Best Bluegrass Album.
The group's newest CD, the 13-track THE GRASCALS & FRIENDS (January 10, 2011, BluGrascal Records) is a special project produced in conjunction with (and sold only in) Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. The disc features The Grascals in true duet format with close friends, including: Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Dierks Bentley, Joe Nichols, Charlie Daniels, Tom T. Hall, The Oak Ridge Boys and Darryl Worley. Paisley's rollicking version of Buck Owens' "Tiger By The Tail" is an engaging romp of pure fun; while Parton strikes a more serious note as she shines on "I Am Strong," a song that appears in both duet and "cast version" formats on the disc and features the touching vocals of three-year old cancer patient, Ansley McLaurin. The "cast" version features not only special guests Terri Clark, Randy Owen and Steven Seagal, but most of The Grascals' aforementioned duet partners as well. The song, written by The Grascals' own Jamie Johnson (along with wife, Susanne Mumpower-Johnson and friend, Jenee Fleenor) was inspired by a visit Johnson, Smith and Eldredge made to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. As Johnson recalls, one child had written on a "thought wall" the words: "I Am Strong," and the song was born. Parton's heavenly voice has never been better, and her performance is simply stunning. "It's like a choir of angels when she sings," Terry Smith adds. A portion of the funds raised by "I Am Strong" will be donated to St. Jude's, and collectively, The Grascals hope the song will do well if for no other reason than that.
THE GRASCALS & FRIENDS project brought Tom T. Hall out of retirement, and Smith laughingly recalls the day Hall reported in for duty to sing his own 1971 #1, "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died." "Tom's such a professional," Smith says. "He walked right in, said 'howdy' and got right down to it - and it worked. He nailed it in two or three runs." Paisley, understandably busy with his ongoing success, nevertheless made time to participate, and his cut is a disc highlight. "We're really humbled that he found time to do this for us," says Danny Roberts. "I mean, come on, he's the CMA's 2010 Entertainer of the Year. That's big!"
Dierks Bentley's take on "Folsom Prison Blues" is exactly what the group had imagined it would be. "That big, raspy voice," says Terry Eldredge, "was the perfect fit." And, the "perfect fit" is what the group had hoped for all along - and got - with THE GRASCALS & FRIENDS as a whole. The project was a labor of love for the group; a reunion of sorts - a blend of "old" and "new;" "past" and "present." There is a feeling of homecoming and unity that will give Bluegrass fans plenty to love, and Country fans familiar favorites - Grascalized.
Already among the most beloved and acclaimed bands on today's bluegrass scene, The Grascals have won SPBGMA's Bluegrass Band of the Year award in 2010, the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist of the Year award in 2005 and earning its Entertainer of the Year honor in both 2006 and 2007.
For those who know them, the quick emergence of the group came as no surprise, for these are musicians whose roots and crossed paths reach back over more than two decades in bluegrass ensembles like the Osborne Brothers, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, the Sidemen and New Tradition. Their roots can also be traced back to Nashville's larger musical community, where The Grascals have been able to draw on legends like Bobby Osborne, George Jones, Vince Gill, The Jordanaires, Steve Wariner, Lloyd Green, Paul Craft and others for songs and for performances in the studio, on stage (including multiple guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry), and for national television appearances, including on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, CBS's Early Show and Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends.
Thanks to those experiences and those friendships, The Grascals embody a profound grasp of and familiarity with country and bluegrass tradition that made them a natural choice for Dolly Parton to turn to for recording and tour support not long after the group was created in 2004. The group continues to push the envelope and, in 2010, The Grascals joined The Rowdy Friends Tour, traveling far and wide with Hank Williams, Jr., playing before huge crowds, expanding their fan base and exposing new audiences to the diverse and unique "BluGrascals" sound.
Terry Eldredge's soulful vocals and easygoing stage presence have earned him not only the loyalty of bluegrass fans and the appreciation of fellow bluegrass musicians, but the admiration of a stunningly wide variety of entertainers who have witnessed him fronting the Sidemen at Nashville's world-famous Station Inn. The Indiana native began his career with first-hand experience of the music of an earlier generation of country stars, playing bass with longtime Opry stars Lonzo and Oscar. He joined the Osborne Brothers in 1988, soon switching to guitar and adding a powerful lead and low tenor voice to the Brothers' legendary trios. Eldredge took up the bass again when he joined Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time at the end of the 1990s, earning a 2003 IBMA nomination for Bass Player of the Year and contributing mightily to the ensemble's success with dynamic tenor and lead vocals. During a hiatus from Lonesome Standard Time, he recorded and performed as a member of Dolly Parton's Blue-niques. In addition to two solo albums for Pinecastle Records and albums by the Osborne Brothers, Cordle, Parton and the Sidemen, Terry's recording credits include appearances on CDs by IBMA Hall of Honor members Benny Martin, Josh Graves and Chubby Wise, as well as country star Dierks Bentley.
Shared Indiana roots and a love for the Osborne Brothers' harmonies first sparked a friendship between Eldredge and Jamie Johnson, but when the latter moved to Nashville at the end of the 1990s, the two quickly discovered a vocal blend that rivals bluegrass' greatest sibling harmonies. Though he helped to found the Wildwood Valley Boys at the beginning of the decade, Jamie first drew attention to his soaring tenor voice as a member of the Boys From Indiana, with whom he performed in the mid-1990s. Stints with local bluegrass and country bands followed before he returned to the Wildwood Valley Boys, making his recording debut on their I'M A BELIEVER (2000). Following his move to Nashville, he began to find success as a songwriter - he co-wrote the title cut of Bobby Osborne's WHERE I COME FROM (2002) - and as a singer, making his Opry debut as a member of Gail Davies' band, joining the Sidemen in 2001, and contributing leads and harmonies to BLUEGRASS - THE LITTLE GRASCALS: NASHVILLE'S SUPERPICKERS. He has recorded with Dolly Parton (harmony vocals on 2005's Those Were The Days and Backwoods Barbie), alternative country singer Trent Summar (on the Davies-produced Caught In The Webb), Ricky Van Shelton, hit songwriter Jerry Salley, and has enjoyed further songwriting success with cuts by The Grascals (including the title tracks to LONG LIST OF HEARTACHES, KEEP ON WALKIN' and THE FAMOUS LEFTY FLYNN'S), the Lonesome River Band and bluegrass-country singer/songwriter Ronnie Bowman.
Danny Roberts began playing guitar to back up his friend Jimmy Mattingly (founding member, The Grascals) when the two were growing up on adjacent farms in Leitchfield, KY. Soon he was winning contests on his own as a guitarist and, eventually, mandolin player. In 1982 he co-founded the New Tradition, a dynamic, ground-breaking bluegrass/gospel group that toured the country for close to 20 years (the last ten on a full-time basis), recorded ten CDs, made "Seed Of Love," the first bluegrass video to feature the banjo - it reached #1 on the TNN channel - appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, and helped to bring the bluegrass sound and gospel message to a new generation of fans. When the group dissolved in 2000, Danny went to work for Gibson Musical Instruments, where he rose to the position of plant manager at the company's Original Acoustic Instruments luthiery. Still, he kept his hand in as a musician, giving workshops with mandolin colleagues like Sam Bush, Chris Thile and Bobby Osborne, making guest appearances with artists such as Marty Raybon, Larry Cordle and Melonie Cannon, and touring and recording with bluegrass/country veteran Ronnie Reno as a member of his band, the Reno Tradition, before reuniting with Mattingly in The Grascals in 2004. His solo recording, MANDOLIN ORCHARD, received extensive airplay and was touted by the Chicago Tribune as one of the Top 10 Bluegrass Releases of 2004. Roberts was also honored with the 2006 and 2008 SPBGMA Award for Mandolin Performer of the Year.
Another veteran of the Osborne Brothers' band, bassist Terry Smith grew up in North Carolina before moving to Nashville in his early teens. Beginning in a family band with his brother, Billy, and his parents (Hazel Smith, Terry's mom, is a songwriter and renowned country music journalist) he graduated swiftly to stints with bluegrass and country legends Jimmy Martin, Wilma Lee Cooper and the Osborne Brothers. He also found time to pursue a separate career with his brother, recording a 1990 album for CBS that generated an early #1 video on CMT, following it with 1992's GRASS SECTION disc (made with friends and colleagues like Ronnie McCoury and Glen Duncan) and a 1996 Bill Monroe Tribute that included some of the Father Of Bluegrass's last recorded appearances. In 1999, the Smith brothers issued VOICES OF THE MOUNTAIN, with original songs that found a place in the repertoire of bluegrass favorites like the Del McCoury Band and the Lonesome River Band. Terry has worked as a staff songwriter for EMI and Major Bob Music, and recorded with Marty Raybon, Vern Gosdin, IBMA Hall of Honor member Kenny Baker and more. After a long tour of duty with Grand Ole Opry member Mike Snider, Terry joined The Grascals in 2004.
Fiddler Jeremy Abshire burst onto the bluegrass scene as a member of Billie Renee and Cumberland Gap (winners of the 2006 SPBGMA International Bluegrass Band Championship), and came to The Grascals' attention as a member of IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley's band. His style is both fluid and hard driving, owing to the influences of Benny Martin, Scotty Stoneman, Chubby Wise, Bobby Hicks, Kenny Baker, and Stuart Duncan - whom Abshire cites as his favorite fiddle player. As for joining The Grascals, Abshire explains "It was an easy choice for me. I had been around the guys, and the personalities meshed really well. The thing that excited me the most was the fact that when I went out to play with them, they didn't want me to play like anyone else. They just said, 'Play what you feel,' and when I did, it brought everything together. I couldn't have picked a better group of guys to hang out with ... I'm out there having a blast!"
Three-time International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year (2008, 2009 & 2010), Kristin Scott Benson is the newest member of The Grascals. Raised in a musical family in South Carolina, she made her stage debut, on mandolin, at the age of five. Given a banjo as a Christmas present when she was 13, Kristin honed her skills through the rest of her teenage years. Since then, she has performed with many outstanding artists, including Laurie Lewis, Josh Williams, IIIrd Tyme Out, Jim Hurst, Roland White and Rhonda Vincent. Kristin was named SPBGMA's Banjo Performer of the Year award in 2009. Of her membership in The Grascals, she says, "I've been in the business long enough to realize how rare it is to be in such a successful band and I feel blessed that they offered me a chance to be a part of what they've already established." Kristin's solo CD, Second Season, is on the Pinecastle label.
Whether being light-hearted and jovial or soul-searching and reflective, The Grascals are at the very top of their game. Though it is still - at least in bluegrass terms - a new group, the web of friendships, band memberships, recordings and personal appearances that binds The Grascals together has produced an ensemble of unsurpassed cohesion and focused artistic direction. Whether in the studio or on stage, The Grascals honor the past and forge into the future, bringing fresh yet familiar sounds to the bluegrass world and beyond.
Nashville, Tennessee is a nexus - a point where tradition and innovation intersect, where commerce collides with art. It may be the only town around where salaried songwriters and full-time session musicians are as common as accountants and schoolteachers. Music is the product, and the factories line the street, from the swank Music Row mini-high-rises to the low-slung Sylvain Park bungalows. And only Nashville could give birth to a band like the SteelDrivers: a group of seasoned veterans - each distinguished in his or her own right, each valued in the town's commercial community - who are seizing an opportunity to follow their hearts to their souls' reward. In doing so, they are braiding their bluegrass roots with new threads of their own design, bringing together country, soul, and other contemporary influences to create an unapologetic hybrid that is old as the hills but fresh as the morning dew. This is new music with the old feeling. SteelDrivers fan Vince Gill describes the band's fusion as simply "an incredible combination."
The SteelDrivers' brand of bluegrass - intense, dark, poetic, and inescapably human - is a refreshing reminder of the timeless power of stringband music, and is captured perfectly on The SteelDrivers. Produced by Nashville ace Luke Wooten, The SteelDrivers was recorded mostly live on the studio floor, vocals and all. Its songs grapple with classic themes of regret, love, and redemption, from the escalating prison lament of "Midnight Train to Memphis" to the chilling murderer's plea encapsulated in "If It Hadn't Been for Love." "East Kentucky Home" is a timeless traditional bluegrass lament, with its strains of homesickness, loss, and abandonment, but ingeniously reinvented with off-kilter rhythmic accents and a decidedly contemporary chord progression.
The willingness to set aside the unspoken rules that ruthlessly govern bluegrass set the SteelDrivers apart from the innumerable faceless acts vying for the bluegrass spotlight.
Mountain Heart is the band that has been fearlessly revolutionizing the way acoustic music can be presented and played. The band's name has been synonymous with cutting-edge excellence in acoustic music circles since the group's creation in 1999. Widely known throughout the music industry for continually redefining the cutting edge, the band has gained legions of fans both as a result of their superlative musicianship, and more notably, their incomparably exciting live performances. As one of the most highly awarded ensembles ever assembled, Mountain Heart, or members of the band, have either won or been nominated for multiple Grammys, ACM, CMA, and IBMA Awards. They have appeared on the revered stage of the Grand Ole Opry in excess of 125 times and have shared the stage with acts ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Montgomery Gentry, Levon Helm, George Jones, Zac Brown Band, Merle Haggard and Brad Paisley to Alison Krauss, Tony Rice, Travis Tritt, Railroad Earth, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain Stringband, The Del McCoury Band and Patty Loveless.
Mountain Heart's musical virtuosity, unmatched energy, and keen sense of entertainment dynamics have helped them to forge a highly unique sound, and stage show, which appeals to an incredibly wide variety of musical tastes. From large outdoor folk music and bluegrass festivals, to sold-out arena shows opening for Southern Rock icons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, to co-headlining concerts with the acoustic guitar legend, Tony Rice, Mountain Heart always makes an undeniable connection to an audience, leaving them on their feet. In short, this rare comibination of abilities makes Mountain Heart one of the most versatile acts ever assembled.
As the group leading the charge in taking acoustic music to the masses, Mountain Heart deftly combines elements of southern rock, jam band, country, delta blues, jazz, funk and traditional bluegrass into a high-energy sound that is at once unique, fresh, accessible, and unmistakeable.
In 1997, Guthrie joined up with Nick Branch to form the Filthy Rich band. This band ruled the gulf coast for years playing original music and blues, swing and roots covers. They headlined festivals and clubs regionally and overseas. At age 22 guthrie moved to Nashville. He soon began playing with the Don Kelley band at Roberts on Broadway. During this time he got picked up by country artist Patty Loveless. Playing with her for two years landed him in the studio on two of her latest records the latest one was nominated for a Grammy this year. Guthrie then joined the Jerry Douglas band. Touring with Jerry for three years also landed him in the studio on two records.One of which, "Glide", was nominated for a Grammy this year. The JDB supported Paul Simon for a three month tour as well as touring extensively through out the US, Canada and the UK. Doing such venues as the Blue Note in NYC, the Monteal Jazz fest and Radio City Music Hall in NYC.
Cottontown TN |
Jon Weisberger became serious about writing songs in 1998, having taken up the bass in his early teen-age years. Born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and trained as a classical musician, the first songs that he wrote were recorded by Union Springs, a band that he helped to form in April 1992. A fellow member of the band at that time was Dwight McCall, who later recorded Weisberger’s song The Pathway Of My Savior (on Never Say Never Again, McCall’s 2007 album on the Rural Rhythm record label).
Subsequently, he has worked with the Comet All-Stars, Prospect Hill, Katie Laur Band and The La-Z Boys. More recently Weisberger has played bass in the Wildwood Valley Boys; Chris Jones and the Night Drivers; Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time; The Lonesome Heirs; the Roland White Band; the Harley Allen Band; and Sally Jones & The Sidewinders.
A good chunk of popular music’s real estate has been carved up along lines of age these last half-dozen decades, and we’re used to seeing young musicians aim exclusively for young audiences then flounder as they outgrow teenaged listeners’ tastes and concerns. Pan-generational mentoring and mingling has done much to insulate bluegrass from this coming-of-age quandary. Still, Sierra Hull is the rare soul to make it through these years entirely unscathed.
Nashville TN | Americana
Stephen Mougin has been touring as vocalist, acoustic and electric guitar player in the Sam Bush Band since 2006. During the off-season, he tours and records in a duo with Ned Luberecki – “Nedski and Mojo”. As Dark Shadow Recording’s owner/producer/engineer, Mougin records full albums, demos and educational products including the critically acclaimed Dark Shadow Recording – Bluegrass Harmony series. Stephen is a private instructor of voice, guitar and mandolin as well as directing workshops and band coachings. He is a certified educator in Massachusetts and Tennessee, holding a degree in Vocal Music Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Lexington TN | Country
Buddy Cannon (born in Lexington, Tennessee) is an American country music songwriter and record producer. Active since the late 1970s, he is known primarily for his work as Kenny Chesney's record producer, for which he won the Academy of Country Music's Producer of the Year award in 2006. Along with Bill Anderson and Jamey Johnson, Cannon co-wrote George Strait's 2006 single "Give It Away", which won the Country Music Association's Song of the Year award. Other artists who have recorded Cannon's songs include Vern Gosdin, George Strait, Billy Ray Cyrus and Mel Tillis; artists whose albums he has produced also include Chely Wright, Reba McEntire, and George Jones. Cannon was also honored by the United States House of Representatives for his contributions as a record producer.
From the tender age of three, Ronnie Bowman has been performing music. Starting in a family band playing churches in North Carolina and Virginia, he eventually joined the acclaimed Bluegrass band The Lost & Found. Shortly after Ronnie joined The Lonesome River Band, and became a participant in the band’s recording of "Carrying the Tradition"; an album that was named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Album of the Year in 1991. It wasn't long before Ronnie Bowman became a household name in the Bluegrass community. With the release of an additional four albums as a member of the Lonesome River Band, Ronnie also recorded four solo projects. He has been awarded IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year three times, has twice earned the IBMA song of the Year award ("Three Rusty Nails", and "Cold Virginia Night"), and was awarded the Gospel Performance of the Year award for "Three Rusty Nails". As a songwriter Ronnie has earned a great deal of respect not only among Bluegrass professionals, but also in Country Music. Both Brooks & Dunn, and Kenny Chesney have brought Ronnie Bowman originals to #1, and Lee Ann Womack also included a song by Ronnie on the multiplatinum selling album "I hope you Dance".
Nashville TN | Bluegrass
Bryan Sutton seemed to come out of nowhere as part of Ricky Skaggs' return to bluegrass in 1997. Bluegrass Unlimited's review of Bluegrass Rules! took special note of his "spellbinding solos...[which] establish him as a musician who bears close scrutiny," while an appearance on Tina Adair's Just You Wait And See (Sugar Hill) led another reviewer to call him "a guitarist to be reckoned with." All in all, it was a remarkable welcome for a young musician.
Born near Asheville, NC in 1973, Bryan started playing the guitar at the age of 8. By the time he graduated from high school, he was already immersed not only in bluegrass, but jazz and rock and roll, playing in an array of bands and making his first recordings. From there he went directly to work in his first band, spending two years on the road with acoustic country gospel artist Karen Peck before joining Mid South, a contemporary country/gospel band. That job, and a growing desire to excel in studio work, led him to move to Nashville; Music City served as a base from which he visited gospel-oriented recording studios around the southeast, adding mandolin, banjo and fiddle skills to his already considerable guitar abilities.
Larry Cordle was born and raised on a small family farm in eastern
Kentucky. While a young child he was introduced to bluegrass, country, and gospel music, by his great grandfather Harry Bryant, an old time claw hammer banjo stylist, fiddle player and dancer. He recounts, “mom said I could sing “I’ll Fly Away”, all the way through when I was 2”! Cordle fondly remembers this early influence by pointing out, “we lived so far away from everything, that we had to make our own entertainment. Papaw would get the fiddle out in the evenings sometimes and play and dance for us. Just as soon as I was old enough to try to learn to play I did so & kinda seconded after him on the guitar. He ran an old country store and I spent many happy hours in there with him playing, talking about and listening to music. It was our escape into another world, something we grew up with and looked so forward to. I was always happiest when we were in a jam session”.
After graduating from high school, Larry spent four years in the Navy and after being honorably discharged, attended Morehead State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting. “I just didn’t see how I could ever make a living doing only music,” he explains, so, I worked for a CPA firm during the day and played in clubs at night”. All the while, Larry desperately wanted to devote all of his time to music, but his commitments would remain divided, until writing a song, that changed everything for the aspiring young singer/songwriter.
East Kentucky was not only home for Larry, but also for his childhood friend and neighbor, musical prodigy, Ricky Skaggs. Upon hearing Larry’s new song, “Highway 40 Blues”, Ricky promised that he would one day record it. In the summer of 1983, it was the number one song in the nation, helping to launch Larry’s songwriting career and skyrocketing Skaggs’ already solid country music career.
In 1985, at Ricky’s urging, Larry, by now out of the accounting business and back playing nightclubs again, gave up the security of a full time gig to move to Nashville and become a staff songwriter for Ricky’s new company, Amanda-Lin Music, with whom he (Ricky) had wisely partnered, with Lawrence Welk’s mega successful publishing company, Welk Music. “$200 bucks a week Cord laughs, that wouldn’t go far these days but I made myself a promise that if I ever got a chance, one foot inside the door, that I was gonna work my behind off, as hard as I could to stay inside of it. I met people there at Welk… Jim Rushing, Carl Jackson, Lionel Delmore, Johnny Russell, Dickey Lee, Bob McDill, countless others, and learned what it was gonna take to be a ’real’ songwriter from them.
They taught me the ropes and I had the talent God gave me, some incredible luck and much love, help and encouragement from my peers and my family.
At last count, Cordle’s songs had appeared on projects that had to date sold a combined total of more than 55 million records, by artists such as Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Diamond Rio, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and many others.
Though songwriting took Larry to Nashville, his desire to perform never waned. With his band, Lonesome Standard Time, Cordle has the perfect platform to share his music with fans everywhere. The band has been awarded song of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association on two separate occasions, garnered two Grammy nominations for best bluegrass album, received nominations for vocal group and instrumental group, landed #1 slots on the Bluegrass and Americana charts and gained the respect of their peers and had many accolades during their existence.
Lonesome Standard Time is comprised of seasoned, esteemed musicians in their own right, providing Larry with an outlet to feature his original material, trademark singing and his engaging personality, immediately connecting fans to his music.
In addition to his songwriting and role as a bandleader, Cordle is sometimes featured as a lead and/or background vocalist on some of Nashville’s most awarded and popular music. He’s provided harmony vocals for artists such as Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Bradley Walker, Billy Yates, Rebecca Lynn Howard and co-writing pal, Jerry Salley. His lead & harmony singing is featured on Livin, Lovin, Losin: A Tribute to the Louvin Brothers, which won a GRAMMY for Best Country Album in 2003 and was named recorded event of the year by IBMA in 2004. He’s also featured on two tracks of Moody Bluegrass, alongside artists such as Tim O’Brien, Alison Krauss, John Cowan, Harley Allen et al and is recently featured as lead vocalist again on Moody Bluegrass II.
Cord remains extremely active in all facets of his career. He regularly records, and tours in the US and occasionally abroad with Lonesome Standard Time. Larry is also still first and foremost a songwriter, now writing independently for his own company, Wandachord Music, BMI.
Larry is a long time resident of Nashville suburb, Hendersonville, Tennessee. He makes his home there with wife Wanda, and their daughter, Kelvey Christine but still enjoys the opportunity to make frequent trips back to his East Kentucky home place and his roots.
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
Country music fans remember Donna Ulisse from her time on Atlantic Records when she released a critically acclaimed traditional country album “Trouble at the Door” with 3 singles and two videos and appeared on “Hee Haw, “NBC’s Hot Country Nights”, “Nashville Now” and “Crook and Chase”.
Bluegrass fans have been getting to know Donna over the past few years through her own brand of bluegrass; mostly self-written and often referred to as "bluegrass with borders". Her 2007 CD “When I Look Back” featured the song ”I’m Calling Heaven Down” which won the Top Bluegrass Song in the 2009 Just Plain Folks Awards. The title track from her 2009 release ’Walk This Mountain Down” was in the Bluegrass Unlimited charts for six months and in June 2009 she was the #1 artist on Sirius XM Satellite radio’s Bluegrass Junction and her song “I Lied” was #1 five different times during the same year. In June of 2010 she released her first gospel CD which she referred to as her own personal "soul journey" and 2011 gave bluegrass fans her album "An Easy Climb", once again self-written including the Top Ten Bluegrass chart topper "Let It Rain".