Folks for Lyons: A Benefit for Planet Bluegrass & Lyons Musicians Relief Fund
Limited number of VIP Tickets includes reserved seating and commemorative benefit poster signed by the artists.
Abigail Washburn w/The SteelDrivers, Amy Speace, Liz Longley, Korby Lenker, Caroline Spence, Bradford Lee Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys, The Danberrys, Robby Hecht, Sheriff Scott and the Deputies, David Goldenburg & Christian Sedelmyer
If American old-time music is about taking earlier, simpler ways of life and music-making as one’s model, Abigail Washburn has proven herself to be a bracing revelation to that tradition. She—a singing, songwriting, Illinois-born, Nashville-based clawhammer banjo player—is every bit as interested in the present and the future as she is in the past, and every bit as attuned to the global as she is to the local. She pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before. To put it another way, she changes what seems possible.
Believe it or not, you won’t find any songs in Chinese on City of Refuge. What you will find, tucked in among picked and sung modal melodies, are some songs with catchy hooks and grooves. “Burn Through” is one of them; Washburn even punctuates a line of the chorus with a playful pop nonsense phrase: “Hey, hey, hey.” The song’s sentiment is as uplifting as its sound: “It’s really supposed to be a song that makes a person feel powerful listening to it, that there’s a lot of possibilities…
Nashville TN | Country
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.
"Land Like A Bird' marks the moment when Amy Speace should be regarded among the finest songwriters of her generation," writes The Bluegrass Special in a review of singer/songwriter Amy's latest release, Land Like A Bird (Thirty Tigers, 3/29/11). After a whirlwind few years, releasing three critically-acclaimed records on Judy Collins' Wildflower Records, tours with Ian "Mott the Hoople" Hunter, Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark and Collins, Speace uprooted herself (and her dog) from her longtime home in the NYC area and flew south, relocating to Nashville, TN in 2009. Bird is a record of migrations and transformation, and signals a new chapter for Speace. Moving away from her previous records with her longtime NYC band which brought a rock grit to her poetry, these new songs are emotional, cinematic and spare and are beautifully supported by producer Neilson Hubbard (Kim Richey, Mathew Ryan). "Speace sounds uncannily like a 21st Century Joan Baez, her timbred voice full of genuine emotions, wrote The Classic Rock Examiner. Her previous releases, "The Killer In Me" (2009) and "Songs For Bright Street" (2006) brought widespread critical acclaim and led USA Today to call her a "rising star."
After a decade of a life in the Manhattan theater world as an actress/playwright/director, Speace was a late-bloomer to songwriting, picking up the guitar and writing her first song just as she turned 30. Within a few years of playing NYC acoustic clubs, she was discovered by Judy Collins, who has recorded Amy's songs and brought her on tour. She has since performed on the mainstage at Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, The Kerrville Folk Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, appeared on "Mountain Stage" radio show, been named "Songwriter of the Week" by American Songwriter Magazine and "Song of the Day" by NPR and continues to win fans across the US and Europe with her tireless touring schedule.
Nashville TN | Pop
In the short time since her graduation from Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music, singer-songwriter Liz Longley has assembled an impressive resume. While best known for her stop-you-in-your-tracks voice, Liz has steadily developed a reputation as an accomplished songwriter, crafting intimately personal portraits through her music.
In the past two years, Liz has taken home top prizes at some of the most prestigious songwriting competitions in the country, including the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship Competition, the International Acoustic Music Awards and the Rocky Mountain Folk Fest Songwriting Competition. New England named her the 2011 Female Performer of the Year, the Washington Post declared that Liz is "destined for a larger audience" and Dig Boston called her "a rising acoustic sensation." Even John Mayer is a fan, calling her music "gorgeous, simply gorgeous."
A Philadelphia native, Liz recently made the move to Nashville, Tennessee where she has quickly made her presence known throughout Music City. In addition to writing more than forty songs with some of the best songwriters in the business, Liz has also managed to keep up her seemingly never-ending touring schedule, playing over one hundred shows in the last year - all without the help of a record label or booking agent.
While Liz frequently supports the likes of Shawn Colvin, Amos Lee, Paula Cole, Nanci Griffith, Livingston Taylor, Lori McKenna and Colin Hay, something remarkable has begun to happen - audiences are emerging from these shows as fast fans of Liz's music as well. An engaging performer with an effortless stage presence, Liz has broken advance ticket and merchandise sales records at numerous venues across the country.
Most recently, Liz's music has taken center stage on a national level with numerous television placements and radio airplay. ABC's critically acclaimed series NY Med featured Liz's music throughout the first season, and the 2012 season finale of Lifetime's Army Wives displayed her towering vocals in an epic grand finale song, "This Is Not the End." Executives at SiriusXM caught wind of her captivating cover of Van Morrison's hit "Moondance" and added it into regular rotation, along with her award-winning original song, "When You've Got Trouble." After an impressive response from listeners, Liz was invited to perform live in the SiriusXM studios in New York City and was named one of their Coffee House Discoveries of 2011.
Following the success of her previous release, Hot Loose Wire, and an impressive crowdfunding campaign this past summer, Liz recently returned to the studio where she recorded her fourth full-length album which is scheduled to be released this spring.
Twin Falls ID | Singer-Songwriter
An abbreviated list of Lenker’s achievements so far includes: a significant amount of airplay on the legendary Seattle indie rock station KEXP; a BBC 2 interview with Bob Harris, which is only about the highest honor a rootsy singer-songwriter touring the U.K. can get; opening slots for acts ranging from Willie Nelson to Ray LaMontagne, Nickel Creek, Keith Urban, Susan Tedeschi and Tristan Prettyman; a successful run with one of the hottest young West Coast bluegrass bands of the aughts; and wins in the Merlefest folk songwriting contest as well as the Kerrville Folk Festival’s elite New Folk songwriting competition.
Lenker’s composition “My Little Life” brought him the Kerrville honors this year. It doesn’t seem possible that one song could work so well in such disparate worlds, but it also proved its powers as a galvanizing piece of indie-pop, drawing a small army of likeminded, rising Nashville artists and personalities—Jeremy Lister and Katie Herzig to name two—to make lip-syncing, ukulele-strumming cameos in Lenker’s music video.
The song—which is on the Heart of Gold EP he co-produced with A-list keyboardist Tim Lauer this year—itself points to the uncommon mixture of abilities Lenker has honed. It’s imminently accessible and effortlessly tuneful, plus the lyrics express a familiar idea in playfully unexpected ways while pointing to thoughtfulness just beneath the surface. You can tell the guy’s well-read, but he never comes off as too clever for his own good.
“I like it simple,” says Lenker. “I just do. As soon as there’s a weird chord, I’m like, ’Why? That’s all been done. Who cares?’ What’s really hard is to hit people in the heart and to reach them. That’s what I’m trying to do: make music that’s easily likeable, but with a kind of secret sophistication. I’m always trying to write a song that you can hum along with on the first listen. You’re like, ’Yeah, I’d like to hear that again.’ Then maybe you hear it 20 times and you’re like, ’Damn, that’s actually something I’m going to think about now.’”
But there’s a lot more than that to his instinctual, unorthodox journey from being brought up as a mortician’s son in rural Idaho to being recognized as one of the more innovative voices in Nashville’s current music scene.
Back in high school, Lenker had a cover band that enabled him to try on various alt-rock identities. “We covered ’Under the Bridge,’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers,” he says, “and I didn’t know this at the time, but I listened to it recently and I’m like, ’Whoa, that’s Korby trying to sing like Anthony Keidis. And this is Korby trying to sing like Trent Reznor.’”
After that, he got really into transcribing Trey Anastasio guitar solos as part of his music theory studies at Western Washington University. He also spent a semester in West Virginia with only his Martin D-18 acoustic guitar for company.
Here’s a bit of insight into the spontaneous spirit that makes Lenker’s music so interesting: He picked up a bargain bin copy of the journalistic snake handling memoir Salvation on Sand Mountain, and, with that alone to go on, decided to drive until he found one of the mountain churches mentioned in the book.
Lenker got new perspective, and a song about a snake-handling preacher, from the experience. “I ended up going home with one of the families,” he says. “We rode home with the snake in the box in the backseat. And I got to be friends with this kid who was my age—I was 23 at the time, and he was 23. We couldn’t have had more different backgrounds. He had an 8th grade education. But we somehow also had a lot in common. We ended up trading letters back and forth for years.”
Lenker returned to the Pacific Northwest inspired by his Appalachian adventures and fully immersed himself in the region’s bluegrass scene, forming a band called The Barbed Wire Cutters that proved to be an immediate hit in those parts. And he found ways to apply his pop-honed sensibilities to that tradition.
“I like it tight,” he offers about his experience fronting the 5 piece bluegrass outfit, which SPIN magazine called “The Young Riders of the bluegrass revolt”. “I like the solos short and I like harmonies in tune…it was all song-driven for me.”
All this time, Lenker was also making solo albums, and that became his primary focus with the folk-leaning Bellingham, which went over wonderfully in the U.K. and landed him on Bob Harris’s BBC Radio 4 show. After a move to Seattle, he got the urge to plug in again, hooked up with Candlebox drummer Scott Mercado and made a nimble modern rock record called King of Hearts that got lots of spins on KEXP and a 4 star review in UK mainstay MOJO magazine.
Toward the end of the last decade, Lenker followed his muse down to his present home of Nashville where he’s not only continued to hone his own unique artistic voice, but launched a stripped-down series of performance videos dubbed Wigby, spotlighting kindred musical spirits he’s found.
“I love those videos,” he says, “because it’s just people being great. It’s not production—it’s just, ’Can you sing? Can you write a great song? Can you play your instrument well?’”
Deep down, Lenker is drawn both to the sort of unadorned expression the discerning folkie crowd treasures and to the sort of playful pop embellishment and electronic textures that may land one of his tracks in a primetime T.V. show or film any day now.
And there’s nothing at all wrong with having it both ways musically when it comes this naturally. “I can’t abandon either one of them,” Lenker says, “because they’re both so me. One of my favorite musicians in the world, bassist and composer Edgar Meyer once said in an interview ’The boundaries of music have been and always should be limitless.’ I couldn’t agree more.”
Charlottesville VA | Singer-Songwriter
"We're all these little heartbroken people but it doesn't keep us from smiling," says Nashville singer-songwriter Caroline Spence, "I think that there is something endearing about that." The 24-year-old Virginia native shares a comforting narrative with her audiences; there's a maturity and depth to her sweet dusky soprano as she relays the universal stories of love and self-discovery through detailed anecdote and careful verse. She is an Americana singer with a spry alt country vibe, a dash of bluegrass and a fine ear for a good hook, very much along the lines of female troubadours that she so admires: Brandi Carlile, Patti Griffin and Sheryl Crow.
However, it is in her songwriting that Caroline shines - In early 2013 she won the Eddie Owens Presents' Songwriters Open Mic contest in Duluth, Georgia and her song "Mint Condition" just took first place in the American Songwriter July/August 2013 lyric contest. She now prepares her new EP You Know The Feeling, a collection of songs with something for everyone, while never finding themselves navel-gazing or overly maudlin. The EP's track "Whiskey Watered Down," earned Caroline a spot in the top ten of the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival 2013 songwriting contest. Audiences also connect with the stories found in "Necklace" or "Shape In Your Bed" as Caroline moves from song to song with lighthearted stage banter.
Her performances have been described as "truly colorful, an emotional sound that needs little in the way of accompaniment. Hearing her sing is like getting a hug from someone you love" (Cville Weekly), and her fanbases have only been growing in the Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and Carolina areas. In Nashville she has graced the stages of the legendary Bluebird Cafe and The Basement, where club owner Mike Grimes keeps Caroline on deck for any last minute openings after her memorable New Faces Night. This fall she will continue touring the Southeast, including a return to Eddie's Attic in Atlanta, Georgia to compete as a finalist in 39th Bi-Annual Songwriter's Open Mic Contest.
There's a lot of influences wrapped up in the cheerful brunette and her deeply emotive songwriting - the house she grew up in in Charlottesville, Virginia had Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris regularly playing in the living room and her mother's family can be traced back to the Carter and Ralph Stanley bluegrass bloodline. In her family, everyone could play a little of something: her grandfather was a wonderful musician and her singer-songwriter aunt was the one that invited a young Caroline to open an album release show, a show that would be her very first performance of her original music in front of anyone. "I remember being so terrified. I was a sophomore in high school. But I did that and the club owners were there and I kept getting invited back to play and I was really shy about the whole thing," she reflects, "My parents didn't even know what I was up to until I played that night!"
Being invited back has been a theme for Caroline as she continues to expand her talents and circle of friends and fans outwards in all directions. Despite her continued successes, Caroline remains as humble and as hopeful as her songs reflect. "I didn't even know when I moved here if I wanted to perform but it just kind of happened because I got good feedback and I had friends that wanted to play with me and I was like ’lets just give it a shot.' I don't necessarily hope to be the next big thing, but I just hope that my skills or gifts can take care of my life. I'm at a point where I don't know what direction I want to go in, but there's a couple different paths that I can take that I might be qualified for," she laughs, "I'm not sure yet, I'm going to keep doing this though. I'm going to keep writing, I'm going to keep singing, so I might as well keep trying to make a career out of it."
Bradford Lee Folk and The Bluegrass Playboys
Nashville TN |
Brad Folk is the lead guitar man for the bluegrass playboys and is proud to be a part of such a steller crowd - he should be! He has recorded 3 CDs for Rounder Records with his bluegrass group Open Road in the early 2000 s. His love for bluegrass music comes across to any audience, from the Grand Ol Opry Stage to the downtown honkytonks . He is a bluegrass songwriter and a great performer in the classic bluegrass setting. He makes his home in Nashville, and was made Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky in 2003.
The story of The Danberrys begins in the late 1990's in Dickson, Tennessee, population just over 12,000.
Dorothy Daniel first discovered her soul mate and singing companion, Ben DeBerry, while in junior high school. "When Ben was in eighth grade, and I was in seventh grade,” Dorothy told Billboard, “(I saw him play) ’Knockin' On Heaven's Door’ at a talent show. He had this teal electric guitar, and I fell in love with him.”
Once they started dating in high school, they discovered their own musical connection not long before graduation, when Ben pulled out his guitar and strummed along while Dorothy sang a couple of Jewel tunes. During college, they went their separate ways until one fateful night when they crossed paths at a late night bar. The next day, they confessed what they both knew all along: they had always wanted to be together. Not long after that, they were married.
The five years they spent apart yielded the songs that would become the building blocks of The Danberrys. "I didn't write all that much during that time," says Ben of the years they were separated. "What little I wrote had more of a rockier, electric sound." Dorothy, however, came back to the relationship with a stack of songs on which she’d been working. "They were all songs about how much I missed Ben," she laughs, "And how I wanted to be with him."
Four of those cuts made it onto the band's 2011 EP, Company Store. Touted by Larry Vanderpool of The Examiner as a record steeped in Appalachian music tradition and oozing rich soulful harmonies, Company Store won The Danberrys a 2011 Independent Music Awards "People's Choice" trophy and the honor of appearing on stage at The Ryman with the legendary Robert Earl Keen.
"We put the EP out as a total experiment," says Ben. "It was like: we have these songs, we're here in Nashville, there are 300,000 studios available and players who want to play the stuff so let's see what happens. Then WSM Radio found it and liked it and thought we were perfect for the Robert Earl show. It was quite the honor."
Stoked by the success of Company Store, Dorothy and Ben returned to the studio this past winter with engineer Wilton Wall, mandolinist/co-producer Ethan Ballinger and friends to record their first full-length album, The Danberrys. Drawing on a broader palette of moods and sounds than existed on the EP, the couple chose to lead off the set with the gentle quiet of "Here We Go Round."
"We took a slight chance leading off with that tune," notes Dorothy, "especially in this day and age, when everyone wants to grab your attention with louder and faster." Following "Here We Go Round" is the careering drive of "Rain In The Rock," a cut that's one part country gospel and one part runaway train. There's more country gospel with "Blow On Wind," a tune that owes its inspiration to Neil Young and The Band, the godfathers of Americana who regularly inspire Ben and Dorothy’s songwriting.
The Danberrys also has a chant-like ballad ("Meet Me There"), a gorgeous country hymn worthy of comparison to Emmylou Harris ("Jordan"), a song about living the Southern life ("Jimmy") and an exuberant party song a la Stephen Stills' Manassas ("Come Give It"). There's even a trucker song ("Big Rig") that Ben wrote in the studio, picking up the terminology from the back of a compilation of old highway songs.
"I thought I'd make it nonsensical," says Ben of ’Big Rig,’ "except that it's not nonsense if you have the key to the terms. I hear from the truckers that the lingo is kosher,” he laughs, “so it's not too fraudulent."
Early reviews of The Danberrys are, naturally, 100% positive. “The vocals and the harmonies are outstanding, as is the instrumentation all over the disc,” says Chuck Dauphine of Music News Nashville. “I don’t know if you can define it, but all The Danberrys need is to be heard!”
“There’s a flavor of bluegrass that’s always worked on me,” says Music City Roots’ Craig H., adding that their music is “characterized by old world tonalities, polished, modern drive and jazz-smart instrumental work.”
For their part, The Danberrys – who are still a self-managed grassroots operation – are humble yet excited about their album and about the future. “We tried to arrange the record in different ways but what it came down to was making it more than just a bunch of songs. We wanted to make it a ride you could listen to from beginning to end.”
As for the future, Ben says: “We already have demos for three more tunes on tape, so we’re getting ready to do it again.” For current and future fans, that’s nothing but good news.
Robby Hecht is a romantic realist. He writes melodic and captivating songs that don’t shy away from the complexity of human relationships and delivers them with a smooth tenor that evokes both sorrow and hope. His new record, and second solo effort, takes the listener through a broad spectrum of emotions touching on forgiveness, love, indifference, joy, self-doubt and more. He writes with an honestly that captures the truth of a sentiment, building allegorical themes that allow anyone to relate the songs to the experiences of his or her own life.
Nashville TN |
A formidable combination of passion, ambition, innovation, and talent, Christian Sedelmyer exemplifies a new generation of musicians. A five-string fiddle player who is influenced in equal part by Neil Young and Stuart Duncan, Christian’s unique and progressive improvisational ideas, technical facility, and ardent musicianship have garnered him a strong reputation in Nashville, where he now makes his home. Originally from Erie, PA, Christian grew up studying classical violin, while simultaneously playing 60’s and 70’s era folk rock in his dad’s band. After graduating from Wake Forest University with a business degree, Christian took a consulting job in Washington, DC. It took less than a year for him to realize that working a nine-to-five was not going to allow him to satisfy his musical curiosity.