All posts tagged: New Grass Revival

Saturday Soundtrack: Greensky Bluegrass

Greensky Bluegrass  began playing together more than 18 years ago, and they remain road warriors today, making up to 175 tour stops a year. Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, these five musicians play bluegrass music and much more on traditional bluegrass instruments. In fact, Greensky Bluegrass fits nicely into the progressive bluegrass and jam band category begun lo those many years ago by Sam Bush and the New Grass Revival, II Generation, and others. Today, they are often compared—and share the stage with—String Cheese Incident, the Infamous Stringdusters, and similar bands. While they’ve played hallowed country music halls such as Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, they also play to large audiences in venues less frequently connected to traditional bluegrass acts, such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Bonnaroo, and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. The band has been described as “a live force of nature renowned for bringing rock ‘n’ roll showmanship to high-energy bluegrass…. Their unpredictable performances remain the stuff of legend attracting diehard devotees who typically travel far and wide to experience multiple gigs.” The internet has a …

Bush, O’Brien and Froggy Bottom

Two of my favorite musicians – plus one of this era’s best guitar builders – are all featured in the Fall 2010 issue of The Fretboard Journal which landed in my mailbox last week.  Let’s begin with those musicians. I’ve been listening to New Grass Revival founder Sam Bush (on the right in the picture by Thomas Petillo at the top) since about 1973.  A few years later I began to hear Hot Rize member Tim O’Brien in a number of venues.  Both are multi-instrumentalists who have stretched the boundaries of bluegrass since coming on the scene. The Fretboard Journal has a laid back yet informative “conversation” between Bush and O’Brien as the cover story of the most recent issue.  The topics are wide-ranging, from playing with jazz pianist Bill Evans at the Blue Note to the night when Bush and Mark O’Connor joined the Hot Rize alter ego band Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers for a set. When the conversation turned to hearing someone for the first time, my mind went back to the …

Bush and Skaggs: Coming home, coming full circle

Two recent releases by Sam Bush and Ricky Skaggs — two superstars of Americana, roots, and bluegrass music — show both artists coming home in ways that bring them full circle with their own artistic travels. Bush’s Circles Around Me is a return to the bluegrass and early progressive newgrass of his youth in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The album opens with the title track, a tune that celebrates “being thankful that you’re here” according to Bush.  His terrific road band — Byron House on bass, Chris Brown on drums, the amazing Scott Vestal on banjo and Stephen Mougin on guitar — plays on the majority of the 14 tracks, stretching out their musical chops on tunes such as the instrumental Blue Mountain and the old New Grass Revival song Souvenir Bottles. This latter tune, along with Whisper My Name written by original NGR bassist Ebo Walker and featured on their very first album, brings Bush back to the band where he made his name and helped shape a whole new genre of music — Newgrass. …

New wave and old standards shine at Merlefest 2009

Merlefest Day 2 began bright and early for me this morning, with a rousing performance at the Americana Stage by the DC-based band Scythian. I caught the irony of having a band fronted by two Ukrainian brothers opening up the Americana stage, but that’s the joy of Merlefest and hey, it is a post-Obama election world. Then came the first great surprise of the morning. I went to the Traditional Stage to hear the New North Carolina Ramblers, but walked in to a packed tent listening in rapt attention to 86-year-old festival patriarch Doc Watson playing a set with old time banjo wizard David Holt.  (It turns out the Ramblers were double-booked and so Doc and Holt were on-call.  And when I say packed, I mean packed.  The picture below was taken from the side because the front was crammed with kids and grandparents alike.)  Doc was in fine form, playing guitar and singing with lots of strength and emotion. Fiddle tunes (Whiskey Before Breakfast paired with Ragtime Annie) were interspersed with Travis-style picking (Deep River Blues) and even …

Shuffling Off to…the Swim Meet

Today I took some time off to serve as a timer at the swim meet for Andrew’s school.  I do this every now and then to make sure I connect with that part of Andrew’s life during the school year, and because every parent needs to volunteer to make these meets work.  It was great fun and Andrew dropped time in all his races.  I even got to time him in the 500, when he beat his personal best.  What fun. But this post isn’t about swim meets and getting your pants wet (which I did .  Those high school boys come in hard for the touch at the end.)  Nope, this post is about why I love the Shuffle feature on the iPod. I have about 3,500 songs or so on my iPod.  About 2,400 of them are in one playlist that I call “Americana.”  That’s where I dump in all my albums and iTunes purchases that have anything to do with bluegrass, acoustic music, country rock, Americana, blues, you name it.  I can go …