Bluegrass Music Industry News -- July 2012

All the freshest, ripest bluegrass industry news! Click on each section for news of agents & managers, artists and composers, broadcasters, events & promoters, print, media & education and more!

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Stolen Instrument Alert

The East Nashville home of IBMA member Donica Christensen was burglarized on Friday, June 22, and a couple of her beloved instruments were stolen. An East Nashville pawnshop owner reported that two young men tried to pawn the instruments shortly after they were stolen. The first was a 1982 Gibson RB3 copy five-string banjo (no serial number), built by Bill Sullivan, with a Steve Huber tone ring, and hearts and flowers inlay pattern on the neck. There was a brown leather mandolin strap attached to the banjo, and it had an Elliot capo either on the neck or in the case. The case is a soft shell Colorado brand case in grey. The front pocket of the banjo case had Donica’s finger picks in it, in a tiny Crown Royal bag. The second was a very old (early to mid-1800s) fiddle, an Antonius and Hieronymous Amati copy, with dark brown varnish, highly antiqued; its bow is an old Pernambuco, silver mounted round stick. The fiddle and bow were in a cheap black case with a broken handle. Also stolen: a bright blue left-handed acoustic guitar, brand unknown; a black 80-GB external hardrive; a Fuji 4900 camera; a Compaq Presario laptop in an old black laptop bag. If you have any information about these items, please contact Donica at donicachristensen@gmail.com or 540/339-7701.

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Agents & Managers

The June 2012 issue of Her Nashville, a popular Music City women’s magazine, included an article called “Pioneering Ladies of Music Row” by writer Elizabeth Ulrich. The women profiled in Ulrich’s story include BMI powerhouses Patsy Bradley and Frances W. Preston, PR pioneer Liz Thiels, and Denise Stiff, whose DS Management roster has included Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and newest client Sarah Jarosz, and who has just begun consulting for the Steep Canyon Rangers. (At left: Alison Krauss, Denise Stiff, Gillian Welch; courtesy photo) Stiff was also executive music producer on O Brother, Where Art Thou, and produced the concert, CD, and DVD for the film’s “Down from the Mountain” tour. Thank you, Denise, for nurturing and building the careers of musicians whose work has meant so much to so many people. Check out the article at www.HerNashville.com.

On June 19, The Grascals announced that they’d signed an exclusive booking agreement with Nashville’s Conway Entertainment Group. Headed by industry veteran Tony Conway, CEG is now the exclusive agent for the band, which was signed to the Mountain Home Music label earlier this year. Visit www.conwayent.com or www.thegrascals.com

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Artists & Composers

IBMA is delighted to offer congratulations to Mike Auldridge and Andy Statman, both 2012 recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Fellowships.

Auldridge, one of the world’s notable resophonic guitar stylists, was hugely influenced by Josh Graves, who sold him his first Dobro. A 1967 graduate of the University of Maryland, Auldridge worked as a graphic artist for a commercial art firm and then for the Washington Star-News. He was a founding member of the legendary Seldom Scene, with whom he played for many years. He also worked with Emerson and Waldron, Cliff Waldron and the New Shades of Grass, Chesapeake, The Good Deale Bluegrass Band, and John Starling and Carolina Star. Mike has also toured with Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris. He currently plays with Darren Beachley and The Legends of the Potomac. He is a Grammy winner, Frets Magazine's "Dobro Player of the Year" and most recently, recipient of the IBMA's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Statman, a former protégé of David Grisman, is a legendary mandolin virtuoso and composer perhaps best known these days for his Klezmer music--he's a clarinetist, too. He recorded and/or toured with Ricky Skaggs, Béla Fleck, and Vassar Clements, as well as the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Itzhak Perlman, and Stéphane Grappelli.

Congratulations to both of these deserving musicians!

The Charts This Month…

Bluegrass Unlimited:
SONG – “Pretty Little Girl from Galax” by Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (Rural Rhythm; written by Milan Miller)
ALBUM – Sounds of Home by Blue Highway (Rounder Records)
 
Bluegrass Music Profiles:
SONG – “Carolina Moonshine Man” by Lou Reid & Carolina (KMA Records; written by Lou Reid, Ray Edwards & Terry Foust)
ALBUM – All In by The Boxcars (Mountain Home Records)
 
Billboard:
ALBUM – Stars and Satellites by Trampled by Turtles (BANJODAD 09/Thirty Tigers)
 
BluegrassToday.com:
SONG – “Nobody Knows You” by The Steep Canyon Rangers (Rounder Records; written by Graham Sharp)

The gentlemen of Hot Rize, accompanied by their very special companion act Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers, will appear at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival this month, July 21 in Oak Hill, NY; at the Grand Targhee Festival on August 12 in Alta, WY, at the Strawberry Music Festival in Camp Mather, CA on September 1, and at the Pickin' in the Pines Festival in Flagstaff, AZ on September 15-16.

From the video shoot for "Life Goes On;" L-R (back row): Larry Cordle, Rickey Wasson, Garnet Imes Bowman,

Ronnie Bowman, and Carl Jackson; (front row) UNIDENTIFIED, Randy Kohrs, and Alan Bibey

Life Goes On, the new project from Musicians Against Childhood Cancer, includes 39 songs by 139 artists, all recorded live during the annual MACC festivals from 2006—2011, except for the title cut, written by Dale Pyatt and Steve Thomas, which was recorded at Randy Kohrs’ Slack Key Studio in Nashville. Kohrs, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Carl Jackson, Rickey Wasson, and Ronnie Bowman share lead vocal duties on the song and are joined by a host of other musicians on harmony vocals and instrumentation. Check out the video at http://youtu.be/wNdsrn3RVt0.

Moody Bluegrass Two. . . Much Love: A Nashville Celebration of the Moody Blues, released a year ago this month, continues to have legs, a very worthy follow-up to the 2004 Moody Bluegrass project. Featuring Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Tim O'Brien, John Cowan, Harley Allen, Sam Bush, Emma Harvey, Larry Cordle, Ronnie Bowman, Jon Randall, Jan Harvey, Peter Rowan, David Harvey, Tim May, Andy Hall, Andy Todd, Stuart Duncan, Alison Brown, Aubrey Haynie, Barry Crabtree, Carl Jackson, Daniel Carwile, Jill Crabtree, Debbie Nims, Tom Shinness, Patty Mitchell, Glen Duncan, John Caldwell, Teresa Steed, Russell Smith, Marcia Campbell, Jeff Taylor, Brian Christianson & The Settles Connection (Odessa Settles, Calvin Settles, Wayne Settles, & Todd Settles), the 2011 CD also includes the Moody Blues: Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graeme Edge, Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder, marking the first time since 1978 that these five musicians have all appeared on a new recording. Produced by David Harvey. Check it out at www.moodybluegrass.com

Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper welcome Nathan Livers of Louisville, KY on mandolin. Congratulations, Nathan! For info, see www.Flamekeeperband.com.

Take Me Back, the new album from The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show, will release on July 17. The first release since 2003 for Shiflett, the album is currently available for pre-order on iTunes and at  www.pinecastlemusic.com. The material includes songs by Don Gibson, Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Bob Wills, Faron Young, Willie Nelson, and Floyd Tillman, and new tunes: “Song on the Jukebox” written by Monroe Fields and a gospel song called “Open up your Heart (and Let Jesus In),” written by Karl Shiflett. The band’s current line-up: Karl Shiflett (lead vocals/rhythm guitar). Kris Shiflett (acoustic upright bass), Chris Hill (banjo/harmony vocals), C.J. Lewandowski (mandolin/harmony vocals) and Billy Hurt (fiddle). Congratulations!

Now relocated to the Phoenix, AZ area and discovering a whole new bluegrass community there, James Reams will return to the East Coast this summer for several dates, including the Park Slope Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jamboree in Brooklyn, NY, a two-day event of concerts and workshops (see https://www.facebook.com/events/314477158629859/).

Josh Shilling’s first solo project, Letting Go, includes an all-star cast of players and singers like Cia Cherryholmes, Jim VanCleve, Randy Kohrs, Molly Cherryholmes, and Aaron Ramsey, as well as legendary producer Mike Clute (Restless Heart, Faith Hill, Diamond Rio), plus co-writer Jimmy Olander (guitarist for Diamond Rio), who played guitar on Track 2 entitled "Don't Move." Mark Beckett played drums on the project and Kevin "Swine" Grantt played bass on most tracks. Visit www.joshshilling.com.

The Steep Canyon Rangers have released five new videos in support of their fifth album, Nobody Knows You. Their first official video, for the foot-stomping song “Long Shot,” was filmed in their home of Brevard, NC. They’ve also released a set of five “webisodes” that highlight each individual member of the quintet--Charles Humphrey III (bass/vocals), Mike Guggino (mandolin/vocals), Graham Sharp (banjo/vocals), Nicky Sanders (fiddle/vocals) and Woody Platt (guitar/lead vocals).

Banjo sylist Bill Evans (photo at left) asked us to let you know that the new video for his song, "The Distance Between Two Points” (created with Sarah Fisher of Blue Lotus Films) is now available for your enjoyment at http://www.youtube.com/user/BillEvansBanjo. It features Evans on banjo, David Grier on guitar, Mike Marshall on mandolin, Todd Philips on bass and Tashina Clarridge, Tristan Clarridge and Darol Anger on fiddles. The track was produced by Anger with production assistance from Evans, Marshall and Tom Size, and recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley in July 2011, engineered by Tom Size. The song was written by Evans and his 19-year-old daughter, Corey Evans. Evans’ new CD, In Good Company, is currently #1 on the FOLK-DJ List charts. Evans adds a few words about the video: “It was a one-camera shoot with a crew of four. We shot various scenes repeatedly from different perspectives to give the sense of a multi-camera filming.”

Evans has a jam-packed schedule through mid-August that includes appearances in San Rafael, CA at the Osher Marin JCC's Summer Nights Festival (July 7); at a house concert in Charlottesville, VA on July 13; at a Scruggs-Style Solos bluegrass banjo workshop for all level players in Takoma Park, MD (July 14); at the 5th Annual Mike Seeger Commemorative Old Time Banjo Festival (with Adam Hurt, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Evie Ladin and The Old 78's) at the Birchmere Music Hall, also on July 14. On the weekend of July 15, Evans will appear at Camp Bluegrass at South Plains College in Levelland, TX with Alan Munde, Steve Smith, Tim May and many others. The end of the month will find him at NashCamp Bluegrass Week in Fairview, TN (July 30- Aug. 3) with Tim May, Claire Lynch, Fletcher Bright, Matt Flinner, Missy Raines & Todd Livingston. In August, Evans will tour Russia with Barbara Lamb, Todd Phillips and Tim May. Have a great trip, Bill! Please send us a postcard. Visit Bill Evans online at www.billevansbanjo.com.

Irish singer/songwriter Niall Toner, the “Godfather of Irish bluegrass,” recently recorded a new album at the Loud Studio in Nashville. Produced by Keith Sewell, the project includes Sewell (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, piano), Rob Ickes (Dobro, Weissenborn guitar), Ashby Frank (mandolin), and Viktor Krauss (upright bass) and will be released by Pinecastle Records in September 2012, during IBMA's World of Bluegrass. Nine new songs by Niall, including versions of his recent releases “William Smith Monroe” and “Tomorrow,” will be included.

Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum will appear in a concert under the stars at 7 p.m. on July 6, at Twisted Oak Winery in Vallecito, CA. They’ll be joined by The Bee Eaters--brother-sister duo Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, and hammered dulcimer player Simon Chrisman.

This fall, the Northeastern bluegrass community will be treated to the New York Banjo Summit Tour, with Béla Fleck, Tony Trischka, Bill Keith, Pete Wernick and Eric Weissberg! Look for shows featuring this ensemble in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia between October 25 and November 4.

Donna Ulisse & The Poor Mountain Boys were proud and happy to be included once again in the lineup for the CMA Fan Fair and Music Fest. Donna and her band performed a set on the WSM/Durango stage on Sunday, June 10. Visit Donna at www.donnaulisse.com.

Also included on the roster at the CMA event: The Grascals, who performed on the Acoustic Stage and were introduced by WSM’s legendary broadcaster and Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs. The multi-award winning band recently released its latest album Life Finds A Way on Mountain Home Records. Visit www.grascals.com.

(L-R): Shane Collins (WPAP/Panama City), Jimmy Fortune, Teddy Gentry (Alabama), Sharla McCoy, Rhonda Vincent,

Jamie Dailey, Darrin Vincent, Elaine and Lee Roy. (Not pictured: Ricky Skaggs) Photo by Martha E. Moore

Another exciting CMA bluegrass event took place with a special in-the-round performance for a large group of radio programmers at Nashville’s Tracking Room studio. Hosted by Sharla McCoy of McCoy and Associates, “Bluegrass Generations” brought together a group of bluegrass legends with some of Nashville’s hottest young stars. Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Jimmy Fortune, Dailey & Vincent and The Roys assembled onstage for an hour to tell their stories and talk about their musical heroes, and then performed a couple of songs. The one-hour event has been packaged for radio.

Congratulations to bassist-at-large Dennis Crouch, who fulfilled a personal goal when he played a gig in Hawai‘i last month with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. With the KT performance at the Waikii Music Festival on the Big Island, Crouch, who has played on stages in lots of places with just about everybody, finally fulfilled his dream of performing in all 50 American states.  

The John Cowan Band performed at a benefit concert at the historic Dalton Freight Depot in Dalton, GA last month. The event was a Bluegrass Bands Helping Hands production, with proceeds benefiting The Miracle League of Whitfield County, GA. Cowan’s band helped fund a $1,000 grant for The Miracle League, a baseball league created specifically for young players with disabilities. (AT RIGHT: John Cowan with Millie Hicks of The Miracle League; photo by Lorie & Matthew Jones)

"The money raised by the show will go towards the purchase of uniforms and equipment to help get the league started,” said Millie Hicks, Miracle League Advisory member. “We want the Miracle League players to have a full baseball experience. We are so thankful to Bluegrass Bands Helping Hands and their continuing and faithful support."

Looks like Eddie & Martha Adcock will take a little time off this month, after they return from their tour of Europe—though they will appear at the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival in Conway, MO on July 6. (http://starvycreek.com) On August 3, they’ll be back in the saddle with an appearance at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival in Norwich, CT (www.podunkbluegrass.net) and another on August 5 in Sharpsburg, MD at the Evensong Farm Barn (www.evensong-farm.com). They’ll be joined by their friend, bass legend Tom Gray.

Singer/songwriter Kathryn Caine recently released a new project, When I Was His Wife, for which she wrote or co-wrote all but one tune. Her band includes Andy Thacker on guitar and mando, Tom Hogge on vocals and banjo, Darrell Muller on bass, James McLaughlin on drums, Jay Starling on Dobro and Peyton Tochterman, who contributes vocals on “The Whiskey Song.” Purchase or download at Kathryn Caine's Bandcamp site.

This month Keller Williams releases Pick, his 18th album and his debut with The Travelin' McCourys. Recorded at Nashville's famed Butcher's Shoppe Recording Studio in early 2012, Pick includes 12 cuts (originals and covers). "Playing with Keller is like being in a two-car chase on a mountain road,” comments Ronnie McCoury, “trying to catch him, only to find that as you round the corner... he's already gone! He's an inspirational musician/songwriter and thinker! It is so satisfying to try keep up with him." Their touring schedule includes upcoming dates in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa, North Carolina and Nashville; visit www.kellerwilliams.net for info.

Felicitations to Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, who celebrate 20 years together this month with a June 2 concert at Bluegrass Underground’s Volcano Room.

Congratulations to Travers Chandler & Avery County, who released Pardon Me, their new traditional bluegrass project, last month on Mountain Fever Records. Visit www.averycountyband.com or www.MountainFever.com.

MilkDrive, the jazz-grass band from Austin, TX, released its second studio album, Waves, on June 19. The new project features special guests Noam Pikelny (of Punch Brothers) and Futureman (of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones), was recorded at Mountainside Audio Labs in Nashville, and produced by Bil VornDick (Alison Krauss, Béla Fleck). After a release show at Austin’s famed Cactus Café, MilkDrive embarked on an extensive summer tour that includes venues in Texas, Colorado, Montana, Michigan and New York. The band will also appear at a number of festivals, including Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and Yarmonygrass. They’ll also perform in an official showcase at our World of Bluegrass! For more information, see www.milkdrive.com.

Chatham County Line celebrates the release of its new live CD/DVD project, Sight & Sound, this month, with dates this month in the Northwest and California. Check out the preview of the new project at http://www.chathamcountyline.com/Films/SightSoundCommercial.htm.

The band Monroeville (photo at left) was recently honored to be a part of the new trail unveiling for the Tennessee State Rocky Top: Smoky Peaks to Crafts & Creeks program. A video at http://monroevilleband.com/monroeville-rocky-top-trails-unveiling/ features the band performing for The State Commissioner of Tourism Development at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg, TN.

A couple of artists are seeking funding for new projects through Kickstarter campaigns. As of June 21, with about 12 hours to go, Casey Driessen achieved his goal of $15,000 to fund his Fiddle/Sticks: The Drummer Project, a collaborative exploration of rhythm which pairs Driessen—known for his percussive fiddle/violin technique--with some landmark drummers and percussionists: Jamey Haddad (world percussionist for Paul Simon and Berklee College of Music Professor); Futureman (jazz fusion drumitar inventor with Béla Fleck & the Flecktones); and Kenny Malone (legendary Nashville country session drummer). Congratulations, Casey!

Chris Henry and The Hardcore Grass, a band that consists of Henry, Michael Bub, Scott Simontacchi, Shad Cobb and Christopher Hill, is seeking $10,000 by July 7 to record THREE new albums in July: one of its best original material, one of "bluegrass hits," and one of bluegrass gospel. “We're planning on recording in analog to 2" tape the way the old recordings were originally done,” Henry says. “After that, I'm going to have the files digitized so I can mix and master the album myself.”

The Hardcore Grass will appear every Tuesday night at The Station Inn in Nashville with an assortment of special guests, in addition to their regular Thursday night appearances at Bootleggers Inn on lower Broad in downtown Nashville. See live streaming info and more at www.christopherhenry.net, and click here to check out Chris’ Kickstarter campaign.

Congratulations to Daniel Routh of Nu-Blu, recently appointed a director of the North Carolina region of the Independent Country Music Association (ICoMA). The association exists to promote independent country singers and songwriters from across the globe. Visit www.icmanet.com.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice is having a great summer, traveling to bluegrass festivals all over the country. In June, the band performed at the Ogden Music Festival in Ogden, UT for the very first time—an event that’s an eclectic mix of folk, Americana, and bluegrass music. The band was thrilled to meet legendary Texas musician Robert Earl Keen, who headlined the event.

The legendary Jack Tottle is enjoying his retirement on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, where he has formed a new band called Bluegrass Jack. The founder and former director of East Tennessee State University's Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Program performs with his band on the first Saturday of each month at the Nanbu Courtyard Cafe in Kapa'au in the North Kohala community. Other band members include Anne Pontius, Lala Power, Steve Ryan, and Chris Wej.

The group’s catalog consists primarily of traditional bluegrass tunes and Tottle’s original songs and instrumentals (including material from his 1999 recording The Bluegrass Sound and his upcoming release, The Eagle.) The band has also worked “Kohala March,” a Hawaiian classic, into its repertoire. “It was written by Henri Berger, the founder and first director of the Royal Hawaiian Band,” says Tottle. “As far back as 1877, Berger conducted King Kamehameha V's band. Sol Ho‘opi's wonderful steel guitar recording of the piece inspired us to learn it!”

The Greencards will play plenty of interesting dates this summer, including Winfield, the Mountain Of The Sun Festival, a very special charity event in Connecticut and some pristine sounding indoor venues and theatres. Check out their schedule at www.thegreencards.com.

The entire Tim O’Brien family (or at least seven members of the combined families of siblings Tim and Mollie) has just released a Roger Miller cover album called Reincarnation. “O'Brien Party of 7” rocked the crowds at Telluride last month. Visit www.timobrien.net.

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Association News

Americana Music Association executive director Jed Hilly announced appointments and promotions June 27. Danna Strong, currently Director of Operations, will add Conference Producer to her title. Michelle Aquilato has been named Director of Marketing. Whitney Holmes has been named Operations Coordinator. Kim Fowler, of Two Dog Media, has been retained to handle publicity for the Association. For additional information, visit www.americanamusic.org.

The 13th chartered chapter of SEBA, the Southeastern Bluegrass Association, met May 19 in Jacksonville, FL. Local VP Ronnie Davis may be contacted at rdavis25@bellsouth.net.

Congratulations to Seven Mountains Bluegrass Association on their 30th anniversary celebration July 28 at Allenberry on the Yellow Breeches, in Boiling Springs, PA. Bill Yates and the Country Gentlemen Tribute Band will perform. Bring your lawn chairs! Info: www.sevenmountainsbluegrass.org.

The Kansas Bluegrass Association will host their Pickin’ on the Plains bluegrass and folk festival July 20-22 in Colby, KS at the Thomas County Fairgrounds two miles north of I-70, exit 53. Headliners include Dailey & Vincent, Driven, The McLemores, Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad, Larry Booth, Sappa Strings, Triple L, High Plains Tradition and more. Info: 800-611-8835.

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Broadcasters

Congratulations to Michael Johnathon and all the folks at WoodSongs! Their Broadcast #614, Celebration of Appalachia/Mountaintop Removal, has won the National 2012 TELLY Award. The broadcast featured Emmylou Harris, Darrel Scott, Molly Andrews and others. WoodSongs airs on PBS-TV stations nationwide, 507 radio stations, American Forces Radio Network, the Bluehighways TV Network and online. Visit www.WoodSongs.com.

Big Machine Label Group—whose artist roster includes Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, The Band Perry and Martina McBride—is the first record label in the U.S. to receive royalties from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, or any other radio company. The deal was announced the week before the CMA Music Fest in Nashville, and a day before a group of lobbyists from radio and record companies arrived in Washington, D.C. to continue the debate, according to the June 10 issue of The Tennessean. Clear Channel Chairman and CEO John Hogman said the deal squarely addresses the concerns record labels have had about terrestrial radio being the only medium that doesn’t pay performance royalties. In exchange, Big Machine’s artists agreed to cap their royalties from play on Clear Channel station websites and simulcasts on the chain’s iHeartRadio streaming service to a portion of a fixed percentage of revenue. The agreement sidesteps SoundExchange, the non-profit tapped by Congress to collect online radio royalties for music streamed online.

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Events & Promoters

Our condolences to the staff, volunteers, friends and family of MerleFest, the extraordinary music festival that had the late Doc Watson as its beloved figurehead (with Doc’s late son, Merle, as its inspiration).

The 29th Annual Bluegrass Week at the Augusta Heritage Center, Davis & Elkins College in Augusta, WV kicks off July 29 through August 3. Coordinator John Rossbach brings together a spectacular lineup for workshops, demonstrations, special presentations, concerts and picking sessions throughout the week. Participants jam into the wee hours all over campus and there are evening concerts featuring master bluegrass artists and special guests. Picking time with the teaching staff is part of the program for all students. Doyle Lawson (shown at left) is this year’s Guest Master Artist. Fiddle classes will be taught by Byron Berline, Darol Anger, and Adam Haynes. Mandolin instructors are Jesse Brock, Mike Compton, and Alan Bibey. Teaching banjo are Alison Brown, Bill Emerson, and Ned Luberecki. Guitar is taught by Steve Gulley, Chris Jones and Tyler Grant. Dobro/Resonator Guitar is taught by Mark Panfil. Marshall Wilborn teaches Bass. Vocal instructors are Carl Jackson & Tammy Rogers. Staff Musicians for the week are Ira Gitlin, Neel Brown, John Seebach and Mary Burdette. See http://augustaheritagecenter.org/bluegrass/.

The Kentucky Music Weekend will be held July 27-30, 2012 at the Iroquois Amphitheatre in Louisville, KY. The weekend includes folk, Americana and bluegrass music, plus food and craft vendors. For info, visit www.kentuckymusicweekend.com.

The Grand Ole Opry honored Ricky Skaggs on his 30th anniversary as an Opry member on May 15, 2012. Ricky’s milestone anniversary was celebrated with performances by fellow Opry members Alison Krauss, Josh Turner and The Whites, plus special guests Dailey & Vincent.

The Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival, nominated three times for IBMA Event of the Year, will take place August 9-12 at El Rancho Manana in Richmond, MN. A long list of headliners includes Marty Raybon, Robin & Linda Williams, Larry Stephenson, Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers, The Scrubbs, Bob Bovee &  Gail Heil and more. For more information, call 1-800-635-3037 or visit www.minnesotabluegrass.org.

The Turnbull Family will present the Back Forty Bluegrass Festival August 2-5 in Curryville, MO. Featured bands include Marty Raybon & Full Circle, The Boxcars, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Don Rigsby & Midnight Call, the Darrell Webb Band, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Nothin’ Fancy, Audie Blaylock & Redline, James King Band, Jimmy Allison & the Ozark Rounders, The Martins and more. Visit www.backfortybluegrasspark.com.

The 12th Annual Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Festival will be hosted by Friends of Milford State Park & Nature Center on July 27-28, in Junction City, KS. Brightwater Junction, The Petersen Family, North Forty, Jimmy Allison & the Ozark Rounders, the KBA Treblemakers and the Ready Brothers will perform. For info, see www.milfordlakebluegrassfestival.com.

Joan and Pete Wernick, showing new jammers how it's done.

Pete “Dr. Banjo” Wernick is now offering a series of scaled-down jam classes on-site at bluegrass festivals coast to coast. Wernick Method teachers will offer reduced-price versions of the popular jam classes for two hours each day at a growing list of fine festivals that already includes Huck Finn Jubilee, Music in the Mountains, Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, Poppy Mountain and more. (AT LEFT, the Wernicks with a crowd of beginning jammers.)

This month Wernick returns to the Northeast for his Bluegrass Jam Camp on July 16-19, just before Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Oak Hill, NY, about 30 miles southwest of Albany. Camp times will be Monday 1:00-5:15; and Tues., Wed. and Thu. from 9:00-5:00 daily, with extended hours Wednesday to allow Jam Campers to secure campsites at Grey Fox. Camps provide a jamming immersion experience with low-pressure, experienced teaching by Wernick and Ira Gitlin, with hands-on learning in large and small groups. Participants learn how to play lead, fake solos, sing harmony, and learn backup techniques and jam etiquette. Visit www.drbanjo.com.

Congratulations and best wishes to Henri Deschamps and The Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis, NC, which was inducted into the Historic Hotels of America last month (see full story at www.themastfarminn.com/historichotels.) The program is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Mast Farm Inn is one of fewer than 235 hotels and resorts throughout the country recognized by Historic Hotels of America for preserving and maintaining historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. Check out the article about Henri and the Mast Farm Inn on Ted Lehmann's Bluegrass, Books and Brainstorms blog.

Ted Lehmann, who posted daily accounts and photos of the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival in central Vermont, let us know that J.D. Crowe sold his RB75 travel banjo to a fan at the festival. J.D., who is retiring from touring this year, said he didn't want to carry it home on the plane! Check out Ted’s blog at http://tedlehmann.blogspot.com.

Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music will present Pickin' in the Pines Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival on September 14-16, 2012 in Flagstaff, AZ. This year’s lineup includes Hot Rize with special guests Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers; Blue Highway; The SteelDrivers; Laurie Lewis and The Right Hands; The Foghorn Stringband; Burnett Family Bluegrass; Run Boy Run and more. Visit http://pickininthepines.org/ for information.

On Friday, June 29, PineCone: Piedmont Council for Traditional Music and the Town of Cary, NC partnered to present Kickin Grass, with students from PineCone's Bluegrass Music Camp for Youth. This free concert was part of Cary's Starlight Concert Series, held at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center. Students demonstrated what they learned during a week of bluegrass music camp taught by Charles Pettee (mandolin & guitar) and Kickin Grass members Pattie Hopkins (beginner & intermediate fiddle) and Lynda Dawson (songwriting).

The council continues to promote jams and sessions. The PineCone Bluegrass Jam meets the second and fourth Monday of the month at Raleigh’s Busy Bee Café, the PineCone Irish Music Session meets every Sunday afternoon at Tír na nÓg, and a monthly shape note sing is held on the fourth Sunday afternoon of each month at the Friends Meeting House in Raleigh. These sessions are free and open to the public. See www.pinecone.org.

Congratulations to the Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series, which recently received a Pinnacle Award in the entertainment and recreation category from the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association (NETTA). The awards pay tribute to individuals, groups, businesses and organizations that significantly contribute to the region's economy through tourism promotion and development. “We were thrilled to be recognized for our contribution to tourism by NETTA,” said Steve Johnson of Mountain Music Entertainment, producer of the Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series. “Our objective has always been to bring headline entertainment to the region while giving back to the community and to be recognized for that is a wonderful accomplishment.”

The Center for Texas Music History and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum invite you to visit the brand new Texas Music Roadtrip exhibit, running now through Oct 14th at the Bullock Museum in Austin. The largest exhibit ever organized on Texas music, the Roadtrip takes visitors on an interactive voyage of musical discovery across the Lone Star State. The exhibit includes rare musical artifacts, images and biographies of Texas musicians, audio and video clips, and a number of other items highlighting the unique musical heritage of Texas, including a feature on Old Settler's Music Festival! Look for their free live music series every Friday in July.

The preliminary lineup has been announced for Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival, October 11--13, 2012 in Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, AR. So far, it includes Leftover Salmon, The Jayhawks, North Mississippi All-Stars, the Mickey Hart Band with Dave Schools, Sam Bush (pictured at right), Punch Brothers, Dumpstaphunk, Split Lip Rayfield, The Gourds, Wookiefoot, Cornmeal, and more. Visit www.yonderharvestfestival.com for more.

The Kentucky Music Park in Hartford, KY, which calls itself Kentucky’s only dedicated music park, golf course, and campground, will host Bluegrass on the Greens on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, July 4-6, with music by James Monroe, Kings Highway, Tommy Brown and County Line Grass, Kody Norris and Watauga Mountain, Mary Rachel Nalley, and Blue River Bluegrass. Visit www.kentuckymusicpark.com for more info.

The Americana Music Association announced the 2012 nominees for the Americana Honors & Awards at a celebration presented by Nissan at the end of May. Actor and music aficionado John C. Reilly announced the nominations, hosted by Jim Lauderdale, at The Grammy Museum’s Clive Davis Theatre. The concert’s tribute to icons Levon Helm, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, described as “the heartbeat of the [Americana] genre,” concluded with a loving rendition of ”Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

The Americana Awards will return to the Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2012 (as part of Nashville’s Americana Music Festival, which runs from September 12-15, 2012). Congratulations to Americana Award nominees, including these past IBMA award winners, nominees, and members…

  • Gillian Welch for Artist of the Year
  • Gillian’s The Harrow & The Harvest for Record of the Year
  • “Come Around,” written and performed by Sarah Jarosz, for Song of the Year
  • Tom T. Hall’s “I Love,” performed by Patty Griffin, for Song of the Year
  • Buddy Miller, Chris Thile, and Darrell Scott for Instrumentalist of the Year
  • Gillian Welch & David Rawlings and the Punch Brothers for Duo/Group of the Year

Mumford & Sons have announced details of their unique Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers in the United States this August. Each one-day outdoor event will “combine the intimacy of a community celebration with the excitement of a world-class music festival,” according to the press release, beginning with a concert and ending with a series of smaller events involving local businesses, venues, and local vendors. The four carefully-selected host locations: the Eastern Promenade in Portland, ME (Aug. 4); downtown Bristol, VA/TN (Aug. 11); Page Park in Dixon, IL (Aug. 18); and the Fairgrounds in Monterey, CA (Aug. 25). Tickets for all Stopovers will be priced at $69, with no additional charges or fees, and are available exclusively at gentlemenoftheroad.com.

In a statement, the band explained the novel idea for these events. "The Gentlemen of the Road Stopover is based loosely upon our favorite festivals like Colorado's Telluride Bluegrass and Scotland's Loopallu Festivals. We want to stop off in towns where bands don't usually tour, and celebrate the local people, food and music. We're keen to promote the town's local businesses, and we'll be using the local bars and venues for after-show parties, whilst working closely with the local people to get everyone involved in making these shows spectacular. There will be a host of our friends playing too, and the vibe falls somewhere between 'travelling Victorian circus' and 'Victorian travelling circus'. It should be a whole lot of fun." Visit www.Gentlemenoftheroad.com or www.mumfordandsons.com.

Bluegrass Underground, the famed subterranean bluegrass concert venue at Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, TN, will celebrate its Fourth Anniversary blowout on August 11 with the return of The SteelDrivers, the first national headliners to play the venue back on Aug. 16, 2008. Better get those tickets now! Visit http://www.bluegrassunderground.com.

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Labels & Distributors

After 5½ years Ryan Baker is leaving the staff at Sugar Hill Records in Nashville to pursue a Master’s degree at the Information School in Berkeley, CA. “I will sincerely miss working with the wonderful staff at Sugar Hill and Vanguard, and each artist, manager, and colleague in the industry that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years,” Baker says. For marketing questions at Sugar Hill, Ryan suggests contacting Corey Bonnette (coreyb@sugarhillreocrds.com) or Hunter Camp (hunter@sugarhillrecords.com).

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Print, Media & Education

Singer, writer, guitarist, bandleader, and broadcaster Chris Jones (at right) is now contributing regular columns to www.BluegrassToday.com. His June 20 installment offers a set of invaluable and very funny rules of the road for inexperienced traveling musicians, including these:

  • If a sign by an exit advertises gas, food, and lodging, but you don’t actually see any gas, food, or lodging from the highway, it isn’t actually there. It’s a cruel trick to make you drive into their struggling downtown and gaze at their nicely decorated but completely closed gas stations.
  • In general, unless you’re some kind of miracle worker with the “malted waffle” iron, the complimentary breakfast at most road hotels is a reminder that you get what you pay for.
  • Do not eat Chinese food at a truck stop.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release the new box set Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection on July 10, four days before the celebrated American folk musician would have turned 100 years old. For a special pre-sale including an instant album download AND to hear a previously unreleased Woody Guthrie song, please visit folkways.si.edu/woodyat100.

A panel discussion of the legendary Hank Williams’ influence on American singer/songwriters took place on June 20 at the New School in New York City. With support from Oxford American Magazine, the New School presented a free screening of The Last Ride, the new film about Williams’ mysterious final days, followed by a panel discussion of the musician’s historic place in American music. Starring Henry Thomas, Jesse James and Kaley Cuoco, with Fred Dalton Thompson, The Last Ride was described by Oxford American editor Mark Smirnoff as “a hypnotic romp about what is possibly country music’s most tantalizing true story.” Panelists included Harry Thomason, the film’s director, an award-winning director/producer of several TV series, including Designing Women, mini-series such as The Blue and the Grey, and director of events including both Presidential Inaugurals of President William Clinton. Also appearing: Hank Williams’ daughter, singer/songwriter, award-winning author, and film producer Jett Williams, with four songs on the film soundtrack and a book, Ain’t Nothin’ As Sweet As My Baby: The Story of Hank Williams’ Lost Daughter; Benjy Gaither, son of gospel legends Bill and Gloria Gaither and creator of The Last Ride soundtrack. The film’s soundtrack, released by Curb Records on June 19, contains some of the best-known Hank Williams songs as well as new material written specifically for the film, performed by Jett Williams, Michael English, The Isaacs, the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, plus numerous country and gospel artists. For more information, visit www.thelastridefilm.com or www.curb.com.

South Plains College Creative Arts Department in Levelland, TX, is seeking a multi-instrumentalist instructor of bluegrass and modern music. A bachelor degree is preferred; associate degree required with majority of music experience in bluegrass with minor experience in modern music. For more information, see the posting at South Plains College or contact Cary Banks at 806/716-2280.

Those who love their bluegrass with a side of snickers will be happy to hear of the return of the Bluegrass Intelligencer (http://bluegrassintelligencer.com). The brainchild of Utah band the Deadly Gentlemen, this clever parody site—similar to The Onion.com—has been on hiatus since December 2009 but recently returned with new stories, including… “David Grisman, Bill Keith Pass Actual Torch To Younger Generation,” “Steve Kaufman Tapped To Head Federal Guitar Program For Unemployed Men,” and “Grateful Dead Cover Duo, Lost in Space Jam, Returns to Earth Displaced in Time.” Heh!

Rural Rhythm Records recently produced “Christmas: The Mountain Way,” a live performance musical show that showcases Christmas and its traditions in the Appalachian Mountains. On June 19, the show was filmed before a live audience for broadcast on national cable network BlueHighways TV. The performance, which took place at the historic Bell Theater in Pineville, KY, was hosted by Mike Scott (Mike Scott’s Nashville Band, Ronnie Reno & The Reno Tradition, Jim & Jesse, Bill Monroe) and featured performances by Steve Gulley, Dale Ann Bradley, Marty Raybon, Audie Blaylock, bands Cumberland River from Harlan, KY and Common Strings from Bell County, KY; and students from the Cumberland River Academy. The show is the brainchild of Rural Rhythm Records owner Sam Passamano, Jr., music business veteran Tony Spinosa and artist/producer Steve Gulley. “Christmas: The Mountain Way” will air on BlueHighways TV during the 2012 Christmas season; music from the program will be available on CD. A special edition DVD will also be produced featuring live performances, interviews with the artists, and stories about their Christmas experiences. Visit BlueHighwaysTV.com and RuralRhythm.com.

The Ingalls Family in 1894 (L-R): Caroline, Carrie, Laura, Charles, Grace and Mary

There are 127 songs mentioned in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books—most played by her beloved Pa, Charles Ingalls Wilder, on the fiddle that traveled with him all the way from the Big Woods to the prairie. Last month, artists and producers of the “Pa's Fiddle Project” celebrated the release of Pa's Fiddle: Charles Ingalls, American Fiddler, the third release in the planned 10-CD series that highlights the life and music of one of America's greatest fiddlers. Songs on the CD include "Buffalo Gals," "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Polly Put the Kettle On," "Life Let Us Cherish," "All the Blue Bonnets," "Golden Years Are Passing By," "Boatmen's Dance," "Mary of the Wild Moor," "The Campbells Are Coming," "Haste to the Wedding," and more, performed by Bryan Sutton, Matt Flinner, Matt Combs, David Grier, Jeff Taylor, Dennis Crouch and others.

Pa’s Fiddle producer/creator Dale Cockrell also co-produced the new PBS concert video based on the project, which began airing nationally on PBS stations in early June. The concert was filmed at the Loveless Barn in Franklin, TN before a live audience and included performances by musician and musical director Randy Scruggs and an all-star string band featuring Matt Combs, Dennis Crouch, Chad Cromwell, Hoot Hester and Shad Cobb, Randy Travis, Rodney Atkins, Ronnie Milsap, Ashton Shepherd, The Roys, Natalie Grant and Committed (NBC Sing Off champions). Actor Dean Butler, who played Almanzo Wilder on the Little House series, teamed up with Cockrell to produce the unique show. The CD is available at www.laura-ingalls-wilder.com and in retail outlets.

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