Bluegrass Music Industry News, May 2011


Steve Johnson, CEO of Mountain Music Entertainment, is pleased to announce representation of the following artists: Grasstowne; Nu-Blu; Mike Scott; Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show; Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice; Ralph Stanley, II; Misty Stevens and Reminisce Road; and The Niall Toner Band.  The agency also offers special representation of Mark Newton and Brandon Rickman.

ARTISTS & COMPOSERS: Congratulations to Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, who are #1 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums chart for the fourth week, in the April 23 issue. Their album is titled Rare Bird Alert (40 Share/Rounder).

Balsam Range has the #1 song on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey, with “Trains I Missed,” written by Walt Wilkins, Giles Godard and Nicole Witt. The song appears on the Mountain Home album by the same name.  The self-titled album, The Boxcars, is at #1 on the Top 15 Bluegrass Albums chart in B.U

Big Country Bluegrass tops the Bluegrass Music Profiles Top 30 Hot Singles Chart with “The Boys in Hats and Ties,” written by Tom T. and Dixie Hall, on their self-titled album for Rebel Records.  The Boxcars are at #1 on the BMP National Top 10 Bluegrass CDs chart.

Congratulations to the following artists who are recipients of Dove Awards, from the Gospel Music Association: Dailey & Vincent, Bluegrass Album of the Year (Singing from the Heart, Rounder Records); Lizzie Long & Little Roy Lewis, Bluegrass Song of the Year (“Mountaintop,” from Straight from the Heart, Vine Records). The long-awaited new album from Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplane, released by Rounder Records, entered the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart at #3 and #1 on both the Bluegrass Albums and Country Album charts. After appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (April 25) and The Ellen DeGeneres Show (April 27), the band will kick off a five month nation-wide tour on June 4 in Louisville, Ky. The Target deluxe edition of the CD features six additional songs, including three exclusive studio songs, “These Days” and “A Place Outside,” both written by Angel Snow and Alison’s brother, Viktor Krauss, and “Frozen Fields,” composed by Jeff Black and Jon Randall. Three additional bonus tracks include “We Hide & Seek,” “Faraway Land” and “Every Time You Say Goodbye” performed live. Info:

The Grascals have a new video of “Dooley,” from their new album, Dance ‘til Your Stockings are Hot and Ravelin’ (A Tribute to the Music of The Andy Griffith Show).

Doyle Lawson was  in Nashville April 9 to celebrate the release of his new album, Drive Time (Mountain Home Bluegrass), with an in-store appearance at the Ernest Tubb Record Show on Music Valley Drive, and a performance on the Grand Ole Opry.

Bluegrass pioneer and Hall of Fame member, Curly Seckler was honored in the North Carolina legislature in a Senatorial statement read April 13 in Raleigh. The proclamation recognized Seckler for his many accomplishments the past 75 years in bluegrass music. It also acknowledged Curly’s brothers, Marvin, George and Duard, with whom he first performed as the  Yodeling Rangers in 1935 on WSTP radio in Salisbury. Duard and Marvin Sechler, both guitarists, passed away in 2002 and 2009, respectively. George Sechler, who was the band’s fiddle player and emcee, currently resides in Texas.  “It is a great honor to be recognized in my home state of North Carolina,” Curly Seckler said, “and I appreciate all the folks back home remembering me and my brothers and our music.”

Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Bobby Osborne is celebrating 60 years in the music business this year, with the release of his new album, Memories (Rural Rhythm Records). The single, “Mountain Fever” (featuring Russell Moore with Osborne) was ranked #3 on the April 2011 Sirius XM Bluegrass Junction Most-Played Tracks chart, and the album was ranked at the same spot on the Most-Played Albums list. The same month, the original version of “Rocky Top” recorded 50 years ago by The Osborne Brothers was #12 on the Neilsen Soundscan charts ending April 10, 2011. 

Mike Scott’s “Saturday Night/ Sunday Morning 2011 Tour” will focus on music from his new bluegrass gospel album, Take Me Lord and Use Me (Rural Rhythm Christian) and the all-instrumental Bill Monroe 100th Anniversary Tribute: Blue Moon of Kentucky (Rural Rhythm).  The tour is designed as a two-day stop in each city. On Saturday nights during the tour Scott will perform music from his Monroe tribute album, and on the Sunday morning shows he will present music from the gospel album at churches and other faith-based events.  Scott’s band will feature John Maberry (mandolin, guitar, fiddle), Ferrell Stowe (Dobro), Heath Vanwinkle (bass) and Mike Vidito (guitar, mandolin). Info: (877) 746-5165,,

Bill Evans has a new website with new audio, video, photos and more at

The Roys also have a newly designed website, and they're celebrating the release of their new album, Lonesome Whistle, with a online contest for fans to win an iPod Nano. Info: www.theroysonline/ipod.

Congratulations to Big Smith, named “Best Missouri Band” in a recent Rural Missouri Magazine poll—in both the southwest and central regions of the Show Me State. Info:

A benefit concert for Phil Leadbetter will be held May 6 from 5:30-11 p.m. at Buddy’s Bar-B-Q Banquet Hall in Knoxville, Tenn. the line-up includes Kenny & Amanda Smith, Brand New Strings, Blue Moon Rising and Steve Gulley & Friends featuring Dale Ann Bradley and other special guests. Leadbetter, IBMA’s 2005 Dobro Player of the Year, is undergoing treatment for cancer.

The Del McCoury Band is opening their May 2-4 studio session in Nashville to the public, through participation in MPI: Music Producers Institute.  On Monday, May 2 MPI founder and Grammy winning producer Steve Fishell will lead class members through a day-long record production seminar, featuring demonstrations and lectures covering pre-production, tracking, vocals, overdubs, mixing and mastering. Info:, (615) 283-0201

The Farewell Drifters are currently touring in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, New York, Illinois, North Carolina, Maine and Kentucky, in support of their new release, Echo Boom. Info:

Sierra Hull and Highway 111 are touring Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, Indiana and Carolina in May and June, in support of her new album, Daybreak (Rounder). Her video, “Easy Come, Easy Go” is currently airing on both CMT and GAC. View at:

An album release party for Farm County Jubilee was hosted April 14 at Old RCA Studio A in Nashville, in honor of their new CD, The Stars of Farm County Jubilee Present a Bluegrass Tribute to Historic Studio  B.

Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Bluegrass Hall of Fame member J.D. Crowe, who broke his left arm in March. His therapy is going well and J.D. expects to be playing again by early summer. In the meantime, Jim Mills will fill in on banjo, on dates with The New South and also on shows with Doyle Lawson and Paul Williams, in support of the Old Friends Get Together project they released on the Crossroads label in June 2010.

Congratulations to Randy Kohrs and Ashlee Brown, who were married in Nashville April 27!


The Kansas Bluegrass Association announced the first annual Tulip Time Bluegrass Jam was hosted on April 10 at 6th and Merchant in Belle Plaine, Kan. across from the elementary school. Belle Plaine is the home town of Jack Theobald, recognized as the father of bluegrass in Kansas.

Congratulations to Nick Forster and Rob Osborne, recently inducted into the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society’s Hall of Honor. Congratulations to the recipients of the 2011 Boston Bluegrass Union Heritage Awards, presented during the 26th annual Joe Val bluegrass Festival, Feb. 18-20, in Framingham, Mass.: Sam Tidwell, longtime Rhode Island and Maine bluegrass pioneer; WHRB’s Hillbilly at Harvard Radio Show, launched in 1948 by “Pappy Ben” Minnich and hosted for many  years by “Cousin Lynn” Joiner and “Ol’ Sinc” Brian Sinclair; and Glen Huffer, longtime Connecticut bluegrass concert producer and MC.

According the Central Texas Bluegrass, the celebration of Texas Independence Day March 2 was an opportunity for nearly 3,000 school children throughout the state to get a first-hand look at what bluegrass is about. Central Texas Bluegrass Music Association member Daniel Kott (KPIE, in Killeen, Tex.) hosted Eddie Collins and the Upham Family Band for a half-hour program on the history and evolution of bluegrass music. The show was broadcast live with interactive participation at public schools from Beaumont to El Paso. CTMA co-sponsored the event.

In an effort to include old-time musicians and fans in their community, the California Bluegrass Association announces “The Old-Time Gathering at Father’s Day” theme at their annual Father’s Day festival in Grass Valley, Calif., scheduled for June 16-19. Two days of concentrated old-time programming will feature the John Hartford Band, the Mt. Diablo String Band, The Freight Hoppers,  and a dance called by Marsha Goodman Crawford (with the Freight Hoppers providing the music.) There will also be old-time workshops, jams and more. California bluegrass band leader Peter Feldman offers this humorous explanation for the confused: “Bluegrass band members wear uniforms, such as blue polyester suits and gray Stetson hats. Old-time bands wear jeans, sandals, work shirts and caps from seed companies. The audience claps after each bluegrass solo break. If anyone claps for an old-time band it confuses them, even after the tune is over.  A bluegrass band has between one and three singers who are singing about an octave above their natural vocal range. Some old-time bands have no singers at all.  Bluegrass bumper stickers are in red, white and blue and have stars and/or stripes on them. Old-time bumper stickers don’t make any sense (e.g. “Gid is my Co-Pilot).”


Multi-instrumentalist John McEuen is hosting the Americana Music Show broadcast at, which is marketed in China. The Roys, The Bowling Family, Steve hurst, Marty Raybon, Ricky Skaggs and Jason Crabb were featured on an April 29 television show, Praise the Lord, on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Congratulations to long time Springfield, Mo. bluegrass broadcaster Mike Smith for being named as a finalist for the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards for his KSMU-FM on air remembrance of Mitch Jayne, of The Dillards.

Two new bluegrass-related projects are on the summer film festival circuit: “Fanning the Fire,” produced by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation’s Alan Tompkins and “How to Grow a Band: A film about Punch Brothers,” produced by Michael Bohlmann and Mark Meatto. Tompkin’s film includes appearances by Dan Tyminski, J.D. Crowe, Rhonda Vincent and Adam Steffey, but focuses on 12-year-old Lucas White’s passion for becoming a bluegrass guitarist. Three years of his life are profiled, on his journey to the stage. “How to Grow a Band” is a documentary profiling Chris Thile’s band, The Punch Brothers, beginning with a performance in Scotland and following them as they tour 25 cities. The theme behind the music is growing up and starting over. Videos:,


The Smokehouse, located just of I-24 in Monteagle, Tenn. is interested in being a new venue for bluegrass music. They are currently showcasing singer-songwriters on Saturday nights. Their Smokin Hit Songwriters Summer Series workshop will take place July 8-10. Info:,

Registration is still open for the new PineCone Bluegrass Camps, to be held June 27-July 1, 2011 in Cary, N.C. Staffed by old-time and bluegrass musicians Charles Petee (Shady Grove Band) and John Currie (Floyd Pond  Ramblers), workshops on guitar, fiddle, mandolin and banjo will culminate in a public performance on Friday night, July 1. Info: (919) 460-460-4963

Bluegrass for the Greenbelt in Oakland Hills, Calif., has added tent camping on the ground of the historic Dunsmuir-Hellman Estate for their June 3-4 festival. The line-up includes Nell Robinson & Jim Nunally, Marley’s Ghost, The Kathy Kallick Band, Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands and Jimmie Dale Gilmore with The Wronglers. Info: (415) 543-6771

Thanks to ETSU student Yuiko Inoue and her connections in Japan, proceeds from the April 7 “Celebration 2011” concert in Johnson City, Tenn. featuring bluegrass, old-time, country and Celtic bands from East Tennessee State University will go to the Tohoku University  Bluegrass Club in Sendai, in northeast Japan. Club members will see that their most in need fellow citizens affected by the March 11 tsunami receive the help. Info: Daniel Boner, Director of ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Program.

Bluegrass music has made its mark on the Grand Ole Opry stage for more than 50 years, and now the genre has a permanent place backstage at the Opry, as well. Dressing Room #2, now officially labeled the “Bluegrass Room,” is adorned with photos of current Opry member bluegrass artists, as well as favorite photos from the Opry’s past. The room features armless chairs which are better for jam sessions, and an alternating floor finish design reminiscent of string instrument frets. The Bluegrass Room renovation was part of a $200 million rebuilding and refurbishment project following last May’s flood in Nashville, during which four feet of water engulfed the Opry stage and backstage area. 


The Niall Toner Band from Ireland is celebrating his music reaching the #1 download spot on the Bluegrass and Folk Charts for Airplay Direct during the month of March 2011. Niall will be visiting Tennessee and North Carolina in late April – early May. Look for his appearances in Asheville, N.C., and Toner with his “broadcaster hat” on at MerleFest, conducting interviews for the Roots Freeway program on Ireland’s National Radio Station, RTE Radio One, to be aired in June-July 2011.

Nothin’ Fancy from the U.S. and The Bluegrass Boogiemen (Netherlands) will perform July 13 in Nieuwkoop, The Netherlands. Info: The Bath Americana Festival will take place on various stages throughout the city of Bath, in England, May 18-22.

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike will appear Mary 19 at the Bath Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, at 7:30 p.m.  Additional acts include Olde Boston Tea Party, The Bath Bluegrass Orchestra and Applejacks (Appalachian dance team), along with a showing of the film, O, Brother Where Art Thou? info:

The Scottish Bluegrass Association will present the 25th annual Guildtown Bluegrass Music Festival July 29 – August 1, 2011, at Guildtown Village Hall in Perthshire, Scotland. The line-up includes Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa (U.S.), G-Runs ‘N Roses (Czech), Innes Campbell & Present Company, Longway, The Moonshiners, Dapper McDans, Goldrush and Home Made Jam. Info:

The British Bluegrass Music News announces the following upcoming events: London Old-Time & Bluegrass Week (May 5-11, 2011); Orwell Bluegrass Festival (May 12-16,; Coastline  Bluegrass Festival (June 3-5,; Bluegrass by the Lake: Llangorse Picking Weekend (June 17-19,; The East Anglian Bluegrass Festival (June 24-26,; Yorkshire Dales Bluegrass Picking Weekend (July 15-17,; North Wales Bluegrass Festival (June 30-July 3, Bodlondeb Park, Conwy – LL32 8DU); Kentucky to Kent UK (Aug. 28,; Surrey Mini Bluegrass Festival (Aug. 6-7,; Didmarton Bluegrass Festival (Sept. 1-4,; Gower Bluegrass Festival “Go-fest” (Sept. 9-11,; Cornish Bluegrass Festival (Sept. 16-18, and the Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival (Sept. 23-25,

Valerie Smith’s May 5 – June 12 band tour includes dates in Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands. For details, go to

From the European Bluegrass Music Blog:
On May 6 & 7, 2011 Kevin Lynch reports there will be an international gathering of bluegrass music fans, friends, musicians and professional performers in The Netherlands to honor Rienk Janssen and his Strictly Country magazine. Rienk retired the magazine (the oldest and only major Dutch bluegrass publication) in February after 40 years and 240 issues. Janssen has been a major force in Europe's bluegrass history since the earliest days of booking European tours for American artists, sponsoring and producing various concerts & festivals, founding the Strictly Country Records label and more.  Rienk states he will continue his work and hold his positions with the EBMA and IBMA. He will also continue his retail music CD, LP and book business, as well as his mail order auction. Rienk has unveiled a new website as he continues along his bluegrass journey:

British bluegrass broadcasters Lynne Butler is now airing two radio shows: Butler’s Boudoir Bluegrass on UK Country Radio every Thursday at 20:00 (British time), repeated every Friday at 16:00 (British time). UK and European bluegrass music are featured, plus a 15 minute spot for bluegrass music outside of Europe. Her second show, Lynne Butler’s Eurograss on Bluegrass Planet Earth, consists of two shows a month, repeating a second week after the original airing.

Acoustic Night 11, “American Radios” will take place May 5-7 at the Teatro Della Corte, Piazza Borgo Pila 42, in Genova, Italy. Beppe Gambetta, Nick Forster,  Bryan Sutton and Peter Ostroushko will perform. Gambetta and Tony McManus (Scotland) will teach at the 19th International Acoustic Guitar Workshop July 31 – Aug. 7, 2011, at Ambroz Pod Krvavcem, Slovenia. Info: Stane Svigelj +386-4188-6460

The 20th Appalachian & Bluegrass Music Festival will take place Sept. 2-4 at the Ulster American Folk park in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Headliners include Dailey & Vincent (U.S.), The Malpass Brothers (U.S.), Sunny Side (Czech), Red Wine (Italy) and more.


Czech banjo player and event producer Jan “Honza” Macak died April 12 at the age of 68, after a battle with stomach cancer.  Macak founded the oldest bluegrass festival in Europe, The Banjo Jamboree, which he started in his home town of Kopidlno. Honza heard Pete Seeger play the banjo on tour in Czechoslovakia in 1964. He was a fan of the first Czech bluegrass bands, The Greenhorns and White Stars, both featuring the banjo playing of IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Marko Cermak. Most bands in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s were playing “trampgrass,” a mixture of Western and Tramp music, and what they heard on the few recordings that came through the Iron Curtain. Bluegrass musicians had no instructional materials, strings, capos or standard instruments. A band from Kopidlno, practicing in a local pub under the ventilator (fan) with Honza Macak on banjo started to call themselves “Vetraci” (The Ventilators). Macak had the idea to get together with other Czech banjo players to learn from each other, and they called the first meeting in 1973 “Banjo Jamboree.” In time the festival outgrew the town of Kopidlno and moved to Trakonice in South Bohemia, and finally to Caslav, where it is today. Since the 1970s, thousands of musicians have attended the Banjo Jamboree and today the Czech Republic has the largest concentration of bluegrass musicians in Europe. Honza’s son, Marek Macak plays mandolin and guitar with the band, Bluegrass Cwrkot. The elder Macak was honored with the European World of Bluegrass Pioneer award in 2003, and he was the first inductee into the Czech Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

James “Honey Jim” Stokes died April 8, 2011. A member of the Bluegrass & Traditional Country Music Society of Australia based in New South Wales, Stokes sang old country songs and played the guitar, and he was a regular member of the Safety in Numbers band for many years. Renowned for his storytelling, Stokes was famous for bringing along honey from his beehives to share with friends wherever he went.

Renowned songwriter and vocalist Hazel Dickens died April 22 in Washington, D.C., at the age of 75, from complications with pneumonia. Born June 1, 1935 in Mercer County, West Virginia, she was one of 11 children. At 16 she left school to go to work at a factory in Baltimore, Md., where she discovered the local music scene. Dickens formed a country band with Mike Seeger, and later freelanced on acoustic bass, guitar and vocals with several groups including The Greenbriar Boys. During the early 1960s she toured with Joan Baez and met a singer from California named Alice Gerrard. “Hazel and Alice” toured and recorded from 1964-73, recording for Folkways Records and Rounder Records. Their edgy, mountain-style vocal harmonies and Dickens’ songs like “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There” that viewed the world from a woman’s perspective drew national attention.  Dickens’ songs have  been included in a number of films, including Harlan County, U.S.A (1976), and she had on-screen parts in both Matewan and Songcatcher. Dickens released Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People in 1981, By the Sweat of My Brow in 1984, and It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song in 1986, for Rounder. During her long career Dickens toured internationally and throughout the U.S., including venues like The White House, The Library of Congress, Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. She received a number of honors, including IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Award (1993), a Lifetime Achievement Awards from West Virginia and the Folk Alliance, a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the Washington Monument Award and an honorary doctorate from Shepherd College. She collaborated with Bill Malone on the book Working Girl Blues (University of Illinois Press), and Smithsonian/Folkways  re-issued the early Hazel & Alice recordings on the album, Pioneering  Women of Bluegrass. Dickens was fond of saying, “Just playing bluegrass music is political.” In addition to her musical social commentary, Hazel paved the way for women bluegrass artists and served as a mentor to a number of musicians and writers. She leaves behind a wealth of music, including the often covered “Just a Few Old Memories” and 1996 IBMA Song of the Year “Mama’s Hand.”

Erio Meili, banjo player, active IBMA member and champion of bluegrass music in Brazil, passed away April 21 as a result of heart failure. Originally from Switzerland, Erio made his home for many years in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A successful businessman, he was the founder and president of the Sao Paulo Bluegrass Music Association and the leader of  the Sao Paulo Bluegrass Band (which recorded six albums), as well as the webmaster at Meili was also a constant presence on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country via a weekly segment which aired on Mike Kear’s “Music from Foggy Hollow” program.

Resources: Lilly Pavlak; Judy Jones, Bluegrass & Traditional Country Music Society of Australia; Ronald D. Lankford,  Jr., All Music Guide; Marian Leighton Levy, Rounder Records; Charles Wolfe; Trisha Tubbs; Ron Thomason; Mike Kear; Cesar Benzoni; Bob Cherry; Richard Hawkins; WAMU’s


Keith Whitley, Patty Loveless, Steve Wariner, John Michael Montgomery, The Goins Brothers, Molly O’Day and Larnelle Harris were inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame April 7, in Lexington.

The Cowan Creek Mountain Music School produced by the Cowan Community Center and hosted by the Cowan Elementary School with support from Appalshop and the Letcher Co. Board of Education, will take place June 20-24. The week-long school will offer courses in banjo, fiddle, lead guitar, mandolin, square dance calling, old-time string band, singing,  and a “Kids on the Creek” arts & music class for children age 5-10. Info:, (606) 633-3187

South Plains College in Levelland, Texas hosted a Bluegrass Art Show April 28, featuring bluegrass-themed art work donated to the SPC Bluegrass Music program. The display includes pencil drawings of  Bill Monroe by Willard Gayheart, and also a life size sildscreen image of a Gibson F-5 mandolin by former Univ. of Utah Professor McRay Magleby. South Plans faculty members Jim Horatto and Joe Carr hosted the event, speaking about the significance of each work of art.


The Recording Academy has restructured award categories across all genres, bringing the total number of categories to be recognized at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2012 to 78.  The award for Best Bluegrass Album remains in the American Roots Music Field, which also includes awards for Best Americana, Blues, Folk and Regional Roots Music Albums. For more info:

Cumberland River, the band that has been featured recently on the FX Network television drama, Justified, has signed with Rural Rhythm Records.

Nashville’s Red Beet Records has teamed up with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on the release of I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow, produced by songwriter/journalist Peter Cooper. The new album is a re-making of Hall’s 1974 album, Songs of Fox Hollow (For Children of all Ages), with new artists singing the same songs. Included are covers by Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Eric Brace & Last Train Home, Elizabeth Cook, Gary Bennett, Mark & Mike, Jon Byrd, Tommy Cash, Bobby Bare, Fayssoux Starling McLean and Cooper himself.

Albums from the following artists on the Webco label are now available digitally from Pinecastle Records: Bill Emerson (solo, and also with Pete Goble and Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa); James King; Jim Eanes; Bill Harrell; Larry Stephenson; Larry & Wyatt Rice; Lou Reid, Terry Baucom & Carolina.