Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out and Don Rigsby are both proud to announce they have signed with Josh Trivett and Peter Keiser of Moonstruck Management for exclusive booking and management representation. Info:

H.W. “Bill” Smith has launched Crooked Road Enterprises ( in Big Stone Gap, Va., with the goal of assisting venues, attractions, individual, small businesses in historic, music and cultural asset production development, marketing and promotion. Bill currently represents the Dixie Bee-Liners and History Alive. Info: (276) 523-0040,

Brenda Brown Entertainment announces new services that will provide client’s greater and immediate exposure and fans quicker access to music and books. The Las Vegas-based entertainment firm is partnering with Apple for iTunes and iBooks worldwide distribution. Brown also offers a menu of online services, including development and implementation of social marketing campaigns, email fan base campaigns and development of digital liner notes. Info:, (702) 882-0502


Mandonlinist/producer/engineer Brent Truitt has been announced as the new member of The SteelDrivers, as Mike Henderson bids a fond farewell to the band after six years. Info:

Bryan McDowell, the first place winner in Winfield, Kansas in 2009 on mandolin, fiddle and guitar, is the new member of The Claire Lynch Band. After four and a half years with the CLB, Jason Thomas is leaving the band to spend more time with his family in Florida and focus on performing locally, studio work and teaching.

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper have launched a YouTube Channel. To subscribe, go to

Yonder Mountain String Band’s Cabin Fever Tour will take place February – March 2012, with dates in Baton Rouge, Birmingham, five shows in Florida, Asheville, Madison, Urbana and more. The band is working on a new album for 2012. The latest recording, The Show, may be downloaded at this link: More info:

Alison Krauss & Union Station performed “My Love Follows” from their GRAMMY-nominated album, Paper Airplane, on The Talk on Dec. 22.

Steve Martin was a guest on Rock Center with Brian Williams Dec. 19, on NBC.

Balsam Range hosted an event the first weekend of December at the Colonial Theater in Canton, N.C. which raised $10,050 for Haywood County Meals on Wheels program. The concert also marked the beginning of the band’s Winter Concert Series to be held the first Saturday evening of the month, January – April. Balsam Range will appear with Deep River Rising; The Harris Brothers; Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson & Jerry Salley; and David Johnson. Info:, Colonial Theater: (828) 235-2760.

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out had the #1 album on the Bluegrass Music Profiles Top 10 Album Chart with Prime Tyme. The band also set a new record with four singles from the same album appearing on the BMP Top 30 Hot Singles chart: #2 "If Your Heart Should Ever Roll This Way Again," #3 "Old Kentucky Farmers," #20 "Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar" and #27 "Pretty Little Girl From Galax." Prime Tyme debuted at #8 on Billboard magazine’s Top 10 Bluegrass Album Chart and is also doing well on charts from Sirius XM Radio, The Roots Music Report and Bluegrass Unlimited. Info:

Congratulations to all the artists currently topping the following bluegrass radio and sales charts:

The Alternate Route Top 66 Bluegrass Chart: “Almost Home,” by Larry Sparks (Rounder), written by Michael Keith & Dave Lindsey)

Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart: The Goat Rodeo Sessions; Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile; Sony Classical/Sony Masterworks

Bluegrass Music Profiles Top 30 Hot Singles: “A Far Cry from Lester & Earl,” by Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice (Rebel), written by Tim Massey, Rick Pardue & Harry Sisk, Jr.)

Bluegrass Music Profiles Top 10 Bluegrass CDs: Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Prime Tyme (Rural Rhythm)

Bluegrass Today Monthly Chart: “A Far Cry from Lester & Earl,” by Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice (Rebel), written by Tim Massey, Rick Pardue & Harry Sisk, Jr.)

Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey: “Almost Home,” by Larry Sparks (Rounder), written by Michael Keith & Dave Lindsey)

Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey – Top 15 Bluegrass Albums: Help My Brother, by The Gibson Brothers (Compass)

Power Source Bluegrass Top 10: A Mother’s Prayer, by Ralph Stanley (Rebel Records)

Singing News Top Ten Bluegrass Chart: “Precious Memories,” by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver (Horizon).

The artists topping the Billboard Bluegrass Albums most often in 2011 were Alison Krauss & Union Station (Rounder/Concord), Dierks Bentley (Capitol Nashville), Steep Canyon Rangers (Rebel), Steve Martin (40 Share/Rounder/Concord) and Sarah Jarosz (Sugar Hill/Welk). The top charting albums for 2011 included: Paper Airplane, by Alison Krauss & Union Station (Rounder/Concord); Rare Bird Alert, by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (40 Share/Rounder/Concord); Up On the Ridge, by Dierks Bentley (Capitol Nashville); The Goat Rodeo Sessions, by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile (Sony Classical/Sony Masterworks); Follow Me Down, by Sarah Jarosz (Sugar Hill/Welk); The Grascals & Friends: Country Classics with a Bluegrass Spin, by The Grascals (Cracker Barrel/BluGrascal Records); Palomino, by Trampled by Turtles (BanjoDad); Bright Morning Stars, by The Wailin’ Jennys (Red House); Genuine Negro Jig, by the Carolina Chocolate Drops (Nonesuch/Warner Brothers); and Best of Bluegrass, by Steve Ivey (IMI/Sonoma). Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers, by Dailey & Vincent also charted at #17 for the year.

The new CD from Dailey & Vincent, titled: The Gospel Side of Dailey & Vinent, will be available at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores across the U.S. staring January 9, 2012.

IBMA Dobro Player of the Year Rob Ickes will be performing with Cherish the Ladies at Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Scotland Jan. 20. His dates with Blue Highway for 2012 begin with Jan. 5-6 appearances at the Down Home in Johnson City, Tenn., and then will continue through the year from New England to California and from Florida to the Yukon. The dates for ResoSummit, the annual resophonic guitar camp in Nashville Ickes hosts, are Nov. 8-11, 2012. Registration begins in January. Info: ,,

The Grascals (and Catherine Lundy-Eldredge’s recipe for “Upside Down Apple Pie”) were included in’s 12 Days of Country Cookies (& Treats) feature. Click here for the recipe:,,GAC_26058_104272,00.html, More info: View their Nov. 7 performance on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson here:

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage have a new single on AirPlay Direct: ‘When You’re Holding Me.” The cut appears on the newly revised and re-mastered album, Taken, and features the newest member of The Rage, Brent Burke on resophonic guitar. Listen:

Rural Rhythm Christian has released a new music video for the song, “I’ve Seen What He Can Do” by Marty Raybon. The single will hit radio Jan. 9 as the first release from Raybon’s upcoming album, Hand to the Plow. View:, More info:,

Eddie & Martha Adcock hosted their 12th Annual Christmas Benefit for the Homeless at The Station Inn in Nashville, Dec. 11. In addition to the Adcocks with special guests Tom Gray and Gene Johnson, the following artists performed: Claire Lynch & Matt Wingate, Jesse McReynolds, Valerie Smith, Jimmy Bowen & Santa Fe, Alan Sibley & the Magnolia Ramblers, The Roland White Band, Mark Newton, Joe Zauner and more. All proceeds go toward helping the homeless via Room In The Inn, a shelter-and-help program in Nashville.

The Oklahoma-based group, Rockin’ Acoustic Circus has moved to Nashville. Original member Sterling Abernathy (18, on mandolin) and Eric Dysart (19, on fiddle) have been joined by Adam Chaffins on bass and Dillon Hodges on guitar/ clawhammer banjo. Rachel Baiman, currently a senior at Vanderbilt University, plays the five-string fiddle. Video clip:, Info: Mike Drudge, Class Act Entertainment (615) 262-6886,

Minneapolis-based musician Benji Flaming has spent the last five years as the banjo player for Monroe Crossing. Now he is launching a solo career focused on playing and producing music, computers, art, recording and writing, among other interests. Benji is profiled in the December issue of Inside Bluegrass, published by the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old Time Music Association. For more info, go to

The Roys have signed a production deal with ValCom Studios for a new, weekly, music-driven variety show titled Roots and Music with The Roys. The first 13 episodes will be taped in Nashville in early 2012. Each 30-minute episode will be presented in a variety format, including a performance by The Roys, humanitarian features, a festival event highlight segment, a guest musical artist, an interview, and a closing jam session. Roots And Music With The Roys will focus on bluegrass and acoustic roots formats. The Roys will begin the new year with an Australian tour, with performances at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. In April they will co-host the Christmas 4 Kids Celebrity Golf Tournament with Tennessee Titans’ Rob Bironas. Info:

Randy's Rangers, based in Georgetown, Texas, announces the release of their first single, “Mountain Carolina Home.” To view: An album release jam will be hosted at Duke’s BBQ in Georgetown, Texas at 5:30 p.m. Randy has dedicated “Mountain Carolina Home” to the Central Texas Bluegrass Association in recognition of its mission of education and support of local bluegrass music and musicians. Info: (512) 869-8076,,

The Haunted Windchimes is a self-described “pre-bluegrass” band from Pueblo, Colorado. They are the newest and youngest band represented by Scott O’Malley & Associates, who booked them for A Prairie Home Companion performance Oct. 29 in Colorado Springs, and who produced their latest CD, Live at the Western Jubilee. Info:

We send our best wishes for a complete recovery to legendary banjo player Alan Munde, who had quintuple bypass surgery in November.


Louisa Branscomb is hosting a songwriter workshop and retreat called “Mining to Market: Writing and Delivering Powerful Songs” Feb. 10-12, 2012 at The Smokehouse in Monteagle, Tenn. Only 22 participants will be accepted for the first event in the Monteagle Mountain Mastercraft Series. Branscomb, an award-winning songwriter and presenter, is known for workshops that take songwriters where they are in their development and assist them in deepening and polishing their work. She will be joined by Hadley Music recording artist and songwriter Donna Ulisse, Music Row publisher/song plugger, Sherrill Blackman and PR/networking guru Marla Sitten. “At Mining to Market, you will be actively involved in the songwriting process from inspiration, to craft, to delivery to the industry,” Branscomb says. Registration info:

Also at Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse on Monteagle Mountain in Tennessee, “Smokin’ Hit Songwriters Series” will be hosted March 16-18, 2012. For testimonials and registration info, go to

The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival is looking for the song or instrumental work that best defines the spirit of this annual event, which celebrates Spring as symbolized by the ethereal beauty of Japanese Cherry Blossoms - or "sakura." The grand prize winner will receive a $3,000 cash prize presented by the non-profit Japan-America Society of Tennessee and a chance to perform the original composition at the festival on March 24th. In collaboration with Nashville Arts magazine, the winner will also be featured in the magazine's February issue. Download the entry form and official rules at Entry fee per submission is $25. Deadline is January 15, 2012. Info: Japan-America Society of Tennessee, Inc., (615) 663-6060


The California Bluegrass Association Winter Music Camp is scheduled for Feb. 17-20, 2012 at Walker Creek Ranch in Marin County, California. Info: Ingrid Noyes,, 415-663-1342. Bill Evans, Jack Hyland, Geoff Sargent and Stuart Sims are new members of the CBA Board of Directors. The chairman of the board, Rick Cornish was re-elected to his position.

The Pickin Post, quarterly publication of Bluegrass Anonymous based in Louisville, Ky., is now printed in color. Info:

The Intermountain Acoustic Music Association hosted their first Members’ Choice Awards (IAMMIES) Dec. 10, as a fundraiser for their organization. The Lab Dogs were named Favorite Bluegrass Band, and instrumental awards were presented in the following categories: Mandolin (Peter Danzig and Ken Sager), Banjo (Rick Martinez), Guitar (Jake Workman), Fiddle/Violin (Kate MacLeod), Bass/Cello (Lonnie Hockett) and Dobro (Steve Lutz).

For those interested in a summer music camp, private lessons or some other opportunity for bluegrass learning, the Pennsylvania-based Seven Mountains Bluegrass Association may be able to help. Each year the association awards scholarships for their members—both adult and children. Info:, Applications may be sent in at any time of the year.

The West Michigan Bluegrass Music Association has changed their meeting place for 2012. The group will get together on the third Saturday of each month at The Venue, 2072 Lake Michigan Drive, Standale, MI. More info:

Congratulations to the members of the Kansas Bluegrass Association, who celebrated their 40th year in 2011.


Bluegrass Road is the name of a new weekly television series which will launch in January 2012. Filmed in high definition video at the Broadcast Group Complex in Fort Mill, South Carolina (once home to Heritage USA), the show is produced by IBMA members Danny Kramer, Russell Easter Jr. and Jared Easter. In addition to a website for the show at, the group is also premiering a new online bluegrass music magazine in February 2012 called Premium Bluegrass, which will include artist news, reviews, concert dates, music tips, recipes, hunting articles, a “Favorite Picker of the Month” feature, “Bluegrass Roots” and “Backstage Pass” columns, a new national song chart, a classified ad section, a community forum and a worldwide music store. Info:, Russell Easter (336) 831-7590,

Bluegrass Hall of Famer Del McCoury has moved his five-year old bluegrass radio show, Del McCoury’s Blue Side of Town formerly heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, into syndication delivered by AirPlay Direct. “My radio show is very special to me,” McCoury says. “It gives me a chance to share many great memories with my fans as well as great music--both old songs that are dear to me and new artists who continue to carry the bluegrass torch. So to be able to team up with AirPlay Direct--who we have watched grow from an idea into the leading source of music for radio stations--and be able to reach fans in not only the U.S. but other countries as well, is very exciting." The program, available every Monday, will be cut into four segments and will feature a revamped format that places more emphasis on the decades of stories about the events, places and personalities that Del has to share with audiences. Along with the stories, the show will feature Del’s signature mix of traditional, contemporary and edgy-progressive bluegrass music from legends and newcomers. Radio programmers may download the show every Monday at

Mary Sue Twohy’s last day at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country was Dec. 22. She has been promoted at Sirius XM to Program Director of The Village, the folk channel and the Yoga channel. Her new contact info is, 202-380-1571.

Donna Ulisse & the Poor Mountain Boys were invited to perform on the Plain Jane Wisdom radio show Dec. 21, co-hosted by singer/songwriters Devon O’Day and Kim McClean for WLAC 1510 AM, and also at

Mountain Heart dedicated the December edition of their monthly radio program, That Just Happened, to legendary songwriter Guy Clark. Clark joined Mountain Heart’s Jim VanCleve and Josh Shilling live in the WSM studios to record the hour-long program that aired Dec. 13, along with Tamara Saviano, Shawn Camp and Verlon Thompson. Among other things, they talked about the new album, This One’s for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, which features recordings by Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Shawn Colvin, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris , John Prine, Patty Griffin, Ron Sexsmith, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen and many more. Info: For more info on Mountain Heart, including upcoming tour dates and their radio program which begins its second season in January 2012, go to

The Roys hosted a two-hour syndicated radio special Dec. 24-25 on and called A Nashville’s New Country Christmas. Cuts from several country acts and also from A Skaggs Family Christmas Volume II CD were included.

Cull TV ( is a new medium for music video discovery. Cull TV crawls the web to find out what music fans are listening to and watching. They analyze the blogosphere to determine what's trending now. Their editorial staff supplements the technology, building themed channels and playlists. Their “Auto DJ” recommender algorithm learns what the subscriber likes and offers a list of videos to view. Based in San Francisco and New York City, Cull TV was founded by industry professionals from Sony Computer Entertainment, Linden Lab, Intel and more.

Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum presented an interview with Great American Country (GAC) executive Sarah Trahern at the fifth annual Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum Dec. 12, 2011 at the museum’s Ford Theater. Made possible by the Gibson Foundation, the forum was established in 2007 to explore issues related to the business side of the music industry and annually recognizes an individual who represents the legacy of pioneering agent-manager and Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Louise Scruggs, the wife and savvy business partner of Country Music Hall of Fame/ Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Earl Scruggs. Previous honorees are Denise Stiff, Liz Thiels, Mary Martin and Bonnie Garner.


The Boston Bluegrass Union will present the 27th Joe Val Bluegrass Festival during President’s Day weekend, Feb. 17-19, 2012 at the Sheraton Framingham in Framingham, Mass. The line-up will include Blue Highway, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Sierra Hull, The Whites and The Steep Canyon Rangers among others. The three-day event features music on two stages, more than 50 workshops and master classes, vendors, a bluegrass academy and more. Info:

Bear on the Square, which will be hosted on the historic public square at Dahlonega, Ga. April 21-22, 2012, will be free to the public this year. The line-up for the 16th annual event includes Buzzard Mountain Boys with Barefoot Creek, Gold Rush with Neel Pender, John Grimm & Beverly Smith, Curtis Jones with Insonnia, the Pick & Bow students, Ugly Cousin, The Georgia Crackers, The Rosin Sisters, Curley Maple and Packway Handle Band, Whitepath and John Lilly. Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit cultural arts organization with the mission of preserving and celebrating the culture of the Southern Appalachians through the presentation of music, traditional craft and folkways. Info:

The Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series (Jonesborough, Tenn.) debuted in 2011 ( The concert series group will collaborate in 2012 with The Lyric Frizell Foundation, which raises money for children’s cancer research. Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice have been named ambassadors for the Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series. Junior and his band will be making an appearance during the 2012 season and will also help spread the word about the concert series at their other shows across the country. Concerts scheduled for Feb. 25, May 19, July 21 and Oct. 20 will include performances by J.D. Crowe and the New South, Brandon Rickman, The Gibson Brothers, Mark Newton’s Stillhouse Band, Larry Stephenson Band, The Roys, The Boxcars, Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road and more.

Matt Morris directed an Emmy-nominated bluegrass documentary film called Pickin’ & Trimmin’ about a barbershop in Crexel, N.C. where barbers have cut hair for six decades and every weekend bluegrass musicians jam in the back room. The film screened at more than 60 film festivals around the world, winning multiple awards for best documentary short film. View on Vimeo at


From The European Bluegrass Music Blog:

Four Wheel Drive (from The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium) will be the headliner at the 22nd Athy Bluegrass Festival in Ireland in July. The Athy Festival, founded in 1991, is the longest-running annual bluegrass event in Ireland. Tony O’Brien, director of the festival since 1998, first booked 4 Wheel Drive in 2011. Info:

Britain’s Toy Hearts will be touring Germany and Switzerland from Jan. 27 – Feb. 12. Info: Rainer Zellner, Roots Music Booking and Production, Tel. +49 (0) 7073 2250; fax +49 (0) 7073 2134; mobile +49 170 2134 999,

Banjo-player John Breese (U.K. ) has compiled a 26½-minute video documentary, “Bluegrass & Old-Time: an Exploration of the Music in the U.K.,” as part of work for his Master's degree at Southampton University. View here: The British Bluegrass Music Association supported the making of the documentary. A number of major figures in the bluegrass and old-time music scene in Great Britain are interviewed, and a prominent focus is given to the Sore Fingers Summer Schools.

Banjo and guitar player, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia from Rome, Italy, was a featured artist at the 2nd Countryfest Internacional Mexico, held Dec. 2-3, 2011 in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico. Videos of performances at the festival can be seen on YouTube. Info:

Tolgyesi Peter of the Hungarian Bluegrass Music Association (HuBMA) reports that the band Acoustic Processing Unit has released a new demo. Listen: The band is booked to perform at EWOB 2012 and La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France.

The Hungarian band, Eastern Station has released a new album, Trust (Bizalom). Info:

“Rathgar to Rosine: A Pilgrimage to Find Bill Monroe,” a one-hour radio documentary presented by bluegrass bandleader/songwriter/broadcaster Niall Toner and produced by Aidan Butler, was broadcast on RTE Radio 1, the Irish national radio station, Dec. 29, 2011.

East-West is a new band with members from Slovakia and the Czech Republic which plays contemporary bluegrass music influenced by folk and jazz. The new band is made up of veteran bluegrass musicians Flip Bat’o, previously with Meantime (banjo); Michal Vavro, a former member of Fragment (guitar); Ondra Kozak, who has performed with Fragment, Kreni and the Petr Brandejs Band (mandolin); and Erik Banic, bassist from the Who’s Your Daddy band. Demo:

Martino Coppo of the band Red Wine announces the band’s new bass player, Lucas Bellotti. The band is currently working on a new recording project, to be released in 2012, and on a U.S. West Coast tour in late February 2012, ending up at Wintergrass in Washington state.

Blue Dust is a new bluegrass band from Milan (Milano), Italy. The members include: Perry Meroni (guitar, vocal), Dino Barbè (banjo, baritone vocal), Josh Villa (mandolin, tenor vocal), Ignazio Sanfilippo (upright bass) and Tonino Spezzano (guitar).

Longtime bluegrass band Bluegrass Stuff (also from Milan) has a new line-up: Massimo Gatti (mandolin), Maurizio Lodi (guitar), Ruben Minuto (guitar), Dario Lantero (banjo), Icaro Gatti (bass) and Colm Murphy (fiddle).

Coppo also reports Il Cancello del Cinabro is a nice music club in Genoa that features bluegrass in their mix of live music. Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers and Italian band 0039 played there in October and November 2011, and Red Wine is scheduled to perform there Jan. 21, 2012. Info:

Lilly Pavlak reports that French guitarist Pierre Bensusan has a newly updated website at You can catch Bensusan’s performance at Le Triton in Paris, France Feb. 10-11.

Celia Woodsmith, with the U.S. band Della Mae, has been blogging about the Bluegrass Jamboree tour through Germany for Prescription Bluegrass at this link:


Congratulations to Mandolin Brothers, who celebrated their 40th anniversary Dec. 19. Their new website is at Here’s some advice from their last enewsletter for acoustic instrument owners: “This is the time of year when your instrument desperately needs your help. When the central heat is on at home your guitar, banjo, mandolin or uke needs to be humidified. There are four warning signs that your instrument is in need. a) If you are suddenly hearing "buzzing on the frets" and it didn’t buzz last time you played it, this may be because the top actually sinks (maybe just 1/100th” when it’s dry and so it buzzes. b) The fret ends begin to become sharp on one or both sides of the fretboard. Run your thumb and first finger down the fretboard – can you feel the fret ends? If so – it’s dry. c) the top becomes striated, meaning when you slide your finger across it you can feel the bumps from each vertical grain line – the dryness pulls the finish down into the wood grain. Lastly, d) it cracks. Cracks bad; humidification good. Don’t leave your guitar hungry for moisture; you need to keep it happy. When you purchased it and recited those vows one of them was to keep it humidified. One more thing: It is a good idea to store your instrument in its closed case whenever you are not playing it. In this critical (dry) period do not leave a fretted instrument “out” on a stand or hanging on a wall. That only dries it out faster…. Our best advice is to store it in its case at all times.”


ABC news journalist and banjo player Hal Bruno passed away Nov. 8 at the age of 83 in Bethesda, Md. Bruno played with a DC area bluegrass band called Informed Sources.

Harold Buckelew, 81, a founding member of the Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association of New Jersey in 1978, died of a stoke October 18. Buckelew and his wife, Dot helped to lead the association through 2002.

Gene Daniell, a founding member of SEBA (The Southeastern Bluegrass Association) and a long-respected live sound engineer, passed away Oct. 20.

Warren Hellman, the financier, philanthropist and banjo player who hosted the annual free-to-the-public Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, died Dec. 18 at the age of 77, due to complications from leukemia. Hellman also performed and recorded with his group, The Wronglers. Hardly Strictly, which drew crowds of 600,000 in 2011, is endowed for the next 15 years. Hellman was presented with IBMA’s Distinguished Award in 2007.

Guitarist and vocalist Clint Howard, 80, died Oct. 16 at his home in Johnson Country, Tenn. Howard performed at Carnegie Hall in the 1960s with Fred Price, Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Doc Watson; and he also appeared on Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest with Price and Watson. During the 1990s he performed often at MerleFest with Watson or solo, and his own Clint Howard Band played locally for a number of years.

Sonny Mead, 81, died Sept. 25 at his home in Mechanicsville, Va. from complications of ALS. Mead played fiddle with several bands including George Wynn and the Bluegrass Partners, the Cripple Creek Boys, and The Heights of Grass. He was included on the album, The World’s Hottest Fiddlers and he appeared in the movies Best Friends Are Forever and The Day They Shot Lincoln.

Reno-style banjo player Frank Necessary, 75, passed away Dec. 15 at home in Madison, Va. Necessary was very well-known in the Baltimore and southern Maryland region for his skills on the five-string.

Chuck Johnson “Jody Rainwater” died Dec. 24 at the age of 91. Rainwater was the bass player, comedian, publicist and booking agent for Flatt & Scruggs from 1949-1952, as well as a longtime radio broadcaster at WSVS in Crewe, Va. and other stations in North Carolina and Virginia. Rainwater played bass on five recording sessions with Flatt & Scruggs, including the following cuts: “Doin’ My Time;” “Pike County Breakdown;” “Preachin’, Prayin’, Singin’;” “Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms;” “Salty Dog Blues;” Take Me in Your Lifeboat;” Head Over Heels in Love with You,” “The Old Hometown,” “We Can’t Be Darlings Anymore;” “I’ll Stay Around;” “Jimmy Brown, the Newsboy;” “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’;” “Tis Sweet to be Remembered;” “Earl’s Breakdown;” “I’m Lonesome and Blue;” “Get in Line, Brother;” “If I Should Wander Back Tonight;” “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke” and “Dear Old Dixie.”

Pete Soukas, a sought-after bass player and guitarist in New England, died at the age of 78 on Nov. 13 after a long battle with cancer. Soukas was a founding member of both Stonewall Bluegrass and the New England Bluegrass Band, he played with Blue Diamond Bluegrass, and he toured nationally with Tony Rice, J.D. Crowe, Vassar Clements and Auldridge, Bennett & Gaudreau.

Virginia Stauffer, who wrote the Bill Monroe classics “Body and Soul” and “I Live in the Past,” Died Nov. 12. It’s believed that Monroe wrote and titled the instrumental, “Virginia Darling” in her honor.

Bill Wells, proprietor of Bill’s Music Shop and Picking Parlor in West Columbia, S.C., died Nov. 8 at the age of 84. In addition to hosting concerts and teaching at his shop, Wells led bands in South Carolina and the Midwest.

Sources: Murphy Henry, Bluegrass Unlimited; Art Menius; Jay Armsworthy; Northern California Bluegrass Society; The Bay Citizen; Wilkie Chaffin


Grammy Camp for high schoolers will be hosted in Nashville June 17-24, 2012 as an eight-day residential program. Music industry reps and artist will lead the sessions at Black River Entertainment, as students explore the creative process---from creating original material to promoting a finished product---culminating with a launch party. Grammy Camp is also hosted in Los Angeles (July 14-23, 2012) and New York City (Aug. 6-13, 2012). Info and applications:, deadline March 31, 2012. Paid positions as Grammy Camp counselors for young people age 21-25 are also available at the same site.

Photographer and radio broadcaster Darwin Davidson has published a “Women of the Banjo” 2012 calendar with featured photos of Casey Henry, Rebecca Reed-Lunn, Becky Buller, Pam Gadd, Murphy Hicks Henry, Rhiannon Giddens, Gretchen Bowler, Anna Sigmon, Joan Harrison, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer and Maggie MacKay. Info:

The new University of Illinois Press catalog includes several titles that will be of interest to IBMA members, including Bean Blossom - The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Festivals, by Thomas A. Adler and Crowe on the Banjo – the Music Life of J.D. Crowe, by Marty Godbey. Info:

An interview with ArtistWorks' David Butler was printed in Ed Tech Digest. Link:

Pete “Dr. Banjo” Wernick has announced the names of the two scholarship winners for his January 2012 Advanced Banjo Camp. Jim Gabehart of Hamlin, W.Va. will attend thanks to the generosity of Stelling Banjo Works, and Jordan Alleman of Portland, Oregon will be sponsored by funds raised at last January’s annual Banjo Camp concert. Jim and his wife lead a band that plays throughout the East, and Jordan, 18, will start studies at Berklee College of Music in the fall. Info: new video for music educators considering Wernick Method training may be viewed at this link:

Jeff Guernsey's Conservatory of Music is proud to announce that Michael Cleveland has joined the staff for 2012 offering master classes to intermediate and advanced fiddle students. Classes will take place on Tuesdays throughout 2012. The Conservatory of Music is located at 1120 Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana. To schedule lessons, please call 812-284-4428. More info:


REMINDER TO PUBLISHERS: The deadline for signing up with the Harry Fox Agency to participate in the distribution of a recoupable $4,000,000 advance fund established by the settlement of litigation between the National Music Publishers Association and YouTube is January 16, 2011. Please refer to the settlement materials you should have received in the mail in November, or to the settlement website at ."

Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce they have signed The Spinney Brothers from Canada to their label and will release their debut CD, Memories in the spring of 2012.

Rural Rhythm Records and Musicians Against Childhood Cancer® (MACC) are joining forces to release a new album in 2012, Life Goes On. Performances recorded live during MACC festivals during the past several years will be included. Info: