Bluegrass Music Industry News & Heard 'Round the World


Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice have signed with Make Welcome Entertainment for public relations for the band in 2013.

Rock House Entertainment is a new entertainment company started by Joey Jones and Jamie Dean of the bluegrass band Cumberland River. Rock House offers booking, management and publicityp services for bluegrass and bluegrass gospel bands, as well as music venues and festivals. Their roster includes the bands Raisin’ Cain, The Velvet Blue, Laurel River Line and Cumberland River. Info: (606) 574-8918,

Donica Christensen announced recently that she has left the staff of Sugar Hill Records, after five fulfilling years, to take a new position at All Eyes Media. LLC, based in East Nashville. For Sugar Hill publicity, please contact Lucy Sabini at Vanguard Records ( Here’s Donica’s new contact info: Donica Christensen, All Eyes Media, LLC, PO Box 60539, Nashville, TN 37206-0539, P: (615) 227-2770, E:,


Congratulations to the following artists whose music is topping charts at press time.

The Spinney Brothers, “Memories,” written by Marshall Warwick (Mountain Fever) – Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey

Balsam Range, Papertown, (Mountain Home) – Bluegrass Unlimited Top 15 Bluegrass Albums Chart 

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, “Bottom of a Mountain,” written by Don McKinnon, (Rebel Records)

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Timeless Hits from the Past: Bluegrassed (Cracker Barrel)

Billboard magazine is not including a Bluegrass Albums Chart in its 2013 print publication, but the chart may be found online at The chart is also at

Following are some statistics from the Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart for 2012:

Top charting artists: Trampled by Turtles, Dailey & Vincent, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Punch Brothers.

Top charting bluegrass albums: The Goat Rodeo Sessions, by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile (Song Classical/Sony Masterworks); Stars and Satellites, by Trampled by Turtles (BanjoDad/Thirty Tigers); The Gospel Side of Dailey & Vincent, by Dailey & Vincent (Rounder/Cracker Barrel); Paper Airplane, by Alison Krauss & Union Station (Rounder/Concord); Carry Me Back, by Old Crow Medicine Show (ATO); Rare Bird Alert, by Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers (40 Share/Rounder/Concord); Who’s Feeling Young Now? by The Punch Brothers (Nonesuch/Warner Brothers); Leaving Eden, by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, (Nonesuch/Warner Brothers); Why Can’t We, by The Isaacs, (Nonesuch/Warner Brothers); Follow Me Down, by Sarah Jarosz (Sugar Hill/Welk).

Top bluegrass album imprints: Rounder, Sony Classical, Nonesuch, BanjoDad, and ATO.

Top bluegrass album labels: Sony Masterworks, Concord, Warner Brothers, Thirty Tigers, Cracker Barrel.

Top bluegrass album distributors: Independents, Sony Music, Universal, WEA, EMM.

Masters of BluegrassThe new group featuring legendary bluegrass artists J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks, Del McCoury, Jerry McCoury and Bobby Osborne, “The Masters of Bluegrass,” debuted Jan. 26 for a sold out crowd in Bowling Green, KY. “I’ve been knowing all of these guys for a long, long time,” chuckles Del McCoury, “and it just feels good to stand on stage with them. We all know all the old songs, so those just fall into place, and we’re working on each other’s songs—and some new things, too. It’s exciting to see the way it’s all coming together.” Check out the new superband’s practice video here. 

Charlie Sizemore has been recognized by Big Sandy Community & Technical College in Prestonsburg, Ky. as Distinguished Alumni of the Year for 2012. Sizemore attended the school from 1986-88. Over the past ten years Charlie raised more than $70,000 to fund scholarships that helped deserving students in Eastern Kentucky to attend the college.

Don Wayne Reno, Dale Reno and Mitch Harrell have formed a new band, Reno & Harrell. Also included: Robbie Wells on fiddle and Billy Rose on bass. They’re working on an album of their fathers’ greatest hits, which will be released later this year.

The Grascals with Robert DeNiroThe Grascals performed “Mystery Train,” from their Grammy-nominated album, Life Finds a Way (Mountain Home), on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Jan. 25. Two-time Oscar winner Robert DeNiro was also a guest and met with the band backstage. The Grascals also performed Jan. 21 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, for a celebration of the Inauguration of the President of the United States. Located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the museum is one of three facilities operated by The National Museum of the American Indian.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, featuring Edie Brickell will perform songs from their album Love Has Come for You as well as songs from Rare Bird Alert and other new tunes at their North American tour which kicks off May 22 in Ft. Meyers, FL. The new collaboration is set for release on April 23 on Rounder Records. Click here for tour dates and ticket information.

Congratulations to The Tina Adair Band, who will be celebrating the release of a new album Saturday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. at The Station Inn in Nashville, TN. The new album is called Born Bad.

The Gooseneck Rockers is a new Virginia-based bluegrass band featuring Tom Adams on guitar, Marshall Wilborn on bass, and Casey Henry on banjo. Tom and Marshall have shared musical roots, both having been Gooseneck Rockersmembers of the legendary Jimmy Martin’s band as well as the Johnson Mountain Boys, the Lynn Morris Band and most recently with fiddle phenom Michael Cleveland. Casey and Tom both started playing bluegrass music in their families’ bands. Info:

The Greencards, an Australian band now based in Nashville, are touring Kansas and Oklahoma in February. Info here:

Cats and the Fiddler will close out their 12-year run as a bluegrass band with concerts March, April and May in Michigan. Thanks for the music, guys! Info:

Congratulations to Nashville-based fiddler and entertainment business attorney Stephanie Taylor and her husband Dave, on the birth of their daughter, Coralee Beth Taylor, on Jan. 8.

ATTN, Songwriters:
Nashville songwriter Julie Pennell is hosting Open Mics at Memorial, a songwriter round scheduled for the last Saturday of each month, 4-7 p.m., at Memorial Lutheran Church in Nashville, TN. Address: 1211 Riverside Drive, Nashville, TN 37206.

The Sandra James Music Foundation Songwriter Contest is now underway, Jan. 1-March 31. First place is $3,500. For an entry form, go to or the foundation’s Facebook page.


Bean Creek and Snap Jackson & The Knock on Wood Players tied for Best Bluegrass Band at the Northern California Bluegrass Awards held in Redwood City, CA Jan. 26. The Awards were part of the Northern California Bluegrass Society’s Bluegrass on Broadway Festival. John Kornhauser of San Francisco and A.J. Lee of Tracy were named Best Male and Female Vocalists. Four Bay Area women bluegrass music pioneers, Kim Elking, Laurie Lewis, Kathy Kallick and Beth Weil, received Lifetime Achievement Awards. More info:

The California Bluegrass Association (CBA) has named Della Mae as the Emerging Artist for 2013 who will perform at their 2013 Father’s Day Festival Jan. 13-16 at Grass Valley, CA. The CBA has also hired Kate Hamre, director of Bluegrass Camps for Kids, to organize a bluegrass camp for children during the Father’s Day Festival this year. Info:

SEBA, the Southeastern Bluegrass Association, chartered its 14th chapter at the Blueridge Music Academy in Clayton, GA in December, to represent the far northeastern Georgia and southeastern North Carolina area. The Blueridge Academy is a music school where instruments are also built and repaired.

The newsletter of the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association (MBOTMA) is now titled Minnesota Bluegrass. Info:

The Kansas Bluegrass Association’s 24th Annual Winter Bluegrass Festival will be hosted Feb. 15-16 at the Marriott Hotel in Wichita, KS. The Gibson Brothers, Special Consensus, Shadow Ridge, Triple L Band, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, and The Greenhorns will headline. Info:

Balsam Range will perform Feb. 9 at the next Seven Mountains Bluegrass Association Music Series show, at the Goodwill Fire Company in York, PA. Info: (717) 395-7128

Scenic Tennessee has been awarded $100,000 by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to produce a series of quick-paced videos that apply the power of Tennessee music to the problem of Tennessee litter. Tentatively called “Tennessee Speed Cleanups,” the project involves videotaping dozens of litter pickups across the state, digitally accelerating the footage, then setting it to original or traditional music performed by amateur as well as professional musicians. Enhanced with captions, credits and images from 20 years of Scenic Tennessee photo contests, the completed videos will be shared via traditional media as well as sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. UT Knoxville’s student environmental group SPEAK will oversee the social media side of the project. Information will soon be available at In the meantime, parties interested in knowing more can contact Marge Davis at or 615 294-2651. Bluegrass journalist Doug Fulmer is on the board of Scenic Tennessee, and has been appointed to the committee that will coordinate the new project.

The Americana Music Association announced its revised mission statement, newly appointed executive committee and goals for the 2013 calendar year during its annual Board of Directors retreat in Nashville, TN in January. The mission of the Americana Music Association is to advocate for the authentic voice of American Roots Music around the world. Additionally the board has appointed a new executive committee: Holly Lowman, artist manager from Ramseur Records has been named president; independent consultant Brad Paul will remain on the board as past-president; producer Mark Moffatt will serve as president-elect; and the Grammy Museum’s Lynne Sheridan will serve as secretary. The three at large executive committee members are Amanda Hale, New West Records; John Ingrassia, Vector Management; and Jessie Scott of Music Fog and Hill Country. Kurt Vitolo will continue in his role as treasurer. These positions are held for one-year terms. The 2013 Board brings new directors Shauna De Cartier of Six Shooter Records, Ingrassia; Paradigm’s Jonathan Levine; and Lynne Sheridan from the Grammy Museum. The incoming directors join Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment; Rodney Crowell; SESAC’s Tim Fink; Mary Gauthier; Hale; Nashville attorney Wayne Halper; Voice of America’s Joan Kornblith; Austin City Limits’ Terry Lickona; Lowman; Buddy Miller; Moffatt; Al Moss; Paul; Scott; Vitolo; and Emilee Warner from Crash Avenue.


Reno’s Old Time Music Festival hosted by Ronnie Reno on BlueHighways TV, is now on television in 60 million homes, with the recent acquisition of 20 million additional homes on FamilyNet TV.

Congratulations to IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Bill Knowlton, who celebrated 40 years on the year on central New York airwaves with his show, the “Bluegrass Ramble” Jan. 21, 2013.

Eddie Stubbs with Ray PriceNashville's 650 AM WSM marked the 30th radio anniversary of longtime evening show host and Country Radio Hall of Famer Eddie Stubbs January 14 with an evening of music and celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The live show aired on 650 AM and Visit to access the special on-air content. WSM morning man Bill Cody hosted the event that featured performances and speeches from Country Music Hall of Fame members Bill Anderson, Ray Price and Jean Shepard, along with Josh Turner, Ronnie Milsap, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Dailey & Vincent, Gene Watson, Riders In The Sky, Duane & Norah Lee Allen, Cheryl White, Bobby Wright, Larry Stephenson, Shawn Camp and Ronnie Bowman, plus a pre-recorded message and gospel performance of “Wonderful” from the Chuck Wagon Gang. Recorded messages and letters were also presented from long-time friends Hairl Hensley, Steve Wariner, Marty Stuart, and Merle Haggard. Tennessee Music Commissioner Hank Adam Locklin presented a proclamation from Governor Bill Haslam deeming Jan. 14 a day of recognition for Stubbs in Tennessee. ““I was truly blessed by every participant of the evening,” said Stubbs. “Aside from their status in the industry, those talents were delivered by some of my personal favorites in the business.” Stubbs began his radio career in 1983 at WYII in Williamsport, Maryland, moving the following year to WAMU in Washington, D.C. where his programs were heard until 2007. His WSM career started in 1995 doing historical research and on-air work, later that same year becoming a Grand Ole Opry announcer. He began the 7 p.m. to midnight shift on July 8, 1996, and now 16 years later, he holds the record as the longest consecutively tenured host for that time slot since WSM began. He was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2012. 



Rob Ickes, IBMA’s Dobro Player of the Year, announces: “On Feb. 12, I'll be participating in a special performance of Mike Auldridge music at The Birchmere (in Washington, D.C.), along with other friends of Mike, including Jerry Douglas, Emmylou Harris, David Bromberg, John Starling, Tom Gray, Fred Travers and The Seldom Scene, Sally Van Meter, and many more. Tickets are on sale at If you are in range, I hope to see you there---or if the Birchmere is too far, I hope you'll join us in spirit on February 12 to celebrate this legendary life." 

The Mockingbird Sings will be performed at the Z. Alexander Looby Theater in downtown Nashville Friday February 1 & Saturday February 2 at 8:00 p.m. The play centers around the origins of country through main character Eddie Snow, who forges his ideas into a new style of music, joined by the ranks of common folks all over the region of Appalachia who did the same. The show is produced and created by Nashville songwriter/playwrights Sharon Cort, Terry Harkleroad and Blounteville's noted historian Dr. Nancy Hamblen Acuff. The play is set in 1927, as Eddie records his first song at the famed Bristol Sessions in Bristol, Tennessee/Virgina alongside Jimmie Rodgers, and The Carter Family, becoming what now is commonly held as the birth of country music. Tickets are available online at or at the door.

For more than 60 years Neila Hyatt has been hosting bluegrass music in her Asheville, NC home, known by many as Mrs. Hyatt’s Music House. Over the years, bluegrass legends and novice players alike gathered together for weekly jams in this warm and friendly setting. Recent events, however, have threatened the very existence of this treasured landmark. Anderson Nissan, owner of the adjacent dealership, has offered to host the weekly Thursday night jams through the end of April when the Music House must either be moved or demolished. A series of events to raise the needed $200,000 to relocate the Music House to another nearby property in Asheville before the April 30, 2013 deadline. The kickoff will take place February 10th at the VFW Club on Leciester Highway from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. This occasion will feature a day of music and a Chili Cornbread Cook-off. “The Battle of the Bands Unplugged,” scheduled for April will take place in various locations throughout the five counties surrounding Asheville and will feature a wide range of acoustic musicians and songwriters from the region. The event will also include a motorcycle “Poker Run.” Info: (828) 633-1136,

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver will make their second appearance on Song of the Mountains at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, VA on Saturday, February 2, 2013. Also appearing: The Grass Cats, the Smith Family Band and Dixie Ridge. Tickets and information is available at or by calling 276-783-6093. March 2, 2013 Song of the Mountains will feature the Kruger Brothers, Nathan Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Mark Newton and Steve Thomas, Paula Dellenback and Fox River and West Wend. Song of the Mountains/The Lincoln Theatre is a non-profit organization underwritten for public television. Info: Tim White, 423-383-7829,,

Patuxent Music will be the primary sponsor for The Mid-Atlantic Bluegrass Band Contest on Friday, February 22, 2013 at the Holiday Inn in College Park, MD. This event will feature some of the best regional bluegrass talent as they compete for cash prizes totaling $1,300 and a performance slot in

the DC Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, February 23, 2013. The Mid-Atlantic Band Contest is presented by the DC Bluegrass Union as part of the DC Bluegrass Festival, honoring the 70-year tradition of bluegrass music in the greater DC area. This family-friendly, event offers a full day of bands, vendors, instrument workshops and much more. WAMU’s Bluegrass Country and Holiday Inn are also participating sponsors of the DC Bluegrass Festival. Visit for the latest festival details and announcements.


The Deering Banjo Company has created the limited edition Goodtime “Sweet 16” banjo to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Goodtime series that was first launched in September 1996.

Bourgeouis Guitars of Maine announce their Aged Tone Series line of premium guitars. The Aged Tone tops are cured by a process known as “thermo curing,” or “roasting.” Tops treated by this process are notably lightser, more stable and louder.

OVER JORDAN (sources: Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Today)

Willie Ackerman, 73, a Nashville session drummer who played on several bluegrass recordings in the 1960s (Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, The Osborne Brothers, Mac Wiseman), died Dec. 13, 2012 at the age of 73.

Walter Hensley, best known for his banjo playing with Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys, died Nov. 24, 2012 at the age of 76. Referred to as “The Banjo Baron of Baltimore,” Hensley recorded two solo banjo albums on Capitol and Rebel Records in 1964 and 1969. In the ‘70s he led his own group, the Dukes of Bluegrass, he performed with Vernon McIntyre’s Appalachian Grass, and more recently he teamed up with James Reams to record James Reams, Walter Hensley and the Barons of Bluegrass on the Copper Creek label in 2003.

Banjo player Red Spurlock, 82, who helped pioneer bluegrass music in Dayton, Ohio along with the Osborne Brothers, Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and others, died Nov. 12, 2012. His band was called the Rainbow Ramblers. Spurlock was teaching banjo at Sinclair community College and performing with Evan Lanier & the Bluegrass Express last year.

Rosa Lee Watson, 81, passed away Nov. 22, 2012, just six months after her husband/ Bluegrass Hall of Fame member, Doc Watson. Rosa Lee and Doc wrote the song, “Your Lone Journey,” which has been recorded by several artists including Alison Krauss & Robert Plant and Robin & Linda Williams. Rosa Lee also taught their son, Merle Watson, his first chords on the guitar.

William B. Biltshire, 84, died Dec. 7, 2012 in Virginia. He began his career as a teenager on WRVA’s Old Dominion Barn Dance, and later worked with Mac Wiseman, the Bailey Brothers, and Bill Clifton. As a Dixie Mountain Boy, Biltshire played fiddle on Bill Clifton’s 1953-58 recordings for Blue Ridge and Starday. During the 1970s and ‘80s he performed with the Richmond, Va. band, Blue Ridge and some local Western Swing bands.

Multi-instrumentalist Billy Joe Foster, died at the age of 51 in Oklahoma Jan. 23 after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Foster performed with the Country Gazette and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. He was also the banjo player with a band called Special Edition in the 1980s which included Joe Diffie with Craig & Terry Fletcher.



Rural Rhythm Records is proud to announce the new Bluegrass single, “That Janie Baker” by Marty Raybon & Full Circle released in January to radio via the label’s Fresh Cut & Key Tracks CD and at song appears on Marty’s new bluegrass album, THE BACK FORTY, releasing in March celebrating his 40 years entertaining audiences around the world.

Also from Rural Rhythm: Award-winning singer-songwriter, Dale Pyatt has released the first single, “Run Secretariat Run” to radio. The song was written by Dale Pyatt and Charlie Hall and is now available to radio stations at DALE PYATT, the album, is now available for digital purchase at CD Baby and the physical version is set for release on Tuesday, February 5, 2013. Dale Pyatt, who is a longtime supporter for the Secretariat Foundation, performed the single during the 2011 Secretariat Festival. Due to overwhelming response from the festival attendees, the original tune honoring the Big Red champion is also available for purchase at The new album, DALE PYATT features original Americana, bluegrass and country music by Pyatt, who collaborates with songwriters including Bill Castle, “Brink” Brinkman, and Steve Thomas.

Rural Rhythm Records is proud to present a special event album GOD DIDN’T CHOOSE SIDES: Civil War True Stories About Real People. The album release date is February 12 on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.  Project creator Sam Passamano, II explains, “Even as a young child I have always been drawn to the events and people during the Civil War, probably because of the importance these years had on our American history and culture. Being a second generation record executive and the president of Rural Rhythm Records, I have had a dream for a long time to do a different type of Civil War album project.  There are many songs available about the popular military commanders, battles and the politics, but I wanted to focus on real stories about the common soldiers, citizens, slaves and immigrants whose lives, and the lives of those around them, were changed forever because of the Civil War…these true stories and people should not be forgotten or lost through the years”.

Produced by Steve Gulley, GOD DIDN’T CHOOSE SIDES contains songs written by Paula Breedlove, Mark Brinkman, Brad Davis, Ray Edwards, Mike Evans, Terry Foust, Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford with performances by artists including Marty Raybon, Russell Moore, Ronnie Bowman, Lonesome River Band, Dale Ann Bradley, Carrie Hassler, Bradley Walker, Tim Stafford, Steve Gulley, and more. Accompanying the 13 song album is an extensive 16 page booklet filled with historical notes, photographs and lyrics on the songs. “I’m Almost Home” written by Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford and is performed by Steve Gulley has been sent to radio stations and is available on AirPlay Direct. More info:

Pinecastle Records is proud to announce they have signed Mark Newton and Steve Thomas to its roster. Their debut album is titled Reborn and will be released on April 9, 2013.



The Spinney Brothers, billed as “Canada’s International Bluegrass Band,” are proud to announce that “Memories,” the first single from their latest Mountain Fever Records CD by the same name, has reached #1 on Bluegrass Unlimited’s Top 30 Songs chart for February 2013. From the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, Canada, brothers Allan Spinney on guitar and vocals and Rick Spinney on banjo and vocals debuted their band in 1992.

From Petr Brandjs: Czech it out! 5th European Bluegrass Summit, 15-17 Mar. 2013
5th European Bluegrass Summit: 15th–17th March 2013, OREA Hotel Pyramida, Prague (Czech Republic) Hosted by Rosťa Čapek and Iva Louková (Čapek Instruments)
Contact Information / European Bluegrass Summit Organisation: Iva Louková: e-mail; tel. +420 603 907 416

The European Bluegrass Music Association is happy to confirm the arrangements for the 5th European Bluegrass Summit on the weekend of 15th–17th March 2013. The event will take place in the beautiful city of Prague and will be hosted by Rosťa Čapek and Ivana Louková. The Summit will be held under the auspices of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.

The summit is open to all, professionals and non-professionals, members and non-members of the European or other national associations, who think they may benefit from sharing ideas and best practices with like-minded people doing similar work in other countries. This includes fans, musicians, promoters, journalists, webmasters, national association reps, and anyone else with a personal, professional, or organisational interest in Bluegrass in Europe.

Goalsof the 5th European Bluegrass Summit
In line with EBMA's mission to work together to support Bluegrass music across borders, the summit aims to provide Bluegrass enthusiasts and activists with a forum for exchange on subjects in which they take a personal and active interest. New subjects will hopefully be raised.

The price of conference package is 110 Euros/person. This includes: Friday and Saturday nights with breakfast, Saturday and Sunday three–course lunch incl. a drink, afternoon refreshment, shared (double) room. Single rooms are 40 Euros extra for two nights.

Topics for group sessions in 2013
The group sessions are essential forums for interested parties to exchange best practices and ideas on the subjects in question. The EBMA board suggests the following topic for discussion in 2013:

IBMA: relationship and relevance for Europe
EFN, EBMA Festival Network
Touring Europe
Touring the U.S.
Developing a PR Concept (for bands, festivals, organisations)
Organising workshop for music teachers and workshop organisers.

Saturday Concert
A bluegrass concert will star Pete and Joan Wernick (USA), Bill Keith (USA), and some more European and Czech bands and musicians. Info:

European Bluegrass Pioneer and Personality Awards
For the first time EBMA will be giving away Awards. The committee of respected experts (Lilly Pavlak, Richard Hawkins, Paolo Dettwiler, Christian Seguret, Bruno Steffen, Eberhard Finke) has been working on the selection process since 2012. The Awards will be presented at the Saturday concert.

Trading T-Shirts
If you want to get rid of the old T-shirts from your festival or organisation (as well as stickers, badges, CDs...) BRING THEM! The other participants might like them, take them, wear them and promote your event in another part of the world!

Petr Brandejs is the president of the European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA), and the following individuals are members of the EBMA Board: Angelika Torrie (CH), Rienk Janssen (NL), Dagfinn Pedersen (Norway), Martino Coppo (I), Christopher Howard-Williams (F), Chris Keenan (IRL).