ARTISTS & COMPOSERS
Congratulations to Dove Award Recipients for 2012! The award for Bluegrass Album of the Year went to Grassroots Rambos, by Rambo McGuire & Dony McGuire on Rambo McGuire Records. Grassroots Rambos is the first in a series "Remembering The Rambos" by Dony, Reba, Destiny and Israel with special guest, Buck Rambo, and celebrates the early mountain style of The Rambos and the songs of Dottie Rambo. The Dove Award for Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year went to “Mama’s Teaching Angels How to Sing,” by The Isaacs from their album, Naturally (Gaither Music Group), written by the late Dottie Rambo.
Congratulations to the following artists topping bluegrass charts at press time:
Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart: Stars and Satellites, Trampled by Turtles (BanjoDad 09/Thirty Tigers)
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: “When You’re Holding Me,” by Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, written by Donna Jo Webster
Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey: “A Far Cry from Lester & Earl;” by Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice (Rebel Records); written by T. Massey, R. Pardue & H. Sisk Jr.
Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey – Top 15 Bluegrass Albums: Prime Tyme, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (Rural Rhythm)
Dailey & Vincent welcome Jessie Baker to their band, on banjo.
Steve Martin, reigning IBMA Entertainer of the Year with The Steep Canyon Rangers, performed on the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards show, broadcast April 1 on CBS. Steve played banjo on Rascal Flatt’s performance of their new single, “Banjo.”
Special Consensus celebrated the release of their new album on Compass Records, Scratch Gravel Road at The Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn. April 27. Info: www.specialc.com
The Steep Canyon Rangers are playing the Feb. 1-4, 2013 “Mountain Song At Sea” cruise. The Norwegian Sky will sail from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. The line-up also includes The David Grisman Sextet, Del McCoury Band, Tim O’Brien, Bryan Sutton, The Kruger Brothers, Peter Rowan, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Della Mae, Town Mountain, The Shannon Whitworth Band and more. Info: www.mountainsongatsea.com
Bill Evans’ new album, In Good Company, is being distributed by Burnside Distribution in Portland, Oregon and was released May 15. Physical and digital copies are also available at www.billevansbanjo.com
Darin & Brooke Aldridge are pleased to announce their first DVD is now available: Favorites from the Bluegrass Road. Info: http://darinandbrookealdridge.com/
Mark Newton and Steve Thomas have been performing together with The Stillhouse Band, featuring Brian Zonn, Shaun Apple and special guests. They’ll be at The Whippoorwill in Gallatin, Tenn. May 24 from 7-9 p.m. Info: www.thewhippoorwillgallatin.com, www.marknewtonband.com, www.stevethomasmusic.com
Congratulations to Tiller’s Folly, who were nominated for the 11th Independent Music Awards, announced in April. The group was nominated for their song, “Death and Taxes,” a collaboration with Josh Shilling of Mountain Heart and John Cowan. Info: TheIndependentMusicAwards.com)
Carrie Hassler celebrated her new album on Rural Rhythm Records, The Distance, at a CD Release Block party April 28 in downtown Pikeville, Tenn.
Nu-Blu announced the launch of a new single April 3, “Family Quilt,” with the goal of raising awareness and donations for Duke children’s Hospital in Durham, N.C. “This is the first fundraiser of its kind for Duke Children’s,’ said Robyn Soffera, Director of Annual Programs. “We’re excited that Nu-Blu chose to support us in such a creative way.” Pinecastle Records is offering a free download of the song for all donations via Nu-Blu.com, in addition to coupons from participating sponsors. The band will accept donations through August 25, 2012 and present a check for 100% of the proceeds directly to the hospital that evening at a fundraising event in Wake Forest, N.C. Public service announcements have been released to radio by Pinecastle Records and are also available at AirplayDirect.com.
Congratulations to Alan Bartram (The Del McCoury Band and The Travelin’ McCourys) and his wife Kristina on the birth of their daughter, Ella Grey Bartram April 25. Our congratulations also to Ben Kauffman of Yonder Mountain String Band and his wife Cheyanna on the birth of their son, Emeris Aurian Kimball Kaufmann on February 7.
Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to Doyle and Suzanne Lawson and their family. Doyle’s mother, Minnie Lewis Lawson passed away April 21 at the age of 96.
Congratulations to the winners at the 20th Annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest April 27, including Bluegrass Division award recipients Louisa Branscomb, Ashleigh Caudill & Jodi Harbin, and Jo Ellen Doering. Molly Tuttle also took 1st place in the General division for her song, “Walden.”
Organizations representing the music publishers and songwriters, major music labels, digital music services and cellular phone companies announced an agreement on mechanical royalty rates and standards that paves the way for a slate of new, cutting-edge business models to help consumers access and enjoy music. The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Digital Media Association (DiMA) have submitted an industry-wide agreement that fully resolves the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) Rate Proceeding under Section 115 of the copyright law. The settlement provides for the development of new digital services and business models offering music to consumers by creating new rates and terms under Section 115 for five new categories, which include:
• Mixed service bundles (for example, a locker service, limited interactive service, downloads or ringtones combined with a non-music produce such as a mobile phone, consumer electronics device or internet service)
• Paid locker services (subscription-based locker providing on-demand streaming and downloads)
• Purchased content lockers (a free locker functionally provided to a purchaser of a permanent digital download, ringtone or CD where the music provider and locker have an agreement)
• “Limited offerings” (subscription-based service offering limited genres of music or specialized playlists)
• Music bundles (bundling music products such as CDs, ringtones and permanent digital downloads)
The 25-page proposed agreement submitted by the CRB by the various parties resolves the pending mechanical royalty rate proceedings. This agreement covers 2013-2017 and must by formally approved by the CRB. It creates a royalty rate category for these new business models and rolls forward, with limited changes, all existing rates and terms for CDs and downloads.
A recent court ruling between the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) and ASCAP has reset radio fees dating back from Jan 1, 2010 until De. 31, 2016. After two years of litigation, the Federal District Country for the Southern District of New York approved a settlement concerning the fees payable by radio stations for the 8.5 million musical works represented by ASCAP and its 425,000 songwriter, composer and publisher members. According to the RMLC, “The immediate impact of this settlement was reflected in a fee decrease of about 30% for the vast majority of radio stations across the country.” According to reports from the RMLC, the new ruling will decrease annual fees payable to ASCAP for 2012 by about $80 million as compared with rates at the close of 2009. Both sides were unable to reach agreement on new rates starting in 2010, which is why the court settlement will be retroactive to that time. License fees under the previous deal were about 3% of industry revenues for each of ASCAP and BMI, according to RMLC. The new settlement returns to a revenue based fee at about 1.7% of revenue.
Residents of the upstate New York will have more access to bluegrass music than ever, thanks to a donor to the SUNY Plattsburgh College Foundation. The donor, a “north country” bluegrass fan who wishes to remain anonymous, has given funds to establish “Bluegrass for the Next Generation. His goal is to promote the genre at the college and in the community. The first phase of the project began Feb. 21 with a three-hour broadcast of bluegrass music on WARP three times a week. The station, which is run by student audio production classes, airs on campus channel 10 and Charter Cable channel 17 for 10 weeks every semester, with plans to stream live over the WARP website soon. The anonymous donor give 70 bluegrass albums to the program and supplied scholarship funds for two students working on the radio show, Abigail Curran and Brian Smith. SUNY Plattsburgh is located in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
The Quebe Sisters will perform May 30 at the Virginia Museum of Radio Entertainment in Kenbrige, Va. at 7 p.m. Info: www.vmre.org
Bluegrass Hall of Famers Mac Wiseman, Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds performed together for an April taping of Reno's Old Time Music Festival, hosted by Ronnie Reno. Look for the upcoming episode on BlueHighways TV or RFD TV. The Grascals' Terry Smith, Steve Thomas and Bobby "BOJ" Osborne, Jr. backed them up.
EVENT PRODUCER NEWS
The Mast Farm Inn is sponsoring The Travelin’ McCourys with Sierra Hull & Highway 111 July 21 at Farthing Auditorium, as a part of Appalachian Summer Festival 2012 at Appalachian State Univ. in Boone, N.C. Info: http://www.appsummer.org/schedule
The Graves Family and festival organizers are proud to announce the 20th year of the Graves Mountain Festival of Music, to be held at the Graves Lodge in Syria, Va. May 31 – June 2. The list of talent includes The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Cleverlys, The Gibson Brothers, The Quebe Sisters, Balsam Range, Junior Sisk and Ramblers choice, Belfry Fellows, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen and more. “Twenty years ago when we first started the festival we could have never imagined we would be standing here today preparing for the 20th season,” said Mark Newton, entertainer and one of the festival organizers. “It’s become a family here at Graves Mountain and each year is like one big family reunion. We are excited about this year’s talent line up and the outdoor, family friendly atmosphere in which our shows are held. We hope to see many friends, old and new, this year.” Info: http://www.gravesmountain.com/bluegrass.htm
ROMP, hosted by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky. June 28-30, has announced their line-up. Included: Vince Gill, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Punch Brothers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Lonesome River Band, The Farewell Drifters, Jesse McReynolds & Friends with a Tribute to Jerry Garcia/ Songs of the Grateful Dead, Monroeville, NewFound Road, The Expedition Show and many more. Check out their new website at: www.rompfest.com
The Blooming Bluegrass Festival at the Farmers Branch Historical Park in Farmers Branch, Texas will be held Oct. 19-10. The line-up will include Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, The Travelin’ McCourys with Peter Rowan, Blue Highway, The Gibson Brothers, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Kenny & Amanda Smith Band, The Toy Hearts, Gold Heart and more. Info: http://bluegrassheritage.org/FarmersBranchFestival.php
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion has announced the line-up for their Sept. 14-16, 2012 event in Bristol, Tenn./ Va., which includes Sam Bush, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The SteelDrivers, The Steep Canyon Rangers, The Gibson Brothers, Bearfoot, Dale Ann Bradley, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, April Verch and more. Info: www.bristolrhythm.com
The Gibson Brothers will appear at the Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series May 19, in Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough, Tenn. Info: www.jonesboroughbluegrass.com
The Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Special in Brunswick, Me. has announced their Aug. 30 - Sept. 2 line-up at http://thomaspointbeach.com/special/. Performing artists include: Della Mae, Mountain Heart, Lost and Found, Dailey & Vincent, The Cleverlys, Larry Stephenson Band, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys, Al Hawkes, Dale Ann Bradley, Lonesome River Band, The Gibson Brothers and more.
The following bands will compete in the Sixth Annual Single Microphone Championship May 19-20 at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.: Brightwater Junction, Charlie and the Girls, Driven, Flint Hill Ramblers, The Haining Family, 1-35 Express, Lonesome Meadow, The Mississippi Sawyers, New Dogs Old Tricks, The Petersens, The Pickin' Chicks, Pocket Hollow Band, Sherman Mountain Boys, Treblemakers. On May 26-27 the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest will take place at Silver Dollar City. The competition is open to musicians 21 years or younger. Those invited to compete this year include: Amber Waves Band, The Baker Family, Barbedwire and Lipgloss, The Bluegrass Blondies, Bost Family Traditions, The Burle Family, Charlie and the Girls, Farnum Family, The Haining Family, Lindley Creek, The Petersens, Pickin' Chicks, Prairie Fire, River Berry Players, Sherman Mountain Boys, Smith Family Band, WMD Bluegrass Band, The Worthing 10s Bluegrass Band, Young Family Band, The Zepp Family Band. Info: www.silverdollarcity.com
From Richard Hawkins at the European Bluegrass Music Blog---
Bill Evans will be coming to Germany to teach at the Munich Banjo Academy Oct. 5-7, and he’s looking for additional dates while in Europe. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hamawe Roots Festival will be held May 26-27 at the Roiseux d’Hamawe famr just off the N82 between Virton and Arlon in Belgium. Cajun music will be featured, along with bluegrass from Blue Maxx, The Straps and The Rockridge Brothers. Info: http://www.hamawe.be/
Wolfgang Mark of the Buhl city press office in Germany reports that G-Runs ‘n Roses will be appearing in a new configuration at the 10th International Buhl Bluegrass Festival May 4-5: Ondra Kozak, Ralph Schut, Martin Burza and Milan Marek. Bluegrass Stuff, founded in 1977, claims to be the oldest bluegrass band in Italy and one of the oldest in Europe, but when they take the stage at the festival in Buhl there will be some new faces in their line-up: Massimo Gatti, Rugen Minuto, Matteo Ringressi, Colm Murphy and Icaro Gatti. Info: http://www.bluegrassfestivalbuehl.de/
Ben Somers, bass player for the London-based alt.bluegrass group The Wagon Tales, reports the band will be backing up American singer-songwriter Krystle Warren for a tour of the U.K. in May. Info: http://www.wagontales.co.uk/
The Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival has announced the line-up for their 11th annual event Sept.20-23 at a new location in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland. Included: Suzy Bogguss, Blue Highway, Don Rigsby & Charlie Sizemore, Niall Toner, The Barcelona Bluegrass Band, Bending the Strings, Blackjack and more. Info: http://www.johnnykeenan.com/
The Punch Brothers will be touring in Denmark, Germany, France, England and Ireland July 6-17. Info: http://www.punchbrothers.com/tour/
Congratulations to Ivor Ottley—originally from England, a resident for some years in western Ireland, and now a regular member of Sweden’s Downhill Bluegrass Band—on winning the West Tennessee championship on fiddle at the 56th Old Time Bluegrass & Fiddlers Jamboree in Holladay, Tenn. April 20-21.
The Foghorn Stringband of Portland, Ore. Will be touring in Europe May 1-29, including dates in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Switzerland and France. Info: http://foghornstringband.com/
The 2nd Country Normandy Festival Aug. 24-26 in Maltot, Basse Normandie will include a contest for young bands from the region. It is open to groups from every genre of country music, including bluegrass. Info: http://www.country-normandy-festival.fr/index.php
On April 3 Bulgaria’s only country/bluegrass band, Lilly of the West celebrated the release of their ninth album, Swings & Heartaches at Studio 5 at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia.
MERCHANDISERS & LUTHIERS
After years of trying many different approaches to training his ring finger to stay on the head of a banjo while playing Mike Slack has invented “The Pickin’ Pal,” hand constructed using 100% re-purposed elastic. Info: www.etsy.com/listing/96001517
PRINT, MEDIA & EDUCATION NEWS
Congratulations to the producers of Fanning the Fire, accepted for its 24th film festival May 20, at the 2012 Ohio Independent Film Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. Info: www.fanningthefire.com
Check out the schedule of summer workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College, celebrating 40 years of music, dance, craft and folklore in 2012: AugustaHeritageCenter.org
The following writers and scholars will speak about bluegrass and old-time music topics at the International Country Music Conference May 24-26, 2012 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.: Beth Harrington, Nancy Cardwell, Dr. Gregory Hansen, Joe Weed, Dr. James Akenson, Dr. Erika Brady, Jewly Hight, Dr. Stephanie Van Der Wel, Dr. Patrick Huber, Dr. Gregory Reish, Dr. John Rumble, Paul Craft, Dr. Larry Aaron, Dr. Lee Bidgood. Info: http://www.internationalcountrymusic.org/
Both Bluegrass Unlimited and BluegrassToday.com printed a number of touching and historically significant tributes to Earl Scruggs from noted banjo players in their April and May issues, honoring the memory of the legendary banjo master and Bluegrass Hall of Fame member.
RECORD LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Putumayo announces the May 22 release of Bluegrass, a compilation album featuring cuts from Alison Krauss & Union Station, Sam Bush, Railroad Earth, David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, Andrea Zonn with Alison Brown, Frank Solivan, Peter Rowan, James Alan Shelton, Crooked Still, The Seldom Scene, Uncle Earl and Town Mountain. This is the world music label’s first bluegrass release. Info: http://putumayo.bandcamp.com/album/bluegrass, www.putumayo.com
Kathy Mattea has signed with Sugar Hill Records. The label is planning to release Calling Me Home, what Mattea describes as “a love letter to her home state of West Virginia,” later this year. “Signing at Sugar Hill is like coming home. It’s a wonderful fit for the music I am making these days, and I’m so excited to be there,” said Mattea, whose latest release Coal was a rootsy tribute to the mining traditions of Appalachia. Info: www.sugarhillrecords.com
Mountain Road Recordings of Bristol, Tenn. announced April 6 that they have added a photographer to their staff: Susi Lawson. Info: susilawson.com, www.mountainroadsrecordings.com
Pinecastle Records has signed the group I Draw Slow, based in Dublin, Ireland. The group bills themselves as a “neo old-time band.”
Rural Rhythm Records released Southern Roots & Branches (Yesterday and Today) by Marty Raybon on April 10. The collection includes songs from his previous solo album, new original songs and a new acoustic version of the Shenandoah hit, “I Want to Be Loved Like That.”
AirShow Takoma Park is hosting a Bluegrass Open House and Jam on Sunday, May 6 from 1-5 p.m. in Takoma Park, Md. Meet their Senior Mastering Engineer from Nashville, Randy LeRoy. Also in attendance will be their Chief Engineer Charlie Pilzer and Producer & Engineer, Frank Marchand. Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen will be featured as the house band as they record and demonstrate the AirShow tracking room capabilities. Musicians are invited to bring an instrument and enjoy the jam session, food and refreshments. RSVP by April 20 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time: Janine@airshowmastering.com