Archive for March 2010

SUMMERTOWN ROAD, “Summertown Road,” Rounder. 14 tracks.

March 29, 2010

This new band of veteran musicians came out of Ashland, Ky., in 2008, playing hard-core traditional bluegrass in an era when most bands seem to be softening their sound to fit into country, folk, jazz or simply acoustic categories.

Bo Isaacs, formerly with Dave Evans, and John Rigsby, whose background includes stints with Ralph Stanley and Melvin Goins, share lead vocal duties with Isaacs singing lead on six and Rigsby on seven songs.

The 14th, “Goin’ Home To See My Baby,” is an instrumental.

Band members — including Jack Hicks, whose career includes stints with Bill Monroe, The  Whites, Jim & Jesse McReynolds and Lester Flatt — wrote nine of the tracks.

Randy Thomas on bass is the fourth member of the band.

“Rosalee” is a bluegrass Romeo and Juliet tale of young lovers from different sides of the track.

“Two Medals” is a ballad about a soldier who promises a dying friend in Vietnam that he will help raise the friend’s son — and does.

But ballads are rare. This is primarily a collection of hard-driving bluegrass tunes plus a country shuffle —  Kitty Wells’ 1953 “You’re Not Easy To Forget.”

Songs by other artists include Tom T. & Dixie Hall’s “That’s Kentucky,” Karen Kouns’ “Winds of Change” and Brantley C. George’s “Hide Me, Rock of Ages.”

A strong debut album.

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MARK JOHNSON & EMORY LESTER, “Acoustic Vision: Blockade Runner,” Bangtown Records. 14 tracks.

March 29, 2010

“Acoustic Vision” is the third and final installment in Mark Johnson and Emory Lester’s trilogy, which began with “Acoustic Campaign” in 2002 and continued with “Acoustic Rising” in 2006.

The two “roots music superpickers” are known for their versions of traditional fiddle tunes, British ballads and original compositions.

Johnson, known for his “clawgrass” blend of clawhammer and bluegrass banjo styles, plays banjo. Lester, a master mandolinist who has worked in jazz and new age styles as well as bluegrass, plays mandolin, guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, acoustic bass and sings.

Songs include the traditional — “Brown County Breakdown” and “Bright Sunny South” — six Johnson originals and one Lester original.

“Acoustic Vision” is primarily an album of instrumentals.

But Lester sings on “The Dark and the Rolling Sea,” a song about mutiny on a pirate ship; “Mother of a Miner’s Child,” about a woman who’s his “light in a world where darkness never ends”; “Brown Mountain Light,” about the ghost of a slave still searching for his lost master; “The Old Time Drunkard” and “My Sally,” a tale of a woman lured away by the city and the man who’s going in search of her.

The music, for the most part, is very warm and relaxing, as close to folk as bluegrass.

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More acts at International Bluegrass Music Museum

March 18, 2010

The International Bluegrass Music Museum‘s benefit concert series, which began with Valerie Smith &  Liberty Pike back in December, kicks off its spring season on March 26 with the James King Band performing in the Bluegrass Unlimited Theatre inside the museum.

The theater seats 75. Tickets are $10. Call 926-7891 for information.

Other acts signed so far include:

 April 1 – Jack Hicks & Summertown Road

April 15 – Kenny & Amanda Smith 

April 23 – Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, CD Release Concert

Bluegrass museum planning weekly concert series

March 9, 2010

Owensboro’s International Bluegrass Music Museum is gearing up for what may become a weekly series of bluegrass concerts featuring some of the top names in the business.

James King, known for his “mountain soul,” is slated to perform in the museum’s Bluegrass Unlimited Theatre at 7 p.m. March 26.

Tickets are $10. They can be ordered by calling the museum at 926-7891.

Kenny & Amanda Smith, a top husband-wife duet, will be in town on April 15 for a performance at the museum.

Ernie Evans, a Florida-based musician who plays guitar, man-dolin and banjo with Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, says he’s trying to line up every headliner in bluegrass to perform in a weekly series at the museum.

“We all need to get behind this museum,” he said in a telephone interview. “How would we feel if it doesn’t succeed and all those exhibits end up in a storage locker somewhere?”

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike performed the first concert in the series at the museum on Dec. 10.

“It was great,” Evans said. “It sold out ahead of time and the enthusiasm of the audience was incredible. We made some friends and fans that night. I’m still getting e-mails from some of them.”

The band returned in January for two weeks of performances in 23 local schools as part of the museum’s “Bluegrass in the Schools” program.

“We’ve been talking about this since December,” Evans said. “But I’ve only been working on it for about a month.”

He said three more acts are being confirmed this week.

Gabrielle Gray, the museum’s executive director, said the goal is to raise $10,000 to support the museum’s River of Music Party — a bluegrass festival fundraiser in Yellow Creek Park each June.

“A lot of festivals are going under,” she said. “The artists want to make sure that the museum’s festival doesn’t go under. This is a big vote of confidence in ROMP.”

The artists are donating their time and expenses to raising money for the museum and ROMP, she said.

The museum’s theater only seats about 70 people.

That’s small for some of the acts coming in.

But Evans said he wants the shows to sell out and be a hot ticket.

“If Ricky Skaggs comes in — and he’s been invited — we’d need a bigger venue,” he said. “But there’s no overhead at the museum. We don’t have to rent a venue. All the money goes to the museum this way.”

Evans has another connection with the bluegrass museum as well.

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike recorded an album — “Blame It On The Bluegrass” — at the museum in January.

It’s the first time any bluegrass group has done that.

Gray said more recording sessions may be scheduled in the future if other artists want to record there.

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike also shot video of the recording session that’s expected to be edited into a DVD.

The album will be released by Bell Buckle Records this spring.

 The first single, “Where The Sun Never Shines,” is expected to be released this month.

The museum is planning a release party for the CD sometime this spring.

Skaggs to headline HullabaLOU bluegrass stage

March 9, 2010

 Chruchill Downs announces that Kentucky native and 14-time Grammy Award-winning musician Ricky Skaggs will headline a dozen artists scheduled to perform on the Bluegrass Stage at this summer’s HullabaLOU Music Festival at the famed racetrack in Louisville.

 Skaggs will headline the Bluegrass Stage – situated in Churchill Downs’ paddock area – on Saturday, July 24. Seven-time International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year Rhonda Vincent (Sunday, July 25) and the popular combo of The Travelin’ McCourys with Dan Tyminski of Union Station (Friday, July 23) are also booked to perform.
The inaugural three-day music festival, scheduled for July 23-25, will showcase more than 65 bands on five stages with Bon Jovi (July 23), Kenny Chesney (July 24) and Dave Matthews Band (July 25) serving as the headline acts.
Other Bluegrass acts confirmed are Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, Relic, Michael Jonathan, Cumberlands, The Tillers, Hog Operation, Brushfire, BlueZenGrass with special guest Phil Leadbetter and Kentucky Blue.
Below is a day-by-day listing of the musical acts confirmed for HullabaLOU:
Friday, July 23: Bon Jovi; Dierks Bentley; Gladys Knight; Huey Lewis & The News; The Doobie Brothers; Colbie Caillat; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Train; The O’JaysB 52s; Gloriana; Sam Bush; Chrisette Michele; Rick Bartlett’s Rockin’ Soul Revival; Exile; The Travelin’ McCourys with Dan Tyminski; Green River Ordinance; Hazel Miller; J.D. Shelburne; Electric Touch; Whiskey Bent Valley Boys; Cumberlands; Thumper and the Plaid Rabbits; and Brushfire.

  • Saturday, July 24: Kenny Chesney; Jason Aldean; Sara Evans; Al Green; Ben Folds; Michael McDonald; Gov’t Mule; John Kay & Steppenwolf; Joan Osborne; Musiq Soulchild; War; Villebillies; Ben SolleBrigid Kaelin; Jimmy Church; Relic; Duke Tumatoe & The Power Trio; The Tillers; and BlueZenGrass with special guest Phil Leadbetter.
Sunday, July 25: Dave Matthews Band; Zac Brown Band; Steve Miller Band; Dwight Yoakam; Loretta Lynn; The Black Crowes; Kansas; The Avett Brothers; 38 Special; Justin Moore; Taj Mahal; Tonic; Rhonda Vincent; Stealing Angels; Terry Adams Rock and Roll Quartet; Michael Jonathan; Hog Operation; and Kentucky Blue.
        More information is available online at the event Web site, The HullabaLOU Music Festival is also on Facebook at
Designed to be an annual event, the HullabaLOU Music Festival – produced by the Churchill Downs Entertainment Group – features a wide range of artists that blend the sounds of classic rock, country, adult contemporary and Bluegrass on five stages throughout Churchill Downs’ sprawling 147-acre facility.
Ticket packages range from $60 for a one-day general admission pass (increases to $75 on Wednesday, March 10) to $975 for a three-day VIP package. They are on sale at and and at all Ticketmaster outlets, including select Kroger locations, or by calling (800) 745-3000.
All ticket options provide access to every performance on every stage. Guests with a general admission ticket can view the Main Stage from designated areas that are adjacent to reserved seating sections. All additional festival stages, which offer lawn seating areas on a first-come, first-served basis, are available to every attendee of HullabaLOU.
Out of town HullabaLOU guests can secure hotel accommodations by visiting and clicking the “Travel Information” icon.

Extra Day Added to Pete Wernick’s Bluegrass Jam Camp in Owensboro

March 8, 2010

 Pete ” Dr. Banjo” Wernick  says a schedule change for his band Hot Rize has allowed him to add a third day to his Bluegrass Jam Camp in Owensboro this summer.

The camp is now scheduled for June 21-24.

It will run from Monday through Wednesday plus two hours on Thursday at the International Bluegrass Music Museum during the week of the River of Music Party at Yellow Creek Park.

Wernick will conduct  five camps this spring and summer across the U.S.

Here’s the lineup:

March 26-28—Boulder, Colo., at the Boulder Inn

April 16-18—Loveland, CO, Intermediate/Band Skills Camp at Sylvan Dale Ranch

April 26-29—Boomer, NC, preceding MerleFest, including Intermediate Track

May 11-13—Gettysburg, PA, preceding the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival

 June 21-24–Owensboro, KY, at the International Bluegrass Museum, preceding the ROMP festival.

Wernick originated jam camps in 1999 and since then, he and his wife, Joan, have been showing inexperienced players how to fit into bluegrass jam sessions with confidence.

Students are coached as they play in small groups at gentle speeds. Participants need only be able to change smoothly between a few simple chords. 

 For more information about any of the camps, visit

Clack Mountain Festival set for June 4-5

March 3, 2010

The third annual Clack Mountain Festival, scheduled for June 4-5 in downtown Morehead, Ky., has announced its lineup.

Artists slated to perform include Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, Dave Evans & RiverBend, The Tommy Webb Band, Coaltown Dixie and Hazel Holler.

The festival, once known as Bluegrass & More, also features Dixieland blues and blues-rock bands.

Admission is free on June 4 and $5 on June 5.

For information check