Fri, 04/26/2019 - 8:35 am

As Westeros readies for battle, Bluegrass enters the fray with an acoustic rendition of HBO's Game Of Thrones theme by Flatt Lonesome from Mountain Home Music Company.

Prepare for Sunday's epic battle at Winterfell by listening HERE.

In cooperation with Mountain Home and SiriusXM's Bluegrass Junction, Flatt Lonesome recorded this song at Crossroads Studios in Arden, North Carolina.

This epic instrumental received a treatment that moves from the familiar 3/4 tempo fans of the show know so well, into a rousing 4/4 romp that only an outstanding, top-flight Bluegrass outfit like Flatt Lonesome can render.

Watch Flatt Lonesome perform the theme at SiriusXM here:

Sat, 11/09/2019 - 6:34 pm

Continuing to reflect on the American South and its rich musical history, songwriter Thomm Jutz has released two more singles from his upcoming album, this time capturing the storied careers of musical legends John Hartford and Jimmie Rodgers in portraits imbued with the spirit each brought to his own music.

The pair of songs — “Hartford’s Bend” and “Jimmie Rodgers Rode A Train” — is another example of the breadth of songwriting and musicianship on Jutz’s upcoming body of work, two volumes of music to be released under the apt title, To Live In Two Worlds.

"Hartford’s Bend” is a haunting tune that deftly incorporates song titles and aphorisms from the renowned entertainer’s life and music as it pays homage to “every riverboat captain’s friend.”  With wistful harmonies from banjoist Justin Moses, the song instantly brings to mind many of Hartford’s own stately waltzes. 

Though he didn’t know him, Jutz often looks to Hartford’s work for inspiration, saying, “John Hartford — where do you begin? His humor, sense of history and tradition. His virtuosity and timing, his grace and his love of the river …Where do you stop? John Hadley, who I wrote this song with, was a close friend of John Hartford’s. I wouldn’t have dared to write this song without him.”

Of the song, Hartford’s daughter, Katie Harford Hogue says, “Thomm Jutz and John Hadley have written a lovely tune called 'Hartford’s Bend,' which beautifully captures the unhurried pace of the riverboats that Dad loved; you can almost hear a paddlewheel turning.”

Thomm Jutz:  Jimmie Rodgers Rode A Train

“Jimmie Rodgers Rode A Train” is the solo offering in this pair of releases, featuring Jutz’s intimate vocal, fingerpicked guitar and nothing more. Drawing on Rodgers’ own blues and Tin Pan Alley influences, the song punctuates a laconic recounting of the Singing Brakeman’s career with equally spare interludes that reveal Jutz’s quiet virtuosity.

Though Rodgers had a short life and career, Jutz views it as unparalleled.

“He wanted to be every American’s favorite singer. He was the singing brakeman, the cowboy, the dapper crooner. He only had six years to make it all happen and boy did he ever make it happen,” says Jutz.

Like the rest of the extensive set Jutz has recorded for his initial projects with Mountain Home, these are songs infused with a deep knowledge and understanding of the rural southern music — and those who made it — that brought Jutz from his native Germany to Nashville at the beginning of the century.  

“Hartford loved the riverboats, Jimmie loved the trains and his fancy cars. American history and musical history is one of movement,” he says. “Its past so close behind and its future moving still — that’s what draws me to it.”

Listen to “Hartford’s Bend” HERE and “Jimmie Rodgers Rode A Train” HERE.

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 11:55 am

Bluegrass powerhouse Sideline saw great success with their acclaimed 2018 release Front and Center and its single, “Thunder Dan,” which topped the year-end chart as the #1 Bluegrass song in radio, and followed that accolade by winning the IBMA’s Song of the Year in 2019. 

Now, the finely honed sextet pushes forward with Breaks To The Edge, a collection of songs that range from high-energy traditional Bluegrass to progressive destinations and all points in between. The album, to be released January 10, 2020, is now available for pre-order.

Reflecting the North Carolina group’s roots and experiences, the set includes stories of traveling troubadours like that told in their radio single, “Return To Windy Mountain,” a nostalgic reminiscence of country living in “Southern Wind,” a classic bluegrass ballad of tragedy, “Down In The Willow Garden,” the reproachful Stanley Brothers favorite, “Your Selfish Heart” and more. 

On the more progressive side, Breaks To The Edge offers a cover of Steve Wariner’s “Crash Course In The Blues,” with Skip Cherryholmes taking the vocal lead on a wry tale that justifies the album title with Southern-rock style jams. At the other end of the spectrum, the classic southern gospel song ”I’ll Live Again” highlights Sideline’s refined vocal abilities with supremely blended 4-part harmony. 

The high lead vocal of guitarist Bailey Coe flies above Sideline’s blended harmonies in a pair of furiously up-tempo barnburners (“Digging My Own Grave” and “Roll On Blues”), providing a flavorful contrast to Troy Boone’s aggressive lead vocals and mandolin playing on the tragic love song “Amy.” Supple, energetic fiddling from Daniel Greeson spurs songs like “Square Dance Town” but also lends a haunting, mournful opening to “Return To Windy Mountain.”

Throughout, the band’s tight mix of power and dynamics is driven by the pocket and pulse of original member Steve Dilling’s award winning banjo and co-founder Jason Moore’s bass, while Cherryholmes, the third colleague at the group’s heart, dishes up impressive flatpicking from start to finish.

With a loaded national performance schedule and now their 5th studio album, Sideline continues to be a tour de force in bluegrass. Breaks To The Edge captures this power, making a statement that Sideline will continue to do what’s propelled them to this point. 

Pre-order Breaks To The Edge HERE.

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 10:24 am

With music that is part bluegrass and part roots rock with a dose of funk-influenced danceable rhythms, Fireside Collective is stylishly blurring the lines of traditional roots genres. The Asheville, North Carolina-based group is out to make a unique artistic statement through a diverse approach — one that has already gained the quintet a fervent fanbase and the attention of their peers.

On Elements, Fireside Collective blends the characteristic interplay of bluegrass instrumentation and harmonies with strong original material and exuberant energy. The album, now available for pre-order, will be released March 20.

Fireside Collective members Joe Cicero (guitar); Alex Genova (banjo); Jesse Iaquinto (mandolin); Tommy Maher (resonator guitar) and Carson White (upright bass) each bring a strong, original voice to his instrument, and the unique contributions of different lead and harmony vocalists complement the variety in the group’s songwriting.

Produced by Travis Book of the Infamous Stringdusters, Elements is distinctive, continuing to use a wide influence of sounds to create a body of work that belongs to Fireside Collective alone.

The album is preceded by two singles, “She Was An Angel” — premiered by The Bluegrass Situation — and “Don’t Stop Lovin’ Me,” which gained ground for the band with national radio airplay and critical acclaim. 

Brian Carroll of Red Line Roots noted, “Fireside Collective’s ‘Don’t Stop Lovin’ Me’ is bluegrassy twang with a soulful groove. The dobro lines running wild, the rhythm and chop keeping perfect time. There is such a vibe to this tune. It’s the expert blend of tradition with modern pizzaz that is impossible to not jive with and groove to. I may have found one of my favorite new-to-me bands here. Dig it folks. Dig it deep."

The groovy “Winding Road” and the funky “Bring It On Home” show what can be done with bluegrass instrumentation outside the genre’s conventions, while songs like “Waiting For Tennessee” and “High Time” capture the band’s ability to bring their live energy to recording.

“Circles” and “Done Deal” bring an introspective restlessness, accentuated by the former’s musical pointillism and the latter’s insistent, loping rhythm and regretful lyrics, and the instrumental, “Night Sky From Here,” shows off Fireside Collective’s mastery of moods with an ever-moving spotlight on each member in “breakdown” passages that alternate with driving bluegrass rhythms.

Elements announces the arrival of a band that has found its place in the contemporary era of roots music by both reflecting and shaping new sounds of the genre. Pre-order it HERE.

2/15: Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre
2/21: Richmond, VA @ River City Roll
2/22: Norfolk, VA @ Smartmouth Brewing
3/13: Raleigh, NC @ The Pour House
3/14: Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall
3/20: Oak, FL @ Suwannee Spring Reunion Live
3/22: Decatur, GA @ Eddie's Attic
3/27: Johnson City, TN @ The Down Home
3/28: Yadkinville, NC @ Yadkin Cultural Arts Center
4/9:   Mansfield, PA @ Steadman Theatre at Mansfield University
4/10: Wellsboro, PA @ Deane Center Coolidge Theater
4/17: Harrodsburg, KY @ Terrapin Hill Festival
4/18: Greer, SC @ SpringSkunk Music Fest
4/24: Asheville, NC @ Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre
4/25: Wilkesboro, NC @ Merlefest

Sun, 09/13/2020 - 3:54 pm

Bluegrass sextet Sideline has been on a roll since “Thunder Dan,” the 2018 single that earned them the top spot on Bluegrass Today’s year-end airplay chart — and the Song of the Year trophy at 2019’s International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. They’ve released a string of hit singles, including the chart-topping “Crash Course In The Blues,” “Return To Windy Mountain,” “Digging My Own Grave” and a special version of “I’ll Live Again” that featured legendary southern gospel bass singer Ray Dean Reese, all drawn from the group’s latest album, Breaks To The Edge. Now, fresh from a visit to the recording studio, Sideline is back with their first new bluegrass single for the year, “Fast As I Can Crawl.”

Starting with the ringing notes from Steve Dilling's banjo, “Fast As I Can Crawl” reveals itself as purely bluegrass, brought to life with Sideline’s trademark drive, timing and finesse. The song offers a portrait of a man whose bad choices in love have left him in a state of desperate regret — a story often told throughout bluegrass history, but rarely with the sense of urgency and consummate skill Sideline brings to the job. New member Zack Arnold (mandolin) convincingly voices the narrator’s despair, with polished harmonies provided by Dilling and another newcomer to the band, guitarist Jacob Greer, while virtuosic solos are delivered by Dilling, Arnold, lead guitarist Skip Cherryholmes and yet another recent arrival, fiddler Jamie Harper.

“I think ‘Fast as I Can Crawl’ really puts our best foot forward as individuals and as a collective unit,” notes Jason Moore, who supplies the band’s rhythmic foundation on upright bass. “It also truly represents how we feel about the direction of our music: it’s straightforward and to the point — and that is Sideline!”

Cherryholmes adds, “When we heard the demo for this song it had Sideline written all over it. With the aggressive rhythm, high tenor vocal, and the chance to feature every instrumentalist, the arrangement almost wrote itself. We started our studio session with it, and the vibe of the session was nothing but awesome from there.” 

From its pleading chorus — ”Forgive me and you’ll see me on my hands and knees, coming back as fast as I can crawl” — through the shimmering cascades of notes served up in every solo, “Fast As I Can Crawl” is, indeed, a perfect example of the Sideline sound: simple, to the point, and always supremely powerful. 

Listen to "Fast As I Can Crawl" HERE.

About Sideline
Sideline is a pedigreed six-piece powerhouse whose style has set the pace in Bluegrass for over two decades. Founders Steve Dilling, Skip Cherryholmes and Jason Moore can all claim their own historical significance to the genre as members of highly awarded groups, multiple Grand Ole Opry appearances and years of national and international touring. What started as a side project for the seasoned players soon moved to the front and center and they began to record and release albums in earnest. This year, Sideline won the IBMA Song Of The Year Award for their hit single, "Thunder Dan."

To listen to Sideline reminds the fan of why so many people fall in love with Bluegrass in the first place; pulse-pounding drive, songs sung from the heart, perfected timing and dynamics as well as a visceral emotion in the rendering. A band that was started as an off-season fun experiment has become a full-time dream team of players and singers.

The band, recorded or live, move dynamically from well chosen, hard-hitting neo-traditional covers of classic songs to new material curated by a band with a perfect sense of who they are and what they have to say. Combine all this with their on-stage energy and finesse as well as their powerful and affecting harmonies, and you have the embodiment of the North Carolina Bluegrass sound. Sideline has released 4 national projects and records for the highly awarded Mountain Home Music Company based near Asheville, NC.

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 2:48 pm

Since the music’s earliest days, regret for leaving the childhood home and a longing to return have been among the most durable themes in bluegrass. From “The Fields Have Turned Brown” to “Old Home Place” and beyond, generations of songwriters and musicians have contrasted cold, uncaring city life to rural family traditions, sometimes in mournful laments and sometimes through deceptively up-tempo sounds. Now, with the release of “Sleepy Little Town,” award-winning sextet, The Grascals, are writing a new chapter in this long-running bluegrass story.  

Co-written by IBMA Songwriter of the Year, Jerry Salley, “Sleepy Little Town” serves up its tale through distinctive melodic lines and phrases, as its narrator recalls “Dad’s old John Deere, cranking up at the crack of morning light,” gets family news in a conversation with his mother, and compares these touches of familiar life to a place where “the rats are winning the race.” “I’d give anything to wake up in that sleepy little town,” lead vocalist (and the newest Grascal) Chris Davis sings, as the song slides seamlessly from a half-time pre-chorus into a lush, harmony-rich chorus.

As they always do, The Grascals have created an arrangement that places the song and its message front and center, offering instrumental support that works this time out through deft, sympathetic touches rather than more conventional solos.  

“When we came to cutting ‘Sleepy Little Town,’” Davis notes, “It was an easy pick. We instantly fell in love with both the melody and the lyrics. I left home at 18 myself, and I learned early on just how easy I had it with mom and dad. I know we all, at one point or another, wish we could go back to that ‘Sleepy Little Town.’”

Listen to “Sleepy Little Town” HERE.