Don’t miss the Henhouse Prowlers – Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Troy Elks Lodge $5

Tonight don’t miss the Henhouse Prowlers Live at the Troy Elks Lodge 11pm. They remind me a band from Columbus a while ago… well except that the fiddle player will agree to wear a tie like the rest of the band. This looks like the good stuff.

Young folks writing and performing new original traditional sounding Bluegrass. There was a time when it seemed like bands like these were popping up all over the place, and we were one of them. But now, the furry has died down a bit and I’m realizing just how rare the suit wearing, died in the wool, one microphone working, traditionalists are.

They even have the chicken thing working…

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Leftover x Breckenridge = Tasty Tunes & Brew

The original intersection of Fly FIshing and Bluegrass Leftover Salmon is collaborating with Breckenridge Brewery by releasing some new tunes in a 12 pack sampler with a collection of sweet  coasters to match. Talk about a cross promotional Gold Mine that I can get behind, yeah!

Sign me UP! Now the one thing I will  have to overcome, and believe me I will overcome it, is that those sampler packs tend to be a way to get rid of beers that didn’t sell all that well, at least that’s the way I view them. But I can get over that to support some good tunes and good beer.

Nice work Breckenridge and LOS!

There is a contest, but who needs contests, I’ll pay for the beer and the tunes, and call it good. Not sure where the 12 Packs will be sold, but I’m guessing anywhere you can find Breckenridge Beer. So go get you some.

HighCountry_GaryHouston

The new Leftover Salmon songs are all inspired by Fine Colorado Ales, the Colorado lifestyle, and the beauty that Colorado has to offer. It made perfect sense to package these songs with our beers and give folks the full Colorado experience.

Each song download is released alongside an Artist Series coaster that will come packaged inside our 12-pack Sampler Packs. The artists consist of four well-known artists from the “Rock Art” community, including Gary HoustonJeff Wood,Nate Duval, and Tyler Stout. In addition to the coasters, each artist is printing a limited run of posters.
The song download coasters will start shipping out with Breckenridge Brewery beers in July. Be sure to look for the specially marked 12-pack Sampler Packs.
Dear Bluegrass police, (I’m looking at you Terry 🙂 While Leftover Salmon is not “pure” old-school Flatt and Scruggs or Monroe, it’s close enough, so please do not revoke my membership card. I promise to repent, and for my penance do 20 rounds of Wheel Hoss, 20 rounds of Sally Goodin, and 20 Verses of Blue Moon of Kentucky (the slow part — it’s more meaningful.) 

Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Troy Ohio with Mumford and Sons — a preview.

Ok — so as most who read this blog with regularity know that I am generally a card carrying member of the BLUEGRASS POLICE. As such I have the right to preform citizens arrests for such offenses as: Playing Songs in the wrong Key, mis-use of a banjo, calling things bluegrass that clearly aren’t, and bluegrass style cover tunes that are just plain wrong-ditty.

As a member of the Bluegrass Police it has been my duty to call out anyone, who in conversation, calls the band Mumford and Sons Bluegrass. I have fulfilled my duty in this charge numerous times since this band came into the spotlight with banjos in tow. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them or their music. In fact I like their music and the band a great deal and think they have pushed the boundaries of traditional acoustic music in ways that are un-imaginable. They have had such a huge influence and have put the banjo and acoustic instruments on stages and in front of audiences that have largely ignored them for years, and for that fact alone, the Bluegrass world owes them an eternal debt of gratitude.

So with that in mind, I must say that I am totally fucking stoked that Mumford and Sons chose my sleepy little hamlet of Troy, Ohio to host a Gentlemen of the Road Stopover. FULL STOP. This is HUGE for Troy and hopefully will shake the town out of it’s stodgy ways for good! Let’s get some cool stuff going for little old troy again.

Here is a video primer on what to expect from the stop over. I can’t wait.

I just heard that another set of tickets are set to be released to the otherwise sold-out show this friday.

The only thing I’m bummed about is that they haven’t called me to sit in with them — yet. My agent is working on that though…

Here’s the line-up:

Stop_Over_LineUp_Troy

We Should Build Mandolins — a nice short documentary on Tom Ellis’s career as a mandolin builder.

The Fretboard Journal posts one new, short documentary a month. This month they featured a film entitled “We Should Build Mandolins.”

I love the part where he say he just likes to make things — a man after my own heart. ALthough building an airplane I don’t think I need to do, but boats, right on.

For the record, I have no financial interest, I play BRW #30. which you can hear blurbs of over on vine…

Vine is weird.

The complete newbie’s guide to Bluegrass… the list of folks you should listen to and why.

A while ago a younger co-worker, who’d heard I played and listened to quite a bit of Bluegrass, asked me where he should start if he wanted to check out some REAL bluegrass. I was cleaning out my sent mail and found that email.

The following is what I sent him. with some updated notes of what to stay away from to spice things up a bit.

It depends on what you are looking for, there are in fact, a bunch of different sub-genres in the bluegrass realm. Primarily you have three groups — Old-School Traditional, Modern/Contemporary (but still fairly Traditional) and then Lunatic fringe Progressive Bluegrassers who branch out a bit  into other things (jazz-classical-fusion, that sort of thing)

Bill+Monroe+BillMonroe

The Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe

For the ORIGINAL Old School stuff you want the following:

Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys – For Monroe the mid 1940s-1950s is best era, but its all good, he is the Father of Bluegrass after all, listen and memorize — it’s the truth.

Flatt and Scruggs – Everything is good but the older the  better, in the 70s they got a little “comedic” – but Earl is the man.

Jimmy Martin – Again older the better, Sunny Side of the Mountain and Freeborn Man — amazing stuff.

The Osborne Brothers – 1970s got a bit country with the addition of drums, so older is better.

JD Crowe and the New South – Everything is good, all of it, original line up with Tony Rice and Picky Ricky Skaggs is gospel.

JD_Tony_ricky_Jerry

Original New South: JD,Tony, Ricky, Jerry

Modern Progressive (Contemporary)

Lonesome River Band – Older stuff from Sugar Hill Records era

Nashville Bluegrass Band – Any Album is fantastic (my ringtone is NBB, Garfield’s Black Berry Blossom)

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder – any recent album is top notch it’s called

Del McCoury Band – Del and the Boys by far his best album, classic version of RIchard Thompson’s 1952 vincent black lightning

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver – Any album early stuff uses electric bass, look for stuff with Jamie Daily singing

The Bluegrass Album Band – it’s an all-star line-up playing it straight and traditional.

Sam Bush Band

Sam Bush Band

The Lunatic Fringe Progressive Bluegrass:

Sam Bush – Any Album, but most have drums and electric instruments so not strictly grass.

Tony Rice – Listen to as much Tony Rice as possible, nuff said.

Bela Fleck – the Bluegrass Sessions album is good (everything else is weird, and there’s a good chance not even close to bluegrass)

Jerry Douglas – Anything is great, but he wanders around into other stuff like jazz, just a warning.

Peter Rowan – his stuff with Tony Rice is the best, be prepared for some Native American hollerin’

Tim O’brien – He is all over the map but one of my favorites, really interesting blend of Irish and Bluegrass, very tasteful

*** Note: Ok so maybe calling the latter group lunatic fringe TODAY, is being conservative. There are quite a few NEW bands who are pushing the genre in a multitude of directions MUCH farther than the Mahavishnu Mountain Boys listed above, but you know, if you run into old folks at festivals, this is the way they think about this music. It’s still on the outside of the core of Bluegrass.

Things to stay away from as an early listener or participant (player/learner):

Old Crowe Medicine Show: It’s not Bluegrass, it’s an outgrowth of old time music and there’s too much irony in it. Hollerin and shouting and acting like a fool when you play fiddle may be entertaining in bar when everyone’s drunk, but in the REAL Bluegrass world it won’t engender much respect form the elders.

Mumford and Sons: Again not Bluegrass. It’s interesting music, but NEVER call it Bluegrass. Yes it has a Banjo but it ain’t Bluegrass.

Avett Brothers: Again Do not call it Bluegrass. My old band used to open for the Avett Brothers when they came through Columbus. They are REALLY nice guys and I like them a lot. Was very fortunate to have that brush with greatness. But don’t barge into a jam circle around a campfire at a festival and expect everyone to join in why you bang away on every song you’ve memorized of theirs. It’s not going to go over well.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings: Good songwriters, but not Bluergass. I love them! But don’t call it Bluergass.

The Civil Wars: Boring, and again, not Bluergass.

Punch Borthers: Yes Mr Thile is a freak of nature, his playing is off the charts amazing and so is this whole band’s. But don’t try to emulate this, it will spoil you into thinking that everything in Bluegrass is a fireworks show. Monroe always said, play the melody, and if you listen close to what the Punch Brohters play, they play the melody, it’s just hidden in mind-blowing amazing-ness. But don’t worry you can’t play like that, so don’t try, there is a good chance it will suck.

Yonder Mountain String Band: These guys have wandered off the reservation into uncharted jam band territory. It’s cool, but there ain’t much bluegrass in it anymore.

Yo-Yo Ma / Joshua Bell et al: I like this stuff, but don’t call it bluegrass. It’s good for whatever it is, but please don’t tell everyone at work how much you LOVE this new bluegrass album by Yo-Yo Ma. Seriously, it’s like telling people how much fun you had at the “Football” tournament, but you were actually attending Rugby games. You’ll sound like an idiot.

Bill Evans’s new album in “In Good Company” is one of the best and most surprising albums I’ve heard in a long time.

Every once in a while I’m just totally blown away by an album. I’ve heard and played A LOT of bluegrass. It takes quite a bit to blow me away these days. I’m not saying I’m the Bluegrass Police or an old, grumpy picker who hates anything made after 1960, but I’m getting there.

That being said, this morning I was totally blown away when I popped in the new Bill Evans album “In Good Company” for the morning commute.

From the first note it manages to strike the perfect balance of new grass mellowness, taste and restraint with solid traditional  Bluegrass drive. It’s dry but with a hint of moistened reverb, clean with specks of dust, edgy when it needs to be but traditional in just the right spots without ever being cliché or ironic. (Thank the lord, because I’m really getting sick of ironic)

Honestly, I try to take an open minded approach to these things and listen without any pre-conceived notions, so going in to this I had no idea what this album was all about. But when I got to the office I opened up the liner notes to find out it’s a smorgasbord of bluegrass deliciousness. I then understood EXACTLY why I thought it was SOOO good. Check out the listing of contributors…

Bill Evans with The Infamous Stringdusters, Tim O’Brien, Joy Kills Sorrow, Darol Anger, Cindy Browne Rosefield, Tashina & Tristan Clarridge, Stuart Duncan, Corey Evans, Matt Flinner, David Grier, Rob Ickes, Dominic Leslie, Laurie Lewis, Ned Luberecki, Mike Marshall, Todd Phillips and Missy Raines. Produced by Bill Evans, Stephen Mougin, Darol Anger & Tom Size.

Good grief if you can’t make a killer album with that line up, you need think about doing something else. That being said it even exceeds the sum of it parts by an order of magnitude. Bill Evans really has put a good one together.

The first track called the “The Distance Between Two Points” starts it off perfectly and from there it was a joy to listen to all the way through. From the first note you can tell it’s a technical masterpiece where every note is placed with perfection and care. It’s not just the musicianship that stands out either.

The engineering and production values are off the chart AMAZING! The complexity and space surrounding the instruments is phenomenal. There is serious subtly in the bass tone.The woodyness of each instrument comes through in all it’s sparkling glory. It’s a rare beast indeed that brings this kind of complexity to the table without becoming too tedious, wonky, over-complicated or esoteric. This album has NONE of that, and for that, it’s a breath of fresh air to be sure.

It also manages to hang together as a cohesive idea too, which is rare on these all-star projects. Sometimes these kinds of albums can fall apart and turn into a few decent tracks with some filler. However “In Good Company” manages to maintain a solid feel and vibe that is consistent through out the entire length of the record. It has a nice change of pace and mix of feels but at the same a uniformity that seems to be elusive in today’s scatterbrained culture. I love that!

This is an album that should have a place in every Bluegrass fan’s shelf, it’s the work of a master and his good company.

What a terrible year for Bluegrass, we lost another original member of the founding generation last night, Doc Watson.

Here’s the intro to the obit from the NYTimes…

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Doc Watson, the blind Grammy-award winning folk musician whose mountain-rooted sound was embraced by generations and whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world, died Tuesday at a North Carolina hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman and his manager. He was 89.

Watson died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he was hospitalized recently after falling at his home in Deep Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He underwent abdominal surgery while in the hospital and had been in critical condition for several days.

I had a few brushes with Doc at Merlefest over the years, but every time I’d see him I was so star struck I couldn’t even formulate words except, “good pickin Doc.” I bet he’d never heard that one before!