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Sat out last night under the stars
Table Of Contents:
5 7 Taking The Music 8 Huntin’ It Down 10 12 Gritty Grass 14 Passing The Torch 16 18 Shenandoah Music Trail 19 20 21 11 22
listening to some great bluegrass courtasy of Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, and the Staunton, VA Parks And Rec. Dept. What a great way to spend an evening - hard to believe it’s August, and we were chilly. Fall is creeping in, and that means even more wonderfully cool evenings filled with live music! I can’t wait. Check our pages well becasue in this issue we have loads of cool festivals for you to attend and several artists who what to make you aware of their latest CD project.
Publisher, Greg Tutwiler
A big Americana Rhythm welcome goes out to our new readers at the Americana Music Association conference, Bristol Rhythm & Roots, and the IBMA, World Wide Bluegrass gathering. Thanks for picking us up, and we hope you’ll join our great big Americana family. And congratulations to all the IBMA and AMA nominees this year - what an amazing bunch of talent!
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Americana Rhythm is published six times a year. All correspon- Business office 540-433-0360 CONTRIBUTORS dence should be sent to PO Box 45, Bridgewater VA, 22812 or Ed Tutwiler email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies of Americana Kaye D. Hill Rhythm are made available free at various pick up locations within Wayne Erbsen the publication’s region. Subscriptions are available inside the United Ryan Babarsky States for $16 US currency made payable by check or money UNC Ashville Students Andrew McKnight order sent to Subscriptions at PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812. Doak Turner Foreig n su bscrip tion req u ests shou l d b e sen t to Becky Allen email@example.com. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Don DePoy Reproduction of copy, artwork or photographs is strictly prohibited DISTRIBUTION without permission of the publisher. All advertising material subEd Tutwiler ject to approval. Zebra Media PUBLISHER/EDITOR IN CHIEF Associated Dist. Greg E. Tutwiler The Southern Downtown Books EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS The Purple Fiddle Ed Tutwiler Floyd Country Store Jacenta Tutwiler Shen. Valley Farmers Mkt. Lisa Tutwiler Heritage Farmers Mkt. MARKETING & PROMOTION ... many more! Mark Barreres (GrassRootsNetworking.com) Letters, Comments, Suggestions ADVERTISING firstname.lastname@example.org Greg Tutwiler www.americanarhythm.com
By Edward Tutwiler
Nestled beneath a towering grove
of oak trees there sets an enchanted place that each summer gets filled with enchanting happenings. Yes, it is an outdoor playhouse and what a wonderful place to play it is. Of course, if you live in the Augusta County part of the Shenandoah Valley, you’ve already guessed the name of this enchanted place and yes, it is the Oak Grove Theatre. Each summer this playhouse hosts an outstanding set of five plays put on by a very talented community theater group. Patrons of this fine venue often come in the late afternoon and tailgate before enjoying the play under the Shenandoah Valley canopy of stars. Should you think plays are the only art form presented at Oak Grove, you would be overlooking a very special music festival that occurs there each summer. The Oak Grove Folk Music Festival is an annual event now in its 34th year of production. This festival is three days of traditional and not-so-traditional folk music variety that mixes national acts, and regional touring artists with the best of the local folk music scene. The Oak Grove Folk Music Festival is produced by Theater Wagon of VA productions with the help of a ton of dedicated volunteers. Recently, the folks here at AR met Ms. Rosalin Collins who is the visible face of this wonderful little music festival. We asked her if she would give us an insider‘s view of the Oak Grove experience and what follows is her story.
where the theater is now located). Mr. and Mrs. Collins eventually determined that farming was not going to support their family of five, so Mr. Collins (Fletch) went to work for many years to teach theater at Mary Baldwin College. (It is important to note that the theater at MBC is now named after him). Eventually, the Collins decided to build a theater in their backyard, or as Rosalin puts it, “in the oak grove”. The theater was to be a place that the students would have to do plays in the summer. Ms. Margaret Collins then began writing plays for the students to perform. Rosalin tied her connection to this history with this statement, “It was there that my mother, one of Fletch’s MBC students met my father who is Margaret and Fletch’s oldest son. So, you can see that my ties to the theater, the production group, and the music festival are so deep—they are genetic!” Presently, the theater is owned by a dedicated non-profit Oak Grove Theater group. They also own Pennyroyal Farm and quite a bit of land around the theater. The long-range plan is to purchase more surrounding land so that the parking area and the entire theater will be protected from development. The theater produces five plays each summer and has been doing so since 1954.
Robin and Linda Williams; one of this year’s acts.
Wagon of VA production group is a separate group that Margaret and Fletch Collins founded in 1968. Theater Wagon’s main mission is to help develop and produce new plays and new translations of
plays. They produced a book titled, Plays of Place and Any Place, and did lots of productions, including a video production titled, Visit to the Sepulcher, that is available on Amazon.” Ms Rosalin Collins has
We asked Ms. Collins to give a bit of background about The Theater Wagon of VA that produces the music festival each year. Here is what she told us, “The Theater
Get On The Wagon
Ms. Collins began by telling us a bit of history about the Oak Grove Theater. She tells us that the Oak Grove Theater, (as well as the Theater Wagon production company, and the Oak Grove Folk Music Festival] were all founded by Margaret and Fletcher Collins. The Collins moved to the Shenandoah Valley in the 1940s as Rosalin puts it, “to escape the world of business and have a farm outside of Staunton.” They chose Pennyroyal Farm (just down the hill from
been a member of the board of directors of Theater Wagon of VA since 2003.
Well, It All Started …
Of course, we wanted to find out about the music festival, so I asked Rosalin to tell us all about this. She said that the first festival was held in 1979 as a production of Theater Wagon of VA along with the nationally known music group, Robin and Linda Williams. The festival was held at the Oak Grove Theater and was billed as the first Oak Grove Music Festival. Mr. Fletch Collins was the chair person for the festival for many years and then passed that responsibility on to Bill Harouff. Rosalin says, “I have attended every festival since 1979, first as a bratty kid getting in the way and falling in love with Robin and Linda’s banter and John McCutcheon’s hammer dulcimer. Later, I helped start the Friday night concert addition, for showcasing local and up and coming talent, such as Trent Wagler and The Steel Wheels (in 2006). Some time later, Bill passed the leadership role on to me although I still consider him to be the Chair Emeritus, and still find I have to ask how things
have been handled in the past when rare issues come up that I haven’t had to deal with before. All in all, I am honored and proud to see the festival continue to be strong, and to give what I can to
is a special event at a special place but the driving force is the tireless efforts of a lot of generous volunteers who give time and money out of love for the community.
“It’s small: the theater only seats around 200 ... this size enables our audience to really connect with our performers and vice versa.” help keep it going. What keeps me going is our audience and our community and the love I feel from them for this beautiful little festival. I feel a great deal of connection to my family and myself in doing the work the weekend requires, all year long and especially those days at the Grove.”
Best Little Festival
Many consider the Oak Grove Music Festival to be “the best little festival in the world”, as Rosalin states. It certainly is an enjoyable experience as we here at AR can personally attest. The Saturday morning workshops held in the tree filled parking area and the afternoon sun-drenched stage performances are magical happenings. It
I asked Ms. Collins if she would sum up in her words her feelings about this festival. Here is her take,
(1) “It’s small: the theater only seats around 200 and that’s with us bringing some extra chairs. This size enables our audience to really connect with our performers and vice versa. Performers have been known to show up for the Sunday morning sing-a-long, or even join an open-mic performance unannounced. And there’s plenty of time for interaction and CD signings. (2) We get really high quality performers: We strive to bring some well-known and some less-known, but all high quality artists representing the diversity of the genre of folk music. We try to mix up bands, solo acts and duos, bluegrass to blues, singer-songwriter to Americana folk-rock.
(3) The festival is well-run: From the little touches like flowers around the stage and in the restrooms, to starting and ending on time, we keep a relaxed, friendly, high-spirited atmosphere. We take suggestions from our community on everything from artists to improvements in management.” The music festival happens in early August each year and the plays are spaced all through the warm summer season. If you like music festivals and if you like plays presented under the open sky then you must attend one of the Oak Grove Theater productions. Oak Grove Theater is located in Augusta County just west of Verona, VA on Quick’s Mill Road, 2.1 miles west of the intersection of Rt. 11 and Rt. 612 in Verona. Those traveling I-81 should take Exit 227 and go west to the Verona intersection of Rt. 612 and Rt. 11. You can fine more information about Oak Grove Theater and links to the music festival on the website: www.oakgrovetheater.org.
Taking The Music To The People
In the area where we produce our
magazine, while we have a huge family of music players and fans, it seems that there is reoccurring news about the closing of yet another local music store. Of course, the recent economic distress certainly has taken its toll on local businesses; however, that fact is not the whole story. A combination of big box retailers and www.Idonotbuylocal.com internet purchases cuts into the razor thin profit margin of mom and pop music stores. Maybe the business model itself is changing. Recently, at the Red Wing Roots music festival I happened upon a vendor tent that reminded me of a miniature music store. The vendor’s name was the Carolina Old Time Instrument Supply. On display were a selection of entry-level string music instruments and an array of accessories that players always need. Now a vendor at a music festival selling music instruments is not unique but the usual fare is high-end custom instruments often to be made as ordered. This operation seemed to be different so I stopped to ask some questions.
used right where purchased regardless of the environment. Further, she believes that she will make sales here to folks that would not make the trip downtown to buy the same items after they get back home from the festival.
Making Her Point
Here is how she states her case on her website, “Making music is a time-honored pastime. It doesn’t matter what age you pick up that first instrument—when that first note is played, there is new music in the cosmos. As with any worthwhile endeavor, it takes desire, commitment, practice, and calluses to become a musician. The whole
By Edward Tutwiler
purpose of Carolina Old Time is to put a new instrument in the eager hands of as many new players as possible. The quality and playability of beginner and mid-level instruments has improved greatly over the years. Prices offered are the lowest allowed by the manufacturers. Each instrument offered has been thoughtfully selected to be the best in its class in terms of “best bang for your buck” in a given price range. All are individually inspected, tuned, and properly set up.”
made in hopes that new music makers will purchase the basic tools they need to get started making music. She stocks her store as a franchise from the warehouse of Jackson’s Music, a big Atlanta, GA retailer, and replenishes her wares as she moves from festival to festival. It is certainly a new business model and even Ms. Burton does not yet know how successful she will be at this. Nevertheless, she is up-beat and enthusiastic and looking forward to the remaining festival season.
You can see that Burton is taking the music making equipment to the places where music is being
Check out the Carolina Old Time Instrument Supply’s web site at www.carolinaoldtime.com
One Of The Ways
The Carolina Old Time Instrument Supply tent is the brain-child of Ms. Vicki Burton. This is a new venture for her, and she’s trying it out this summer at some music festivals along the VA, NC music trail. She has the idea that if the fans and followers are going to the festivals and camping there as many fans do; they might be in the market for inexpensive instruments that they can use in the campground jams that go on at every festival. Maybe their children might be inspired by a performance and want an instrument of their own to use at the morning workshops that are a festival happening. Her thinking is that an instrument that can be purchased cheaply and just down the lane from where the stages are located will be inviting to the festival goers. Plus, the fact that while serviceable, these instruments are inexpensive enough that they can be
Music Lovers On The Hunt
By Ryan Babarsky
In January, my husband and I relocated from one of Virginia’s musical meccas, Charlottesville, VA, to Gloucester, VA, a small, rural town on the Middle Peninsula of the Commonwealth. My husband took a new job at an oyster hatchery, so after finding a house to rent, off we went! As we packed up our cars on a cold, rainy day, we mentally prepared ourselves to leave our friends, our folk band, our very musical town, and the mountains behind. We knew we were trading that for rivers and seafood and new adventures, but we didn’t know if we were going to be getting any local music in the deal. When I think of Charlottesville, I think of live music 7-days-a-week. I think of jazz, and of folk, bluegrass, and old time. I think of any number of wonderful small venues. Photo by When I think of Gloucester, Kathy Keeney I think of daffodils and rivers and farms, but not music. So, being a music lover married to a music lover, it became my mission to find live Americana music in and around my new hometown.
The Search Begins
The first thing I did was google “live music Gloucester, VA.” Not very creative, I know, but we didn’t know anyone in the area to ask. The only thing I found that way was an open mic night at a local place called The Wild Rabbit Café. So, my husband and I rehearsed a couple tunes (we both play guitar and sing) and decided to go to one Thursday evening to listen and play. The open mic is run by a few local young people; they supply the sound equipment and host the event. There were some folksy players there, and one young man accompanied himself on the banjo, but it was not a strictly Americana open mic by any means. We had fun playing, but also felt quite old; we’re pretty sure we had almost ten years on most of the other play-
ers. It seemed like the kids in Gloucester needed a place to go and play and hangout, so they made one for themselves! Besides finding info about the open mic at The Wild Rabbit Cafe, we also found that some of the other
places of business on Main Street in Gloucester feature live music on occasion, but the only way we found out was to walk into their stores or see their signs from the street. Many of them do not advertise online.
Stumbling Onto Live Music
One evening, my husband and I decided to go for a jog on Main Street in town. It happened to be a Wednesday night, and that happened to be the night that the Gloucester Main Street Association puts on their Summer Nights Market, which is an event that has been going on for four years now, and which just started to feature live music this year. Ashley Gilmartin, Executive Director of the Gloucester Main Street Association, told me that they have anywhere from 100-300 people attend the once-a-week farmer’s market-style event. I asked Gilmartin whether she felt the Summer Nights Market event fills a needed niche in Gloucester, and she said that she thought that
that festivals do better in rural areas than most types of live music shows: “Sadly, it’s hard to start up a venue in an area so widespread, but I think what the Virginia peninsulas have to offer the most are some good festivals. Cafe’ Mojo’s ‘Mojo Music Fest’ at Urbanna Oyster Festival has some great groups every year all day and night during the festival.”
If You Want it Done Right…
it does: “Yes, we have worked very hard to cultivate an atmosphere that families could shop and enjoy some free entertainment.” She also mentioned that they welcome any family-friendly style of music, and attempt to book local acts whenever possible. We very much enjoy the event, as we are able to grab a refreshing beverage after going for our jog, and then hang around to enjoy the music. We can also buy local produce or meat, which is wonderful.
One evening, we saw a familiar face providing entertainment at the Summer Nights Market. Shane Cooley, originally from the Northern Neck, attended The College of William and Mary at the same time my husband and I both attended. He played his original Americana music for the crowd of locals, accompanied by his father on drums. He got the gig since someone had heard him play at the Urbanna, VA Oyster Festival in the past. Cooley is going to relocate to Austin, Texas soon, but I asked him about playing locally in Eastern Virginia, and he said it wasn’t always easy: “I grew up in the Northern Neck, and have been making music since I was 13 years old. This area is not known for its music scene, but I was ambitious enough to make things happen and meet the right people. There are also a lot of extremely talented musicians that live around here, so I was fortunate enough to have some great mentors.” When I asked Cooley about local venues, he made the good point
My husband and I have decided to begin putting together material for a duo act since we are now no longer in a band together. We were lucky enough to have one local venue show enough interest to book us for a 3-hour slot on a Friday night. We played at the newlyopened White Dog Bistro in Mathews, VA. We played a mixture of covers and originals to a non-packed house. However, word is that the music series there is gaining momentum, which is exactly the kind of thing I would love to see more of. It’s always going to be a challenge to find lots of good, live music in rural Virginia. It’s never going to be as easy as it was when we lived in Charlottesville. However, I think it’s worth the work: The musicians seem incredibly grateful to have an audience, the people running the venues themselves don’t look at you like you’re insane when you ask for information about playing there, and, frankly, it can be nice to go to a show that isn’t so packed you can’t breathe. I think next year we’ll plan ahead a little bit better so we make sure we’re aware of and around for the local music festivals
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seven in a running battle with the sheriff of Salisbury, North Carolina, Otto had become the most notorious outlaw North Carolina had ever known. His exploits included having made no less than ten escapes from prison. He
By Wayne Erbsen
Otto Wood The Bandit Yesterday was July 10th. It wasn’t a day to watch the fireworks, have a picnic, wave a flag, or sing “the Stars Spangled Banner.” Nope. Yesterday was the 83rd anniversary of the day that the famed outlaw Otto Wood made his tenth and final escape from Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina. Central Prison was not a place to have a tea party on the lawn. Completed at a cost of $1.25 million in December, 1884, it was the first prison built in North Carolina. They say it took inmates fourteen years to construct the original castle-like structure, which was built with granite quarried just outside the prison’s east wall. To this day, the prison is located west of downtown Raleigh on 29 acres of land. Most of the land is enclosed by a double wire fence with razor ribbon on top. It’s not the place they send you for an overdue library fine.
The life of Otto Wood was the stuff dime novels were made of. Born in Wilkes County, North Carolina on May 9, 1894, Otto ran away from home as just seven years of age. After stealing rides aboard freight trains, he lived for a time in West Virginia with relatives who were none other than the infamous Hatfield clan who were engaged in deadly feuds with their sworn enemies, the McCoys. From the Hatfields, Otto learned the life skills that would soon become his stock and trade: moonshining, gambling, and shooting. By the time Otto was thirteen, he committed his first crime - stealing a bicycle, which he hadn’t even learned to ride yet. While a teenager, Otto lost his left hand either in a hunting accident, or while working on the railroad in West Virginia (accounts differ). He was also plagued with a birth defect resulting in a club foot. When he was finally shot down at the age of thirty-
turned the surprised thieves over to the law but didn’t stick around long enough to claim the reward for fear of being recognized and sent back to prison. His most notorious crime was the November 3, 1923 murder of A.W. Kaplan, a Greensboro, North Carolina pawnbroker. They apparently quarreled when Otto discovered that the store had sold his father’s pocket watch, which he had pawned. Not over a month after Otto met his final end after the fated shoot-out with police, Walter “Kid” Smith and the Carolina Buddies wrote and recorded “Otto Wood the Bandit” on January 1, 1931. Here’s a YouTube clip h t t p : / / www. y o u t u b e. co m/ watch?v=Q3PjAYoD-Cs Otto Wood by the Carolina Buddies
was wanted in at least states for car and horse theft, moonshining and murder. Otto was a man you didn’t mess with. Once on the lam in the Southwestern desert, he fought off a pack of hungry wolves and then captured a gang of Mexican outlaws who made the mistake of trying to rob him. Otto
Step up buddy and listen to my song, I’ll sing it to you right, but you might sing it wrong. It’s all about a man named Otto Wood, I can’t tell you all, but I wish I could. He walked in a pawnshop a rainy day, And with clerk he had a quarrel they say. He pulled out a gun
and he struck him fatal blow And this is the way the story goes They spread the news as fast as they could, The sheriff served a warrant on Otto Wood. The jury said murder in the second degree, Then judge passed sentence to the penitentiary. Otto, why didn’t you run Otto’s done dead and gone Otto, why didn’t you run When the sheriff pulled out his .44 gun. They put him in the pen, but it done no good, It couldn’t hold a man called Otto Wood. It wasn’t very long ‘til he slipped outside, Pulled a gun on a guard said “Take me for a ride.” The second time they caught him was away out West, In a holdup gang he got shot through the breast, They brought him back and when he got well, They locked him down in the dungeon cell. He was a man who would not run, He always carried a .44 gun. He loved the women and he hated the law, And he just wouldn’t take noboby’s jaw.
Otto, why didn’t you run Otto’s done dead and gone Otto, why didn’t you run When the sheriff pulled out his .44 gun He rambled out West, and he rambled all around, He met two sheriffs in a Southern town. The sheriff said “Otto step to the way, ‘Cause I’ve been expecting you every day.” He pulled out his gun and then he said, “Make a crooked move and you’ll both fall dead. Crank up your car and take me out of town,” But a few minutes later, he was graveyard bound. Otto, why didn’t you run Otto’s done dead and gone Otto, why didn’t you run When the sheriff pulled out his .44 gun. This article is based on a chapter in Wayne’s book, Outlaw Ballads, Legends & Lore. For a Free catalog of Wayne Erbsen’s songbooks and instruction books for banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin, get in touch with Native Ground Books & Music, 109 Bell Road, Asheville, NC, 288 05, (800) 75 2-2656, ba njo@nativeg roun d, www.nativeground.com.
The Farewell Tour including festivals, folk clubs, and performing arts centers.
This industry many of us call home would not be a part of our lives if it were not, at least in part, for Dr. Ralph Stanley. Now 86, and still full of live, the legendary banjo player and influencer of many, is set to embarque on his farewell tour. Beginning in October, 2013, and running through December 2014, the final chapter of this beloved musician is set to include more than 80 shows,
Billed as Man Of Constant Sorrow Tour: The Dr.’s Farewell, he will be accompanied of course by his fabled Clinch Mountain Boys. Stanley began his career in 1946 with his older brother Carter, touring and recording as the Stanley Brothers. Carter died in 1966, after which Ralph moved to center stage as a solo artist. The tour will coincide with Dr. Stanley’s 67th anniversary as a professional performer. For more information visit www.drralphstanleymusic.com.
This Grass Is Grittier On The Other Side ...
By Greg Tutwiler
We love these kinds of stories …
A guy basically gives up on his dream of playing music – for noble reasons of course – it’s time to settle down and build a family. However, with music roots running deep, he is eventually prompted out of retirement, “to give it another go.” What happens next is the stuff movies are made from.
Meet Dave Adkins, front man for
the relatively new outlaw grass group, Republik Steele. “I had pretty much just given up on music,” Dave told me. He had been playing music since he was nine years old. “When I got to high school, me and some buddies formed a bluegrass band. At 15 and 16 years old, we were doing 125/150 dates a year. We were even one of Dollywood’s bluegrass bands for two and a half years. I eventually got out of bluegrass and went on to sing country, even getting some label interest, but this music business is a tough gig. And after 20 years of driving at it pretty hard and giving it as much as my throat could handle, it just went south. I had stayed away from marriage and from having kids because I didn’t want to put anybody through the musician’s life. So I just decided to get a real job and settle down.” Dave ended up getting married and now has step-daughters. “I got to work, and got right with God, and everything was going along good.” That is, until four years ago when Dave says there was a divine intervention. “I was singing in church one Easter Sunday and Kenny O’Quinn (mandolin, manager and partner) and his wife visited church that Sunday. We had hung out together some but never played any music to-
gether. Well, the way he tells it, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place that day. Kenny said he leaned over and told his wife, ‘I’ve got to get this guy playing again; we’re going to make some music!”
Back In The Saddle
It took him a while though before Dave agreed to go along with it. “I finally agreed,” Dave said. “I figured we’d just play around here; some local gigs, you know. We invited his cousin Danny Ray Stiltner, who was a bass player, to help us start a band. For about six months we looked and looked, and went through person after person, but we couldn’t find the right fit.” At the time, Kenny was doing a lot of work filling in for other bands like Tommy Webb and Don Rigsby. The guys wanted to cut a demo CD of some traditional cover songs to use to help get them some gigs. Kenny was play-
ing a show in VA, and a guy named Matthew Cruby was there playing banjo as a fill-in that day too. So Kenny invited Matt over to help them with the recording they were putting together. “When he came over, he brought with him this 16 year old guitarist named Wesley Wolfe,” Dave recalls. “So we finished up our recording session and decided to jam a little while. We played two songs and all looked at each other … thinking, we’ve got something here. And that’s how this all began.”
“The band’s name, Republik Steele, serves as a tribute to the hardworking coal miners of the area. The fathers and grandfathers of three of the members worked for the same large mining company by the name of Republic Steel.”
One of Dave’s first musical influences was Bob Segar. Like any young boy, Dave admired his grandfather and spent any free time he had hanging out with him. “My grandfather was a 46 year underground coal miner in Southeastern Kentucky.
I’m telling you, he couldn’t hear thunder. But he was the biggest Bob Segar fan on the face of the planet. And on the days I didn’t have school and on the weekends,
I would hang out at his house. He had this old Ford LTD, and when I was little I’d set in his lap, and when I got older I’d set beside him; we would sit there and listen to Bob Segar as loud as it
And as of this writing, Dave is a 2nd round finalist for the IBMA Vocalist Of The Year award, and the band is a 2 n d round finalist for Emerging Artist Of The Year, and have been awarded an official IBMA showcase. For SPBGMA this past February, they were nominated for Male Vocalist Of The Year, and Most Entertaining Band. Not bad for guy who had given up on music.
Dave still works for a living, 12 hours a day, but a full time music career could not be ruled out. In the meantime though, Dave’s company has graciously embraced “I tell the guys in the band; be his pursuit of making music. who you are, and play your way. “Tim Hill, Tim Sure, it’s great to have heroes. But Mills, and Glen Mullins, the guys they already exist. Be original, I work for, have even if you’re influenced by some- been so good to me. They believe one else.” in me, and let me take off when I need to so I can would go. That’s how I learned get on the road and go play these to sing.” shows. It’s been awesome how they have supported me,” Dave Dave’s mom was a huge Statler said. Brothers fan, and he credits her for his country influences. “And Dave Adkins & Republik Steele’s dad was a Stanley Brothers fan; hard driving, soulful, bluegrass is so I grew up with an interesting part of the newest emerging mix of influences. Here’s the sound to have it’s roots in bluething, I sing like me. I don’t want grass music. It’s a fresh twist on to sound like anybody else. I tell the traditional, with progressive the guys in the band; be who you and even outlaw country influare, and play your way. Sure, it’s ences. Not unlike groups like The great to have heroes. But they alSteeldrivers, this five member ready exist. Be original, even if band is setting the stage for what you’re influenced by someone promises to be an exciting and enelse. That’s how we get most of ergetic side track to the tried and our sound, by playing our stuff true our way.”
The Music Is In Our Hands Now
bluegrass music has already veered off in a number of compelling directions, but always had its inventors around to represent that straight, ‘traditional’ path down the middle. Though some of the most prominent bluegrass pioneers ultimately took a more experimental route (Earl Scruggs Revue, anyone?), they are a link to the musical past, connecting us to that ‘traditional’ standard that many still believe to be unmatched. But right now that ‘s all changing.
tively young is growing up and perhaps even starting to feel old. It’s a transitional and significant time, as we see legends moving on, along with the fans that were most directly connected to their sound, the ones who fought for its preservation. We all miss the mystique of BIll Monroe, but that’s life; that’s what happens when things grow old. In some way it sets us free to appreciate these legends for what they are—innovators and artists— instead of holding on to some small part of their past, hoping for them to recreate it for us in person. Just like any other viable art form, bluegrass is growing, changing, evolving, and the legacy of innovation that once seemed a threat is now defining the music for a younger generation.
With Ralph Stanley announcing his farewell tour and with the recent passing of bluegrass titans Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, the presence of the bluegrass founders is fading, and a genre that’s still rela-
Most music historians agree that bluegrass was born when Earl Scruggs joined forces with Bill Monroe in 1945. Though the style was certainly incubating in previ-
Our guest writer is Chris Pandolfi, banjo player and one of the founding members of The In famous Stringdusters. He was also the keynote speaker at IBMA in 2011. He lives in Denver.
In its short, roughly 70 year life,
It Began With Bill
By Chris Pandolfi
ous years, this marked a significant leap forward for both the sound and popularity of the music. The standard of ‘traditional’ bluegrass was set. Fast forward 68 years and
they are not the ones defending some ‘traditional’ concept of the music. As has always been the case, professional bluegrass musicians young and old are overwhelmingly open-minded on the topic of musical evolution (it’s that blockbuster fact that the purists always manage to leave out). There are numerous examples including Ralph Stanley’s recent collaboration with Pretty Lights, Jesse McReynolds’ album of Grateful Dead music, the heavy influence of country music on the Osborne Brothers sound, and Wiseman’s upcoming album with Merle Haggard.
that standard is still pretty firmly intact to those within the community, despite the vibrant evolution that has been bustling right outside the gates.
But through it all, these names represent a link to a more ‘traditional’ past, remembered by many for their part in creating the bluegrass sound. Bobby’s current collaboration (The Masters of Bluegrass) with second generation all-stars JD Crowe, Del McCoury, Jerry McCoury and Bobby Hicks is a clear reminder that while the
Four first generation bluegrass figures are still performing: Ralph Stanley, Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman and Bobby Osborne. But
The Infamous Stringdusters
founders do venture outside bluegrass, they also bring us back, and fans covet the rare opportunity to experience the origins of the music. That’s how young bluegrass is! To many, the legends literally keep the past alive.
ers from all over the country. We (The Infamous Stringdusters) met several band-members, signed a record deal and won awards at the conference in years to come. Following that, we were beholden to the bluegrass crowd. We envisioned ourselves a modern derivative of bluegrass but couldn’t figure out how to find new crowds without alienating old ones. Ultimately we took a leap of faith —
one that has paid off, because it turns out that lots of people outside our community love bluegrass and all its musical relatives! A similar thing is happening within IBMA, which as of this year is moving to Raleigh and embracing a much broader spectrum of music. It’s true that the evolution of acoustic music is well underway, but it appears that only now are these new styles finding a meaningful way to be tied to one of their most significant ancestors—bluegrass.
How It’s Discovered
Moving forward, young people discovering this musical world will have less and less context for this ‘bluegrass dilemma,’ as figures like Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas represent a more modern, open-minded and popular version of the music. This is how young continued on page 17
Outside The Bounds
The examples of bluegrass icons venturing outside the genre are countless, but the reasons are simple: real artists strive to create and evolve, and they need to find an audience that will sustain them. Bluegrass has always struggled with commercialism, an obvious factor in the growth and development of any genre. Fans connected to that beautiful, original version of the music have a shockingly narrow definition of what bluegrass is and don’t want to see it change. The folk music boom of the 60’s-70’s was an obvious place for bluegrass musicians to find new fans, but it further fostered this hyper-opinionated version of fandom that sought purity and shunned commercialism. The opinion factor is exacerbated by the fact that so many die-hard fans are also part-time players, giving them a powerful sense of increased ownership over the music. They strive to preserve the art form, but in a way are doing just the opposite. You can’t fault them for loving the music, but bluegrass exists because it is amazing, not because its followers hoped to keep it a certain way. For at least a period in the early going, before a small genre’s available audience reaches critical mass, artists cater to audience opinions and growth can be stunted.
A New Emergence
But from my perspective, bluegrass is now emerging from this early phase. As the original innovators fade from prominence, so too do the fans who are most closely connected to them. Only a few short years ago I saw firsthand the influence of the traditional bluegrass audience, the dominant voice at the annual IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Conference and Awards Show. At that time (2006-7), the IBMA was the go-to resource for all kinds of talented and eclectic play-
Thanks to a new partnership with ReverbNation (www.reverbnation.com) we are honored to give you a peak at a few of the nation’s hardest working indie artists. Each month we’ll select one entry to showcase for you here. Enjoy! THIS MONTH’S FEATURE:
By Greg Tutwiler
Old Salt Union
FEATURE ARTISTS Old Salt Union have been
riding the wave of success this summer in their tour shuttle affectionately named Rosemary, enjoying their ten state summer tour. Evidence abound that when something clicks, it clicks. The origins of this quintet date to 2011 when buds Dustin Eiskant and Ryan Murphey played in a duo cover act called Auto Pilot. Later in the year piano player Justin Wallace joined in. The duo became a trio and began to piece together a couple of original tunes for the show. Ryan developed an interest in the banjo and began learning enough to be able to incorporate the instrument into the act. Justin took an interest in the mandolin and began moving away from the piano. The new instrumentation began shaping the sound that would become the Old Salt Union in 2012. “We were still a three piece band and began to record our first demo in John Brighton’s basement (new friend and violin player),” Ryan told me. “We jammed a few times and he would come and play a few songs here and there in some of our sets. That spring we asked Dustin’s cousin Jesse Farrar if he
would like to play a set with us as a five piece in our hometown of Belleville, IL. We played one set and immediately knew by the crowd’s response that we needed to make this permanent.” In August 2012 the guys played their first full show as Old Salt Union alongside Del McCoury, Emmit Nershi, and The Infamous String Dusters. With the band just celebrating their one year anniversary, they have already won two Indie Music Awards (Best Folk Song and Best World Song), shot their first video, and won a national battle of the bands contest landing them a spot on the main stage at Wakarusa Music Festival in Ozark, Arkansas. The guys have opened for Sam Bush, Del McCoury, The Hill Benders, Of Monsters, and others; and seem well on their way to becoming the main act. They released their debut album, Western Skies, in March 2013 and plan to be back in the studio to record their sophomore project in Nov/Dec 2013. Now playing 100% original material, Ryan says he doesn’t think they fall specifically in one category. “Some of our
songs are bluegrass, some are newgrass, and some popgrass. We even have a song or two written in Baroque style,” he said. Two of the five band mates are “full time” musicians, but Ryan exclaims, “I would not be surprised if we were all on that same boat by the time 2014 rolls around.” “Right now we have two people dedicated 100% to this and the other three are about 50%, due to the fact they have jobs to tend to. When we are all solely dependant upon music, the sky will be the limit. Our goals as a band are to travel the world and get our music into the minds of everyone, and make this our livelyhood. We want people to know that if you dedicate yourself to your passion that anything is possible ”
For more information about
Old Salt Union contact Ryan Murphey (618)558-2906 www.oldsaltunion.com www.facebook.com/oldsaltunion www.youtube.com/oldsaltunion www.reverbnation.com/oldsaltunion www.twitter.com/oldsaltunion www.instagram.com/oldsaltunion
Bookinginfo@oldsaltunion.com Listen for The Group on our radio station ...
Our Hands continued from page 15 people now discover bluegrass. Zooming out even further than that, we see the acoustic boom that includes bands like the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, a world
access/preserve the past, mixed with all the amazing things that happen when people learn music together by ear. Anyone exploring the instrument will have easy access to hours of Earl on video, and serious banjo players will always learn from Earl.
Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs that will inspire more banjo sales than Earl ever dreamed of. But for those who find their way back, Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs (and many more) will get the credit for kicking off this amazing streak of innovation, not just for that one version of bluegrass that they conjured up nearly 70 years ago. Great musicians will always gravitate to the simple, soulful perfection of bluegrass, assimilating the parts that appeal to them, mastering them and incorporating them into an array of musical styles. Good music lasts and informs what comes later, genres bleed together and new worlds are discovered— that’s how music works.
There’s No Need To Fear
With respect to the lasting significance of these old influences (some actually fear traditional bluegrass will disappear), it’s again important to consider just how young the genre is. Bluegrass music was conceived almost entirely in the era of recorded music. Our version of the ‘oral tradition,’ is actually a fascinating intersection of imitation and innovation. While we do learn much of the repertoire and style from jamming with and listening to other players, the genre is so young that we also have quality video/audio recordings of the founders honing their craft. These references are a great resource to
I was lucky to meet Earl Scruggs and hear him play live (with one my own bandmates!), and only a few years later he was gone. His work (and that of so many others) is done, and it was done very well—the rare perfection those legends achieved is what will keep the music alive above all else. In a few short years, a young person discovering bluegrass music won’t have the opportunity to experience the music’s founders first hand. But the influence of their sound remains, and the older it gets, the less burdened it is by the legacy of conformity and traditionalism that have followed it all these years. That’s what happens when a musical tradition grows old, and perhaps nothing feels that old until its creators are gone
We’d love to show up in your mail box six times a year!
The rich culture of Americana music is the fastest growing music today! Stay in touch with a subscription to Americana Rhythm. It’s still only $16. Send us your name and address along with your check or money order for $16 made out to Americana Rhythm, to PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812. (PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY) You can also subscribe Via PayPal on line at www.AmericanaRhythm.com
Thank you to Amy at The Bluegrass Situation for granting us permission to reprint Chris’ article. You can check out The Bluegrass Situation at www.TheBluegrassSituation.com.
the Shenandoah Music Trail
By Don DePoy PhD
It’s mid-summer and things
along the Shenandoah Music Trail are as musical as ever. The Red Wing Roots Music Festival at Natural Chimney was successful by any measure, and the
blessings that come from making music. If you are a nonmusician, it’s time to start playing.
commercial found on Youtube tells it all. (http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=deLyRL3Owyg). Hope to see you soon on the Shenandoah Music Trail. For more information about the Shenandoah Music Trail visit us on the web at www.shenandoahmusictrail.com or call Martha at 540-209-3540
promoters are looking forward to next year. New bands are coming to the front. Congratulations to the Judy Chops for being voted as the best Local Roots Band at the festival. Missed it? No worries; there are still a dozen or so music festivals to take in before the snow flies.
Local jammers are still picking at their favorite 25+ Shenandoah Valley jams. And there is a new old-time music jam in Harrisonburg, VA at the Bowl of Good (831 Mt Clinton Pike) every Wednesday evening from 7 – 9 PM. It’s worth going if you are picker or a listener. If you are a beginning jammer, it’s time to get out of the closet, off the couch, and get out there and socialize. Most jams are very friendly to newcomers, and many jammers have developed lifelong friendships at these events. That is one of the many
Uke’n It Up
Recently, Martha Hills and I had the extraordinary opportunity to teach beginning ukulele to more than twenty-five children between the ages of five and ten. As part of their ongoing music program, The BoxerWoodstock 2013 Festival in Lexington, VA gave ukes away to the first twenty-five children. The outcome is evident in the photo. Nothing delights us more than watching and being part of so many children enjoying their first steps as music makers. The uke is a perfect beginning instrument. It’s inexpensive and you can sign up for group lessons at many music stores, community colleges, or your local community center. There is no better way to learn this music than to just play. This popular national
By Stauff Riter
Carolyn and Daniel Routh formed Nu-Blu ten years ago in their home town of Silver City, NC. Daniel and Carolyn both had musical experience playing together in Christian Rock and Classic Rock bands together, but what they really wanted was to get back to their roots and start a bluegrass band. “We both knew that we wanted to make music our full time occupations,” Carolyn recalled, “and began working from day one with that goal in mind.” That was ten years, five CDs, and multiple IBMA nominations ago. Today they are on the road celebrating that success with a new CD, Ten, and a new single, “That Road.” They are doing a series of Sam Ash appearences and work shops as well in conjunction with The Ten Tour, sponsered by Peterson, QSC, D’Addario, and Sennheiser/Neumann.
comparisons to contemporary bluegrass. “That being said, a good song is a good song and when you find one,” Carolyn said. “It will tell you what it needs. We don’t really think about a style when we work out material. We let the song lead us and play from the heart.” Sounds like a great plan - and the new CD proves it’s working
I asked Carolyn what she thought made Nu-Blu different from other bluegrass bands. “Everything we do,” she said. “We are not trying to be the next anyone, just the first us. We have three lead singers in the band which gives us the ability to incorporate a variety of lead and harmony configurations. All the guys play multiple instruments which also serves to help keep things fresh. As well as the tradi-
tional guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass combo, we also do a large percentage of songs using two guitars, mandolin, bass, and no banjo.” The musical mission of Nu-Blu is to focus on choosing, recording, and performing music that creates an emotional connection with listeners. This is mostly achieved by the use of original material that is done acoustically, and draws
AUGUST Vinton Old Time Bluegrass Fest. August 16 - 18, 2013 Vinton, VA (540) 345-8548 Blue Ridge Music & BBQ Fest August 22 - 24, 2013 Harrisonburg, VA www.blueridgemusicandbbq.com Camp Barefoot Music Fest August 22 - 24, 2013 Bartow, WV www.campbarefoot.org Mountain Jamboree August 31, 2013 Massanutten, VA www.massresort.com/jamboree
SEPTEMBER Shenandoah Valley Music Fest August 30 - Sept. 1 2013 Orkney Springs, VA www.musicfest.org Interlocken Music Festival September 5 - 8, 2013 Arrington, VA www.interlockenfestival.com Poor Farm Fest III September 6 - 7, 2013 Williamsburg, WV www.poorfarmfest.com Grottoes Family Bluegrass Festival September 5 - 7, 2013 Grottoes, VA www.bluegrassingrottoes.com Rockbridge Mountain Music & Dance Festival September 6 - 7, 2013 Buena Vista, VA www.rockbridgefestival.org Pickin’ In The Panhandle September 6 - 9, 2013 Martinsburg, WV www.panhandlepickin.com
Hoppin’ John Old-Time & Bluegrass Fiddlers Convention September 19 - 21, 2013 Silk Hope, NC www.hoppinjohn.org Jumpin’ Bluegrass & Virginia State Bluegrass Championship September 12 - 15, 2013 Chesterfield, VA www.vafolkmusic.org Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion September 20 - 22, 2013 Bristol, VA www.bristolrhythm.com Good Times Tastes & Traditions September 21 - 22, 2013 Staunton, VA www.augustava.com Arcadia Bluegrass Festival September 19 - 21, 2013 Upperco, MD http://www.bluegrassville.com/arcadia/ homepgfall.htm Edinburg Ole Time Festival September 20 - 22, 2013 Edinburg, VA www.edinburgoletimefestival.org Virginia Chili, Brews, & Blues September 21, 2013 Waynesboro, VA www.virginiachili.com Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival September 26 - 28, 2013 Buena Vista, VA www.nothinfancybluegrass.com Watermelon Park Fest September 26 - 28, 2013 Berryville, VA www.watermelonparkfest.com Brew & Blues September 28, 2013 Front Royal, VA www.brewandblues.com Misty Mountain Music Festival September 27 - 29, 2013 Crozet, VA www.mistymountainmusicfestival.com
OCTOBER Aiken And Friends Fest October 4 - 5, 2013 Smith Field, VA www.aikenandfriendsfest.com Outerbanks Bluegrass Festival October 4 - 6 , 2013 Roanoke Island, NC www.bluegrassisland.com Mountain Magic Bluegrass Festival October 5, 2013 Buchanan, VA www.townofbuchanan.com Norton Wine & Bluegrass Festival October 5 - 6, 2013 Petersburg, VA www.chrysaliswine.com/ The Festy Experience October 11 - 13 , 2013 Nelson County, VA www.thefesty.com Shakorihills Grassroots Festival October 10 - 13, 2013 Pittsboro, NC www.shakorihillsgrassroots.org Richmond Folk Festival October 11 - 13, 2013 Richmond, VA www.richmondfolkfest.com Rockahock Family Bluegrass October 17 - 20, 2013 Lanexa, VA www.rockahockbluegrass.com 40th Home Craft Days Festival October 18 - 20, 2013 Big Stone Gap, VA www.homecraftdays.org Blue Ridge Folk Life Festival October 26 , 2013 Ferrum, VA www.blueridgeinstitute.org
Rockin’ Woodstock The Woodstock Farmer’s Market is
showing the world how it’s done. Midway through their second year at gorgeous new digs within Fort Valley Nursery, the Market opens with a smile every Saturday. Cheerful merchants and plentiful fresh produce and handicrafts are displayed with pride, rain or shine. The Nursery has provided the Market with sunshine-filled space under one of their grand pavilions. Fantastic foods with a Smile every Saturday isn’t a new concept.
By Don Challe
more social environment in Europe sometimes lost in the fast-paced anonymous world of today. “We used to know our neighbors, get together, chat, share the good times and sometimes the bad. The music brings us together ”
You may ask yourself; what makes THIS Market so special.
It’s the Music.
There is real musical talent in the Shenandoah Valley – as if you haven’t heard – and the folks at the Nursery find some of the best to play every Saturday. Starting around ten the Market rings with the vigorous music of bands such as Marv Ashby and High Octane or Chelsea McBee and the Random Assortment. Market visitors are treated to a three-way delight with the smell of fresh bread and cookies, baskets piled high with veggies, endless Nursery flowers and landscaping features, and the spirited hum of real Americana music. Good Cheer reigns and that makes it easy for visitors to spend money. “We wanted to offer our customers something different than what they get at the Big Box Stores,” states Terry Fogle, Manager of the Fort Valley Nursery in Woodstock. His efforts together with those of Shelley Long of the Woodstock Farmer’s Market have blossomed into a regional attraction. People from miles – many miles – away gather at the Nursery’s coffee garden to enjoy the pleasant setting with live music. Given the demands of today’s working world, the Market is often the only chance people get to gather and socialize. For the many weekenders who populate the Woodstock area, this is a welcome departure from the drone of city life. “We drive twelve miles to get here every week. Where we come from, that would be twenty traffic lights, each way. The place is worth it. Everyone is happy and we feel good just being here,” observes one weekly visitor. This sentiment is shared among many. In between sets the musicians are completely accessible and friendly. It’s clear they are proud of what they contribute to the atmosphere and it shows in their willingness to please or take special requests. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Black Sabbath on a Banjo! In just two seasons the Market and Nursery has become a true melting pot of Artists, Musicians, Farmers and enthusiastic patrons. Music stimulates a social culture. “People just talking to one another . . . that may be a lost art form,” remarks a local artist, one who remembers a
Music From The National Scene
Music From Your Neighbors
welcome to our latest edition of SPINS! How can these guys keep making such great music? Wow! Grab your iPad or Smart Phone and dial up some of these fine folks. We bet you love them all - we do!
Of course, soon you’ll be able to hear cuts from these groups featured on our Internet radio station, Americana House Party as well. You can turn us on from the home page of our web site at www.AmericanaRhythm.com. Uncle Woody, The Spin Doctor
Alan Bibey & Wayne Benson The Mandolin Chronicles www.pinecastlemusic.com Take two mandolin greats in Alan Bibey and Wayne Benson, put them togerher on onece CD, and you get an all star recording. These guys sure know how to make that Gibson sing
Guy Clark My Favorite Picture Of You www.guyclark.com Considered by many a songwriter’s songwriter, Guy Clark releases his first studio album in years with My Favorite Picture Of You. Grab a cold one and head out to the fireside - this one will entertain you for quite a while
Chris Jones & The Night Drivers
Della Mae This World Oft Can Be
Ron Block Walking Song
Lonely Comes Easy www.chrisjonesgrass.com Sirus XM listerners know Chris Jones well - but did you know he’s out with a new CD? Along with on-air pal Ned Luberecki and the rest of the gang, they’ve settled into the new grass scene nicely
www.dellamae.com An interesting new trend recently is the all girl group and this quintet of gals from Boston, Mass are leading the way. Della Mae is contemporary, fresh, and full of harmony. Keep an eye on these chicks, this is good stuff
www.ronblock.com For 20 years now, Ron Block has helped Alison Krauss shape the bluegrass world. Clearly a proven performer in his own right, Ron’s new CD, Walking Song stands alone as one to add to your collection. You’ll like this, no doubt
Steep Canyon Rangers Tell The Ones I Love
Mike Scott & Friends Home Sweet Home
Burning Bridget Cleary Pressed For Time
www.steepcanyon.com With the kind of success like the Steep Canyon have had, there’s only one way to go out; as in different directions. This new collection, recorded live with few over-dubs, reflects their high-energy, freewheeling approach to their craft. Different, but good
www.mikescottmusic.com Performing since he was 10, Mike Scott has 40 years behind him as a professional entertainer. For his new CD, Civil War Era Songs, He gathered a bunch of his friends like Adam Steffey, Tim Stafford, and Ben Issacs for
Michael Martin Murphey Red River Drifter
Underhill Rose Something Real
The Definitive Doc Watson Anthology Collection
In the 1970s, Rolling Stone Magazine called Machel Martin Murphy “one of the best songwriters in the country.” His new CD, Red R iver Drifter, is evidence that he’s still an amazing songwriter. His cowboy flavored melodies are quite hypnotic
The third of our girl groups this issue, Underhill Rose, the trio from Asheville, NC, have found a unique blend of harmonies combined with bluegrass, Americana, blues and soul. Their “heartfelt soul” is spot on. Here’s another one for your collection
www.terrybaucom.com One of the founding members of Boone Creek with Ricky Scaggs, Terry Baucom has become one of the industry’s prolific banjo players. His new CD pairs him with some of the great vocalists for a IBMA nominated collection
You can send new Americana CD releases for consideration to PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812
www.sugarhillrecords.com Doc’s only been gone a year, but his music lives on in this new collection, The Definitive Doc Watson. His influence will remain evident in flat picking circles for years to come. This is a must for Doc fans
www.coaltowndixie.com Another of our all girl groups this issue, Coaltown Dixie is making a name for themselves as they roll out of the Appalachian hills of Eastern Kentucky, with their high energy country grass flavor
This high energy Celtic Folk band from Harleysville PA is turning heads with their fourth release, Pressed For Time. Hip, Haunting at times, and fast paced; their harmonies and hand for the craft make this a group to keep an eye on for sure
Terry Baucom Never Thought Of Looking Back
Coaltown Dixie Hotter Than A Coal Burnin’ Fire
www.hammertowne.com Another hot group from Eastern Kentucky, relative newcomer Hammertowne is quickly establishing themselves as one of the new traditional based bluegrass groups to be reckoned with. Another one for the radar
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