The Bluegrass Standard - July 2022

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Keith Barnacastle • Publisher

The Bluegrass Standard is a life-long dream of Keith Barnacastle, who grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. For three years, Keith brought the Suits, Boots and Bluegrass Festival to Meridian. Now, with the Bluegrass Standard, Keith’s enthusiasm for the music, and his vision of its future, reaches a nationwide audience every month!

Richelle Putnam • Managing Journalist Editor

Richelle Putnam is a Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Teaching Artist/Roster Artist (Literary), a Mississippi Humanities Speaker, and a 2014 MAC Literary Arts Fellowship recipient. Her non-fiction books include Lauderdale County, Mississippi; a Brief History, Legendary Locals of Meridian, Mississippi and Mississippi and the Great Depression.

Rebekah Speer • Creative Director

Rebekah Speer has nearly twenty years in the music industry in Nashville, TN. She creates a unique “look” for every issue of The Bluegrass Standard, and enjoys learning about each artist. In addition to her creative work with The Bluegrass Standard, Rebekah also provides graphic design and technical support to a variety of clients.

Shelby C. Berry • Journalist

Shelby Campbell is a writer and designer whose heart beats for creativity. A native of rural Livingston, AL, she found her passion in journalism and design at The University of West Alabama, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. Shelby also has her own photography business.


Susan Marquez • Journalist

Susan Marquez is a freelance writer based in Madison, Mississippi and a Mississippi Arts Commission Roster Artist. After a 20+ year career in advertising and marketing, she began a professional writing career in 2001. Since that time she has written over 2000 articles which have been published in magazines, newspapers, business journals, trade publications.

Stephen Pitalo • Journalist

Stephen Pitalo has been an entertainment journalist for more than 30 years, having interviewed everyone from Joey Ramone to Bill Plympton to John Landis. He is the world’s leading authority on the The Golden Age of Music Video (1976-1993), mining inside stories from interviews 70+ music video directors and countless artists of the pre-internet music era.

Kara Martinez Bachman • Journalist

Kara Martinez Bachman is an author, editor and journalist. Her music and culture reporting has appeared in dozens of publications and she’s interviewed many performers over the years, from local musicians to well-known celebrities. She’s a native of New Orleans and lives just outside the city with her husband, two kids, and two silly mutts.

Candace Nelson • Journalist

Candace Nelson is a marketing professional living in Charleston, West Virginia. She is the author of the book “The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll.” In her free time, Nelson travels and blogs about Appalachian food culture at Find her on Twitter at @Candace07 or email



Amanda Gore

Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars Multi-instrumentalist and former Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars member Amanda Gore is putting her energy back into the organization that helped foster her into the musician she is today. As Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars Southeastern Regional Director, Amanda is an advisor for the kids in her region and focuses on facilitating festivals to provide them exposure and opportunities.


bluegrass legend Doodle Thrower is buried in the local Hollywood Cemetery. Inspired by her town’s history, her grandparents Garner and Kathy Maddox, and bluegrass great Rhonda Vincent, Amanda prides herself in performing crisp, harddriving, traditional bluegrass music. “I’ve always enjoyed music and grew up in bluegrass music,” said Amanda. “My grandparents had a band for more than 25 years. I was always at the bluegrass music festivals when I was a kid! My grandparents were responsible for drawing me into music. My grandfather put a guitar in my hand as soon as I was old enough to know better.”

“One of the best choices I ever made was contacting John Colburn about joining TBS,” said Amanda. “Who knew I’d gain such dear friends for life. I’ve always enjoyed TBS, and I was truly honored when John reached out about becoming a regional director. Without young people involved, there will be no bluegrass. It’s a must to keep the music alive!”

“I don’t imitate other people or how they do things,” said Amanda. “My band and I simply put our twist on our music, and I believe that’s what really makes us different.”

Raised in the small town of Tallapoosa, Georgia, Amanda has played music since she was ten. Her love of bluegrass started with the classic song Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Amanda is proud to be from a town rich in musical history, where

After her grandfather passed when she was only 13 years old, Amanda decided to honor his memory by playing his favorite music. She started her band, Amanda Gore & the Red, White & Bluegrass, and hasn’t turned back.

“As a bluegrass promoter, I was already helping recruit young people into TBS. So when John called to tell me about the position, it was the perfect opportunity for me,” said Amanda. “I love not only promoting bluegrass, but I love to see and be able to recruit the young people. It reminds me how my grandparents roped me into the bluegrass world.” “I decided you can only do one thing with instruments—play them. I’ve been performing and playing nonstop for nine years,” said Amanda. Amanda’s band plays gospel, classic country, and, of course, bluegrass music, allowing her to share her talent across multiple genres of music.

With a drive and passion for hard work and bluegrass music, Amanda hopes to one day make music her full-time career, allowing her to do what she loves. “Playing bluegrass with my family and friends means the world to me. There is simply no other feeling like it,” said Amanda. “It can certainly make you smile even on your darkest days! I pray God will allow me to play the rest of my life.”

“Playing live with my band is electrifying and magical! It’s a feeling like no other. Most people don’t forget about us! The bond I have with my guys when we play is amazing,” said Amanda. An endorsed artist for both Black Diamond Strings and Paige Capos, Amanda is recognized for her talent in her band and as a solo artist, making way for herself in bluegrass while investing in others. For seven years, she has booked bands and hosted festivals and special events at a local music venue, The Outpost Music Barn, in Waco, Georgia. Her experience working with bands and artists like Edgar Loudermilk, Larry Sparks, and Ralph Stanley II at this venue is another reason why John Colburn felt that she would be the perfect choice as a regional director for TBS.




From studying international politics and earning a business degree in international finance at Wesleyan University in Connecticut to being a full-time musician in Colorado, Chris Thompson’s life has been one heck of a ride. Now he has two bands that both bear the Coral Creek name. One is an electric band with bass, drums, keyboards, and saxophone, while the other is the Coral Creek String Band, a more traditional bluegrass band. Both have hints of the Caribbean, a throwback to Chris’s time in the Virgin Islands. He refers to it as “Colo-Caribbean newgrass music.”

Growing up in a Minnesota home with both parents playing the piano, Chris became disenchanted with the instrument. “My mom taught piano lessons in our home, and I got tired of hearing kids playing the same song over and over again. My dad played recreationally, and he could make up songs, which was kind of fun. But I ended up playing the cello in the school orchestra.” By the time he was in high school, Chris had picked up his first guitar, and he never looked back. “I had been following Jerry Garcia. That’s what got me into 10

music. I followed him from the time I was 13, in 1983, until he died in 1995.” Chris attended one hundred Grateful Dead concerts, selling t-shirts and pimiento cheese sandwiches to support his concert habit. When he was in college, the Jerry Garcia Band did an east coast tour, and Chris attended twenty of those shows. “I discovered Flatt and Scruggs in

the college library,” he says. “That laid the foundation for my music today.” After college, Chris moved to New York, then overseas. He played in an Irish band in Botswana and then moved to Mexico. After settling in Golden, Colorado, Chris picked with other musicians and attended bluegrass festivals. He picked up the banjo and says he had more banjo lessons than guitar lessons when all was said and done. “I think my deciding moment came at the Telluride

Bluegrass Festival. After Jerry Garcia died, I fell into Sam Bush in a big way. He was my new man.” Chris began professionally playing while living in the Virgin Islands in 2003. “I was in a band with my wife, Susannah, and another couple. We called ourselves Steel River. But there was no real river, so we changed it to Steel Creek. And because we were on an island, that morphed into Coral Creek, and that name stuck.” Chris says a guy who played the steel pan would sometimes join them. “He could play any kind of music on that thing.”

Chris has been a professional consultant for many years, but in the last few years, that tapered off, and he put more emphasis on his musical career. In 2015 he began playing with Bill McKay, a Colorado native who had played with the Derek Trucks Band and Colorado-based Leftover Salmon. “I’m probably a more active songwriter because of Bill.” Chris has recorded several albums, both with Coral Creek and Coral Creek String Band, and a solo project. Bill Nershi of the String Cheese Incident produced the first two projects,

The Road Ahead (2010) and 40 Years (2012). “Bill has been a great resource and a good friend.” Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth produced Coral Creek (2015) and Free Dog (2018). With a mix of musical genres, the album is a delicious gumbo of newgrass, jam band, Caribbean and Colorado sounds that pleases a wide variety of music lovers. Songs from the Free Dog album are equally appreciated in a honkytonk as in a beach bar. During the Covid break, Chris hooked up with musician Todd Schaeffer. “We have been doing a series of socially distanced Covid concerts around Colorado. We

have had an enjoyable time doing that.” Chris stays busy playing with the “string band” and “the big band,” as he calls it, around Colorado. “I enjoy them both. The big band can get a little more into the Caribbean sound, but the string band lends itself to being more spontaneous because there is no equipment to hook up. I love that flexibility.” Coral Creek String Band has half an album in the can produced during the pandemic. “That’s five tracks ready to go. We will get the string band into the studio by the end of the summer and release the new album toward the end of this

year or the first of next year. In the meantime, we will release some singles starting at the end of the summer.” Susannah joins Chris for special appearances but prefers mothering their three children to being in a band. “We do write together, He says. “She is pretty impressive.” Their children seem to be musically inclined as well. “My youngest son is playing the guitar and has even played a little with his brother, who plays mandolin. So, we have crossed a bridge in getting them to play together. Our daughter, our oldest child, also plays guitar. She’s something.”


Stephen Pitalo

Cedar Hill 12

Frank Ray, the founder of Cedar Hill, is not a fan of long band names. “The first bluegrass band I had was a long rambling “mountain boys” kind of name,” Ray grumbled. “That was in 1967. I was never completely happy with that name and wanted something more original. In 1972 we were playing a Fourth of July picnic in Cedar Hill, Missouri. A young banjo player who later joined the group was beginning to play. I asked him if he would like to join us on stage. He did, and as he made his way to the stage, he tripped and fell. He got up, composed himself, and proceeded to come up and play the fire out of a banjo tune. As we were going home, I noticed clumps of grass clinging to his banjo case from the fall he had taken. I looked at his case and remarked, ‘At least you are taking some Cedar Hill grass home with you.’ It then hit me: that would be a good name for the band, Cedar Hill Grass.” They went by Cedar Hill Grass until around 1978 when they dropped the word ‘grass,’ leaving the band name Cedar Hill.” Cedar Hill first formed in 1967 when Frank Ray and his uncle began playing local shows in the Ozarks along with four others, with twin fiddles as a key part of their sound. The uncle left the band, and Frank continued with the group and has played almost continuously since. Though personnel changes have taken place over the 55-year history of the band, Cedar Hill has stayed consistent and devoted to its Ozark roots and spirited brand of hard-driving bluegrass. Cedar Hill has played everywhere, from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, to the Performing Arts Center of London, England. The National Traditional Country Music Association Hall of Fame inducted the band in 2008, and Cedar Hill was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. In a childhood spent traveling between Texas and Missouri, Ray listened to the Carter Family and fifties country music and fired up an old Victrola to play just three vinyl offerings: Bill Monroe, Jimmie Rodgers, and Hank Williams. “Of course, as a young teen, I got caught up in fifties rock ‘n’ roll. I was always a big fan of blues music.” 13

Ray said. “I formed a small rock ‘n’ roll band with some other friends in the eighth grade. From that time on, I was in a band. I switched to country, then blues, and finally came back to bluegrass by my early twenties.” Often known for their 1976 song “False Hearted Love,” the Cedar Hill song “Pearl” has received notice in recent years as a simple song with a timeless message. “This song is a story about the father of a friend of mine who lived just a few miles from where I grew up in Shannon County, Missouri,” Ray explained. “He was an avid fox hunter, as were many in our region. His favorite hound was a dog named Pearl. His son Darren Haverstick wrote the song, and I loved it from the start. It is a beautifully written song about a man and his dog. That is true life in the Ozarks.” Ray considers the Ozarks God’s artistry at its best


and daily inspiration for life and songwriting. “I pray I never lose my awe and love for the Ozarks. I love nature in general. Though many mountainous regions of America share much in the way of lifestyles, the Ozarks have traditions and history that make that region unique. The Ozarks hold an endless supply of stories yet to be told.” He loves what he does, but some days it’s a bit harder for Ray to keep playing than others. “I have quit several times but unsuccessfully,” Ray said. “I suppose I feel like my story is not yet finished. I feel the most satisfaction we can get is knowing that maybe you contributed at least in a small way to the music you love. I simply love writing, playing, and singing bluegrass music. I have been blessed with good health, so Lord willing, I will keep writing, picking, and singing bluegrass for at least a while longer.”


PreddyFest August 5th & 6th, 2022 - Franklinton, NC

25th Annual Bluegrass Festival A Family Tradition

Featuring: Friday, Aug. 5th

The Grascals

Junior Sisk Band

Alan Bibey & Grasstowne

Ashley Watkins & Andrew Small & The Buffalo Mountain Boys Junior Sisk Band Nick Chandler & Delivered


Constant Change

Starlett & Big John

High Fidelity

Saturday, Aug. 6th Constant Change Starlett & Big John Alan Bibey & Grasstowne


Ashlee Watkins & Andrew Small & The Buffalo Mountain Boys

Nick Chandler & Delivered Lineup subject to change

The Grascals High Fidelity

Beautiful Scenic Setting On The Tar River In Franklin County, NC Makes For Great Starlett Camping, & Big John Picking, And Bluegrass Fun!

No alcohol near stage area No profanity No glass Containers

PreddyFest reserves the right to dismiss anyone, for any reason, at any time, from festival grounds! All rules will be strictly enforced!


2284 Green Hill Road Franklinton, NC 27525 (919) 494-7471 Or email us @

4 miles north on Green Hill Road from Hwy 56 3-Day Advance Ticket $60 (Cutoff July 23rd)

Weekend ticket @ gate Friday only ticket Saturday only ticket


$70 $35 $35

- Adults only on golf carts. -NO ATV’s!

Jam sessions everywhere 30’ X 80’ “Picking” Shelter Shaded Stage Area Hot Showers Designated Quiet Generator Areas (after 11pm) Free camping with weekend ticket, sorry no hookups Camping allowed starting 8AM July 30th Kids 13 & under free

Excellent Homemade Food! Event Hosted by Rodney Preddy

Rain Or Shine


Stephen Pitalo

Jeremy Garrett 18

As fiddle player, singer & songwriter in the GRAMMY Award-winning group The Infamous Stringdusters, Jeremy Garrett helped that band break onto the national scene in 2007, scooping up 3 International Bluegrass Music Association awards, including Album and Song of the Year. Since then, the Stringdusters became a national ambassador for progressive bluegrass, playing to a club, theater, and festival audiences around the country. Still, Garrett hasn’t limited himself to just Stringduster affiliation. Releasing his solo effort River Wild in March, Garrett keeps busy with his solo band as much as his original band, which keeps the man his fans call “G-Grass” or “Freedom Cobra” for his dynamic stage presence. He wows listeners by using electronic effects to layer and loop multiple instruments and vocals. This second solo album is a true sonic exploration of everything from mountain-loyal hyperspace fiddle to 1990s Seattle sounds. You can see him dropping into all-star band line-ups ranging from funk music to traditional bluegrass at any moment. With a bluegrass musician father, Garrett started playing the fiddle at age three and sang a cappella gospel music in church in his youth. “My dad was really into Flatt & Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, and Bill Monroe and was a bluegrass guitar player/bass player,” Garrett explained. “It was natural for me to get into bluegrass because of my parents’ influence. I learned to live the music for myself over the years, studying various musicians.” Growing up in Caldwell, Idaho, Garrett experienced the only bluegrass-type event in the area: the old-time national fiddlers contest in Weiser, Idaho. “I never was really into the contest scene, but I loved hanging out and jamming with the hippies in the sticker bushes during that event. That’s where I got my chops for improv on the fiddle.” Forming the Infamous Stringdusters in the early 2000s in Nashville after his band had broken up, he freelanced for a couple of years around the Nashville area. “This turned out, of course, to be a great thing for me, and I played with some amazing folks around the Nashville area and was touring nationally. One of the bands I freelanced with was Ronnie Bowman. His band at the time was The Committee.” Garrett also met Andy Hall and Jesse Cobb. “We knew Chris Pandolfi and Andy Falco from the northeast area,” he added, “and we ended 19


up putting the band together while we were in Nashville.” With a flair for fiddle pyrotechnics, Garrett explored his more intimate side as a songwriter, contributing several songs to the Stringdusters, including the title track for their 2014 album “Let It Go”; the song won first place in the 2014 USA Songwriting Competition’s folk category. With his collaborations with Jon Weisberger, Josh Shilling, Darrell Scott, Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers, Becky Buller, and more, he’s a prolific musician with more than just great

chops. “I have used sonic effects for quite some time in my shows now, probably a decade or so,” Garrett explained his affinity for altering his sound with technical assistance. “I enjoy experimenting and trying things that for years had just been used by mostly electric guitar players.” The record, Circles, is loosely based on his solo looping project show, employing both sonic effects & elements of his singer-songwriter talents. However, the new record River Wild has fantastic guests like Barry Bales, Alan Bibey, Seth Taylor, Lou Reid,

Josh Shilling, Travis Book, Andy Hall, Russ Carson, Gena Britt, and Ryan Cavanaugh. “It has been a very explorative journey finding out what effects work best on the fiddle. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the sounds that work right. It’s very satisfying when you find the coolest sounds and are able to use them practically in the show. I try to make them as unique as my style of playing.” Whether it’s the Stringdusters or his new combo, The Jeremy Garrett Bluegrass Band, Garrett has no intention of stopping.


Susan Marquez


An empty platter, once filled with tiny Lit’l Smokie sausages on toothpicks, was the inspiration for the name of a popular band by the same name. The Lil Smokies gelled as a band during their first paid gig at the Lumberjack Saloon outside Missoula, Montana. “We still didn’t have a band name, and we were as ostensibly green as they come,” recalls band member Andy Dunnigan. “The bar cooked us up an egregious amount of tiny Lil Smokey sausages, served up on toothpicks. After the

a living around Whitefish, Montana. “There were always instruments and songs strewn all over the house ever since I can remember. At a very early age, words like ‘gig’ and ‘soundcheck’ were implemented into my vernacular.” Andy sings and plays the dobro for The Lil’ Smokies. Jake Simpson, who plays fiddle for the band, started playing the fiddle around Oklahoma when he was five. Matthew (The Rev) Rieger played music at church growing up, and he now sings and plays guitar with the band. Rounding out the

gig, everyone wanted to know the name of the band. We looked behind us at this empty silver platter of toothpicks and jokingly told the crowd our name was ‘The Lil Smokies.’ They laughed, and the name stuck.”

band is Jean-Luc Davis on upright bass and Caleb Dostal on the banjo.

The band started back in the winter of 2009 in Missoula. The original six members met at a party near the campus of the University of Montana. “I was a sophomore at the time,” says Andy. “We began meeting in standard garage-band style; then we were constantly busking and eventually got a few paid gigs. We were hooked. I never finished college, and the rest was history.” All the band members grew up with musical backgrounds. Andy’s father played music for 22

The band members all get along well. “We see each other as much as we see our girlfriends, so it’s necessary we all get along,” says Andy. “Everyone in the band is truly as good of a human being as they are a musician.” The band plays about one hundred shows a year, putting them on the road for about 160 days a year when they are super busy. They travel primarily by air in the spring and summer, and in the fall and winter, they all hop into a 12-passenger sprinter van. “We try hard not to inflict injury upon one another!” Some favorite venues to play are their standard venues: Brooklyn Made in Brooklyn, New York, The Chapel in San

Francisco, and the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. “We also love to play festivals, including Telluride, Strings & Sol, and Under the Big Sky.” Andy and Caleb still reside in Missoula, but the other band members are spread out. “We still loosely say we are based out of Missoula and will always be proud to be a Montana band.” Andy says the band’s strong suit is that they are not easily categorized. “We will play straight-up rock and roll, subtle lyrically-driven folk songs, and straightahead traditional bluegrass music. We are never bored if we are genre-hopping, and if we are not bored, the audience usually isn’t either.” While the band primarily plays original music written by Andy, Rev, and Jake, Andy says they are unafraid to season their sets with a few covers. Asked if he has a favorite song, Andy says he doesn’t necessarily have one song he likes the best. “Any given song

we play during our set can have an emotional impact; it depends on what the weather is like in my personal life, or with someone else in the band, or even the state of the world. There have been plenty of times in this last year I’ve been moved to tears by certain songs of ours.” While music can be uplifting, Andy sighs, saying music can also be heavy during challenging times. The Lil Smokies have two albums for sale on their website. Changing Shades was released in 2017 and is available on vinyl. Their latest album, Tornillo, also on vinyl, was released in 2020. Andy says he draws inspiration from any band that has stayed together and cultivated a sustainable full-time life out on the road. “We are all full-time musicians.” Asked if reality weren’t an issue, Andy says he would love to play in Egypt, at or in one of the pyramids. “Or I’d like to play in space. Zero gravity bluegrass.” 23

It’s always been hard to get a foothold in the music business, but these days, the landscape is ever-changing and expert advice is worth its weight in gold. That’s where music PR professional Maria Ivey comes in. She’s the owner of Nashville’s IVPR, a public relations firm that aids a varied roster of artists, including bluegrass heavyhitters such as Del McCoury. Her list includes artists who connect to – and reflect – her philosophy for growing careers and expanding audiences. According to Ivey, recent changes require that artists roll with the punches and evolve as the industry faces both hardships and new advances.


“The media landscape coming out of Covid looks totally different than before. As publicists, I’d say we are used to constant change, but this is a new one for us— for everybody, really,” Ivey said. “Longer lead times, a very saturated market, staff furloughs or outlet closures, slashed freelance budgets… all obstacles or opportunities unique to this season.”

audiences?’ I believe in the power of a well-told story,” she added. “Each client, each record, each tour has a unique story. It’s our job to tell it in a way the intended audience can receive.”

For Ivey, a vital component of promotions is that each act has a story. She calls it “narrative-based public relations.”

She became a “storyteller” when IVPR came into existence in 2019. She wasn’t fresh to this kind of environment; she’d worked in entertainment PR as an intern to Tamara Saviano, who provided management and public relations for Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, and Foster & Lloyd.

“With our clients,” she explained, “no matter if this is their first record or fifteenth, we are asking ourselves and them, ‘what’s the story here?’ and ‘How can we connect different parts of your story to specific

“I grew up outside Nashville, so to me, as a kid, the local music industry meant only radio country. She [Saviano] introduced me to Texas country, Americana, bluegrass, and this whole world of roots music. I’m

Kara Martinez Bachman

Maria Ivey


forever grateful.” She said she had a “cool full-circle moment” last year when this former boss asked Ivey to do PR for her Guy Clark documentary. “The film was beautiful and went on to win awards at the SXSW Film Festival and was given much critical acclaim,” Ivey explained. “It’s not every day your mentor turns around and hires you to work on their life’s work.” In addition to her work at IVPR, there are two organizations that Ivey likes to promote to musicians; they both aim to improve the lives of music industry performers. Those two are the Music Health Alliance (MHA) and Backline. “MHA’s mission is to ‘Heal the Music’ by providing access to health care through services that protect, direct, and connect music professionals with medical and financial solutions,” she said. “Backline connects music industry professionals with mental health and wellness resources.” “Both organizations are run by smart, kind, and truly salt-of-the-earth people. Any musician or music industry person in need of help, I’d encourage you to reach out to either or both,” she added. Understanding that those new to the business need all the help they can get, Ivey was glad to share a few tricks of the trade. She offered the following tips to musicians just starting. “I’d suggest spending time really honing your story on paper,” she said. “Get your bio, both long-form and boilerplate, really dialed-in. Hire a bio writer if you need help. If you can’t speak quickly and eloquently about who you are, what you sound like … how can anyone else?”

Ivey suggests new artists get involved by participating in or attending conferences such as IBMA, the Folk Alliance International Conference, and AmericanaFest. “All of these conferences are definitely of the ‘you get out what you put in’ kind. So, I’d suggest plugging yourself in, saying yes to everything, doing the late night and early morning hangs, playing the late showcase slot, going to the panels, and doing the oneon-one mentorship program. The first year you build a network, and the second year you have a road map,” she advised. “The biggest mistake I see young bands or artists make,” she said, “is to rush the release of an album. Take your time, build a team, tease the record out on DSPs, and have a tour going. A new album is the artist’s biggest asset. Use it wisely. And strategically.” Many are already fans of IVPR clients, wellknown musicians such as Del McCoury, The Travelin’ McCourys, Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Sierra Hull, or Jamestown Revival. When asked if there’s a burgeoning IVPR client bluegrass fans should take a listen to, Ivey suggests Kentucky duo, The Local Honeys. “I’m obsessed with the new self-titled album from The Local Honeys,” Ivey said. “It’s a modern-ish take on old-time/Appalachian music. This is a songwriting record for me; talk about a masterclass in storytelling. And we should all be paying attention to whatever Sierra Hull is doing. She’s a force of nature.” Ivey recommends seeing Hull live at any chance you get.

“We are proud to represent the clients we represent,” Ivey added. “I do think – back to the narrative thing – that I’m attracted to clients who have a really strong sense of the story they want to tell. It’s definitely a quality over quantity mentality at IVPR. You can’t She said the same goes for photos, suggesting pitch something you’re not excited about.” there should always be new photos for “every tour, every album, every step.” 26

That “quality” thing has an impact and allows IVPR to keep growing…but in the right way. “Every time our internal team expands, we evolve a bit to each new hire’s strengths,” Ivey said. “That’s exciting to me. It’s no longer just my musical tastes, preferences, strengths—the firm becomes a collection of everybody’s strengths.”


Susan Marquez

Amanda Anne Platt &

The Honeycutters

As a child, Amanda Anne Platt spent time writing poetry. “Bad poetry. The kind of poetry you throw away,” she laughs. “Poetry was always very cathartic for me. It was an effective way for me to work things out.” Her bad poetry writing led her to a path of songwriting. Impressive songs. Songs she now records with her band, The Honeycutters. “I grew up in a small town in New York and was raised in a musical family,” says Amanda. “My parents were music appreciators, and my dad was a musician. He played the guitar and harmonica, and he was a collector of music. He had a great collection of albums, mostly country, and blues. My older brother was always in a band when I was growing up.” Amanda began her musical journey by playing the flute. “I played from the time I was in elementary school on into high school, I suppose. I enjoyed it, but it was not what I really wanted to do.” She began playing the guitar, and when she was in college in Saratoga Springs, New York, she wandered into a used instrument store. “The owner talked me into buying a banjo. It had open G tuning, and the store’s owner showed me how to play it.” That was the window to Amanda’s real musical journey. At age 18 or 19, she had written one song. “I was proud of it,” she says. “I went to an open mic night at a bar, and it was a disaster. I was shaking, and I couldn’t get the words out. But when the night was over, I decided I wasn’t going to quit.” Admitting she didn’t thrive in college, Amanda says she sought the outside influences she found at open mic nights at Café Lena. It was there that she met a nurturing community of songwriters and singers. “I needed that encouragement. The songwriters there encouraged me to keep trying.” With a bit more confidence under her belt, Amanda moved to Asheville, North Carolina, fifteen years ago for several reasons. “I wanted to learn how to build guitars and found a luthier I could apprentice with. Also, I knew Asheville had a strong music scene.” Amanda’s first order of business was to find a place to play her music. “I stayed in a hostel the first month I was in Asheville, and the Westville Pub was directly across the street. They had an open mic night, so that’s where I began playing.” As fate would have it, it’s where she met the first members of The Honeycutters.” And Amanda did learn and built one guitar and did repairs on a few more. “I built a jumbo acoustic guitar that I played until a couple of years ago. It was really big, and it hurt my arm. A friend gave me a Gibson LG, 28

which is what I play now.” As she has matured, Amanda says her songwriting has evolved. “When I was in my early twenties, my songs were a bit angry. As I’ve aged, the things I am trying to figure out in life are different. Now I write about how to be a good human and forgiveness. This world is a crazy place, and there is certainly no shortage of inspiration.” Amanda had to learn to manage her time with a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and another on the way in November. “I used to have vast swaths of time, and writing was a part of my normal day. But I’m at the point as a parent where I have to find those moments to write.” Because of that, Amanda says she is a big note-taker. “I have a lot of lyrics stockpiled. When I sit down to write, I start playing a melody, and I whip out my phone to find lyrics that will work. It’s a mental exercise for me and mostly a solo endeavor.” Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters are on the road, promoting the album Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Organic Records), released in February of this year. The band members in the Honeycutters are Rick Cooper on bass, Matt Smith on pedal steel and electric guitar, Kevin Williams on keyboard and vocals, and Evan Martin on drums and vocal. Evan also has the role of husband to Amanda and daddy to their daughter. “We are touring some this summer and into the fall,” says Amanda. “Not as much as we did before the pandemic, but certainly more than we have the past couple of years. It’s been nice being a stay-at-home mom, but we are all ready to get back on the road.” Amanda and the Honeycutters will be back in Crossroads Studio in Arden, North Carolina, later this year for their next project. “I enjoy the recording process. You go in with nothing but possibilities. Due to the pandemic, we had to do a lot of our last album remotely, so we are really excited about this next project.”



Richelle Putnam

Townes Van

Zandt A Tribute In Italian

Townes Van Zandt had what every songwriter covets, the ability to write sad, tragic songs about terribly flawed characters and have superstars like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Merle Haggard, and Guy Clark want to cover them—even if they’re five minutes long! But Van Zandt was also known as a restless drunk, hopeless idealist, and much like his songs, dark and tragic. He entranced audiences with his lyrical genius and effortless acoustical guitar skills but also sadly disappointed them when, in his drunkenness, he forgot his own lyrics and couldn’t hit the simplest guitar lick. He was young when he suffered mental breakdowns and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and manic depression. The invasive treatments he tried for those maladies included a subsequent discredited insulin shock therapy that erased much of his memory. For decades, research has revealed the link between mental illness and addiction and how people with mental illness self-medicate to feel normal or better. Townes Van Zandt was a number within that statistic who wrestled daily to cope, manage, and overcome his addictions. On New Year’s Day 1997, he died from a heart attack. He was 52. Today, Van Zandt remains a statistic—but in a praiseworthy way. No, he was never with a major label and never enjoyed mainstream commercial success, but those never appeared to be his dream or goal. Yet, the most prolific songwriting and musical celebrities revere him as one of the paramount songwriters of all times, and his musical prodigy stats continue to grow worldwide. Italian Songwriter Luca Rovini was around 16 when he first heard Townes Van Zandt. “He was an instant master for me. I liked his stories in the songs. In those years, I was discovering many American songwriters like Townes and Guy Clark, Joe Ely, and Steve Earle. All of them are my heroes, and all of them influenced my songwriting.” In May 2022, Rovini played at the XVIII Townes Van Zandt International Festival in Figino Serena (CO), Italy, a village between Lake Como and Milan, only a few miles from Switzerland. There, songwriters from


the UK, France, Australia, Sweden, Norway, the USA, Canada, and Italy combine their awe for Van Zandt in a tremendous musical marathon and afterward join the audience in a dinner prepared by the local senior citizens. The night ends (or doesn’t end) with craft beer, vintage whisky, and into-the-early-morning jam sessions. “In Italy, there was a promoter, Carlo Carlini,” said Rovini, “and he loved all these great American writers, so every one of my heroes played here thanks to Carlo. I saw Townes Van Zandt in 1994. It was a magic night to remember, Townes and Joe Ely, Rick Danko, Eric Andersen, and others.” Carlini also brought in John Prine and Guy Clark. “It took me years trying to find my way because I love that kind of music, but I wanted to sing in Italian, and it was not too easy,” said Rovini. “When Carlo died, Andrea Parodi decided to start a festival in honor of Townes Van Zandt.” It all began when Townes’s son, JT Van Zandt, was surrounded by his father’s friends and followers while doing his first Italian tour with his poetry and songs. That was 18 years ago, said Rovini. At the Townes Van Zandt International Festival, many Italian and International artists pay their debts to Townes and some of his friends. “I played at the festival many times now. I used to translate some of my favorite songs into Italian and play them. Four years ago, I played an Italian version of “Desperados Waiting for a Train” by Guy Clark with Bill Kirchen and Peter Bonta, the guitar player in The Companeros.” Peter is from Washington, DC, and is a former member of The Nighthawks and Rosslyn Mountain Boys. He also played with Doug Sahm, Bo Diddley, Artful Dodger, and many others. “He now lives here in Italy in Pistoia, and we met thanks to the late great Evan Johns. Other times I played a song I wrote for Carlo Carlini or my version of “The Rain Came Down” by Steve Earle that Is on my last record, “L’ora del Vero” (Find on Spotify). This year I translated “I’ll be here in the Morning” by Townes. I love this song! It’s very difficult to translate Townes in Italian, but I’m very happy for the job this time.” Artists and fans who understood Townes Van Zandt’s struggles and appreciated his mastery of lyrics and composition never judged him—and don’t today. Many of us will never experience his rare humorous, soulful spirit, meticulous playing, and melancholy singing in a live performance. Most of us will never experience the debilitating battles that often consumed and ravaged him. But let us all remember, cherish, and celebrate his triumphant musical genius. “It’s beautiful,” said Rovini, “that in every part of the world, there are people that still love Townes.”


Townes Van Zandt inspired many American singers/songwriters. But to Steve Earle, Van Zandt was a hero. Earle’s album, Townes, pays tribute to Van Zandt. Earle and Van Zandt became good friends, and Earle named his first son Justin Townes Earle. And that says it all. 33


To Live is to Fly Pancho and Lefty I’ll Be Here in the Morning If I Needed You For the Sake of the Song Rex’s Blues Waiting Around to Die Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel Loretta Nothin’


Photos: Star Anna, Ty Bailee, Shane Tutmarc, Justin Davis, Sera Cahoone, and Kevin Large performing as part of a tribute to Townes van Zandt on the 67th anniversary of his birth. Tractor Tavern, Ballard, Seattle, Washington. Photographer Joe Mabel (photo with guy dancing with musicians) Sera Cahoone, Rusty Willoughby, Justin Davis, Star Anna, unidentified musician & Gary Westlake performing as part of a tribute to Townes van Zandt on the 67th anniversary of his birth. Tractor Tavern, Ballard, Seattle, Washington. (photo with guy and guitar at microphone)

Luca Rovini on guitar

Townes Van Zandt photo – Jeff Albertson, photographer 35

Kara Martinez Bachman

Abigail Lapell

It’s not that her previous albums were lightweight; the isolation of Covid lockdowns somehow gave rise to themes with a more serious edge. This new record, “Stolen Time,” perhaps encompasses better than any of her past work the feeling her website creatively defines as “prairie noir.” “There’s a bit of darkness or edge to some of these songs,” Lapell said of the April release. She said the “prairie noir” idea stems from her music’s “sense of place, the geography of it” combined with notes of “restlessness and travel.” In “Stolen Time,” the realities of a natural landscape that’s both beautiful and “scarred” find a home in what she sees as a more profound and introspective song list.

“I never really studied music formally,” she said, “aside from piano lessons for a year and singing in a choir…now that I am older, I’m more interested in theory. But either way, it [music] has always been a big part of my life in one way or another.”

“It’s pretty down-tempo, a lot more mellow than in some of my work in the past,” she said. “It was maybe a little more contemplative…the songs are kind of dreamy and impressionistic.”

She’s about to start touring Canada and the U.S. with the new record and has plans for what’s coming next. Once touring this year is over, something unique is on her shortlist of future projects.

When she talks of her creative process, there’s a sense of an undercurrent flowing beneath the surface that comes to the fore only when the time is precisely right.

“I have an album of lullabies,” Lapell said. “I’m hoping to release it at some point.”

“I didn’t really have a concept going into it,” she explained. “It was after the fact that there was a kind of throughline of themes of addiction and recovery. She writes in a more free-flowing way, she explained. Lapell creates melodies, then adds on lyrics, and only decides what the song was getting at “after the fact.” The way she describes it, the process seems a kind of unfurling, a revelation of self and intention that only surfaces in full conscious awareness after a song is complete. Lapell said she’s been doing this for a long time; she’s been writing songs as far back as she can remember. She spent most of her adult life performing in indie rock outfits, and only in recent years did the Toronto-based performer identify more with the folk realm. That change grew her career to where she can 36

essentially tour full-time. She’s gigged extensively in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. Her music reached the number one slot on Canadian folk radio and accrued an impressive 13 million-plus streams on Spotify. She’s won two Canadian Folk Music Awards, snagging English Songwriter of the Year in 2020 and Contemporary Album of the Year in 2017. A multiinstrumentalist, her musical toolbox includes vocals, piano, harmonica, and finger-style guitar.

She sounds pleased to have transitioned from indie rock to folk, saying one thing she noted is that the crowd is different, in a good way. “At folk festivals, there’s a real multi-generational feeling,” she said. “The parents and the kids and the grandkids will all be there together. It’s people from all different musical backgrounds.” Lapell is quick to admit the breadth of her chosen genre; she’s impressed by the various roots traditions, sounds, and instruments that suffuse folk. It’s difficult to pin down, not that anybody would even want to. “It’s really similar to indie in that it’s a DIY approach,” she observed. “It’s out of the mainstream…and you’re kind of defining it not by what it is, but by what it’s not.”




Kara Martinez Bachman

Bounds & D

Sharon Bounds – accomplished musician with Alabama-based Bounds and Determined – is herself determined to share bluegrass, gospel, country, blues, and even a little southern rock at festivals, churches, and private events ready for some awardwinning fiddling, heartfelt vocals, and a true sense of versatility. Each member of Bounds and Determined jams in a variety of ways, allowing this outfit to morph and change based upon audience, genre, and the band’s state of “mood.” It’s almost as if they can do it all.

“We play festivals; we play church settings; we also play some Lynyrd Skynyrd, some southern rock … we’ll add in a drum and keyboard with the bluegrass instruments,” Bounds explained. Her husband, Bill Bounds, spoke of the band’s versatility as a valid selling point. He said the transition from old-time to modern can happen 40

quickly, but only because of the extensive skill of each band member.

“Everybody in the band is a multi-instrumentalist,” he said. “That’s how we can switch around and sometimes give it a rock sound.” He plays fiddle and guitar, and Sharon Bounds provides vocals, mandolin, and fiddle and is, in fact, an award-winning, acclaimed fiddler. She’s been playing classical and fiddle styles since she was 12, and today can get feet tapping to bluegrass, classical, Cajun, Texas swing, and fiddle competition styles. She’s been crowned the Alabama State Fiddle Champion and named the Mississippi State Fiddle Champion on four occasions. Ranked in the top 10 in Nashville’s National Grand Master Fiddle Championship seven times, she also teaches music and often finds herself on judging panels for fiddle contests.

Determined This couple quickly gives the most credit for their sound to the other married couple that’s part of the band, Lisa and Jud Cameron. They say the Camerons are the true crux of Bounds and Determined. “Jud and Lisa are the strongest points of the band. We like to center everything around them as much as possible,” Bill said. “They also do a lot of the writing.” “Lisa came up singing with her family in church,” Sharon said. “In my opinion, she’s one of the best out there.” Lisa Cameron brings to the table the band’s lead vocals, mandolin, harmonica, and keyboards (whenever they’re in an “electric” kinda mood). Jud Cameron provides lead male vocals, harmony vocals, guitar, and drums (whenever they’re in a “rockin’” kinda mood).

Rounding out Bounds and Determined is Jason Walker on bass, guitar, and harmony vocals, and Ron Kirkland with his dobro, mandolin, guitar, harmony vocals, and electric guitar (whenever they’re in a “Skynyrd kinda mood”).

In addition to gigging on weekends throughout the southeastern and southern U.S., the three-year-old group has a new CD in the works. “We are planning to do a new CD with the band this summer,” Sharon explained. “It will be a mix of bluegrass and bluegrass gospel. It will have some originals on there.” Despite their versatility, at its heart, Bounds and Determined is still pure bluegrass, through and through. Part of their love for the genre is a love for the people who support it.


“The bluegrass community is like one big family,” Sharon said. “So it’s like a family reunion, and everyone welcomes you to that family.” “We like the bluegrass the best because of the people,” Bill added. “The greatest reward is seeing them smile.”





Shelby C. Berry


When you step onto the streets of Nashville, you feel the city’s energy and history — through historic venues like the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe. The artists performing in Nashville know their instruments must live up to the majestic magic of Music City. And this is where Carter Vintage Guitars comes in. Known as Nashville’s music store with the longest-running legacy, Carter Vintage Guitars was founded in 2012 by Christie and Walker Carter, but their story didn’t start there. Walter Carter began his career in Music City as a songwriter, musician, and journalist —like many do — before he found himself in the guitar business working for a vintage guitar dealer in 1987. “I was there on and off for 12 years while I also worked for Gibson as an in-house historian for ten years,” said Walter. “My wife Christie worked for the same vintage dealer for 25 years, starting as a bookkeeper and eventually becoming the general manager and top salesperson. By 2012, we had 50 years of knowledge and experience, plus a guitar collection that was getting out of hand, so it was time to strike out on our own.” Over the last decade, Walter and Christie Carter have become the experts for vintage guitars. Located in the heart of Nashville, Carter Vintage Guitars has become a beloved shop recognized for its instruments and the well-known musicians who play their instruments. “Christie and I worked seven days a week at CVG without a vacation for the first six or seven years before we started closing on Sundays,” said Walter. “By the end of 2021, we were ready to start taking more time off, but we were having a hard time doing that.” An opportunity fell into their lap to make all that, and more, possible — a merger with one of the world’s leading independent guitar stores, The North American Guitar. Walter and Christie have headed the vintage guitar operations for the last decade at their downtown Nashville store. The merger melds two of the most respected guitar brands built upon the music history of the city called home, allowing both stores a shared mission of bringing the finest vintage guitars and instruments to players and collectors worldwide. The complementing of companies comes with Carter Vintage Guitars focusing on vintage instruments and The North American Guitar developing a premium guitar market to reshape how collectors source, play, and sell these high-end instruments. This new guitar market creates an unmatched experience for musicians and customers, online and in-store. Founded in 2010 in London by Ben Montague and his father, Robert, The North American Guitar broke into the Nashville music scene in 2019 when they acquired Cotton Music Centre and relocated their headquarters to Music City.



Nashville’s music and history are like no other. Carter Vintage Guitars and The North American Guitar pride themselves on being part of that history. The Carter brand remains the local historic vintage guitar expert, but they are incorporating under the parent brand, The North American Guitar. “The merger ensures that Carter Vintage Guitars continues to be Nashville’s number one vintage guitar store,” said Walter. “As you might expect with a vintage instrument store, some of the software and processes at CVG were vintage, too. Most changes have been behind the scenes to make the business run more efficiently.” Both business websites remain operational while ensuring that all Carter Vintage Guitars inventory is available to purchase online and ship globally. The plan will be to move into the future to eventually operate under one roof, keeping in mind what is the best for both businesses and their employees as they move into the future together. The stores built themselves on customer relationships and will continue being the friendliest guitar store in Nashville, offering the world’s finest collection of vintage instruments to a global audience. “We have an incredible team at TNAG and CVG, and we are extremely proud to offer our customers a wide range of instruments. Right now, we want to continue learning from each other and providing the best buying and selling experience in-store and online for our customers,” said Walter. 49



New Turns for Old Lands: How Appalachia Mine Land Becomes A Culinary Mecca It’s a new day for Appalachia. Fields of lavender blow in the breeze. Mushrooms pop up from the soil. Orchards of fruit trees and bushes line mountain tops, and it’s all on reclaimed mine land. But what does that mean exactly? In the not-so-distant past, the land now giving life to these beautiful gifts of nature was mined for coal, which often laid waste to all lifeforms in the general vicinity. Coal mining employed the Appalachian people for generations, but the welldocumented common environmental effects included erosion, sinkholes, biodiversity loss; contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water; carbon emissions, etc. After a coal mine operates for several years and nears the end of its term, operators are supposed to help return it to its original - or better - state through reclamation. The reclamation process minimizes any adverse environmental effects from the 52

mining process to better utilize the land for future endeavors. In Appalachia, reclamation can look like wildlife habitat, commercial development, or, most notably for fellow food lovers, agricultural use. This transformation can provide a clean slate, so to speak, for a mise en place of flavor. For example, reclaimed surface mine soil near Welch, West Virginia, was able to produce tomatoes, strawberries, and raspberries with the addition of some soil treatments. “Based on this study, minesoils with amendments show good potential for horticultural crop production,” according to “Use of Reclaimed Land for Horticultural Crop Production” by Donna Ballard, Bradford Bearce, and Jeff Skousen at West Virginia University. Fruits and vegetables are just one growing opportunity. Hernshaw Farms, located in Hernshaw, West Virginia, specializes in mushrooms:

Candace Nelson

Pink, Gold, Snow, Italian, Black or Blue Oysters, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, Chestnut, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and more. George Patterson, owner & founder, takes mine land and turns it into farmland. “We will nurture and transform mine land into beautiful farmland using spent mushroom blocks,” their website reads. “Every time you purchase our mushrooms, you help us turn mineland2farmland. After our mushroom blocks go through their flushes, we use them to make compost. Then we use that compost to turn old mine land into farmland.” Patterson started his mushroom farm on a former mine site and used the waste

product as soil to help create a suitable growing environment for the toadstools. It’s not just fruits and fungi finding new homes among reclaimed mine land. Since 2019, the Appalachian Botanical Company in Ashford, West Virginia, has grown lavender and raised bees to create body care, aromatherapy, culinary, and home goods. Lavender can thrive in conditions typically present in reclaimed mine sites like rocky soil - and is resistant to drought and pests. “Through our commitment to sustainable agriculture on reclaimed coal mine land, we bring economic opportunity and 53

growth to Boone County … When we watch our honeybees forage in our lavender fields, we know that we are helping to protect a species whose numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years,” the company website details. “Our success turning lavender into value-added products also provides financial benefit to coal mine operators. Coal mine operators are legally required to restore the land they have mined. For each site mined, operators put up hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in reclamation bonds, money they do not recover until the land is deemed to be 54

restored and productive. In West Virginia, the most common reclamation method is reforestation, an expensive and timeconsuming process. Growing lavender has the potential to accelerate reclamation bond release rapidly. Growing lavender also means revenue in the form of annual rent and royalties for coal mine land owners. It’s a win-win-win situation.” These are just a few examples of how innovative Appalachians have put a new spin on an old land to benefit the earth but also use it as an opportunity to nourish the palates and bellies of those community members around them.

From fruits and florals to vegetables and mushrooms, the possibilities for a new life, new crops, and new opportunities are growing by the day. While much of the region continues to experience the effects of generations of coal mining, the reclamation of these areas provides a glimpse into Appalachia’s future. The hope is that Appalachia’s future is full of lavender, mushrooms, and berries, but also continued innovation, a positive outlook, and thriving communities that continue to make the region a better place.







Welcome to the 21st Bluegrass Festival at Wayside Bluegrass Park in beautiful Patrick County VA.



Johnny & Jeanette Williams



Junior Sisk Band

Lonesome River Band

Addie Levy Band

Five Mile Mountain Road


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Harrison Ridge


Wound Tight

Mike Mitchell Band

Tim White & Troublesome Hollow


www.turnberr 62 63


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