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year with great things is th A M IB to d ar rw fo g in ok lo e We ar s and the Convention happening during our Showcase ing plans to be there with ak m is ne yo er ev pe Ho w. ho es ad Tr r Summer is full of ou s, as gr ue Bl d an s ot Bo its Su us! With Show in Nashville. bluegrass festivals and the NAMM rd appreciate you! If da an St s as gr ue Bl e Th at re he us All of e magazine, let th in e se to e lik d ul wo u yo ry sto you have a ur band or someone who yo d re ve co t n’ ve ha we If . ow kn us email to me: deserves the attention, shoot an Keith@thebluegrassstandard.com Thanks for your support! Keith Barnacastle — Publisher

The Bluegrass Standard − click here to subscribe − it's free! The Bluegrass Standard magazine is published monthly. Opinions expressed are not necessarily the opinions of The Bluegrass Standard or its staff, advertisers or readers with the exception of editorials. Publication of the name or the photograph of any person, business or organization in articles or advertising in The Bluegrass Standard is not to be construed as any indication of support of such person, business or organization. The Bluegrass Standard disclaims any responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Advertising rates are subject to change without notice. The Bluegrass Standard reserves the right at its sole discretion to reject any advertising for any reason. It is our policy to publish any letters to the editor that are signed and verifiable by phone number. We reserve the right of anonymity upon request. Letters must be grammatically correct, clarity and original and free of libel. The Bluegrass Standard reserves the right to decline to publish any letter. Please send your comments to: editor@thebluegrassstandard.com The views expressed are not necessarily those of The Bluegrass Standard. Copyright ©2019. All Rights reserved. No portion of the publication may be reproduced in any form without the expressed consent of the publisher.

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CONTENTS

Earls of Leicester Kitchen Dwellers SpringStreet David Parmley and Cardinal Tradition Whiskey Bent Valley Boys Stephen Mougin Head for the Hills Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars:

Kentucky Just Us THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


Fiddler’s  Porch 

7 Mile Bluegrass Country Current Navy Band Old Men in Hats Grace Constable Festival Guide THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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Chris Jones and the Night Drivers Pixie and the Partygrass Boys


The Blu e gras s St andard St aff Guest photographers: Barbara and Don Duncan 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!

Keith@TheBluegrassStandard.com

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. She writes for many publications.

Richelle@TheBluegrassStandard.com

James Babb • Creative Director James is a native Californian, and a long-time resident of Palm Springs. He creates a unique "look" for every issue of The Bluegrass Standard, and enjoys learning about each artist. In addition to his creative work with The Bluegrass Standard, James also provides graphic design and technical support to a variety of clients.

James@TheBluegrassStandard.com

Shelby C. Berry • Journalist Editor 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.

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The Blu e gras s St andard St aff 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.

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. GoldenAgeOfMusicVideo.com

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.

Emerald Butler • Journalist

Emerald Butler is a writer, songwriter, fiddler, and entertainer from Sale Creek, TN. She has worked and performed various occasions with artists such as Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborn, Becky Buller, Alison Brown, top 40 radio host Bob Kingsley, and country songwriter Roger Alan Wade. With a bachelor’s degree in Music Business and a minor in Marketing, Emerald has used her education, experience, and creative talent to share the love of music with others.

Emerald@TheBluegrassStandard.com THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD


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“Earls” of Wisdom The Earls of Leicester Bring a Whip-Smart Flatt & Scruggs Show to the People by Stephen Pitalo In 2013, a band formed with just one thing on their minds and in their hearts: preserving and promoting the iconic legacy of bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs by playing their music. The band known as the Earls of Leicester (a play on the duo’s first names) were intent on reviving the duo’s music for long time admirers and introducing a new generation to their pioneer sound. Within a year of releasing their self-titled debut, the Nashville-based six-piece won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and six more awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Now, the Earls first live album is lightning in a bottle, with songs that fully capture the joy and expert musicianship that show-goers experience. The Earls of Leicester recorded Live at The CMA Theater in The Country Music Hall of Fame over two nights in the Music City venue, retaining a warm presence that also permeates their Earls of Leicester Live DVD. Therefore, viewers can embrace their live set: the THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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throwback attire, the off-the-cuff but illuminating between-song banter, the quickchange artistry required of their stage setup. “Our goal is to go out and reacquaint everybody with the music of Flatt and Scruggs just the way they did it, which means fewer microphones and a good amount of choreography,” says Jerry Douglas. “We’re trying to put as much as we can into the music before it even reaches the speakers.” “I probably could have stayed focused on everything else I’ve got going on, but this just haunted me,” Douglas said, referring to his long, Grammy-winning career. “I looked for years to find the group I needed for the alchemy to work,” he says. In the end, Douglas landed on the lineup of Shawn Camp (Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton), Jeff White (Vince Gill, Loretta Lynn), Charlie Cushman (Jimmy Martin, Mel Tillis), Johnny Warren (son of Foggy Mountain Boys’ Paul Warren), and Barry Bales (Alison Krauss & Union Station)—and found himself beyond floored by their immediate synergy. “I had to stop the band in the middle of the first song, because I was scared to keep going—it felt like Flatt and Scruggs were going to jump right out of the wall,” he says in reflecting on their first meeting. “I’d hoped it was going to be even half that good, and it ended up just taking my breath away.” Banjo player Charlie Cushman explained how the Flatt & Scruggs (F&S) catalog had faded from the scene, in the band’s view, and that solidified their mission. “Basically, the songs of F&S had nearly disappeared from the Bluegrass scene and minds of the fans and musicians, as we see it,” Cushman said, “and certainly the manner of the delivery and execution of the songs was long gone -- by today’s groups -- overall. Naturally, the spirit that Lester and Earl instilled in a performance is what we felt and should also be applied and restored to present day Bluegrass.

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The members of our group are seasoned veterans in the business, each with a deep appreciation for the music of Flatt & Scruggs.” Throughout Earls of Leicester Live, the band wholeheartedly channels the spirit of Flatt and Scruggs while allowing each member’s distinct charm and singular musicality to shine through songs recorded by the legendary duo from 1954 to 1965. Earls of Leicester Live combines classic tunes with more obscure numbers unearthed thanks to the band’s encyclopedic familiarity with Flatt and Scruggs’s body of work. And this band is so good, well, they just make it look easy, as great musicians do. “This is the result of years and years of trying out different instruments, different string gauges, different techniques to try to create these sounds,” Douglas notes. In that process, he adds, the Earls of Leicester eventually dug up decades-old instruments in order to achieve the ideal texture and tone they were seeking. “Everybody in the band plays something old,” says Douglas. “This music just sounds so much truer to form when it’s played on old instruments.” Douglas attended several Flatt and Scruggs concerts as a kid, and later played with each musician on separate occasions. Although his own prolific career as a musician and producer has kept him more than occupied over the years—including appearing on more than 1,600 albums, recording with the likes of Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, and Elvis Costello—Douglas was unable to THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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shake his vision of one day revisiting the music of Flatt and Scruggs.

“This music conjures up my childhood—it drops me off into a kinder, gentler place, and I think it should do that for everybody,” says Douglas. “When people come to see us, we want them to forget about the outside world and all the stress or strife that goes along with it, and hopefully hold onto that feeling for a while even after the show’s over.” Cushman reiterated that Flatt & Scruggs were not just great performers and songwriters, but their influence reached even further, and deserve reverence in many respects.

“F&S in our opinions, were the kings of bluegrass and country music,” Cushman said. “Not only as founding fathers of the genre, but as businessmen, musicians, composers and pioneers of many aspects of what we know today, as the music business. Yes, we should embrace our foundation, and our fundamentals of the music, always.”

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Kitchen Dwellers: Giving Bluegrass a Whole New Meaning by Shelby C. Berry THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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Galaxy Grass –

the term dubbed by fans to describe music from a far-out place. What does that mean exactly? Well, the Kitchen Dwellers are here to tell us. A Montana-bred group of college friends with high-energy performances and a different approach to traditional bluegrass music, the Kitchen Dwellers are captivating a new generation of fans in our beloved genre of music. “We started as a sort of after-school special – drinking beer and playing folk music with a group of friends. The four of us who played every day decided to play at an open mic night at a local bar, and we had to pick a name. We tended to gather to play music in the kitchen, so we named ourselves the Kitchen Dwellers,” said mandolin player Shawn Swain. Bursting onto the bluegrass music scene, Kitchen Dwellers has shared the stage with artists like Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, and The Infamous Stringdusters, and they have played endless festivals and notable venues such as The Bluebird Theater and The Mishawaka Amphitheater. As an evolution is occurring in the world of bluegrass, listeners are becoming more accepting of artists with an alternate style of music, and this is a great thing for artists like the Kitchen Dwellers. Two years ago, the Kitchen Dwellers released their second studio album, the first with the current band lineup, titled Ghost in the Bottle. While pushing the boundaries of the bluegrass genre with every note they sang, the album portrays the essence of a live performance. They worked with well-known producers Andy Thorn and A.G. Lunsford on this album to give it the feel of live music. “It was great to get something out there representing our sound and where we were at that exact moment. We are still excited about it two years later,” said Shawn. After a spring tour, this quartet of Galaxy Grass musicians will begin a new marathon of summer music festivals to promote their music across the US beginning this month. Even though the Kitchen Dwellers are hitting the road hard this year, Shawn somehow managed to take a break between tours to chat with us about his band. The Bluegrass Standard: You guys are known to push the boundaries of traditional music, inspiring a new generation of fans. How does this affect how you think about your unique sound and approach to traditional music? Shawn Swain: I think we all know that in this genre, playing and being called straight bluegrass is hard to do. We try to respect those roots while creating a music of our 14

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own. We are all from the Rocky Mountains and grew up around a lot of bluegrass music. It’s important to keep that music alive, but I believe it is the people who continued to push the boundaries of bluegrass that have kept it alive today. BGS: If you weren’t playing music right now, what would you be doing? SS: We all have various different degrees from engineering to land resources and liberal arts. I would probably finish my degree. But, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else because we have put so much heart and soul into this for so many years. BGS: What do you think of the term Galaxy Grass to describe your music? SS: It’s the idea of taking traditional music to a far-out space. We had a friend that described another band this way, and he eventually said actually you guys are really Galaxy Grass. It describes how we play traditional music while also fostering our own sound. BGS: Tell me a little bit about the Jam Cruise that the Kitchen Dwellers are going on next year. Why did you choose to do a cruise to promote your music? SS: The Jam Cruise is a super cool festival over a week on a cruise ship. It goes from Florida to the Bahamas and Mexico. It is relatively small with about 1,500 people, and it has a very diverse lineup of musicians. It has the coolest and unexpected collaborations that you can ask for. The Jam Cruise really is for music’s biggest fans – the most dedicated ones for sure. BGS: Let’s talk about your current tour. Any favorite cities or performances so far? SS: The Spring tour was a bang! We just had our first performance at Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado. That is about the most beautiful place you can play in the world. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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BGS: What should a fan expect when attending one of your shows? SS: Expect the unexpected. It sounds cliché, but we really do try to make every show different from the last – giving it a unique show aspect. We like to make each show unique while also giving fans the songs they want to hear. It’s like an improvisation experience while also being mountain music driving show. BGS: What is your favorite song to jam to when you’re riding down the road and no one can hear you? SS: Guy Clark Jr’s Dirty Dish Blues. That’s the first song I discovered when I really had my heart broken. It’s a good one to sing along to. BGS: If you could collaborate with any artist in any genre, who would that be and why? SS: I think for me, The Infamous Stringdusters, even though we actually have collaborated with them. Those guys are on top of the world. Any chance I get to work with them is a dream come true. BGS: What is your ultimate dream for Kitchen Dwellers? SS: I would like to see us continue to do this, our fans to be happy, and us to be happy. As long as we can keep getting to do what we love, life will be pretty good. BGS: If you had one message for your fans, what would that be? SS: Take care of each other, and keep having a good time. Also, the left lane is for 16

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passing. That’s key, and I really should get that out there. BGS: Any last-minute thoughts? SS: We hope we will see your readers at any of our festivals! Don’t be afraid to come talk to us, we love making new friends!

New things are coming from the Kitchen Dwellers soon, so stay tuned for something amazing and unexpected to come your way.

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SpringStreet by Susan Marquez “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” I Peter 4:10 NKJV It’s the stuff of legends. A couple of music lovers travel to Eureka Springs, Arkansas to hear the legendary “father of bluegrass music” Bill Monroe perform. Mike Williams and Steve Carroll had talked about having a bluegrass band, and Williams even had a banjo. He didn’t get bogged down in details, including the fact that he couldn’t play the banjo. As the two walked out on the street outside the auditorium, Williams looked up at the street sign. Spring Street. “That would be a good name for our band,” he said. Today SpringStreet is a bluegrass powerhouse, although they don’t necessarily see it that way. “We are just simple guys who love music,” says mandolin player Nick Alberty. “We didn’t set out to be a bluegrass band. As a matter of fact, we play tunes by the Doobie Brothers, Kansas, and John Denver. We’ve even done Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” Of course, we also play songs by Bill Monroe and other bluegrass greats. The music we play goes over well at a lot of festivals, THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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When the band first started over 25 years ago, they played small venues and festivals. “For years there was a Bluegrass and Chili Festival in Claremore, Oklahoma,” explains Alberty. “It’s now held in Wagoner, Oklahoma. I had gone to that festival for years. They booked big entertainers like Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Skaggs, Doyle Lawson and Marty Raybon. When the promoter, Dell Davis, booked us to play at the festival, I felt that we had arrived. It was exciting for all of us.” Another high point for the band was when Rhonda Vincent sang “Beulahland” with them on stage at a festival in Arkansas. The group has gained ground each year they’ve been together. Alberty joined the group fourteen years ago, and bass player Steve Huhn joined nine years ago. The newest member of the band is the one with the most experience. Roger Sparks (fiddle) started his musical career fifty years ago, playing lead guitar in his father’s country band. He played with the Louisiana Grass for 24 years, and The Bluegrass Express before that. SpringStreet won the Tulsa Music Awards “Gospel Artist of the Year” this year, and Alberty won the Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa’s “Male Vocalist of the Year.” “We’re not the world’s fanciest pickers,” laughs Alberty. “We are real guys who love what we do. We play a wide variety of music, and if it looks like we’re having fun on stage, it’s because we are. We are real. The same guys you see on stage are the same guys you see in the grocery store. We love for people to talk to us. We are really excited to be there, and we love putting on a good show for folks.” 20

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Kimmy Hillenburg makes sure the band members are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. “She does all of our logistics and planning,” says Alberty. “She schedules our trips, tells us where to be and when, and she keeps up with who booked us, our set lists, and even what key we played our songs in at a particular show. She is on the side of the stage when we go on with extra water bottles and cough drops. And Kimmy is the one responsible for our amazing merchandise table. She used to do all the merchandising for her brother, Andy, who did sprint car racing. In addition to selling CDs and t-shirts, she hands out free pictures and stickers. I don’t know what we’d do without Kimmy!” The band members all have “real” jobs, but they are dedicated to their music. They practice every Tuesday night and they play somewhere nearly every weekend. “We usually all take off on Friday afternoon and it’s not unusual for us to drive 400 miles to get to a gig.” One of Alberty’s favorite memories with the band is playing at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. “My parents took me there when I was a child, and it was the first place I heard bluegrass music. The first time we played there was a special moment for me. But now, every time we play, no matter where it is, I am blessed. We are fortunate to do what we love. When people come to a show, we realize that many of them are troubled. We want to help them forget all about that for a while and have fun, and we always try to point folks to the Lord. I give glory to Lord Jesus for all we’ve accomplished, because we aren’t a thing without Him.”

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David Parmley Keeps Bluegrass Cardinals Tradition Airborne by Kara Martinez Bachman For David Parmley, it’s important to keep alive the songs of The Bluegrass Cardinals. The music of the beloved and influential outfit first took flight in 1976 and continued to have an impact until 1991. The original Bluegrass Cardinals may now be gone, but Parmley refuses to let its sound fly off into the night. “The band, back in the day when it was going, it was a very influential band for many musicians,” he said, explaining why it’s his passion to keep going with the music of the band he was a member of for many years. He said the reason the band’s sound is worth saving is it offered up extremely tight harmonies and lyrics that had “meaning.”

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Parmley wanted to honor his old band by in part recreating its magic through his current band, David Parmley and Cardinal Tradition. It focuses on bluegrass, Americana, and traditional country. Based out of the Nashville, Tenn. area, his quartet has been going strong since 2016. Right now, members of the original Cardinals include Parmley, plus banjo player, Dell Perry. “He was the bass player for Bluegrass Cardinals for about nine years,” Parmley said. Other members were previously in the lineups of bands such as Parmley’s other ensemble, Continental Divide. The current lineup of Cardinal Tradition includes Dale Perry, on banjo and vocals; Steve Day, with his fiddle and vocals; Ron Spears, providing bass and vocals; and Shayne Bartley, delivering mandolin and vocals.

anything else new we do would have been in the same format of what the Cardinals would have done. We ask: Does this fit the Cardinals’ sound?”

“We’re working on a new project right now. It should be out this summer,” Parmley said, of the guys’ current activities. “We’re trying to keep alive a lot of the original Cardinals’ music. Then,

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band that was a household name for fans of roots music. Speaking of households, bluegrass was all the rage in the home where Parmley was reared. His father, Don Parmley, was an original member of The Bluegrass Cardinals. “I grew up in a household where bluegrass was being played,” he said. “I started playing in the band when I was 12. I learned to play bass. By (age) 15, then switched to guitar.” By the time he was 16, he said the Cardinals had really begun to... well... take flight. He was still living “out west” during those early years, providing the lead baritone vocals that would be so vital to the band. It moved itself to the Washington D.C. area a few years later, and soon South Virginia became its new home turf. Parmley remembers those years – some would say, still the heyday of the genre – with real nostalgia. “There were so many places to play, and so many festivals,” he said, recalling that they’d play almost every night of the week. Although things aren’t as active as they used to be, Parmley and the boys are busy giving audiences a sound with which they’ll no doubt be familiar, and hopefully for which they’ll feel affection. From Pennsylvania to Ohio to California, David Parmley and Cardinal Tradition will bring some new music to audiences this summer without feeling need to re-invent the wheel. When a song’s tried and true – as it is with much of the original Cardinals tunes – there’s no reason to not stick with what works. After all, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In the end, though, Parmley said he’s just devoted to the music. That’s all.

“Bluegrass has always had really good harmonies,” he said. “Acoustic music, when it is played right, has such dynamics to it.”

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In the Still of the Night Both Literally and Culturally, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys are Fueled by Moonshine For Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, high octane means two things: how they play, and what they drink. With an unabashed dedication to Kentucky corn squeezin’ beverages of the lessthan-legal variety, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys pay homage to their Bloomfield families with songs from the tobacco fields to the rivers and iron skillets to moonshine stills, whilst preserving history through the style and nuance honoring their tradition. Whether it’s a sea shanty or a swamp stomp, the Boys go full throttle, and the result is the same as liquor poured on fire – barely contained and a hell of a thing to watch. Naming Roscoe Holcomb, The Stanley Brothers, and fiddle legend Tommy Jarrell in their repertoire, the Boys include original crowdpleasers “Graveyard Blues” or “Old Kentucky” in their performances. Mining their parents and grandparents’ talent, the Boys walk the line between kid friendly and midnight proper, and never ever let up. Band founder Col. Mason Dixon hails from a long line of musicians and will tell you it’s not so much in the whiskey as it is the DNA. Each member’s family performs and enjoys THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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the indigenous music of the Appalachian foothills and pastures of Kentucky. Named for their preferred liquid and the Pewee Valley origin of the band, the Boys members also include JR “Junior” on fiddle and lead vocals, with Leroy Jones on the upright bass, with the latter having been taught by Mason 15 years ago. Brothers-inlaw are good like that. As for liquor playing an important role in the band’s existence, Dixon’s answer has a smile inside. “What part does alcohol play in the band's creative process?” Dixon said. “Alcohol has always played a part as hinted in the name. We live in the heart of bourbon country – the bourbon capital of the world! It just comes natural around here.” “Playing old time music infused with high energy that’ll make you slap your knee and stomp your foot,” Dixon said to describe their sound, which can be heard on their new release Whiskey Sessions Vol. 2. Once again recorded at Mason‘s cabin out in the woods in Bloomfield, Kentucky, the new album has originals mixed in with some old traditional songs. “It has all of the sounds people have come to expect from the band and some original sounds that have been ideas for quite some time,” Dixon said.

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As much as the music is rooted in the mountains, the Boys’ records are also connected to the earth. Their album covers are made from industrial hemp paper and recycled cardboard with environmentally friendly, vegetable-based inks, which connects to Dixon’s respect for the preservation of the land where he grew up, as well as his commitment to ecological responsibility. “We started out with all of our products having that ‘green feel,’” Dixon said. “It’s our duty to do what we can to help mother nature, and we always just thought it was a neat idea with a purpose to go along with our brand.” Their authenticity runs through not just the band’s music, but its lifestyle. Dixon feels a calling to pay homage to what he calls “the old-time ways of doing things.” It is also not uncommon for the band to bring a delicious yield of their summer crops to gigs in bushel baskets for the taking.

“It’s everything from living in the woods to fishing for our meals to playing antique instruments and preserving a historic brand of music,” said Dixon, “but done our way.”

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Stephen Mougin: The Cyclical Life by Richelle Putnam Through the looking glass, one may view Stephen Mougin as someone who can’t focus or make up his mind as to what he really wants to do in the music world. After all, he’s a producer, engineer, record label owner, songwriter, skilled singer and musician, a member of a few bluegrass groups, and a vocal, guitar and mandolin teacher. But once you go through the looking glass and enter the wonderland of Stephen Mougin, you realize his whirlwind world is really more like the natural world, where one action causes or affects another action, in a repetitive way, like a cycle, day in and day out. And he likes it that way. “My training has definitely brought me to this place where I do all those things; they’re not mutually exclusive, they are related,” said Mougin. “For me, it’s a matter of focus. I enjoy an everchanging schedule. I don’t want to be doing any one thing within a couple of weeks at a time, whether that’s touring or being in the studio, shooting a music video or teaching. I like to mix it up and change it up. I can’t wait to get to the next thing when I know it’s coming. If I’m out on the road for a couple of weeks or ten days, I’m looking forward to getting back home and working with a couple of students or tweaking a mix. When I’m in the studio, I get recharged by getting back out on the road and being musical myself rather than helping other people be musical. My voice teaching introduces me to students who might be band searching. one serves the other.” 30

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Growing up in Mougin’s world, it was all about music. “My dad decided he wanted to play guitar and so I decided that I wanted to do that, too.” Weekends in the summer consisted of going to music festivals, so, “It was a natural step for me,” he said. “In middle and high-school I belonged to the music department in school; I was in choir and show choir and I played in the dance band and performed in a bunch of musicals. It seemed like a logical next step to me to go to college and get a degree and teach music.” One action serving the other; one action causing another—do you see the cycle? “Guitar and mandolin, I do a lot of that, but my primary instrument is voice, as far as technical abilities,” he said. “That is what I studied in college and that is what my degree is in: Music Education.” Above all else, Mougin is a teacher. “The concepts I work on are pretty much the same across the board whether it’s a pro or beginner; it’s always about the details, going around the circle again, but in finer detail.” When folks work with Mougin, he wants them to learn what they came to learn, but also that they learn how to get to the next level and that they continue learning. “That’s far more important.” And band coaching is no different. “They come to see me for a few hours, or a few days and we work on everything they need help with, depending on whether it’s performance oriented or how to play particular tunes. It’s all specifically designed for that band and what they are doing, and the skill sets that they all have. That’s really rewarding.” Vocal training is challenging, even for Mougin. It’s trying to deliver good pitch and tone, trying to make the music sound authentic, but also making sure that, “I sound like me and not like another singer,” he stressed. “As a voice teacher that is one of my struggles with students, helping them find their own voice and helping them understand that it’s important to sing in your own voice rather than being sound-alikes.”

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Doing vocal exercises can expand your range, but that may not mean you’ll be Russell Moore or another broad-range vocalist, explained Mougin. “It means that you can be better than you are and that is always my goal when approaching any educational thing, to take the students where they’re at and give them the tools to get a step farther.” Comparing yourself to other singers is a little dangerous, he added. “If everybody sounded the same, then music wouldn’t be very interesting.” Mougin doesn’t think everybody can have a four-octave range, but “I do think that most folks could have a wider range than they currently use. Part of that comes with simple training and exercises and part of that comes with just being willing to use that portion of the range.” Mougin’s two favorite singers are Lester Flatt and Frank Sinatra—for the same reason, because “they would deliver the song as if carrying on a conversation.” Sinatra was a highly trained singer; Lester Flatt was not, said Mougin, “but he had a different voice and a wonderful way of delivering his songs. To me that makes him a great singer.” The fact is, some people just sing well, whether they are trained or not. However, some highly trained singers Mougin is not very interested in hearing and some untrained singers he thinks are magnificent. “So, I don’t think training is the be all, end all. I will say that folks who are great singers and go for a bit of coaching can fine tune. There’s always an opportunity to help yourself get better at something with the right direction.” 32

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When it comes to emotional content, one of the strategies Mougin uses with his voice students is to create a kind of a movie in your mind and play that movie before you get to the words. “Dig in to find words and terms and phrases that you wouldn’t use. Make note of that and try to figure out why the songwriter chose those words. Just by thinking about that it will be delivered a little differently.” Really great singers sound like they must have written it, said Mougin because “they are so committed to the ideas of that song.” They present it as personal for you, the listener, to connect to as well. Even in the studio, as a producer, Mougin feels like it’s all about growth and education, helping people see how they can do something better because he sees in someone something they didn’t even see. “I really love that, helping folks dig deeper and be better. Producing and teaching, for me, are no different.” Quality is Mougin’s guiding force. “We certainly don’t always succeed, but quality is our mantra. I’m encouraged and inspired by newness and the next frontier of music, wherever that takes us.”

The Sam Bush Cycle: “I’ve been playing with Sam Bush since 2006 as his guitar player and harmony. With the five-piece band setup with Sam, my job is to get out of the way in a lot of cases.”

The Nedski & Mojo Cycle: “With Ned, we do a lot of original material so I’m able to sing songs I’ve written that wouldn’t otherwise be heard. The two-person format stretches my playing.” Be sure and check out Volume 2, Issue 7 of The Bluegrass Standard to find out more about Mougin’s Dark Shadow Recording Studio 

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The Hills Are Alive “Head for the Hills” Wants to Come Down from the Mountaintop by Stephen Pitalo Guitarist Adam Kinghorn, bassist Joe Lessard and drummer Matt Loewen – collectively known as Head for the Hills – decided that after fifteen years as a stalwart bluegrass combo, they’d swing for the fences with some fresh and invigorated sounds on their latest four-song EP, Say Your Mind, released this past March. Recorded at Swingfingers Studios in Fort Collins, Colorado, the band brought a larger band than ever before, including drummer Darren Garvey of Elephant Revival, Vocalist Kim Dawson, Dobroist Todd Livingston, a horn section and more. If you seek the turbulent social rhythms in the zeitgeist right now, but with sunnier themes of joy, growth, and change throughout, you’ve got it: Head for the Hills has come down out of the mountains to address today’s social ills, but has the heart to take it head on. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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Over the years, the band’s original dorm room jam sessions evolved into a decade plus on the road, from humble coffee shops to theaters, festivals, roadhouses and clubs across the country. Over time, those sounds and influences have crept more and more into the bluegrass beginnings of the Conrad Meyer Photography — at Washington's FoCo. band, morphing into the seasoned eclecticism of their newest release, a genre-straddling, lyrically deep, and danceable record, with a crew of collaborators bringing the best of Colorado acoustic, roots, and soul music together. When asked what is new with this record, Kinghorn doesn’t hesitate to answer. “To put it simply, I would say drums,” Kinghorn proclaimed. “We actually worked with Elephant Revival drummer Darren Garvey and have some original songs that incorporate percussion in that I'd say that would be the biggest difference from our previous records. It has been very exciting for us to branch out a little bit in that way.” “We're all very loyal to our bluegrass tradition,” he explained, “and after a certain amount of time, it started to feel like we're limiting ourselves just a touch by working within those confines. A lot of what I was trying to do when I was writing my portion of the record was to break away from that. What you find is that you come up with different rhythmic ideas when you're going to have some percussion involved, rather than the straight-ahead bluegrass feel. I think the new EP has a lot of different rhythmic stuff happening. It felt like we were taking down some of our own barriers – like those limitations were there, but didn't need to be, so we're just trying it out.” “It’s funny, we all get to play less, if that makes sense,” he continued. “What I mean is that I don't have to carry the rhythm as much. I can focus on singing, and I can actually accent the rhythm in different ways as the bluegrass guitar player. What I was really trying to affect were the subtleties there, because a snare drum hits the beats that the mandolin would normally hit. So, I’m thinking, how can I complement that in a different way? And Matt been adjusting to being a part of a real rhythm section.” “We’re all used to a guitar player playing the downbeat and the upbeat, and the bass 36

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is usually locked in on one beat or the other, so having the drums really brings that up and again we're not really approaching it from a bluegrass point of view, or not necessarily trying to just play bluegrass rhythm with drums. We're trying to explore new rhythms. I think we able to do that pretty well.” Along with new rhythmic routes to explore, Kinghorn and company took their lyrical content cues from a more socially conscious place, trying not to fall on the safe and easy themes where he feels that bluegrass can get bogged down. “When you listen to a lot of bluegrass music and the subject matter begins to feel limiting,” said Kinghorn of the political edge on some of the new songs. “We all love nature and we live in Colorado. We love being outside, but you can only sing about that stuff for so long, in my opinion, and some of my favorite bands have found ways to branch out from that. When it comes to writing, you're sort of a product of what's happening around you and the current political and social status that's happening right now I think is being felt by a lot of people in different ways. And we did kind of want to put that edge out there a little bit, and there's some subtle things here and there.” “And then additionally, I'm a new father, and so one of my tracks on there was inspired by my daughter and so that was a new subject matter for me to write about, to say the least. We're getting away from some of the classic subject matter that bluegrass deals with, and we're trying to venture into some kind of new territory for us, and that's been fun.” “Can’t Stay This Way for Long” is Kinghorn’s favorite song on the new record, a tune which incorporates a whole horn section, a new foray for the band, especially when playing live. Conrad Meyer Photography — at Washington's FoCo.

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incorporate that into it, and this song talks about the political climate we discussing, and with a cool horn section in there.” Kinghorn doesn’t really like to reminisce so much as look to the future, but he did contemplate what he would say to his much younger self if given the opportunity.

“The first thing I would probably tell my former self is that all this isn't gonna continue without my utmost effort and commitment to it,” he said. “And it's not to be taken for granted, and so I think there is a period of time when our success felt like it was just going to remain constant. “And what you find out is that it's people; people's opinions and tastes change over the years if you don't make yourself relevant. And so, some of my favorite artists when you think about it are the ones that are pumping out new music and recordings and just staying on people's radars. I just really, really got in people's faces with what we were doing instead of kind of assuming we're always going to kind of be on the radar. So, yes, I’d convey the general mindset that the whole thing has to be earned, and you really have to work for it.”

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Kentucky Just Us by Shelby C. Berry

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Real Life, Real Family, Real Music Family bands in bluegrass music have almost become a staple – especially for young artists. But it is rare to find an entire family that sings and harmonizes as well as those in Kentucky Just Us. Based in southern Kentucky, this family band shares their love for bluegrass, heartwarming original lyrics, and beautiful harmonies. They began performing together less than five years ago in October 2014 with a guitar as their only instrument. Since then, the band has added upright bass, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo. “Early on, while riding in the vehicle together, we realized that we could harmonize. We asked our dad if he would help us get serious about making music, and it took off from there. We all loved the sound of bluegrass music, and when we first heard music from artists like the Osborne Brothers, we knew that was what we wanted to do,” said Kacey, the band’s 17-year-old fiddle player. Kacey is joined by all of her siblings and parents to round out the harmonizing sound of Kentucky Just Us – 18-year-old John on guitar and mandolin, 16-year-old Jesse on the banjo, 9-year-old Caleb on mandolin, their mother Shelane on upright bass, and their father Terry on keyboard and rhythm guitar. Fiddle and band teacher Buddy Spicher, a former Bill Monroe bluegrass boy, took Kentucky Just Us under his wing and added heavy influences of bluegrass, old-time country and gospel to their sound. “Buddy has taught us many great old classic songs from the past that we have put our own twist to. While being young, we love the old sound of bluegrass and never want that to go away,” said Kacey. In the last five years, the band has had the honor of playing many iconic venues and events such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, Silver Dollar City, and the Bloomin Bluegrass Festival in Farmers Branch, TX. They have also gotten the opportunity to appear on several TV shows including Tim Farmer’s Homemade Jam, Woodsongs, and Our Mountains. 40

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2018 was a big year for Kentucky Just Us as they were chosen by the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum to be the first ever Artists in Residence. They then went on to win second place at the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass contest in Silver Dollar City and began attending HCTC’s Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music to be instructed by the legendary Bobby Osbourne. Kentucky Just Us continues their incredible successes in 2019 with the opportunity to open for the one and only Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out earlier this year. I got the opportunity to catch up with this talented family group to talk about their successes, the future, and what they love most about playing as a family. The Bluegrass Standard: What is your favorite part of this experience of playing bluegrass music as a family? Kentucky Just Us: We get to travel together to new places and meet so many great people - not only fans but many musicians in the bluegrass industry that have been so kind and encouraging to us. TBS: What is your most memorable on-stage moment since you began playing? KJU: When we had the opportunity to open for Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out! The first song of the second set, 3 of the 4 strings on Kacey’s fiddle came unwound in the middle of her break on Molly and Tenbrooks. And it was only her second time to ever perform this song! TBS: What are your favorite songs to perform? KJU: Find Me Out on a Mountain Top, Rocky Top, Frauline, I Can Hear Kentucky Calling Me, and The Bluebirds are Singing for Me TBS: What does it mean to your band to be added to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame at such young ages? KJU: The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum is so full of the history of music in Kentucky. To be selected as the first ever 2018 Artists in Residence was an incredible honor and was a very special experience for us. Not only did we get to perform there once a month, but we also had the opportunity to play at the 2018 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for artists such as Dale Ann Bradley, David “Stringbean” Akeman, Jason Crabb, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jackie DeShannon, and Bobby Lewis. As artists in residence, we have our own display case in the museum holding our very first instruments and memorabilia. The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a very special place to be. TBS: What does it mean to you as young artists to get to spend this year playing with such music legends as Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out?

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KJU: We feel so blessed! We have looked up to, studied after, and admired so many great legends such as Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, Bobby Osborne, Doyle Lawson, Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Skaggs, Dailey and Vincent, and many more. Just to get the opportunities we have had thus far has been nothing short of amazing. TBS: How have Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars leaders helped you with your career in bluegrass? KJU: We first heard about Tomorrow's Bluegrass Stars at SPBGMA in 2016. We were contacted by John Colburn in June 2018 and, honestly, he is the reason we joined TBS. Mr. Colburn’s love for good music and young people really stood out to us and to be selected to be a part of this group is very special to us. We have had the chance to meet many other families and fine bluegrass artists by being a part of TBS. Mr. Colburn is always very encouraging and continues to be one of our biggest supporters as he is with many other TBS artist. We have also had the opportunity to meet Ashlyn Smith, a fellow TBS member, as well as her grandfather and current President of Tomorrow's Bluegrass Stars, Larry Smith. We are looking forward to working with him more in the future. TBS: What is your favorite part about being amongst other young bluegrass musicians in Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars? KJU: It is very encouraging to be amongst people your own age in the music business. Our favorite part is getting the chance to share our experiences with other young artists and learn from each other. TBS: What are your dreams for your future in music – specifically bluegrass? Do you dream of playing together as a family or do you have goals of playing music on your own? KJU: Our overall goal is to follow our hearts on this amazing journey. For us, we started together, and we have never thought of doing it any other way. TBS: Anything new coming up for your band? KJU: We have a lot of new and exciting things coming up! Recently, we had the opportunity to record an EP with fiddle legend, Buddy Spicher that we hope to release soon. TBS: Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your music or your sound?

KJU: We try for our music to be a true representation of who we are, just us. During our short years in the music business, we have made so many friends and fans that have been so supportive of us. We are so blessed to not only do what we love, but to do it together. 42

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A Jones for the Night: For Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, the Sky’s the Limit by Stephen Pitalo When you’re a singer, a songwriter, a guitarist, and a bandleader, that’s a full plate. But then to be hosting SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction as one of the most widely heard broadcasting voices in bluegrass music, Chris Jones might seem to be biting off more than he can chew.

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“It’s hard to compare, because they’re very different branches of what I do, and I get a lot of satisfaction from both,” Chris said. “I’ve been involved to some extent in radio in different forms since I started playing music professionally, but radio has always been a secondary job for me. When I started with what was then Sirius Satellite Radio, I had already been playing bluegrass music professionally for over 20 years, and I wanted to make sure that they knew that my status as artist wouldn’t change when I started working for them. They were fine with that because they’ve brought on a number of artist/DJs in various genres. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to pursue both long time interests of mine as a profession.” This man’s immediate recognizable voice, warm sense of humor and innate talent make him one of bluegrass’s most distinctive personalities, and one of its strongest artists. And whether it’s in the studio or on stage, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers are making some of the most distinctively elegant yet driving music around, delivering it with a unique blend of dry wit, emotional authenticity and broad humor that’s garnered fans from MerleFest in North Carolina to California’s Huck Finn Jubilee, and all around the world. Following apprenticeships with bluegrass legend Dave Evans and Chicago’s durable Special Consensus, Chris moved to Nashville in 1989 as a member of the band Weary Hearts, where his colleagues included Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station), Mike Bub (Del McCoury Band, 18 South) and acclaimed mandolin master, the late Butch Baldassari. Forming Chris Jones & The Night Drivers in the mid-1990s, he’s led the band through a set of stellar recordings and tours while appearing and recording with some of the world’s most respected musicians including The Chieftains, Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements and Tom T. Hall. “I started the band in 1995,” Chris said. “At the time I had been playing with the Lynn Morris Band and playing with the acoustic country act, The McCarters. In a few of the bands I’d been in, such as Weary Hearts or Special Consensus, I was the primary lead singer, and either writing or arranging a lot of the material, so I felt it was time to lead my own band and pursue my own musical path in a long term way. The original members were John Pennell on bass, Doug Knecht on banjo, and Mike Compton on mandolin, who was replaced early on by THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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Jesse Brock.” Chris’ range of talents took center stage at the 2007 IBMA’s Awards Show. There he earned both a Song of The Year award as a co-writer of “Fork in The Road,” the title track of the year’s Album of The Year by the Infamous Stringdusters, and the IBMA’s Broadcaster of The Year trophy. The occasion marked the first time that both music and industry awards have gone to a single person. Jones can’t believe it’s been as long as it has. “Time does fly,” Jones said, “and of course the song has been around a lot longer than that. The Song of the Year award was 12 years ago, but I actually wrote it and recorded it in the late 1990s with John Pennell. He was also the original Union Station bass player, who wrote a number of songs for Alison Krauss and the band.” Jones and the band are currently signed to one of bluegrass music’s top record labels, Mountain Home Music Company, for whom they’ve recorded two critically acclaimed albums and generated five #1 songs on the bluegrass music charts. Altogether, Chris has had nine chart-topping songs, and has won six IBMA awards. The band is led by Chris’ soulful lead-singing, songwriting, and solid rhythm and lead guitar. Chris boasts extensive performance credits as a sideman with artists like Lynn Morris, Vassar Clements, Special Consensus, Dave Evans, Earl Scruggs, and the acclaimed Irish band, The Chieftains. Those varying gigs brought Chris perspective and wisdom.

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“I only got to play on a couple of shows with Earl (Scruggs), and I just considered it one of the great honors of my musical career. Hearing him play that banjo up close, I was just struck all over again by what a brilliant and trail-blazing musician he was. I got to play the Conan O’Brien show with Earl, along with Glen Duncan and the Chieftains. What I learned from that is that Conan O’Brien is really tall. (laughs) “I’ve always been a fan of Irish music,” Chris said of his touring with the Chieftains, “and had played it informally on the side, just in jam session settings, so when the opportunity arose to do a couple of U.S. tours with [the Chieftains], I jumped at the chance. What I loved about what they do on stage is the way they take this heavily arranged music and manage to give it a kitchen jam session feel, even in a large concert hall. The music I play is on the arranged side as well, and so I think I was influenced by those tours in that I like the stage show to still feel informal, so that no two shows are the same, and that we convey to the audience that we’re just enjoying playing music, because we are.” Mark Stoffel, who is originally from Munich, Germany, has a mandolin style that perfectly fits the band sound with his beautiful tone, taste, and rhythmic sense. Jon Weisberger, whose playing has made him a sought-after fill-in bass player in Nashville with The Del McCoury Band, the Roland White Band, Larry Cordle, and others, anchors the band’s strong rhythmic foundation. Newest member, Gina Clowes, a driving and innovative banjo player, and another contributor of original material, hails from Front Royal, VA. Mountain Home recently signed her as a solo artist as well, releasing her critically acclaimed album, True Colors. Altogether, members of Chris Jones & The Night Drivers have won nine IBMA awards and have recorded ten #1 songs, including two from their latest Mountain Home album Made to Move. THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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The Night Drivers also bring name recognition in related fields, as bluegrass fans are well-familiar with Jones for his award-winning work as a SiriusXM DJ, on both Bluegrass Junction and Willie’s Roadhouse. Meanwhile, Jon Weisberger is heard weekly as co-host and producer of Bluegrass Junction’s Hand Picked with Del McCoury. Chris said that people at a Night Drivers show are in for a treat, and the rhythm and groove are key in their sound and performance, but one can’t always predict where the show will go. “We’re a songwriting band, so they can expect plenty of originals, new and old, but also some different arrangements of traditional songs and some covers from other genres worked in, but always, I hope, with an original flavor. On one hand there are lots of serious songs, and we hope first and foremost to touch people or move them through the music, because that’s really why we listen to music, but we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously, so there’s plenty of humor in the show, too. Though my name is in front, I like everyone to contribute in their own unique way, so I like everyone to be featured and appreciated for what they do. It’s very much a band sound. We like it to be driving without hitting people over the head with a lot of hot licks designed to impress. Okay, there may be a hot lick here and there, too. And every now and then some imitations of Lester Flatt and Willie Nelson. You never know.” Chris thinks that the bluegrass scene is exciting right now because of the number of younger people putting their own stamp on it.

“The sheer variety of the kind of bluegrass being played is interesting to me,” Chris said. “I’m a traditionalist at heart, in that I love the music of the first generation of bluegrass artists, but I’m not one who feels that bands who stretch musical boundaries are doing any harm to traditional bluegrass. “Thankfully there are still lots of acts playing the hardcore stuff, and I hope there always will be. I think I enjoy making music that’s uniquely my own or uniquely my band’s, and I like listening to other people who are carving their own path, too, innovating rather than imitating. That’s the very thing that appeals to me about the first-generation artists.”

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The Wasatch, the Whiskey, and the “Pixie”

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It might seem odd that some musicians really into jazz – and a gal into musical theater – would come together to make bluegrass. According to mandolin player Ben Weiss, it’s not odd at all; it’s just right for his band, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, this quintet – described by the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association as the “hottest” band in the Wasatch region – brings a wealth of varied experiences to bear when writing and delivering its original compositions. According to the band’s website, the group was “born out of the belly of a warm cabin after a long day on the slopes, drinking whiskey and singing into the night.” When talking to Weiss, however, it’s clear there was more than whiskey and snow involved; it kinda had something to do with a passion for technically rich, improvisational music. “The three boys, we all grew up in Salt Lake City and studied music in college,” Weiss said. “We were educated in the jazz tradition.” Weiss said he grew up playing guitar and was specifically interested in jazz guitar. He wasn’t raised on bluegrass. For him, it was Santana. The Allman Brothers. The Grateful Dead. “That stuff is etched into my DNA,” he said. Then, he heard mandolinist Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers. “Listening to those guys, I started to realize the mandolin is a pretty serious instrument,” he said. “And not many people play mandolin.” That was about four years ago, and it sounds as if he hasn’t looked back since picking up his new favorite instrument. “I love the role of the mandolin in bluegrass,” he said, explaining it enables him to do some interesting stuff “in a percussive sense.” “All of us pull a lot of influences from many genres,” he said, explaining it’s only the band’s fiddle player that was raised in the mountain music tradition. Weiss said it was a natural transition, because in many ways, jazz and bluegrass share similarities. “It’s one of the most challenging musical styles,” he explained, “because there’s no drums and no amplification... It always caters to the moment, and the audience contributes to how the songs are played.” In addition to Weiss with his mandolin and vocals, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys also includes Katia “Pixie” Racine (lead vocals and ukulele); Amanda B. Grapes (fiddle, vocals); Zach Downes (upright bass); and Andrew Nelson (guitar, vocals). 50

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Another unique feature of Pixie and the Partygrass Boys is the performance style of lead vocalist Katia, aka “Pixie.” “Katia studied musical theater,” Weiss said, explaining how her background gives live shows an added dimension. The presentation might seem a little less “shy” than some of what is seen in bluegrass. “She brings a very lively performative aspect… it’s very expressive.” He said as a vocalist she fits few easy categories, but one of his favorite descriptions referred to her as a “Celtic warrior goddess.” Yet another unique feature of this outfit is that every member writes original songs. It’s hard to find that level of across-the-board musical acumen in an ensemble of any genre. “Every time you come to a show, you get five different songwriting perspectives,” Weiss said. He did indicate, however, that main overall influences include the sounds of Billy Strings, The Lil Smokies, and the genre-bending work of the John Stickley Trio. When asked about the band’s plans, Weiss said: “We’re just going to keep touring nationally. We’re starting to break out of Utah and play a lot of shows in the mountain west... Wyoming... Colorado…” Upcoming summer dates include appearances across the mountain region. For instance, fans might catch the show on July 10 at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, or take in their set at the Rhythms on the Rio Music Festival, held in South Fork, Colorado on Aug. 2.

“We’re just pretty lucky to have found a band that feels more like a family,” Weiss added in summary, with a tone of pure gratitude.

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 Fiddler’s Porch 

by Emerald Butler 7 Mile Bluegrass is a hard-driving band out of central Ohio. They were playing at a festival over a year ago, when Larry Case came up to them and asked bandleader Billy Self to do a bluegrass festival on his property.

“Well, I’ve never done one before, but I’ve been to plenty of them,” Billy responded. After contemplating more on the idea, he checked out Case’s 10-acre property and told him there was plenty of property to do a festival, but they still needed sponsors. Soon after, the band played another show at their local Veterans Affairs office... THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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At the VA, Billy ran into a veteran looking for the food pantry. Billy helped him find the lady in charge and she told the vet that whatever was left he could have, but that’s all they had. When the vet came out, he said, “That’s pretty bad. There ain’t nothin’ hardly in there. I make 600 dollars a month from social security after being in the service, and this is what I come and get to live off for the rest of the month.” Seeing this, Billy had an idea: instead of charging for the festival, he would make it a canned food drive to support the VA. From this point, Billy’s journey into founding a festival evolved into a touching story of charity and generosity. “I wanted to rent a stage,” said Billy, and “a guy says, ‘well, I can do it but it’s going to be about 4,000 dollars for me to bring my stage and my sound. 2,000 dollars for each day.’ I was like, aw, man, really—4,000 dollars for two days?” Yep, that’s what the guy said. So, Billy, who works with forklifts during the week, visits one of his customers, Craig Thornton, at a lumber yard. Craig noticed that Billy was “bummed out” and asked him about it. “I’m just going to work on your forklift and get out of here,” Billy told him, but Craig insisted on knowing what was wrong. When Billy told him, Craig said, “Why don't you just build one?” Billy was also a carpenter and could build anything, but he had never built a stage. And even if he could, how much would it cost? Craig took Billy around back, showed him a pile of lumber, and said, “I want you to take every bit of that and build your own stage.” Billy was stunned and Craig continued, “I know what you’re doing it for. You’re doing it for a good cause. Take it.” Billy had also worked on a forklift that belonged to the Amish community. He told them what he was doing and asked about buying some metal from them and getting a price. “They gave me every bit of the screws and metal to put on that stage. I’ve even had some customers donate the trash cans we’re going to have down there.” 54

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Billy stressed how one thing after another came together. His customers gave all the money for this festival—100 percent, “so I’m giving it back to the vets. I tell you this is all God's will. For some reason, I'm supposed to do this. The first annual 7 Mile Bluegrass festival is scheduled for August 2-3, 2019 in Greenfield, Ohio. Calls from all over the country and Canada have come in requesting information about attendance and performing at the festival. Hammertowne is the featured headliner this year. The festival will also include a great selection of local bands.

“To tell you the truth, my band is floored that I actually came up with this much money to get this thing going,” said Billy. He told them, “Look, let’s do something good. My customers are taking care of the bill. Let’s just make it so we can give back to the public.”

The new stage is named in honor of Craig Thornton, who unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack.

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 Fiddler’s Porch 

Country Current Navy Band by Emerald Butler Missouri native Kenny Ray Horton is a songwriter, entertainer, father, husband, and active duty Navy Sailor. He will tell you he’s got too many irons in the fire, and he’s not sure how he balances it all. He’s still learning, and hopes he never stops doing so. Currently serving in the United States Navy, Kenny Ray is the lead singer and representative for the US Navy's Premier Country and Bluegrass band Country Current. While the Navy is his focus and priority, he is preparing for his retirement in 2020.

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Kenny Ray grew up in the Rocky Comfort, Missouri community where a strong musical heritage included songwriter Albert E. Brumley, author of gospel staples “I’ll Fly Away,” “Turn Your Radio On,” and “Rank Stranger.” Like most aspiring young songwriters, he moved to Nashville to pursue his career in the music industry. There, he rubbed elbows with now-famous artists like Blake Shelton while simultaneously living off days-old Sonic hamburgers. Eventually Kenny Ray burned out. “I joined the Navy in December of 2000. I actually did it to get away from music. I was getting kind of disenchanted with how the industry was going. Digital was taking over, the big Napster thing had just happened, and I was watching my heroes, big songwriters and artists, losing their deals because the cutbacks were starting to happen, and labels were thinning out," he remembered. With several of his buddies getting shelved by labels, and writers losing their publishing deals, Kenny Ray decided to see what else was out there. He joined the Navy as an electronic technician, graduated boot camp, and was going through the A school when he picked up the base paper and saw a photo of someone, as he puts it, “singing at the top of his lungs.” He went to his chief to ask about it and, “She told me to wait two weeks. I didn’t do that. I immediately missed the next two musters, which I would have been in a lot of trouble for. I went over to the band house on the Great Lakes Navy Base,” said THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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Kenny Ray. There he found the commander of all the Navy bands, Commander Mark Hammond, who asked why Kenny Ray was there. When he replied that he was there to audition for the band. The Commander responded, “Well, what do you do?” Kenny Ray replied, “I sing and play guitar.” They handed him a guitar right there and the Commander said, “prove it.” “So,” said Kenny Ray, “I played Amarillo By Morning, Night Moose, and Jack and Diane.” In response, the Commander had three things to say, “number one, you’re hired,” number two, they have some paperwork down the hall. They're going to audition you but don't worry; you’re hired. Number three you’re going to lunch with us, and number four you have a show in the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee in one week, are you good with that?” Kenny Ray only had one thing to say to that… “Yes sir!” He immediately dove into the music he was trying to get away from. “It was one of the best things musically for me to get back into it.” Still, strict rules and regulations apply to Kenny Ray, mainly due to social media, where he must delineate himself between his private musical things and the professional musical things he does in the Navy. “I can still have a professional life outside the Navy,” said Kenny.

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However, being in the Navy a very hard line is drawn, but that’s ok. “I’ve learned to walk that line. The Navy has been really good for me. It gave me a sense of direction.” He speaks of his Navy career with pride, humility, and gratefulness. The Country Current Navy band has entertained and inspired Navy families, officers, and leaders. People often ask why the military has a band. “There is something to be said for a live band. We were one of the first two groups of musicians to be founded in the Navy because we were utilized as a recruiting tool… We are here for the United States of America. That’s who we represent… It’s a source of pride for me just to be a part of it.” As Kenny Ray prepares for Navy retirement, he is making plans for his next musical journey. With a new personal album in the recording process, Kenny is also preparing to hit the road as much as possible. “I just hope that when I do get back out there on my own that folks will like what I’m writing.”

KennyRayHorton.com United States Navy Band THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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Far from Old Hat

Old Men in Hats Are About Harmony, Tradition, Faith and Fashion Sense by Stephen Pitalo Graying-and-praying bluegrass quartet Old Men in Hats are not just identifiable by their sturdy headgear, but also their attention to denim detail. All four regularly don classic overalls as stage attire, so much so that they wrote a tribute instrumental called “Roundhouse” as a tribute to their favorite brand, which is also the oldest THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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brand still making overalls today. But that’s just the kind of band they are. “If you know anybody that works for Roundhouse Overalls out there, we could use a few pairs!” joked founding member Rickey Preston. Although formed just two years ago, Old Men in Hats (OMIH) members Preston and T. Wayne Bailey have been playing together since high school in Waldron, Arkansas, a town widely known as the home of the renown Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival. Fellow members Dennis Keigley and Tim Hill are from Watts, Oklahoma, and Springdale, Arkansas, respectively. The band formed in Brentwood, Arkansas, a hotbed of bluegrass in Northwest Arkansas and current home base for the band. Playing traditional bluegrass and gospel music, OMIH don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but would rather add to an already amazing culture and history. “There's still a whole world of room for creativity in the traditional music, and we're trying to tap into that creativity,” Preston said. “There's a new generation of players and singers who are looking back to the roots of the music, and we love what they are doing with the music, we just don't have to look back quite as far (laughs)!” Make no mistake, though. These senior citizens don’t let the years tamp down their talent; they belt out four-part harmonies like nobody’s business, with Rick Preston singing lead and playing guitar, Wayne Bailey singing tenor and playing mandolin, Dennis singing baritone and playing the banjo and Tim Hill both singing and playing bass. “I will always remember the first time 62

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we sang four-part harmony together,” Preston recalled. “We were working an old acapella gospel song of Ralph Stanley's called ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee,’ and suddenly there was just a wall of sound all around me! I've sung for a long time, with a lot of people, but it was such a powerful moment that I will never forget it. It’s great to be a part of something that can touch you like that.” Although their harmonies come together nicely, old men are not always wellbehaved men. “These guys are a blast to be around,” Preston said, “and some of us may have raised some cane as young men, but all of us have spent time praying that all those crops would fail (laughs).” And as for the name, they are obviously not spring chickens, but what’s with the hats? “I have lived way out in the Arkansas backwoods all my life,” Preston explained. “When I was young, we would gather at our little church and the leaders and deacons would gather outside before church started and they would discuss church business and the best way of taking care of people in the community who needed help. Most of them usually wore overalls and felt hats. They were the original old men in hats, and they were probably younger than I am now (laughs). It's to honor those men and men like them. And honestly, it's the way I dress all the time anyway.” Old Men in Hats have a new album on CD called "Walking Into Glory,” and all the songs are gospel in nature. “I wrote the title track, but Wayne and Dennis have added so much to it that they THE BLUEGRASS STANDARD

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should have gotten writing credits,” Preston said. “It was important to us to do the gospel CD first, and we've been well pleased with the response. We have gotten some radio play from great shows and stations like Uncle Ben's Bluegrass Gospel Show on King of Kings Radio out of Somerset, Kentucky. We hope that the people hearing the tracks have the same blessing we did performing and recording it.” They go back to the studio this fall for their very first straight ahead, driving, bluegrass album and are all excited. “We have several things that will always be at every Old Men in Hats show,” Preston told us. “We are always looking for originality in every song, whether we wrote the song ourselves, or can add enough to it to make it our own. We always look for authenticity in our music. The feelings that Bill [Monroe] and Ralph [Stanley] felt singing all those great songs are real emotions that are still relevant today, and we strive to make the audience feel those same emotions. That's the way we feel performing them.” You’ll never see a OMIH show without hearing old-time mountain gospel music -or as Wayne likes to call it, mountain soul -- and a couple of them will probably be acapella quartet numbers. “We love bringing our testimony through these songs. We love hearing the ‘amens’ from the audience and seeing that others are as deeply affected by these songs as we are. And it’s just plain ol' fun! We laugh a lot, we enjoy what we are doing, and we want to share that experience. I don't remember who said it, but the old saying goes something like this, ‘They may not remember every song you played, but they will remember how you made them feel.’ We always try to keep that in mind. Oh, and if we sing ‘Gloryland,’ Rick will probably stumble with the words because he's probably about to cry.”

But has any of the Old Men ever forgotten his hat?

“Nobody has ever forgotten their hats for a performance,” Preston revealed. “The other guys would NEVER let them live it down!” 64

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EXTRA: OLD MEN TALK ABOUT OLDER MEN We asked each member of Old Men in Hats who they would say is their favorite and/or influence in bluegrass. Rick: "The Stanley Brothers!!!!" Wayne: "My dad, first of all, then Bob Bowen and Jim Howell, Rick and his brother Randy Preston, Russell Sparks, Kent Wells, and David Slater, then Flatt and Scruggs, the Dillards, Bluegrass Cardinals, Hot Rize, and many, many other groups." Dennis: "Roy Clark, Glen Campbell, Flatt and Scruggs and the Dillards." Tim: "Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, the Osborne Brothers, and Larry Sparks."

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Taking the Bluegrass World by Storm:

The Grace Constable Story by Shelby C. Berry Imagine the sound of an electric guitar cranking way up playing the loudest song you know. Then think of a finger-picking ballad that sounds completely different but just as riveting. Did you ever think that these two songs could pour so seamlessly from the same young musician?

Yeah—us either. If you are a fan of bluegrass or folksy music – especially the kind where one plays a mean finger-picking guitar, then brace yourself for the talent that is Grace Constable. This seventeen-year-old from Tennessee has all the makings of a 66

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bluegrass-loving rock star—before graduating high school. At a young age, Grace was influenced by her older sister Chelsea Constable, a highly accomplished performer and YouTube sensation. While her older sister started gaining attention as a teen and now has her own solo album, it was fitting that Grace chose to pursue music as well. “I remember always wanting to be a rock star when I was young,” said Grace. “I thought anyone who had a guitar in their hand was the coolest person in the world. When I was younger, I listened to a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The first chord I learned was the G chord, the first chord in “Free Bird.” And that was about nine years ago.” When Grace first began playing guitar, she dreamed of playing rock or metal music, cranking her electric guitar as loud as it would go each time she played. Slowly, she transited to acoustic music to strengthen her hands, and she fell in love. Grace adores playing all styles of music from bluegrass and fingerpicking to rock, ballad, and jazz. The inspiration of her heroes’ on-stage presence, specifically female artists like Sister Rosette Tharpe, and the way they connected with the crowd is what led to Grace’s dream of pursuing music full-time. “I get nervous when I perform live, but the energy you feel from a good crowd is addicting. It makes you feel unstoppable,” said Grace. While Grace is still a high school student, she is looking forward to next semester where she will begin the dual enrollment program with East Tennessee State University in Johnson City in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program.

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This program will offer Grace the ability to study bluegrass music and instruments at an undergraduate level while also pursuing her own music and taking lessons from flatpicking bluegrass legend Wyatt Rice, brother to “the” Tony Rice. “If you had told me three years ago that I would be studying under one of my heroes, I would have laughed at you!” said Grace. “It is surreal. To me, it’s validation. It is an honor that Wyatt even took me on to be my mentor.” “He believes in me and what I am doing. When one of your heroes believes in you, anything feels possible! He has taught me so much in such a short amount of time. I am very lucky to have him as a mentor and as a friend. His encouragement is so powerful.” While studying under Wyatt is important to Grace and her career, the program at ETSU will help her learn the basic of musical performance, as she looks toward a full-time career in bluegrass music. Surrounding herself with a wide variety of other megatalented bass players, fiddlers, banjo players, and mandolinists will encourage her to be the best artist she can be. Grace and her sister Chelsea grew up playing music together and both can play the acoustic and electric guitars. However, they couldn’t be more different in the direction of their chosen careers with music. While Grace learned a lot from her older sister, they grew into their own music, drifting into personal styles, personal goals, and personal musical influences. “Playing with Chelsea is truly a lot of fun. I think we challenge each other quite a bit when we practice together,” said Grace. “One of us is always bringing something new to the table, challenging the other one. It never gets old.” While they prefer different styles of music, both Grace and Chelsea are endorsed by Taylor Guitars. Grace is also endorsed by other companies as she moves forward in her own direction. 68

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“To me, being endorsed by a company is more than just a sponsorship. You have to have a well-working relationship with the people at the company as well. The companies that I endorse have good ethics, very kind people behind their operation, and good, quality instruments that are well-made,” said Grace. As Grace begins the next steps in her career, she is most proud of her growth as a composer. “I have a love for writing music. It’s probably my favorite thing about playing music.” In addition to pursuing her dreams of writing, enrolling as an ETSU student, and studying under Wyatt Rice, Grace also has some big things coming for her fans in the very near future, so stay tuned and keep your eye peeled for the next big thing from Grace.

“I’d love to leave your readers with one thing – go your own way. If someone tries to stop you in Plan A, have a Plan B, C, D, and so on. The biggest bit of advice I can give about what I’ve learned in music is that someone is going to constantly doubt you and judge you because of a dream that you have. If you want to be a rock star, make it happen. Just go for it.”

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Summer Bluegrass Events Father's Day Grass Valley, CA June 13-16

Mt. St. Helens Washington August 9-11

RockyGrass Lyons, CO July 26-28 SW Pickers Red River, NM August 22-25

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Sally Mountain Queen City, MO July 3-7

Brown County Georgetown, OH August 22-24

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Remington Ryde Centre Hill, PA July 3-7

Bean Blossom Indiana June 8-16

Raleigh, NC Sep 24-28

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June Bluegrass Festivals

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Dates

Event

Location

Jun 5-8

Bluegrass in the Hills

Hopedale, Ohio

Jun 6-8

Cherokee Bluegrass Festival

Cherokee, N. Carolina

Jun 6-8

HOBA Spring Bluegrass Festival

Big Sky , Montana

Jun 7-8

HoustonFest

Galax, Virginia

Jun 7-9

Circa Blue Fest

Martinsburg, W. VA

Jun 7-9

Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival

Pasco, Washington

Jun 8-16

Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival

Bean Blossom, IN

Jun 13-15

Blue Ox Music Festival

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Jun 13-16

Father's Day Bluegrass Festival

Grass Valley, CA

Jun 14-16

Wenatchee River Bluegrass Festival

Cashmere, WA

Jun 15-22

Rudy Fest Bluegrass Festival

Morehead, Kentucky

Jun 20-22

Charlotte Bluegrass Festival

Charlotte, Michigan

Jun 20-23

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Telluride, Colorado

Jun 26-29

ROMP Festival

Owensboro, Kentucky

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July Festivals & Events Dates

Event

Location

Jul 3-7

Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival

Centre Hill, Penn.

Jul 3-7

Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival

Queen City, Missouri

Jul 12-13

Uncle Dave Macon Days

Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Jul 18-21

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival

Oak Hill, New York

Jul 18-21

Northwest String Summit

North Plains, Oregon

Jul 24-27

The MACC Bluegrass Festival

Marengo, Ohio

Jul 25-28

Brantling Bluegrass Festival

Sodus, New York

Jul 26-28

RockyGrass

Lyons, Colorado

Jul 30 - Aug 3

Pickin' in Parsons

Parsons, West Virginia

For the complete list with links to full info, check out our Events tab at TheBluegrassStandard.com!

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Volume 3, Issue 3, featuring: Sam Bush, The Travelin' McCourys, Della Mae, Billy Droze, Five Mile Mountain Road, Bradley Walker, Zach & Savanna Wright, Silas Powell, Billy Strings, Adam Steefey, Hillbilly Fever, Flamekeeper, The Country Gentlemen, and Musicians Against Childhood Cancer!


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from the Publisher's desk

s Standard Every month, The Bluegras bluegrass e th d an – nd ou gr w ne breaks ought... th er ev we an th r de wi world is eck in from More and more readers ch our own in st ju t no d, rl wo e th around e our new om lc we we h nt mo is Th . backyard n – yōkoso! bluegrass fans from Japa Keith Barnacastle — Publisher

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The Bluegrass Standard - Desktop - Volume 3, Issue 6  

The desktop edition of The Bluegrass Standard is perfect for your computer screen, laptop or other large device! This month we feature the E...

The Bluegrass Standard - Desktop - Volume 3, Issue 6  

The desktop edition of The Bluegrass Standard is perfect for your computer screen, laptop or other large device! This month we feature the E...