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February 2015

As we put the finishing touches on the final issue for 2014, I am

thoughtful of these words by famous music icon Billy Joel, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” I witness the power of music every day here in the AR office–from the CDs that come across my desk; to the countless press releases and announcements that fill my in box every week, which tell the tales and stories of talented musicians pursuing and living their dream and sharing a message—their message—with the world. There are too many of you to thank individually for your efforts; nevertheless, we honor you, all of you, for your passion and your determination. With a new year dawning, we are grateful to the friends who’ve joined us on this journey, and we’re excited to continue on with you in 2015. See you next year! Questions, comments, suggestions: greg@americanarhythm.com


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Americana Rhythm is published six times a year. All corresponCONTRIBUTORS dence should be sent to PO Box 45, Bridgewater VA, 22812 or Ed Tutwiler email to greg@americanarhythm.com. Copies of Americana Wayne Erbsen Rhythm are made available free at various pick up locations within Donna Ulisse the publication’s region. Subscriptions are available inside the United Don and Martha DePoy States (only) for $16 US currency made payable by check or money Andrew McKnight order sent to, Subscriptions at PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812. Donna Marie Miller Foreig n su bscrip tion req u ests shou l d b e sen t to greg@americanarhythm.com. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. DISTRIBUTION Reproduction of any content, artwork or photographs is strictly Ed Tutwiler prohibited without permission of the publisher or original owner. All Zebra Media advertising material subject to approval. Associated Dist. PUBLISHER/EDITOR IN CHIEF Downtown Books Greg E. Tutwiler The Purple Fiddle Associate Editor Floyd Country Store Ed Tutwiler Shen. Valley Farmers Mkt. MARKETING & PROMOTION Heritage Farmers Mkt. Mark Barreres (GrassRootsNetworking.com) ... many more! ADVERTISING Letters, Comments, Suggestions Business office 540-433-0360 greg@americanarhythm.com advertising@americanarhythm.com www.americanarhythm.com



February 2015

that quantum step, the Prism Coffeehouse became legendary.

Turning The Lights Back On As

a reader of Americana Rhythm Music Magazine, you know that we have positive feelings for live-music venues and cheer for their success every time we get the opportunity. You also know that we share your sense of loss every time one of these venues is forced to close. While it is a rare occurrence when one of these closings gets reversed, it is a joy when it happens. Such is the case for the Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville, VA. Prior to its 2006 closing, the Prism Coffeehouse enjoyed a 40-year run at the corner of Gordon Avenue and Rugby Road in a 100 seat room that always seemed smaller than what it really was. While it was known as a coffeehouse, the

Prism was not the typical clattering environment the name causes one to picture. Rather, the Prism was more listening room than roadhouse; and even though folks were sometimes packed to standing room only numbers, the mood was quiet and attentive. This quiet reverence for the performers and their music was such that a local radio station, WTJU, produced live broadcasts of some of the performances. The range of talented performers that graced the Prism with their presence is legendary as the Prism showcased all kinds of music—jazz, blues, folk, rock and just about everything in between.

By Edward Tutwiler

A Friendly Refuge

A group of Charlottesville area ministers started the Prism Coffeehouse in 1966 as a place of friendly refuge for University of Virginia students who were opposed to the Vietnam War. From this beginning as a gathering place for like-minded folks, music was a natural outgrowth. Over time, the Prism evolved to become a gathering place for fans of folk and mountain string-music; and as an outlet for local and regional singer/ songwriters to showcase their talent. Sometime around 1990, the board members who oversaw Prism operations hired a capable artistic director who was able to book world-renowned artists of all styles to the Prism stage. With


As with all good things, the Prism Coffeehouse came to an end in 2006. A number of factors led to this closing including a loss of the lease for the venue that the Prism called home. This clos ure represented a sad time for followers of the type of live music that had graced the Prism stage for so long. Recently, the folk mus ic director for radio station WTJU, Mr. Peter Jones, spearheaded an effort to revive the Prism experience. He recruited some original Prism board members from the 1990’s and added new members to join him in this effort. All of the board members are fans of Americana mus ic and are excited about the possibilities of continuing the legacy of staging great traditional, acoustic folk music in Charlottesville and hope to


February 2015

recreate the listening room experience of the original Prism Coffeehouse.

New Leadership

This newly formed board of directors for the revived Prism Coffeehouse (that is the legal name, by the way) determined that there was enough local interest in such a revival to make the effort worthwhile but that there needed to be money available to make the effort viable. To learn how that effort went forward, I contacted Mr. Pete tion. It is somewhat of a movMarshall who is one of the new able feast as it starts out on this board members. He told me revival quest and will present that they decided to raise concerts in various venues for money through an online the time being. (Editor note, I crowd funding campaign suggest that this portability through the indiegogo crowd might be positive as funding website it gives the Prism a (www.indiegogo.com). How did that “We’re not really sort of traveling variety s how vibe.) fund raising turn out you might rising from the Among the various venues being used ask. Here in Mr. dead,We’re just for this Prism reMarshall’s words is the answer to sort of coming out vival, is a former church building that question, of the shadows.” that is located at 112 “The campaign West Market St. in handily met its d oImage w credit n t https:// o w n original goal of trueblueridge.files.wordpress.com Charlottesville and is known raising $5000, and then met as The Haven. This facility is a and surpassed a stretch goal of resource center and day shel$8000, which was gratifying in ter for Charlottesville’s homeand of its self, but it also less people and it makes its proved to the Prism’s board sanctuary room available for that there was significant intercommunity gatherings and est in a revival of the Prism.” concerts. Mr. Marshall told us that not every act the Prism will A good portion of the funds book would fill the Haven’s plus a generous in-kind donasanctuary so they will also turn tion from the Crutchfield to alternate venues, such as Company helped the Prism’s Charlottesville Coffee. board to acquire a high quality digital sound system. This new sound system will provide great live sound, but also provide the means to record some of the future concert presentations directly into a computer via multiple channels, as in a recording studio. As Mr. Marshall put it, “We hope to continue the legacy of live concert recordings for which the previous incarnation of the Prism gained a well-deserved reputation.”

The revived Prism Coffeehouse’s first concert was held at The Haven in October, 2014. Mr. Marshall said this revival concert featured three local acts and was a great success. He further stated that the number of folks who attended this first concert reinforced the board’s belief that there is room in the local music scene for a listening-room type of public performance by artists of the style and type that played the old Prism but who now often bypass Charlottesville for lack of such a venue.

It’s All Good

To ring out the old year and ring in the new one, the Prism will participate in First Night Virginia with a Prism Coffeehouse Stage at the First Methodist Church in Charlottesville. This concert will feature the well respected local bluegrass gospel band, The Deanes, and the national touring act, The Honey Dewdrops. The Charlottesville Coffee venue will be the location

Looking For New Digs

The Prism does not yet have its own permanent physical loca-


for the January 11, 2015 presentation of the award-winning Canadian songwriter Old Man Luedecke; however, The Haven will be the location for The Dry Branch Fire Squad, concert on Friday March 6, 2015. Also, the Prism has promised each one of the three acts from their kick-off concert their own stand-alone gigs in the future. Marshall summed all of this with this comment, “As you can see, our schedule includes a real mixture of old and new, local, regional, national and international acts.”


It is always good news when a fledgling live-music venue turns on its lights for the first time but I believe it is much greater news when an old, respected, and sorely missed venue from the past can turn their lights back on after they had to go dark no matter what the reason. Such is the case for the new Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville, VA. We here at the magazine office certainly wish them every bit of good wishes on the future of this revival. If you wish to follow this developing story, point your computer’s browser to http:// prismcoffeehouse.org/. This is also the place to check out the performance schedule for the coming year. I know I certainly want to be there for that March performance of The Dry Branch Fire Squad—how about you? Plus, Mr. Marshall said, “Yes, coffee is likely to be part of the equation!”

February 2015

2014’s Best Revealed

The lines dividing the different genres of string based music become more

blurred everyday. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; however for the listener it can make it more difficult to discern what exactly is your favorite kind of music. Thankfully, somewhere along the way the term Americana Music grew to encompass it all. What began as a radio format in the early 1990s has become viewed by many as the hottest growing music format out there today. The Americana Music Association describes it this way; “Americana is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.” So, who was the best Americana act this past year? The Americana Music Association recently released its Top 100 Albums of the Year. The list was based on the records reported to the Americana Airplay Chart during the period of December 2, 2013 through December 1, 2014. 1. Rosanne Cash - The River & The Thread 2. Nickel Creek - A Dotted Line 3. Rodney Crowell - Tarpaper Sky 4. Hard Working Americans - Hard Working Americans 5. Old Crow Medicine - Show Remedy 6. Nikki Lane - All Or Nothin’ 7. Lake Street Dive - Bad Self Portraits 8. Shovels And Rope - Swimmin’ Time 9. John Hiatt - Terms Of My Surrender 10. Sturgill Simpson Metamodern - Sounds In Country Music 11. Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin - Common Ground 12. St. Paul & The Broken - Bones Half The City 13. Parker Millsap - Parker Millsap 14. Willie Nelson - Band Of Brothers 15. Paul Thorn - Too Blessed To Be Stressed 16. Lucinda Williams - Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone 17. Trampled By Turtles - Wild Animals 18. Various - A Tribute To Jackson Browne Looking Into You 19. Keb Mo - BLUESAmericana 20. Secret Sisters - Put Your Needle Down 21. John Fullbright - Songs 22. Amos Lee - Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song 23. Jamestown Revival - Utah 24. Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison - Our Year 25. Jason Eady - Daylight & Dark Also appearing on the list were the remaining 75 entries; Infamous Stringdusters, Johnny Cash, Red Molly, Duhks, Drive By Truckers, Lee Ann Womack, Ruthie Foster, Marty Stuart, Avett Brothers, and obviously many others. To see the complete Top 100, go to http://americanamusic.org/ americana-music-association-announces-top-10-top-100-albums-2014.



February 2015

As the days grow colder and the suppers that I prepare grow more comforting, I always feel a bit closer to my sweet grandmother, Martha Marie Nichols Butler. Though she is residing somewhere beyond the clouds, it seems that she is just around the corner from me. With the approach of Christmas, I am reminded of her childlike excitement as she readied herself for the holidays. I can see her as though it were happening right in front of me today. With each stage of Martha’s decorating, cooking, and shopping; a song would burst forth in her fine, strong alto voice. She lived with a constant song, and it is still one of the loudest voices in my head. Christmas to me is still something in eye-catching red, something savory on the stove, and (to


complete the memory of my grandmother) badly wrapped packages. I long to see them crowding the space under my tree filled with five and dime gifts; socks, soaps, bubble baths, baubles, off-brand toys, all the things I would love to open up just one more time in her presence. In fact, I carry on her tradition of boxes filled with white socks for all of my loved ones on Christmas day. And guess what? I forgot to buy them last year and I am still hearing about it today. I won’t forget that trick this year. All these Yuletide memories that I am sharing are to give you an example of the pictures I can pluck out of my writers mind and put to song. This particular holiday can be many things to many folks. It can bring on nostalgia, sadness,

depression, incredible joy, longing, anger, laughter, family drama, happy family gatherings, well; you get it a roller coaster of emotions, all things good for a writer. If you are a writer needing inspiration, this time of year is loaded with it. I encourage you to take a look down through your past, present, and even into your future, to see the inspiration and then write about it. Sad or happy, it doesn’t matter. Get the image out of your head and on the paper. I will give you a song example that I have written, about the images I just revealed to you, and let you see how my imagination rolls. [See “Miss Martha’s Christmas Eve” to the right of this page.] Though you will not have the reference to melody, maybe your


eye can pick up the rhythm and allow it to play in your imagination. It is upbeat, just like miss Martha. Until we gather on these pages the next time take, a look at your old memories with a writer’s eye and see what you can come up with. They are the things songs are made of! Donna Ulisse has been a two time nominee for IBMA Songwriter of the Year, a signed songwriter to Uncle Hadley Music (ASCAP) in Nashville, for 15 years, and has released seven bluegrass albums on the Hadley Music Group label. Her songs have been recorded by Claire Lynch, Nu-Blu, The Bankesters, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Louise Mosrie, Diana Jones. One of her songs appeared on the 2014 Grammy winning album Streets of Baltimore by the Del McCoury Band. She has just published her first book The Songwriter In Me: Snapshots of My Creative Process, available on Amazon.com.


One More

Not long ago, much to the chagrin

of his loyal fans, Dr. Ralph Stanley announced at a festival that he would be retiring. After all, the decorated legendary pioneer of Bluegrass music is nearly 90 years old. Mid-way through his farewell tour he decided to … well maybe not. He told the Chicago-Sun Times last January, “I had planned to retire after this year and I reconsidered ... I didn’t know how my health would be. And I didn’t know if I would be able. So I decided that I would just wait until it happened.” Almost a year later, he’s still going strong, and a new CD on the way, January, 19th, 2015, on the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® label. Stanley, a three-time GRAMMY Award winner and International Bluegrass Hall of Honor inductee will be joined on the CD, Ralph Stanley & Friends: Man Of Constant Sorrow, by guests such as Dierks Bentley, Elvis Costello, Del McCoury, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale, Old Crow Medicine Show, Robert Plant, Ricky Skaggs,

Nathan Stanley, Josh Turner, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and Lee Ann Womack. “I have always enjoyed performing with other musicians ever since my older brother Carter and I first started playing music together when we were kids,” said Stanley. “So many of my fans are regular visitors to Cracker Barrel, so I’m happy to have my project available exclusively there in one of their favorite locations.” Cracker Barrel Marketing Manager Julie Craig said, “Cracker Barrel is honored to offer this album featuring the legendary Ralph Stanley, and a variety of talented artists through our exclusive music program. I know they will enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime album ”




February 2015

Oh Brother, Oh Sister

By Greg Tutwiler

Lee, and his big sis, Elaine Roy,

know as The Roys, are fast becoming a festival staple these days and a fan favorite. Their immaculate harmonies, outstanding musicianship, and talented songwriting combine traditional bluegrass/ country and a progressive Americana instrumental approach to create a sound that’s all their own.

Since making the decision to move to Nashville eight years ago, there’s been no looking back. Here are just a few of the accolades bestowed on the siblings; They have won the Inspirational Country Music (ICM) Duo of the Year four years in a row. Their debut album with Rural Rhythm Records, Lonesome Whistle, landed on Billboard’s Top 50 Bluegrass Albums of 2011 chart. The CD’s success earned them a 2011 award for the ICM Bluegrass Artist of the Year, and a No. 1 single, “Coal Minin’ Man.” Their second CD for the label, New Day Dawning, debuted at #2 on the Billboard’s Bluegrass A lbums Chart, reached #1 on Amazon’s Bluegrass Best-Sellers list. Their 2013 release, Runaway Train, earned a Top 5 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart and hit #1 on Sirius XM Bluegrass Junction’s Most-Played Albums chart (Oct. 2013). In 2014 they were named the #1 Bluegrass Artist of the 2014 International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA).

Northern Grass

Children of French-Canadian parents, Lee and Elaine were born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, but the passing of their grandmother drew the family back to New Brunswick where they would find music as one of the few available pastimes. “Just about everyone on my mom’s side of the family played an instrument of some kind,” Lee told me. “It was a very small town and there wasn’t a lot to do. But I tell you, there was a lot of music around us growing up.” “Our Grandma LeBlanc played Acadian tunes on her fiddle while


my aunts and uncles joined in,” Elaine recalls. “It was truly ‘Roots’ music. We fell in love with that ‘honest’ sound, and our harmonies seemed to fit that style of music,” added Lee. They were keenly aware of each other’s musical abilities, but it took a while for them to realize they shared a common vision for the future. “I had always dreamed about going to Nashville,” stated Elaine. “I was amazed when I learned my brother shared that vision as well.” “It was something that we both wanted – and it just seemed natural to pursue it,” Lee said.

Young Prodigies

By the time he was 10 (in the mid80s), Lee was playing in a bluegrass band with his cousins. Elaine was playing too, in a bluegrass/country band around the same time, but as Lee recalls, “we always got asked to do things together. They wound never ask for her band or my

band. I think deep down even then we knew that is what we would eventually end up doing. We were very much influenced by the same kind of music and really did like performing together.” So they did. The siblings toured as a two-piece lounge act for a while, and then spent some time touring with the late George Jones, before taking a brake from the road. “Country music started to really go in a direction that we didn’t want to go,” Lee said. “When we started going to places and people would say, ‘wow, you guys still have a fiddle player?’ we knew country music was changing. Less and less people wanted us to cover Merle Haggard and wanted to know if we knew the latest Shania Twain song or whatever was popular at the time. We both really just needed to get jobs and move forward with our lives for a while.” So they put the


touring on hold and settled into a nine-to-five lifestyle for a season.

Back Around Again

But the music continued to stir in their hearts. “We had been doing straight hard core country at that time – but we still always had a flair for bluegrass. We just stuck to our guns.” Lee remembered. One day, good friend/now manager, Kurt Webster took them into his office and said, ‘you guys have a real rootsy feel; why don’t you cut another album that’s more to your roots. Let’s just do it like you were making a gift for mom and dad, and see what happens.’ I said, ‘do you want us to do bluegrass?’ And he said, ‘do whatever you feel the song needs and let’s see what we come up with.’ And we came up with pretty much a straight forward bluegrass album.” Webster said after hearing the finished CD, “this is your heart; this is what you need to do.”

February 2015

That was the Lonesome Whistle album. They shopped it around a little bit, until the Rural Rhythm label eventually picked it up – and as they say, the rest is history. “Ever since then we’ve been blessed to just go out everyday and play music for a living. We didn’t have to worry about, where does this fit – its bluegrass, and it’s our heart – our heritage.” So eight years ago they made the move to Nashville to make a go at full time music. “We’ve eaten bologna like everyone else,” Lee said, “and every once in a while we get to have a steak, but we’ve been very blessed and fortunate to be able to call this our career.”

Timing Is Everything

“Bluegrass is really becoming the new hip thing right now. When the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? came out, bluegrass artists enjoyed this huge wave for a while,” Lee observed. “But it started to die down a bit. And it’s really coming back to the forefront again under this new term Americana. What it really needed was a shot of modernism, I think. People started to say, ‘don’t pigeon hole it and say it has to sound like … (blank). Now string based music is being influenced by modern music – being played by artists that listen to all kinds of other things. And this new bend in the music has emerged. It’s not that walls have crumbled because you don’t want to lose that heritage. But I think artists have been able to experiment more with the sounds and bring a fresh perspective to an old standard, and they’re not getting shunned for it anymore.” The Roys, like many other new bluegrass groups, have been able to carve their own niche’ within this ever growing genre’. It’s refreshing to see artists starting to make it in an industry that is more friendly and approachable than just about any other format available today.

Authentic And Original

Like many roots/bluegrass/Americana groups, The Roys write the majority of their songs. It’s their original music that adds to the character of the band and authenticity of their sound. “Our music is rooted in life – it’s the stories we hear when people come up to talk to us – if you really listen, there’s inspiration everywhere,” Lee said. “At the end of the day, we approach every record as if it’s going to be our last,” he said, “and ask the question; what do we want to say on that record? What’s the message we want to send to the listener, to the audience? We’ll have songs that could easily include a steel guitar or maybe drums. For us, growing up, it was Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty; and Bill Monroe, and the Osborne Brothers. That’s our foundation and the roots of our sound.”

The View

For their fourth CD on Rural Rhythm, the duo continues their signature roots sound with possibly their best effort to date. Some consider this the truest representation of The Roys sound so far. Backed by current band mates Clint White (fiddle), Daniel Patrick (banjo) and Erik Alvar (bass), the siblings say they are quite proud of this project. “Elaine and I have poured our hearts into this project,” Lee said. “We really wanted to promote our sound and tell our story with this record ”




February 2015

Better Than Just On Line Lessons So, you’re finally ready to mas-

Flatpick Guitar School student said, “I love having pretty much every bit of instructional material I need in one place, and being able to converse directly with the teacher, Bryan Sutton, via the forums, etc., that’s pretty danged priceless.”

ter that banjo, or mandolin, or guitar that’s been sitting around in your living room staring at you every evening when you get home from work. Or, maybe you are looking to hone your skills by learning some new chords or perfecting a new lick. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could take a few lessons from one of your favorite musicians like Tony Trischka, or Andy Hall, (Dobro player with the Infamous Stringdusters)? You can! And it’s way more cool than you imagine. Enter ArtistWorks Inc.

Not Just Any Teacher

Can’t Find It, Create It

The story goes; In 2008, former AOL executive David Butler set out to finally master jazz guitar. With no acceptable teachers in his area, he and co-Founder Patricia Butler built a revolutionary online system to enable anyone to get direct feedback from a master teacher anywhere in the world. ArtistWorks is not just an online tutorial. They offer unique, online lessons for not just first time players, but seasoned performers as well. It’s interactive, with worldclass musicians watching, and personally responding to practice videos submitted by you, the student. The teacher’s response is “paired with the corresponding student submission and both sides of the interaction are available to all members.” This unique learning model has established an ever growing library of invaluable knowledge, along with an enthusiastic and interactive global community. According to CEO Patricia Butler, “This new generation Video Exchange® Learning Platform enables world-renowned artists and musicians to teach the world by presenting their artistic legacy in the form of HD video lessons and direct feedback to subscribing students. Using simple web cams, smart-phones, tablets and video cameras, students are able to submit practice videos and receive individualized video feedback and instruction – creating a constantly

evolving two-way, online learning experience.”

Thumbs Up

Banjo student Chris Ragaisis said, “I can’t say enough good things about the School of Banjo. The banjo lessons already up on the site take you from raw beginner up through some advanced concepts. Then there are the special guest interviews/lessons with people like Noam Pikelny and Steve Martin teaching you. But the icing on the cake is the video exchanges. If you’re a student, you submit whatever you’re working on – whether it is one of the banjo lessons from the site or just a tune you like. Tony checks out your version, makes technique suggestions, and generally offers a couple of variations for you to try.”

When choosing a new instructor for the school, the selection process is pretty rigorous. “Our understanding of what is needed in a good quality online teacher has become fine tuned over the years,” Butler said. “We start our process looking at stellar players who have a solid history of teaching, either in person, perhaps in a college or public workshops. Great players are not always the best teachers and vice versa. Teachers that have recorded DVDs or video instruction tend to be more comfortable with

Butler pointed out that the ArtistWorks lessons are not just for Bluegrass or Folk musicians either. “We welcome all levels of players, regardless of their experience and offer a wide range of instruments and styles,” she said. “So whether they play jazz, blues, rock, pop, classical or bluegrass, there’s literally something for everyone.” Mandolin School student Dusty Miller said, “I live in a state with a shortage of mandolin teachers so I think it’s invaluable …To be able to darn near have one-onone teaching from a pro can help anybody’s playing.” Carey, a

For more info. visit www.ArtistWorks.com



the lesson recording, so we take that history in to consideration. Our teachers must also have a keen interest in leading an online community of engaged players and we often refer to them as online mayors.” As far as the future goes for ArtistWorks, Sutton said that there have been many requests to expand the offering, and they plan to oblige. Folks have requested material for the ukulele, jazz piano, jazz saxophone and singer songwriter acoustic guitar. “Those sites will launch in the first half of 2015 and there’s much more to come in music,” she said. “We expect to expand to other visually taught subjects in 2015 like personal fitness, dance and photography. We just became a Signature Partner in the Partner Cloud at Blackboard so in 2015, our music lesson libraries will be made available to a thousand universities and higher education institutions around the United States ”


February 2015

By Wayne Erbsen

June Apple Why is it that when you drop a slice of bread that you’ve just slathered with peanut butter, it always lands peanut butter down? Maybe it’s the same cosmic forces at work that cause the best apples to be at the very top of the tree. That’s the predicament I found myself in yesterday as I contemplated how I was going to get some juicy apples down from thirty five feet up in the air of a tree that was too skinny to climb. But wa it! I’m getting ahead of myself. It all started this fall weekend when I was up at our remote off-the-grid log cabin on the back side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison County, North Carolina. For the last month or so, I’d been eying a forlorn old-timey apple tree that was just on the edge of our mountain property. The house that once stood nearby was long gone, but the tree stubbornly

Chatam County Line

lived on. It had fallen down years before, but that hardly slowed it down. Instead, the tree produced hundreds of sprouts that yielded apples that were firm, tart, and lasted through the fall and winter. Other than imagining that the apples were some old-time variety, I had no idea what kind they were. All I knew is that I had to have some. After I’d cleaned the tree of the low hanging fruit, I spied the best, plump apples at the tip top of the tree. Without a ladder, I decided to use my noggin. What could I use to grab those applies? I went rummaging around my tool shed and finally found something I thought would work. It was an old tin water ladle with the handle broken off. I was glad I hadn’t thrown it away.

With a bit of ingenuity, I managed to screw the cup of the ladle to a stick, and hose clamped the stick to the end of a long extension pole. I was then able to snake my new apple grabber through the tangled mass of tree branches. One by one, I got those beautiful apples down. I have to say, I don’t remember when I’ve had so much fun. Getting an Terrywith and my grabber apple his produced the same thrill asDerring catching a big trout. If Banjo.a fisherman, you you’re know that feeling. I was giddy as a schoolboy on the first day of summer vacation. Having the time of my life, of course, I started to sing. The first tune that that came to mind was “June Apple.” It’s really a great tune with that bouncy happy feeling you get on a cool, clear morning in the Fall when the apples are ripe and ready to pick. Note to banjo pickers: You can play this song using either or both fingerpicking or clawhammer style. A note with a single stem is a quarter note and two notes tied together are eighth notes. The tab gives you only


the melody, so you can decorate it any way you like. “June Apple” is written out in banjo tab in regular G tuning, gDGBD. Most fiddle players play it in the key of A, so you’ll need to capo up your banjo to the second fret and adjust your fifth string accordingly.

Wayne Erbsen has been deeply immersed in old-time and bluegrass music for fifty years. He has written over thirty instruction and songbooks and he claims to be able to teach anyone to play a musical instrument. Get in touch with Wayne for a free catalog from his company, Native Ground Books & Music, or visit www.nativeground.com.


February 2015

Thanks to our partnership with ReverbNation (www.reverbnation.com) we are honored to give you a peak at a few of the nation’s hardest working indie artists. Each month we select one entry to showcase for you here. Enjoy! THIS MONTH’S FEATURE:

By Greg Tutwiler

The Muddy Crows

Justin, we decided to rebrand

“The result of this collaboration is often a unique sound that doesn’t fit into the standard genres such as Bluegrass, Country, Pop, Rock etc. While we are not offended by terms like Roots Rock or Folk Rock, I think that our blend fits nicely into the Wikipedia definition of Americana.”

FEATURE ARTISTS Washington D.C. based Americana/Roots-Rock band, The Muddy Crows are quickly becoming know for thrilling the D.C. crowds, and have been growing steadily throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Their 2014 debut album, The Muddy Crows, (all original material) is quickly earning them attention; conferences, festivals, markets, and any venue that appreciates live music. Lead singer/guitar player Dan gave Profiles some insight into the origins of The Muddy Crows. “In late 2010, I was looking for accompaniment to help promote the release of my solo album Old Fashioned Love,” He recalled. “Through a series of Craigslist ads, I met Steve Mead and Eric Grabow, two local musicians who were playing for a band called “The List,” which was in the process of dis-banding (pun intended).”

A Fresh Start

The three began working together, and shortly thereafter added a drummer. The four musiciansimmediately began performing as a band in local venues. “We had a number of line-up changes, but have been relatively stable since the addition of drummer Justin Thomas in 2013. Shortly after we met


with its own vision, grows the final product into something that has so much more depth than the simple vocal/guitar song that I had written at the start.”

What Suits Best

ourselves. The guys were originally going to call themselves the Dirty Birds but thought that it seemed too generic. “It lacked a certain amount of edge. So we thought, ‘What’s dirtier than dirt? What’s birdier than birds?” Dan said. And thus they became The Muddy Crows. “This is not the true story, but it is way more interesting than the truth,” he chuckled. Dan said that the band writes all their songs. “Actually, it’s what The Muddy Crows are known for,” he said, “but that does not mean that we are too proud to play cover songs as well. In fact, some shows, especially longer sets for holiday parties, require us to play quite a number of popular covers. But, we are not a cover band, and we try to keep the perspective that our cover selection should complement the core of our originals.”

Growing Up In Croce

As a child, Dan listened to the vinyl records of Jim Croce and

James Taylor. “These men are undoubtedly two of the larger influences on my songwriting. But, I also have to credit a lot of my more upbeat guitar techniques to modern talents such as John Mayer and Jason Mraz. Both share a highly percussive-playing style and the more dynamic vocal melodies that I strive to integrate into our current music.” As a songwriter, Dan says he tends to be more of a storyteller and gravitate toward melodies and chord progressions that have more of a folk vibe. “But often times, the original draft is much different than the final product,” he muses.

Dan feels like the band gets the most out of their festival appearances: outdoor events with fresh air, large stages, and enthusiastic crowds. “These are shows where I feel that we can best promote our original music to the masses,” he said. “To make it to the next level, artists like us need to find large numbers of supportive fans. But, people, these days, are so oversaturated with calls for attention from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even YouTube. So, we see the festival circuit as a sort of grass roots movement of support. Plus while you have their attention you can always remind them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter.”

Unique Addition

The band all hails from a unique musical background allowing them to bring their own stylistic flavor to the sound. “As each person adds a new layer of sound, based on their own influences, the potential of the song grows,” Dan said. “The added instrumentation, each


For more information, see www.themuddycrows.com, or find their latest CD on iTunes.

February 2015

In this new series, we get a little deeper into the inside track with some of our featured artists. These stories are just a snapshot of a longer interview that you can hear in it’s entirety by clicking the link on our web page; www.AmericanaRhythm.com.

Clark Hansbarger

Clark lives in Berryville, Virginia where he fronts the band, The Bitter Liberals. His most recent CD, Dream Of A Good Death, is considered a folk opera of sorts. The CD was inspired by Drew Gilpin Faust’s book, This Republic Of Suffering. It features original songs penned by Clark, and follows the trials, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of the Confederate soldiers as they toil through the Union conquest of Port Royal, the fires in the Wilderness, and the Killing Fields of Gettysburg and Cold Harbor, and along the siege lines of Vicksburg and Petersburg. When asked how this subject matter came to the surface, Clark said, “I think it’s probably a middle age crisis of sorts, when men reach this certain age in American culture we start reading about the Civil War. I’ve been a musician since I was 16 and a long time educator. After reading about the Civil War quite a bit, it seemed like a great fit.” As Clark was writing songs for his band’s previous CD, a trip to Buford, South Carolina sparked a song called, “Fall Of The Rice Kingdom.” “It was a fun and interesting song,” Clark recalled, “so I brought that song to the band, and we recorded it.” “Then over the next six months I set down regularly and worked on a series of songs to go with it. I attempted in each song to tell a personal story about some actual event. As I wrote, each story started to come together, and I saw them more as a chronological story.” He eventually wrote 12 to 15 songs that were pared down to the 10 songs that are now on the CD. When playing live, Clark and the band not only present the music as recorded on the CD but also present a slide presentation in between songs that offers the Union point of view. “By the end of the evening you get both perspectives,” Clark said. To find out more, visit www.CivilWarSong.com

Johnny Williams

Johnny Williams is a busy guy – he currently sings and plays guitar with Johnny Williams and Friends, The Jeanette Williams Band, Freeman and Williams Trio, and selected dates with Louisa Branscomb, and selected dates with Adam McPeak & Mountain Thunder. “Well, I’m not as busy as it sounds, I’m just lucky enough to get to play a lot, and with a lot of different and talented people,” he mused. “You know, in the music business, if you’re sitting still, you’re not getting anywhere.” In addition to all this, Johnny still fills in occasionally with a band he played with for 4 ½ years, Big Country Bluegrass, and he just recently cofounded an organization called Blue Ridge Acoustic Uprising. Oh, his new solo project Going My Way has just been released on Mountain Roads Recordings. A prolific songwriter most of his life, it was an album his wife, Jeanette, had with a couple of his songs on it, produced by Dan Tyminski (Alison Krauss and Union Station) that got him noticed. “It seemed like when everyone else saw that he though these songs were good enough to use, then everyone started calling.” Now many of his songs have been recorded by noted artists like Doyle Lawson, Jr. Sisk, and Special Consensus. Johnny won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest’s bluegrass division at Merlefest in 1998, and 1999. And he has been fortunate to co-write with Tom T. & Dixie Hall. As a producer, Johnny has worked on more than 40 projects in the past few years, with one of his latest Close Kin, (Mountain Roads Recordings) being named the number three project of the top 100 projects of 2012 by the Roots Music Charts. His latest venture, the Blue Ridge Acoustic Uprising, began two years ago as a project to showcase the Blue Ridge music of Southwest Virginia. “We did this to try to help some folks that are really talented but just haven’t quite made it yet,” he said. To find out more about Johnny, visit www.JohnnyWilliams.com


Rob & Kristen Kay Smith

Known as the duo Carrington Kay, Rob and Kristen call Roanoke VA home these days. There new CD, Carrington Kay, is showcase of sorts - featuring Rob’s accomplished guitar skills and wife Kristen’s mesmerizing vocal talent. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Music, Rob has performed in almost every major city in the U.S., sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in music, including Sugar Ray, Jewel, Huey Lewis and the News, Switchfoot, Vanessa Carlton and Pat Benatar. Not to be out done by hubby Rob, Kristen graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Music Education in Choral/Classical Voice with Piano and Religion Minors and from New York University Steinhardt with a Master of Music in Musical Theatre Performance. Born in Kerrville, TX, Kristen grew up singing, playing piano and violin, and performing at the Smith/Ritch Point Theatre and Playhouse 2000. Rob’s traveling music career started when he landed a position in the Marine band after college. “That was really nice,” he said. “You get to go to a lot of different cities and play a lot of different venues.” From there he settled back in Virginia where he picked up a gig playing in bands at Busch Gardens, in Williamsburg, VA. “I played country shows, Irish shows, big band shows – basically whatever the gig called for, I played it.” That is where he met Kristen – When their stint there, and decided to carry on together after the job ended. Rob says for their music now, “we do a lot of different genres, but I think the main focus of our music is picking strong well crafted songs. We draw heavily on folk and Americana, with a little country and jazz in there too. But our foundation is acoustic guitar, violin, and voice.” To find out more, visit www.CarringtonKAy.com


February 2015

Music From The National Scene

Music From Your Neighbors

welcome to the latest edi-

tion of SPINS! Feast your ears on these delicious New Year musical morsals - How can these guys keep making such great music? Wow! Grab your iPad or Smart Phone and dial up some of these fine folks. We bet you love them all - we do! And they’re just in time for last minute Christmas stocking stuffers too.

Derek Thomas & Skyline Drive Beyond The Trestles

In Session

The Amigos Dinner In The Sky

www.doylelawson.com With nearly 40 albums to their credit - Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver are widely considered one of the industry’s top acts. A seven time IBMA Vocal Group Of The Year; what can you say about their latest but yes, it’s that good

So you want a new variation on your Americana music? How about “foot-stomping, accordion-infused Americana blending folk-rock, zydeco/ cajun, and jazz. Might sound crazy, but it works! I Bet these guys are great live too

Annie Lou Tried And True

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

Banana Express Banana Express

www.annielou.ca Canada produces many great Americana/roots artists, including Anne Louie Genst from British Columbia. A storyteller at heart, Annie’s rural Canadian roots serve as the back drop for her latest, Tried And True. It’s a delightful folky, grass adventure

Before The Sun Goes Down www.robandtrey.com New comer, Trey Hensley, teams up with instrumental icon Rob Ickes to bring us another new project rich in talent and tradition. It was record ed mostl y live with minumal overdubs,It’s a well crafted catalog of tunes

The Roys

Larry Rice The Best Of Larry Rice

www.AmericanaRhythm.com. Uncle Woody, The Spin Doctor

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver



Bluegrass Kinda Christmas www.theroysonline.com What’s Christmas without new Christmas music, right? This new collection from our cover artists, The Roys, has all the elements of a warm, cozy, bluegrass holiday. There versions of classics like “Winter Wonder Land” really get you in the spirit



www.rebelrecords.com Older brother to the iconic Tony Rice, Larry, equally talented, but lesser known, was a staple in the earlier days of bluegrass with J. D. Crow and The Kentucky Mountain Boys. This collection was compiled from five earlier Rebel Records. Well worth it





Folk-Americana music sounds like this; Beyond The Trestles, the latest from surfer Derek Thomas and band Skyline Drive. It’s mellow and fresh, and makes my speakers sound good too

Female fronted Americana groups are enjoying growing popularity; including these young sisters; Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith. They’re hitting it big with their self-titled debut. It’s real good stuff. Check it out

Craig Kinsley American Roots Machines


Billy Strings & Don Julin Fiddle Tune X

These four teenagers haven’t been together that long - but already sound like an established old-time, mountain string band. They’re one of those magical collaborations that seems to have all the makings of a great band - we sure hope they stick around

www.billystrings.com They are just two guys, (Billy and Don) with two instruments (guitar and mandolin). Their sound is grass roots on purpose - with the intention to capture bluegrass in it’s “rough-and-tumble art form.” They’ve done it well

www.craigkinsley101.com This former ascetic monk from a monastery in the Ozark Mountains has less than a divine past as the grandson of a moonshiner. But the unique blend shows up on his forth CD - with all the elements you’d expect

Brendan Taaffe & The New Line Can’t Hold The Wheel

The Judy Chops Minor Sunshine

Michael Bowman Lyin’, Cheatin’, Stealin



Dubbed “Original Mountain Swing,” Virginia natives, The Judy Chops have been working hard to carve their own niche into the Americana scene. Hats off for the latest, Minor Sunshine, ya did it. They are a bunch of fun

Another VA native, singer/ songwriter Michael Bowman carries his folky/bluesy act to audiences up and down the east cost. The polished musician shines on tunes like the title cut, “Lyin’, Cheatin’, Stealin,” and “Burn That Trestle Bridge.” Good stuff



www.brendantaaffe.com Brendan fuses Zimbabwean mbria and African rhythms with his brand of American roots for this delightful collection of New England folk from a land rich in heritage, and musical influence. Nice





You can send new Americana CD releases for consideration to PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812


The Hello Strangers The Hello Strangers




February 2015


Virginia that was used in General MacArthur’s funeral.

the Shenandoah Music Trail

By Don and Martha DePoy

Preserving The Music Of Virginia

What do these artists have in

Don and I had the opportunity to stumble upon the amazing museum tucked away in a piano store. We met with the store owners and curators, Buddy and Peggy Parker, and they spent some time with us sharing their passion and lifetime commitment to preserve Virginia’s musical legacy. Their collection reflects thoughtful and artful displays you will not find anywhere else. Virginians played a big part in the development of today’s American and World music. Polk Miller recorded some of Edison’s first records. The first record to sell over a million copies, The Wreck of The Old Southern 97, was written by Virginian, Henry Whitter. Black Pattie from Suffolk, Virginia was the first African American to sing in Carnegie Hall. The Carter Family pioneered Country Music. Jazz critics agree Ella Fitzgerald was the best vocal improviser ever. Patsy Cline was the first female solo artist inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame. There’s so little printed space and so much more to tell! The museum features lots of pictures, memorabilia and exhibits and brief histories of Virginia’s most famous music artists. You will see personal items including Wayne Newton’s roadster, Ralph Stanley’s banjo, Patsy Cline’s handmade scarf and items from over twentyfive more Virginia music artists.

There is also a great collection of early phonographs, and you can follow the history of recorded music from Edison’s tin foil machine to one of his best opera phonographs. You’ll see the first talking doll, a phonograph lamp, Nipper (RCA’s faithful dog listening for his master’s voice) and many more antique phonograph items.

There is a collection of pianos and a gallery displaying keyboard instruments dating from the 1700’s showing the development of the piano. The museum’s 1790 Joshua Shudi harpsichord is one of the two known to exist today. There’s a selfplaying pipe organ from Norfolk,

Don and Martha host the Bluegrass Music Jam at the Elkton Community Center in Elkton, Virginia every Tuesday evening from 6 to 8:30 pm. It’s free and open to the public, and all levels of pickers and listeners are welcome. The Shenandoah Music Trail is sponsored in part by Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Commission for the Arts, National Council for the Arts, and faithful sponsors and members. SMT is a Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, all volunteer 501c3 non-profit corporation. See more at: www.svmmma.org

The modest admission is well worth the price: Adults $10, Children $5 (under 4- Free), Seniors and Military $8. Virginia Musical Museum (located in Parker Piano Outlet), 6316 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23090, Phone: 757-303-5907, email: info@virginiamusicalmuseum.com.

JANUARY 2015 SPBGMA Bluegrass Awards January 9 - 11, 2015 Jefferson City, MO www.spbgma.com

FEBRUARY 2015 ASU Old Time Fiddlers Conv. February 6 - 7, 2015 Boone, NC fiddle.apstate.edu

It’s Never Too Late!

Makes A Great New Years Gift!

Folk Alliance International February 18 - 22, 2015 Kansas City, MI www.folk.org

Did you forget someone this year ... Oh no! Well, why not give them a gift that lasts all year - it’s never too late!

Neuse River Music Fest February 20 - 21, 2015 Kinston, NC www.neuserivermusicfest.com

Mail with your check or money order for only $16 payable to Americana Rhythm, and send this to PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA 22812. PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY! We’ll make sure a Christmas Card goes to the subscriber in your honor, even if it’s after Christmas!

Bluegrass First Class February 20 - 22 , 2015 Ashville, NC www.bluegrassfirstclass.com Richmond Bluegrass Jam February 21 , 2015 Richmond, VA www.rvabluegrassjam.com

NAME: (subscriber, and name on the card)

DC Bluegrass February 27 - 28 , 2015

Tysons Corner, VA www.dcbluegrassfest.org


Gardner Winter Music Festival February 27 - 28 , 2015 Morgantown, WV www.gwmf.org

CITY, STATE, ZIP: Your Name: (From:)


common? Wayne Newton, Bruce Hornsby, The Statler Brothers, Pearl Bailey, Five Keys, Keely Smith, Polk Miller, The Carter Family, Patsy Cline, Ruth Brown, Ralph Stanley, Gene Vincent, Dock Boggs, Ernest Stoneman, Kate Smith, Bill Jenkins, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Clark, June Carter, Steve Earle, Jim & Jesse, Joe Maphis, Mac Wiseman, and Ricky Van Shelton. Answer: They are all from Virginia, and are featured as part of the museum collection at the Virginia Musical Museum in Williamsburg.

There is a collection of music boxes, nickelodeons and amusement park automated instruments. There is a French desk music box from President James Madison’s family. You’ll enjoy Laughing Sal and a Wurlitzer Band Organ as well as watching a violin play automatically and another nickelodeon playing eight instruments at once.

South Carolina Guitar Show February 28 - March 1, 2015 Spartanburg, SC www.bee3vintage.com

Happy New Year!



Profile for Americana Rhythm Music Magazine

Americana Rhythm Magazine Issue #55  

Top rated bluegrass duo; brother/sister act, The Roys is our cover artist - along with all the usual exciting feature. Plus, ArtistWorks, an...

Americana Rhythm Magazine Issue #55  

Top rated bluegrass duo; brother/sister act, The Roys is our cover artist - along with all the usual exciting feature. Plus, ArtistWorks, an...

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