With her fourth album, Undercurrent, Sarah Jarosz makes a studied departure from her previous records, shifting the emphasis from her skills as a multi-instrumentalist to her songwriting and vocal performance. Undercurrent accentuates the growth and maturity that Jarosz, now 25, has achieved since graduating from New England Conservatory and moving to New York City. The change in approach garnered Jarosz two Grammy Awards in 2017—Best Folk Album for Undercurrent and Best American Roots Performance for “House Of Mercy.” Undercurrent also picked up the award for 2017 Album of the Year from Folk Alliance International.
Sugar and the Mint (Formerly Generation Band) was started by The Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona in February 2011. Students were chosen by audition and initially it was formed as a youth cultural music conservatory. In 2014, Sugar and the Mint (Generation) parted ways with Sharlot Hall Museum, (after the program lost funding) and ventured out on its own. They have since become a professional and dynamic young musical group. They play a blend of new old-time, contemporary bluegrass and indie-folk music. They have performed at venues and events such as the The Prescott Opry, Yavapai College, The Yavapai County Fair, Payson Fiddle Festival, The Raven Cafe, Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Tempe Festival of the Arts, Prescott Farmer’s Market, Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival, Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival, Prescott’s Folk Music Festival, Town of Bagdad, AZ, Arts Prescott Coop Gallery, Acker Night Musical Showcase and many others. They can often be seen playing informally at Prescott's Courthouse Square during various Arts and Crafts Fairs.
In 2014, they won FIRST PLACE at the Payson Fiddle-in-Band competition and FIRST PLACE at The Old-time Country Band competition at the Wickenburg Fiddle championships. In 2015, they took THIRD PLACE at Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival and were honored to play in the second round on the main stage. In 2016, Sugar and the Mint (at that time GENERATION) took FIRST PLACE at the 2016 Pickin' in the Pines Music Festival in Flagstaff, and FIRST PLACE at the 2016 Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival Gospel Band Competition, in Wickenburg, Arizona.
They are frequently employed to play music at festivals, private parties, weddings, fund raising events, local school events, local eateries, art galleries, and church events.
From his humble beginnings in Alaska, Frank Solivan has built a reputation as a monster mandolinist — and become a major festival attraction with his band, Dirty Kitchen.
Solivan, with banjoist Mike Munford, 2013 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, award winning guitarist Chris Luquette and bassist Jeremy Middleton, simmer a bluegrass/newgrass stew from instrumental, vocal and songwriting skills so hot, they were named IBMA’s Instrumental Group of the Year in 2014 and again in 2016.
Front Country's dynamic instrumental textures take flight with grace and gravitas while rooted in the relentlessly soulful vocals of lead singer-songwriter Melody Walker.
What started as a group of friends playing bluegrass in San Francisco's Mission District has morphed into a touring powerhouse of song and sound, transcending their humble stringband roots.
Along with mandolinist Adam Roszkiewicz, guitarist Jacob Groopman, violinist Leif Karlstrom and bassist Jeremy Darrow, this quintet has been called "passionately intoxicating" and "orchestral" and Melody's bluesy vocals have been described as "rafter-shaking". Seldom traditional, always original, Front Country's new album Sake of the Sound is out now.
In nine years, the Ogden Music Festival has grown into just the kind of thing you're looking for to start your summer off on a high note, whether its high, lonesome bluegrass or some hot licks on the fiddle. Set in an oasis just minutes from downtown Ogden, Weber County's Fort Buenaventura is Utah's oldest settlement and provides camping, walking and bike trails, the Weber River, and the perfect spot for our growing community of friends of acoustic music.
Bryan Sutton is the most accomplished and awarded acoustic guitarist of his generation, an innovator who bridges the bluegrass flatpicking traditions of the 20th century with the dynamic roots music scene of the 21st. His rise from buzzed-about young sideman to first-call Nashville session musician to membership in one of history’s greatest bluegrass bands has been grounded in quiet professionalism and ever-expanding musicianship.
Sutton is a Grammy Award winner and a nine-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year. But these are only the most visible signs of Sutton’s accomplishments. He inherited and internalized a technically demanding instrumental style and become for young musicians of today the same kind of model and hero that Tony Rice and Clarence White were for him. And supplementing his instrumental work, he’s now a band leader, record producer, mentor, educator and leader in online music instruction.
It didn’t take long after Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick, Nick Forster, and Charles Sawtelle first appeared onstage together in 1978 for the bluegrass music world to realize that the Colorado band, Hot Rize, was something special. And by the time they bowed off the stage as a full-time act in 1990, they’d not only climbed to the top of that world as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s very first Entertainers of the Year, but their stature was recognized across the board, with a nomination for a then-new bluegrass Grammy, a four-star album review in Rolling Stone, tours across four continents, and a legion of up-and-coming, broad-minded young musicians ranging from String Cheese Incident to mando monster Chris Thile learning their songs and singing their praises.
The reasons for the acclaim were, and remain, obvious. Steeped in bluegrass tradition through long hours on the road spent listening to the genre’s giants—their very name was a knowing nod to Flatt & Scruggs’ long-time flour mill sponsor—Hot Rize’s music was and is equally informed by a taste for the music of Leadbelly and Freddie King, swing, old-time Appalachia and more in ways that mirror the broad sweep of Bill Monroe’s influences. And while their respect for tradition was easy to hear (and, thanks to their suits and vintage neckties, easy to see), the fresh elements they brought, whether in Sawtelle’s guitar eccentricities or Wernick’s deployment of an effects pedal on his banjo, were enough to earn them the suspicion of some audience members—and the devotion of many more.
So when Hot Rize retired, it was natural for members to go on to distinguished careers of their own. For bassist and multi-instrumentalist Forster, that meant building a blend of environmental concern and musical curation into the popular and influential show, eTown; for lead singer, mandolinist and fiddler O’Brien, recognition as an award-winning Americana and bluegrass master of singing and songwriting; for Sawtelle, a thriving career as guitarist, engineer and producer for a host of artists; and for Wernick, acclaim as a presenter of bluegrass and banjo camps, genre-bending bandleader, and 15-year president of the IBMA.
Even so, Hot Rize turned out to be the band that refused to disappear. Rare reunion shows, like the 1996 one captured for the acclaimed So Long Of A Journey CD (2002), kept the flame burning, and when Sawtelle passed away in 1999, the surviving members brought brilliant guitarist Bryan Sutton on board—himself an already-acknowledged master—and carried on with occasional appearances, bringing their classic songs and captivating stage show to new generations.
It’s no surprise, then, that 24 years after their last studio album, the foursome brings an even deeper strength to bear on their new record, When I’m Free (Ten In Hand/Thirty Tigers), out September 30. And neither is it a surprise that, as it was in the beginning, the quartet felt compelled to bring something new to the table.
“We’re too close as friends and longtime collaborators to let Hot Rize just lay fallow. We’ve watched bluegrass evolve in the past 25 years, and while we’ve all been a part of that evolution as individuals, now it’s time to bring a new Hot Rize statement to the world,” explains O’Brien. “Reunion shows are fun, but we got to where we wanted to dig into new material.”
Pete Wernick agrees: “In the years since we brought Bryan in, we would all talk about wanting to be a living, breathing, 21st century Hot Rize, which would mean developing a satchel of new material, then going around and playing it.”
Though half the group lives in Colorado and half in Nashville, they made collaboration a priority, working on new songs, helping one another flesh out lyrics and shape the material into songs that are representative of Hot Rize’s identity. Once they began co-writing, everything else fell into place. “That work was, in many ways, the glue we needed to cement us back together,” says O’Brien.
“Western Skies,” a song written by Forster and O’Brien, epitomizes the band’s Boulder origins and Colorado’s rich history of progressive bluegrass; fittingly, it’s the song that gives the album its title. “There’s something about a wide-open Western landscape – the light, the quiet, the majesty of distant mountains – allows us to leave our troubles behind and be our truest selves, unencumbered by the pressures of life,” says Forster.
Pete Wernick’s barn-burner “Sky Rider” proves why bluegrass music’s preeminent instructor is called “Dr. Banjo,” as he trades lightning-quick solos with O’Brien and Sutton.
The track listing is punctuated by a sharp pair of covers: “I Never Met a One Like You,” a Mark Knopfler original that he suggested Hot Rize record, and Los Lobos’ “Burn It Down,” a stripped-down rock song featuring Forster’s lead vocal. Two cuts reflecting the group’s love for traditional American music round out the album, the haunting “A Cowboy’s Life” and “Glory in the Meeting House,” an old-time tune with switched instruments – O’Brien on fiddle, Sutton on clawhammer banjo, and Forster on mandolin.
With writing and rehearsals placing Hot Rize firmly back in their groove, recording When I’m Free took just five days at the solar-powered Studio at eTown Hall in Boulder. The musicians eschewed booths and headphones in favor of sitting in a circle and recording live off the floor – “the first time I’ve recorded like that since 1971,” muses Wernick. This organic approach resulted in an album that crackles with the energy of a Hot Rize live show, even if the band’s Western Swing alter-ego sidekicks, Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers, aren’t present.
Following the release of When I’m Free, Hot Rize will tour nationwide this fall and into 2015, sure to please not only longtime fans of the band, but countless new fans who’ve discovered bluegrass and Americana music in more recent times. Says Sutton, “Nobody’s been a bigger Hot Rize fan than me, and that’s a perspective I’ve tried to maintain as a member of the band. I’m excited about this new record, and I can’t wait to introduce new fans to the Hot Rize experience.”
"Hogslop is the real deal groovilicious honkin old-time string band. Guaranteed old-time awesomeness with these fellas around!" - Abigail Washburn (Banjo Extraordinaire)
The Hogslop String Band is a Nashville based old time string band comprised of five energetic young musicians hailing from Georgia, Tennessee, California and North Carolina. Featuring Casy Meikle and Kevin Martin on fiddles, Graham Sherrill on banjo, Gabriel Kelley on guitar and Casey "Pickle" McBride on the washtub bass, these boys surely raise a ruckus.
Facing West is a duo from Northern Utah featuring Colten Peterson on the bass and Hudson Bosworth playing guitar and banjo. Their musical style is primarily rooted in Bluegrass but spans many different genres including Americana, Rock, and Country. The duo has recently been hard at work creating and performing originals that have quickly become crowd favorites. They enjoy writing their own music and just recorded their first EP that is now available for purchase. Hudson won his blue guitar at the Utah state flatpicking competition last summer at the Ogden Music Festival and was able to travel to the Winfield Music Festival and compete at the National level. Facing West were recently involved in a PTSA Battle of the Bands and recognized as one of the top 12 bands out of 192 in the State of Utah at a High School Level. Their youthful energy combined with their love for performing on the live stage is sure to entertain audiences of all ages!
Bluegrass music and its branches hold a special appeal for those who have grown up playing, jamming, and performing around the state. Under the management and vision of Francisco Briseno, Cisco & The Racecars has grown to be a serious and exciting group to see and hear.
The band finished first place in the Picking in the Pines Band Contest for 2014 and with that win had conquered all four bluegrass band contests in Arizona. And they recently were featured as the concert band for the State Fiddle Championship Festival in Payson. A highlight of that adventure was to open for Special Consensus and then to share the stage with that wonderful band for "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms". Although their roots are bluegrass and they remain true to that tradition, they are also able to play popular, country, and old-time music.
This young band is exciting to watch with the full range of instruments including banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, fiddle, and cello and super vocals by all members. They love what they're doing and they are committed to making their listeners happy with their music. They are best friends as a band and enjoy traveling, jamming, eating, and talking together. They also serve as mentors to the young members of the Jam Pak Blues 'N' Grass Neighborhood Band.