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Carolina Chimes: Rudi Ekstein’s All Original Bluegrass Instrumental Showcase

Ekstein Collaborates with All-star Musicians Stuart Duncan, Jeff Autry, Mark Schatz & more

Released October 5, 2018 on Foxfire Recording

New single “Spikebuck”out now to stream and purchase → https://rudiekstein.hearnow.com
The album is also available to pre-order → http://smarturl.it/2pryj6   

Asheville, NC – Rudi Ekstein has been in the music business for many years as a performer, producer, and studio owner. Now, on his album Carolina Chimes: Rudi Ekstein’s All Original Bluegrass Instrumental Showcase, to be independently released October 5, Ekstein showcases his mandolin prowess on 12 original instrumental tunes featuring an all-star cast of world-class talent. Some of the artists brought into the studio for this project include multi-GRAMMY Award Winner Stuart Duncan on fiddle and renowned guitarist Jeff Autry for the entire album, two time IBMA Bass Player of the Year Mark Schatz performs on all but one tune, long-time collaborator John Plotnik plays banjo on the majority of the album and steps in on Dobro on four tracks while GRAMMY nominated multi instrumentalist, Patrick Sauber takes the lead on banjo. Bluegrass Today premiered the first single off the album, “Spikebuck.”

Throughout bluegrass music’s 70-plus year history, albums of all-instrumental tunes have been recorded and released, showcasing the amazing level of artistry found in the genre. While singers tend to write songs that require lyrics brought to life by vocalists, instrumentalists of all stripes are prone to write tunes and melodies that let them cut loose and have some fun.

That is the case with Carolina Chimes as Ekstein has put together an upbeat collection of bluegrass barn burners performed with great pickers who help to bring these unique cuts to life. Unselfish and smart, Ekstein lets his collaborators do what they do best here. The result is a fast-paced recording that will remind you of the power of bluegrass music.

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Rudi Ekstein. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.

“The most obvious parts of everyone’s life have been depicted in a bluegrass song,” says Ekstein. “The bluegrass tunes I’ve written for my records over the past 30 or so years are mostly named after people, events, or something important that happened in my life. That’s just part of my love for bluegrass.”

As the son of an Austrian immigrant to America his surname, Ekstein, translates, literally, to “Cornerstone,” which is the aptly titled opening track to the album, symbolizing his heritage and love of the genre. Another song on Carolina Chimes that reflects that philosophy is “Jessy’s Fancy,” named for Ekstein’s daughter who finally noticed his mandolin playing in a different way. “My daughter Jessy heard me working out this tune in my backyard one day,” says Ekstein. “She said, ‘What’s that Dad? It’s beautiful.’ It was the first time I ever got my daughter’s attention while playing the mandolin, so this one is dedicated to her. She still loves to hear it.”

Many of the tunes on Carolina Chimes reflect Ekstein’s travels in this world, from his early years living in California and exploring the American West, to settling down in the western North Carolina mountain town of Asheville.

“Hoot Owl Hop” was written from his days of living in California when the warm summer nights brought hoot owls to the eucalyptus trees every year, which he often heard and occasionally saw. The perfect title for a wild ride of a tune, ‘Spikebuck,’ refers to the name of some rapids on the Arkansas River in Colorado where his family, barely hanging on, took a fast-moving whitewater rafting trip one year. “Back Drag” was named after an insane stunt Ekstein once attempted for the first and last time. He says,”I was an accomplished trick rider in my youth and I tried a crazy stunt with my ankles strapped to the back of the saddle while dangling behind a galloping horse. I was nervous at first as I coaxed my horse to a full gallop. I threw myself back, with rocks flying, the wind in my ears and my head and hands now dragging within reach of the ground. After rounding the corner of the arena at full speed, my horse abruptly stopped, throwing me off to fall flat on my face in the mud.”

About a decade ago, Ekstein relocated to Asheville, where he continues to run the Foxfire Recording Studio (started in 1990), so he could play more bluegrass with western North Carolina roots musician, Billy Constable, for whom this album is dedicated. Constable, who passed away in 2015 of cancer, was best known for his three-finger-picking banjo technique and his vigorous acoustic guitar leads. A couple of songs on this project were written in his memory.

‘Bacon in the Pan’ is my version of an old-time fiddle tune done in the bluegrass style,” says Ekstein. “It is named after my beloved friend of a lifetime and band mate Billy Constable. He often spoke endlessly on the phone about the fine points of cooking a good breakfast. ‘All Night in Kentucky’ is a tune I wrote after jamming all night long at the IBMA convention in Louisville, KY, with Billy, who was an instrumental wizard. Inspired by that experience, I just couldn’t stop pickin’ on that early morning and I spontaneously ended up playing this tune.”

Rock ‘n’ roll music and bluegrass music from the Appalachian Mountains have had a big influence in Ekstein’s musical life. Within weeks of arriving in the area, Constable introduced Ekstein to many players in the WNC pickin’ scene. Both were in the band Blue Wheel Drive, along with bassist Rob Parks, and all three went on to perform for two years with The Bobby Hicks Band. Parks makes an appearance on Carolina Chimes playing “Rockalachia,” a tune BWD performed live that is reminiscent of the boogie-woogie style of bluegrass played on the mandolin in the 1940’s by the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe. Another bluegrass buddy from those days, Seth Rhinehart, also steps in on banjo on that ditty as well as “Dixie Sunset,” of which Ekstein says, “I wanted to see how close I could write a ¾-time tune within the style of bluegrass, but still make it unique in its own way. Playing music on the deck of my North Carolina mountain home while overlooking the woods and watching the sunset inspired me to write this twisty waltz.”


Other cuts on Carolina Chimes reflect Ekstein’s many musical influences. “I always thought ‘Indian Rain’ would be a good song for an old fashioned western movie. Too bad it was 60 years too late. Turned out to be a better bluegrass fiddle tune, especially with Stuart Duncan at the Helm. In the late 1980’s, I recorded my song ‘Flapjack’ while playing Dobro for a band project,” says Ekstein. “I originally wrote it on the Dobro as a tune for the mandolin. I finally made it a reality here on this album. And, that brings me to the album’s title cut, ‘Carolina Chimes.’ I’ve always loved the classic banjo tunes that featured the sound of arpeggio chimes created by banjo and mandolin duets. It reminds me of bells ringing at an old Carolina country church house.”

As producer of his own album, Ekstein had the pleasure of deciding who he would bring in to play on the project. Fortunately, he chose to collaborate with some of the best pickers in the business.

When it comes to musicians respected by music fans and professional peers alike, few receive the accolades that are routinely given to fiddler Stuart Duncan. From his work in the Nashville Bluegrass Band to his contribution to the 8-million copy selling “O Brother, Where Art Thou” movie soundtrack album, from his annual run in the all-star Telluride Bluegrass Festival House Band to his playing on countless recording sessions, and with multiple IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year Awards and also nominated for 2018, Duncan is considered one of the best fiddlers on the planet.

Guitarist Jeff Autry is also widely appreciated as a solid axe man who has played with everyone from the Ricky Skaggs to Tony Rice, Peter Rowan, and others. He also held down the guitar chair for a decade-and-a-half with the John Cowan Band. His latest gig finds him as a member of The Edgar Loudermilk Band featuring Jeff Autry.

Mark Schatz has played the bass with living legends for most of his career, anchoring historical jams with folks like Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, and so many more. Currently he is the bassist for the Claire Lynch Band and is one of the best in the business and is a two time winner of IBMA Bass Player of the Year and is currently nominated 2018.

The same can be said for Patrick Sauber, a GRAMMY nominated banjo picker, who is currently kicking up the five-string for many well known national acts like Tim O’Brien, the Peter Rowan Band, John Reishmann and the Jaybirds, Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, and others.

Rudi has owned and operated his own commercial recording studio business Foxfire Recording since 1990, and since then has played for, or produced and/or engineered numerous albums for CMH, Rounder, Sugar Hill Records, as well as artists like Tony Rice, Larry Rice, Chris Hillman, Josh Graves, David Grisman, Richard Greene, Bill Keith, David Grier, Herb Pedersen, Bill Bryson, and other notables. His array of recording and live performance credits include many internationally known bluegrass musicians like fiddle players Byron Berline and Gabe Witcher; banjo hotshots John Hickman, Dennis Caplinger, and Craig Smith; gifted Dobro player, Rob Ickes, The Nashville Bluegrass Band’s GRAMMY award winning bass player, Gene Libbea; an original Bluegrass Cardinal bass player Bill Bryson; as well as three members of the Country Boys (later the Kentucky Colonels), bass man Eric White, banjo player, Billy Ray Lathum, and Dobro player, Leroy Mack among many others.

Kind Words:

“Rudi Ekstein has written a great collection of new bluegrass instrumentals and as writer, producer, engineer and musician, recorded this album and maintained a very high degree of quality at every step of the production process! The mix is wonderful and Rudi’s cast of musicians is stellar!” —Gene Libbea (Nashville Bluegrass Band)

“Rudi’s original tunes are sure to become classics. The musicians on this project are fantastic – every tune is a gem.” –Dennis Caplinger

“Rudi has put together a nice mixture of tunes that take us from up tempo fiddle numbers to sad mountain laments with a gypsy jazz feel thrown in for good measure. I am honored to be included in this stellar lineup of world class acoustic players from around the country. This project is superbly crafted using the finest instruments, played through the finest microphones by virtuoso musicians. Great job Rudi!” —Jeff Autry

“I have known Rudi for a long time. Having lived in California for several years we used to cross paths alot. Rudi, like me, as we have grown older, seems to have a calling to write tunes. Bill Monroe did the same thing. The 12 tunes that Rudi has put together are winners. These musicians that Rudi picked to play on his project are top notch. Surrounding yourself with good musicians is the key, and Rudi, you found the right key.”  —Byron Berline

Carolina Chimes Track Listing
1. Cornerstone   (2:41)
2. Indian Rain   (3:21)
3. All Night in Kentucky  (2:48)
4. Hoot Owl Hop   (2:52)
5. Jessy’s Fancy   (3:54)
6. Spikebuck   (2:04)
7. Flapjack   (3:31)
8. Bacon in the Pan   (2:28)
9. Rockalachia   (2:35)
10. Carolina Chimes   (2:26)
11. Dixie Sunset   (2:39 )
12. Back Drag   (1:50)

The Musicians on Carolina Chimes include:
Stuart Duncan – Fiddle (all tracks)
Jeff Autry – Guitar (all tracks)
Mark Schatz – Upright Bass (all tracks except 9)
Rob Parks – Upright Bass (9)
John Plotnik – Banjo (1,2,3,7,10,12), Dobro (4,5,6,8)
Patrick Sauber – Banjo (4,5,6,8)
Seth Rhinehart – Banjo (9,11)
Rudi Ekstein – Mandolin (all tracks)

All tunes written by Rudi Ekstein, BMI, Carolina Chimes Music, P & C 2018
Produced by Rudi Ekstein.  Recorded and Mixed by Rudi Ekstein

 

For more information, please visit the album website: www.carolinachimes.com and www.facebook.com/rudieksteinbluegrass.

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Photo from Love Canon Signing: Left to Right: Darrell Muller, Jay Starling, Andy Thacker, and Adam Larrabee of Love Canon; Josh Trivett of Moonstruck Management; Ty Gilpin of Organic Records; Jesse Harper of Love Canon.

Love Canon Signs with Moonstruck Management
Releasing New Album On Organic Records

Sprouting from the musical foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville, Virginia’s LOVE CANON is excited to announce they have signed on with Moonstruck Management and Organic Records and are set to release their 4th album, Cover Story, in Spring 2018. For Cover Story, LOVE CANON has decided to take many of the suggestions that they get at their high energy live shows and will feature ten new-to-them 80’s hits and a plethora of special guests. Cover Story  is a follow up to their previous efforts, Greatest Hits Volumes 1-3.

The musicians, led by guitarist Jesse Harper, are seasoned virtuoso string players of which Style Weekly says, “LOVE CANON doesn’t cover the music of the ’80s as much as kidnap it and take it on a bluegrass-tinged joyride. It’s a general rule of American culture that it takes 20-40 years for a decade to shed its stale stench and get its groove back… LOVE CANON refreshes and extends the originals with affectionate humor and effortless virtuosity. The players… add layers of depth to the still-appealing pop hooks.

LOVE CANON has been touring the mid-Atlantic since 2010 bringing their own raucous blend of bluegrass to the masses. The band’s diehard fans are music lovers first and foremost, drawn to the beautiful high-lonesome stylings of Harper’s guitar and vocals paired with banjo master Adam Larrabee, mandolin pickin’ by Andy Thacker with Darrell Muller holding down the low-end on standup bass. The band is augmented with the sweet sounds of resonator guitar king Jay Starling on the Beard MA-6.

“I first became a fan of LOVE CANON back in 2015 when I saw them at a show in Bristol, Tenn. The following year, I was able to work with them as the talent buyer for the Huck Finn Jubilee in California. The guys have always blown me away with their musicianship, unique approach and execution of their live show! We couldn’t be more excited to finally have the opportunity to add LOVE CANON to the Moonstruck Management Roster,” says Josh Trivett of Moonstruck Management.

“We are super excited to be working with Josh and his team at Moonstruck. They have proven to be a guiding light and loyal champions of some of our musical heros Lonesome River Band, Ralph Stanley, Russell Moore, Dan Tyminski & The Soggy Bottom Boys and more,” says Harper. “The band is really looking forward to starting this new chapter in our ongoing adventure with Moonstruck at the helm! And with their help we are happy to have found a home at Organic Records and are looking forward to releasing new material with a company that has consistently put out high quality  acoustic music. It is a rare and beautiful thing to find kindred spirits who care about the music as much as we do.”

“We are so glad to welcome the refined talent of LOVE CANON to Organic Records. They have done something I’ve not heard many artists do. They blend musical styles in a way embody the best of all worlds. If you are a music fan that has only dabbled in acoustic music, LOVE CANON is your gateway drug!” says Ty Gilpin of Organic Records.

LOVE CANON and its individual members have shared the stage and studio with many notable acts over the years. Harper and Muller were members of acoustic supergroup Old School Freight Train and they performed shows with David Grisman (who also produced one of their albums), Ricky Skaggs, and Merle Haggard. As a band, LOVE CANON was the backing band for Keb Mo and Jason Mraz at SPARC performance LIVE ART event in Richmond and they also performed as the house band at the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam a couple of years in a row with sits in from Bruce Hornsby and Warren Haynes among others. They’ve toured with Josh Ritter, Keller Williams, and The Infamous Stringdusters and have played festivals around the country including LOCKN’, Jam Cruise, FloydFest, Bourbon and Beyond (as part of Bluegrass Situation Stage), and Gathering of the Vibes as well as having performed live on the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and RTE radio (Raidió Teilifís Éirean – Irish Public-service Broadcasting). Individual members have made their rounds on the music scene and have performed with KD Lang, Emmylou Harris, Sara Bareilles, John C. Reilly, Madeleine Peyroux, Colbie Caillat, among others.

Moonstruck Management is a successful music artist management company representing some of the top acts in acoustic music such as Soggy Bottom Boys, Lonesome River Band, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, The Cleverlys, and more. They are also the talent buyer for the Huck Finn Jubilee in CA, Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro, TN, Rockingham County Fair in Harrisonburg, VA, Washington County Fair in Abingdon, VA, Ole Smoky Distillery in Gatlinburg, TN, and more. For more information on Moonstruck Management, please visit moonstruckmanagement.com.

Organic Records® is an eclectic home for a variety of artists that are singularly unique and defy categorization. In a time when music is becoming less defined by genre, Organic artists are developing their own musical identity outside the confines of traditional classifications. Organic Records is an independent label based in Arden, NC, near Asheville and they currently represent Front Country, Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, Aaron Burdett, and Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders. Organic promotes, distributes, and markets music created by original artists who defy genre categorization. Organic Records is a division of Crossroads Entertainment and Marketing, Inc. who represent Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Balsam Range, Adam Steffey, Flatt Lonesome, The Boxcars, The Grascals, and more. Their team, with decades of music marketing, licensing, distribution and promotional experience, brings artists to the world marketplace. Find out more about Organic Records at www.organic-records.com

LOVE CANON ON TOUR:
2/2 Fri – The Tin Pan – Richmond, VA
2/23 Fri – Garth Newel Music Center – Hot Springs, VA
3/17 Sat – Historic Masonic Theater – Clifton Forge, VA    
3/24 Sat – Fork In The Alley Street Festival – Roanoke, VA    
4/7 Sat – The Peace River Revival – Punta Gorda, FL   
5/25 Fri – Station Inn – Nashville, TN
5/26 Sat – Chantilly Farm Bluegrass and BBQ Festival – Floyd, VA
6/9 Sat – Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery – Gatlinburg, TN
6/30 Sat – ROMP – Owensboro, KY

More information about LOVE CANON can be found at www.lovecanonmusic.com, www.facebook.com/lovecanonmusic, www.twitter.com/lovecanon80s, and www.instagram.com/thelovecanon.

 

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Town Mountain: The Dead Session Artwork by Taylor Swope

Town Mountain: The Dead Session
Artwork by Taylor Swope

Town Mountain: The Dead Session Released Today, Nov 13th
Featuring Bluegrass Renditions of “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” & “Big River”

Honoring the Grateful Dead’s 50th, Bluegrass-Style!

Get the full package with the fantastic album artwork by Taylor Swope over at the band’s website: www.townmountain.net/product/the-dead-session

Or you can purchase downloads of each track online at iTunes: http://bit.ly/TownMoutain_TheDeadSession_iTunes

Town Mountain independently released The Dead Session on Friday, November 13, 2015. Each member of this band has enjoyed the music of the Grateful Dead for quite some time,” says vocalist and guitarist Robert Greer. “It seemed only fitting for Town Mountain to pay respect to some musical heroes in this year, their 50th year of existence.” The band recorded an impromptu set of two of their favorite songs from the Grateful Dead’s catalog at the widely acclaimed Echo Mountain Recording Studios in their hometown of Asheville, NC.

This is the Grateful Dead done in Town Mountains hard drivin’ style filled with a honky tonk edge and barroom swagger. The resulting sound is touched by Jerry Garcia with Jimmy Martin and John Hartford… Fitting since Hartford played a short stint in Old and In The Way before Vassar Clements filled out the band on fiddle, and Garcia’s first instrument was a banjo as he was influenced by bluegrass music throughout his career. Narrowing down to just two was not an easy task for Town Mountain.

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter and originally released on Wake of the Flood in 1973. It was performed over 230 times live by The Dead over the years and the song was also the second set opener of the second night of the Fare Thee Well shows in Santa Clara this year.

“Big River” was written by Johnny Cash in 1958. But true to The Dead’s fashion they would take other people’s songs or traditional songs and make them their own. They had a knack for finding covers that were transcendent of the original artist and they played it in almost 400 live performances. Stream Town Mountain’s Version of “Big River” at The Bluegrass Situation.

Town Mountain. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.

Town Mountain. Photo by Sandlin Gaither.

The core of Town Mountain is Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Adam Chaffins on bass (Adam is featured on “Mississippi”). Evan Martin plays drums on both tracks. Jon Stickley fills in on bass and guitar in “Big River” and Jack Deveroux lays down the pedal steel on “Big River.”

Read what’s been being said about Town Mountain: The Dead Session

“In one of the more novel stop-gap moves by a band in any genre, Town Mountain is filling the time it takes to search out a record label home for its newest studio set [Produced by Dirk Powell, due out Spring of 2016] by re-releasing a two-song EP disc on Nov. 13 called The Dead Session. It consists not of new original works showcasing the band’s heavily rhythmic, traditionally-minded bluegrass or even revisions of traditional Americana string band tunes. It instead offers a pair of honky tonk-hearty renditions of two songs by one of Town Mountain’s favorite non-bluegrass inspirations: the Grateful Dead.” —Kentucky.com, Walter Tunis

“There is no question that Town Mountain’s musicianship is fantastic. More importantly, it is also clear that they love the Grateful Dead enough to do them homage on their 50th anniversary, not by trying to be them, but by succeeding in reworking their Dead favorites as their own.” —Rock and Roll Meandering Nonsense, Bob Vinyl

“I was lucky enough to design the cover art,” says Taylor Swope about the The Making of Town Mountain’s Dead Session Album Art. “Like everything should, this project started with a basic sketch…It’s all about experimentation with this kind of illustration work… With the scene set, I began filling in the details, but the last one came from Martin Anderson at WNCW in North Carolina who suggested the Raven…There is a lyric in the Grateful Dead’s Uncle John’s Band that goes, ‘It’s the same story the crow told me; it’s the only one he knows.’ Also there was this album art once upon a time, so the crow appears here and there in Grateful Dead imagery although it never quite caught on like the icons you already know…”

“While the band’s sound hews closely to bluegrass traditions, there’s enough virtuosity to make them popular among jam band circles as well. It doesn’t hurt that the band recently recorded two Grateful Dead covers to honor the founding fathers of jam’s 50th birthday.” —Examiner, Chris Griffy

“You didn’t really think that a remake of Tommy bluegrass style  [The HillBenders]  would be the end of it, did you? Now here comes Town Mountain with The Dead Session, a special two-track project celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Grateful Dead. … the old school single features a pair of Dead songs done up bluegrass, Town Mountain style.” —Bluegrass Today John Lawless

“Wow, I like these hard-core acoustic honky-tonk takes on two Grateful Dead favorites!” —David Gans, musician and co-author of This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead.

Great Excerpt from a feature on Town Mountain’s Jesse Langlais in The Banjo Reserve:

Q. “Town Mountain is releasing a couple Grateful Dead songs in November 2015, I understand the Grateful Dead are among some of the classic rock bands you listened to when you were younger. Jerry Garcia was known to play banjo, did you or Jerry’s banjo playing have much influence over selecting these releases? Tell us more about the project?” –TBR

A. I still listen to the Grateful Dead and will continue to as long as I can hear.

Here’s a brief story of how I got into bluegrass and the banjo. I’m definitely not the only one with this story. When I was 19 or so I bought an Old and In The Way CD. I was washing dishes at my parents house and when that first song came on, ‘Pig in a Pen’, I was floored. I probably dropped what was in my hands and just sat there in awe. My bluegrass journey had begun and I wasn’t going back.

I’m from Maine, and even though there is a bluegrass scene in New England it was not a part of my upbringing. It wasn’t something that I even heard until I bought the Old and In The Way CD. I couldn’t even have defined what it was up until that point. All I knew was when I heard it that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make that noise, that sound. I wanted to pick and pluck the banjo from that point on. Jerry took my hand and guided me to somewhere I had never been before. Soon after that I was introduced to the first generation of bluegrass and that’s when I really started to dig into the history and sound of bluegrass.” —Read the full interview with Town Mountain’s Jesse Langlais at The Banjo Reserve → www.banjoreserve.com/index.php/artists/item/98-jesse-langlais

Watch behind-the-scene footage of Town Mountain recording The Dead Session at Echo Mountain

Town Mountain is in it for the long haul… check out out where they’ll be travelin’ to next and keep an eye on TownMountain.net for further dates as well as a brand new selection of merchandise. For updates from the road, please visit facebook.com/TownMountain, twitter.com/TownMountain, and instagram.com/townmountainbluegrass.

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Chris Jones & The Night Drivers’ “Live At The Old Feed Store”
~
Available Now~
Recorded at The Old Feed Store in Cobden, Illinois

Chris Jones, Ned Luberecki, Jon Weisberger and Mark Stoffel
Release Live at The Old Feed Store on October 7th, 2014

The album is now available at CD Baby:
www.cdbaby.com/cd/chrisjonesthenightdriver2

Chris Jones & The Night Drivers Sign with Mountain Home at IBMA

…one of the most distinctive voices in bluegrass,
a smooth, low croon that goes down like whiskey with a little bit of honey,”
The Bluegrass Situation

How do you follow an album that features three #1 and two #2 bluegrass radio hits? If you’re Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, you give fans what they’ve been asking for—a live album that delivers a few choice new selections nestled among a flock of favorites, recorded in an intimate, small-town venue that brings out the best in the quartet’s soulful vocals, hotshot picking and easygoing humor. From its blazing opener, “Bound To Ride,” to its even speedier closer, “Pike County Breakdown,” Live At The Old Feed Store, hit the stores on October 7, 2014, and is one that long-time fans will treasure, and it’s also a perfect introduction to a group heading toward its 20th anniversary in bluegrass. The live album is a follow-up to 2013’s release Lonely Comes Easy, which was their first all-new collection since 2009’s Cloud Of Dust. Founded by guitarist Chris Jones in 1995, the Night Drivers feature four distinct personalities who bring a multitude of talents to each performance. Indeed, the group includes Jones, banjo man Ned Luberecki and bassist Jon Weisberger, and mandolinist Mark Stoffel.

The release of Live At The Old Feed Store comes on the heels of one of the busiest IBMA World of Bluegrass weeks ever for Chris Jones & The NIght Drivers. Topping the list of activities? That’s a hard call, but a few stand out, starting with the announcement that the quartet has signed a two album deal with North Carolina’s high-powered label, Mountain Home Music Company. Jones says, “We’ve been very impressed by the quality of Mountain Home’s roster and the strong record of results they’ve achieved in bluegrass music and beyond. We’re extremely excited about this opportunity to join the Mountain Home family.” Others on Mountain Home’s roster include Balsam Range, The Boxcars, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, and The Grascals. The Night Drivers will be working on a new studio album for 2015.

Also at IBMA was the reception of two IBMA awards–one to designer, label and artist for Best Graphic Design (Lonely Comes Easy, on Rebel Records designed by Lou Everhart), the other to Jones himself for Print Media Person of the Year. The group performed a showcase for booking agent Roe Entertainment and also a Wide Open Bluegrass festival slot in the Convention Center Ballroom with long-time friend and former Night Driver Jeremy Garrett (Infamous Stringdusters) on fiddle. Ned Luberecki served as off-stage announcer at the IBMA Awards Show on Thursday night, while Night Driver and IBMA Board Chair Jon Weisberger got his own shout-out from the Raleigh News & Observer when reporter David Menconi served up his Tuesday schedule as proof that the old saw that the organization’s initials stand for “I’ve Been Mostly Awake” is no joke (“Busy Days, Sleepless Nights During World of Bluegrass Week.”)

nightdrivers2014_feedstore2_ByMarkWilsonEarly reaction to Live At The Old Feed Store has been favorable, with a choice quote, “Chris Jones & The Night Drivers is a great band, not just for the mastery of their instruments, but for the sheer joy they bring to all those who listen,” with the album also earning their top rating “Bad-Ass” coming from Philadelphia’s THAT MAG.

Live At The Old Feed Store features the Night Drivers’ music front and center, exemplified by the first single, “Battle Of The Bands,” which scored a world-exclusive premiere on Bluegrass Junction. The album displays the group’s wide range of inclinations, with nods to the Stanley Brothers (“Bound To Ride”), Johnny Horton (“I’m Ready If You’re Willin’”) and George Jones (“I Cried Myself Awake”), banjo pyrotechnics (Luberecki’s own “Emergency Pulloff” and a blistering “Pike County Breakdown”) and well-crafted originals (“Like A Hawk,” “Then I Close My Eyes,” and “Lonely Town”).

Alongside these, the Night Drivers have laid in a selection of fan favorites, including Stoffel’s glistening take on The Sound Of Music’s ever-popular “Edelweiss” (followed by a lively turn on an old-time fiddle tune, “Forked Deer”), the gospel quartet of “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms,” and Luberecki’s comic tour de force, “Cabin Of Death,” one of the group’s most requested numbers.

A couple of guests make appearances—Sally Jones contributes harmonies to “Follow Your Heart,” and 2013 IBMA Momentum Vocalist of the Year Emily Bankester recaps her Lonely Comes Easy appearance on “Then I Close My Eyes”—with the focus all on the Night Drivers, who show conclusively that no studio magic is needed for them to deliver compelling performances. From start to finish, Live At The Old Feed Store delivers a faithful representation of a Chris Jones & The Night Drivers set, and as their busy schedule shows, that’s something that audiences are always eager to share.

The group celebrates the release on October 8th with a show at the recording venue, The Old Feed Store in Cobden, IL, followed by a Tennessee weekend that includes dates in Norris, the Fall Homecoming Festival at the Museum of Appalachia and Nashville’s Oktoberfest in Germantown. The band had notable appearances this year at Big Sky Big Grass, Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, MerleFest, DelFest, Bluegrass on the Plains, The Huck Finn Jubilee, Targhee Bluegrass Festival, Bean Blossom, and The Bourbon & Bluegrass Steamboat Tours. Big Sky Big Grass gets the award for the biggest on-stage jams with the Sam Bush Band and Del McCoury joined the Night Drivers on stage at DelFest to sing on “Wolf Creek Pass.” Luberecki was part of MerleFest’s First ever BanjoRama which was hosted by “Dr. Banjo” Pete Wernick. They’ll be traveling for a European tour for ten days in October of 2014 and will be on the road for dates throughout 2015.

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers on Tour
10/8 Wed – The Old Feed Store – Cobden, IL
10/10 Fri – Tennessee Fall Homecoming, Museum of Appalachia – Norris, TN
10/11 Sat – Kimbro’s Cafe 11am – Franklin, TN
10/11 Sat – Oktoberfest in Historic Germantown 4pm – Nashville, TN
10/22-27 – European Tour
11/15-16 Sat- Sun – Wickenburg Bluegrass & Fiddle Championship – Wickenburg, AZ
12/12: Bluegrass in the Smokies – Pigeon Forge, TN

For more information, tour dates and words from the road, please visit: chrisjonesgrass.com,  facebook.com/chrisjonesgrass, and twitter.com/chrisjonesgrass.

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Town Mountain. Photo by Jason Beverly.

Town Mountain. Photo by Jason Beverly.

Having Passed the 2nd Ballot for the IBMA Awards,
Town Mountain To Release a Live Album on August 19th
Recorded at Isis Music Hall in The Band’s Hometown of Asheville, NC

Town Mountain’s hard drivin’ bluegrass sound, tight harmonies, and stellar in-house songwriting have become the band’s trademark. They light up the stage with their honky tonk edge and barroom swagger, featuring a Jimmy Martin-style bounce and confidence that is countered at times by a laid-back John Hartford-esque groove. Town Mountain includes Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Nick DiSebastian on bass.

TownMountain_LiveAtTheIsis_CoverLORES

Live At The Isis Artwork by Phil Barker.

They are set to release their first official live album, Town Mountain: Live At The Isis, on August 19th, 2014.The concert was recorded in their hometown of Asheville, NC at Isis Music Hall. The album features live versions of previously released studio material including crowd favorites “Lawdog,” “Tarheel Boys” and the fiddle tune “Four Miles.” Amidst the original songs are a couple of lively Town Mountain-tweaked covers such as “The Race Is On” and “Orange Blossom Special.” The audio was mixed by Scott Vestal, acclaimed banjoist with the Sam Bush Band, who also mixed their 2012 release, Leave The Bottle. As for the future, stay tuned for a new upcoming studio album due next spring filled with more original Town Mountain songs.

Town Mountain was honored to learn that they made the 2nd ballot for the IBMA Awards in the categories of Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year, and Emerging Artist of the Year. Lead singer Robert Greer also made the 2nd ballot for Male Vocalist of the Year and Bobby Britt is staking a well-deserved claim for Fiddle Player of the Year! After this 2nd voting period is over, the final ballot will be announced in mid-August, which the IBMA voters will send in by early September.

Riding on the momentum of Leave the Bottle, Town Mountain came away from the 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) World of Bluegrass convention with a couple of IBMA Momentum Awards in hand for “Band of the Year” and lead singer Robert Greer for “Vocalist of the Year.”

“Phil Barker’s ‘Lawdog’ sounds like an unearthed classic, and the group’s tight harmonies alone make this record a treat for any bluegrass fan,” said Juli Thanki of Engine 145. David Morris of Bluegrass Today adds, “The songs [on Leave The Bottle] are new and mostly written by band members, but they sound like they could have come from the exciting early days of bluegrass…..The band sounds the part – tight picking and comfortable harmonies that aren’t overdubbed to soulless perfection. And the songs sound the part, too – murder ballads, endless highways, a nod to bluegrass’ Celtic roots and even a tip of the hat to a moonshiner.”

This summer they perform at Rockygrass and Targhee Bluegrass Festival, along with several shows in the Northwest before a plethora of dates in northeast, the southern appalachian region, and the midwest. In the fall the band will be appearing at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, Watermelon Park Festival, IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Festival, 34th Annual Georgia MarbleFest and a host of other shows.

The band has been having an exciting year so far and have traveled far and wide including some notable appearances in 2014 at Wintergrass, Suwannee Springfest, Durango Bluegrass MeltDown, Music City Roots, MerleFest, Lake Eden Arts Festival, Graves Mountain Festival, Best of Bluegrass, California Bluegrass Association Father’s Day Festival, Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, The Grey Fox Music Festival, as well as a recent show at City Winery in Chicago supporting Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys.

Town Mountain is in it for the long haul… check out out where they’ll be travelin’ to this year and keep an eye on TownMountain.net for further dates and updates from the road at facebook.com/TownMountain and twitter.com/TownMountain.

Town Mountain on Tour 2014:
7/17-18 Thu-Fri – Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival – Oak Hill, NY
7/24 Thu – Avogadro’s Number – Rockygrass Kickoff Party – Ft. Collins, CO
7/25 Fri – The Walnut Room – Denver, CO  *w/ Whetherman
7/26 Sat – 42nd RockyGrass Festival – Lyons, CO
8/01 Fri – Pickin’ In Parsons Bluegrass Festival – Parsons, WV
8/02 Sat – Mt Vernon Nights- Workhouse Arts Center at Lorton – Lorton, VA
8/08 Fri – The 27th Annual Targhee Bluegrass Festival – Alta, WY
8/09-10 Sat-Sun – Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival – Spokane, WA
8/12 Tue – Republic Brewing Company – Republic, WA
8/13 Wed – Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA
8/15 Fri – The Nelson Odeon – Cazenovia, NY
8/16 Sat – Riverlink Park Summer Concert Series 2014-  Amsterdam, NY
8/17 Sun – Club Passim – Cambridge, MA
8/21 Thu – Cosmic Charlie’s – Lexington, KY
8/22 Fri – Isis Music Hall – Asheville, NC
8/29 Fri – Zanzabar – Louisville, KY
8/30 Sat – Red, White and Bluegrass At Holiday World – Santa Claus, IN
9/04 Thu – 8 x 10 – Baltimore, MD
9/05 Fri – Historic Blairstown Theater –  Blairstown, NJ
9/12-13 Fri-Sat  – Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival – Flagstaff, AZ
9/20 Sat – Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Bristol, TN
9/26 Fri – Watermelon Park Festival- Berryville, VA
9/27 Sat – Music Box Supper Club – Cleveland, OH
9/28 Sun – Rinky Dinks Roadhouse – Amity, PA
10/03 Fri – IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass – Raleigh, NC
10/04 Sat – 34th Annual Georgia MarbleFest – Marble, CO
10/15 Wed – Station Inn- Nashville, TN
10/16 Thu – The Southgate House Revival – Revival Room – Newport KY
10/17 Fri – Stoney Point Jamboree – Paris, KY
10/18 Sat – Historic Cowee School Concert Series – Franklin NC
10/23 Thu – Ashland Coffee and Tea – Ashland, VA
10/24 Fri – Gypsy Sally’s –  Washington DC
11/6-7 Thu-Fri – Riverhawk Music Festival – Brooksville, FL
11/14 Fri – Randy Wood Guitars – Bloomingdale, GA

Town Mountain Performs a NEW Original Songs at Suwannee Springfest  “House with No Windows”

 

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JAustin_AllGood_2013_ByKevinBurke_0476

Hear From Jeff Austin About Upcoming Album w/ Danny Barnes, Eric Thorin & Ross Martin

Recap of Jeff Austin “Artist at Large” at DelFest

Mandolinist, vocalist and songwriter Jeff Austin is embarking on the second leg of his Spring tour starting this weekend. Jeff is on tour this year with Danny Barnes (banjo and vocals), Eric Thorin (bass and vocals), and Ross Martin (guitar and vocals). They have been in the studio with a number of other friends, heroes and mentors to record an album; it can already be summed up succinctly as Austin’s love letter to storytelling. “I love writing a three-minute song with a hook that would grab a five-hundred-pound marlin as much as I like writing something that goes, ‘okay, after the bridge, it’s going to open up and just go wide.’” They put together this great video together to tell you more about it: http://vimeo.com/filmcartel/rundownpromo

Jeff was an “Artist at Large” this past weekend at DelFest in Cumberland, MD. He closed out Saturday night headlining slot with The Travelin McCourys, dueting with Billy Nershi on the last song with the crowd going nuts. Listen to the set here: http://bit.ly/RBJiGL. Later that night, he appeared with Railroad Earth and Ronnie McCoury on a three way mandolin jam. On Sunday he appeared with the String Cheese Incident on “I Know you Rider.” Sunday late night (actually monday morning) Jeff played the majority of the set with the Travelin McCourys singing some of his originals.

Needless to say, Jeff is on a mission to deliver the High Octane Bluegrass that he has been known for and will continue to deliver with his new band that include Danny Barnes, Eric Thorin and Ross Martin.

Please visit JeffAustin.com for more information and further tour dates. Keep up to date with Jeff on facebook.com/JeffAustinOfficial and twitter.com/Jeffreyaustin10.

See Jeff Austin & Friends on Tour at:
5/30 Fri – Pour House – Charleston, SC
5/31 Sat – Penguin Music Fest – Wilmington, NC +=
6/01 Sun – Pisgah Brewing Company – Black Mountain, NC +
6/03 Tue – Lincoln Theater – Raleigh, NC
6/04 Wed – The Hamilton – Washington, DC +
6/05 Thu – The Lyric Theatre – Blacksburg, VA
6/06 Fri – Riverbend Festival – Chattanooga, TN
6/07 Sat – Blue Plum Festival – Johnson City, TN
8/01 Fri – Gathering Of The Vibes – Bridgeport, CT %
8/09 Sat – Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival – Alta, WY
8/16 Sat –  YarmonyGrass – Yarmony, CO
8/22 Fri – Nedfest – Nederland, CO
8/23 Sat – River Run Events Plaza – Keystone , CO
8/24 Sun – Center for the Arts Outdoors Stage – Crested Butte, CO
9/5-6 Fri- Sat – Lockn’ Festival – Arrington, VA%

All Shows with  Danny Barnes, Eric Thorin and Ross Martin unless otherwise noted
* w/ New Master Sounds
+ Leftover Salmon
= w/ Keller Williams
% Grateful Grass ft. Keller Williams, Jeff Austin and Reed Mathis

 

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The Here and Now (hi-res)

Jeff Austin & The Here and Now Release Free Soundboard Recording; Add Tour Dates

Jeff Austin & The Here and Now (featuring banjoist Danny Barnes and Larry & Jenny Keel) are thrilled to announce the audio release of a soundboard recording of last August’s show at The Elk’s Lodge in Troy, OH as part of the Gentleman of the Road Festival. The download is available for FREE at www.JeffAustin.com.

Here’s Jeff’s recap of the show:

Late in the evening of August 30th, 2013… or, was it early in the morning of August 31st? Danny Barnes, Larry Keel, Jenny Keel and myself were led into the Elk’s Lodge of Troy, Ohio to play a late night show for a packed room of folks who had spent their day in the blazing late summer sun…enjoying themselves to the fullest. We wondered if they had anything left in the tank… By God, did they ever. Through the sweat, the endless toasts, the folks who faded in the heat of the crowded room… I hope you enjoy a few hours of bluegrass fun between me and some of my dearest friends. Late night from Troy…no holding back now, folks.

Live From The Elk’s Lodge Track List:
1. Bluegrass Breakdown
2. Angel With The Golden Hair
3. The Wedding Song
4. The Mountain Song
5. Red Haired Boy
6. On and On
7. Shit Creek
8. Kentucky Mandolin
9. Groundhog
10. Groundspeed
11. Death Trip > Loser > Death Trip
12. Isotope
13. Jesse James
14. Foggy Mountain Special
15. Sitting Alone in the Moonlight > Foggy Mountain Breakdown > Rag Doll
16. Rattler
17. Bone
18. Crow Black Children
19. Wheel Hoss

The Here and Now on this recording is Jeff Austin (mandolin and vocals) with Danny Barnes (banjo and vocals), Larry Keel (guitar and vocals), and Jenny Keel (bass and vocals).

They link up again for several shows in the Midwest in early March 2014 kicking off at the Cabooze in Minneapolis, before heading over to Milwaukee to the Miramar and then along to Chicago’s City Winery. The final show of the run lands them at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo.

Starting in early May, Jeff will pick back up on tour with Danny Barnes (vocals), Eric Thorin (bass and vocals), and Ross Martin (guitar and vocals). They will be touring together throughout the year and also heading into the studio this March with a number of other friends, heroes and mentors to record an album.

Jeff Austin & The Here and Now on Tour
3/5 – Cabooze – Minneapolis, MN*
3/6 – Miramar Theater – Milwaukee, WI*
3/7 – City Winery (early and late show) – Chicago, IL*
3/8 – Bell’s Brewery – Kalamazoo, MI*
5/8 – Terminal West – Atlanta, GA +
5/9 – Pour House – Charleston, SC +
5/10 – Aiken Bluegrass Festival – Aiken, SC +
6/6 – Riverbend Festival _ Chattanooga, TN +
6/7 – Blue Plum Music Festival – Johnson City, TN +
8/8 – Targhee Bluegrass Festival – Targhee, WY
8/22 – Nedfest – Nederland, CO

* – w/ The Keels and Danny Barnes, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades supports
+ – w/ Danny Barnes, Ross Martin and Eric Thorin

Please visit JeffAustin.com for more information and to download the live show.
Keep up to date with Jeff on facebook.com/JeffAustinOfficial and twitter.com/Jeffreyaustin10.

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