Front Country is an excellent San Francisco Americana band inspired by bluegrass, old time, blues, and classic country music. The band’s sounds is characterized by the passionate voice of Melody Walker, strong vocal harmonies, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitars. Although the band is rooted in tradition, they incorporate unexpected progressive elements, especially with the fiddle that make their music unique and more attractive.
The lineup includes Adam Roszkiewicz on mandolin; Jacob Groopman on guitar, vocals; Melody Walker on vocals, guitar; Jordan Klein on banjo, vocals; Leif Karlstrom on violin; Zach Sharpe on bass.
Lee Sexton is one of the most respected and revered traditional musicians in eastern Kentucky. A master of traditional banjo styles both two-finger picking and “drop-thumb” (clawhammer) Sexton has lived his whole life near his birthplace in Letcher County Kentucky.
Born in 1927 he grew up in an intensely musical family and community He worked for a week clearing a field to earn the dollar that bought him his first banjo a homemade wooden fretless model with a groundhog skin head that he acquired when he was eight years old With instruction from his father and uncles (one of whom was the legendary banjo player Morgan Sexton Sexton soon mastered the instrument and the fiddle as well He is also a powerful singer whose repertoire includes such classics as “Cumberland Gap” and “Little Birdie.” As a young man he would work all week in the mines and then play music all weekend at house parties, bean stringings and corn shuckings.
In his sixty-five year musical career Lee has been an essential figure in the musical life of his community and one of the foremost tradition bearers of Kentucky’s mountain music heritage He has played from front porches and community dances to radio stations national festivals and college campuses.
He is a regular at Appalshop’s annual Seedtime on the Cumberland festival and at Hindman Settlement School’s Family Folk Week. He was featured in Appalshop’s music video, Whoa Mule, shown on Country Music Television and The Nashville Network and garnered a brief scene in the 198 film Coal Miner’s Daughter based on the life of Loretta Lynn where he appears playing at a square dance. In 1999 he was presented with the Kentucky Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
In addition to being widely acknowledged as the United States’ finest dobro players Jerry Douglas is a freewheeling recording artist whose output draws upon a bottomless well of musical inspiration incorporating elements of bluegrass, country, rock, jazz, blues, and Celtic into his distinctive musical vision.
The Ohio-born Douglas was seduced by music early in life. At the age of eight he was taken by his father-a steelworker who played bluegrass in his spare time-to a Flatt and Scruggs concert where he was immediately attracted to the sound of the dobro. He began playing the instrument in earnest soon after. “I just liked the sound it made, he recalls.,It can be real lonesome or it can be really brash and percussive. It’s such a vocal instrument; you can do so many things on it because of the sustain, and because there’s all these different voices you can get out of it.”
After several years of playing with his dad’s group the West Virginia Travelers the 17-year-old Douglas joined the pioneering newgrass band the Country Gentlemen in 1973. The following year he became a member of the seminal J.D. Crowe and the New South which also included future stars Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice. In 1976 Douglas and Skaggs co-founded the now-legendary bluegrass combo Boone Creek. In 1979 Douglas launched his solo career with his LP Fluxology and became a full-time member of the beloved family group the Whites. He remained with the Whites until 1985 but still found time to play on such now-classic albums as Emmylou Harris’ Roses in the Snow and Ricky Skaggs’ Don’t Get Above Your Raising.
By the time he left the Whites Douglas had become Nashville’s busiest session dobro player while continuing his solo career with such albums as 1982’s Fluxedo (for which he won his first Grammy for Best Country Instrumental) Under the Wire (1986) Changing Channels (1987) Everything Is Going To Work Out Fine (1987) Plant Early (1989) and Slide Rule (1992). In the late ‘8s he formed the seminal acoustic supergroup Strength in Numbers with Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor; the quintet debuted with 1989’s The Telluride Sessions.
Jerry Douglas formed a trio with Russ Barenberg and Edgar Meyer to record the 1993 album Skip Hop and Wobble. The next year Douglas co-produced and performed on the all-star multi-artist project Great Dobro Sessions for which he won a second Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. In 1996 Douglas joined Edgar Meyer and Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt for the genre-bending experiment Bourbon and Rosewater and collaborated with singer-songwriter Peter Rowan on the album Yonder. Douglas released his next solo effort Restless on the Farm in 1998.
It was around that time that Douglas chose to abandon his lucrative session career which had ceased to offer new musical challenges. “I did so many sessions for so long and it wasn’t really doing anything for me anymore,” he explains. “I was making a fine living playing on people’s records but the music changed and I didn’t really like where mainstream country was going. It started to really bother me so I had to stop.”
At around the same time Alison Krauss asked Douglas to fill in on a Union Station tour. The shows went so well that Krauss offered him a permanent slot in the group. “I really love playing with Alison; it’s a creative atmosphere and the music is coming from all of us so it’s a dream gig.” Since then he’s managed to balance his Union Station work with his solo career and a variety of collaborative efforts. One such project was the surprise smash O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack for which Douglas helped to recruit musicians and played on three songs including the Soggy Bottom Boys’ “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.” He also made a brief onscreen appearance in the film.
In 2002 Douglas released the solo album Lookout for Hope and won three Grammy Awards for his work with Union Station and Earl Scruggs as well as receiving five Grammy Award Acknowledgements for the O Brother soundtrack and its live sequel Down from the Mountain. He was also named Musician of the Year by the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year as well as the Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year.
Summer 23 found Douglas on stage with Norah Jones and her band for sets at the Montreal Jazz Festival and at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. That fall he was honored with his second Instrumentalist of the Year title from the Americana Music Association. In 2004 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Douglas a National Heritage Fellowship.
When New York hosted Country Music’s Biggest Night in November 2005 the Country Music Association honored Jerry Douglas with his second Musician of the Year Award. Douglas also performed with Alison Krauss + Union Station during the Awards Ceremony from Madison Square Garden which was broadcast worldwide to over 36 million viewers.
Grammy Week 2006 was a busy one for Douglas. With his fellow NARAS Board Members Douglas honored his friend James Taylor MusiCares’ 2006 Person of the Year. Douglas teamed with Alison Krauss to deliver Carolina In My Mind during the musical tribute and at the honoree’s request joined Taylor and band to finish out the show. Douglas also was on the Who’s Who list of guitar slingers invited to perform at a concert paying homage to legendary guitar player Les Paul at the Gibson Amphitheatre.
Capping off the week was the Grammy Awards Show with Jerry Douglas receiving three Grammys for his work with Alison Krauss + Union Station on Lonely Runs Both Ways. The band picked up the prestigious Best Country Album Award as well as winning Grammys for Best Country Instrumental Performance for the Douglas composition Unionhouse Branch and Best Country Vocal Performance Duo or Group for Restless.
In addition to his solo releases Douglas’ stellar fretwork has graced over 1 albums encompassing a dizzying range of musical styles. As a sideman he’s recorded with artists as diverse as Garth Brooks, Ray Charles, Emmylou Harris, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Ricky Skaggs, James Taylor, Randy Travis and Trisha Yearwood as well as performing on the landmark O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. As a producer he’s overseen albums by such esteemed acts as the Del McCoury Band, Maura O’Connell, Jesse Winchester and the Nashville Bluegrass Band. He’s been part of such notable groups as the Whites J.D. Crowe and the New South the Country Gentlemen and Strength in Numbers. Since 1998 he’s been a key member of Alison Krauss and Union Station touring extensively and playing on a series of platinum albums.
The Best Kept Secret Douglas’ eleventh solo album and his first for the Koch label features a set of original instrumentals that seamlessly merge Douglas’ far-flung influences. The material ranges from the jazzy bluegrass workout “Who’s Your Uncle?” to the funky country-rocker,She Makes Me Want To Sing” to the jazz-inflected title song to the haunting reflective,Sir Aly B.” The latter track references legendary Celtic fiddler Aly Bain with whom Douglas collaborated on the all-star roots-music summit Transatlantic Sessions series for British TV. In addition to Douglas’ own compositions the album features a haunting reading of the vintage Weather Report number A Remark You Made, underlining Douglas’ instinctive affinity for jazz.
“This record ended up being a surprise to me, states Douglas,and it wasn’t until I was halfway through it that I realized it was gonna be different. For a minute I worried about what the bluegrass people would think and what the country people would think but I know better than to think too much about that stuff.”
Along with the current lineup of Douglas’ band the Brickbats-guitarist Keith Sewell bassist Derek Jones drummer Shannon Forrest and violinist Gabe Witcher better known to rock fans as bassist for Eve 6-The Best Kept Secret features a typically varied array of guest musicians. The cast includes young axe hero Derek Trucks who plays bracing slide guitar on “She Makes Me Want to Sing”; revered jazz guitarist Bill Frisell who lends his trademark touch to the languid bluesy,Lil’ Ro Ro”; noted bassist Viktor Krauss who also plays on the latter song; and longtime Douglas pals Sam Bush and Bela Fleck whose world-class mandolin and banjo respectively are featured on “Who’s Your Uncle?”
The Best Kept Secret also includes a pair of vocal numbers featuring two notable guest singers. Alison Krauss delivers Back in Love Again, while roots-rock legend John Fogerty participates on the rollicking,Swing Blues #1.” Those tunes follow in the tradition of Douglas’ prior albums which have featured such singers as Steve Earle and James Taylor.
“Backing good singers is what I’ve made a lot of my living at and I think that it’s something that I do well so I like to represent that on my records,” says Douglas. “There’s a real art to backing singers to staying out of their way and complementing what they’re saying.”
Douglas originally met Fogerty through their mutual love of dobro.,He came through the South on a dobro-buying trip and he asked to see my collection, he says.,That completely freaked me out because I was such a huge Creedence fan. I found out that we had the same birthday and had all these things in common and we became good friends. Then I played on one of his records not long ago and I sheepishly asked him if he’d be interested in someday doing something on one of mine. He said ‘When do you want to do it? ‘ and I said ‘There’s one happening now…’ We went through the song five or six times and basically got it in one take.”
In addition to showcasing his expressive dobro work The Best Kept Secret also features Douglas’ equally stellar abilities on lap steel guitar on such tracks as “Ya Ya” and “You Are My Flower.” “It’s the most lap steel I’ve played on any record I’ve ever done, he says adding,Going from acoustic dobro to lap steel is kind of like going from using a handsaw to using a chainsaw. The two instruments are related but they call for two completely different sets of techniques and two different ways of thinking.”
Dwight Yoakam was born October 23, 1956 in Pikeville, Kentucky. He was raised in Ohio and grew up in California. He made an impression in 1986 with his debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., which went on to score double-platinum status. This was followed by such million-sellers as Hillbilly Deluxe (1987), Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room (1988), Just Lookin’ for a Hit (1989), If There Was a Way (199) and the triple-platinum milestone This Time (1993) featuring the Grammy-winning single “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” and his signature hit “Fast As You.”
Dwight followed with Dwight Live (1995), Gone (1996), Under the Covers (1997), Come on Christmas (1997), A Long Way Home (1998) and Last Chance for a Thousand Years (1999). Dwight’s version of the Queen classic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” debuted during the 1999 Academy Awards telecast in a national ad campaign for Gap clothing stores and went on to become another Top-Ten hit.
The two-time Grammy winner has sold millions of albums. Yoakam’s acting career also garnered much acclaim, particularly for his role as Doyle Hargraves in the 1996 Oscar-winning Sling Blade, for which he was honored with the Premiere Performance Award recognizing outstanding breakthrough performances in film. Following that, Dwight made his directorial debut (starring in a screenplay he also authored) with the 2001 release of South of Heaven, West of Hell, a gothic western with an impressive ensemble cast that included Billy Bob Thornton, Vince Vaughn, Bridget Fonda, Peter Fonda, Paul Reubens, Bud Cort and Michael Jeter.
Other film credits include a 1994 debut in John Dahl’s Red Rock West (with Nicolas Cage and Dennis Hopper), The Newton Boys in 1998 (with Matthew McConaughey, Julianna Marguiles and Vincent D’Onofrio)The Minus Man in 1999 (with Owen Wilson and Janeane Garafolo), the 2002 blockbuster suspense film Panic Room (with Jodie Foster and Forest Whitaker) and the 23 action-comedy Hollywood Homicide (with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett.)
In November 2002, Rhino Records’ commemorated Yoakam’s groundbreaking career with the release of the four-disc box set Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Bros. Years. To further solidify Yoakam’s musical legacy, he was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in ceremonies held June 5th, 2003.
Yoakam had just come off the road in 2002, (after four years of nonstop touring) when he stumbled across a scene that would change the direction of his musical journey. A renegade group of twangsters – going under such banners as Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Sin City All Stars, and East Bound & Down – were putting together twice-monthly Country & Western shows in Los Angeles, at off-the-beaten-track nightspots Molly Malone’s and the King King Club. When he happened upon ̶the next incarnation of California country rock ” Yoakam was taken back to the glory days of cowpunk, when he took the stage at scruffy bars alongside the fledgling Blasters, Los Lobos, Lone Justice, and the Knitters. ̶This great scene reminded me of 1981, ’82, ’83 ” Yoakam says, ̶and it probably looked a lot like 1968, when Clarence White and Gene Parsons were playing in a weird little band at a club in El Monte before joining the Byrds.”
Among the Sweethearts bunch was a fiery 3-year-old guitarist named Keith Gattis, whose Telecaster riffs caused Yoakam to prick up his ears. “We started hanging out” says Yoakam of the budding kinship, ̶and played some music together at the house. I had a benefit to do so I asked him to join me and he got up and played a little banjo, mandolin, guitar, and did some singing. It was a ball! I had been doing the big band for a long time and I found a new sense of inspiration doing something very stripped-down and austere.” Keith’s buddies, drummer Mitch Marine and upright bassist Dave Roe (a 12-year veteran of Johnny Cash’s band), joined Yoakam and Gattis for a string of unforgettable shows throughout 2003.
Dwight’s studio album titled Population: Me (2003) featured the #1 CMT video hit “The Back Of Your Hand” and has been followed by a critically-acclaimed compilation of previously released material, Dwight’s Used Records (2004), as well as a remastered retrospective package titled The Very Best of Dwight Yoakam (2004.)
“There’s a lot of reckless joy on this album” says Dwight Yoakam about Blame the Vain (New West Records, 2005), ̶We never left a session that wasn’t flat-out fun ” continues the singer, songwriter and guitarist who solely produced the album–a career first –and wrote the music and lyrics for these 12 songs of romantic cravings and deeply felt heartaches.
For some ̶psycho-hillbilly squall says Dwight Yoakam, there’s the song ̶Intentional Heartache. ̶I have to pay tribute to Buck and the Bakersfield sound on every album.
Courtney Granger is a virtuoso fiddler, guitarist and outstanding singer. He was born in Eunice, Louisiana. Granger is Christine Balfa’s cousin and was the youngest member of Balfa Toujours. He recorded his debut CD for Rounder Records at the age of 15. He quickly became a reputable musician in the Cajun music scene and received several Cajun French Music association (CFMA) awards.
In 1999 Courtney joined Balfa Toujours on bass and fiddle playing together with the great Kevin Wimmer. Courtney also recorded with the legendary bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien.
Courtney’s repertoire includes Cajun and classic country tunes. His masterful fiddling and soulful singing has made him one of the most sought-after Cajun fiddlers, playing with renowned artists Jason Frey Dirk Powell and Horace Trahan. He joined the famous Cajun band The Pine Leaf Boys in summer 2008.
In 2016 he released Beneath Still Waters, his first solo country album.
American slide guitarist Cindy Cashdollar was born May 25, 1956. She specializes in steel guitar and dobro.
Cindy Cashdollar grew up in Woodstock, New York. She improved her skills playing with bluegrass musician John Herald; blues icon Paul Butterfield; and roots rock musicians Levon Helm and Rick Danko of The Band; and many other artists who lived in the small mountain town in the Catskills.
For eight years she performed with one of the leading western swing bands, Asleep at the Wheel. This opportunity opened the door to collaborations with country music artists such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and The Dixie Chicks.
Her debut album Slide Show includes an impressive lineup of American roots artists such as Sonny Landreth, Marcia Ball, Mike Auldridge, Redd Volkaert, Herb Remington, Jorma Kaukonen and Steve James.
Cindy was inducted into the Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2011 (the first woman to be instated) and The Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
In 2017 she appeared in Mamadou Kelly’s album Politiki (Clermont Music CLE 016CD, 2017)
Chet Atkins grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains. He was a disciple of the legendary guitarist Merle Travis (Chet named his daughter Merle). Together with Merle Travis and Doc Watson he made up the trinity of country guitar. Chet was able to record with his hero before his death.
Chester Burton Atkins was born June 2, 1924 on a farm near Luttrell eastern Tennessee about 2 miles northeast of Knoxville. Chet Atkins’ origins were humble. Suffering with asthma throughout his youth he was a sickly child who nonetheless had to face working his family’s farm when his parents separated. He was only 1 at that time. But his father was a music teacher and song-leader with a number of traveling evangelists and his brother Jimmy -13 years older than Chet- was himself an accomplished guitar player.
Chet’s first instrument was a ukulele strung with wire from a screen door which he was able to get music out of for only short periods of time before the soft steel strands broke. Chet moved to Georgia when he was 1 to live with his father hoping the climate would be easier on his asthma. By this time he was playing a Sears Silvertone guitar which inexpensive as it was at least did not rely upon scrap metal for strings.
He left high school at age 17 knowing he wanted to pursue a career in music. In fact he admits that his childhood adversity was a significant motivator in driving him to be “the greatest at what he did.”
A series of performance slots on a number of radio stations as well as the popular Old Dominion Barn Dance often ended in Chet’s dismissal largely because he was already a sophisticated well-versed musician working for employers who wanted nothing but simple twangy “hillbilly” guitar.
His big break came when a gig with the legendary Carter Family led him to the Grand Ole Opry where his talents were finally appreciated. Chet became a sought-after session player working on records by some of the great pioneers of both country and rock’n’roll including the Everly Brothers and a kid from Tupelo Mississippi named Presley.
When he became RCA Records’ Manager of Operations Chet convinced the label to build an office and studio on Music Row in Nashville spearheading the music industry’s migration to Music City.
He was the main architect of the “Nashville Sound “which saved commercial country by marrying the music to pop sensibilities. His legacy to the industry he helped found and the culture he defined is undeniable. Upon leaving RCA Chet continued his highly successful career as a recording artist when he signed with Columbia Records where he remained till his death.
Chet Atkins is country music. He has played with Maybelle Carter Homer &Jethro Hank Snow Elvis Presley Eddy Arnold Jerry Reed Les Paul Ray Charles Hank Williams Sr. Kitty Wells Faron Young Lester Flatt &Earl Scruggs the Louvin Brothers Ernest Tubb Marty Robbins Webb Pierce Johnnie &Jack George Morgan Wanda Jackson George Jones etc. He has produced albums by Patsy Cline the Everly Brothers Floyd Cramer Waylon Jennings Skeeter Davis Skeets McDonald Porter Wagoner Charlie Pride Charlie Rich Hank Locklin Roger Miller Roy Orbison Don Gibson Bobby Bare etc. As a talent scout Chet helped sign Willie Nelson Dolly Parton Guy Clark Steve Wariner Tom T. Hall Connie Smith Dottie West and countless others.
A historical meeting between Chet Atkins and Doc Watson two of the 20th century’s most influential American guitarists was documented in 1980. Released for the first time on CD Reflections was an artifact for the ages and should be inspiration for guitarists for generations to come.
Chet while humble about his place in the world of music and obviously at peace with both himself and his plans for the future made it clear that he and his guitar had a lasting romance that shows no signs of abating. “There may come a day when I can’t play anymore ” Chet said “but otherwise I’ll be playing as long as I live. I could never put the guitar down ” he concluded laughing. “It might forget who I was.”
Atkins recorded more than 75 albums. In the years before his death he collaborated with many artists representing diverse genres such as Mark Knopfler Paul McCartney Eric Johnson George Benson and Earl Klugh.
Chet Atkins died of cancer on Saturday June 3, 2001 at this home in Nashville. He was 77 years old.
There were rumors started just a few months after Chet’s passing about a collection of unreleased solo guitar recordings Chet had made in his home studio. Chet’s Grandson Jonathan his engineer Mike Poston and longtime friend and sideman Paul Yandell all went down into Chet’s home studio. What they found were 28 cuts of Chet playing solo guitar arrangements some newly arranged solo performances of some of Chet’s favorite songs some songs that had never been recorded in any form. It was a special solo project Chet had undertaken himself over a 10 year period beginning in 1982. The recordings became available in 2003 under the title: Chet Atkins: Solo Sessions.
Born near Asheville, North Carolina in 1973, Bryan Sutton started playing the guitar at the age of 8. Sutton first came to prominence as part of Ricky Skaggs’ bluegrass band Kentucky Thunder. At the beginning of 1999, Bryan followed his heart and retired from Kentucky Thunder to devote himself to the recording work he finds so fascinating and rewarding.
As a leading session guitarist, he continues to appear on numerous recordings, from gospel albums to Rhonda Vincent’s Back Home Again to million-sellers like the Dixie Chicks’ Fly. His guitar playing anchors Dolly Parton’s sensational bluegrass albums, Little Sparrow and The Grass Is Blue (Sugar Hill), and the singer returned the favor by contributing to Bryan’s album, Ready To Go.
Filling in for the injured Tony Rice with the Bluegrass Sessions gave Bryan continued acclaim as he continually amazed audiences with his distinctive precision guitar leads.
Bryan has been honored as IBMA Guitarist of the Year in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, was awarded a Grammy in 2007 and in 2011 was named Speciality Instrument Player of the Year at the Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
Chris Austin was born February 24, 1964 in Boone, North Carolina.
Austin worked as a sideman for Ricky Skaggs for three years, singing and playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. During that time, he was discovered by executives at Warner Brothers Nashville, who offered him a recording contract.
The multi-instrumentalist and vocalist released several singles including “Blues Stay Away from Me,” “I Know There’s a Heart in There Somewhere” and “Out of Step.” Austin also developed his songwriting skills, as evidenced in “Same Ol’ Love,” recorded by Skaggs in 1991.
On March 16, 1991, Austin died when the private plane carrying him and six other members of Reba McEntire’s band, as well as her tour manager, crashed in the mountains near San Diego.
Pete Fisher, who at that time worked for Warnersongs and currently general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, and Kari Estrin, then MerleFest consultant and “Pickin’ for Merle” video associate producer, initiated the annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest to honor Austin’s memory.
Jazz guitar maestro John Scofield is set to perform at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina, on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017.
Scofield is a jazz guitar modernizer, who has recorded over 40 albums. He has produced and performed bebop, blues, jazz-funk, organ jazz, acoustic chamber jazz, electronically tinged groove music, jam band style and orchestral music with ease and passion.
In his latest project, “Country for Old Men”, Scofield reinterprets classic country melodies, performing with several of his closest musical colleagues from the Jazz community – Steve Swallow, Bill Stewart and Larry Goldings.
“We’re going to turn ‘outlaw’ country tunes into Jazz vehicles,” says Scofield. “Rather than go to Nashville and record with ‘real’ country players in a country style, I’m joining forces with my jazz cronies to play the songs with our jazz approach. We improvise while keeping the integrity, character and twang of this wonderful American music. I’ve always loved Country music and am super excited to put my treatment of them into play.”
Scofield and his bandmates will perform jazz renditions of classic tunes by George Jones, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Bob Wills, Patti Page and even Shania Twain.