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.
American multi-instrumentalist Rick Epping plays harmonica, concertina, banjo, and jaw harp. He’s a native of California and has been moving back and forth between Ireland and the United States for over 30 years. During this time, Epping has been playing the folk music of both countries since childhood.
Epping has performed with acclaimed musicians such as Bill Monroe, Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb and Irish accordionist Joe Cooley. On his album The Unwanted he features a trio that includes Irish musicians Séamus O’Dowd (fiddle) and Cathy Jordan (Dervish’s vocalist).
Bruce Molsky is one of the most influential old time fiddlers in the United States. Molsky is also an outstanding guitarist, banjoist and singer. His music incorporates the mountain sounds of Appalachia, the energy of blues and the rhythms of traditional African music.
Bruce has performed and recorded with acclaimed musicians such as Martin Hayes, Darol Anger, Alasdair Fraser, the Waverly Consort and Mike Seeger.
His acclaimed solo recording Poor Man’s Troubles (Rounder) has become a standard for old time music enthusiasts everywhere.
Bruce has been featured on the popular A Prairie Home Companion public radio show and as a guest artist on recordings with Darol Anger and the early music ensemble Hesperus, among many others. He toured the U.K. with internationally renowned fiddler Kevin Burke and others on the Fiddles of Fire tour. Bruce is also an accompanist with the percussive dance ensemble Footworks.
Influential old time musicians Tommy Jarrell and Albert Hash were two of Bruce’s mentors in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he first learned to play. Thanks in part to time spent with these old masters, Bruce has earned numerous awards at fiddle and banjo contests around the southern United States.
Bruce is a highly in demand fiddle and banjo teacher, and teaches his own intensive fiddle workshop program throughout the United States. He is a regular instructor at Augusta Heritage Center, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason’s Ashokan Music Camp, Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle Camp and others.
Abigail Washburn’s soulful singing was one of the signature sounds of Uncle Earl since she joined in May 2003. Signed to Nettwerk Records as a solo recording artist, her album Song of the Traveling Daughter was released in August, 2005. The album features original songs in English and Mandarin Chinese, which she speaks. Actually, Abby was headed down a career path in Sino-American relations when she heard an LP of Doc Watson and decided to take up old-time banjo.
She met KC Groves at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in Louisville, Kentucky and joined the band that summer. Combining her love of traditional American music, Chinese language and classical Chinese poetry, she began writing songs, some of which happen to be in Chinese. Her writing earned her a second place award in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2004.
In 2012, after attending Doc Watson’s funeral, Abigail began performing “And Am I Born to Die,” a sacred harp piece recorded by Watson. “Doc is one of the main reasons I play the banjo and sing American old-time music,” says Washburn.
Along with 24 innovative and creative thinkers from across the world, Abigail Washburn was named a TED Fellow and presented at the 2012 Ted Convention about building United States-China relations through music. Her efforts to share American music in China, and Chinese music in the Unied States exist within a hope that cultural understanding and the communal experience of music will lead the way to a richer existence.
In 2014, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn released their eponymous debut album October 7th on Rounder Records. Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn is a front porch banjo and vocal album of new music, Appalachian murder ballads, gospel, chamber and blues; the culmination of a yearlong tour as a duo in 2013, following the birth of their son, Juno.
American fiddler Trevor Stuart passed away suddenly at his home on March 2, 2016 at the age of forty-seven. Trevor Stuart was a member of the celebrated Stuart Brothers, performers of traditional Appalachian fiddle and banjo music.
Trevor Stuart was born and raised in Bethel, a rural farming community in Haywood County, in western North Carolina.
Trevor ad his brother Travis toured extensively throughout the United States and abroad, performing at major festivals and teaching workshops and master classes at music camps.
For over ten years, the Stuart Brothers led the Haywood County JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) an after-school program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Stuart brothers released two albums: Pretty Little Widow, (Yodel-Ay-Hee), and Mountaineer (Old 97 Wrecords) and appeared on numerous recordings.
MerleFest, the well-liked music festival founded by the legendary Doc Watson, will present a preview of this spring’s festival when MerleFest on the Road tours throughout the Southeastern United States during March. The tour will feature first-rate artists scheduled to perform at MerleFest 2016: Tellico, High Plains Jamboree and Zoe & Cloyd.
“The MerleFest on the Road performers provide a sampling of bluegrass and old-time artists scheduled to perform at MerleFest 2016,” said Steve Johnson, MerleFest artist relations manager. “It is important to remember that MerleFest cannot be defined by just one genre such as bluegrass or old-time. Doc Watson created the genre moniker of traditional-plus, ‘meaning the traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play. Since the beginning, the people of the college and I have agreed that the music of MerleFest is ‘traditional plus’.’”
Tellico is based in in Asheville, North Carolina’s thriving roots music scene. The band is rooted in bluegrass but with an unbridled organic “Appalachiacana” sound, combining some of the finest voices, songs and instrumental prowess in western North Carolina and beyond. MerleFest fans know most of the band members from Dehlia Low. www.tellicoband.com
High Plains Jamboree is making its own jukebox memories, playing decades old favorites and original songs. With roots in Northern bluegrass and Southern troubadour country, these four veteran Austin, Texas, musicians bring a well-defined Texas flavor to this new string band’s writing and singing. www.highplainsjamboree.com
Zoe & Cloyd, a husband-wife duo from Asheville, combine a foundation in traditional bluegrass and old-time Appalachian music with a modern sensibility. They are known for their haunting mountain voices, instrumental prowess and songwriting. They have been making music together for ten years, including with MerleFest favorite Red June. www.zoeandcloyd.com
MerleFest 2016 will take place from April 28 to May 1 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, where the MerleFest on the Road artists will be joined by John Prine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, The Wood Brothers, The Steep Canyon Rangers and many others.
Thursday, March 3 – Isis Music Hall – Asheville, North Carolina
Friday, March 4, 2016 – Harvester Performance Center – Rocky Mount, Virginia*
Saturday, March 5 – Willingham Theater – Yadkinville, North Carolina
Sunday, March 6 – The Willow Tree – Johnson City, Tennessee*
Wednesday, March 9 – “Tennessee Shines” at Boyd’s Jig and Reel – Knoxville, Tennessee*
Thursday, March 10 –The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art presented by the Blue Ridge Music Center – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Friday, March 11 – Gaston County Museum – Dallas, North Carolina
Saturday, March 12 – Triad Acoustic Stage at the Carolina Theater – Greensboro, North Carolina
Sunday, March 13 – The Evening Muse -| Charlotte, North Carolina*
Canadian banjo player Jayme Stone is known for exploring various global musical traditions. On his latest album, Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project, Stone got together with an impressive cast of musicians and vocalists from North America and other parts of the world to recreate field recordings made by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax throughout his travels.
The music selection includes:
“Lazy John,” a version of an original folk song written by Alan Lomax. Lineup: Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Julian Lage on guitar, Joe Phillips on bass, Nick Fraser on drums, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Before This Time another Year,” a Georgia Sea Island song. Lineup: Tim O’Brien on vocals, guitar; Margaret Glaspy, Moira Smiley, Mollie O’Brien, John Magnie, Martin Gilmore and Jayme Stone on vocals.
“Shenandoah,” a sea-shanty. Lineup: Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Julian Lage on guitar, Joe Phillips on bass, Nick Fraser on drums, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Goodbye, Old Paint,” a folk song. Lineup: Tim O’Brien on vocals, mandolin; Margaret Glaspy on vocals, guitar; Moira Smiley on accordion, Greg Garrison on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Sheep, Sheep Don’tcha Know the Road,” a work song. Lineup: Moira Smiley, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Glaspy, Mollie O’Brien, John Magnie, Martin Gilmore, Jayme Stone on vocals, handclaps.
“I Want to Hear Somebody Pray,” a song from the Caribbean island of Carriacou. Lineup: Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Tim O’Brien on mandolin, vocals, Mollie O’Brien on vocals, John Magnie on vocals, Martin Gilmore on vocals, Greg Garrison on bass, Alwyn Robinson on drums, Jayme Stone on prepared banjo (Stone used a piece of foam next to the bridge, evoking a West-African ngoni), vocals.
“T-I-M-O-T-H-Y,” a love song from Saint Eustatius, an island in the Dutch Antilles. Lineup: Tim O’Brien on vocals, fiddle; Moira Smiley on vocals, accordion; Margaret Glaspy on guitar, Greg Garrison on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Hog Went through the Fence, Yoke And All,” a fiddle tune from Kentucky. Lineup: Brittany Haas on fiddle, Eli West on guitar, Greg Garrison on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“What Is the Soul Of Man?” a southern song. Lineup: Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Bruce Molsky on vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Julian Lage on guitar, Joe Phillips on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Now Your Man Done Gone,” a prison song by Willie Turner, an inmate at Camp Livingston in Alabama. Lineup: Bruce Molsky on vocals, Margaret Glaspy on vocals.
“The Devil’s Nine Questions,” a Virginia ballad collected by Texas Gladden. Lineup: Moira Smiley, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Glaspy, Mollie O’Brien, John Magnie, Martin Gilmore, Jayme Stone on vocals, body percussion.
“Bury Boula for Me,” a calypso song. Lineup: Drew Gonsalves on vocals, cuatro, Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Julian Lage on guitar, Joe Phillips on bass, Nick Fraser on drums, Jayme Stone on banjo
“Susan Anna Gal,” an Appalachian song from North Carolina. Lineup: Eli West on vocals, bouzouki, Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Greg Garrison on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Maids When you’re Young,” a Scottish traveler song. Lineup: Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Eli West on guitar, Greg Garrison on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Prayer Wheel,” a fishermen song from Virginia. Lineup: Tim O’Brien on guitar, vocals, Moira Smiley, Mollie O’Brien, Margaret Glaspy, John Magnie, Martin Gilmore, Jayme Stone on vocals.
“Old Christmas,” a fiddle tune from Kentucky. Lineup: Bruce Molsky on fiddle, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Julian Lage on guitar, Joe Phillips on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Whoa, Back, Buck,” a Lead Belly ox-driving song. Lineup: Eli West on vocals, guitar, Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Greg Garrison on bass, Jayme Stone on banjo.
“Lambs on The Green Hills,” a song collected from the English poet Robert Graves. Lineup: Margaret Glaspy on vocals, Julian Lage on guitar.
The CD version includes a 54-page booklet with song notes by Stone, an introduction by music scholar Stephen Wade, and a photo essay by longtime Nonesuch photographer Michael Wilson.
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project contains fascinating recreations of timeless folk songs and melodies.