Suwannee Roots Revival 2021
Darrell Scott https://www.darrellscott.com
There is an absence of light, before the light. A simple bare stage in the waning gloaming, and I can see Darrell make his way to a lone microphone. He is here to shine that light on matters of the heart─the grit, grease, gristle, and most importantly, the marrow beneath the breastbone.
And what is the path that shapes us as we go along, those true defining moments without which we would be hollow versions of our current selves? For Darrell, it was coming from a musical family with a father who had him smitten with guitars by the age of 4, alongside a brother who played Jerry Reed style. From there, things only ramped up with literature and poetry endeavors while a student at Tufts University, along with playing his way through life. This would never change.
Darrell Scott mines and cultivates the everyday moment, taking the rote, menial, mundane, and allowing it to be surreal, ever poignant and candidly honest, lilting, blooming and resonating. The words he fosters allow us to make sense of the world. Ultimately, Darrell knows the sole truth of life is that love is all that matters, that we don’t always get it right, but that’s the instinctive and requisite circuitous allure of things, why we forever chase it and why it is held sacred.
Donna the Buffalo https://www.donnathebuffalo.com
Suwannee favorites, Donna the Buffalo draws on a lot of musical influences, from country and rock ‘n’ roll, to bluegrass and old-time fiddle, as well as Cajun and Zydeco. In many ways, they were Americana before the term was ever coined. The common thread? Songs of the human spirit, and an incredibly tight relationship with their fans.
“The fans, they show up to be a part of it. We show up to be a part of it,” band co-founder and songwriter, Jeb Puryear says. “And we don’t have an intimidating vibe where we’re different than them. If a scene is really on, it doesn’t matter whether you’re watching, listening, dancing or playing – it’s on, everybody knows it’s on and it feels great! I think that’s the nature of the connection.”
The Erie Times says of Donna the Buffalo, “They craft spirit- soaring songs with distinct sensibilities: Nevins’ songs are unfailingly melodic, brisk and buoyant, powered by her reassuring, wisdom-soaked vocals and ever-present fiddle and accordion. Puryear’s songs accentuate the groove with his exceptional guitar work and sly, Dylan-like way with lyrics.”
Jim Lauderdale https://www.jimlauderdalemusic.com
Jim Lauderdale has never been content to sit still in any one musical place for long, effortlessly cycling through a wide range of country, rock and bluegrass shades of Americana. But “Hope,” album number 34 in the two-time GRAMMY® award-winning singer-songwriter’s distinguished career, nevertheless stands out stylistically as well as thematically. After a year of locked-down isolation, “Hope” finds Lauderdale breaking out with wide-open arrangements along the lines of Neil Young, The Grateful Dead and Little Feat. As to messaging, “Hope” is a joyous musical tribute to the spirit of overcoming hard times in a spirit of inspirational healing.
It's probably easier to list things Jim Lauderdale hasn't done in his career as a bluegrass guitar troubadour. Jim has recorded with everyone from Dr. Ralph Stanley to Donna The Buffalo and written songs for artists from the likes of George Strait to Elvis Costello, while collaborating with partners like beloved Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Lauderdale has written books, won Grammys, started record labels and hosted his own radio show while still managing to play his guitar all over the world. Jim has yet to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but ya never know!
Joe Craven & Painted Mandolin https://joecraven.com
Joe Craven is not just an entertaining musician with a penchant for the mischievous, he is a teacher and student all at once. He will draw you into his performance by including you as though you’re part of the show itself. His gift of gab is unprecedented and his musical knowledge impressive. Always looking for the next expression and object to make music with, Joe is a musical madman with anything that has strings attached. Joe’s openness and expression of gratitude for the gifts he’s acquired make it all the more fun for him to share them with his audience.
Creativity educator, former museum curator, visual artist, actor/storyteller, event emcee and recipient of the 2009 Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year, Joe has made music with many folks – notably, 17 years with mandolinist David Grisman, violinist Stephane Grappelli and Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia – to multi-whirled string guy David Lindley, harmonica wizard Howard Levy and seven years recording and touring with banjo fusionist Alison Brown.
Jamming instrumentals, grooving energy and vocals shared by all, Painted Mandolin explores the acoustic side of Jerry Garcia, from his early jug band days; to the Bluegrass of Old and In the Way; through the Grateful Dead’s "Reckoning" period; Jerry's acoustic band; and the Garcia/Grisman project in the early 90s.
Jon Stickley Trio https://www.jonstickley.com
Jon Stickley Trio is a genre-defying instrumental trio, offering up deep grooves, innovative flat-picking and sultry, spacey violin. “Stickley’s Martin churns out a mixture of bluegrass, Chuck Berry, metal, prog, grunge and assorted other genres—all thoroughly integrated into a personal style,” writes Guitar Player Magazine. “In a time when a lot of instrumental music feels more like math than art, Jon Stickley Trio reminds us of the pure joy that can be created and shared through music,” says Greensky Bluegrass’ Anders Beck.
With inspiration ranging from Green Day to Duran Duran to Tony Rice to Nirvana, Grateful Dead, David Grisman and beyond, the Trio is making waves with their unusual and inventive sound. Bring your dancing shoes.
Keller & the Keels https://kellerwilliams.net
Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Keller Williams has defined the term independent artist. For most of his career he has performed solo, accompanying his vocals on acoustic guitar. With the use of today’s technology, Keller creates samples on the fly in front of the audience. The end result leans toward a hybrid of alternative folk and groovy electronica, a genre Keller jokingly calls “acoustic dance music.”
As years have gone by and Keller has continued to evolve he has created more and more unique projects and collaborations with fellow musicians. Keller says of this collaboration, “Award winning flat picker Larry Keel and his rock solid, in the pocket bass playing wife, Jenny Keel, make up two thirds of this super fun trio I started in 2004. We vowed from the beginning that we wouldn’t do it often so that when we did, it would be special and it is.” We’re so glad they decided to do it here with us at Suwannee Roots Revival.
Larry Keel Experience https://larrykeel.com
Larry Keel is an award-winning innovative flat picking guitarist and singer/songwriter hailing from Appalachia. Raised in a musical family steeped in the mountain culture of the region, Keel began from an early age to forge a distinctive sound, taking traditional music and infusing it with modern light.
With the acoustic guitar Keel has brought the flat picking form to its highest level of sophistication and sonic power with his muscular, yet refined style of playing. As a composer and singer, Keel integrates raw honesty and charming grit to form a unique brand of music he calls 'experimental folk', songwriting that is filled with reality, imagination, imagery and mood.
He has appeared on over 20 albums, 12 of which he produced, and has written songs that have been recorded and performed by distinguished artists including Grammy-award winners Del McCoury and The Infamous Stringdusters. Keel has collaborated and continues to merge creative forces with some of the greatest artists in modern roots music such as Tyler Childers, Billy Strings, Al DiMeola, Tony Rice, Keller Williams and Sam Bush, to name a few.
Leftover Salmon http://www.leftoversalmon.com
Few bands stick around for 30 years. Even fewer bands leave a legacy that marks them as a truly special, once-in-lifetime type band. And no band has done all that and had as much fun as Leftover Salmon. Since their earliest days as a forward thinking, progressive bluegrass band who had the guts to add drums to the mix and who were unafraid to stir in any number of highly combustible styles into their ever-evolving sound, to their role as pioneers of the modern jamband scene, to their current status as influential elder-statesmen of that scene, Leftover Salmon has been a crucial link in keeping the traditional music of the past alive, simultaneously pushing that sound forward with their own weirdly unique style.
Salmon is a band that has never stood still; they are constantly changing, evolving, and inspiring. If someone wanted to understand what Americana music is, they could do no better than to go to a Leftover Salmon show for a musical tour, with the band taking them to Appalachia for an old-time bluegrass song, stopping at Bourbon Street in New Orleans for a swampy Cajun-influenced number, to the hallowed halls of the Ryman in Nashville, before returning to the mountains of Colorado to fire one up.
Nicholas Edward Williams https://nicholasedwardwilliams.com
Every once in awhile, there are artists that come into the fold who are living the unique music they create. Such is the case with Seattle-born fingerpicking stomp box rover, Nicholas Edward Williams.
Williams was injected with a bohemian lifestyle during a nomadic childhood. By the time he was twelve years of age, his family of four had already moved across four states and nearly ten houses from the west to the east coast. He had no idea that he was being unconsciously groomed to live the Kerouac condition one day; destined to ramble, tell stories of nature, moral ground, and singing about the great people and the multiple levels of the human experience in travel.
The troubadour tells stories of the silent, simple perils of the average Joe. He plays on the cliche rhythms of married life, the age of convenience, the footprint of our generation, paying homage to his musical heroes, imagery of men drinking to the follies of America and good old-fashioned murder ballads.
Williams has his own brand of satire, simple honesty and vivid imagery that translates into energetic live shows, harnessing rhythmic fingerpicking, soaring vocals, rolling harmonica, heart-thumping stomp box and charismatic whistling. All of which is backed with engaging descriptions and infectious personality between songs.
Nikki Talley & Jason Sharp http://www.nikkitalley.com
After many years of serious touring, 150-200 shows annually, Nikki and Jason are still traveling down that road. Hailing from the mountains of Transylvania County in western North Carolina, it’s only fitting that Nikki’s songs are as eclectic as the state that boasts the mountains and the sea. Nikki accompanies her beautiful, soaring voice with her guitar and clawhammer style banjo. Musical partner and husband, Jason Sharp, adds resonant, lush guitar tones and vocal harmonies to the duo’s sound.
You can find Nikki & Jason chasing their dreams down in their van, Blue Bell, all across the country playing festivals, venues & house concerts.You’ll find Nikki and Jason sharing their music at the late night campfires, too.
Peter Rowan Free Mexican Air Force featuring Los Texmaniacs http://www.peter-rowan.com/bluegrass.html
Grammy-award winner Peter Rowan has been with us at Suwannee from the beginning. Peter is a singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of Bluegrass veteran Bill Monroe, to his time in Old & In the Way and his breakout as a solo musician and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through a solid stream of recordings, collaborative projects and constant touring.
The Free Mexican Airforce is flying again! This is a high-velocity group that often features members of Grammy award winning Los Texmaniacs. This is Peter Rowan plugged in and includes some of his most loved songs--Come Back to Old Santa Fe, Ride the Wild Mustang, Midnight Moonlight and, of course, Free Mexican Airforce!
Ralph Roddenbery https://www.facebook.com/RalphRoddenbery/
Ralph Roddenbery’s music is a dynamic blend of Americana, roots rock, and a twist of the blues. The Charleston City Paper stated that Roddenbery has an “undeniable knack for tapping into the emotional undercurrent of his songs, many of which are just as likely to make you laugh as they are to cause moistening of the lids, all within the same four minutes.” Roddenbery is a unique and impressionable singer/songwriter who has been part of the Athens and Atlanta music scene for many years.
Rev Jeff Mosier Ensemble https://www.facebook.com/Jeff.Mosier.Musician
"The Rev" Jeff Mosier, one of the earliest music pioneers who merged bluegrass instruments and traditional tunes with the magnetic energy of rock and roll, founded the jamgrass band Blueground Undergrass (BGUG) in 1998 after years of crafting his banjo skills in various bands, playing everything from bluegrass with his brother Johnny (Good Medicine) to experimental rock (Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit) to jazz-fusion (The Ear Reverents). Blueground Undergrass, the band he fronted for more than a decade, recorded four albums and built a sizable national following by combining bluegrass purism with a jam band sensibility.
Mosier draws from a variety of influences ranging from bluegrass and jazz to psychedelic folk-rock and alt-country. Mosier's superb vocal mastery and unique banjo picking combine to deliver a special experience highlighting his original tunes as well as familiar traditionals in novel arrangements. Whether traveling through acoustic ballads, thought-provoking and humorous banter, or high-energy bluegrass, each performance by Rev Jeff Mosier is a musical journey sending the listener on an enjoyable foot-tapping, mind-bending, and body-grooving jaunt down the road and back home again.
"Perhaps no guest artist has had as great an influence on the band's music as the Rev. Jeff Mosier..." - The Phish Companion
Sam Bush Band https://www.sambush.com
There was only one prize-winning teenager carrying stones big enough to say thanks, but no thanks to Roy Acuff. Only one son of Kentucky finding a light of inspiration from Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys and catching a fire from Bob Marley and The Wailers. Only one progressive hippie allying with like-minded conspirators, rolling out the New Grass revolution, and then leaving the genre's torch-bearing band behind as it reached its commercial peak. There is only one consensus pick of peers and predecessors, of the traditionalists, the rebels, and the next gen devotees. Music's ultimate inside outsider. Or is it outside insider? There is only one Sam Bush.
Sam has released seven albums and a live DVD over the past two decades. In 2009, the Americana Music Association awarded Bush the Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist. Punch Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, and Greensky Bluegrass are just a few present-day bluegrass vanguards among so many musicians he’s influenced. His performances are annual highlights of the festival circuit, with Bush’s joyous perennial appearances at the town’s famed bluegrass fest earning him the title, “King of Telluride.”
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers https://www.disarmers.com
North Carolina’s Sarah Shook sings with a conviction and hard honesty sorely lacking in much of today’s Americana landscape. Always passionate, at times profane, Sarah stalks/walks the line between vulnerable and menacing, her voice strong and uneasy, country classic but with contemporary, earthy tension. You can hear in her voice what’s she’s seen; world weary, lessons learned—or not—but always defiant. She level-steady means what she says. Writing with a blunt urgency—so refreshing these days it's almost startling—Sarah's lyrics are in turn smart, funny, mean and above all, uncompromising. Sly turns of phrase so spot on they feel as old and true as a hymn. Anger that's as confrontational as it is concise. Humor that's as wry and resigned as a park bench prophet.
The Disarmers hit all the sweet spots from Nashville’s Lower Broad to Bakersfield and take Sarah's unflinching tales out for some late-night kicks. At times, it’s as simple and muscular as Luther Perkins’ boom-chicka-boom, or as downtown as Johnny Thunders. The Disarmers keep in the pocket, tight and tough.
Steep Canyon Rangers https://www.steepcanyon.com
Steep Canyon Rangers are Asheville, North Carolina’s GRAMMY winners, perennial Billboard chart-toppers, and frequent collaborators of the renowned banjoist (and occasional comedian) Steve Martin.
Steep Canyon Rangers have been on a journey that is uniquely their own. The band started in college at UNC-Chapel Hill, then dove head first into bluegrass in its most traditional form, and over the years have risen to the top of the bluegrass genre headlining top festivals such as Merlefest and Grey Fox Bluegrass. Only to then be discovered by Steve Martin, famous actor and banjo player. Martin has taken the Rangers on a nearly decade long tour introducing them to hundreds of thousands of new fans and giving them prime time TV exposure. This has helped SCR become the most recognizable modern name in bluegrass music.
The band has continued to tour extensively on their own, without Martin, and have expanded their genre into country and Americana with the addition of a drummer, alongside an incredibly versatile bassist - to accompany the original core band. The Rangers are big players in the bluegrass/country and Americana scene today. They are often compared to predecessors The Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the modern Zac Brown Band.
The Grass Is Dead https://www.grassisdead.com
It is well known that roots music is passed down from generation to generation. From grandparents to parents and from parents to their children. The inevitable collision between the traditional past and the enormous catalogue of modern music, both spiritual and psychedelic, is the fertile plain that sprouted the roots of The Grass Is Dead. Initially formed as an acoustic offshoot of one of the country’s most beloved GD tribute bands, Crazy Fingers, The Grass Is Dead has evolved over the past ten years into a juggernaut of sound and a festival favorite.
Their live performances bring into view a traditional sensibility of bluegrass, swing and folk music launched directly onto a psychedelic paintbrush of modern influences, most importantly, the music of the Grateful Dead. Captivating audiences with their unique interpretations and thoughtful arrangements of songs by the GD, Jerry Garcia, and many others, as well as their extensive file of traditional roots music at their command, it's only a matter of time until the buzz that they have created will reach fans far and wide. The Grass Is Dead are very much alive and well, rocking out and and picking their way across this great country.
The Infamous Stringdusters http://www.thestringdusters.com
The Infamous Stringdusters stand out as the rare group who can team up with contemporary artists on late night television one night and headline the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre or perform alongside The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh the next, and have recently emerged as proprietors behind their newly found independent record label, Americana Vibes.
Manifesting an actual flock of impassioned fandom, much like those who paved the road before them, the band have attracted a faithful international audience that continues to grow. Moreover, their powerful music and performances paved the way for a GRAMMY® Award win in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album” for 2017’s Laws of Gravity, and a number of International Bluegrass Music Awards in a variety of categories.
The Dusters are a brotherhood, but that family extends beyond the band even. And with most of the past year apart (and off), the guys can’t wait to hear what the future has in store for them musically speaking, and the hope is to bring that very musical joy back into people’s lives.
Verlon Thompson https://www.verlonthompson.com
Songwriters seem to flourish on the fertile Oklahoma plains, Woody Guthrie, Roger Miller, Leon Russell, J.J. Cale and Jimmy Webb. Add Verlon Thompson to that list. Thirty plus years as a professional songwriter and traveling troubadour serve as credentials. As a solo performer and as the trusted sidekick of Texas Americana songwriting icon Guy Clark, Verlon has viewed the world from stages everywhere from Barcelona to Binger (his hometown in Oklahoma).
Along the way Verlon Thompson compositions have been recorded by Jimmy Buffett and Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Anne Murray, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Trisha Yearwood and many more.
Equally important in his songwriting and live performances, Verlon's guitar work cannot go unnoticed. His guitar can be heard on recordings by Restless Heart, Pam Tillis, and many more, including, and especially Guy Clark.
Verlon was honored to contribute to the score of the Tamara Saviano documentary “Without Getting Killed or Caught”, the story of Guy and Susanna Clark and Townes Van Zandt, scheduled for release in 2020. As the in-house musician for Genuine Human Productions (genuinehuman.com) Thompson scores themes and background music for documentaries and special film projects.
Verlon Thompson is currently on the road. Or in the studio. Or writing in his bunkhouse on the river in Tennessee....but never far from the fertile plains of Oklahoma. For one October weekend, he’s with us!