Suwannee Roots Revival 2023
The world-class musicians in Big Richard initially convened in 2021 for a festival date. The quartet showed up to the one-off like it had been together for years, bursting with jaw-dropping virtuosity; playfully irreverent stage banter; stunning four-part harmony vocal interlace; imaginative arrangements; a refreshingly eclectic repertoire; and a healthy dose of lady rage.
Quickly things for the Colorado-based, neo-acoustic supergroup morphed into something way bigger than a one-and-done appearance. The sellout club shows, and the confirmed festival dates across America drastically changed its members’ lives and, in one case, livelihood—fiddler Eve Panning left the security of her middle school teaching job to go on the road. Now, Big Richard is poised to penetrate the Americana music world and beyond. To date, the quartet has issued 3 singles, the Live from Telluride album, and it has new music on the way.
“You know the satisfaction when you add the missing piece to a puzzle?,” asks cellist Joy Adams. “That’s the feeling we have—there was a hole for aggressive and empowered females in this scene. We are filling that with Big Richard.” She continues: “We take what we do seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously.” Bassist and guitarist Emma Rose adds: “This group is an opportunity to share our full selves—be honest with emotions, showcase our chops a bit, and break through the wall of what women are expected to be.”
“There are terrible stereotypes about women. Humor is a powerful tool to address that because it’s disarming. It helps people accept something they may not fully understand, in terms of reaching beyond perceived gender lines,” Bonnie says. “Big Richard is about the full experience of masculine and feminine energy. We present a playground that goes beyond the binary understanding of gender—we have a lot of big dick energy.”
Big Richard also blurs the lines in genre divides. The musicians siphon from traditional bluegrass, oldtime, classical, modern bluegrass, country, and pop. The four-piece band masterfully mashes up genres, often using traditional fiddle tunes as instrumental flights of fancy between its storyteller original songs. The group also refreshingly reinvents beloved traditional tunes. Big Richard potently distills the gory murder ballad “The Wind and The Rain” down to a stark a cappella song with fiddle accompaniment. Its rendition of “The Blackest Crow” exudes a chamber music quality, but also features stately improvised passages.
Up next, Big Richard is gearing up to record a full-length album featuring contributions from all its members alongside its singular interpretation of Americana standards. Reflecting on the wild ride the ladies have been on, Emma says: “The most beautiful thing is seeing little kids watching us. I remember being a young girl seeing women play music and thinking they were like superheroes.” Bonnie concludes: “One older woman at a show gave me this long embrace. She was crying as she said ‘you make me feel free.’ I will never forget that moment.”
Blair Crimmins & The Hookers https://blaircrimminsandthehookers.com
Blair Crimmins began his current music career in Atlanta, Georgia, with a drive to bring Ragtime and 1920’s style Dixieland Jazz to new audiences. While playing small rock clubs around the Southeast he developed a sound that is at once modern while being deeply rooted in the past. He has toured the U.S and Italy playing festivals and has opened for acts such as Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Old Crow Medicine show. A multi-instrumentalist on guitar, banjo and piano, Crimmins writes songs and arrangements for a classic New Orleans style horn section consisting of trumpet, clarinet and trombone. His debut release “The Musical Stylings Of” became a college radio sensation on WRAS Atlanta making him the most requested band on the air. In 2012 Crimmins showed his musical diversity by writing and recording the full score for the independent short film “Old Man Cabbage”.
The following year, Crimmins was the critics pick for Best Song Writer of 2013 in Creative Loafing’s Best of ATL issue. His next album entitled Sing-a-longs! earned him a nomination at The Georgia Music Awards for Best Jazz Artist. After years of relentless touring the country and abroad Blair Crimmins released his 4th album of original ragtime music You Gotta Sell Something (2017), as well as a children’s album All Aboard (2019) and a 5th full length record featuring swinging covers of his favorite artists ranging from Louis Armstrong to David Bowie entitled “Okay Boom!” in 2021.
“Atlanta’s genre blending ensemble Blair Crimmins and The Hookers have been creating a sound that is both unique and inspired for years. Crimmins himself began developing it some time ago, honing in on the magic of ragtime and the 1920’s, coupled with some Dixieland jazz. The fourth studio album from Crimmins’ impressive creative mind is due out in February of 2017, and we haven’t been this excited in quite some time.” – Impose Magazine
Best Songwriter “Crimmins has never been more refined than on this year’s Sing-A-Longs CD. If he caters to any genre, it’s one that’s entirely his own, and that’s something a lot of guys with pens and guitars either don’t know how to do, or don’t have the guts to do.” – Creative Loafing
“Blair Crimmins & The Hookers will make a jazzbo out of you. This ain’t your great-grandfather’s ragtime, and Blair Crimmins isn’t any quaint Dixieland revivalist. He’s a rock star — and Sing-A-Longs is a boisterous good time. Swing, Hookers, swing!” – James Man (Ink 19)
“Ragtime and 1920’s Dixieland Jazz have got a champion in Blair Crimmins. Sing-a-Longs is a perpetual motion machine of notes, rhythms and words and, while all albums should be just that, this one proves its worth as it shimmies, shakes, rattles and roars Ragtime.” – The Alternative Root
“The new Blair Crimmins and The Hookers album is fantastic. Dr. John and Preservation Hall have amalgamated a very astute protégé. While honoring his influences, Blair adds his own swinging southern panache with dashing youthful vehemence: rapid-fire lyrics and an audacious hair-tossing delivery. The band is solid, recalling fine players like Pete Fountain and Al Hirt.”
– Pete Knapp & Company
“The sound evokes the hot jazz, ragtime and blues of the 1920s. Still a rocker at heart, Crimmins’ marriage of these distinct musical worlds wound up creating a timeless niche.” – Creative Loafing
“Blair Crimmins is a time traveler of sorts. He’s a kind of music preservationist seeking to reintroduce the clamor of vaudeville and the wild glamor of speakeasies and jazz to an audience less aware.”- Charleston Scene
“The very first note immediately sends the listener back to a 1920s Vaudeville theatre, where Blair Crimmins intoxicates an audience with his smooth voice and the band supports him with flawlessly appropriate musical accompaniment.”_- Performer Magazine
“I was blasted away by a back draft of horns; a saxophone, keyboards, either a tenor or bass trombone accompanied by vocals that ripped space and time while mercilessly sucking me back into the ragtime era. Blair Crimmins possesses your soul like a relentlessly starved demon.” – Silver Tongue
“I can’t believe what I have heard several times now. This man has taken me back to the first conceptions of rocking and rolling. A time when jazz crazy people of the 30’s swung into a big band room. I’m talking about early stuff like Count Basie, Etta James, and early Ray Charles; into later music such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, or Elton John.” – Rock Fist Review
Donna the Buffalo https://www.donnathebuffalo.com
Donna The Buffalo is not just a band, rather one might say that Donna The Buffalo has become a lifestyle for its members and audiences. Since 1989, the roots rockers have played thousands of shows and countless festivals including Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Telluride, Austin City Limits Festival, MerleFest, and Philadelphia Folk Festival.
They’ve opened for The Dead and have toured with Peter Rowan, Del McCoury, Los Lobos, Little Feat, Jim Lauderdale, Rusted Root, and Railroad Earth to name a few. They also toured with Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen to help raise awareness about increased corporate spending in politics.
Donna the Buffalo formed in 1989 in the Finger Lakes town of Trumansburg, New York, around the core songwriting duo of Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear. In 1991, the band started the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg, NY. The four day festival has become an annual destination for over 15,000 music lovers every year and was started as an AIDS benefit. It continues as a benefit for arts and education. To date, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and is now one of three Grassroots Festivals; the Bi-annual Shakori Hills fest in North Carolina and Virginia Key festival in Florida. In 2016 GrassRoots Culture Camp was introduced in Trumansburg, New York as four days of music, art, dance and movement workshops, including nightly dinners and dances.
Electric Larry Land 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.
His latest creation is a solo album titled American Dream, whose every component—from the writing and arranging, to the instrumental and vocal performances, to the recording and production—spring straight from the mind, soul, and hands of the Virginia-born artist. Each of the album’s 10 tracks were composed by Keel and serve as an autobiographical overview of his life and career, as well as the influences and episodes that have shaped his personal perspective along the way.
Grandpa’s Cough Medicine https://www.facebook.com/GrandpasCoughMedicineUSA
Politically incorrect lyrics that make other bluegrass acts look like disney princesses. Instrumental prowess that will drop your jaw. Tempos and themes that will give you heart palpitations. Fronted by award winning flatpicker Brett Bass, Grandpa's Cough Medicine is an unsanctioned nuclear warhead. Tongue-in-cheek humor, scathing social commentary, unbridled savagery, and a heavy metal attitude paint their original songs with blood, booze and testosterone. Not for the faint of heart. Wear your big boy pants and strap in for an exhilarating, high-octane musical ride. Highly anticipated 4th album coming soon.
Hot Tuna Electric http://hottuna.com
(Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady)
A living legend in American music
The name Hot Tuna invokes as many different moods and reactions as there are Hot Tuna fans — millions of them. To some, Hot Tuna is a reminder of some wild and happy times. To others, that name will forever be linked to their own discovery of the power and depth of American blues and roots music. To newer fans, Hot Tuna is a tight, masterful duo that is on the cutting edge of great music.
All of those things are correct, and more. For more than four decades, Hot Tuna has played, toured, and recorded some of the best and most memorable acoustic and electric music ever. And Hot Tuna is still going strong — some would say stronger than ever.
The two kids from 1950s Washington, D.C. knew that they wanted to make music. Jorma Kaukonen, son of a State Department official, and Jack Casady, whose father was a dentist, discovered guitar when they were teenagers (Jack, four years younger, barely so). They played, and they took in the vast panorama of music available in the nation’s capital, but found a special love of the blues, country, and jazz played in small clubs.
Jorma went off to college, while Jack sat in with professional bands and combos before he was even old enough to drive, first playing lead guitar, then electric bass.
In the mid-1960s Jorma was invited to play in a rock‘n’roll band that was forming in San Francisco; he knew just the guy to play bass and summoned his old friend from back east. The striking signature guitar and bass riffs in the now-legendary songs by the Jefferson Airplane were the result.
The half-decade foray into 1960s San Francisco rock music was for Jack and Jorma an additional destination, not the final one. They continued to play their acoustic blues on the side, sometimes performing a mini-concert amid a Jefferson Airplane performance, sometimes finding a gig afterwards in some local club. They were, as Jack says, “Scouting, always scouting, for places where we could play.”
The duo did not go unnoticed and soon there was a record contract and not long afterwards a tour. Thus began a career that would result in more than two-dozen albums, thousands of concerts around the world, and continued popularity.
Hot Tuna has gone through changes, certainly. A variety of other instruments, from harmonica to fiddle to keyboards, have been part of the band over the years, and continue to be, varying from project to project. The constant, the very definition of Hot Tuna, has always been Jorma and Jack.
The two are not joined at the hip, though; through the years both Jorma and Jack have undertaken projects with other musicians and solo projects of their own. But Hot Tuna has never broken up, never ceased to exist, nor have the two boyhood pals ever wavered in one of the most enduring friendships in music.
Along the way, they have been joined by a succession of talented musicians: Drummers, harmonica players, keyboardists, backup singers, violinists and more, all fitting with Jorma and Jack’s current place in the musical spectrum. Jorma and Jack certainly could not have imagined, let alone predicted, where the playing would take them. It’s been a long and fascinating road to numerous, exciting destinations. Two things have never changed: They still love playing as much as they did as kids in Washington, D.C. and there are still many, many exciting miles yet to travel on their musical odyssey.
Jeff Mosier Ensemble https://www.revjeffmosier.com
Scruggs'-style banjo picker 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.
Later, as the jamband scene became more jam-tronica and less roots-driven, he formed a more song-driven rock/bluegrass ensemble, The Mosier Brothers band, performing at festivals, theaters, and private events throughout the region.
Having shared the stage with such legends as Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, Col. Bruce Hampton, Phish, Leftover Salmon, and Widespread Panic, Mosier has always been a versatile artist who is as comfortable performing on a stage full of musicians as he is playing solo.
"Perhaps no guest artist has had as great an influence on the band's music as the Rev. Jeff Mosier..." -- The Phish Companion
Currently, Mosier can be found performing around the country, occasionally joining projects such as the fully improvisational musical ensemble Everyone Orchestra or stalwart and vivacious The Grass Is Dead band. He is also very active playing shows, benefits, and festivals around his home base of Atlanta, as well as producing and recording in the studio.
Jim Lauderdale & The Game Changers https://www.jimlauderdalemusic.com
At any given time, you’re likely to find Jim Lauderdale making music, whether he’s laying down a new track in the studio or working through a spontaneous melody at his home in Nashville. And if he’s not actively crafting new music, he’s certainly thinking about it. “It's a constant challenge to try to keep making better and better records, write better and better songs. I still always feel like I'm a developing artist,” he says. This may be a surprising sentiment from a man who’s won two Grammys, released 34 full-length albums, and taken home the Americana Music Association’s coveted Wagonmaster Award. But his forthcoming album Game Changer is convincing evidence that the North Carolina native is only continuing to hone his craft.
Operating under his own label, Sky Crunch Records, for the first time since 2016, Lauderdale recorded Game Changer at the renowned Blackbird Studios in Nashville, co-producing the release with Jay Weaver and pulling from songs he’d written over the last several years. “There's a mixture on this record of uplifting songs and, at the same time, songs of heartbreak and despair—because that's part of life as well,” he says. “In the country song world especially, that's always been part of it. That’s real life.”
Lauderdale would know: He’s been a vital part of the country music ecosystem since 1991, when he released his debut album and began penning songs for an impressively long roster of country music greats. “When I was a teenager wanting to be a bluegrass banjo player, I never would have imagined that I would get to work with people like Ralph Stanley and Robert Hunter and George Jones and Elvis Costello and John Oates,” he muses. “Getting to work with them inspires me greatly to this day, and I know it always will.”
From rollicking guitar riffs on “That Kind of Life (That Kind of Day)” to the slow, sweet harmonies of “I’ll Keep My Heart Open For You,” Game Changer shows off Lauderdale’s ingenuity as a singer, songwriter, and producer—while reestablishing him as one of Americana’s most steadfast champions. "Country music is constantly evolving, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for steel guitar and a Telecaster," he says. "I have done my job on this record if people who love classic country feel like they can put it on, or have it in their collection, and it would fit right in."
Respecting the past doesn’t mean he’s not breaking new ground. “We’re All We’ve Got,” a co-write with Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris, offers a timely message about healing torn relationships at home and across the world. And “Friends Again,” a grinning number about rekindling a friendship, is fresh and forward-looking. At every turn, Lauderdale’s collaborative spirit and genuine love for the creative process reveal themselves in thoughtful, well-crafted songs sure to stand the test of time. "When everything works right, it's just magical to be able to hear them back," he says. "You feel, at least for those three-and-a-half minutes, like life makes sense.”
John Mailander’s Forecast https://www.johnmailander.com
Forecast is a Nashville-based collective of visionary musicians led by multi-instrumentalist/composer John Mailander. Originally assembled for the live debut of John’s 2019 album Forecast, the group found immediate creative chemistry and adopted the name for a series of residency shows. John Mailander’s Forecast has since developed a dedicated following through their adventurous improvisations, singular collaborations, and genre-bending, joyful musical explorations.
Forecast features the musicianship of Ethan Jodziewicz (Bass), Chris Lippincott (Pedal Steel/Keys), Mark Raudabaugh (Drums), Jake Stargel (Guitar), and David Williford (Tenor Saxophone/Bass Clarinet).
Jon Stickley Trio https://www.jonstickley.com
NEW ALBUM: MEANTIME’S UP (APRIL 28, 2023)
Boundary-breaking and genre-defying are handy terms to use in describing musical artists, but while they can lend a certain cachet to a project, music that really eludes easy description is actually pretty rare. Still, if such terms can be applied to any group at all, the Jon Stickley Trio is at the head of the line for such treatment. For while the music made by guitarist Stickley, violinist Lyndsay Pruett and percussionist Hunter Deacon contains innumerable influences that dart in and out of a listener’s ear, its all-instrumental essence is truly unique. And while the Trio’s 2020 debut for Organic Records, Scripting The Flip, was a convincing enough depiction of the group’s distinctive identity to earn rave reviews from jazz and Americana publications alike, their upcoming album, Meantime’s Up, serves up compelling proof that they’ve been digging even deeper.
Building on singles the Trio has released over the past two years, Meantime’s Up may best fit under the jazz umbrella, expertly matching inspiration and execution in a series of collective creations knit together with a handful of interludes given over to their individual members. The result is at once engagingly diverse and yet artistically coherent, even as individual entries like “Future Ghost,”“In And About” and “Golden Eagle” — all previously-released singles — exhibit the same traits in miniature, with multiple themes and moods, while others, like the new “Preston’s Tune,” a grassy flatpicking showcase, or Pruett’s “Death By Rainbow,” are deeper explorations of single textures and grooves. Rounded out by the focused interludes — Pruett’s lushly melodic “Consequence of Desire,” Stickley’s moody “Moonbow” and “Morning Candy,” and Deacon’s epic explorations of percussive tonality, “Causeway Pt. 1” and “Causeway Pt. 2” — the 50+ minute project is an expansive offering that brings to mind such archetypal suites as Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, taking listeners on a lengthy, ever-changing journey to the heart of the Trio’s creativity. And with its devotion to rich tones and its elegant counterpoints, Meantime’s Up is perfectly suited to a full treatment in the exciting new sonic landscape of Dolby Atmos, available on Apple Music, Amazon Music and TIDAL.
Mark Williams & Arvid Smith
Mark Williams www.moonstalkermusic.com
Nikki Talley https://www.facebook.com/nikkitalleysongs/
Nikki Talley & Jason Sharp are a husband & wife duo based out of Western NC. Having toured out of their Chevy van Blue Bell, playing 150+ shows annually since 2012, the pandemic shifted their focus to local/regional shows. They are currently happily grounded in Brevard raising their daughter Eva, the namesake of their latest independent release Blue Eyed Girl. This follows Out From The Harbor that received national airplay and spent several weeks upon release in the Top 100 AMA charts and was #19 on the WNCW Top 100 Albums of 2015.
Talley is an award winning vocalist & songwriter. Some of her winnings include taking home the title of Carolina Star (a weekly televised judged singing competition modeled after American Idol) along with the $10,000 prize which she applied to her next studio recording. In 2016 they travelled for the first time to Colorado winning 2nd Place at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Contest.
Nikki's powerful and beautiful voice accompanied by Jason's lush guitar tones complete the duo's eclectic sound. Nikki plays guitar as well as mountain clawhammer banjo while Jason accompanies her on guitar & sings harmonies.
Peter Rowan Band https://peter-rowan.com
The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band consists of outstanding musicians with over 100 years of combined recording and performance experience. Joining guitarist Peter Rowan are David Grier, Mike Bub and Larry Atamanuik. The ensemble has graced the stages of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Grey Fox, Merlefest, Rothbury Australia’s National Folk Festival, and numerous other festivals domestically and abroad, entertaining audiences with original and traditional songs executed in vibrant harmony.
In April 2013 Peter Rowan released The Old School, a magnificent blending of old school sounds and players (Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Bobby Osborne and Buddy Picher) with some of the bright young talent such as Chris Henry, Ronnie & Robbie McCoury performing memorable new songs such as “Doc Watson Morning”, “Drop The Bone” and “Keepin’ It Between The Lines (Old School)”. The Old School followed the group’s debut album for Nashville’s Compass Records- Legacy; the recording, featuring traditional and original compositions, was produced by Compass owner/recording artist Alison Brown and includes Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Del McCoury. Legacy received a Grammy nomination in 2010. Rebel Records was the home for Peter’s next bluegrass masterpiece, Carter Stanley’s Eyes, and 2022 will see Peter’s second Rebel release, featuring members of the latest incarnation of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band.
Peter Rowan – Guitar, Vocals
GRAMMY-award winner and six-time GRAMMY nominee, Peter Rowan is a bluegrass singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe, Peter’s stint in Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia and his subsequent breakout as both a solo performer and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through his continuous stream of original recordings, collaborative projects, and constant touring.
David Grier- Guitar
David is best known as an acoustic guitarist but he is equally adept on electric. Considered to be one of the premier flat picking guitarists in the world, David’s cross picking, unique phrasing and his ability to create multiple variations on a theme are hallmarks of his playing style.
Mike Bub- Acoustic Bass
Mike Bub spent thirteen years playing bass as a member of the Del McCoury Band, winning multiple awards including a Grammy in 2005. Since exiting the McCoury group Bub has worked with Dale Ann Bradley, Shawn Camp, Vince Gill, Ashley Monroe, the Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet, and Chris Scruggs.
Larry Atamanuik- Drums
Canadian/American drummer who performed and recorded with Peter in Seatrain, with Peter and Tony Rice as well as in Crucial Country, Larry also played with Emmy Lou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Sam Bush and Larry Douglas.
Quartermoon, a true “family band,” founded by John and Raven Smith, have been a part of the
Gainesville, FL music scene and Spirit of the Suwannee’s music festival family for more than twenty years. Their music spans blues to bluegrass with Americana in between. Quartermoon hosts the Bill Monroe Shrine, a campground jam tent, at Suwannee Roots Revival and Suwannee Spring Reunion. One never knows who may show up to jam under the big top! Be sure to drop by for some magic moments! And catch their sets for more magic!
Ralph Roddenbery & The Jones
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.
Sloppy Joe https://www.facebook.com/slopgrass/
A field guide for identification of Sloppy Joe....Often found in disturbed soils near bluegrass or road-side ditches and taverns. Styles including but not limited to: bluegrass, neo-acoustic-electric-old-time, country and jug-band. Common throughout the upper mid-west primarily in northern Wisconsin and south to the banks of Florida's Suwannee River. Known for their elaborate campsites that attract late night jammers. Celebrating more than 20 years together, Wisconsin's Sloppy Joe plays their own style of music, sowing the seeds of Slopgrass with every song shared. A late night visit to their campground jam is not to be missed!
Snake Oil Medicine Show
A list of all the styles that the Snake Oil Medicine Show touches on reads like a list of departments in a record store: bluegrass, jazz, klezmer, rock, funk, polka, reggae, old-time, tropical, swing and more all come together in a stimulating mix. They seem to singularly personify the unclassifiable ethos of the genre-jumping jamband, with lyrics focusing on love and unity in these troubled times. This band has been a festival favorite for nearly 30 years now.. It’s legally insane party music for the whole family!
Sunny War http://www.sunnywar.com
“I feel like there are two sides of me,” says the Nashville-based singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso known as Sunny War. “One of them is very self-destructive, and the other is trying to work with that other half to keep things balanced.” That’s the central conflict on her fourth album, the eclectic and innovative Anarchist Gospel, which documents a time when it looked like the self-destructive side might win out. “Everybody is a beast just trying their hardest to be good. That’s what it is to be human. You’re not really good or bad. You’re just trying to stay in the middle of those two things all the time, and you’re probably doing a shitty job of it. That’s okay, because we’re all just monsters.”
Extreme emotions can make that battle all the more perilous, yet from such trials Sunny has crafted a set of songs that draw on a range of ideas and styles, as though she’s marshaling all her forces to get her ideas across: ecstatic gospel, dusty country blues, thoughtful folk, rip-roaring rock and roll, even avant garde studio experiments (like the collage of voices that closes “Shelter and Storm”). She melds them together into a powerful statement of survival, revealing a probing songwriter who indulges no comforting platitudes and a highly innovative guitarist who deploys spidery riffs throughout every song.
It's a style she’s been honing for most of her life, at least since she took her first guitar lessons and fell in love with music. “When I was a kid, I was obsessed with AC/DC, and I loved dramatic ‘80s guitar bands like Motley Crüe. Later, I was obsessed with Bad Brains, the Minutemen, and X.” True to the punk ethos, her first punk band, the Anus Kings, made music with whatever they had at hand, and what they had at hand were acoustic guitars. That made them stand out among other Los Angeles groups at the time, and today Sunny is the rare roots artist who covers Ween and can drop a Crass reference into a song (as she does on “Whole”). “I don’t really make music with a traditional roots audience in mind. I like weird music, outsider music, like Daniel Johnston and Roky Erickson.”
Even as she was developing a guitar style that married acoustic punk to country blues, those two sides of Sunny were already at odds. As a teenager, she began drinking heavily, which led to her dropping out of school. She played punk shows, stole and chugged bottles of vodka, and quickly became addicted to heroin and meth. For money she busked along the boardwalks in Venice Beach, recording an album to sell out of her guitar case and letting that self-destructive side win most of the battles. But “the body can’t handle both heroin and meth,” she explains. “When you’re young, it’s hard to gauge that you’re killing yourself.” A series of seizures landed her in a sober living facility in Compton, so emaciated that she could only wear children’s pajamas.
Music remained a lifeline, and she fell in with a crew at Hen House Studios in Venice, where over the years she made a series of albums and EPs, including 2018’s With the Sun and 2021’s Simple Syrup. Twelve years after she kicked meth and heroin, Sunny is remarkably candid about this time in her life. “Everyone I loved died before they reached 25. They OD’ed or killed themselves. We were just kids who didn’t have anyone looking out for us. You’re not supposed to know so much about death at such a young age. Maybe that’s why I write a lot about not taking shit for granted, because it always feels like something’s about to happen.”
Building on those hard-won triumphs of previous albums, Anarchist Gospel documents a moment when Sunny had finally gained the upper hand on her self-destructive side, only to watch that stability crumble. “I went through a breakup,” she says of the album’s genesis, “and I was still staying in the apartment that my partner and I had lived in. I had to finish the lease. I was really depressed and drinking a lot. I felt so isolated from everybody I knew. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. It felt like the world was ending. Then I got Covid.” Sunny admits she contemplated suicide, but instead she wrote a song, “I Got No Fight,” a muted, measured gospel number on which she sings that title like a battered mantra. It’s a moment of almost unbearable honesty, although fortunately she did find the fight in herself. “I was just having a tantrum really. A lot of my songs are just tantrums. But I did feel better after writing it.”
Once her lease in Los Angeles ended, Sunny moved to Nashville, where she was born and where she lived until she was twelve years old. Among the items she packed were demos for several new songs of heartache and hard-won hope. “I think the album is split between being a breakup album and being somehow uplifting.” She booked sessions at the Bomb Shelter to work with producer Andrija Tokic (Hurray for the Riff Raff, Alabama Shakes, the Deslondes). “I already liked a lot of the records that Andrija had made. As far as new stuff goes, a lot of my favorite albums were produced by him, so I thought we’d be a good match.”
Working with a small backing band, they captured a raw energy in these songs, although one instrument gradually dominated the music as they proceeded: her own voice and the voices of others trying to stay between good and bad. Most of these songs are call-and-responses with a small choir that includes Allison Russell, Jim James, Dave Rawlings, and Chris Pierce (her partner in the duo War & Pierce). Acting as the angels and devils on her shoulders, they alternately challenge her self-accusations or sympathize with her worries. “There’s so much singing on here. I didn’t plan for that, but I really like it. That’s why I thought it would be cool to call the album Anarchist Gospel, because of the choirs on these songs.”
Music assuaged her heartache and confusion, even the songs she didn’t write. Despite its title, her reimagining of Dionne Farris’s “Hopeless” is perhaps the album’s most hopeful moment: “I cried just a little too long,” she sings. “Now it’s time for me to move on.” On the sadder end of the spectrum is her cover of Ween’s “Baby Bitch”; showcasing her sly sense of humor, it’s a playfully melancholy kiss-off that features a choir of kids singing along as she tells an ex, “I’m better now, please fuck off.” It’s funny, but uneasily so: a joke that reveals something bleaker. “It’s such a great breakup song! You’re out there somewhere and run into your ex with their new partner. But you know who they really are. You know they’re being a bitch. There aren’t many songs that get to that kind of experience without turning it into a joke.”
As the sessions wound down and the mixing process started, Sunny got the worst news imaginable. “My brother called me and told me I should come to Chattanooga. My dad was in the hospital, and he wasn’t going to make it. I called Andrija and told him I had to cancel the session and catch a Greyhound. Instead, he insisted on giving me a ride. He drove me down to see my dad. I barely knew this guy, and he was doing this incredible thing for me. I don’t know too many other producers who could navigate that kind of situation.” That simple act of kindness helped her endure that astounding loss, even as the grieving process threw these songs into even sharper relief.
Because it promises not healing but resilience and perseverance, because it doesn’t take shit for granted, Anarchist Gospel holds up under such intense emotional pressure, acknowledging the pain of living while searching for something that lies just beyond ourselves, some sense of balance between the bad and the good. “This album represents such a crazy period in my life, between the breakup and the move to Nashville and my dad dying. But now I feel like the worst parts are over. What I learned, I think, is that the best thing to do is just to feel everything and deal with it. Just feel everything.”
The Ain’t Sisters https://theaintsisters.com
Fun, eclectic folk rock. Fronted by the deliciously androgynous duo Arrie Bozeman and Barb Carbon, the Aints deliver high-energy performances of their wildly diverse original music. Joined by the hardest working men in rock n Roll, Richie Jones on the Boom Chick thwackita whackita, and Justin Boudreau, aka BooDreamy, masterfully holding down the rhythm section and making everybody swoon with their gorgeous licks. Think Indigo Girls meets Ween but with a little Birdcloud in the mix.
If ya ain’t sisters, what are ya?
Stillhouse Junkies https://stillhousejunkies.com
Stillhouse Junkies Ensemble Bio Stillhouse Junkies is a one-of-a-kind creative project born out of the collective passions of three individuals with very different musical backgrounds. With chops and stylistic leanings ranging from classical to West African, blues, bluegrass, and swing, Fred Kosak, Alissa Wolf, and Cody Tinnin came together around a shared goal of bringing sounds and grooves to their fans that fall outside of easy genre distinctions. With all three band members trading lead vocal, songwriting, and arranging duties, Stillhouse Junkies paint with a rich tonal palette that pays homage to their musical heroes while forging a unique artistic path.
Born out of a long-standing weekly residency at a local distillery in Durango, CO, Stillhouse Junkies have quickly become a staple of Colorado and the Four Corners region’s vibrant music scene and a nationally-recognized touring act, establishing a solid fan base through multi-hour performances that feature soaring group improvisations, novel re-imaginings of covers from the likes of Asia, Caleb Klauder, and Bill Withers, and intimate vocal-driven ballads. Through their strong writing and creative, intricate arranging, the Junkies have built up an eclectic multi-set catalogue of original music that reflects their diverse interests and creative inclinations. Their songs run the gamut of human emotion and experience: disenchantment with the pace of modern living, confronting adversity in its many forms, mortality and aging, and story songs that imagine reality from the perspective of a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition; a small-town bartender; a lonely miner; an imperiled cattle driver. They pay tribute to the remarkable diversity of both the Four Corners area of the Southwestern US and the country as a whole, probing below the surface of everyday life to find the themes that unite us all as Americans and citizens of the world.
In November 2019, Stillhouse Junkies entered the studio in Austin, TX to record their third album, Calamity, an epic thematic collection of 12 original songs released on March 7th. This effort represented the culmination of over a year of constant writing, gigging, and rehearsing and was to be supported by a dizzying schedule of over 100 planned shows across the US and in the UK.
Stillhouse Junkies are proud to be winners of the 2021 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year award, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival Showcase Artists, and Showcase Artists at both the 2020 & 2021 IBMA World of Bluegrass.
The Fried Turkeys https://friedturkeysband.com/bookings
Featuring a heaping helping of regionally-relevant original songs written by Tallahassee Troubadour, Frank Douglas, the Fried Turkeys will have you dripping in greasy, hippy, roots-country tunes. Soulful pedal steel, soaring vocal harmonies, a thumping rhythm section, Dixieland piano liners and a unique Americana sound will have you tapping your feet and singing along for their Suwannee Roots Revival return. The grease is ready...drop the birds.
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 up and down the east coast, to Colorado and back. 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 the West Coast as well. The Grass Is Dead are very much alive and well, rocking out and and picking their way across this great country.
"At the core of The Grateful Dead is the heart of American music, which is bluegrass and folk. You cannot hide behind these two genres. What you get in the studio is what you get onstage. And it's that vulnerability and honesty that sets the tone and attitude apart from the haphazard and polished nature of pop radio. Putting their music through the prism of string music, The Grass Is Dead showcases how Jerry & Co. buried innumerable gems of wisdom — sonically and spiritually — in the rich tapestry of their melodies and lyrics, all of which radiates in intimacy and inclusiveness of The Grass Is Dead when they stand in front of the microphone, and also the unknown night of curiosity and exploration that they seek out and grasp with such ease."
— Garret K. Woodward, Music Editor - The Smoky Mountain News
“The Grass Is Dead allows me to play both traditional and Dead-like vibes on their show. It’s great energy and intent and we know a million tunes between us. They really play bluegrass, yet they also are Deadheads. Their music is not just rock spiced up with bluegrass instruments. They have well-thought-out arrangements that draw on bluegrass but are accepted by even the most hardcore Dead fan. I never feel like I’m playing in a Grateful Dead cover band when I’m with them. Because of their intention and the way they put the songs together, it’s a real tribute to both bluegrass music and the Grateful Dead at the same time.”
— Jeff Mosier
The Last Revel http://www.thelastrevel.com
After a 5 year hiatus, The original trio has reunited to produce new music with a revitalized appreciation for camaraderie and creativity. Now living in three different cities across the US, these three independently talented singer-songwriters bring together the sounds of Nashville TN, Minneapolis MN, & Bozeman MT to create Front Porch Americana soundscapes that are equally original as they are timeless. Drawing influence from their salt of the earth Midwest ethos the band’s songs so naturally blend the genres of Folk, Old Time String-Band and Indie Rock to create a sound that echoes the current heartbeat of America.
The Last Revel utilizes their multi-instrumental abilities to bring the full spectrum of modern Americana to life with lush arrangements of three-part vocal harmonies, acoustic and electric guitars, upright bass, fiddle, and 5-string banjo to consistently support impassioned performances of their honest and heartfelt songwriting.
In February 2022, The Last Revel recorded at RiverRock Studios in Minneapolis, MN with longtime friend and producer/engineer Kevin Israel. There was an energy present in the studio that was overwhelming and genuinely emotional. They carved out five new songs that will be released as an EP by May 2022. The intensity of their joyous reunion shines through each song with new textures and thunderous rejoice. The time spent apart led to some incredible personal growth and speaks through their music more honestly than ever before. They describe this latest chapter as a testament to friendship, forgiveness, and celebration with a grateful nod to the struggles we all work through together.
The first single to be released is entitled, Welcome To Hell. It strives to strike a balance between themes of our seemingly deteriorating civilization and the levity that comes from the boredom we often experience at the DMV. These themes are highlighted as metaphors for the nihilism felt towards the end of failing relationships. The song was born from one simple phrase. There are only two kinds of relationships, those where you are happy and comfortable and those where you are too afraid to end it. It is a strange phenomenon most humans share when we would rather live in a familiar hell than leave in search of something better.
Trampled By Turtles https://trampledbyturtles.com
Trampled by Turtles are from Duluth, Minnesota, where frontman Dave Simonett initially formed the group as a side project in 2003. At the time, Simonett had lost most of his music gear, thanks to a group of enterprising car thieves who'd ransacked his vehicle while he played a show with his previous band. Left with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, he began piecing together a new band, this time taking inspiration from bluegrass, folk, and other genres that didn't rely on amplification. Simonett hadn't played any bluegrass music before, and he filled his lineup with other newcomers to the genre, including fiddler Ryan Young (who'd previously played drums in a speed metal act) and bassist Tim Saxhaug. Along with mandolinist Erik Berry and banjo player Dave Carroll, the group began carving out a fast, frenetic sound that owed as much to rock & roll as bluegrass.
Trampled by Turtles released their first record, Songs from a Ghost Town, in 2004. In a genre steeped in tradition, the album stood out for its contemporary sound, essentially bridging the gap between the bandmates' background in rock music and their new acoustic leanings. Blue Sky and the Devil (2005) and Trouble (2007) explored a similar sound, but it wasn't until 2008 and the band's fourth release, Duluth, that Trampled by Turtles received recognition by the bluegrass community. Duluth peaked at number eight on the Billboard bluegrass chart and paved the way for a number of festival appearances. When Palomino arrived in 2010, it was met with an even greater response, debuting at the top of the bluegrass chart and remaining in the Top Ten for more than a year. Two years later, their crossover appeal landed them at number 32 on the Billboard 200 pop charts upon the release of their sixth album, Stars and Satellites. In addition to major bluegrass and folk festivals, they began showing up at Coachella, ACL Fest, and Lollapalooza. The official concert album, Live at First Avenue, followed in 2013, recorded at Minnesota's most famous venue. A year later, the band returned with the darker-toned Wild Animals, which bettered its studio predecessor on the album charts, reaching number 29 on Billboard. Countless tours with bands like Lord Huron, Wilco, Caamp, Mt Joy and Deer Tick to name a few have followed. 2022 will see the release of the band's latest body of work called Alpenglow which was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.
The NEW Quintet https://nicholasedwardwilliams.com/thenewquintet/
Highlighting the songs and styles that have shaped our country from Traditional Folk, to Ragtime, Bluegrass, Old-Time and Piedmont Blues, The NEW Quintet features storyteller and musicologist Nicholas Edward Williams (Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals), Emma Dubose (Fiddle, Harmony), Jade Watts (Upright Bass, Harmony), Gordon Inman (Clarinet, Harmony) and Cody Ray (Guitar, Lap Steel, Harmony).
The ensemble weaves intricate layers of ancient tones and lush textures with big harmonies in a wide array of original and reimagined traditional material, spanning the ethereal qualities of chamber music, and the raucous street music of the turn of the century. The group formed in 2021 as accompaniment to Williams' critically acclaimed sophomore release Folk Songs For Old Times' Sake, heralded by well-regarded figures of the roots community such as David Holt, Oliver Wood, Dom Flemons, and JP Harris. Ever since, The NEW Quintet has been performing throughout the Southeast at festivals, concert series, listening rooms and theaters, and they'll be unveiling their first release together in late 2023.
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 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.
Verlon has co-produced Guy Clark's Grammy nominated cd "Cold Dog Soup" as well as "The Dark", "Workbench Songs" and "Somedays the Song Writes You.”
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.
As the in-house musician for Genuine Human Productions (genuinehuman.com) Thompson scores themes and background music for documentaries and special film projects.
Most people who have seen Guy Clark since the late '80s have also seen Verlon Thompson. Aside from being Clark's friend, right-hand man, co-writer and co-producer, Thompson is also a prolific flatpicker and narrative songwriter. The list of big-name artists who have cut his songs includes Jimmy Buffett (duet with Alan Jackson), Randy Travis, Kenny Rogers, Pam Tillis, Del McCoury, Trisha Yearwood and Jerry Jeff Walker.
“But Thompson's force becomes most apparent when you hear him perform the songs he penned. From the smoking picking on ‘Joe Walker's Mare’ and ‘Darwettia's Mandolin’ to storytelling gems such as ‘Indian Head Penny’ and "He Left the Road’ to hillbilly toe-tappers such as ‘Backsliders Blues’ and ‘Asheville Turnaround," Thompson ranks as perhaps the most well-rounded yet overlooked instrumentalist and songwriter beneath the large Americana umbrella. Catch him out front, where he belongs.” —Raleigh News Weekly, Dan Schram
“To the everyday country music fan, Verlon Thompson is not a household name.
But within the music community of Nashville, Thompson is a songwriter and guitarist almost without peer.” —Charlotte Weekly, Jack Bernhardt
“During the Clark tribute set on the Music Hall stage, Thompson was overwhelmed by emotion talking to the audience about memories with Clark. He stopped to wipe away a tear as Camp continued on with a cover of ‘Stuff That Works,’ the crowd cheering on the moment… ‘When you’re a songwriter, hopefully you’ll be a voice for a lot of folks out there listening,’ Thompson says. ‘And there are nights where it’s a very spiritual thing, where you feed off the folks and they feed off of you — we need each other, and we give that to each other.’ —Rolling Stone, Garret Woodward, Review of Suwannee Spring Reunion 2023
“Let me just say that Verlon is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Verlon’s 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. Verlon co-produced Guy Clark’s Grammy nominated album ‘Cold Dog Soup’, as well as ‘The Dark’, ‘Workbench Songs’ and ‘Somedays the Song Writes You’. 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 contributed to the score of the Tamara Saviano documentary ‘Without Getting Killed or Caught’, the story of Guy and Susanna Clark and Townes Van Zandt…. “I can tell you that I’ve seen this playing up close. It’s dazzling. This hybrid style allows a picker to use cross-picking techniques with a pick, while also using the fingers to add harmonies and licks. I had seen Verlon play a version of ‘The Guitar’ on Saturday afternoon at the Suwannee Spring Reunion that made the crowd jump to their feet. Not just a great guitar player, Verlon is a teller of tales. All his songs tell stories. Verlon performed ‘I Love You More Than Anything’, which was co-written with Frank Serio in memory of Sue Cunningham. He had to stop at one point as he was getting choked up. The entire audience was silenced by the beauty of the song. Verlon then played ‘Adalee’, which was also co-written with Frank. At this point, my eyes were welled up with tears.” —Americana UK, Mike Fiorito