June Blooms - Underground
June's just about here.
Time for summer vacations, weddings and music festivals. Forget about
Christmas, for bluegrass fans this is the most wonderful time of the
year, when all the bands come out to play in open fields everywhere.
But here at Bluegrass
Underground we have the best of both worlds - all the
natural beauty of an outdoor setting but without the sunburn,
mosquitoes, rain, mud, wind, dust storms and ripe, sunbaked port-o-lets.
Instead, we offer a
consistently cool 60-degree environment amid a stunning backdrop.
Plus, we have three-time Emmy-winning BGU soundman Andy Kern and
lighting whiz Brian Sullivan working in a controlled setting to
provide first-rate concert production.
Best of all, we have a
full lineup of the finest bluegrass and roots musicians on or
under the planet. June brings a Triple Crown of three very different
shows, taking us from East Tennessee to Louisiana, from the Grand Ole
Opry to the peaks of Telluride.
We start the month with a
big dose of the Big Easy. June 3, it's the all-star Revelers,
a group based in Lafayette, featuring members of two top
Louisiana acts, the
funky, hard-touring Red Stick Ramblers and the Pine Leaf Boys, a
group of young musicians who've been hailed as the future of Cajun
music. Here they are in
action, playing our sister show, Music City Roots. Bring
your dancing shoes. Get
your tickets today!
Opening the show is a
longtime BGU favorite. Bill
& The Belles are the house band for Bristol, Tennessee's
revival of WCYB's legendary Farm & Fun Time radio show,
mixing smooth harmonies and classic old-time songs, answering the
musical question, "What if Bing Crosby replaced A.P. Carter in
the Carter Family?" There aren't many groups that can hold their own with Davina & The Vagabonds,
but when they played a recent Live
From the Underground event together last year, just as many
folks were buzzing about Bill & The Belles as about Davina.
Here they are at
that show doing one of their crowd-pleasers. Two very
different bands, both steeped in tradition but not bound by it. This will
be a good one, folks. Get more info here.
June 17, it's the classic
bluegrass sound of The
Larry Stephenson Band. Larry's one of the great high tenor
singers in bluegrass, recalling a young Bobby Osborne. After
18 years with Pinecastle, Stephenson andhis wife Dreama have their
own label, Whysper Dream, and the LSB has a new album, Weep Little
Willow. For banjo fans, the group features one of the all-time
greats, Kenny Ingram, who, in his early days, drove the five-string
for Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass.
Here's the LSB
version of Bill Monroe's signature song, "Muleskinner
Blues," taped at MCR. Check out Ingram's backup playing,
lead guitarist Kevin Richardson's hot solo and of course, Stephenson's stratospheric lead vocals. They've frequently appeared
on the Grand Ole Opry but this marks their Bluegrass Underground
debut. Here's the band's website.
Opening that show are
Josh Smith, William See and Squirrel McLain, better known as The
Glade City Rounders, a raucous old-time string band specializing
in the pre-bluegrass sounds of folks like Uncle Dave Macon, Charlie
Poole and Gus Cannon. Here's some hummable homicide by the Rounders with
their version of Poole's take on the old Frankie
& Johnny story, "Leavin' Home". For more,
June 24, our final show
of the month features the Peter
Rowan Bluegrass Band, one of the true icons of both traditional
and progressive bluegrass and one of the greatest bluegrass
singers of all time.
For traditional fans, he
was a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in the mid-late '60s,
singing and co-writing one of Monroe's greatest songs, "Walls of
Time." It's the single best personification of the "high
lonesome sound." Bluegrass Time, the album made during
Rowan's tenure with the band, featured two other urban revivalists -
Lamar Grier on banjo (flatpicker David Grier's dad) and fiddler
Richard Greene - along with son James Monroe on bass, and it's one of
If Rowan had quit music
then, his status would have been assured, but
he went on to play with
Jerry Garcia in Old & In The Way, a band that was as influential
in jam grass as the Blue Grass Boys were in traditional bluegrass. He also wrote such classics as "Panama
Red," a hit for the country rocking New Riders of the Purple
And he's still creating
great new music, as witnessed by his recent CD for Compass, Old
School. He's also a fine showman. I've seen him dozens of times,
including fronting his pioneering bluegrass-blues-rock band Seatrain,
and I have never been disappointed.
Don't miss your chance to
see him live and subterranean. Here he is, singing
"Walls of Time". And that's just the tip of
the iceberg, check
out the rest of this great iceberg.
Opening the 1 p.m. show
is San Francisco's Quiles
& Cloud, featuring singer/guitarists Maria Quiles and Rory
Cloud and Oscar Westesson on upright bass. They have their own dreamy
version of traditional music with atmospheric takes on classics like
"Deep Ellum Blues" that recall the interweaving vocals of
the Civil Wars, but taking that sound to a very different
destination. Last year they released Beyond The Rain, produced
by Alison Brown on her Compass label. Here's Quiles and
Cloud doing "Black Sky Lightning".
join us and celebrate the start of summer at 333 feet below.
Bring your sense of adventure; leave the sunscreen and bug spray at
We'll see you
- Larry Nager