Archive for the ‘On the Road with Robyn’ Category
Stephen Mougin, known as “Mojo” in the bluegrass world, loves being on stage with Sam Bush, as guitarist and harmony vocalist in the award-winning, nationally-touring Sam Bush Band.
Last Friday, Stephen stepped into the Nashville spotlight as a lead vocalist and band leader, and Sam was on stage to support. It was a perfect Friday night in my mind: coming in from the cold to a packed house at The Station Inn and listening to Stephen sing “Mr. Engineer,” “Some Old Day,” “Roll On Buddy” as a duet with Sam, “Drink Up and Go Home,” and all of my favorite bluegrass standards with an all-star band. Playing a Collings D2HA Varnish, Stephen wowed us with hard-driving guitar rhythm and solos all night, trading rides with Sam on mandolin, Jeremy Garrett (The Infamous Stringdusters) on fiddle, and Ned Luberecki (Chris Jones and The Night Drivers) on banjo. Daniel Hardin kept time on the upright bass.
Stephen’s wife Jana, who has loved bluegrass since she was an early teen, joined him on stage to sing “Can’t You Hear Me Calling,” (Bill Monroe), and “I Still Miss Someone” (Johnny Cash). Ned Luberecki’s original tune, “Cabin of Death,” was jokingly introduced as “the perfect bluegrass song,” featuring the well-known bluegrass themes of cabins and death and an upbeat melody. The song was made available as a children’s book at the merch table. Ned was also featured in the opening set with Stephen as the duo Nedski & Mojo, sharing co-written tunes and plenty of comedy. Stephen’s original tune “Dark Shadows” was another highlight (also cut by Melanie Cannon on “The Wheels Turn”).
Raised with musical parents, Stephen was on stage by the age of eight. He studied vocal music education at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Before joining Sam Bush on the road in 2006, Stephen toured with Randy Kohrs, Melanie Cannon, Audie Blaylock and many others.
Although he’s a husband and father with a very busy touring, recording, producing, writing, and teaching schedule, I’m hoping he’ll find time to add more “Stephen Mougin and Friends” shows to the Station Inn calendar! I’ll be there! - Robyn
On the Road:
Dark Shadow Recording – Owner/Engineer/Producer. The Rigneys, a traditional bluegrass family band, was the first act signed. Stephen enjoys giving back by helping emerging groups gain a foothold in the business.
Stephen offers guitar, mandolin, voice, band coaching, arrangements, and performance instruction.
RockyGrass 2013; Photo by Robyn Taylor
About an hour northwest of Denver, Lyons attracts thousands of visitors every year to its rugged mountain foothills, clear blue sky, bluegrass festivals, and friendly local businesses. July 2013′s RockyGrass weekend was no exception. Several thousand of us were fortunate enough to sit beneath the main stage in cool summer weather and listen to Tim O’Brien, The Kruger Brothers, Missy Raines, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, and many more fill the St. Vrain canyon with bluegrass harmonies, clawhammer banjo solos, and fiddle tributes to Paul Warren. It was heavenly.
On September 12, Planet Bluegrass was under water. Massive flooding in Lyons caused the St. Vrain River to overrun its banks and turn the grounds of Planet Bluegrass into a raging river in a few short days. Recovery efforts have been extensive since most of the 2,000 residents were evacuated and 170 businesses brought to their knees. Musicians lost their homes, instruments and studios, and the town’s infrastructure was destroyed.
Planet Bluegrass 2013 Flood; Photos by Cybergrass, Denver Post
Nashville extended a hand on November 21st. Singer/songwriter Robby Hecht, his wife Annie Klaver, Music City Roots’ Ashlee-Jean Trott and IBMA’s Joe Lurgio organized the “Folks for Lyons : A Benefit for Planet Bluegrass & Lyons Musicians Relief Fund” Benefit Concert, held at 3rd & Lindsley. Liz Longley, Robby Hecht, Abigail Washburn, Amy Speace, Korby Lenker, Caroline Spence, The Danberrys, David Goldenburg and Christian Sedelmyer, The Steeldrivers, Brad Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys, Sheriff Scott and the Deputies, and Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run, most with personal ties to the Lyons area, donated their time and talent for an outstanding evening of Colorado-flavored “grass & roots” music. Hosted by Craig Havighurst and Dan Keen, 100% of the ticket sales and silent auction proceeds went directly to the Lyons Relief Fund.
Planet Bluegrass has already announced the preliminary 2014 RockyGrass line-up. Like the river, I imagine Lyons’ musicians and Planet Bluegrass will return with a new sense of direction.
David Goldenburg and Christian Sedelmyer at the Lyons Benefit Concert,
Photo by Robyn Taylor
RockyGrass 2014 Tickets go on sale Thursday, December 5th at: www.bluegrass.com/rockygrass/.
~ Robyn, My Favorite Guitars
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell put on an incredible show Saturday night (11/16/13) at The Cannery Ballroom. The benefit concert was their only full-band show in Nashville, and featured Australian guitarist Jedd Hughes and bass player Byron House. Silent auction items for the Epilepsy Foundation included a signed Gibson guitar and a pair of Emmylou’s boots.
The Americana “Duo of the Year” performed the title track and several other tracks off of their new album, “Old Yellow Moon,” which recently won Americana Music Association’s Album of the Year Award in September. I loved how the pedal steel and electric guitars brought these country-rock tracks to life on stage, but her acoustic performances of “Poncho and Lefty,” and “If I Needed You” were unforgettable. She brought many of us to tears with “The Road,” her solo tribute to Gram Parsons.
“Sometimes someone crosses your path and completely alters the trajectory of your life,” she said of Gram. I couldn’t help but think Rodney has had the same effect on her life – having met 40 years ago and still making breathtaking music together today. Their harmonies blend so effortlessly, and their joy on stage is contagious. Like Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, you wonder how they’ve ever been apart.
Find links to “Old Yellow Moon” online at http://www.emmylouharris.com/.
I wasn’t going to go to IBMA this year. It was in Raleigh, after all. I moved to Nashville so I could be closer to the music – IBMA at the Nashville Convention Center was – at the very least – convenient, and at best, the site of many of my best bluegrass memories. Then there was the fact that I had just spent a week at the Americana Music Fest and Business Conference, and I moved. Into a storage unit. Work was piling up, and I was spending money faster than Steve Martin could pick the banjo.
But at the last minute I reluctantly hopped into Missy Raines’ van with my air mattress and guitar, and committed to the 11-hour trek, 6 days away from home, and impending sleep deprivation.
North Carolina was the birthplace of the late bluegrass legends Doc Watson (guitar) and Earl Scruggs (banjo). Every year, thousands of bluegrass fans gather in Wilkesboro for MerleFest, remembering Doc’s son, Merle. Bill Monroe and his brother recorded their first song in Charlotte, NC, and then parted ways in Raleigh in 1938, making way for Monroe’s famous Blue Grass Boys to form and later join the Opry.
Bluegrass Hall of Famers Curly Seckler, Red Smiley, Carlton Haney, Carl Story, and George Shufller are all from North Carolina. North Carolina natives Wade Mainer and Charlie Poole paved the way for many other bluegrass pioneers. Tony Rice, The Kruger Brothers, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, The Steep Canyon Rangers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Avett Brothers and Balsam Range all claim North Carolina as home. Raleigh sounded like a good fit for IBMA’s World of Bluegrass – but would it be a success?
Over 50,000 fans came out to the Wide Open Bluegrass Street Festival on Friday alone. The Red Hat Amphitheatre, which hosted Steve Martin, Edie Brickell, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Tony Rice, Del McCoury, The Punch Brothers and all of the event’s main stage acts Friday and Saturday night, sold out a month in advance – over 12,000 tickets total. The historic and unforgettable Awards Show, in which Tony Rice spoke in a normal voice for the first time in 20 years, and then performed, sold out in advance as well, seating over 2200 people (in soft seats, I might add). IBMA Membership grew by 25%, and all of the downtown hotels were full. 1,500 registrants attended the business conference, up from just over 1,000 last year in Nashville.
If that’s not successful enough, all of Raleigh’s downtown clubs were filled with bluegrass music on 7 stages – not just the traditional straight-ahead bluegrass music that we IBMA’ers know and love, but the contemporary sounds of Missy Raines & The New Hip, Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, and Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – whom all appealed to the new-to-bluegrass residents of Raleigh.
Restaurants and retail shops posted “Welcome Bluegrass Fans” signs, the Sir Walter Raleigh statue held a banjo, and the IBMA sign was in lights over the Duke Energy Center entrance. Bike taxis carted us around, and if we needed help of any kind, friendly faces were eager to answer our questions and welcome us to town.
My Favorite Guitars’ friends Jarrod and Cody Walker, Sierra Hull, Clay Hess, and Jesse Gregory were featured in workshops and live shows. The Martin booth was more crowded than ever, and even my friends from Naples made the journey – Karen Batten, Dick Spottswood and Mickie and Roli Scholl.
After a week of staying up until 5am, Raleigh became home for me. A home that I needed in the midst of a move and a community that I needed in the midst of a transition. I had the privilege of being around my heroes: Tony Rice, Claire Lynch, Missy Raines, Mark Schatz, Sam Bush, and so many more. These folks live and breathe music. Good music. The kind that makes you want to chase your dreams.
Well done, Raleigh. Thank you for making us all feel so welcome. Thank you for bringing bluegrass home. Here’s to an exciting future.
From the IBMA website: “IBMA the International Bluegrass Music Association IBMA.org – is the professional trade organization for the global bluegrass music community. The organization’s three-year stay in Raleigh is the result of a partnership with The Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, PineCone —The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, the City of Raleigh and a local organizing committee.” https://ibma.org/node/383
September 14, 2013
Jarrod Walker, a long-time friend of Jon and Sharon at My Favorite Guitars, has been an “instrumental” part of Missy Raines & The New Hip for two years, as the band’s new mandolin player, acoustic guitar player, and harmony vocal singer. Saturday night (September 14th), Jarrod accompanied the band at the Station Inn Album Release Show for New Frontier, Missy’s new all-vocal record. Joined by Ethan Ballinger on electric guitar and Cody Martin on drums, Jarrod and the progressive, alt-rock jazz-grass ensemble played every consecutive track of the new record to a standing-room-only crowd.
Raines, a 7-Time IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Bass Player of the Year, proved herself again as not only one of the best bass players on the planet, but also a sultry singer, brilliant arranger and band leader, and again, a trailblazer of music. I’ve been watching Jarrod play for close to 10 years, as a former resident of southern Florida, his home turf. In fact, I chose Stephen Stadler, his Tampa-based childhood mandolin teacher, for my progressive-sounding bluegrass band in Naples. I was always impressed with Jarrod’s playing and knew he, like the other New Hip band members, was well ahead of his time and not willing to fit in a musical box. Maybe it was the magic in the air, or the groovy vibe of the lights, but I’ll go out on a limb and say Saturday was the best I’ve seen him perform. It seems to me that The New Hip gives him the artistic home he’s been searching for, and the “new frontier” that he longs for as a performer. – Robyn
P.S. Jarrod returns to Naples in January with his brother Cory, guitar virtuoso Clay Hess, Mark Kreitzer, and MFG’s Jon Garon; 1/4/14 at The Norris Center. Call 239-530-7425 for tickets. For the full list of Jarrod’s tour dates with Missy: www.missyraines.com.
Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott
Station Inn, Nashville, Tennessee
October 9th, 2012
CD Release Party for We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This
I had the great pleasure of seeing two living legends of Americana music perform together earlier this month. Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott are extraordinary musicians on their own, but when together on stage they create music so captivating and harmonies so compelling, you begin to wonder how they have ever been apart. “We are trying a new strategy,” joked O’Brien, regarding the release of their new live album. “We’re not touring together at all.” The duo’s appearance at The Station Inn was one of just a handful this year, making it even more unique.
O’Brien, GRAMMY-winning mandolin player, described as “one of the spearheads of contemporary bluegrass,” is known on the festival circuit for his earlier groundbreaking work with Hot Rize and later work as a solo artist. Scott, a GRAMMY-nominated performer, is best known for his aggressive guitar playing, rough and honest vocal style and success as one of the best country songwriters of his time. Between the two of them, they have written major hits for Garth Brooks, The Dixie Chicks, Keb Mo, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Guy Clark, and Sam Bush. Both are multi-instrumentalists, masters of mandolin, guitar, banjo, and bouzouki.
We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This, released the day of the Nashville show, is a live album recorded at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina. The songs were recorded during two benefit concerts in 2005 and 2006 for their children’s school. O’Brien and Scott brought most of the songs on the album to life at The Station Inn, including a chilling a capella version of Hank Williams’ “House of Gold,” the traditional song “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning,” originally recorded by blues artist Blind Willie Johnson (1928), and Scott’s rendition of Keith Whitley’s “You Don’t Have to Move That Mountain.”
The two highlights of the night for me were O’Brien’s originals “More Love” (the opening song of the set) and “Walk Beside Me,” actually both recorded on the previous O’Brien/Scott album, Real Time. Scott’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” medley finale had all of us on our feet for the first of two standing ovations.
By that point, I was happy to stand up, as I realized I hadn’t moved from my chair once during the 3-hour performance that seemed like 15 minutes. I quickly posted on Facebook: “This is one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I don’t want it to end.” And I secretly hoped that somehow I could stay at The Station Inn all night, maybe all week, being transported by Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott’s timeless musical magic.
The thing is that it’s not like they are performing. They are opening a window into a whole different world, where time does not exist, tradition and innovation unite, and our history, our ancestors live forever. What I heard (and felt) was their insatiable passion for music that has defied tobacco farming, the rural hardships of West Virginia, the challenges of raising a family, the responsibilities of being a husband, the loss of parents and the despondence of a life on the road, away from the home that they love. Their music is a passion and a calling that spans generations, reaching through our walls and barriers to remind us that at anytime, we too, can return home.
I can’t imagine that they are ever “Usually A Lot Better Than This.” I do highly recommend picking up BOTH of their recent albums: Real Time and We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This.
May 14, 2012
Well, it’s been two weeks since I returned home from my first MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. I think I’m still trying to sort through the memories of the weekend, and catch up on my sleep! I thought I would share a few highlights…
So…MerleFest is huge. Attendance the last few years has been around 80,000 people! And I think I counted most of them Saturday morning when I was working the perimeter security volunteer shift. I felt a little bit like I was at “Bluegrass Disney,” with the shuttles to Lot C, long lines, checking backpacks at the gate, buying MerleFest hats in the MerleFest mall, bounce houses for the kids, $220 reserved lawn chairs, and Alison Krauss on the big screen. The music was truly magical, however.
2012 was the 25th Anniversary of MerleFest. Our good friend Jack Lawrence helped commemorate this event by performing in several tributes to the Festival’s hero, Merle Watson, whose life was taken by a tragic accident in 1985. Jack was joined by several others on stage, including Merle’s legendary father – Doc Watson.
The MerleFest website explains: “As a testament to Merle’s popularity and musical accomplishments, one of the world’s most renowned gatherings of acoustic musicians began two and a half years after Merle’s death and continues today, 24 years later, to honor the memory of a great talent silenced too early.” – www.merlefest.org
The Claire Lynch Band stole the show on Friday at the Creekside Stage, and again Saturday on the main stage, with their debut of new fiddle player Bryan McDowell, who just recently at the age of 20 earned an unprecedented triple win on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar at Winfield, Kansas. Chris Thile wowed the traditional bluegrassers with his Zappa-esque sound, lively stage antics, and solid backing by The Punch Brothers. I truly believe that it won’t be long before Thile is considered one of the great musical legends of our time. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi fought the 45-degree temperatures Saturday night to entertain an unsuspecting Americana audience. The bluegrassers seemed to groove with the blues, however, and Truck’s horn and rhythm section captivated the midnight jam ticket holders later that night.
I was happy to see Shannon Slaughter, of Shannon and Heather Slaughter & County Clare (and formerly Lonesome River Band fame), win the 2012 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest for his country tune “I’ve Hit Everything In My Life (But My Knees).” Sierra Hull and her new guitar player Jake Stargel rocked the Cabin Stage Saturday with Highway 111 – showcasing one of the best high-energy line-ups of her career to date.
With Vince Gill opening on Thursday, and Alison Krauss closing the show on Sunday, MerleFest 2012 was truly a place where all of your musical dreams could come true. I’m looking forward to next year. I think I will save up for a hotel reservation and backstage pass…and, maybe, if I’m not as star struck…will make a point to get my own guitar out of the case and jam!
Sunday Crowds at MerleFest
MerleFest Stage – Claire Lynch Band Sound Check
Claire Lynch Band on the Watson Stage, Saturday
Sierra Hull debuts her new guitar player, Jake Stargel
Guitar Legend Tony Rice with Josh Williams and CLB’s
Mark Schatz (bass) and Bryan McDowell (fiddle)
I loved spending the weekend with my good friends
from Naples – Micki and Roli Scholl! I hope 2012 is the
first of many MerleFest memories.
December 11, 2011
I had the honor of singing on stage with Claire Lynch and Matt Wingate last Sunday – December 11th, as part of Eddie and Martha Adcock’s annual Homeless Christmas Benefit Concert.
Originally when Claire mentioned the idea, I thought for sure she must have been drinking too much egg nog, but in fact, her offer was sincere. She asked me what I wanted to sing, and I decided I better choose something that I can do in my sleep, frontwards and backwards, because more than likely my nerves would be going a little crazy at The Station Inn! So…I decided on Red Clay Hal0 (which everyone in Naples has heard me sing 8 million times). She said that was fine, but needed to check with Valerie Smith, because Red Clay Halo is one of her signature songs and Valerie would be singing that night. Well, of course Valerie was going to sing it. Valerie said it would be ok for me to sing it too, but I thought that might be a little strange. Sooo…I needed to pick another one I knew well. “How about Green Pastures?” Claire liked the idea, and we settled on that.
Rehearsal was scheduled for Saturday – the night before the show. We started singing it in “A,” which is always where I sing Green Pastures, and Claire said “You’re singing the harmony! That’s not the melody!” I was completely in shock and disbelief. “But I learned this song by watching Emmylou Harris sing it. That’s how she does it.” “Well – Emmylou sings the harmony part, and we need the melody.” Wow. In retrospect, I was really glad Claire set things straight, because I now sing the “correct” version of the song. However, I did have to basically re-learn the song that night and the next day before the performance!
Everything went really well on stage. And everyone assured me I did NOT in fact look like a deer in the headlights, which is encouraging. We did arrange the song so that I sang the harmony part on the chorus, which turned out to create a really nice blend. I loved singing with Claire and Matt. What an honor.
It was the best Christmas present of the year – to have this amazing opportunity, and to be a part of a benefit show for the Homeless in Nashville.
I hope your Holidays are bright, and filled with music!
P.S. Note to self: practice singing daily so that when your heroes ask you to sing on stage with them you do not opt to leave the country.
September 30, 2011
Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers won Entertainer of the Year at the IBMA Awards Show last night. In between jokes about this being “all about him,” Mr. Martin made it very clear that he was honored by the award, and was there to promote the music – helping people who wouldn’t normally have an interest in bluegrass to appreciate and understand this American tradition.
The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards are the most prestigious in the industry. Held at the Ryman Auditorium, Sam Bush hosted the star-studded evening, filled with triple fiddles, heartfelt acceptance speeches, and thousands of fans (thanks to Sirius XM and others). The Boxcars made quite an impression, taking home “Emerging Artist of the Year,” Banjo Player of the Year (Ron Stewart – tied with Kristin Scott Benson), Mandolin Player of the Year (Adam Steffey), and more.
The Grascals featured two young girls from local children’s hospitals in their moving hit “I Am Strong” (with Dolly Parton), but Balsam Range surprised the audience with their win for Song of the Year – “Trains I Missed.”
Del McCoury, surrounded by Del Jr. and his entire family on stage, and the innovative George Shuffler were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Katy Daley of WAMU won Broadcaster of the Year, and my friends Greg Cahill and Roland White were among the Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients.
I was happy to see that although they are fairly new to the IBMA world, The Gibson Brothers won Album of the Year for “Help My Brother,” engineered by Ben Surratt, AND Vocal Group of the Year. Very deserving in my opinion!
Overall, it was an evening rich in tradition, and full of salutes to the mandolin player who put bluegrass on the map – Bill Monroe. All of the artists seemed to point back to Monroe in one way or another, which was fitting as this month he would have celebrated his 100th birthday.
Even the most successful stand-up comedian and one of the most affluent Hollywood stars of all time, Steve Martin, “gets” the fact that bluegrass is music of the people – passed along in festivals and BBQs and backyards across the country – and somehow makes us all equal. “We never denigrate the music,” Martin said during his acceptance speech. “People who come to see me – well, you know what I mean – leave with a real love for bluegrass music.”
For a full list of IBMA Award Winners, and a schedule for Fan Fest this weekend, including Alison Krauss, The Isaacs, and more, visit www.ibma.org.
IBMA is held in Nashville, Tennessee.
July 21-23, 2011
I had a blast at my first NAMM show! I really enjoyed meeting Chris Martin of Martin Guitars, and loved being surrounded by instruments of every kind. Check out our Facebook page for all the photos and details (My Favorite Guitars). Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook if you haven’t yet!
Here I am with Chris Martin, and the 2011 Summer NAMM Show Special – Tasmanian Blackwood – beautiful!