Archives for category: Jerry Douglas

Interviews with Dierks Bentley, Ricky Skaggs and many more –

Dierks Bentley during Simply Bluegrass taping, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Dierks Bentley during Simply Bluegrass taping, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Larry Black gathered some of the most well-known names in Bluegrass Music to record live for the Gabriel Communications’ series Country’s Family Reunion to be titled Simply Bluegrass featuring Ricky Skaggs and Bill Anderson as co-hosts with musical guests that have spanned decades.

Larry Black, Ricky Skaggs & Bill Anderson at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo - Brad Hardisty

Larry Black, Ricky Skaggs & Bill Anderson at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ricky Skaggs explained that it took over two years to put this together. Larry Black added, “Well, it took two years to get Ricky convinced to do it.” Ricky, after a quick laugh explained, “It took two years to where I could get my schedule to where I could do it.  But, you know we started talkin’ about doin’ this a couple of years ago. We started trying to plug in bands and people and availabilities and that kind of thing and I am so glad we did.

Rhonda Vincent, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Rhonda Vincent, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Lee Gibson of The Gibson Brothers shared, “It’s a bit surreal to sit there and I’m sitting so close to Ramona Jones who since I was a young boy before I became musical at all, was a part of our entertainment and our life on Hee Haw or when I watched any kind of Country Music Awards Show you would see Grandpa [Jones] and Ramona. I never thought I would be in the same room let alone standing there and singing a song in front of her.

Sierra Hull at Simply Bluegrass, photo - Brad Hardisty

Sierra Hull at Simply Bluegrass, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ricky Skaggs working with Larry Black put an incredible roster together that included everybody from Ramona Jones and Del McCoury to Sierra Hull who has put out two great albums under the guidance and production of Alison Krauss.

Sam Bush, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Sam Bush, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Sam Bush known as part of the Newgrass movement beginning in the late 60’s – early 70’s said, “Well, for starters, we are fans of each other so I have already got to hear The Gibson Brothers. I have already got to hear Rhonda Vincent and at first I thought you had to have an AARP card to get in here but then fortunately, Sierra Hull showed up. I have been influenced by a lot of people in this room. I used to see The Osborne Brothers on television. The Osborne Brothers were really, really, so progressive in their day. They are overlooked. Obviously, I was influenced by Doyle Lawson. I was influenced by Ricky Skaggs to want to learn to play the mandolin because he started before I did. He is two years younger than me and I started to see him on local Bowling Green, Kentucky TV. Ricky Skaggs sat in with Flatt and Scruggs on their television show. So, when I saw this kid playing the mandolin I thought this was the greatest thing I had ever seen and I wanted to do it too. It’s nice that many are contemporaries and we get to play on the same gigs and stuff. So, that’s one of the nice things about it. We play a lot of festivals but, we get to “horse around” more today.

The Whites at Simply Bluegrass, photo - Brad Hardisty

The Whites at Simply Bluegrass, photo – Brad Hardisty

Sharon White, who is Ricky Skaggs’ better half and a long time member of The Whites said, “Well, we started out playing acoustic music, playing bluegrass music and I mean we still do a lot of concerts that are considered bluegrass concerts and we love these people. I think my favorite part about being here today is that I am a big fan of everyone in the room plus some of these men like Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds, Del McCoury and Mac Wiseman are legends and to hear their stories and to be part of this day it is just a real blessing. You know it really just feels like a family. We love each other. We are fans of each other. It’s a great thing,” Sharon than added, “When I got here and everyone was seated, I told Larry Black, you can really tell this is a Bluegrass family reunion. Everybody is holdin’ their mandolin or guitar and everybody has their instrument because that such a part of being in Bluegrass.

Ricky Skaggs, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Ricky Skaggs, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Ricky Skaggs felt the best way to understand Bluegrass Music is to play it. Ricky said, “You really just got to play it. You know you can study it all day long but until you get your hands on it, it’s like a farmer; until he gets his hands in the dirt, he’s never going to know about farming!

Jerry Douglas says that his most favorite part of being one of the world’s greatest Dobro players is the performance and getting out on the road.  Jerry said, “I like playing live. You can’t take it back. In the studio, nowadays especially, it’s so easy to make something perfect and the idea as musicians is to make something as perfect as possible in the moment and I was good at it and learned a lot from it.

Jerry Douglas ay Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Jerry Douglas ay Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Jerry Douglas reminisced about how the live aspect used to be when Music Row was really Music Row in Nashville when he said, “I can remember walking down Music Row when there was snow. When Nashville used to get snow, remember that? I’d park my car at one studio and walk to two or three sessions back then.

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Doyle Lawson at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

Dierks Bentley, photo - Brad Hardisty

Dierks Bentley was probably the most mainstream current Country Artist in the room and he shared when he first really got an interest in Bluegrass Music saying, “I moved here to do country music when I was nineteen but, that same year I walked into a little bar called The Station Inn here in Nashville and my life kind of changed forever. I saw a band there called The Sidemen made up of different guys from The Del McCoury Band and The Osborne Brothers. It was a really special night that changed my life for me and I’ve been a big Bluegrass fan ever since.”

Dierks Bentley at Simply Grass, photo - Brad Hardisty

Dierks Bentley at Simply Grass, photo – Brad Hardisty

For Dierks it was a real community feeling that won him over and he said, “The authenticity of the music, real and honest, not just the music part but also the Bluegrass community is such a great community of folks: a real place to call home for a kid from Arizona. The whole community just took me in and I found myself at pickin’ parties and weddings and just a lot of cool, cool, things. It gave me a musical foundation. Terry Eldridge who sings with the band The Grascals was my mentor.  I paid five dollars for my Tuesday night door fee cover charge to get in and hear The Sidemen play so those were my lessons:  listenin’ to Terry and Ronnie McCoury who is up there on mandolin a lot. It really was a bluegrass education sitting there and listening to those guys play.

The Grascals at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo - Brad Hardisty

The Grascals at Simply Bluegrass taping, photo – Brad Hardisty

Dierks would eventually get his guitar out and learn some licks saying, “I went to a lot of picking parties. I would bring my Martin in my truck and it would stay in the case in the truck. I would be too nervous to get it out. I never wanted to get the guitar out of the back of my truck.  But, eventually I would get enough nerve to pull it out and play but, it’s never ending, even tonight just playing is just nerve racking playing in front of that audience.  It’s pretty cool to be a fly on the wall and just hang out and hear them tell stories just off the top of their head like they are just hanging out in their living room.

Bobby Osborne at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo  courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Bobby Osborne at Simply Bluegrass, Nashville, TN, photo courtesy Phil Johnson (c) 2013

Bobby Osborne will be marking 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2014 and shared how he and his brother decided to record “Rocky Top” which became a hit in 1967 and is the official song of University of Tennessee and of eight official songs of the state of Tennessee. Bobby was grateful to be a part of such a special historic taping and he said, “I have always been interested in the history of Bluegrass and Country music for that matter, you know, because I have always listened to Country and Bluegrass songs also. I’m very happy to be a part of this today. A lot of us are happy to be here today. We don’t get a chance to get together that often, you know, like we are today so, it’s really nice to be here and I am enjoying it very much. It’s really interesting to hear the stories that all of us have gathered in our minds through the years. It really is.”

Reno and Mac Wiseman at Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Gabriel Communications

Reno and Mac Wiseman at Simply Bluegrass, photo courtesy Gabriel Communications

Ricky Skaggs noted how spontaneous Bluegrass music is when he said, “This music is very organic. It changes every night. You never know what’s going to come. You never play a solo the same way twice. That’s what makes it fun. Every time Country loses its way and gets so far away from the center from what it should be then bluegrass music goes straight to the top because that is the alternative. That’s the real Country. Those were the records that we fell in love with and we learned as young kids and we loved those little “hickies” in a record that wasn’t perfect and we would make the same mistakes. You know, like Beatles fans will play the same mistakes and go to the wrong chord in the wrong place, where George or John might have played somethin’ totally different and these crazy Beatles groups like 1964 … the tribute bands. They will make the same mistakes just to keep the records right just because they love it, you know.

Rhonda Vincent and Dailey & Vincent warming up backstage at Simply Bluegrass, photo - Brad Hardisty

Rhonda Vincent and Dailey & Vincent warming up backstage at Simply Bluegrass, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ricky explained the real difference between Country and Bluegrass music by saying, “It’s built around a band. It’s not built around a lead singer. I mean you got to have a lead singer to sing the stuff but bluegrass that’s the difference in bluegrass and Country. Country is usually built as a band in the background and the lead singer is up front and he is doing his deal and they are just kind of supporting him. A bluegrass band, everybody is just as important. You got to have the mandolin, you got to have the fiddle, you got to have the guitar and you know obviously you got to have good singin’ and you got to have good playin but it is built around a band.

Del McCoury signing commemoratove poster, photo - Brad Hardisty

Del McCoury signing commemoratove poster, photo – Brad Hardisty

With this much talent in the room, the idea of collaboration had to come up and Ricky shared, “I am always up for something, I just had Jamie Johnson from The Grascals ask me to do something with them. They are going to re-record “Waitin’ For The Sun To Shine”, a song that I had hit with back in the eighties.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

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Hayes Carll Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

After the Americana Music Association Carnival pulled out of Nashville, the big question is, what does Americana sound like? A friend of mine said that it would have at least one acoustic instrument in the mix, to give it that authentic roots thing. Jim Lauderdale as he hosted the Americana Awards did a spoof show tune, “That’s Americana!” It was hilarious and it was great because Americana is not a particular sound.

Americana is one of the strangest music references ever, at least when the word “grunge” came along, it meant one of the bands that came out of Seattle at a certain time. Americana is like a radio format for everything that doesn’t fit the current formats, yet, it is getting some of their artists like Mumford and Sons into the mainstream. Not to mention Will Hoge.

A mention was made by one of the show reviewers in Nashville Scene that they were glad that the “old farts in flannel shirts singing post Grateful Dead stuff” were gone and they could have the Exit/In back.

I get the feeling that a lot of people are stumbling onto Americana artists and not even knowing it, in Rolling Stone or when their friend says “listen to this” and pulls up something on their IPod by The Civil Wars or The Avett Brothers.

If you haven’t heard about these artists in the last year, then you live in a bubble. Americana is not only an award at the Grammys now, but, a launch pad, much like Indie format radio, where artists can get their “legs” as they mingle with legends like Gregg Allman and Robert Plant who are flying the banner.

One thing that Americana is not is electronic. Americana may have some roots in any American genre such as Blues, Soul, Gospel, Country, Folk and on and on, but it is definitely not about Kraftwerk or the modern Pop that is all made up on an Apple computer.

Blind Boys of Alabama Americana Fest 2011 Cannery Ballroom

Americana is as much about Red Dirt singer/songwriters like Hayes Carll as it is the roots gospel of The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Blind Boys of Alabama, Alabama Music Tribute at Cannery opening night

I guess if you are looking for a root to Americana you would probably have to go back twenty years in Nashville when about sixty California transplants started gathering to Nashville. Some of them became mainstream songwriters like Jeffrey Steele or Darrell Scott (most recently, Robert Plant & The Band of Joy). The one thing that did happen is they shook up the system.

Kenny Vaughan Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

Back in those days, Rosie Flores and Lucinda Williams would hang out all night, shutting down two or three bars only to meet up with Billy Block for breakfast.  A good chunk of these people bucked the Country music machine at the time or made some changes to it. They stayed true to themselves and this whole Americana thing has kind of caught up with them and now they are riding a jetstream of new found respect and popularity.

People like Jim Lauderdale who can go from playing straight up bluegrass to roots country to writing Robbie Robertson style music with a Grateful Dead lyricist represent the diversity of what is currently happening. It’s like the alternate universe of “the music business as usual” with a handmade vibe.

Most of what Bob Dylan does nowadays such as Modern Times could be classified Americana.  Many of the Americana Artists really jump from box to box, especially Mumford & Sons and Justin Townes Earle, who have as much Indie respect as they do Americana clout.

Kenny Vaughan packed it in then packed it back up at Mercy

The most interesting thing is that the genre has strong roots outside of the U.S. in places like Australia and Europe. Many of the artists make more money over there when they tour. This is nothing new, we as Americans many times pass on what is really cool about our culture and opt in for the corporate sell, “the spin.”

Americana is mainly artist and fan driven; it is really Indie at its core. If you like the Muscle Shoals era Dan Penn written songs alongside The Avett Brothers, more power to you. It really is the old saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

Robert Plant, Entertainer of the Year, The Ryman acceptance speach

You don’t have to buy into acoustic singer/songwriters or flannel shirts and old farts to find something there for yourself. Chances are you are listening to some Americana format music without realizing it. If you’re not sure where to start then it might as well be Buddy Miller, Robert Plant said he heard Buddy the first time when he toured with Emmylou Harris a few years ago and he seemed to embody everything American music, blues, gospel, rock, you name it. Robert said that Buddy will always be a part of whatever he does in the future. Emmylou Harris, at this year’s awards at The Ryman, said, they should call the Americana Award “The Buddy” because he has won so many of them.

By the way, a note to the Nashville Scene writer, when you refer to a group of music fans as old farts, just realize that you are probably being referred to as an old fart by somebody, it could be an 11 year old on a skateboard listening to some punk band out of California and thinking the same about you.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

 

Elliston Place

                Heading over to Centennial Park, I set myself down near Rock Block for starting point to TACA 2010 in front of Elliston Place Soda Shop, one of the oldest landmark Restaurants still at the same location near Vanderbilt University.

                Today was a day off in preparation for the rest of “Busy-September” when the stars align and Nashville is taken over by The Americana Music Association and finally IBMA World of Bluegrass in the same moment as Next Big Nashville 2010 starting Monday.

Next Big Nashville has been touted as Nashville’s SXSW but then again there is a NXNW Indie Conference as well. The foundation has been laid for bigger plans in Nashville for the music business. Indie distributors such as Thirty Tigers and of course Jack White’s Third Man Records are adding to the landscape of Nashville.

Rock Block

Third Man Records has had involvement at SXSW in the past with a pop up music store during the festivities in Austin and has announced offsite Concerts at Third Man Studios during the Conference. There is even special Blue and Black vinyl releases to guests at the show. They have no less than three shows, Jenny & Johnny Sunday night, 9/26, 6 PM, followed by Tyvek from Detroit at 8PM Monday night and back to back shows 10/1 and 10/2 featuring The Ettes, Jeff the Brotherhood, Jacuzzi Boys, Heavy Cream among others.

Marilee Hall Ceramics

Not to be outdone Next Big Nashville has announced several showcases, one of which is The Bridges among its 4 Days/150 Bands/12 Venues Lineup.  It actually dwarfs the Americana Music Conference that featured such great Artists as Robert Plant, Wanda Jackson and The Avett Brothers.

Dancin' in the Park

It is going to be hard to get around town with the IBMA World of Bluegrass taking on the same streets. This is the largest Conference of the Bluegrass scene that has Americana crossovers like The Steeldrivers performing during the week. Jerry Douglas will be one of the hosts at a packed awards show on September 30th at The Ryman.

Roberta Elliott/The Velvet Hammer Ltd.

Yes, this weekend is a little peaceful among the Artisans, crafters, gawkers and dogs. It is a day on the green at Centennial Park in the mid 80’s with everything from John J. Quick hand carving Windsor Chairs without a lathe to Roberta Elliot-The Velvet Hammer Ltd.  Showing off ironware for the home. She had the most interesting Music Stand I had ever seen with some famous folks that already own one. I asked if she had made a Mic Stand for anybody yet and the answer was no. You can be the first one out there with a Mic stand built from scratch to your own specifications.

Chair Swing with a View

A little time to contemplate the week ahead kicking back on one of the chair swings at Centennial Park with The Parthenon in the distance and I was back down to Elliston Place for a brief stop at Rock Block Guitars to check out the used gear that may have ended up there at tour’s end or a broke musician leaving town. Nashville makes as many dreams as it breaks. I always say “you will get out of Nashville what you bring to the table”.  This week over 200 bands and artist will be playing for locals, the media and just for the sheer fact that a Musician has got to do what he is.  

Rock Block Guitars

Okay tonight will be some mindless fun reminiscing my youth with a Van Halen tribute band by the name of Fair Warning at The Basement  just a little break before next week’s madness and sleepless nights.

Coasters

John J Quick/ Tennessee

Lester Jones.com

The Parthenon in the distance

Centennial Park, Nashville, TN, TACA 2010

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN, all photos 2010- Brad Hardisty      thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com