Despite his punk country popularity, Fulks actually started out as a folk and bluegrass musician who was raised in the Blue Ridge of Virginia and the Piedmont of North Carolina. And after performing in the club scene in Greenwich Village and attending Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk, joined Special Consensus.
Let’s highlight some of the bands on the brink, that probably should be headlining festivals and big events themselves, and very well may be in the coming years. These are the artists and bands you better get out to see before like many of your favorite headliners, they end up only playing arenas.
With the re-formed Hurricane Ian bearing down on the Carolinas Thursday evening, forcing all of the festivities for the biggest gathering in bluegrass each year indoors, the International Bluegrass Music Association, or IBMA held their 33rd annual awards at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
The International Bluegrass Music Awards, or IBMA’s announced the nominees earlier this week, and it felt anything but perfunctory. In previous years you had the usual suspects up for all the major awards. It feels completely different here in 2022, and for good reason. Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, and more.
There are many festivals out there now catering to independent country and Americana. But in three short seasons and amid a pandemic, Under The Big Sky Fest has quickly made the case for being the biggest and most important of all off the strength of its lineups.
Certain events and venues take on an exceptional status in music, simply from the moments that happened there, the memories made, and the artists discovered. Such is the case for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which celebrated its 49th Anniversary in 2022.
The enthusiasm Molly Tuttle has rekindled for bluegrass is conferred to the crowd, and has helped light a spark under the entire genre. This was in top form when she took the stage for the 49th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado on Friday, June 17th.
Sunday night (5-29), Tyler Childers returned to the main stage of DelFest. But unlike in 2019 when he played a straightforward, daytime supporting set, this time Childers was the headliner backed by the festival’s namesake backing band, The Travelin’ McCourys.
There are run-of-the-mill tribute albums, and then there’s this tribute album due out August 5th called ‘Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson.’ What makes it remarkable is that a rather incredible list of contributors are coming together.
‘Crooked Tree’ is Molly Tuttle going, “Oh, you want a bluegrass album? We’ll then here you go …” and then melting faces in 13 straight original tracks that embrace many bluegrass traditions, while still offering a uniqueness of perspective, and a personal connection to Molly.
“I always knew I wanted to make a bluegrass record someday,” Molly Tuttle says, and so did the rest of us. Yet strangely, it had never come to pass until now. Already considered a titan of the bluegrass discipline as a two-time winner of the IBMA’s Guitarist of the Year…
Rep. Matt Gaetz has sent an open letter to Ron DeSantis claiming that the festival is requiring “vaccine passports” from attendees, which would be against Florida law that forbids such requirements. But no such requirement is being made by the festival.
Make no mistake though, if you want to hear the absolute pinnacle of bluegrass in 2021 when it comes to just sheer blazing imagination and artistry, then accept no substitutes. Béla Fleck and ‘My Bluegrass Heart’ are it, period. ‘My Bluegrass Heart’ is a masterwork
I know what some will say: Bluegrass has always been here. And that’s most certainly true. But for these subgenres of country music to sustain, they need fresh blood every few years, both in the form of exciting new performers, and new fans. And in 2021, bluegrass is enjoying both.
No matter what happens subsequently, Sturgill Simpson has left such an indelible mark on the legacy of country music, and music at large with his five album contribution over the last eight years (along with two bluegrass side projects), you can’t help but feel the need to tip you hat.
Sierra Hull leads the 2021 nominations for the International Bluegrass Music Awards with 5, tying her with the retiring Doyle Lawson who picks up 5 himself, while Balsam Range, Justin Moses, and Billy Strings also pick up multiple big nominations, and Molly Tuttle comes in with 2.
The majority of the high-profile bellyaching about the Grammys is coming from self-absorbed millionaire entertainers whose livelihoods and legacies are secured. It’s selfish and shortsighted of them to criticize an organization that gives the majority of its awards to deserving artists.
Along with recognizing some of the best live performances that happened before the lockdowns, it also feels important to recognize the top achievers in the medium of film, video, instrumentality, and production in 2020, since there were some stellar efforts in that direction in 2020.
In this new album, Sturgill Simpson isn’t just fulfilling a promise to fans to cut a bluegrass record, he’s finding and settling into the next phase of his career, which is as a full-blown bluegrass musician. Simpson saved his most personal songs for ‘Cuttin’ Grass, Vol. 2 (The Cowboy Arms Sessions).’
The 2021 Grammy Award nominees were announced on Tuesday (11/24), and as can be expected, there is some good, some bad, many worthy nominations, a few probably born of virtue signaling as you can expect. But overall, it’s about par for the course.
With little room for noodling or improvisation, and not a ton of conversation or rehearsal before heading into the studio, Cuttin’ Grass is still finely crafted and deftly executed by all involved, offering good to excellent bluegrass renditions of Sturgill Simpson songs.
When the COVID-19 shutdowns began in mid March, the Grand Ole Opry was one of the only live music institutions that endured, with the first non-audience show transpiring on March 14th with the evening’s regular scheduled slate of performers.
It wasn’t just your average Grand Ole Opry presentation Tuesday night (5-28). When you saw country traditionalist Kelsey Waldon was scheduled to perform in the same segment as John Prine, and that Sturgill Simpson was given his own extended set to close out the show, you had a sense something special was in the air.
If you’re wondering where bluegrass is headed in 2018, and where it could go in a world where music is constantly being tasked to evolve and engage with younger people, following the career track of Molly Tuttle is a good place to start.