BIO: Like many great Southern storytellers, singer-songwriter Tyler Childers has fallen in love with a place. The people, landmarks and legendary moments from his childhood home of Lawrence County, Kentucky, populate the 10 songs in his formidable debut, Purgatory, an album that’s simultaneously modern and as ancient as the Appalachian Mountains in which events unfold.
BIO: Them Coulee Boys are a progressive folk band from Eau Claire, WI who play a brand of Americana that at once is both bursting in enthusiasm and sincerely thoughtful. Mixing folk, bluegrass, punk, and rock & roll, the Boys write songs that are rooted in honesty and feel like a conversation. Their 2016 release Dancing in the Dim Light was named “Best Album 2016” by Volume One Magazine, and led to tours all over the Midwest and beyond. In the past year alone Them Coulee Boys have shared the stage with John Fogerty, Yonder Mountain String Band, Sam Bush, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, and Pert Near Sandstone.
BIO: Musically, the band wears many hats. Their sound has proven to be an appropriate fit with a wide range of musical styles- traditional folk, bluegrass, jazz, punk rock and anything else they might run into. They have shared the stage with a broad swath of national touring acts, ranging from renowned folk legends such as Doc Watson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Guy Clark, Country Joe McDonald, Jerry Douglas, Iris Dement, Pokey LaFarge and The Carolina Chocolate Drops to rambunctious rock daredevils like the Legendary Shack Shakers. Always moving, the Tillers continue to enter new territory. Their musical growth can be heard through the scape of their many releases, 2008’s debut record Ludlow Street Rag, 2010’s By The Signs, 2011’s Wild Hog in the Woods, 2012’s Live from the Historic Southgate House, 2013’s Hand On The Plow and many more bootleg releases. The band’s lineup has also taken new shape. In February 2010, long-time bassist Jason Soudrette fondly parted ways with the group, being replaced by Aaron Geil, brother of guitarist Sean. In 2015 the band added fiddler Joe Macheret (Joe’s Truck Stop/Urban Pioneers) to the ranks. Recalibrating has not slowed their pace. They continue to plot their travels around the map, electrifying new places and making new friends wherever they go. From place to place, they carry with them more instruments, new songs, and funnier stories. They are Cincinnati’s traveling minstrels. Expect to hear from them soon.
BIO: The SteelDrivers’ brand of bluegrass – intense, dark, poetic, and inescapably human – is a refreshing reminder of the timeless power of stringband music, and is captured perfectly on The SteelDrivers. Produced by Nashville ace Luke Wooten, The SteelDrivers was recorded mostly live on the studio floor, vocals and all. Its songs grapple with classic themes of regret, love, and redemption, from the escalating prison lament of “Midnight Train to Memphis” to the chilling murderer’s plea encapsulated in “If It Hadn’t Been for Love.” “East Kentucky Home” is a timeless traditional bluegrass lament, with its strains of homesickness, loss, and abandonment, but ingeniously reinvented with off-kilter rhythmic accents and a decidedly contemporary chord progression.
BIO: With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, The Lil Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody driven sound of their own. The quintet, from Missoula, MT, has been hard at work, writing, touring and playing to an ever-growing fan base for the past 6 years. The fruits of their labor recently culminating with wins at the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Momentum Award for Best Band and at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition. In 2013 the band also won The Northwest String Summit Band Competition. With a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, innumerable unique originals, sheer raw energy, and exquisite musicianship, The Lil’ Smokies weave seamlessly through genres, leaving behind melodies you’ll be singing to yourself for days and a jaw you’ll have to pick up off the floor.
BIO: From the budding music scene of the Upper Midwest comes the cutting edge Front Porch Americana soundscapes of The Last Revel. This powerfully talented trio of multi-instrumentalists from Minneapolis, Minnesota so naturally blends the genres of Folk, Rockabilly, Old Time String-Band and Rock to create a sound that is as equally original as it is timeless. The Last Revel trio utilizes their multi-instrumental abilities to bring the acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, 5-string banjo, harmonica, kick drum and three-part vocal harmonies together to consistently deliver “Bombastic live performances”, as well as delicate and haunting folk ballads. Having released their third album Hazard & Fate in April of 2017, The Last Revel further demonstrates their ability to create rich and delicately textured recorded material with a modern “tip of the hat” to the storied history of American folk music.
BIO: Formed in 2006, and drawing on the talents of then up-and-coming Nashvillians Andy Hall, Chris Eldridge, Chris Pandolfi, Jeremy Garrett, Jesse Cobb, and Travis Book, the Infamous Stringdusters managed to balance a fluency in old-timey bluegrass with indie jamgrass sensibilities. They released their first album, Fork in the Road, on Sugar Hill in early 2007, which resulted in three awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association later that year. An eponymous sophomore effort arrived in 2008, followed by Things That Fly in 2010. After a few personnel shifts, the band settled on a lineup of Andy Hall (Dobro), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), and Travis Book (upright bass). A live album, We’ll Do It Live, which featured concert performances by the band from shows done in Virginia and New York in the spring of 2011, appeared in the fall of that same year from the band’s own imprint, High Country Recordings. A fourth studio album, Silver Sky, also from High Country, arrived early in 2012, with a deluxe edition that added an extra CD of live tracks released later that same year. A fifth studio album, Let It Go, again from the band’s own label, was released early in 2014. The Stringdusters struck a deal with Compass Records for their 2016 album, Ladies & Gentlemen, in which they collaborated with an impressive roster of female vocalists, including Joan Osborne, Lee Ann Womack, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Joss Stone, and Claire Lynch. The group quickly returned to the studio, and had another album, Laws of Gravity, ready for release in January 2017. ~ Margaret Reges & Steve Leggett, Rovi
BIO: As a drummerless acoustic trio consisting of two guitarists and a string bassist, the Devil Makes Three are not your normal alt-country band. While deeply rooted in the blues and country music, they enthusiastically incorporate elements of bluegrass, ragtime, and jug band traditions as well. The group also makes no bones about its punk rock influences, and despite the lack of a drummer, it always plays with the needs of dancers in mind. Although the Devil Makes Three consist entirely of New Englanders (two members are from Vermont and one is from New Hampshire), the group formed in Santa Cruz, California and self-released its eponymous debut in 2002. Its sophomore effort, Longjohns, Boots and a Belt, was released in 2004, followed by a live album titled A Little Bit Faster and a Little Bit Worse. The Devil Makes Three then signed to Milan Records, which reissued their debut album. In 2009, the label released the group’s third studio album, Do Wrong Right, which hit number one on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart. Recorded over a two-night stand at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma, California, the live Stomp and Smash appeared in 2011, also on Milan. After a switch to New West Records, they released the impressive, Buddy Miller-produced I’m a Stranger Here in the fall of 2013. It marked the trio’s first appearance on the Billboard 200. They followed it up with a covers album in 2016. Called Redemption & Ruin, the record featured guest spots by names such as Emmylou Harris, Duane Eddy, and Jerry Douglas. ~ Rick Anderson
BIO: Whether traveling to gigs on horseback or by tour bus, Americana mavens The Brothers Comatose forge their own path with raucous West Coast renderings of traditional bluegrass, country and rock ‘n’ roll music. The five-piece string band is anything but a traditional acoustic outfit with their fierce musicianship and rowdy live shows reminiscent of stadium rock concerts.
BIO: If joy were a person, he’d bring both peace and frenzy. He’d be full of music, light, and energy that soothes even as it stirs us up. Eyes closed, wire-rim glasses in place, mandolin pressed against his ribs, joy would be Sam Bush on a stage. “I feel fortunate that when it’s time to play, no matter how I feel physically or mentally, once the downbeat starts, my mind goes to a place that’s all music,” says Bush. “The joy of the music comes to me and overtakes me sometimes — I just become part of the music.” That rapt merging of life and art fills Bush’s new album Storyman, a freewheeling collection that gleefully picks and chooses from jazz, folk, blues, reggae, country swing, and bluegrass to create a jubilant noise only classifiable as the Sam Bush sound. Many of the songs are stories –several of them true — and the legendary mandolin player co-wrote every one of them with friends including Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Jon Randall Stewart, Jeff Black, and others. “I’m hoping it just kind of flows for people and makes them go, ‘Hey! It’s a Sam record. It sounds like Sam and the band,'” Bush says. “But for the first time ever, I also find myself thinking, ‘I hope you enjoy the stories.’ It’s my singer-songwriter record.”