2013 Master Musicians Festival
Artists and Bios
|Willie Nelson & Family|
With a six-decade career and a catalog of more than 200 albums to his credit, the iconic Texas singer-songwriter Willie Nelson has earned a permanent position in pop music’s pantheon with songs that combine the sophistication of Tin Pan Alley with the rough-and-tumble grit and emotional honesty of country music. He brought pop and country together on the radio in the early 1960s with unforgettable songs like “Crazy” (Patsy Cline), “Hello Walls” (Faron Young), “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Billy Walker), “Night Life” (Ray Price) and others and, by the mid-1970s, had become a superstar in his own right as a prime mover of a revolutionary and thriving outlaw country music scene. The Red Headed Stranger, Willie’s first album for Columbia Records in 1975, catapulted the artist to the front ranks of popularity, making his a familiar name in country and city households across America and around-the-world.
A seven-time Grammy Award winner, Willie Nelson has received numerous accolades including American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards and others. He is a co-founder of Farm Aid, an annual series of fundraising events which began as an all-star benefit concert in 1985 to raise money for American family farmers. He continues to lobby against horse slaughter and produces his own blend of biodiesel fuel. An old-school road-dog troubadour with new school wheels, Willie plays concerts year-round, tirelessly touring on Honeysuckle Rose III (he rode his first two buses into the ground), taking his music and fans to places that are always worth the ride.
Legacy Recordings will release Let’s Face The Music And Dance, a collection of new studio performances by Willie Nelson and Family, on Tuesday, April 16. The album is the first in a series of releases and events celebrating the artist’s 80th birthday year.
Willie’s also celebrating more than forty years on the road and in the studio with Family, the band he formed with his sister, Bobbie Nelson (on piano), drummer Paul English and harmonica shaman Mickey Raphael–their name taken from his 1971 studio album Willie Nelson & Family. Rounding out the Family line-up on Let’s Face The Music And Dance are Billy English (Paul’s brother) on electric gut string and snare drum, Kevin Smith on upright bass and Jim “Moose” Brown on B-3 organ with Willie’s son, Micah Nelson, adding percussion on select tracks. Willie Nelson and his guitar, Trigger, appear on all the songs.
2013 is shaping up as a banner year for the pop country patriarch, who turns 80 on April 30. His rollicking memoir, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die – Musings from the Road,” published by HarperCollins in May 2012, is currently a New York Times bestselling non-fiction title and Let’s Face The Music And Dance is an essential addition to the outlaw country artist’s catalog of timeless recordings.
Mountain Heart is the band that has been fearlessly revolutionizing the way acoustic music can be presented and played. The band’s name has been synonymous with cutting-edge excellence in acoustic music circles since the group’s creation in 1999. Widely known throughout the music industry for continually redefining the boundaries of acoustic music, the band has gained legions of loyal fans both as a result of their superlative musicianship, and more notably, their incomparably exciting live performances. From large outdoor folk music and bluegrass festivals, to sold-out arena shows opening for Southern Rock icons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, to co-headlining concerts with the acoustic guitar legend, Tony Rice, Mountain Heart always makes an undeniable connection to an audience, leaving them on their feet. In short, this rare combination of abilities makes Mountain Heart one of the most versatile acts ever assembled.
Chris Knight’s story begins six miles outside of Slaughters, Kentucky, a remote coal-mining town of 200 people where Knight was raised and still lives with his wife and children on 40 wooded acres. Chris graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1984 with a degree in agriculture and began working for the state as a strip-mine reclamation inspector. Following his mother’s death in 1992, he began writing songs about the people, places and pain that he’s seen, known and continues to live. His carefully honed character sketches and surely paced narratives evoke real rural life more accurately and honestly than anything you’ll hear on pop-country radio —not just the glory and the romance of ordinary Southern existence, but the darkness and the disappointments. Chris Knight’s characters have dirt under their fingernails and life behind their eyes. His live shows stay with you like a long hot summer.
|The David Mayfield Parade|
Grammy-nominated musician and producer David Mayfield is a force of nature on stage. His boundless energy and enthusiasm for performing music are evident at every show whether it’s with his former band-mates in Cadillac Sky, or whether it's with the Avett Brothers, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Among The Oak & Ash, or his The David Mayfield Parade. The self-titled debut album, The David Mayfield Parade, released on 9th Grade Records which David co-founded with fellow songwriter Josh Joplin, effortlessly ventures from classic AM radio rock with lush string arrangements to unadorned alt-country ballads whose lovelorn subjects evoke the outlaw songs of the early 70’s. It succeeds and endures because at its heart it does not pretend to be anything but what it is, a sincere rock record.
For Faubush Hill’s first CD Beneath a Jealous Moon in 2010 there wasn’t really a Faubush Hill except in the future plans of front man Kevin Dalton. With an ability to play a guitar like a master; a collection of original songs reminiscent of writers like Darrell Scott, Ryan Adams, and Lyle Lovett; Robin Dalton’s vocals, and a little fiddle in the middle from his uncle, the legendary Tom Minton, Kevin took a multi-track recorder and made himself a one-man band. The live band grew from that first album and has created an enthusiastic local fan base as well as creating new fans as they have been invited to play throughout the region, including at iconic venues like Tootsie’s in Nashville.
The 2013 configuration of Faubush Hill includes at its core Kevin, lead vocalist and guitarist; Jason Foster, a drummer whose credits include Reverend John and the Backsliders, and Jon New, who has played with the Backsliders as well as the Flint Ridge Millers. Named for a Kentucky hill Kevin lives on and loves, the band can play covers and make them fresh, but always at the center are Kevin’s original, moving, and beautifully rendered songs.
The songs are as eclectic as the band sometimes is, as one of the features of this particular band is its ability to jam with all kinds of musicians, who add their own talents to the mix. It’s almost as if, having had to play all those instruments himself and hearing all the licks and flourishes in his head, Kevin can’t wait to hear the real thing from musicians who drop in. Who will it be? Robin Dalton, for harmony and female lead vocals? Cory White, also a Miller and a Backslider, playing his keyboards? Joey Huffman, free for a night from his regular job as keyboardist for Hank Williams, Jr.? Or a cellist like the Julliard-trained Dave Eggar or Kentucky’s own Ben Sollee? Faubush Hill is an ever-creative, ever-evolving work in progress. All you really know for sure is that the music you hear will set your toes tapping and your heart alight.
|Dirty Grindstones |
The Dirty Grindstones have been bringing their brand of Bourbon dipped Funk N’ Roll to audiences for 6 years. The longevity of the group makes it seem nearly impossible that their oldest member is a mere 24 years old. Brandon Roush, his brother Austin, Justin Pinto, Zach Grider, Mike Jones, and Brandon Schleter compose this raucous sextet that blends Rock, soul, funk, and psychedelic influences. The Grindstones have grown a reputation in these parts for throwing one of the best damn parties around. Returning for their 3rd Master Musicians Festival, The Dirty Grindstones are poised to go down in the annals of MMF history with a rambunctious hoe-down that you’ll not want to miss. Stomp your feet and get down, The Dirty Grindstones are in town.
|Devious Angels |
Steevie Steeves and Jon Decious met in Wyoming at Skip Ewing’s Horse and Writer Seminar, and after realizing that they’d been kicking around the same few blocks back in Nashville for some time, they began writing together. It’s impossible to peg The Devious Angels’ sound and chemistry on stage as anything but right, but how exactly did self-proclaimed musical theater geek, Steeves, and former bassist for infamous pop-punk band, The Pink Spiders, Decious, end up making such beautiful country music together? In the words of Steeves, “I can’t exactly put together how and why it all works..but it did and it does. The stars finally aligned musically for me, and that’s why and how we continue to do what we do.”
|Tommy Minton & Kelly Caldwell|
Tom Minton and Kelly Caldwell first shared the Master Musicians Festival Stage in 2003 and the realization set in that something, musically, had happened between the two. Tom, a hometown musical favorite and multi-instrumentalist was a member of the Kettleheads, an all acoustic band performing eclectic blends of new grass and jazz style. Kelly, a transplant from Southeastern Kentucky was performing extensively in a traveling, bluegrass band. With both talents living in the same town and holding deep roots in acoustic music, they began to explore possibilities, mastering a duo that would extend across a diverse audience. Tom and Kelly reunite on the main stage, playing their own instruments, delivering their own arrangements and singing tight, harmonious vocals. Whether you like soul, bluegrass, jazz or just acoustic music, this talented twosome will leave you tapping your toes!
“It makes you feel good inside.” That’s the catch phrase Nashville, Tennessee’s Bonepony uses to describe what they do, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has seen the band that didn’t agree. They’ve been making people feel good inside for years as they criss-cross the nation, stopping in every big city and wide-spot-in-the-road town in America and bringing their unique brand of “Stomp Rock” to their audiences with all the fervor of a traveling tent revival mixed equally with arena-rock spectacle. “We play our hearts out” says Bonepony front man and founding member Scott Johnson. I don’t know any other way to play these songs.” The band: Johnson, Nicolas Nguyen and Kenny Wright, have been on the road for years and have developed a large and devoted following. Bonepony has toured with acts like Bob Seger, Santana, and ZZ Top, played countless open-air festivals like Farm Aid and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and rocked every theatre, concert hall, club and roadside honky tonk in the United States and Canada.
With 2013 upon them and having taken a much deserved break from live performances there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight; their first studio album in seven years, optimistically titled The Best Is Yet To Come, will hit the streets this spring and the roadshow will likely get cranked back up to support it. Says Wright, “It’s a very different album for us in a lot of ways, yet the core and spirit of the band are still the same. It was a really different way we went about making this record and I think it comes through in the music.” Pausing slightly, he reflects, “I think it still makes you feel good inside.”
|Big Leg Emma|
Hailing from western New York, Big Leg Emma is an institution for high quality, original, Americana roots rock music. Based both in traditional music like folk, bluegrass, country, psychedelic and contemporary rock, the band is a high powered, eclectic, music making machine. Throw in some thought provoking songwriting and harmonies and you have a one of a kind equation that is unique, timeless, and infectious. Big Leg Emma was born in 2001 in Jamestown,NY, long time friends and musical partners Steve Johnson and Charity Nuse met up. Kev Rowe joined the band as lead guitar bringing an eclectic, tasteful sound to Emma. Rounded out by Bill Burke (bass guitar) and Corey Kertzie (drums) as a powerful "make you want to dance" rhythm section. Big Leg Emma in 10 years have performed in many major music festivals including, Finger Lakes Grassroots Music Festival, Great Blue Heron Music Festival, Bliss Festival, Silver Maple Music Fest and many others.
|Flint Ridge Millers|
We met at a Tupperware party one night and just happened to have our instruments, guns, and ammo with us. We began to jam and magical sounds started coming to life. We played a wide array of songs including Traditional Bluegrass, Americana and even a few old Rock songs. These sounds have spun into what we are today. We've incorporated our own influences to those traditional ones to form The Miller's original material. Our music has only blossomed since that first night and we have grown to love the stage, the crowd, and our fans who feed our energy and unrelenting passion! (Jonathan New - bass, harmonica; Cory White - guitar; Casey Tolliver - banjo, ukulele; JK Soard - mandolin, fiddle, space, time)
School of Rock came to Somerset four years ago with the rock band OneWay. Unlike most of their peers, these boys love covering classic rock to modern day chart toppers. The group consist of Andrew 13 (drummer), Dylan 13 (bassist), Ben 11 (lead guitar/vocals) and Jon Parker 12 (rhythm guitar/lead vocals). Don’t let their age fool you; these talented young musicians strive to give the best performance each time they take the stage. When not performing, the boys are active in school and their local community. In addition, they enjoy playing video games, sports, talking on the phone and of course… Girls. The band is honored to be opening the Master Musicians Festival this year and looks forward to making some new fans/friends.
|Too Many Drummers|
Too Many Drummers is a four-man whirlwind of eclectic rock from Lexington, Kentucky. Over the past three years the group has thrilled crowds across the region with performances on stages including the Ichthus Festival, Festival of the Horse, Atlantafest, and Lifest. The passion, raw energy, and irresistible fun of their live show is born out of such diverse musical influences as Switchfoot, Dave Matthews, the Police, and Queen. While their sound may defy an easy label (progressive alternative rockfunk?), at the core of all TMD’s music is a message of hope pointing to God’s hand in our everyday lives. Their music will lift you up, dust off your shoulders, and get you dancing again. Keep your eyes out for their new album set to drop in fall 2013.