The Bluegrass Ramble

IBMA's “World of Bluegrass Week” includes the four-day IBMA Business Conference, the International Bluegrass Music Awards Show, and the three-day Bluegrass Fan Fest. Our annual industry summit/ bluegrass family reunion draws more than 16,000 attendees, providing opportunities for showcasing, professional development and networking at the largest concentrated week of powerful, live bluegrass music on the planet.

Imagine the band that occupies the common ground between traditional bluegrass, outlaw country, and pure old time mountain music. A group that harnesses the frantic energy of the modern punk string band, yet still remains respectfully rooted in the tradition of Bill Monroe. Imagine a band with one foot proudly planted in the path of traditional bluegrass, and one foot stepping out into the unknown forefront of American string music.

This is Town Mountain, the exciting new sound from Asheville, NC. Born out of the all night jam sessions and fertile picking scene of Western North Carolina, Town Mountain has emerged as one of the premiere young American bluegrass bands. Great original, tight vocal harmonies, a charismatic stage presence, and instrumental expertise place this group in the upper tier of contemporary acoustic bands. But, in the end, despite these qualities, it's always the undeniable, irresistible energy of a live Town Mountain show that truly sets this group apart.

This unique energy has had Town Mountain winning over audiences in theatres, clubs, house concerts, and festivals across the country for almost three years now, from Oregon to Maine to California and back home to Carolina. It all started in 2005, when the guys decided to take their homegrown sound on its first national tour. That summer was spent swaggering across the country, sharing their music in smoky bars and hometown honkytonks nightly. The tour ended with a bang in Colorado, where Town Mountain joined the ranks of Steep Canyon Rangers, Chatham County Line and Yonder Mountain String Band by winning the prestigious Rockygrass Band Competition. The tour and the win kicked the Town Mountain experience into high gear, establishing the group as a force among American string bands, and as a live show that is not to be missed.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that gives Town Mountain its unique, contagious energy. It could be the visual performance that accompanies their great music. The guys bob and weave around each other, to and from the microphones, in order to facilitate their surprisingly sophisticated vocal and instrumental arrangements. The result is a natural choreography, an exciting visual performance that makes the band almost as fun to watch as it is to listen to.

Almost. Town Mountain is monumentally fun to listen to. This is the hard-driving, no nonsense, slammin' bluegrass that makes you whoop and holler and stomp your feet. Yet it's mixed with just enough slow country crooning to keep it balanced. Just enough outlaw swagger to give it a honkytonk edge. Just enough contemporary, alt-whatever elements to make it equally appealing to non-bluegrass fans. And it's mostly original music. Robert Greer, Jesse Langlais, and Phil Barker have all proven themselves to be prominent American songwriters worth keeping an eye on. Their contributions are showcased in the ever-changing set lists that make up the ever-growing Town Mountain song catalog. At any given show, you'll see the band move fluidly from the pounding rhythm of Jesse's "Shame on You", to the sweet harmonies of "Whiskey With Tears" (an original country ballad that would make George Jones proud), to a surprising cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire", then back to the pounding with Phil's politically charged "Ruination Line." The variety offered, and the energy with which it's executed has audiences consistently cheering for more. In fact, it's not uncommon to hear new fans claiming that they didn't know they liked bluegrass until they heard Town Mountain.

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

Former Alaskan, Frank Solivan, is a monster mandolinist making big waves nationally these days. His original music has climbed to the tops of radio charts
coast to coast and his band is featured at major music festivals across the country. His band, Dirty Kitchen is stocked with hot musicians that really cook. Anchored by powerhouse Dan Booth on the doghouse bass, infused with Mike Munford’s exquisite tone and jaw-dropping technique and peppered with fiery
guitar solos from phenom Chris Luquette, you hear power, you hear volume,you hear crispness, clarity, timing and taste, all combined with passion and drive. Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen has quickly gained a reputation as a
dynamic group exhibiting the perfect blend of serious skill, heartfelt passion and
an enthusiastic live show.

Phoebe Hunt

Singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Phoebe Hunt just can't stay planted in one spot for long, and that insatiable wanderlust drives everything she does — from exploring her own musical styles to living the gypsy life of a touring musician. An Austin-to-Nashville émigré, she recently made the leap to the Big Apple — but not before heading back to Austin in March to record her new album, LIVE AT THE CACTUS CAFÉ. The latest in a long line of artists to record at the iconic University of Texas listening room, the vocalist/fiddler/rhythm guitarist showcases her musicianship and sultry voice — the main elements of her award winning folk-pop sound, on 16 tracks performed with her band before an enthusiastic audience. It's a fitting follow-up to her self-titled 2012 debut EP, created in Los Angeles with producer Matt Rollings. On both, Hunt wraps her sultry voice and sincere lyrics right around listeners' souls with each song. Flowing between the heartbreaking tones of a classic country song into the provocative riffs of a jazz artist, Hunt artfully navigates through many musical landscapes pulling from the heart of the American soul. She shifts moods from playfully demure to seductive and intimate in the blink of a beat. But the quality that shines through most is her honesty.

Finnders & Youngberg

Each member of Finnders and Youngberg brings a variety of influences and talent to the table. Guitarist Mike Finders (pronounced finn-ders) is a two-time winner of the Merlefest Songwriting Contest, providing the band with richly original songs and lead vocals. Aaron Youngberg on pedal steel and banjo gives the band lift and contributes lead/harmony vocals with his wife, bassist Erin Youngberg. Both Youngbergs were formerly with Hit & Run Bluegrass, winners of the the Telluride and Rockygrass Band contests. Rich Zimmerman cranks on the mandolin, coming from hot Colorado bluegrass band Slipstream, while Rockygrass fiddle champion and much in-demand session player Ryan Drickey sets the strings ablaze. As band-mates and individuals they have toured the United States and been hired as producers, engineers, and session musicians on many of the West's most note-worthy Americana Music projects. When they decided to bring their songs, voices and stories together in a brand new Colorado front-range melting pot, a truly rootsy musical soup was seasoned and thickened.

They've created a buzz amongst the mountain fests- "They stole the show. Incredible."-David Smith, Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, as well as garnered the adoration of critics and DJ's, with their first CD cracking the top five most spun CD's on Colorado Radio in 2008. "Award-winning songwriting that makes you laugh, contemplate, sigh, drink, or dance." says Nina Dropcho, host of KDNK's Smokin' Grass.

2011 is an exciting year for the band. They released their new CD in May, called FY5, from which a few pre-released tracks garnered an invitation to an official showcase at the International Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, TN in February. The rest of the year they're playing numerous events and festivals throughout the West, looking toward national tours in 2012.

Together the band weaves their way through a maze of influences, never losing sight of the roots that inspire them. It's this merging of old and new that keeps their music from being simply a gimmicky restoration of a vintage era, and their original vision has enough distinction that you'll seek this sound out again and again.

$10 at the door


Tickets will be available for $10 at the door!

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