Whiskey Bent Valley Boys

Now these boy will take you through the hills of ol' kentucky, bearing the stores, traditions and liquor that date back a century. This old-time band delivers with an intensity that would knock the sock right off of their forefathers feet.

Hailing from the back woods of Pee-Wee Valley, Kentucky, The Whiskey Bent Valley Boys pay homage to their southern king— songs from the tobacco fields to the rivers, iron skillets to moonshine stills, upbeat and professional, the band posesses the skill to honor history and preserve the instruments, their style and every authentic, nuance of the day. With their divers fashion sense and stage. From overalls to string ties, straw hats to silk vests, along with a turbo-charged performance, their approach breathes fire into this vintage genre.

Blending their instrumental and vocal talents are; JR on the barnyard fiddle: the bands founder, Mason Dixon, is behind his unique style of claw hammer and three-finger style banjo, guitar, harmonica, standing tall with his doghouse bass is the bands youngest member, Leroy Jones; and on mandolin and once in a blue moon—spoons, Johnny Whippermule.

Incorporatin time-honored treasures from such icons as Roscoe Holcomb, The Stanley Brothers, and fiddle legend Tommy Jarrell, or a roster of original compositions including crowd-pleasers "Whiskey Train and "Shady River" the band puts on a timeless, energiezed show; Playing everything from ballads, breakdowns, sea shanties, and swamp stomps. Audiences from children on their parent's knee to packed saloons past midnight and finding favor with the older generation as well makes for a wide range of appeal.

The boys take cues from parents and grandparents who have tapped into folk country and bluegrass through festivals, radio and endless collections of vinyl recrodings. Band founder Mason Dixon hails from a long line of musicians and will tell you it's not so much in the whiskey as it is the DNA. Each member's family performs and enjoys the indigenous music of the appalachian foothills and pastures of Kentucky.

Appearances on a wide range of radio and tiv programs, state fairs and festivals have brought them an active fan base for this region. Often times the boy bring a delicious yield of their summer crops to gigs in bushel baskets for the taking. Going even more down earth, they are taking their cd packaging "green." Their upcoming new, full-length cd sleeve is industrial hemp paper and recycled cardboard with environmentally-friendly, vegetable-based inks.

No matter whats chillin' in your mason jar, sour mash or sweet tea, come on out for a live show where the Whiskey Bent Valley Boys will be pounding out the swing dancing, foot stompin, hard=driving tunes that are guaranteed to tickle your innards.

Something old and something new – for her new EP Fortuna (due October 15th), Rosi Golan went looking for both. The something old came from inspiration found in the Roman goddess Fortuna. She’s best known in modern times as the blind goddess of Justice, but for the Romans she was the personification of luck. As far as the new, Golan chased her muse southward and decided to write and record in Nashville. It was an important experience because it was her first time not recording in Los Angeles. “I’ve been doing a lot of writing in Nashville over the last four or five years and I’ve created a community of really awesome friends,” Golan says. It was that comfort where she decided that this set of intimate songs would be best represented.

Over the years this incredible songstress has worked to refine and hone her sound, collecting new elements and crafting it in the places she finds herself. The Israeli-born singer has made many stops in her travels, including Germany, Paris, and finally, Los Angeles. Her unique talent for rich, dark melodies showcases a voice that not only draws you in, but still haunts you the next day. The Drifter & The Gypsy, Rosi’s debut, generated several songs that were prominently featured on numerous television shows (including Vampire Diaries and Private Practice) along with films and commercials. On the strength of Drifter, Rosi embarked on a series of tours that saw her traipsing the globe before finally laying new roots down on the west coast where she began recording Lead Balloon. Lead Balloon perfectly captures the environment where Rosi brought each song to fruition and features such folks as Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol) and Dave Rawlings (Gillian Welch). Produced by Tony Berg (Aimee Mann), the album moves fluidly between genres, containing songs steeped in Americana, clever pop currents running throughout, and thoughtful folk.

For her new EP, Rosi recorded entirely in Nashville over a two week period with producer Ian Fitchuk (Mindy Smith). “I love writing in Nashville because people are all about the story, all about the lyrics, all about the words. That has always been really the most important thing for me,” Golan says. “If I’m not saying what I want to in a specific way, then I’m lost.” And the specific words for this EP, Golan admits, are of a palette that’s darker in color, but beginning to see the light. “These songs are all very cathartic for me,” Golan says. “The sound of it is more stripped down than what I have done in the past. I wanted something simple. And I also wanted to focus on harmony as opposed to instruments.” Fortuna finds Rosi collaborating with some of her favorite people such as Natalie Hemby (Miranda Lambert), Liz Rose (Taylor Swift), Kate York (Little Big Town), Iain Archer & Johnny McDaid (Snow Patrol).

Another new thing for Golan on Fortuna was a relationship with the visual artist Christian Schloe, who created the cover art. The pairing was, in keeping with the theme of the EP, fortunate. Golan reached out online after a friend sent his art to her and, after months of waiting for a reply, Schloe agreed to create a piece specifically for Fortuna after listening to it.

“I wrote Christian an email about the title of the EP and what it meant to me. It derives from a line in ‘Give Up The Ghost’ that says ‘fortune favors the brave.’ Our connection was all through the power of the Internet; that I found his work and fell in love with it. And we connected and were able to artistically collaborate without ever speaking or hearing each other’s voices.”

Fortuna does indeed favor the brave.
Unlike most, Golan didn't dream of live shows and lyrics. At the age of 19, Golan found herself rudderless and unsure, reeling from the simultaneous experiences of both personal and communal tragedy. "My grandmother passed away, and it was not long after September 11th. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life," Golan explains. "I was having this thought while I was in a car – and a commercial came on for a guitar store." Shortly thereafter, Golan found herself there, and, never having played before, purchased a guitar for the self-admitted worst reason ever: "I liked the color," she laughs. It shouldn't have worked out, but it has.

In the years since that fateful radio tuning, Golan has worked to refine and calibrate her sound, collecting new elements and shaping it in the places she finds herself. The Drifter & The Gypsy, Golan's first album, generated several songs that were prominently featured on numerous television shows (including One Tree Hill and Private Practice) and in film (Dear John). Golan embarked on a series of tours on the strength of Drifter that sent the Israeli-born Golan traipsing the globe. Lead Balloon was written on breaks from tours over the past two years, Golan can hear the spaces the songs took shape in – there is the bone-damp of London, the constant buzz of Brooklyn, the arid wind of Los Angeles. Building on the success of the friendships that lead to her well-received debut, Golan continued working with many of the songwriters she co-wrote that album with.

"Everyone who I co-wrote with has become like family," says Golan. "Generally, the group of people I write with are people who I have a relationship with, who I keep in touch with. We spend time together outside of writing music together." The emotional shorthand shared in the context of her friendships imbues the tracks with a warm ease, even if the subject matter lacks it.

If the relationships were what Golan wanted to carry forward on this record, its production was another matter. "I wanted to throw in some wrenches," says Golan. "And I think those wrenches were thrown by Tony Berg." Golan credits her producer with reframing her approach to making music. "Every song was its own entity. The only thing that glued the record together was my voice, and maybe the constant of an acoustic guitar." With no strict structure to the sound of the album, Golan was freed to interpret each song as it came to her, rather than concerning herself as to whether it kept to an overall sound. As a result, the album moves fluidly between genres, containing songs steeped in Americana, clever pop currents running throughout, and thoughtful folk.

As much as Golan may have been working without a conscious idea, in retrospect she realizes there was some governing order to Lead Balloon. It wasn't until Golan was finished that she realized the polarities contained on the album. If "Lead Balloon" serves as the album's mission statement, album opener "Paper Tiger" is its contrast, a honey-vocalled kiss-off that chugs along to resolution through strings, triangles and a xylophone. In contrast, the gorgeous "Lead Balloon" borrows from the best of country music, with Golan harmonizing with a mournful lap steel buoyed by its steady beat.

"That song came from a bad day I was having," says Golan. Fortuitously, she was due to meet with co-writer and friend Natalie Hemby. "When we came up with the title 'lead balloon,' I thought no matter what happens, I'm pretty sure that's going to be the title of the record." The quietly stirring "Everything Is Brilliant" is a series of recollections, followed by its refrain, which serves as both a statement of fact and a wish.

In keeping with the twin polarities Golan sees on the record, there is as much joy on the record as there is pain, and with the output of loss, there is the input of hope. When asked whether the emotional depths reached on this record are ever difficult to plumb or painful, Golan explains that in the writing, there is catharsis. "Once you write the song and put it on the record, you put them out there and let them become somebody else's. I'm going to see it to its completion, and I'll send it off, and let it find somebody else."

Blind Corn Liquor Pickers

Fill your jug up with homebrew. Take it round back of the barn. Pass it until one of you slip off or disappear. If you can’t figure out who it is that got up and left, then you know you have the good stuff.

These are the principles by which the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers pick corn liquor.

As for music, they have no principles at all. Its just whatever feels right. Bluegrass takes the biggest hit; but folk, swing, progressive rock, funk, and jazz all have their boundaries violated. The result is bluegrass that rocks, grooves, surprises & offends.

Appalachian Trail, their 3rd CD full-length CD, finds the band in an entirely new territory. Gone is the Elvis-inspired rockabilly vocal and slap bass that colored their first two albums. In its place is an entirely new sound. Beth Walker, the new lead vocalist, rocks and wails through psychedia and blues with a raw power reminiscent of the great folk-rock artists of the 60’s – like a mountain version of Janis Joplin . The vehicle is still bluegrass, somehow, but the trim is an American music mosaic, taking in irish flourishes, blues inflections, jazz exploration, country storytelling, and rock and roll attitude.

MIsty Mountain String Band

With their 2013 debut EP Went to the Well, The Misty Mountain String Band sought to showcase the diversity of string band music. Each song focuses on a different facet of the genre, from the bluegrass notes of “Mink Shoals” to the more roots-y “Canaan.” What resulted was not just diversity among the songs, but a vibrant composition of backgrounds and first love. Went to the Well is the return on a violin virtuoso, a jazz guitarist, a choral director, and a former conservatory student coming together to play the music they listened to as children.

Paul Martin (mandolin/banjo), Derek Harris (bass), Brian Vickers (guitar), and Neal Green (fiddle), came together in August of 2012 to play by request at an old-fashioned camp revival that was in its 113th year. What they assumed was going to be just another pick-up gig turned into a springboard that launched a professional band that’s as at home playing with the Louisville Philharmonia Orchestra as they are appearing alongside Americana favorites like Nora Jane Struthers and Town Mountain.

Drawing influence from old-time music, country, Americana, bluegrass, and songs of labor and protest, The Misty Mountain String Band doesn’t stray far from their upbringings in Kentucky and West Virginia. When Derek sings John Prine’s “Paradise,” he likes to tell stories of actually visiting the World’s Largest Shovel near his home in Muhlenberg County on field trips as a child. The Misty Mountain String Band is not composing cheap parodies of the music of a by-gone era, however. As it was noted in a recent write up from LEO Weekly, “The marriage of Prohibition-era old-time music and 21st-century technological upgrades might have peaked.” Through KICKSTARTER, Instagram, Facebook,YouTube, and Twitter, the group has connected with fans of folk music around the world and is introducing them to unique string band music written for today, but informed by tradition.

“[L]isteners can tell that Misty Mountain String Band… are certainly players.” Ear to the Ground Music notes, “but then their vocals are pretty darn good too.” Over the past year, MMSB has nurtured the marriage of tradition and technology that has come to draw crowds of all ages. “[T]hey clearly have their own distinct bluegrass style.”



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