Congratulations To Our Grammy Nominees, Blue Highway!

We would like to congratulate Blue Highway for their nomination in Best Bluegrass Album for Original Traditional on Rounder Records. Best of luck to you, Blue Highway!


As momentum continues to build for the 22-year-strong powerhouse band, Blue Highway is rolling on with a rich legacy, carried on by three powerhouse songwriters and vocalists in Tim Stafford, Wayne Taylor, and Shawn Lane, whose harmonies soar over the dynamic banjo of Jason Burleson and the explosive dobro of Gaven Largent.

Released on September 9, Original Traditional has already charted two #1 songs on the Bluegrass Today Chart to date (Wilkes County Clay and Don't Weep for Me), and has twice gone to #1 on the RMR Chart to date. Original Traditional currently reigns at #1 atop the RMR Top 50 Bluegrass Album Chart for the second consecutive week, as of December 17, 2016.

Blue Highway has been praised by peers, fans, and media alike, with one of the most powerful descriptions of the band being shared by Country Standard Time

“Wayne Taylor sings with the emotion of a man who escaped the coal mines and ain't planning on going back. Tim Stafford continues to craft songs with depth .. The instrumentation is perfect. From the get go, Jason Burleson opens with the unique style that defines Blue Highway banjo..  Shawn Lane exemplifies modern mandolin, yet nods to the Monroe legacy. Three lead singers.. rich harmony .. songs of forgotten homeless veterans, fallen heroes, and heartbroken families. Blue Highway personifies modern acoustic music with respect for tradition. Highly recommended, highly respected." 


KCA Artists Welcomes Applewood Road to the roster!

In September 2014, three songwriters met for the first time in a cafe in East Nashville. By the next morning they had put the finishing touches to their first song, ‘Applewood Road’, which they recorded live to tape at Nashville’s all analogue studio, Welcome to 1979. 

The song’s nostalgic air, along with the clear, sparse arrangement of three vocals accompanied by double bass, drew immediate positive response, and they decided to expand the idea into a full album. 

Six months later, they reconvened to write, rehearse and record songs for the self-titled album Applewood Road. The songs were again performed live around a single microphone at Welcome to 1979 and recorded to two-track tape with minimal accompaniment from some of Nashville’s finest session players, including Aaron Lee Tasjan, Josh Day, Fats Kaplin, Jabe Beyer, and Telisha Williams. 

The tapes were assembled at London’s most exclusive high-end mastering suite, Gearbox Records, mastered through their vintage analogue outboard, and lacquers cut in-house on their own Haeco lathe.  

Applewood Road is Emily Barker, Amber Rubarth and Amy Speace.

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Lovin’ Eyes (Official Music Video)

Give Me Love (Official Music Video)

Applewood Road (Official Music Video)


Applewood Road, The Album

The Buzz:

No Depression - Applewood Road Album Review

Liverpool etc – Applewood Road: Emily Barker Q&A


Congratulations To Our Grammy Nominees!

Congratulations To Our Grammy Nominees!

We would like to congratulate Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley for their nomination in Best Bluegrass Album for Before The Sun Goes Down on Compass Records. We would also like to congratulate The Fairfield Four for their nomination in Best Roots Gospel Album with Still Rockin’ My Soul on Fairfield Four Records. 

Steep Canyon Rangers' New Album Radio to be Released August 28 on Rounder Records



Video Premieres:

"Radio" - Paste Magazine

"Blow Me Away" -  No Depression

Grammy Award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers’ highly anticipated new album, RADIO, will be released August 28 on Rounder Records and can now be pre-ordered via Amazon. Produced by Jerry Douglas (John Oates, Alison Krauss, Béla Fleck), the album’s title track premieres today on The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog. Of the track, The Wall Street Journal comments, "Led by bright fiddle and tight, interlocking harmony vocals, the track is a wide-eyed tribute to the magic of discovering music over the airwaves, with sly references to other songs salted into the lyrics." Stream the song and read the piece here: In addition, the band is currently in the midst of a widespread U.S. tour including dates in Telluride, CO, Boulder, CO, Charleston, SC, Raleigh, NC, New York City and Washington, DC.

The Steep Canyon Rangers are Woody Platt (guitar), Graham Sharp (banjo), Charles R. Humphrey III (bass), Mike Guggino (mandolin), Nicky Sanders (fiddle) and Mike Ashworth (box kit). Known for touring extensively and widely praised for their performances, the acclaimed bluegrass band performs between 125 and 150 dates per year, including tours they share with actor/comedian and respected banjo player Steve Martin and esteemed singer-songwriter Edie Brickell.

RADIO is Steep Canyon Rangers’ ninth studio album and was recorded with Douglas at Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain Recording Studio. The album comprises twelve all-original bluegrass/ Americana tracks written by Sharp, Humphrey, Platt and Guggino in varying degrees, including a few co-writes with fellow musicians from the folk world such as Phil Barker of the Carolina bluegrass band Town Mountain.

RADIO follows Steep Canyon Rangers’ 2013 release, Tell The Ones I Love, which Bluegrass Today praised as “…a great mixture of today’s bluegrass styles, excellent harmonies, and a few surprises…an excellent album…The Steep Canyon Rangers have delivered another winner, and their fans are sure to be pleased.” Ed Helms’ The Bluegrass Situation asserted, “It’s an exquisite recording, a wonderful marriage of their talent and work ethic, and Larry Campbell’s remarkable intuition.” Previously, their 2012 release, Nobody Knows You, was presented the Grammy Award for “Best Bluegrass Album.” The band has also been nominated for and won multiple awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, including Entertainers of the Year in 2011 for their work with Steve Martin.

Continuously involved with the community and charitable organizations, Steep Canyon Rangers’ annual Mountain Song Festival, which benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Transylvania County, will celebrate its 10th Anniversary this year, kicking off with an inaugural Steep Canyon 50 K & Relay Ultra Run on September 10th. Additionally, the band has entered a partnership with Oskar Blues Brewery and their CAN’d Aid Foundation as well as SevenBar Aviation and their affiliated hospital foundations.


“One of the most expressive bluegrass bands you’ll find…” CMT Edge

“…holding fast to bluegrass roots but refusing to do what some hard-liners maintain passes for tradition: aping the sounds and styles of first-generation bluegrassers Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs.”

The Tennessean

“Meaningful and engaging.” – PopMatters

“Virtuosic playing…witty, honest, songwriting.” Charleston City Paper



1. Radio

2. Diamonds In The Dust

3. Simple Is Me

4. Blow Me Away

5. Blue Velvet Rain

6. Looking Glass

7. Down That Road Again

8. Break

9. Wasted

10. Long Summer

11. When The Well Runs Dry

12. Monumental Fool

Press Release: Sacks and Co. 

The HillBenders Announce the Release of Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry Critics Praise the Project at SXSW and Folk Alliance

Out June 2nd on Compass Records 

Watch the video for “Tommy’s Holiday Camp/Eyesight to the Blind” Exclusively Available Via 

“The HillBenders...proved to be the perfect group to execute this "Whograss" concept” –Rolling Stone, “50 Best Things We Saw at SXSW” 

Ambitiously and audaciously rendered…Well worth standing in the rain to hear.” –Gary Graff, Billboard 

Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry was the highpoint of a night of many stellar Friday night performances at Folk Alliance.–Timothy Finn, Kansas City Star

May 5, 2015 (Nashville, Tennessee) – Forty-five years after its initial release, The Who’s rock opera Tommy has been transformed by The Hillbenders into a full-length bluegrass tribute with all of the original record’s energy, instrumental showmanship, and rock star vocals in tact.

Originally recorded with a full rock band, the dynamic bluegrass quintet recreated the legendary album with a banjo, Dobro, mandolin, bass, and guitar. The “Bluegrass Opry,” as its been dubbed, brings a new perspective to Tommy while paying homage to its creators.

SXSW co-founder and musician/producer Louis Jay Meyers conceived the idea of a “bluegrass opry” and felt he’d found the right band to pull off this high-wire approach to the record when he met The Hillbenders, a band known for its ability to bridge the gap between musical genres and fans.

The live performance is a full 75-minute show covering the original album from start to finish with special video accompaniment and audience participation.

The HillBenders will host a pre-launch show on May 10th at Nashville’s historic bluegrass haven, Station Inn.

The Honeycutters Release Me Oh My via Organic Records!

“There are a lot of worthy and compelling Americana singer-songsters and bands out there right now, it’s a rich landscape. But The Honeycutters, fronted by Amanda Platt is surely a wonder to behold. The band just sounds so darn good and makes a style of country music that always makes me feel good, even when it’s so melancholy. I think Amanda has something to teach us about the economy of words, the magic of a good melody and the satisfaction of an aching and honest vocal.” – Amy Ray, The Indigo Girls Led by songwriter Amanda Anne Platt, The Honeycutters include Tal Taylor on mandolin, Rick Cooper on bass, Josh Milligan on drums, and Matt Smith rounds out the band on pedal steel, electric guitar, and dobro to create a sound that carries just as well across the bar room as in a church or a theater. Fueled by the powerful songwriting and vocals of founder Amanda Platt, Me Oh My moves her into the spotlight as producer, band leader, and principal creative force behind the band. With songs that are honest and relatable, part chagrin and part hope, Platt’s voice carries a timeless appeal.

In both her simple composition and honest delivery it’s easy to hear the influence of country legends such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, or Loretta Lynn, and with this Miss Platt credits growing up listening to her Father’s extensive record collection every Saturday morning. Despite her love for classic country, Platt cites Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty as major influences and her songwriting carries a wit and an edge that plants her firmly in her generation.

Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst calls The Honeycutters “… just superb, with a sweet toned and melodious aura… Today’s Smoky Mountain area modern folk thing does have a certain vibe, and these guys are among its finest purveyors.” Folk Music’s Kim Ruehl wrote, “Their music embodies a very catchy, accessible, optimistic sort of spirit so frequently lacking in folk circles (where brooding, hyper-analytical music reigns supreme). What’s more, like Carolina Story, they’re a great band replete with tasty harmonies.”

The Honeycutters formed in 2007 in Asheville, NC, the town they still call home, and had quick success with their first release Irene (2009). Me Oh My is the highly anticipated follow up to the 2012’s When Bitter Met Sweet. Each album has helped to grow grow their audience and expand their tours to include notable appearances at MerleFest, Suwannee Springfest, Strawberry Music Festival, Vancouver Island Music Fest, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Folk Alliance, Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Fest and the Nelsonville Music Festival. They have also performed alongside esteemed musicians Guy Clark, Tony Rice, The Seldom Scene, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Amy Ray, Donna the Buffalo, Jill Andrews, and The Steep Canyon Rangers.

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New Albums from The Fairfield Four & The McCrary Sisters!

Let's go  

Two brand new albums hit the streets today from The Fairfield Four & The McCrary Sisters!  Do yourself a favor, and be sure to pick up a copy of each!:

The Fairfield Four: Still Rockin' My Soul:

[Fairfield Four Records | Distribution by Thirty Tigers, Sony Red, and Provident]

The McCrary Sisters:

[McC Records | Distribution by Thirty Tigers]


The Fairfield Four are a legitimate national treasure with a history that goes back nearly 100 years when the original members began singing at The Fairfield Baptist Church in Nashville. Over the years the group has received numerous honors including two Grammy awards, a National Heritage Award and were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. They are best known for their appearance in the Coen brothers movie, “O Brother Where Art Thou,” and the corresponding soundtrack.  The current members of the Fairfield Four are Joe Thompson, Levert Allison, Larrice Byrd, Sr., and Bobbye Sherrell. Their four soulful voices combine into a rich harmony that’s as soothing as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. 


The McCrary Sisters (Ann, Deborah, Regina and Alfreda) are the daughters of the late Rev. Samuel McCrary -- one of the original members of the legendary gospel quartet The Fairfield Four. The daughters were raised in harmony, singing at home and at their father's church, but word soon spread of their individual accomplished voices and each began sharing the family vocal legacy as solo artists with a wide range of performers to include Bob Dylan, Elvis, Isaac Hayes and Stevie Wonder.

In 2011, the Sisters officially formed their own group, The McCrary Sisters, and have recorded or performed with the Black Keys, Martina McBride, Eric Church, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Jonny Lang, Robert Randolph, The Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Nashville’s Jonathan Jackson, Mike Ferris and many more. They have been featured on Bobby Jones Gospel and TBN’s Jason Crabbe Show.


The McCrary Sisters’ new CD Let’s Go is produced by Buddy Miller and features The Fairfield Four.


The HillBenders Present The Who's TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry

“Ever since I was a young boy I played the silver ball” Maybe not your standard bluegrass lyric, but a line known by all the world from the biggest rock opera of all time, The Who’s Tommy.

45 years after its original release, this classic of classic rock has now been fully realized as a full length bluegrass tribute featuring Springfield, Missouri’s The HillBenders.  Conceived and produced by SXSW co-founder and longtime musician/producer Louis Jay Meyers, this Bluegrass Opry brings a new perspective to Tommy while paying total respect to its creators.

Originally composed by guitarist Pete Townshend as a rock opera that tells the story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy, including his experiences with life and the relationship with his family. The original album has sold 20 million copies and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant value".  In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Tommy number 96 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Meyers had been looking for the right band to pull off this high wire bluegrass approach for several decades and The HillBenders are the right band.  With a perfect mix of virtuoso musicianship and rock star vocals, The HillBenders bring Pete Townshend’s original vision to life in a new and exciting way.

It’s amazing to hear banjo, dobro, mandolin, bass, and guitar bring the same energy and vision to Tommy as The Who did with a full rock band and orchestra.

The HillBenders are one of the few bluegrass groups that recognize their ability to bridge the gap between the common music consumer and the bluegrass genre, selecting material that defies any hillbilly stigmas. With their widely varied influences, they are trying to bring to bluegrass songs that unify. “We wanted to pair bluegrass with the other music we grew up with —rock and roll!” say HillBender Nolan Lawrence.

The live performance is a full 75 minute show covering the original album from start to finish with special video accompaniment and audience participation.

This recording was originally planned as a co-production with the legendary musician/producer Lou Whitney.  After Lou’s tragic passing in October 2014, plans were revised to record in Lou’s studio in Springfield, Missouri surrounded by those that helped create the Lou Whitney sound and style of making records.  This record is dedicated to the memory of the late great Lou Whitney.

Tommy is appealing to music fans of all ages.  This is truly a classic.

Credits: Jim Rea – Guitar/Arranger Nolan Lawrence - Mandolin Chad "Gravy Boat" Graves - Dobro Mark Cassidy - Banjo Gary Rea – Bass All vocals: The HillBenders Recorded at The Studio, Springfield MO

Alessandra Young

Born in New Jersey to a musical theater father and a dancing mother, Alessandra has lived in the entertainment world her whole life. She studied Public Relations at SUNY New Paltz until transferring to Belmont University to study Music Business. Alessandra co-founded a concert series called Little Light Shows, bringing bands into the living rooms of local Nashvillians. Apart from going out to see great bands, her favorite thing is when she can sleep in on a rainy Sunday with her cat, Lina.

The Fairfield Four - Pre-Order Still Rockin' My Soul NOW on PledgeMusic!

Pre-Order Still Rockin' My Soul NOW on PledgeMusic! 

The Fairfield Four is back in action!  The group just launched a PledgeMusic Campaign where you may pre-order the brand new album, Still Rockin' My Soul, as well as check out exclusive items: autographed CDs, photos, the group's signature overalls, and legacy items such as rare 78's and signed pictures of earlier members.

With every pre-order, you'll receive a download of the album ahead of the digital release AND you'll also have access to exclusive photos and videos of The Fairfield Four backstage or in the studio. You'll even have the opportunity to sing on stage with the group or have them over for a house concert!

Still Rockin' My Soul will be released on March 10th, 2015 (Distribution by Thirty Tigers, Sony Red, and Provident).  The album features Lee Ann Womack and coordinates with the PBS pledge campaign entitled, "Rock My Soul!"


The Fairfield Four are a legitimate national treasure with a history that goes back nearly 100 years when the original members began singing at The Fairfield Baptist Church in Nashville. Over the years the group has received numerous honors including two Grammy awards, a National Heritage Award and were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. They are best known for their appearance in the Coen brothers movie, "O Brother Where Art Thou," and the corresponding soundtrack.  The current members of the Fairfield Four are Joe Thompson, Levert Allison, Larrice Byrd, Sr., and Bobbye Sherrell. Their four soulful voices combine into a rich harmony that's as soothing as a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

To get album teasers, special offers, and the most up-to-date news, join The Fairfield Four's mailing list via their website or Facebook page below: 




KCA Artists now presenting...Rock My Soul!

KCA Artists is now presenting a new touring package coming out in Spring of 2015, supported by a national PBS pledge campaign entitled, "Rock My Soul," featuring the legendary Fairfield Four and The McCrary Sisters.  The show focuses on how the African American gospel experience influences every genre of music in America today. For everyone in the television audience the night of the "Rock My Soul" taping, there was no escaping it:  the music coming off the stage was absolutely stunning!  This historic piece will be presented  beginning next March and continuing through the end of 2015.

PBS will be airing the show to millions of arts supporters in March and April.  Guests on the show include: Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, Van Hunt and Amos Lee - with all guests sharing the stage with either The Fairfield Four or The McCrary Sisters.

The TV special is a musical performance with some documentary overtones and will be timed with the release of The Fairfield Four and The McCrary Sisters' new albums on March 10, 2015.  (Distribution by Thirty Tigers, Sony Red, and Provident.)

Shore Fire will publicize both the tour and album releases through 2015.  The tour package will not include the guest performers from the PBS special, but will feature The Fairfield Four a cappella and The McCrary Sisters with a four-piece band.


"But suddenly we got The Fairfield Four and The McCrary Sisters singing together in a row, with a range like an organ and sonic energy like a helicopter taking off... a stunning, core-shuddering sound that kept me dabbing my eyes."  

-Craig Havighurst, Bluegrass Situation - review of "Rock My Soul"

"The legacy of their group [The Fairfield Four] may be massive...  But last night, they summoned spirits through the most lasting, natural and convincing musical device of all - the human voice."  

- Walter Tunis, Lexington Herald-Ledger    


"When Ann, Deborah, Regina and Alfreda McCrary sing, there is no way - no matter your religious bent - not to be moved...The sisters have music in their blood and you can hear it in their passionate voices."  

- Jeff Schwachter, Atlantic City Weekly


Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley - Before the Sun Goes Down

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley will release a brand new album, Before the Sun Goes Down,  on January 13, 2015!  This unique collaborative effort between two uniquely gifted musicians—Rob Ickes is a longtime, well established instrumental giant, and Trey Hensley is newly arrived in Music City, bursting with talent both as a vocalist and guitarist—is bound to be a revelation to traditional music fans on several counts. It is the vehicle which first introduces Trey Hensley to much of the bluegrass and country music world. Trey is a young man poised on the edge of an incredibly bright future, steeped as he is in much of what is best in the music. From his powerful yet sympathetic vocal interpretations of traditional and new material, his jaw dropping instrumental skills on both acoustic and electric guitar, and his own considerable songwriting talents, Trey is bursting at the seams with freshness and musical excitement. His resonant baritone voice is rich, expressive and equally at home with classic bluegrass, traditional country, or original compositions from his own hand or written by others. This album promises to be a breath of fresh air on the country music scene today, even while bringing Trey’s comfort and familiarity with traditional country and bluegrass music to the fore. He began playing guitar and singing in his native Jonesborough, Tennessee when he was 10. At 11 he was invited by Marty Stuart to play the Grand Ole Opry and was thrilled when they were joined from the wings by Earl Scruggs with whom he played several times thereafter. Marty remains a fan and a booster. Trey has also in his young life already played with Johnny and June Carter Cash, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, The Oak Ridge Boys and Janie Fricke. He’s appeared on bills with Sara Evans, Charlie Daniels, Peter Frampton, Randy Owen, Steve Wariner and Marty Stuart and has appeared before President George W. Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush and Vice President Cheney. Another benefit the album offers is an opportunity to view Rob Ickes, by now an acknowledged master of the dobro and lap steel guitar, outside the box, as it were. Rob has been playing bluegrass with his much decorated band, Blue Highway, for over twenty years, during which time he has been adjudged Bluegrass Dobro Player Of the Year fifteen times. He has also played on countless sessions, recording with artists as diverse as Merle Haggard, Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss. He has also helped form a jazz oriented trio, Three Ring Circle, along with Andy Leftwich and Dave Pomeroy. His most recent recording, THREE BELLS, is a true dobro summit meeting with fellow greats Jerry Douglas and the late Mike Auldridge. He even once received (out of the blue!) an admiring phone call from jazz guitar and harmonica master Toots Thielemans!

One is struck when talking to Rob and Trey by the satisfaction they both feel about what they have produced. The album was recorded mostly live, with minimal overdubs, fixes, punch-ins, or even very many takes and with all the musicians in one room in only a few days of studio time. Rob, the driving force behind the album and the man largely responsible for its being made, says that his favorite albums by the pioneers of the music, the ones that made him want to make music in the first place, were made this way. The spontaneity and sheer joy of creation among a small group of master musicians is palpable in listening to the completed product.

Rob has been a booster since he first heard Trey, a happening that came about in an unusual way. He became aware of the young man’s enormous vocal talent when he heard his scratch vocal (suggested by the album’s engineer) on Rob’s band Blue Highway’s album THE GAME. Wayne Taylor and Tim Stafford of Blue Highway penned the song “My Last Day In The Mine.” The band had initially hoped to have a prominent lead singer outside the band to perform a guest vocal of the song for the album, but found themselves falling in love with the youthful Trey’s evocation of the world weary working man’s fears of leaving the only job he’d ever known. Trey was 22 at the time. His vocal was used on the completed product and has received considerable positive notice, as has the entire album. Shortly thereafter, Trey and his wife Amber relocated to Nashville, and Rob has been showing Trey the ropes.

Completely consumed by country music from an early age as he was, I wondered aloud to Trey how he made it through school. “I just smuggled an iPod into classes,“ he confessed, smiling ruefully. From the evidence offered on this album, I’d say he was listening to the right stuff. Accompanied by some of the finest, most accomplished musicians in Nashville, Rob and Trey tackle a diverse group of songs, put a fresh spin on some old ones, polish up some more recent hits, and offer up an original from Trey, drawing from the music of artists as diverse as Jimmy Martin, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Buddy Emmons, Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills. In addition to Rob—Trey’s friend, mentor, and co-producer on dobro and lap steel—Trey’s sterling vocals are bolstered by a band which includes Aubrey Haynie or Andy Leftwich on fiddle, the ubiquitous (and mighty fine) Nashville acoustic bassist Mike Bub, and drummer John Gardner, who is rightfully lauded for his sensitivity to the needs of country music in the studio and who has toured with the likes of Don Williams, the Dixie Chicks and The Dead Reckoners, among others. He provides impeccable rhythm throughout. Vocal harmonies or instrumental sweetening are added on one song or another by Jon Randall, Susanne Cox, Dan Tyminski, Shawn Lane, and Ron Block. – Randy Pitts