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

The Honeycutters Sign with Organic Records: New Album Slated for Spring 2015!

ASHEVILLE, NC -- The Honeycutters, an Asheville, NC based original country roots band, has signed an exclusive recording contract with Organic Records®. The band led a successful Kickstarter campaign raising $31,317 to help fund their third studio album. They have laid down the tracks in Echo Mountain Recording Studio in Asheville and are mastering it at Crossroads Studios in Arden. The album is slated for release in the spring of 2015. Led by songwriter Amanda Anne Platt, The Honeycutters include Tal Taylor on mandolin, Rick Cooper on bass, Josh Milligan on drums, and Matt Smith rounding out Platt's songs 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. Platt’s songs are shaped by a raw honesty that comes straight from the heart and emits a sort of melancholy happiness.

“We're very excited to be joining the Organic family!” said Platt. “We've been considering going with a label to help us grow, and it feels right to team up with one that is based in Asheville. Keepin' it local. We want to keep the music coming, and believe the Organic folks are just the guys to help us do that.”

“The Honeycutters fit perfectly with Organic, where we love to support and promote great original music,” said Organic Records Marketing Director Ty Gilpin. “They are super talented players and Amanda is a songwriting and singing tour de force. They are hard-working, dedicated to the music and great people to boot!"

The band is frequently mentioned along with the movement to "Take country music back to it's roots." The Honeycutters are just doing what they know how to do: making music that feels as good to hear as it does to play.

“The new album is the one I'm most proud of to date.” Platt goes on to say, “I took much more of a driver's seat in it's making, and the process has forced me to do a lot of growing up... I feel like I've really found my voice. I'm very excited about the line up of the band, and the songwriting includes some of my very favorites.”

The soon-to-be-titled release is slated to drop in April with an album release party in Asheville along with a release tour to be announced. They are also scheduled to appear at MerleFest that same month.

The Honeycutters formed in 2007 in Asheville, the town they still call home, and had quick success with their first release Irene (2009). That release and their sophomore effort When Bitter Met Sweet (2012) grew their audience to help expand their tours to include notable appearances at Merlefest, Suwannee SpringFest, Strawberry Music Festival, Vancouver Island Music Fest, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, 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.

Amanda Anne Platt has been hailed as "easily one of the best songwriters coming out of WNC these days” by WNCW programming director Martin Anderson, who goes on to state, “and she really needs to be discovered by the national Americana world.” 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, she 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.

“We're very excited to be joining the Organic family!” said Platt. “We've been considering going with a label to help us grow, and it feels right to team up with one that is based in Asheville. Keepin' it local. We want to keep the music coming, and believe the Organic folks are just the guys to help us do that.”

“The Honeycutters fit perfectly with Organic, where we love to support and promote great original music,” said Organic Records Marketing Director Ty Gilpin. “They are super talented players and Amanda is a songwriting and singing tour de force. They are hard-working, dedicated to the music and great people to boot!"

The band is frequently mentioned along with the movement to "Take country music back to it's roots." The Honeycutters are just doing what they know how to do: making music that feels as good to hear as it does to play.

“The new album is the one I'm most proud of to date.” Platt goes on to say, “I took much more of a driver's seat in it's making, and the process has forced me to do a lot of growing up... I feel like I've really found my voice. I'm very excited about the line up of the band, and the songwriting includes some of my very favorites.”

The soon-to-be-titled release is slated to drop in April with an album release party in Asheville along with a release tour to be announced. They are also scheduled to appear at MerleFest that same month.

The Honeycutters formed in 2007 in Asheville, the town they still call home, and had quick success with their first release Irene (2009). That release and their sophomore effort When Bitter Met Sweet (2012) grew their audience to help expand their tours to include notable appearances at Merlefest, Suwannee SpringFest, Strawberry Music Festival, Vancouver Island Music Fest, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, 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.

Amanda Anne Platt has been hailed as "easily one of the best songwriters coming out of WNC these days” by WNCW programming director Martin Anderson, who goes on to state, “and she really needs to be discovered by the national Americana world.” 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, she 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.

For a sampling of The Honeycutters’ previous releases and some live mixes, visit: http://noisetrade.com/thehoneycutters/noisetrade-mixtape.

For more information about the Honeycutters and their tour dates, please visit: www.thehoneycutters.com.

Jesse Winchester 1944-2014

“You can’t talk about the best songwriters and not include him.” – Bob Dylan“The word that comes to mind is grace.” – Elvis Costello

Jesse Winchester, a singer’s singer and a songwriter’s songwriter, died of bladder cancer on April 11, 2014, at the age of 69. His voice, by turns ethereal, sly, earthy, and heartbreakingly direct, delivered some of the finest songs of our time over more than four decades of live performance, and twelve original albums, including the forthcoming A Reasonable Amount of Trouble. His songs have been covered by artists as different as Jimmy Buffett, Elvis Costello, Reba McIntyre, Wilson Pickett, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and the Everly Brothers.

Jesse Winchester was born May 17, 1944 in Bossier City, Louisiana, to James Ridout Winchester and Frances (Manire) Winchester. He spent his early years in Mississippi, and moved to Memphis with his family at age 12, where his father went to work with the Winchester law firm. There, Jesse’s ears were opened to the sounds of rhythm and blues and rockabilly via radio stations such as WDIA, where B.B. King and Rufus Thomas hosted shows, and WHBQ, where the irrepressible Dewey Phillips mixed the music of black and white acts in a glorious jumble. Jesse got his first guitar shortly after arriving in Memphis, and began playing in bands around town while attending Christian Brothers High School.

Winchester left Memphis to attend Williams College, from which he graduated (after a brief period studying, and playing with a band, in Munich, Germany) in 1966. Soon thereafter he received a piece of mail that would profoundly alter the course of his life – a draft notice summoning him to serve in Vietnam. Deeply disturbed by the war and the prospect of killing in what he considered a dubious cause, Winchester abruptly left the United States for Montreal, Canada, where he was to live for the next 36 years.

In Montreal he made his living first playing with various bands, including one called Les Astronauts, whose members were required to dress in spaceman costumes. Deciding that space travel was not his forte, he began to focus on solo performance and, more importantly, songwriting. The first song he wrote, “The Brand-New Tennessee Waltz,” set a very high standard, and remained a signature tune for him. It was eventually covered by Joan Baez, Ralph Stanley, the Everly Brothers, and, in 2000, Patti Page, who had recorded the original “Tennessee Waltz” fifty years earlier.

In 1970, his self-titled first album, Jesse Winchester, was released. Produced by Robbie Robertson and engineered by Todd Rundgren, the album contained several of Jesse’s most enduring and popular songs, including “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” “Payday,” “Biloxi,” “Yankee Lady,” and the haunting “Quiet About It.” The record firmly established his reputation as both songwriter and performer, and a succession of albums followed as he kept up a busy touring schedule through Canada, Australia, and Europe.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced an amnesty for those who had left the country to avoid being sent to Vietnam, and Jesse was finally able to visit, and perform in, the United States. He did not, however, consider moving back. “I had a Canadian wife,” he said later, “Canadian children, and a Canadian mortgage.” Based in Montreal, he continued busily touring and recording through the 1980s.

On the eve of the 1990s, tired of touring, and with his songs being recorded regularly by top country artists such as Reba McIntire and Wynonna Judd, Winchester took nearly a full decade off from traveling and performing to stay home and concentrate on songwriting. At the end of that decade, Winchester recorded Gentleman of Leisure, an album containing his pick of the songs he’d written during that time. The record, produced by Jerry Douglas, remained one of Winchester’s favorites among his own recordings.

In 2002, he met his future wife, Cindy, and the next year moved back to the United States, settling in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a brief period in his old home town of Memphis. In 2007 he was awarded ASCAP's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.  He maintained a comfortable touring schedule and continued to write new songs, the best of which made up his 2009 album Love Filling Station.

But a 2010 appearance on Elvis Costello’s Sundance series Spectacle introduced Jesse’s music to a new and larger audience. Alongside Costello, Neko Case, Sheryl Crow, and Ron Sexsmith, Jesse performed several songs, most notably the stunning “Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding,” from Love Filling Station, a tender and shockingly beautiful ode to the nonsense lyrics in the teenage love songs of the 1950s. The performance literally stopped the show, according to Costello. “I just bowed my head,” the host said, “and told the audience that they had to go home because I could not gather myself to make the next introduction, such was supernatural beauty of his voice.” That performance quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation via YouTube, and Winchester’s performing schedule went into a higher gear.

That wave of activity was brought to an abrupt halt in June 2011, when Jesse was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He underwent surgery and a brief but difficult treatment, which he faced with extraordinary dignity and spirit. Amazingly, in August of that year he was pronounced cancer-free, and he resumed his performing schedule. During his illness, an all-star group of artists recorded an excellent tribute album of Jesse’s songs, entitled Quiet About It. Jimmy Buffett, one of Jesse’s biggest fans, was the driving force behind the tribute.

The title song, a subtle and strikingly honest meditation on mortality that appeared originally on Jesse’s first album, contains these lines:

Be of good cheer It's all in His plan He's walking with us And He speaks through every man But I have this notion Call it my fear That I will die alone And even He won't be there But when I feel that way I thirst, and I want to shout it Trust me Lord, to be quiet about it

In February 2014, cancer was found again, and this time it was untreatable. Jesse Winchester finally succumbed to it on April 11, 2014, at home – not alone, but surrounded by the presence and love of his wife, Cindy, and his family.

He is survived by his wife, Cindy, a brother, Cassius Winchester, and a sister, Ellyn Weeks, as well as his children, James Winchester, Alice Winchester, and Marcus Lee Winchester, a stepdaughter, Jennifer Slangerup, and his grandchildren Oliver, Gus, and Luke Dungavell of Ontario, Canada, and Tave and Vann Slangerup of Charlottesville, Virginia.

-- Tom Piazza, author and family friend

Alannah Rudd

Three years shy of being a native Nashvillian, Alannah grew up on Loretta Lynn, Led Zeppelin, James Taylor, and Alison Krauss.  Alannah’s previous work experience includes internships at The Historic Ryman Auditorium and Dualtone Music Group as well as a Royalty Assistant & Accounting Services position at Bluewater Music.  She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications / Recording Industry Management with a minor in Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University .  Not much has been more fulfilling than raising her gargantuan dog, Hambone. Responsible Agent for SHEL and Peter Rowan

Chatham County Line Signs with KCA Artists

(Nashville, TN) December 5, 2013: One look at Raleigh NC-based Chatham County Line onstage and one expects to hear the dusty bluegrass nostalgia of the faded album covers we all grew up with, but give them three minutes and that notion is easily dispelled. Where the suit and tie-bluegrass instruments-single mic approach look very traditional, it is the original songwriting that paves the road for these four gentlemen. Imagine the sound of Kentucky, written in Texas, filtered through a pen in the North Carolina Piedmont and you will be on the right path...although this day in age, YouTube might be easier.

Over ten years of constant touring, five studio albums, and last year's long awaited live concert release entitled Sight & Sound, this band has truly carved their own little home in the acoustic music community. Such is the path that leads to the band today, hastily finishing up work on their sixth studio release due in early 2014 on Yep Roc Records.

Chatham Count Line has played festivals in the US such as MerleFest, Grey Fox, Rocky Grass, Pickathon, Hardly Strictly, Bristol Rhythm & Roots, Grassroots, and Pickin' in the Pine. With worn passports, they have played Lowland (NL), Take Root (NL), Kilkenny (IE), Bergenfest (NO), Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver in Canada as well as the BBC2 soundstage for their 2008 performance on Jools Hollands in the UK. Somewhere along the way, the boys also found time to record two gold records in Norway with folk luminary Jonas Fjeld.

2014 find the band joining some great company in signing with KCA Artists in Nashville TN. Chatham County Line looks forward to this collaboration, releasing their new record and taking their distinct sound into the next decade.

For more information, visit www.chathamcountyline.com, www.keithcase.com, or www.yeproc.com 

The HillBenders Sign with KCA Artists

(Nashville, TN) July 24, 2013: The HillBenders are an aggressively energetic acoustic quintet at the forefront of an alt-grass revolution. With the release of their latest project, Can You Hear Me? on Compass Records, The HillBenders have established their own brand of acoustic fusion: a rich blend of bluegrass and Americana with a razor-sharp indie-rock edge. The HillBenders, along with many of their of their non-traditionalist peers, are turning heads across the country and around the globe as they continue to redefine bluegrass and acoustic music for the modern era. The fans are not the only ones who are jumping onto the Benders' alt-grass bandwagon. The band has just started a new chapter in their remarkable journey by entering into a booking agreement with nationally renowned, and highly esteemed talent agency, KCA Artists. Responsible for the touring careers of some of the country's most beloved performers like Hot Rize, Guy Clark, Seldom Scene, and Steep Canyon Rangers, KCA has been instrumental in the growth of the American acoustic music scene for more than three decades. The agency's deep connections in the folk, Americana, and bluegrass markets will offer countless new opportunities for the band and raise the bar for a bright future.  

Formerly known as Keith Case & Associates, KCA Artists is a talent agency providing direction to the finest roster in American music. With over 30 years in the business, Keith Case has become widely known for representing one-of-a-kind artists of exceptional quality, and doing so with integrity and professionalism. Today, that tradition continues and grows. Case has a long-standing reputation as a passionate, dedicated advocate of bluegrass and roots music, helping pave the way for the best artists in these genres move toward the mainstream. He and his staff bring that same energy and devotion to their select artists in the fields of folk, gospel, contemporary blues, roots rock, bluegrass  and Americana. The music represented is both timeless and contemporary, with each artist having a history of inspiring critics and electrifying audiences of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life.

 

Billboard Magazine has touted Compass Records Group as one of the leading independent labels of the past decade. The label group is home to more than 500 releases across the Compass Records, Green Linnet and Mulligan Records imprints with a roster that boasts a variety of artists including Colin Hay, Victor Wooten, Claire Lynch, Altan, Peter Rowan, The Gibson Brothers, Darden Smith, BeauSoleil, The HillBenders, Michael Cleveland, and label co-founder Alison Brown. For more information, visit compassrecords.comkeithcase.com, or hillbenders.com

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Shannon Whitworth Releases 'High Tide'

Shannon Whitworth's sultry, bluesy stylings on her new album High Tide ascertains her new place in the musical landscape. Shannon kicked off her album release tour in Ashland, Virginia en route to New York City. Shannon's new video for the title track "High Tide" recently premiered on American Songwriter and features a cool, old warehouse vibe with her regular hired guys from Brevard, North Carolina. From her origins playing in bluegrass and string bands, Shannon has proved she's a voice to pay attention to and is one that will most definitely evolve. High Tide is the follow up to her duo/covers album with Barrett Smith (Bring It On Home  in 2012).

http://shannonwhitworth.net/

Steep Canyon Rangers win Best Bluegrass Album at 55th GRAMMY Awards

(Feb. 11, 2013) - Nobody Knows You from Bluegrass sensation Steep Canyon Rangers was named Best Bluegrass Album at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards, held Feb. 10 in Los Angeles. This is the band’s first GRAMMY win and second nomination. They were nominated in the same category at the 2012 ceremony for their album Rare Bird Alert, a collaboration with comedy icon Steve Martin.

Nobody Knows You, released April 10, 2012, is the seventh album from the North Carolina-based group and their Rounder Records debut. Met with critical and commercial acclaim, Nobody Knows You - co-produced by 9-time GRAMMY winner Gary Paczosa - is fueled by deft musicianship, original songwriting, distinctive vocals and creative arrangements that eschew all formulas.

The band’s GRAMMY win comes less than a week after they disembarked from their inaugural floating bluegrass festival, Mountain Song at Sea. Featuring performances from groups such as Punch Brothers, The Del McCoury Band and David Grisman Sextet, the Mountain Song at Sea Bluegrass cruise brings the group’s annual Mountain Song Festival to the high seas.

Coming off their GRAMMY win the band will continue touring extensively, including stops at MerleFest and Telluride Bluegrass Festival. They will also be performing multiple shows with Steve Martin, joined on select dates by singer/songwriter Edie Brickell, including appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman (April 23), The View (April 24) and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (May 6).

SCR will begin recording their next album at Levon Helm Studios in late February with Larry Campbell producing. Campbell is a three-time GRAMMY award-winning producer and currently serves as musical director for the Levon Helm Midnight Ramble concerts. He has produced for artists such as Helm, Bob Dylan, B.B. King and Sheryl Crow, as well as toured as a multi-instrumentalist with Helm, Dylan and Buddy Miller.

The Steep Canyon Rangers are Mike Guggino (mandolin), Charles Humphrey III (bass), Woody Platt (guitar), Nicky Sanders (fiddle) and Graham Sharp (banjo). The group first formed during their college days at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ten years later, the band has only deepened their commitment to roots music performing with fierce instrumental prowess, but also providing deeply moving songwriting and harmonies, infusing traditional bluegrass with contemporary themes and arrangements.

For more information, please visit www.SteepCanyon.com.