Mike Barnett grew up in Connecticut, and he was spotted as a gifted young fiddler from at least his high school days. That’s certainly when I first saw him. He wasn’t messing around then, and it was no surprise that he would eventually be part of the next wave of super-pickers.
It didn’t take him long either. He joined up with the Deadly Gentlemen, a robust, energetic group that embraced high-energy bluegrass, David Grisman-inspired acoustic jazz and jam grass. Mike moved to New York City, which hosts a contemporary bluegrass and acoustic music scene that beckons to all sort of young and aspiring musicians. His roommate there, Alex Hargreaves, is also an exceptional fiddler. Alex joins Mike on a few of the cuts on this very fine recording.
Remember Josh Graves? How about Tut Taylor? Or Paul Franklin? For anyone other than the geeks (i.e., us) and the editors of the Fretboard Journal the names conjure something like memories, if not quite formed enough to warrant the term. They are all steel guitar players, meaning they played guitars with a piece of steel. Slide players. Which means that they were side players, playing second to their more popular band mates: Earl Scruggs, John Hartford, and every country singer you’ve ever heard. Jerry Douglas is the only slide player that really gained a spotlight of his own, though the style of playing traces a long line through popular music and international geography—it comes from Hawaiian styles, though the Dobro was created by Slovakians: the Dopyera brothers, John and Emil.
Northern Flyer is the self-titled debut release by a foursome of Vermont musicians, and while the band may be new the members have been around the music scene plenty long enough to establish solid credentials - band members are: Andy Sacher (mandolin and vocals), Mark Struhsacker (guitar, vocals, and song writing), Andy Greene (banjo, vocals, and song writing), and Kirk Lord (bass).
This release is an EP of five songs, and I hope it's just the opener for the main set. I have to say that when I came across Northern Flyer I wondered if Vermont bluegrass had it's own sound (as Kentucky or Colorado), what I found is that the sound is very traditional but backed by the Vermont sense of humor.
Bluegrass generations seem to fly by as rapidly as grandchildren grow up. Bill Monroe was still anchoring the stage with some future of his own to go when Futureman was firing up his percussive space machine behind Bela Fleck. Gillian Welch, once the newly turned leaf of the neo-traditional movement, turns 50 in a few days. And one of her proteges, 24-year-old Molly Tuttle, has a new EP called (appropriately) Rise.
Drawing inspiration from Welch, Hazel Dickens, Laurie Lewis and the singer-songwriters of the 60s, Tuttle has assembled a program of seven well-crafted original numbers. Her Krauss-like voice is winsome and high, with a feathery tremolo. Her touch on the guitar is similarly light, but she picks with enough authority, creativity and skill to make her own David Rawlings unnecessary. I emphasize: this young woman has SERIOUS chops on guitar!
|Where:||Unitarian Fellowship, Poughkeepsie, NY|
|When:||Friday, November 17 @ 7:30pm|
|Tickets:||Members: $25/Non-Members: $30|
If you haven’t heard the music of Molly Tuttle, rest assured, you will.
The newest artist to sign on to the Compass Records roster, she’s the first woman in the 27-year history of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards to be nominated for Guitar Player of the Year, the only instrumental category that had not yet nominated a woman.
And, more importantly, she won.
In her acceptance speech, she said, “I want to be inspiration to other women to play lead guitar.” Indeed. Like the amazing Sierra Hull, who won for best mandolin player two years in a row — note she beat out THE mandolin player Sam Bush, also up for the same award, these young women are taking bluegrass by storm.
Tuttle was also nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year.
A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and award winning songwriter with a distinctive voice, Molly Tuttle has turned the heads of even the most seasoned industry professionals. She began performing on stage when she was 11, and recorded her first album, The Old Apple Tree, at age 13. Since then, she’s appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, was featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, won first place in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at Merlefest, and, this fall, received a Momentum Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in the instrumentalist category. Her lovely voice, impeccable guitar playing, and sensitive song writing make her a star on the rise. She has already received more than two million YouTube views and is currently gearing up to release her first solo EP.
Sam Bush once said that Bill Monroe was the ultimate feel player. It’s a backhanded compliment in a way, despite Bush’s clear reverence, because what he was saying was that Monroe lacked melodic precision, playing more to rhythm. He was the father of bluegrass, true, but he was no Mike Marshall or Chris Thile. They play precise, long runs of clear notes, timing like a clock. It’s fun to wonder what Monroe might think of them or, even better, bands like Mile Twelve who, well, are precise. "Onwards" is their second release, though it’s the first full-length album. . The players are young, and whippersnappers all. They met at Berklee and the New England Conservatory. It’s fun to wonder what Monroe might think of that as well, with bluegrass taking a place within musical academia alongside classical music and jazz.