The HVBA is chartered as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit arts and educational organization.  We promote bluegrass and related acoustic music in the Hudson Valley through jam sessions, concerts, and open mics in conjunction with other not-for-profit organizations.

Promoting bluegrass is a huge part of our goal.  Roy Coates, together with Ted Ansbacher (a grant writer), have written a proposal to bring talented musicians into the Hudson Valley's schools and introduce them to the instruments and history of bluegrass music.  If we receive the grant from the Dutchess County Arts Council, we will proceed with this project for the school year of 2009-2010.  However, we are presenting a pilot program that will kick off on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at Highland High School.  There will be several "classes" for the students, followed by a free community concert that evening.

Who wouldn’t want to go to school if you knew you were going to hear Bill Keith play, sing, and talk about the history of the banjo in bluegrass music? That’s exactly what "Bluegrass in the Schools", a four-part program developed by Roy Coates with the support of HVBA, is bringing this fall to the Highland School District in Ulster County. Four other outstanding local musicians and a six-part video for classroom use round out the program.  According to Roy, the principals of the Highland Middle and High Schools expressed being “thrilled to present a program of this high caliber" to their students.

Gardens In The Sky

Imagine you're at your favorite bluegrass festival and just spent the weekend hearing and playing some great music.  It's a little earlier than you would prefer to be up on a Sunday Morning, but you don't want to miss the gospel sets of some of the bands you enjoyed last night.  You are not disappointed!

James King captures that feeling in his album "Gardens in the Sky,” his first all-gospel collection. It features a dozen songs that have been previously released on James’ and others albums, along with 6 new tunes recorded just for “Gardens in the Sky,” including “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” by Chris Stapleton.

The album starts off with a bang with “Will He Wait A Little Longer” a hard driving tune with a great fiddle break by Aubrey Haynie.  One song that particularly jumped out at me,  “Jerusalem Tomorrow,” is a haunting story and is set up perfectly by the lone fiddle (Adam Haynes) at the beginning and the end. The sparse arrangement makes the song come alive.

Among the 18 songs on the CD, there are half a dozen waltzes, and some of the sweetest harmony you have ever heard.  Just when you are sitting back in your chair, Chris Hill on banjo kicks off the hottest tune on the album,  “Will You Feel At Home.”

There are many great musicians backing King including Rhonda Vincent, Dan Tyminski and Dudley Connell just to name a few.  From the “rhythmic feel” to the solos, all the musicians come together to capture just the right atmosphere for each song.

The production quality is exceptional and consistent.  One would never know some of the cuts were recorded at different times for other albums.

I thoroughly enjoyed this CD and would recommend it highly to anyone who loves bluegrass and enjoys music with a soul of it’s own.

The 30th Anniversary release of the Dry Branch Fire Squad is an exceptional piece of work.  The bluegrass and old-timey world will be drawn to this album for its vocal beauty, solid fret board work, and well-thought-out, conscious-driven lyrics. 

The listener really gets a lot of bang for the buck with this collection.  It includes 21 tracks of quality music, four of which are previously unreleased.  For the most part, the instrumentation of the tunes takes a back seat to their vocal work.  If you are a veteran to bluegrass and traditional American music, you are sure to recognize some covers on the album interspersed among many fine-crafted originals. 

If the listener can tolerate the wavering vocal style of the lead vocalist, Ron Thomason, in order to appreciate his great talent for songwriting and performing, all will be well.  The Dry Branch Fire Squad is a celebration of the best that fingerpicking American music has to offer.  Those who appreciate this genre should pick this album up and join the fun. 

There we all were, in a tight little circle playing bluegrass music one Wednesday night at the Pirate Canoe Club when the door opened and a young woman (who looked as if she were a teenager) with a mandolin walked into the room.  She quietly took a seat on the perimeter of the circle.  When we asked her to tell us her name, she hesitatingly answered, "Sara" in an unmistakable Japanese accent.

Oh, and then when we asked further questions, it was immediately obvious that Sara did NOT speak English very well and certainly did NOT understand us well (imagine a cacaphony of voices all speaking at once in what must have sounded like complete babel).

Video by Fred Robbins
We had the most beautiful weather, not a cloud in the sky, Clearwater and the two bridges in the background, a happy audience, and talented musicians.  This first movie clip is of Buddy Merriam and Back Roads, featuring Ernie Sykes singing in his deep, resonant and hauntingly beautiful voice.  Our own Jerry Oland is playing the banjo and Buddy Merriam and Kathy DeVine made this song one of the hits of the day.


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