The six members of bluegrass group Sideline include seasoned musicians who have been on the scene since the 1980's, a few 30 something guys who have had bluegrass in their blood since childhood, and a youngster who plays fiddle so well for his age that I'm torn between being inspired and wanting to feed my fiddle to the hound dogs.  From their first two CD's, Sideline I and Sideline II, to this one, their third and newly released CD Colors & Crossroads, they have a sound that defines the style of bluegrass that I like the most.  For those of us who were drawn into the genre by its founders years ago, groups like Sideline keep many of us from drifting away from the current scene. They are basically traditional with the added inventiveness heard in the 1970's - 80's when second generation bluegrass bands emerged in the DC area and on the west coast.  Add to that the somewhat crisper and creative instrumentals, the slightly tighter vocals, and that is Sideline.  With their distinct sound, and with a new member added who plays resonator guitar, on this new CD they continue to become more impressive. Bass player Jason Moore along with banjo player Steve Dilling started Sideline 4-5 years ago as exactly that; something to do outside of their regular bands.  It has evolved into a full time effort on par with the best.  The current band members were raised and live in North Carolina (native Californian member Skip Cherryholms now also resides in NC). 

I remember that vinyl record so well. The white cover with the Civil War figure in the middle, the studio photos of Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Mother Maybelle Carter, Vassar Clements and the Dirt Band members, and all the rest. In a lot of ways, the original Circle album had everything I needed as a young musician just beginning to explore the guitar, banjo and fiddle. I was not alone, as almost every musician I’ve ever known in the bluegrass world has a copy. Musician friends I know in the “triangle” area of North Carolina do an annual show, performing songs from the original recording. For many folks, it was the recording that introduced them to a few foundational musicians in roots country music. But it wasn’t just that. The music was alive; you could hear Earl Scruggs or Roy Acuff talking, and then they’d kick off a song. Doc Watson said, “How does it go Vassar?” and Vassar Clements launches into Down Yonder. You felt like you were right there with them. The recording was made and released in 1972. That was an election year. Richard Nixon won in a landslide. Remember what happened to him? I do.

When: Friday, Nov 18 @ 7:30pm
Where: Unitarian Fellowship - 67 S. Randolph Ave, Poughkeepsie
Members: $20
Non-Members: $25

Hailed by fiddler Darol Anger “one of my favorite musicians on earth”, the CBC-Newfoundland as “one of the best mandolinists of his generation” and by Nashville’s Music Row Magazine for his “lickety-split mandolin work”, Portland, Maine-based Joe K. Walsh is known for his beautiful writing and his exceptional tone and taste. His collaborations with acoustic music luminaries including fiddler Darol Anger, flatpick guitar hero Scott Nygaard, folk star Jonathan Edwards, and pop/grass darlings Joy Kills Sorrow have taken him all over the global and musical map. He’s played with everyone from John Scofield to Bela Fleck to Emmylou Harris, and performed everywhere from festivals to laundromats to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. After a number of award-winning years as mandolinist with bluegrass stars the Gibson Brothers, Joe currently splits his time between an inventive string band called Mr Sun (featuring Darol Anger, Grant Gordy and Ethan Jodziewicz) a duo with Grant Gordy, and his own Joe K. Walsh Band. An avid educator, Joe is a mandolin instructor at the Berklee College of Music.

Tickets Available At The Door

HVBA Members: $20
Non-Members: $25

Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 7:30pm
Unitarian Fellowship: 67 S. Randolph Avenue - Poughkeepsie, NY

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Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition—an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future. This multi-talented group of musicians is a classic Bluegrass quintet—always far greater than the sum of its parts.

If you haven’t yet noticed, there’s a new brand of bluegrass/string band out there, one whose members weren’t raised down in the holler or even high on the ridge. They may have been born in Massachusetts, even Newtown, Massachusetts, and they may have learned to stroke the fiddle strings not at barn dances or under Uncle Oswald’s knee but in Suzuki classes and, when they were grown,the Berklee School of Music. Their taste in clothing and their brand of stage banter may be more suggestive of Portland, Oregon or Austin TX, than say, the Grand Old Opry. That is, unless they’re getting up some country camp with an early Kitty Wells theme.

Where do bands like this center their creative juices? They’re not Bill Monroe or Bob Stanley and from their perspective, even the Dillards look like old time country boys. They’ve heard and absorbed everything from the Beatles and Bartok, to hard bop and Bela Fleck. They are unabashedly ECLECTIC, a nasty quality in some conservative circles, one that can lead to watered down diffusion, lack of focus, and loss of that most slippery of aesthetic virtues, authenticity.

Longevity is a rare thing with any musical group, and Blue Highway is one of the bluegrass bands that manages to keep on keepin’ on. Over twenty years on the road is an impressive track record of commitment in the music world. With this release, Original/Traditional, Blue Highway is reasserting itself as a band that has kept to its vision of solid musicianship, tight vocal harmonies and songwriting– as a way to create their own sound. With respect to this latter element, one quickly notices the very democratic distribution of original songs. All of these guys know what it means to think, sit down, grab a pencil or recording machine, and write. Undoubtedly, their creative energies and their ability to deliver these songs so well is what has sustained them over many productive years. If you are writing songs like "Water From The Stone," "Wilkes County Clay," and "Top Of The Ridge," I think you better keep a goin.’

"Water From The Stone"

Instrumentally, oh God, do I have to say this? There is no Rob Ickes on this recording. There, done. Rob’s simply one of the best musicians around today, a great person, and a consummate professional in every way. Thankfully, like so much in life and bluegrass music, with Rob’s departure, young Gaven Largent steps in and tears it up. Talented musicians just keep coming out of the woodwork. For the sake of identifying what everyone else is doing, Wayne Taylor is the ever-steady bass man; Shawn Lane, the triple threat on mandolin, fiddle and guitar; Tim Stafford, the always powerful and imaginative guitarist; and Jason Burleson driving the five-string banjo. Jason also contributes a very fine instrumental, Alexander’s Run.


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