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Blue Highway

Highly esteemed bluegrass band Blue Highway has earned a collective 28 IBMA Awards, 6 SPBGMA Awards, one Dove Award, plus three Grammy nominations as a band.  As momentum continues to build for the 25 year strong powerhouse band (2019 is their 25th year touring, with 4 of the original members), Blue Highway is rolling on with a rich legacy, carried on by three powerhouse songwriters and vocalists in Tim StaffordWayne Taylor, and Shawn Lane, whose harmonies soar over the dynamic banjo of Jason Burleson and the tasteful dobro of Gary Hultman.

  • Blue Highway’s 2016 album “Original Traditional”  was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY Awardfor Best Bluegrass Album.
  • Blue Highway was voted the Favorite Bluegrass Artist of All Timeby the readers of Bluegrass Today in April 2016.
  • Wayne Taylorwas a 2016 Inductee into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, alongside legends like Patsy Cline, the Statler Brothers,  Jimmy Dean, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Roy Clark.  
  • Tim Staffordreceived honors as 2015 SPBGMA Guitar Player of the Year and 2014 and 2017 IBMA Songwriter of the Year.  Shawn Lane was nominated as 2015 IBMA Songwriter of the Year, while past member Justin Moses was named IBMA’s Dobro Player of the year in 2017.
  • Blue Highway charted the Most Radio Airplay of any Bluegrass Artistin 2014, per the 2014 Bluegrass Radio Airplay Chart, storming national airplay charts with their heralded album The Game.
  • The Game topped multiple charts at #1 including reigning at #1 for 7 consecutive months on the Bluegrass Unlimited Album Chart, and was named the # 1 Bluegrass Album of the Year by critic Daniel Mullins in his end of the year Top 20 Albums of 2014 list in Bluegrass Today.
  • The2012 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year also sent the title track of The Game  to #1 on multiple charts including Bluegrass Todayand Roots Music Report, as well as holding at #1 for three consecutive months on the national Bluegrass Unlimited Song Chart (Aug-Oct 2014).

Blue Highway has been praised by peers, fans, and media alike, with one of the most powerful descriptions of the Bluegrass super group 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.”

 

The Seldom Scene

What does it take for a bluegrass band to remain popular for more than four decades? For The Seldom Scene, it’s taken not only talented musicians, a signature sound, and a solid repertoire, but also a sheer sense of fun. On April 22, the longtime pillars of the bluegrass world returned with the aptly titled ‘Long Time… Seldom Scene,’ via Smithsonian Folkways. The newly recorded collection features fresh interpretations of 16 oft-requested tunes and is the band’s first studio album since the GRAMMY-nominated album Scenechronized in 2007. It’s a family reunion in all the best ways, featuring the current — and longest-running — lineup, joined by founding members Tom Gray and John Starling and guests Chris Eldridge, Emmylou Harris, and Rickie Simpkins.

‘Long Time’ is The Seldom Scene’s first-ever release with Smithsonian Folkways, and captures the identity and playfulness that have endeared the group to audiences around the world for so long. “Hickory Wind” is a homesick ballad that features the vocals of longtime friend of the Scene, Emmylou Harris, who originally recorded the song on her ‘Blue Kentucky Girl’ album in 1980. Fan-favorite “Wait a Minute” is a fresh take of a song originally recorded for 1974’s Old Train album and includes founding member John Starling (vocals) and guests Rickie Simpkins (fiddle) and Chris Eldridge (guitar), son of founding member Ben Eldridge (banjo). The album was produced by three-time GRAMMY award-winning Smithsonian Folkways Sound Production Supervisor Pete Reiniger.

Listen to a two-song sneak preview of ‘Long Time… Seldom Scene’ here.

Watch video of “Through the Bottom of the Glass” here.

Over 40 years since they began playing together at weekly jam sessions in Ben Eldridge’s Bethesda, Maryland basement, The Seldom Scene have become one of the single greatest contributors to the progression of bluegrass while setting a new standard and attracting new audiences to the genre.  Their legendary weekly DC-area residencies included bluegrass versions of country music, rock, and even classical pop. The band’s popularity soon forced them to play more than once a week—but they continued to maintain their image as being seldom seen, and on several of their early album covers were photographed with the stage lights on only their feet, or with their backs to the camera. The Seldom Scene have performed at the White House many times, and continue to tour year-round.

The Seldom Scene are Lou Reid (mandolin/vocals), Dudley Connell (guitar/vocals), Ronnie Simpkins (bass/vocals) Fred Travers (dobro/vocals) and Ron Stewart (banjo, fiddle).  The last founding member, Ben Eldridge, retired in July of 2016 at a lovely retrospective of his career staged at the band’s home club, The Birchmere, surrounded by family and friends.

 

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