This week on Music City Roots, we have a cracker of a show for you, with sets coming to you from The Factory: on this show we have Greensky Bluegrass, Rachael Hester, Music City Doughboys, and Appalachee Relay! Jim Lauderdale hosts.
About the artists:
If you’re familiar with bluegrass music, then you’re tuned in to some of what Greensky Bluegrass does. They’re also known to throw a great party, rock n roll, and (if the critics are to be believed) they have great songs. They are unquestionably a team of friends that traverse the country making music they enjoy. What makes Greensky different than Bluegrass? Poignant rural ballads about real people? Dobro tone that Jerry (Douglas or Garcia) would love? Distortion Pedals? Grit and attitude from a whiskey soaked card game? Indeed, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This quintet from Michigan has been staying up late at all the coolest festivals and stopping to play your favorite clubs and theaters across America for 11 years now. Nearly 175 shows per year has prepared them for the rigorous task of continuity. Greensky Bluegrass isn’t slowing down. “They’re coming to your town to help you party down.” Yeah. Really. Like you never thought possible.
At the start of the millenium,some of these guys met, then they met more guys. They thought Greensky was a clever name for a bluegrass band. Fast forward to 2011 when they recorded their fourth studio record, called Handguns. Among them, words like, “proud,” “killer,” and “damn right!” have been spoken in regards to the music of Handguns.
While they all may be accurate, we hope you’ll find far more than you expected, hell – even more than we expected contained in this piece work that may well come to define one of 21st Century America’s hardest working musical ensembles.
Greensky Bluegrass is Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin).
Rachael Hester grew up with a passion for traditional music as a second generation singer. songwriter, and musician. The most signiﬁcant inﬂuences musically came from her father who played modern country for a living and more traditional country and western swing for fun and from her mother who sang bluegrass gospel in church. Rachael grew up in the studio and backstage of famous Nashville shows such as The Grand Ole Opry and the nightly TV show Nashville Now. In fact it was on Nashville Now that she got her ﬁrst taste of performing at age six when she sang Away In A Manger with her father and sister on the Christmas special.
Rachael’s love for performing seemed almost innate, and music was a major part of everyday family activities. Her father taught her and her sister to sing harmony and read the Nashville number system when they were small children. Long family road trips were ﬁlled with three-part harmony, and the hymn book was as important on those trips as the road map. Rachael’s junior year of high school she entered the school talent show and received ﬁrst place. More than anything, this experience gave her a taste of the adrenaline rush that comes only from performing for a crowd. Later that year her ﬁrst real experience singing in the studio was on a two-song project with famous players Steve Warnier, John Gardner, Jeff Taylor, Andy Reiss, and Hoot Hester. Rachael began playing piano at age seven and has been playing guitar since 2008. She graduated from Belmont University in 2007 with a major in Music Business.
At a very young age, Rachael decided she wanted to be a singer. She began working on her image at age six and started to grow her hair as long as Crystal Gayle’s after seeing the singer perform with her signature long hair ﬂowing behind her. When in high school Rachael was introduced to 60’s and 70’s folk music by her dad who bought her a Gordon Lightfoot CD for Christmas. She has since cut her hair and began to develop her own sound inﬂuenced by her love of folk music, her mother’s love of Kentucky bluegrass, and her father’s love of traditional country music all tied together by her pure, unique voice and her own original songs.
Rachael Hester is the real deal! She knows, loves and understands where the music comes from. Most of all, I love her heart. She pours it into every song she sings. I view her as a classic in the making. – Marty Stuart
Rachael Hester is an artist to be watched closely! Her album is so well put together offering the listener a variety of wonderful flavors to choose from. Really smart songwriting with great vocals. Rachael makes you believe it, as you want more! – Steve Warnier
The Music City Doughboys play 100% authentic, feel-good music with no artificial ingredients, flavors or additives, organically sourced from their Western Swing and Bluegrass roots in Lubbock, TX and Falmouth, KY, now served fresh out of Nashville, TN. Their unique recipe includes extracts from many of the staple feel-good artists, including classics Bob Wills, Nat King Cole, Spade Cooley, Stevie Wonder, and current artists Michael Bublé, Dwight Yokam, and Jamie Cullum, all blended into the original songwriting of frontmen/twin fiddlers Billy McClaran and Brandon Godman.
In fact, 75% songs on their eponymous debut album are originals. “When you listen to the album, you attract to tunes like “Powder Keg,” and “Not my Kind of Baby,” and “World is my Prison,” and “Infiddility.” All these tunes are timeless originals that can stand by themselves,” says Billy. “We’re not trying to copy Ray Price, or Bill Monroe, or Bob Wills. But that’s the sound that pours out of us because that’s what we love and grew up on.”
Both Brandon and Billy had some mileage under their belts before they even thought of creating the Doughboys. Brandon has been on tour with the Band Perry, Jon Pardi and 3x Bluegrass Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley, and Billy has been playing with Jon Pardi and Sara Evans. Though they love their work on the road, they were craving to work on more personal musical projects. “Billy and I both grew up studying fiddling and wide varieties of music,” says Godman. “Unfortunately there aren’t many gigs out there that allow us to play this music or even play fiddle for a full show. Nothing is really feeding our musical souls in this way.”
Consequently, the Music City Doughboys became an outlet for Billy and Brandon’s own songwriting and musical ideas, calling the band an American music songwriter band in the vein of western folk music. There is something about these young men bringing the swing style into modern day that has been turning heads and bringing people to their feet whenever the Doughboys take the stage. In June, they’ll perform on Music City Root’s annual Barn Dance Night, and they are frequent performers at the Nashville’s own World Famous Station Inn. The first time Marcia Campbell of WSM 650AM’s All-Nighter radio show heard the group, she flatly said, “Where the heck have you all been?”
Despite their own virtuosity, it’s ultimately the down-to-earth, common man, feel-good vibes that drive the Doughboys. Merle Travis once said that Western Swing was, “nothing more than a group of talented country boys, unschooled in music, but playing the music they feel, beating a solid two-four rhythm to the harmonies that buzz around their brains. When it escapes in all its musical glory, my friend, you have Western Swing.” Says Brandon, “Back then the focus was still on the song, not on how good your fourth solo is going to be. If you listen to some of the early Western Swing, they played simple tunes that meant something- but it felt good and they played and they danced and that’s what we’re trying to do, too.”
“The Doughboys are, in my opinion, possibly ‘The Next Big Thing’ – A super-talented band, playing incredible music with the great influences of Big Band, Western Swing and Country. The Doughboys strong vocals, great musicianship and fresh new sound make them one of the best bands in town.”
—MIKE JOHNSON – ACM Steel Guitarist of the Year
“McClaran and Godman have a youthful zeal, singing and playing twin fiddle runs, harmonizing with exciting precision, and writing songs that seamlessly merge classic and contemporary points of view. Popular music history has proven over and over that that kind of spark is enough to start something.”
—Jewly Hight, Nashville Scene
Just as likely to play a traditional tune as they are to get the crowd waltzing to lilting melody from a video game; The Appalachee Relay combine traditional Old-Time music with surprising contemporary selections and execute everything they play with sparkling musicianship. Led by champion Old-Time musician Tyler Andal, with Brian Christianson, Casey Campbell and Jeremy Darrow, four of Nashville’s elite acoustic musicians, the Appalachee Relay will keep any crowd on its feet and stretches the boundaries of what it means to be a dance band.