Saturday – August 31
Music begins at noon.
- Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
- Donavon Frankenreiter
- The Earls of Leicester
- North Mississippi Allstars
- Aaron Burdett Band – West Lake Stage
Sunday – September 1
Music begins at noon.
- Country Showdown Colorado State Finals
- Nathan Kalish and The Last Callers
- Molly Tuttle
- Bishop Gunn
- Ruston Kelly
- Lucinda Williams
The music is a patchwork amalgam of influences, including: twangy Southern rock (they’ve opened for the Drive-By Truckers), reverb-soaked psychedelia reminiscent of early My Morning Jacket or fellow Athens residents Phosphorescent, soaring guitar solos à la Neil Young and Crazy Horse, rhythmic jangle from that other Athens band, REM, multi-part vocal harmonies (which every band ought to have, dammit), and, weaving through it all, lyrical slide guitar.
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
Grammy-nominated duo Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley have been wowing audiences worldwide with high-octane live performances of their one-of-a-kind bluegrass/country/rock/blues-flavored Americana music. Ickes is a 15-time IBMA Dobro Player of the Year who is also a gifted songwriter and singer/songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Hensley, who has been called “Nashville’s hottest young player” by Acoustic Guitar magazine. Marty Stuart has said of the talented partnership: “It’s comforting to know that the real deal still exists.” Guitar Player magazine described it as “dual lightning strikes in a bottle.” Following their Grammy-nominated debut album released in 2015 and their acclaimed follow-up in 2016 on Compass Records, the duo will release their third record — produced by six-time Grammy Award-winning producer, engineer and songwriter Brent Maher, later this year.
Ickes and Hensley have shared the stage as a duo with influential mandolin master David Grisman, Australia’s fleet finger picking guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, and legendary American blues, folk, and rock guitarist Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna) — all admirers of the duo. Ickes’ fluid, lyrical, yet stinging style has graced the recordings and concerts of artists such as Earl Scruggs, Merle Haggard, Alison Krauss, The Cox Family, Tony Rice, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, and even David Lee Roth. Ickes was a founding member of the critically acclaimed bluegrass “super group” Blue Highway for 21 years. At just 11 years old, Hensley was invited by Marty Stuart to join Marty and Earl Scruggs on stage to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Hensley has since played onstage or opened for Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Steve Wariner, and Peter Frampton, among many others.
Ickes and Hensley were key players on Original, the recent highly-lauded Compass Records album by bluegrass giant Bobby Osborne. Their participation garnered a Recorded Event Of The Year Award at the 2017 IBMA Awards for Osborne’s version of “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” on the GRAMMY®-nominated album. Ickes and Hensley also were on the 2016 Recorded Event Of The Year IBMA Award winner, “Fireball,” featuring Special Consensus, in 2016.
Donavon Frankenreiter’s new album, “The Heart,” officially marks the start of the singer-songwriter’s second decade as a solo recording artist. It’s been over ten years since the release of his self-titled debut, and in that time he has grown, not only as a musician, but also as a man. He’s raising a family and nurturing two creative careers-one onstage, one in the waves-but on top of all that, he’s still learning what makes him tick. And so, naturally, he named his album after his ticker.
“All these songs are as close to me singing from the heart as I can,” says Frankenreiter. “It’s a complete record; the songs are intertwined. I had to call it ‘The Heart,’ that was the theme of the record.”
The Earls of Leicester
Shawn Camp (guitar, lead vocals) – Charlie Cushman (banjo, guitars) – Jerry Douglas (Dobro, vocals) – Johnny Warren (fiddle, bass vocals) – Jeff White (mandolin, vocals)
When the Earls of Leicester formed in 2013, their mission was ambitious but exact: to preserve and promote the legacy of bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, in hopes of reviving the duo’s music for longtime admirers and introducing a new generation to their genre-defining sound. Within a year of releasing their self-titled debut, the Nashville-based six-piece far surpassed their own expectations, winning a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and earning six awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Now, with their first live album, Earls of Leicester offer up a selection of songs that fully capture the pure joy and supreme musicianship that propel their every performance.
Recorded over two nights at Nashville’s CMA Theater, The Earls of Leicester Live at The CMA Theater in The Country Music Hall of Fame bears a boundless vitality that makes songs from over a half-century ago feel irresistibly fresh. Despite the band’s painstaking precision in recreating the catalog of Flatt and Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Boys, the album unfolds with an easy warmth that honors the essence of traditional bluegrass, which Douglas describes as “music that was meant to be played on back porches.” Earls of Leicester Live is also accompanied by a DVD that shows the complete splendor of their live set: the throwback attire, the off-the-cuff but illuminating between-song banter, the relentless hotfooting required of their stage setup. “Our goal is to go out and reacquaint everybody with the music of Flatt and Scruggs just the way they did it, which means fewer microphones and a good amount of choreography,” says Douglas. “We’re trying to put as much as we can into the music before it even reaches the speakers.”
North Mississippi Allstars
North Mississippi Allstars are back with PRAYER FOR PEACE and couldn’t we all use one of those right about now? Founded in 1996 by brothers Luther (guitar and vocals) and Cody Dickinson (drums, piano, synth bass, programming and vocals), the now venerable band are entering their third decade with perhaps the most vital album of their career. Recorded in studios across America during North Mississippi Allstars’ 2016 tour, PRAYER FOR PEACE sees the Dickinsons weaving their bred-to-the-bone musical sensibility with unstoppable energy, rhythmic reinvention, and a potent message of positivity, family, and hope. As ever, songs like R.L. Burnside’s “Long Haired Doney” and the impassioned title track pay homage to the country blues legacy while simultaneously pushing it into contemporary relevance with fatback funk, electronic innovation, slippery soul, and pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll.
Aaron Burdett Band
Creating music isn’t a means to an end, it is an end with a meaning for Aaron Burdett. Writing and creating songs is rooted somewhere deep in his psyche; it’s something that can’t be denied and must be shared. His lyrics are soul-touching, intelligent, witty, and poetic all at once, while his music style is a seamless blend of Americana, country, blues, bluegrass, and folk-rock that cohesively creates a story.
Aaron is listed as one of the top 10 most important musicians of western North Carolina by WNC Magazine, alongside such greats as Doc Watson, Steep Canyon Rangers, and The Avett Brothers. He has also receivedcritical acclaim as a songwriter, winning Our State Magazine’s Carolina Songs competition in 2012 with “Going Home to Carolina.” Aaron’s song “Magpie” won third place bluegrass song in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest in 2013. Over the years Aaron has been a finalist in numerous other songwriting competitions, including The Mountain Stage Songwriting Contest, The NC Songwriter’s Cooperative Songwriting Contest, and the Hank Williams Songwriting Contest.
Aaron’s writing is as prolific and genuine as the man. He grew up the oldest of three boys in the fairly isolated small town in Saluda, NC, where the Blue Ridge meets the Smoky Mountains. When Aaron was about 10 years old he was introduced to the music of Cat Stevens, the first of many musical influences that include the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Doc Watson, Tony Rice, Norman Blake, and David Grier.
Colorado State Final of the Country Showdown
The 32nd Annual Country Showdown is designed to find the most promising country music talent in America and to give these performers a chance to launch their professional music careers.
The Country Showdown begins each Spring with over 450 local talent contests sponsored by country music radio stations throughout the US. Winners advance to their respective State competitions held at leading fairs and expositions. Acts then compete for a $1,000 prize, the State Title and the opportunity to advance to one of five Regional Finals. It’s the last step before the prestigious National Final held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. The audience cheers on the Regional Winners, as they compete for the Grand Prize of $100,000 and the National Title. A uniform judging system is used at all levels of competition to help ensure fairness.
Nathan Kalish and The Last Callers
Nathan Kalish is a touring singer-songwriter and band leader from the American Midwest, currently calling Nashville home after having spent most of the last decade on the road. His latest album ‘I Want to Believe’ was produced by David Beeman (notably of Pokey LaFarge’s most recent) and is an independently released country-Americana record with a tip of the hat to psychedelic, folk and rock ‘n roll. The songs vary from wistful introspect to knee-slapping social commentary while managing to keep a cohesive familiarity recognizable to fans and followers.
A virtuosic, awardwinning guitarist with a gift for insightful songwriting, Molly Tuttle evolves her signature sound with boundarybreaking songs on her compelling debut album, When You’re Ready. Already crowned “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the 2018 Americana Music Awards on the strength of her EP, Tuttle has broken boundaries and garnered the respect of her peers, winning fans for her incredible flatpicking guitar technique and confessional songwriting. Graced with a clear, true voice and a keen melodic sense, the 26yearold seems poised for a long and exciting career. When You’re Ready, produced by Ryan Hewitt (The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers) showcases her astonishing range and versatility and shows that she is more than simply an Americana artist.
Since moving to Nashville in 2015, the native Californian has been welcomed into folk music, bluegrass, Americana, and traditional country communities – even as When You’re Ready stretches the boundaries of those genres. Over the past year, Molly has continued to accumulate accolades, winning Folk Alliance International’s honor for Song of the Year for “You Didn’t Call My Name” and taking home her second trophy for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year (the first woman in the history of the IBMA to win that honor).
Bishop Gunn of Natchez, Mississippi, is rooted in the history and sounds of their home and the surrounding Delta, and features a blend of rock and roll, soul and blues.
In 2017, the band appeared on Kid Rock’s 8th Annual “Chillin’ the Most Cruise” and was voted the best band on the boat by the “chillers.” The group went on to do commercial film for Southern Comfort in Clarksdale, Mississippi and spend their summer touring. In September, Bishop Gunn took the stage at the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee alongside artists like Justin Timberlake, Eddie Vedder, Mavis Staples and Gary Clark Jr. The band then played Laid Back Festival dates with Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Jimmie Vaughan, The Gregg Allman Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Bishop Gunn released their debut full-length album Natchez in May 2018. They worked on the release with Grammy Award-winning producers Casey Wasner and Mark Neill at legendary FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, as well as The Purple House in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee where the band lives and creates in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Nashville. The album, named after the band’s hometown, entered the Billboard charts as the #4 Blues Album and also appeared as #8 on their Heatseekers South Central chart. Rolling Stone Country featured the band among their “Artists You Need to Know,” asserting “anyone can cite the Muscle Shoals sound as an influence, but few acts can actually pull off making music worthy of such a claim. Nashville band Bishop Gunn is one of those acts…The resulting music is the perfect blend of Nashville and the Shoals, and is the rare album that builds upon its influences rather than resorting to outright mimicry.”
Prior to the release of Natchez, the band was featured at SXSW, played support dates for Blackberry Smoke and was invited for a return appearance on Kid Rock’s 9th Annual “Chillin’ the Most Cruise.” They then spent the rest of 2018 touring in support of the album, including performances at The Peach Fest and The Big House Museum, as well as support dates for The Marcus King Band, Whiskey Myers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, and Black Stone Cherry. They kicked off 2019 by performing on the Southern Rock Cruise and embarking on a European tour which included support dates with Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.
Ruston Kelly’s highly anticipated full-length debut, Dying Star, will be released September 7 on Rounder Records and is now available for pre-order.
Dying Star was co-produced by Kelly and Jarrad K (Kate Nash, Weezer) and recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. It includes 14 songs written/cowritten by Kelly and features Kelly (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, xylophone, harmonica), Jarrad K (12-string guitar, background vocals, electric guitar, Rhodes), Tim Kelly (pedal steel), Ian Fitchuk (piano, organ, drums, percussion), Eli Beaird (bass) and Kyle Ryan (banjo) as well as background vocals from Jon Green, Natalie Hemby, Kacey Musgraves, Kate York, Abby Sevigny and Joy Williams.
Born in South Carolina, Kelly started playing guitar under the guidance of his dad, Tim “TK” Kelly, a pedal steel guitarist who now performs in his band. Since his father worked for a paper mill and often changed job locations, Kelly grew up frequently moving, living everywhere from Alabama to Belgium, including time in Michigan— where the young one-time figure skater went to train with an Olympic coach in the hope of furthering his career, and where he first began writing songs. At 17, he moved to Nashville to live with his sister and went on to land a publishing deal with BMG Nashville, placing songs with several high-profile artists.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of her highly-influential masterpiece, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, three-time Grammy award winner Lucinda Williams will perform the album in its entirety, followed by a second set of songs from throughout her remarkable career. The Car Wheels On A Gravel Road set will feature visual elements to enhance the storyteller style Williams has used for the special performances.
Pitchfork recently revisited the music by sharing an in-depth album review and Rolling Stone spotlighted Williams’ revered work in an interview feature. You can learn more about Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’s lasting impact via this extensive Billboard feature and also read a thoughtful, insightful essay about the album’s influence by Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield in
The influence of Car Wheels On A Gravel Road is immeasurable, and it is considered one of the cornerstones of what is now called Americana. Following its release, the record was named Best Album of 1998 in the Village Voice’s annual “Pazz & Jop” critics poll and received a 4-star review in Rolling Stone, while garnering critical praise throughout the press. The album went on to win the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album and Rolling Stone has ranked it #304 on their list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
In a long and celebrated career, Lucinda Williams’ art is as genuine and soulful as when she began writing, and there’s no signs of her slowing down any time soon.