2017 Pickin’ in the Pines Lineup:
Rhonda Vincent & The Rage · Tim O’Brien · The Drew Emmitt Band · Mountain Heart
Della Mae · Balsam Range · Town Mountain · Foghorn Stringband
The Colton House Trio featuring Chris Brashear, Peter McLaughlin & Todd Phillips
Rapidgrass · The Lil’ Smokies · Burnett Family Bluegrass
The Ping Brothers · Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold · Sugar & The Mint
RHONDA VINCENT & THE RAGE
Bluegrass vocalist and fiddler Rhonda Vincent began her professional music career at the age of five, playing drums with her family’s band, the Sally Mountain Show. She picked up the mandolin at eight and the fiddle at ten, performing with the family band at festivals on weekends. After appearing on TNN’s nationally televised You Can Be a Star program in her mid-twenties, Vincent struck out on her own, singing with the Grand Ole Opry’s Jim Ed Brown, eventually leading to a deal with Rebel Records. Her work with Brown and her Rebel recordings caught the attention of Giant Nashville’s president, James Stroud, who signed Vincent to record two contemporary country albums. After her time at Giant, she moved to Rounder Records, and demonstrated her passion for the traditional music she grew up with on Back Home Again.
A car accident in December 1999 kept her from a planned trip to Nashville for auditions, so she hired her band (unusually named the Rage) through the Internet. Rhonda Vincent & the Rage have gained popularity at bluegrass festivals since their formation, playing hard-driving, high-energy contemporary bluegrass music. Her 2001 album, The Storm Still Rages, was nominated for seven International Bluegrass Music Association awards, including Female Vocalist of the Year, while fiddle player Michael Cleveland and banjo player Tom Adams earned nominations in their respective instrumental categories. A three-year unbroken string of IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards led to the 2003 release of One Step Ahead, another tour, and another well-deserved showering of critical praise.
Recorded in front of a hometown crowd in St. Louis, Ragin’ Live arrived in 2005, followed by All American Bluegrass Girl in 2006, Good Thing Going in 2008, and Destination Life in 2009. After parting ways with longtime label Rounder Records, Vincent released Taken in 2010, and followed it with 2011’s Your Money and My Good Looks, a duets album with Gene Watson. Released in 2012, Sunday Mornin’ Singin’: Live! was a gospel-themed album and DVD recorded at the 100-year-old Greentop United Methodist Church in Greentop, Missouri, where Vincent first began singing in public as a child. Early in 2014, Vincent returned with Only Me, a double-disc set that showcased her bluegrass and country roots. The year 2015 saw the release of her second holiday album, Christmas Time, which featured four new originals and a rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that boasted guests spots from Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, and several others.
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986, and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has released 15 solo CD’s, as well as collaborations with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell. He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earl, Mark Knopfler, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin, and produced records for Yonder Mountain Stringband, David Bromberg, and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke.
His newest release Where the River Meets the Road features songs from his native West Virginia. Bluegrass and Americana covers from songwriters Hazel Dickens, Billy Edd Wheeler, and Bill Withers sit alongside heartfelt autobiographical originals, with help from collaborators like Chris Stapleton, Kathy Mattea, Stuart Duncan, and Noam Pikelny.
Other notable O’Brien recordings include the bluegrass Dylan covers of Red On Blonde, the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of The Crossing, and the Grammy winning folk of Fiddler’s Green. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015. He has two sons, Jackson (34) and Joel (26), and has lived in Nashville since 1996. Hobbies include cooking, skiing, and playing traditional Irish music.
O’Brien’s solo shows feature his solid guitar, fiddle, and banjo, along with his engaging vocals and harmony from Jan Fabricius. Expect a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements from his many discs, mixed with stories and Tim’s self-deprecating humor.
The Drew Emmitt Band
Revered as one of the most energetic and innovative mandolin players on the jamband/newgrass scene today, Drew Emmitt’s “inestimable talents” (An Honest Tune) don’t end with just the instruments that can be picked. Holding the wheel steady on acoustic and electric slide mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar and mandola, Emmitt’s superlative storytelling and versatile vocal abilities are incomparable. Following a decade of success with Leftover Salmon, Emmitt released his first solo effort, Freedom Ride, drawing on the talent of peers John Cowan, Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Vassar Clements, Stuart Duncan and Randy Scruggs. Critics and fans loved the collaboration and Emmitt relished the chance to record with some of the giants with whom he’d shared festival stages. “It’s amazing,” he said, “it’s like walking in a dream….Standing on stage next to Sam (Bush) is pretty indescribable.” After touring as the Emmitt-Nershi band with Billy Nershi of The String Cheese Incident for the past few years and making several reunion appearances with Leftover Salmon, Drew Emmitt’s solo work is rejuvenated and once again taking the contemporary, live gig, fresh every-time approach to bluegrass music.
Following a decade of success with Leftover Salmon, Emmitt released his first solo effort, Freedom Ride, in 2002 drawing on the talent of peers John Cowan, Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Vassar Clements, Stuart Duncan and Randy Scruggs. Critics and fans loved the collaboration and Emmitt relished the chance to record with some of the giants with whom he’d shared festival stages. “It’s amazing,” he said, “it’s like walking in a dream….Standing on stage next to Sam (Bush) is pretty indescribable.” In 2005 he followed up with Across The Bridge, an equally impressive effort showcasing Emmitt’s bluegrass chops and songwriting talents as a straight-ahead bluegrass man. After touring as the Emmitt-Nershi band with Billy Nershi of The String Cheese Incident for the past year and making several reunion appearances with Leftover Salmon, Long Road finds Emmitt rejuvenated and once again taking the contemporary, live gig, fresh every-time approach to bluegrass music.
Starting with the basics of bluegrass and doubling down on the tempo and energy while mixing in elements of improvisational rock, progressive country, blues, and jazz, Mountain Heart proved to be one of the most influential acoustic acts of the new millennium. Mountain Heart were formed in 1998 by three veterans of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver — Jim VanCleve on fiddle, Steve Gulley on vocals and guitar, and Barry Abernathy on banjo — along with Adam Steffey on mandolin and Johnny Dowdle on bass. The group released its self-titled debut album on Doobie Shea Records in 1999, and a second set, The Journey, appeared in 2001. By that time, Jason Moore had replaced Dowdle on bass, and Mountain Heart jumped to Skaggs Family Records for their third album, 2002’s No Other Way. No Other Way earned Mountain Heart Album of the Year and Entertainer of the Year nominations from the International Bluegrass Music Association, and 2004’s Force of Nature was also shortlisted by the IBMA; the latter album also introduced guitarist Clay Jones, who joined the group in 2003.
The 2006 album Wide Open found Mountain Heart moving further away from traditional bluegrass into new territory, and the group began making a number of personnel changes over the next few years. Steve Gulley stepped down as vocalist and Josh Shilling joined in his place, while Clay Jones departed the lineup as Clay Hess took over on guitar, and Aaron Ramsey took over on mandolin after Adam Steffey moved on. In 2007, the band issued a live album, The Road That Never Ends, recorded during an appearance at the well-respected folk venue the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The live disc was released by Rural Rhythm Records, but 2010’s That Just Happened saw Mountain Heart taking control of their recordings by launching their own label, MH Music Group. By the time the band returned to the studio for its next album, the lineup had been revamped yet again, with Josh Shilling on vocals, guitar, and keyboards; Aaron Ramsey on banjo, guitar, and mandolin; Seth Taylor on guitar; Jeff Partin on guitar, Dobro, and bass; and Molly Cherryholmes on violin and keyboards. The new edition of Mountain Heart announced that they would be releasing a studio album, Blue Skies, on May 6, 2016 via Compass Records, while the first single from the set, “Addicted,” appeared in late February of that year. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
“We were ready to try something new,” Celia Woodsmith says of Della Mae’s eponymous third album and second Rounder release. “In some ways, this album’s very different from what we’ve done previously, but it’s self-titled because we feel like it sounds as much like us as anything we’ve ever done.”
Della Mae expands upon the musical achievements of the group’s widely acclaimed, Grammy-nominated 2013 breakthrough album This World Oft Can Be, which established the multi-talented female combo as a potent musical force. With a sensitive yet assertive approach that’s steeped in tradition yet firmly rooted in the present, the four versatile instrumentalist/vocalists draw from a bottomless well of rootsy influences to create vibrantly original music that conveys the band’s expansive musical vision with timeless lyrical truths and an unmistakably contemporary sensibility that places them alongside such roots-conscious young acts as the Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers, the Lumineers, and Hurray for the Riff Raff.
Since its formation in 2009, the Boston-bred, Nashville-based outfit has established a reputation as a charismatic, hard-touring live act, building a large and enthusiastic fan base while racking up massive amounts of critical acclaim with its first two albums. Now, Della Mae finds the foursome embracing a fresh set of musical challenges with eleven compelling new tunes that embody the musical and emotional qualities of the group’s prior output while venturing into uncharted creative territory.
Bluegrass and acoustic music group Balsam Range were founded in 2007 in Haywood County, North Carolina. Featuring many notable players, the band went on to receive multiple awards and honors. Buddy Melton (fiddle, lead and tenor vocals) was a member of Jubal Foster and had previously performed with David Holt and Doc Watson; Tim Surrett (bass, dobro, baritone, and lead vocals) performed with the gospel group the Kingsmen Quartet, Tony Rice, Ralph Stanley, and Brad Paisley, and has a place in the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame; Darren Nicholson (mandolin, octave mandolin, baritone, and low tenor vocals) appeared numerous times on the Grand Ole Opry Stage; Dr. Marc Pruett (banjo) won a Grammy Award, and Caleb Smith (guitar, lead and baritone vocals) was a founding member of gospel group Harvest. Their 2007 debut album, Marching Home, featured six Bill Monroe songs and seven original compositions, and their following records, 2009’s Last Train to Kitty Hawk and 2010’s Trains I Missed further added to their burgeoning reputation. But it was 2013’s Papertown that really solidified their standing in the bluegrass community. Named after their hometown of Canton, North Carolina, the record earned the group an International Bluegrass Music Association Award (IBMA) for album of the year after having spent five months at number one on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey Chart. Their star continued to rise in 2014 when they received the Entertainer of the Year Award and Vocal Group of the Year at the IBMAs, and they followed that win with official praise from the House and Senate of the State of North Carolina in 2015. In 2016 they released their sixth record, Mountain Voodoo, which went on to be nominated for three IBMAs.
Raw, soulful, and with plenty of swagger, Town Mountain, based in Asheville, NC, released their 5th studio album, Southern Crescent, on April 1, 2016 on LoHi Records. Produced and engineered by GRAMMY winner Dirk Powell, Southern Crescent was recorded in Powell’s studio The Cypress House in south-central Louisiana town of Breaux Bridge. It was mixed by Mixed by Scott Vestal at Digital Underground in Greenbrier, TN. Since it’s release the band debuted on the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium stages bringing their sound to new audiences. The critically acclaimed album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart while staying for ten weeks on the Americana Music Association’s radio chart’s Top 40.
The Foghorn Stringband is the present day shining gold standard for American string band music, with eight albums, thousands of shows, over a decade of touring under their belts, and an entirely new generation of old-time musicians following their lead. Through all this, they’ve never let the music grow cold; instead they’ve been steadily proving that American roots music is a never-ending well of inspiration.
The music of The Foghorn Stringband today, as heard on their new album Devil In The Seat, revolves around four master musicians: Portland, Oregon-based Caleb Klauder (vocals, mandolin, fiddle) and Reeb Willms (vocals, guitar), and Yukon-based Nadine Landry (vocals, upright bass) and Stephen ‘Sammy’ Lind (vocals, fiddle, banjo). Each member of The Foghorn Stringband comes not only from a different part of the American roots music spectrum, but leads the pack in their field as well. Caleb Klauder’s wistful, keening vocals and rapid-fire mandolin picking are as influenced by Southern roots music as much as by his upbringing in Washington State. Also from Washington, Reeb Willms grew up in the state’s Eastern farmlands singing hard-bitten honky-tonk with her family. Nadine Landry’s roots lie in the rural backroads of Acadian Québec, but she cut her teeth as one of the best bluegrass bassists in Western Canada. Minnesotan Stephen ‘Sammy’ Lind, simply put, is one of the best old-time fiddlers of his generation and has a voice that sounds like it’s coming from an old 78.
To Foghorn, this music is as relevant today as it was a century ago. They see themselves not as revivalists, but as curators and ardent fans, and their music is a celebration of these roots. From their origins in Portland Oregon’s underground roots music scene in the late 90s and early 00s, when members of today’s hot bands like The Decemberists and Blind Pilot were gathering to explore the roots of American folk music, The Foghorn Stringband have spread the old-time string band gospel all over the world. Along the way, they’ve brought in influences and inspirations from their many travels and late-night jam sessions. Old-time square dance tunes now rub shoulders with Cajun waltzes, vintage honky-tonk songs, and pre-bluegrass picking. This is the kind of bubbling musical brew which first intoxicated the American mainstream in the day.
The Colton House Trio
featuring Chris Brashear, Peter McLaughlin & Todd Phillips
The celebration of mountains and whitewater rapids is the inspiration for everything Rapidgrass. Rapidgrass is original mountain music influenced by an active, outdoor lifestyle. Brought together through music and love for mountains, Rapidgrass defines modern, acoustic, Colorado mountain music.
The lineup of Rapidgrass includes Colorado native and pro skier Mark Morris (guitar, vocals); Coleman Smith (violin, mandolin, vocals); Carl Minorkey (upright bass, tenor banjo, vocals); and Alex Johnstone (mandolin, fiddle, vocals). Adjunct players include Billy Cardine (dobro, vocals, recording producer) and Kyle Hauser (banjo, vocals). This font range Colorado ensemble uses classical, gypsy, bluegrass, pop, swing, and other world rhythms to create what is, and can only be described of as, Rapidgrass.
Rapidgrass Music Festival and Rapidgrass the ensemble were twins born of the desire to celebrate the rapids of Clear Creek and the mountains of Idaho Springs through mountain music, each complementing the other. Rapidgrass released its first CD, Rapidgrass Quintet, in 2013 and was voted top 5 mountain albums by the Mountain Arts Culture Colorado. In 2015 Rapidgrass then released Crooked Road and went on to win the prestigious Rockygrass band contest that same year. Rapidgrass is currently producing their 3rd album, Happu Trails, which is due to be released at the eighth annual Rapidgrass Music Festival this June 23-25. Rapidgrass has had the pleasure of bringing mountain music throughout Colorado, Alaska, the lower 48, and the European Alps. Rapidgrass is eager to kick off their 2017 music endeavors.
The Lil’ Smokies
With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, The Lil’ Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody driven sound of their own. The quintet, from Missoula, MT, has been hard at work, writing, touring and playing to an ever-growing fan base for the past 6 years. The fruits of their labor recently culminating with wins at the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Momentum Award for Best Band and at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition. In 2013 the band also won The Northwest String Summit Band Competition. With a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, innumerable unique originals, sheer raw energy, and exquisite musicianship, The Lil’ Smokies weave seamlessly through genres, leaving behind melodies you’ll be singing to yourself for days and a jaw you’ll have to pick up off the floor.
The Lil’ Smokies have no problem captivating large audiences. Sharing the stage with heavyweights like Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Keller Williams, Greensky Bluegrass, The Emmit-Nershi Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Travellin’ McCourys, Sam Bush Band, Fruition, Infamous Stringdusters, Bradford Lee Folk and The Bluegrass Playboys, and dozens of others. The Lil’ Smokies have become festival favorites coast to coast with highlights including Delfest (MD), Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass (CO), ROMP Fest (KY), Hangtown Halloween (CA), Telluride Bluegrass Festival (CO), The Summer Music Festival at Roseberry (ID), Northwest String Summit (OR), Targhee Bluegrass Festival (WY), River City Roots (MT) and more! This five-piece bluegrass ensemble features Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo), Jake Simpson (fiddle) and Matt Rieger (guitar).
Burnett Family Bluegrass
Burnett Family Bluegrass, a national award winning, all-family bluegrass band, began in 1993. The band consists of Brian (Dad), Connie (Mom), daughters Rachel and Jessie and son, Ryan. Burnett’s are based out of Flagstaff and the Arizona Republic newspaper said Burnett Family Bluegrass is an “Arizona favorite”. The group weaves their multi-instrumental ultra-talents with the genetically tuned vocal chords that produce those sweet, familial, DNA blended harmonies. The band won the coveted first prize in the Telluride national band competition, in 2004, when Ryan was 14. This summer marks 22 years of musical entertainment for Burnett Family Bluegrass.
Brian and Connie provide the bombastic beat on guitar and acoustic bass that drives the band. Brian sings lead and harmony vocals and also plays mandolin. Connie sings harmony vocals and is the main songwriter of the group. Daughter Rachel plays a fine, five-string fiddle and her soul filled songs shine like a light in darkness. She has fascinated audiences with her powerful voice, since she was 2. Rachel’s vocal lead is perfectly complimented by her little sister, Jessie, who plays a multitude of acoustic instruments. The shy one of the bunch, every note is placed carefully and specifically by her perfection-seeking spirit. Jessie’s boundless talent, in all factions of music, magnifies and illuminates her little brother, Ryan. Ryan began his musical journey at age 3, on the fiddle, just like his three older sisters, in Suzuki violin at NAU. He started serious attention to banjo at age 10 and had a few private sessions with well-known banjoist, Bela Fleck. He plays fiddle, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin and sings harmony vocals. Ryan’s lightning-inspired banjo breaks bring amazement to the delighted audience. After putting in many years of dedicated practice, Ryan shines with a brilliancy that is all his own. That’s why they say Burnett Family Bluegrass is a rare and sparkling gem in the field of Bluegrass.
The Ping Brothers
The Ping Brothers, Frank and Doug, grew up in in the hills of Kentucky on a farm near Somerset Ky. Franks mother taught him his first chords on guitar and later he in turn taught Doug. Together they both learned to play guitar at a very young age. They both sing lead and harmony vocals. They were influenced by bluegrass music in the beginning, but later progressed to jazz, blues, western swing, country and original music. Kentucky was the first state they began to play professionally and spread their joy of music. The Ping Brothers Band was formed, shortly afterwards they began to travel, and have performed all over the country. The love of music also diversified them. Frank plays finger style and rhythm guitar, bass, banjo, and mandolin now. Doug plays lead and rhythm guitar, bass, and harmonica. They both teach as well.
The Ping Brothers Band has opened for such entertainers as Asleep at the Wheel, Delbert McClinton, Waylon Jennings, and Allen Jackson. Prescott, now home to the Ping Brothers, has given them the opportunity to add even more talent to the band:
Creighton Miller on upright bass, banjo, and dobro. A native of Pennsylvania, coming from a bluegrass background residing in Prescott and playing with The Ping Brothers Band enjoys swing, jazz, country and bluegrass and vocals. Jim Chatlain, born and raised in Denver Colorado is now a Prescott resident, and playing with The Ping Brothers. He has a Bachelor of Music Education degree, a Masters’ Degree of Music Performance, with important influences in classical, Latin, and jazz. Violin or fiddle music, his talent shines playing with The Ping Brothers Band. Rick Schmidt grew up in Colorado, living in Prescott now, is the son of professional entertainers. He has played all over the country on stage and studio. He adds steel, electric, acoustic, and bass guitar, keys and vocals to the band. Together, they are The Ping Brothers Band, having fun and sharing their music with all.
Mr Mudd & Mr. Gold
Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold hail from the Arizona desert. After moving to Phoenix from Kansas, Jesse Gray met Phoenix-born Tyler Matock, and the two began playing music together, blending a mutual love of influences ranging from the Avett Brothers to Lightnin Hopkins, Langhorne Slim to Roscoe Holcomb, and Woody Guthrie to the Meteors, with their own unique styles and songwriting.
Naming themselves Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold after a Townes Van Zandt song about a wild game of five card stud, they played their first show in early 2012. Quickly gaining the attention of fans and musicians alike, they were soon playing shows with artists such as Shovels and Rope, Sean Bonnette of Andrew Jackson Jihad, Langhorne Slim, Reverend Peyton’s Big damn Band, and Elephant Revival. Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold stepped into the studio with recording whiz Jalipaz Nelson of Audioconfusion, resulting in their self-titled debut album slated for release later this year. The album runs the gamut from hard driving melodic folk, to dirty suitcase-drum-infused acoustic rock, to haunting a capella numbers, to banjo-driven pop, to soul-infused updates of 1940s acoustic blues.
Sugar and The Mint
Sugar and the Mint (Formerly Generation Band) was started by The Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona in February 2011. Students were chosen by audition and initially it was formed as a youth cultural music conservatory. In 2014, Sugar and the Mint (Generation) parted ways with Sharlot Hall Museum, (after the program lost funding) and ventured out on its own. They have since become a professional and dynamic young musical group. They play a blend of new old-time, contemporary bluegrass and indie-folk music. They have performed at venues and events such as the The Prescott Opry, Yavapai College, The Yavapai County Fair, Payson Fiddle Festival, The Raven Cafe, Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Tempe Festival of the Arts, Prescott Farmer’s Market, Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival, Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival, Prescott’s Folk Music Festival, Town of Bagdad, AZ, Arts Prescott Coop Gallery, Acker Night Musical Showcase and many others. They can often be seen playing informally at Prescott’s Courthouse Square during various Arts and Crafts Fairs.
In 2014, they won first place at the Payson Fiddle-in-Band competition and first place at The Old-time Country Band competition at the Wickenburg Fiddle championships. In 2015, they took third place at Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival and were honored to play in the second round on the main stage. In 2016, Sugar and the Mint (at that time Generation) took first place at the 2016 Pickin’ in the Pines Music Festival in Flagstaff, and first place at the 2016 Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival Gospel Band Competition, in Wickenburg, Arizona.