Horsetooth Hoedown’s Top Ten of 2008

Listed below are the top ten songs played on 90.5 KCSU FM’s Horsetooth Hoedown with The Hoss. The Horsetooth Hoedown is Colorado State University’s bluegrass radio show. It emerged in March, 2008 and became a top bluegrass radio show.

The songs listed are the top 10 beginning August and running through the end of 2008.

Horsetooth Hoedown’s Top 10

  1. Jimmy Martin – Run Pete Run, Best of the Best – Jimmy Martin – King of Bluegrass, 2000.
  2. Del McCoury Band – Breadline Blues, Moneyland, 2008.
  3. Larry Sparks – Roving Gambler, Best Loved Bluegrass, 2008.
  4. Chris Henry – James River, Monroe Approved, 2006.
  5. Larry Stephenson Band – How High Is That Mountain, Thankful, 2008.
  6. Grasstowne – Grasstowne City Limits, The Road Headin’ Home, 2008.
  7. Del McCoury Band – Moneyland, Moneyland, 2008.
  8. Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands – Alaska, Live in Austin, 2004.
  9. Lonesome Mountaineers – Lord Won’t You Help Me, 10 Years of European World of Bluegrass, 2008.
  10. Bluegrass Album Band – Down the Road, The Bluegrass Album, Vol. 3: California Connection, 1983.

Hot Rize To Headline Denver’s Rootsfest In March


Photo by Tim Timberlake.

Colorado bluegrass group Hot Rize will share the stage with other non-bluegrass artists as part of the Third Annual RootsFest, presented by Swallow Hill at Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver.

Rootsfest will be held in celebration of Swallow Hill’s 3oth anniversary as a nonprofit organization in support of roots music. As Swallow Hill’s biggest event of the year, the festival will take place on Saturday, March 28.

The festival is formerly known as the Denver Folk and Roots Music Festival.

Both Hot Rize and Swallow Hill are approaching their 30th anniversary, although Hot Rize’s dynamics have changed since their years among the top of the bluegrass circuit. Bryan Sutton, one of the most renowned bluegrass guitarists of the younger generation, is the newest member of the band.

Sutton essentially is the replacement for Hot Rize’s original guitar player Charles Sawtelle who passed away in 1999.

Hot Rize, especially Sawtelle, has an important history with Swallow Hill; Sawtelle Studios was created by Swallow Hill in 1998 and specializes in producing acoustic music by Colorado musicians. Tim O’Brien, Hot Rize’s mandolinist and vocalist, learned much about music at Swallow Hill before Hot Rize formed in Boulder in 1989.

Hot Rize has only performed on rare occasions since the rebirth of the band with Sutton as guitarist. Their most recent concert was at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco on October 4.

The band currently has no other events on their schedule, according to their Web site and

Other acts at the Third Annual Rootsfest include Leo Kotkke and Shawn Colvin.

GRAMMY Awards Release Best Bluegrass Album Nominees

The GRAMMY Awards released their nominations December 1 for the 2009 GRAMMY awards on February 8. Recorded projects must have been recorded between Oct 1, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2008 to be eligible for the 51st annual awards ceremony.

Rounder Records and Skaggs Family Records tie with two records up for nomination each. The other record, Del McCoury Band’s Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, was released by MunckMix, a live music recording and marketing company.

Below is the list of albums nominated for the 51st GRAMMY Awards’ Best Bluegrass Album nomination:

cherryholmes_IIICherryholmes III: Don’t Believe

Produced by Skaggs Family Records, this album was released on Sept. 30, 2008 – the deadline for the 51st GRAMMY Awards eligibility.

The album features a Nashville-based sound as this family band pushes the boundaries of traditional bluegrass.


fais_do_do_delDel McCoury Band – Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Del McCoury Band performed at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Fais Do Do stage (pictured left) on April 27, 2008. 

The album is produced by MunckMix.


Live at the Ryman

 Earl Scruggs – The Ultimate Collection: Live at the Ryman

Earl Scruggs and his family and friends performed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. in the summer of 2007.

The album, produced by Rounder Records, features several Scruggs classics.




Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky ThunderHonoring the Fathers of Bluegrass

Skaggs Family Records produced Kentucky Thunder’s Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947. The album is dedicated to Bill Monroe and other fathers of bluegrass including Earl Scruggs, who is featured on the c.d.



Dan Tyminski's WheelsDan Tyminski – Wheels

Dan Tyminski has received much critical acclaim for his latest album, Wheels. Tyminski, who plays mandolin with Allison Krauss & Union Station, became even more popular after 2000 with his rendition of Man of Constant Sorrow, featured in the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Mark Vann Benefit Concert Brings Old Friends Together

Mark Vann playing his electric banjo.

Mark Vann playing his electric banjo.

The Mark Vann Foundation will host their Sixth Annual Mark Vann Foundation Holiday Benefit Show on Saturday, December 6 at the Boulder Theatre in Boulder, Colo.

Mark Vann was the popular banjoist with Leftover Salmon, a Colorado-based bluegrass jam band currently switching in and out of hiatus. Vann died of cancer in March of 2002 at his home near Boulder.

Vann won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival banjo competition in 1989 and later that festival met Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman, then of the Left Hand String Band. Vann joined the band, which later evolved into Leftover Salmon.

Both Emmitt and Herman will perform at the benefit concert in different groups. Emmitt plays mandolin with his band Emmitt Nershi Band with Bill Nershi from the String Cheese Incident.

Vince Herman, the front man of both Leftover Salmon and his current project Great American Taxi, will have a dominant presence at the event, as he so often has at many musical gatherings. He will perform with Great American Taxi, featuring fiddler Tim Carbone from Railroad Earth.

Several other bluegrass-based acts will perform in supporting slots of Great American Taxi and Emmitt Nershi Band. For a complete list of the performing bands, visit the Boulder Theatre’s Web site.

Zac Mathews Leaves Hot Buttered Rum

zac_mathewsZac Mathews, mandolin player and vocalist with Hot Buttered Rum, announced his decision to leave the band on November 30.

Matthews will not continue the rest of Hot Buttered Rum’s tour, including the New Years Eve show scheduled in Denver.

Speculations are that Mathews has left to make room for a much larger rhythm instrument: the drums.

“Think about it, the band has a lot more potential with a drummer and a pianist,” said Kyle McCabe, a resident of Santa Cruz, Calif. and long-time fan of Hot Buttered Rum.

McCabe’s comment was in reference to the San Francisco Bay Area-based band’s potential of success and popularity.

He also referenced the parallel between the band and the String Cheese Incident, who, as the band aged and progressed, inched farther away from bluegrass and more into experimental jam music.

McCabe expects that Hot Buttered Rum will hire a drummer and possibly a keyboardist.

Hot Buttered Rum has been together for the better half of a decade. The members of the band are long-time friends and seem to have made a group decision about Matthew’s departure.

“I hope you will share in a feeling of excitement for me and for HBR as we journey forward along separate paths. I continue to be an advocate for HBR’s success, and eagerly await the new songs that my brothers and their future collaborations will yield,” said Matthews in his message released over the band’s Web site.

McCabe emphasized his confidence that Matthews will move on to further musical endeavors, as stated in his departure letter to fans.

“I also expect this time of change to recharge my own creative reservoir for music and other endeavors. I look forward to channeling many incredible connections into fruitful collaborations.” – Zac Matthews.

Click here to read Zac Matthews’ letter on Hot Buttered Rum’s Web site.

CD Review: David Parmley & Continental Divide’s 3 Silver Dollars

David Parmley & Continental Divide's new album, 3 Silver Dollars, will be released Feb. 10, 2009.

David Parmley & Continental Divide's new album, 3 Silver Dollars, will be released Feb. 10, 2009.

Guitarist/vocalist David Parmley and his band Continental Divide are anticipating the release of their latest album, 3 Silver Dollars.

Pinecastle Records will release 3 Silver Dollars on Feb. 10, 2009.

The album features 12 tunes, all with a unique sound and underlying traditional tones.

The title track is written by Tom T. Hall, one of the most successful bluegrass songwriters in bluegrass history. The title track – the first on the album – sticks out from the others.

Parmley’s firm vocals fill each tune and while the vocals play a dominant role in the album’s composition, the instrumentals are not overshadowed.

Banjo player Dale Perry displays solid picking in every song with original solos that demonstrate his affinity for Scruggs-style banjo, yet still showcase his modern sound. His experimental usage of the Scruggs tuners adds an interesting element to several of the songs. His guitar finger picking is also on point.

Continental Divide features mandolinist Ron Spears wrote the two original tunes on the album, adding even more to the diversity of the album’s sound. His tunes, “Carolina Rain” and “God Reached Down”, are both stuffed with complicated bluegrass dynamics. “God Reached Down” is an especially fun tune, as the vocal harmonies take over on the album’s last track.

Overall, this album demonstrates fine bluegrass craftsmanship, but does seem to lack a certain spark. The tracks are all very different and feature new bluegrass sounds, but the energy is absent and inconsistent.

Recommended tracks are:

  • Three Silver Dollars
  • She’s Lying in the Cold Cold Ground
  • God Reached Down
  • Ain’t gonna Let You Drag Me Down
  • Windsborough Cotton Mill Blues

Preview the album’s tracks by clicking here.

Fall: Beginning Of The Bluegrass Season

In the last few weeks, bluegrass bands around the country have made changes in their line-ups, acquiring up-and-comers, trading mandolin and banjo players, recruiting the best possible group for what seams to be the beginning of the bluegrass season. Many bands simply switch players, as evident in the trades noted below.

The season begins with what seams to be the fall trading deadline before various winter holidays and celebrations. The summer festival season parallels the playoffs in sports, with the International Bluegrass Music Awards acting as the super bowl.

Here are some of the bluegrass trades and acquisitions of this year’s bluegrass trading season.

Junior Sisk Seeks New Mandolin Player

junior_siskJunior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice is seeking a replacement for their current mandolin player, Chris Harris, who will be leaving the band in January.

If you live in or are willing to move to Virginia, slam the mandolin and sing a lonesome tenor, Rambler’s Choice is a prime option. Rambler’s Choice already has several tour dates lined up for 2009.

Rhonda Vincent Signs New Banjo and Guitar Players

rhonda_vincentRhonda Vincent, one of the most respected female bluegrass artists and leader of The Rage, announced the departure of Rage members Kenny Ingram and Darrell Webb.

Former Grascal Aaron McDaris will hold down the banjo and 22-year-old Ben Holson joins The Rage from Ricky Skaggs’s group Kentucky Thunder. The new group is set to record a guestless album – a first for Vincent and The Rage.

Webb Leaves The Rage for Michael Cleveland’s Flamekeeper

mikecleveland_highresWithin two weeks of his departure from Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Webb landed the lead vocal and guitar spot with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. Webb’s first show with Flamekeeper will be December 26 at the Grande Ole Opry.

“We had the opportunity to play together again at a recent event and things just fell into place,” stated Cleveland, pictured to the left. “He is a great talent and we are thrilled to have him in the band!”

Rick Allred Back With The Larry Stephenson Band 

ls08presssolo-thankful110-loresLarry Stephenson has reunited with banjo player Rick Allred, the original banjo player for the Larry Stephenson Band when it began 20 years ago. Allred came aboard after Kristin Scott Benson departed as the banjo player for the Larry Stephenson Band.

“I’m looking forward very much to working with Rick again,” said Stephenson, who sings lead and plays mandolin. “He’s one of the best that’s ever played banjo with me.”

Grascals Pick Up Banjoist Kristin Scott Benson

benson3Kristin Scott Benson, winner of the 2008 Banjo Player of the Year IBMA award, has said goodbye to the Larry Stephenson Band and hello to the Grascals. The change comes at an exciting time for Benson, who just released a solo album titled Second Season.

Benson, pictured to the left,  will arrive as part of the Grascal squad following the departure of former banjo player Aaron McDaris, who is now with The Rage.

New Bass Player For Punch Brothers

kowert2The Punch Brothers have added new bass player Paul Kowert, 22, in the wake of founding bass player Greg Garrisson’s departure. Kowert came to the Punch Brothers following a fall tour with mandolinist Mike Marshall. He has also studied bass at the Curtis Institute of Music with virtuoso Edgar Meyer. The acquisition comes as no surprise, as Meyer may well have had a hand in the negotiation after he and Chris Thile recorded a duo album earlier this year.

Kowert joins Chris Thile on mandolin, Noam Pickelny on banjo, Chris Eldridge on guitar and Gabe Witcher on fiddle. The Punch Brothers are already touring with Kowert. Check their Web site for tour dates.

Gibson Brothers Recruit Recent Graduate Joe Walsh

joe_walshThe Gibson Brothers have picked up recent Berklee College of Music graduate Joe Walsh as the newest member of the band, following the retirement of mandolinist Rick Hayes. Hayes has retired from the band to create more time for his up-and-coming mandolin company, Hayes Mandolins.

Walsh was the first student to study mandolin at Berklee, where bluegrass musicians are becoming more popular every year. His first performance with the band will be Jan. 2, 2009 at the New Years Bluegrass Festival in Jekyll Island, Ga.