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Over the last four decades, Béla Fleck has made a point of boldly going where no banjo player has gone before, a musical journey that has earned him 15 Grammys in nine different fields, including Country, Pop, Jazz, Instrumental, Classical and World Music. But his roots are in bluegrass, and that’s where he returns with his first bluegrass tour in 24 years, My Bluegrass Heart.
My Bluegrass Heart is the third chapter of a trilogy which began with the 1988 album, Drive, and continued in 1991 with The Bluegrass Sessions. Fleck’s band will spotlight a multi-generational gamut of the best of bluegrass players, all sporting a myriad of Grammy Awards and nominations, as well as gigantic piles of IBMA awards for their instruments: fiddler Michael Cleveland, mandolinist Sierra Hull, multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses, bassist/multi-instrumentalist Mark Schatz, and Bryan Sutton on guitar.
On a Bowling Green, Kentucky cattle farm in the post-war 1950s, Bush grew up an only son, and with four sisters. His love of music came immediately, encouraged by his parents’ record collection and, particularly, by his father Charlie, a fiddler, who organized local jams. As a teen fiddler, Bush was a three-time national champion in the junior division of the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest. In 1971, Bush formed the New Grass Revival with Ebo Walker, Courtney Johnson, and Curtis Burch, issuing the band’s eponymous debut. Shunned by some traditionalists, New Grass Revival played bluegrass festivals slotted in late-night sets for the “long-hairs and hippies” and quickly became a favorite of rock audiences.
Bush was the newgrass commando, incorporating a variety of genres into the repertoire. He discovered a sibling similarity with the reggae rhythms of Marley and The Wailers, and, accordingly, developed an ear-turning original style of mandolin playing. The group released eight albums, chart-climbing singles, made videos, shifted their lineup (welcoming in banjoist Béla Fleck and guitarist Pat Flynn in 1981) and earned Grammy nominations. After nearly 18 years together, and, at their zenith, called it quits.
Bush worked the next five years with Emmylou Harris’ Nash Ramblers, then a stint with Lyle Lovett. He took home three-straight IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year awards, reunited with Fleck to tour with the Flecktones, and then finally, after a quarter-century of making music with New Grass Revival and collaborating with other bands, Sam Bush went solo. Since then he’s released seven albums and a live DVD over the past two decades. His performances are annual highlights of the festival circuit, with Bush’s joyous perennial appearances at the town’s famed bluegrass fest earning him the title, “King of Telluride.”
Dobro master and 14-time GRAMMY winner Jerry Douglas is to the resonator guitar what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar, elevating, transforming, and reinventing the instrument in countless ways. Additionally, Douglas is a freewheeling, forward-thinking recording and touring artist whose output incorporates elements of country, bluegrass, rock, jazz, blues, and Celtic into his distinctive musical vision.
Called “Dobro’s matchless contemporary master” by The New York Times, three-time CMA Musician of the Year award recipient Jerry Douglas is one of the most innovative recording artists in music as a solo artist, bandleader for The Jerry Douglas Band and his GRAMMY-winning bluegrass band The Earls of Leicester, as well as a member of groundbreaking ensembles including Alison Krauss & Union Station, J.D. Crowe & the New South, The Country Gentlemen, Boone Creek, and Strength In Numbers. Douglas shines and soars. His distinctive sound graces more than 1500 albums with artists such as Garth Brooks, George Jones, Paul Simon, Little Big Town, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Earl Scruggs, Ray Charles, Dierks Bentley, and Tommy Emmanuel, among many others.
In addition to touring, Douglas has co-produced and performed on a series of platinum albums. He has produced albums for Alison Krauss, Del McCoury Band, Maura O’Connell, The Whites, Jesse Winchester, and Steep Canyon Rangers. He is co-music director of the acclaimed BBC Scotland TV series Transatlantic Sessions. In 2004, Douglas was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts with an American Heritage Fellowship, and he served as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Artist In Residence” in 2008. As Jerry Douglas continues his incalculable influence on country, Americana, bluegrass and their many related genres, he forges ahead as a true pioneer in American music.