Thursday, July 28, 2011

This Week In Sugar Hill History: "Church Street Blues" by Tony Rice

18 years ago Sugar Hill released the incredible album “Church Street Blues” by Tony Rice.

The album concept is simple, Tony, shows his virtuosity by stripping all his music down to his 2 musical sources, guitar and voice or guitar and guitar. No fluff, no extra production, nothing but the man and his instrument. He plays all traditional songs with a few Bluegrass instrumentals thrown in. Though simple in its design, the simplicity really lets the listener fully appreciate the capabilities Tony has to offer. He continues his musical flexing by playing a nice wide variety from the Americana catalog. Sweet songs like “Streets of London”, to instrumentals like “Jerusalem Ridge”, or a ballad like “Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald”. All the songs have a strain of connectivity as they the instrumentation is similar, but are different from one another keeping you very interested in what comes next. Now an album of just guitar and vocal is no new concept, it’s something you can find in almost any small restaurant or coffee shop on a Friday night with some weekend warrior playing a nice spread of Jim Croce and Dave Matthews songs. What makes this album different is the how though it’s just these two simple musical sources, they are played so well it seems n lacking in nothing. The Guitar is precise with an energy only the best of flat top players can get, all while accompanying Tony’s rich baritone vocals. It is an inspirational album to any musician, bluegrass or not.


Monday, July 25, 2011

"Sunburns, Mud People, and Bluegrass? Sugar Hill's Guide to Late Summer Festivals

       If the Summer Season isn't stressful enough with the kids at home, the NFL lockout, and (gasp) no "Dancing with the Stars", music fans must decide on how to spend their ever dwindling supply of disposable income. For us music fans, that means deciding upon which albums to purchase, local concerts to attend, and finally which musical pilgrimages to plan.

     Over the last 10 years, the Summer Festival has made huge resurgence in popularity. In a era of uncertainty in the music business, live music and specifically the summer festivals has become a beacon of light at the end of ambiguous tunnel.  But with so many options, how can music fans decide upon the right festival that fits their insatiable hunger for old familiar acts and exciting new talent? Even though the Summer is half over , we here at Sugar Hill have put together a list of festivals happening in late Summer/Early Fall that are a must see for anyone looking to make the most out of their hard earned dollars....

Floyd Fest X
July 28th - July 30th
Floyd, VA
Tickets: Here

FloydFest is a world music and arts festival held annually near Floyd, Virginia, situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It began in 2002 and has received excellent reviews ever since, earning a name for itself in 2005 when it played host to well-known folk singer Ani DiFranco. It lasts for four days with on-site camping and has over seven stages featuring Rock, Bluegrass, Reggae,Cajun, Zydeco, African, World, and Appalachian performers and showcases local Arts and Crafts, in addition to scheduling music and dance workshops and other small events, such as morning yoga lessons, story telling, and poetry readings. This year posts it's best lineup yet with some of the best roots-based acts in American.

Bands to see:  Yonder Mountain String Band, Yard Dog Road Show, Old Crow Medicine Show, Grace Potter, Sam Bush, David Grisman, Donna the Buffalo, Trampled By Turtles, Carolina Chocolate Drops

July 29-31
Lyons, CO
Info:  Here

RockyGrass is held at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons, Colorado - located along the wooded banks of the beautiful St. Vrain River. The historic quarry town of Lyons is just 15 miles north of Boulder in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The town is known for its antique stores, restaurants, artists, and musicians.
Numerous camping options nearby include: on-site at the festival grounds, under the cliffs at Meadow Park (a quick five-minute walk from the festival), or at the Olson Campground (a 10-minute walk or via the free shuttle buses).

Non-musical activities in and around Lyons include single-track mountain biking at Hall Ranch, river sports in the Meadow Park whitewater course, touring through Rocky Mountain National Park (40 minutes up the hill from Lyons), and hiking in the nearby National Forest lands.This year's lineup includes some old favorites and some exciting new talent that any fan of Sugar Hill artists would be silly to miss.

Bands to see:  David Grisman, Del McCoury, Sarah Jarosz, Hot Rize, Milk Drive, Sam Bush

Shine Fest 2011
August 19th-21st
Fontana Dam, NC
Tickets: Here

A new festival, the Shine Fest hosted by Troy & Son's boasts a picturesque setting in and around the Fontana Village Resort in Fontana Dam, NC. This festival may be just getting it's legs, but it is most certainly off to the right start with this beautiful mountain setting. Festival goers can either choose to camp out in this mountain paradise or can book a stay at the luxurious Fontana Village boasting both a lodge and cabins.  This is a must-see for anyone wanting the experience the Appalachians and who also love amazing "Roots" music.

Bands to see: Matt Stillwell, Blackberry Smoke, Black Lillies, Jim Lauderdale

Music on the Mountaintop
August 26-27
Boone, NC
Tickets: Here

In 2008, the first ever large scale festival in Boone took the High Country by surprise. What started as a class project at Appalachian State University grew into one of the largest musical events the town had seen in nearly a decade. Nearly 2,500 attendees enjoyed a full day of top notch musical talent from the local and national scene as well as interactive educational exhibits promoting environmental stewardship provided by more than 15 non-profits from across the state of North Carolina.

Since then, MOTM has grown exponentially. The Festival has seen its 2,500 event grow to 5,000 in 2010. Over the last three years they have showcased amazing talent such as Sam Bush (X3), Keller Williams (X2), Railroad Earth, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Toubab Krewe, Acoustic Syndicate (X3), and many more.
Most importantly, they have given over $11,000 back to local non-profit organizations, AIRE (Appalachian Institute of Renewable Energy) and Appalachian Voices. This year proves to be a continuation of the amazing lineup's they have had in the past.

Bands to see:  Sam Bush, Infamous Stringdusters, Acoustic Syndicate, Frontier Ruckus, Greensky Bluegrass

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
September 16th-18th
Downtown Bristol, VA/TN
Tickets: Here

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion a non-profit organization which hosts an annual 3-day Americana music festival in the twin cities of Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee.

Celebrating Bristol's heritage as the "Birthplace of Country Music" (a designation recognizing the early Jimmy Rogers and Carter Family recordings made there in the 1920s collectively known as the Bristol Sessions, Rhythm & Roots has hosted musicians such as Ralph Stanley, Sam Bush, Doc Watson, The Avett Brothers, John Cowan, Langhorne Slim, and Del McCoury. Since the first festival in 2001, Rhythm and Roots has grown to include 4 main stages (3 of which are outdoors), a dance tent, and 12 smaller stages inside the various shops, restaurants, and bars in the 4-block festival area.

Bands to see:  Railroad Earth, Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives, Tony Rice Unit, Justin Townes Earle, Jim Lauderdale, The Cave Singers, The SteelDrivers, The Everbodyfields

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Sept. 30th -Oct 2nd
San Francisco, CA
Info:  Here

The Mother of all Free Festivals. Possibly the mother of all Roots festivals period. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, previously Strictly Bluegrass, or HSB for short, is an annual free music festival held the first weekend of October in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. From its outset, the festival has been subsidized by San Francisco venture capitalist Warren Hellman. The first festival was held in 2001, originally only inviting bluegrass musicians. By 2004 artists from other genres were invited and the "Hardly" was added to reflect the expanded scope. It doesn't get much better than this. The array of artists who play this festival is staggering.

Bands to see:  Gillian Welch, Ryan Bingham, Robert Plant, The Jayhawks, Abigail Washburn, Robert Earl Keen, The Flatlanders, Chris Isaak, Frank Fairfield, Earl Scruggs, Patty Griffin, Old Crow Medicine Show

Hopefully this lists gives you a good place to start with regards to where to spend those hard earned dollars and get a last minute summer tan/sunburn before the fall comes into full swing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This Week In Sugar Hill History: Ice Caps: Peaks of Telluride

11 years ago Sugar Hill released the high energy, live recordings of Sam Bush at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival throughout the 90s.

"Recorded at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telludire, Colorado between June 1992 & June 1999.
If bluegrass is folk music on steroids, then ICE CAPS: PEAKS OF TELLURIDE is bluegrass on rocket fuel and kickapoo joy juice. Nashville mandolin ace Sam Bush is joined by other legendary pickers on this set of performances culled from 25 years of concerts at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country," a bluegrass favorite, is offered as a joyous, strumabilly romp. Bush tosses off the vocals in his fine, reedy tenor, then engages dobro master Jerry Douglas in a thrilling exchange of solos. Bush shows off his award winning fiddle chops, leading banjoist Bela Fleck, Douglas, and others on an incendiary stomp through "Big Mon," the Bill Monroe standard. This is fun music, and the crowd hollers itself hoarse with approval on Bush's hit "Same Ol' River," John Hiatt's "Memphis in the Meantime," and even a surprisingly apt reading of Kool And The Gang's "Celebrate." Bluegrass purists may look askance, but the virtuosity and huge good time captured here make this collection ideal for all lovers of rocking acoustic music."

Personnel: Sam Bush (vocals, electric guitar, acoustic & electric mandolins, fiddle); Jon Randall (vocals, guitar); Jeffro Beck (vocals, electric mandolin); John Cowan (vocals, bass); Dan Sadowski, Pastor Mustard (spoken vocals); Darrell Scott (guitar); Bela Fleck (banjo); Jerry Douglas (lap steel guitar, dobro); John Magnie (accordion); Larry Atamunik (drums).

Buy Here

Listen below for a limited time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Re-Rooting and Recruiting

We are excited to be launching our Sugar Hill Roots, “Re-Rooting and Recruiting Campaign!” Supporting our artists on tour is tough, and we need your help in getting the message out about all of our talented musicians’ shows. We are looking for volunteers who are active on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, music blogs, and anywhere else on the internet. Above all else, we are looking for people who are dedicated to helping our talented musicians.

To kick start the Re-Rooting and Recruiting Campaign, we will be rewarding everyone who helps our community grow. For a limited time, if you successfully recruit two friends to join Sugar Hill Roots, we will send you a download link for your choice of one of our records from 2010-2011 (list below). Recruit five friends and we'll send you your choice of any CD from our catalog.

The person who brings in the most new members by the end of August 2011 will win a superb prize pack of assorted goodies from the Sugar Hill vault.

The way to recruit, and to get credit for your recruits, is to get your personalized URL. If you are already a member, this will be coming to you very soon in an email.

Not a member? Click Here to sign up now and get your personalized invite URL!

Already a member? Get your personalized code and check your recruiting progress at

Records Available for Free Download:

Kasey Chambers – Little Bird
Jim Lauderdale – Reason and Rhyme
Nick 13 – Nick 13
Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
Tara Nevins – Wood and Stone
Brian Wright – House on Fire
Joey + Rory – Album Number Two
Marty Stuart – Ghost Train
Various Artists – Twistable Turnable Man
The Infamous Stringdusters – Things That Fly
Black Prairie – Feast of the Hunters’ Moon

Friday, July 15, 2011

CAAS Convention this week

It's been ten years since Mr. Guitar sadly past away. Chet Atkins was truly one of the greatest figures in country music, he was a producer and player extraordinaire with a kind heart and love of music. With calm yet intricate arrangements, many people today hold him as one of the greatest guitarists. Each year in Nashville the best finger-pickers from around the world get together to honor Chet and play great music. This is their 26th year to hold the convention and hope everyone in attendance has a wonderful time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spotify Launches in America

The popular European music player, Spotify, launched in the U.S. today. They sent out a limited number of invitations to those in their email signup, and will slowly expand through invite only for the time being. Although those willing to pay a small fee can access the player right now. So, just like Google+ most of us will have to wait in yet another online invite line.

Grey Fox Music Festival This Weekend

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival is happening this weekend up in Oak Hill NY, with a killer lineup as usual. Sugar Hill sent Sam Bush and the Stringdusters to play along with great company like Thile & Daves, Del McCoury, Crooked Still, J.D. Crowe and many others. For those in attendance, let us know how it went. Those of us left behind will just keep listening to all the artists' CDs and hope to go next year.

Sugar Hill to release "Little Bird" by Kasey Chambers July 12th

Sugar Hill is proud to announce the U.S. release of the new Kasey Chambers album "Little Bird", out July 12th. We released a wonderful album from Kasey and Shane Nicholson in 2008 and we can't wait for you to hear this amazing piece of music. More info soon! Click here to see a video for the song: "Little Bird" Or click here to learn more about the album.

This Week in Sugar Hill History - Red Knuckles and The Trailblazers

22 years ago Sugar Hill released the wonderful Western Swing album “Shades of The Past” by Red Knuckles and The Trailblazers, a comedic alter ego of the group Hot Rize.
Musicians have always had an attraction to creating an alter ego that allows them to break loose from the image that has branded them to a certain style of music. Yet many times this proves unsuccessful. Remember Chris Gaines? Well sometime between Ziggy Stardust and Hannah Montana, right after Prince’s Camille the classic bluegrass group Hot Rize created Red Knuckle and The Trailblazers, a funny western swing quartet that played as good as the rest of them. Like most alter egos they utilized a distinct wardrobe change with western shirts, cowboy hats, and dark sunglasses. But alter ego aside, Red Knuckles and The Trailblazers can really play. Wonderful steel guitar licks and electric solos the boys of Hot Rize are truly able to sound like a completely new band. A good selection for any western swing fan, they provide great musicality with a fun, free willed spirit and a few laughs along the way. Listen below for a limited time.
Buy mp3 album here.

Red Knuckles and The Trailblazers - Shades of the Past

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kasey Chambers "Little Bird" now available

We're excited to announce that Kasey Chambers' award-winning record "Little Bird" is now available everywhere!  This is a brilliantly diverse record of Americana album has already gairned rave reviews from critics in Australia in America alike.
If you're not in the U.S., you can find the MP3 album in the iTunes store for your region.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This Week In Sugar Hill History - Riding the Midnight Train

25 years ago Sugar Hill Released the Grammy award winning Doc Watson album “Ride the Midnight Train”.
The last album Merle Watson ever played on before his tragic death, this piece is a gem in the Sugar Hill catalog. The true bluegrass sound is a template for how it should be done. With Doc’s clean and creative picking and sweet gravel vocals accompanied by the always superb Mark O’Conner, Sam Bush, and Bela Fleck this album is hard to beat. It won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk album and holds a dear place in the bluegrass library.
Doc Watson (vocals, guitar); Merle Watson (guitar, banjo); Alan O'Bryant (guitar, background vocals); Bela Fleck (banjo); Sam Bush (mandolin); Mark O'Connor (fiddle); T. Michael Coleman (bass, background vocals).
Buy the Mp3 album HERE

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Well you just can't get more American than apple pie and Dolly Parton. Her most patriotic album to date "For God and Country" was a celebration of Dolly's America. With eighteen tracks, Dolly expressed her love for God and country in every way possible. In track 10 she said it best.

"As American as apple pie, Mom and homemade jam
As proud as punch and peacocks, you know I am, I am
An All-American girl what knows good music and good times,
Red, white, and bluegrass, I'm not color blind".

Watch the official music video for the song "Color Me America" below.