This week on Mountain Stage with host Larry Groce:
Jerry Douglas and the Earls of Leicester, Cheryl Wheeler, Lera Lynn, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, and Nora Jane Struthers!
The Earls of Leicester - Taking This unique bluegrass supergroup was founded by Jerry Douglas, the world’s premier dobro player, and features writer, producer, and solo artist Shawn Camp (lead vocals, guitar); Nashville banjoist Charlie Cushman; Johnny Warren, son of longtime Flatt & Scruggs fiddler Fiddlin’ Paul Warren, on fiddle; and Barry Bales, Douglas' longtime bandmate in Alison Krauss and Union Station (vocals and bass). The band was inspired by Douglas's lifelong passion for the music of bluegrass pioneers Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, who pioneed contemporary bluegrass. As a group, The Earls revisit Flatt & Scruggs classics from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Douglas's career spans four decades and encompasses more than 2000 recordings. The world class instrumentalist is a 13-time Grammy winner and three-time Country Music Association “Musician of the Year.” He has appeared on recordings by Garth Brooks, Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, John Fogerty, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Phish, and the Chieftains - as well as his early hero Earl Scruggs. Douglass played a major role on the eight-million-plus selling soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and its spinoff live disc Down from the Mountain. As a producer, Douglas has helmed albums by such notable acts as the Del McCoury Band, Maura O'Connell, Jesse Winchester and the Nashville Bluegrass Band. In 2015, The EoL won a Grammy for “Best Bluegrass Album.”
Lera Lynn - Hailing from Athens, GA, singer/songwriter Lera Lynn has become an in-demand act at festivals throughout the U.S. and the U.K. In 2011, Lynn’s song “Bobby, Baby” won the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition held at Merlefest. Meanwhile, in Athens, she won "Best Americana Artist” at GA's 2011 Flagpole Music Awards. In 2014, she followed up her acclaimed debut, Have You Met Lera Lynn? with a stunning cover of June Carter Cash’s classic “Ring of Fire,” that was featured on the hit TV show Pretty Little Liars. In addition to appearing on Late Show With David Letterman, she has performed on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, World Café, Mountain Stage, Acoustic Café, and Sirius XM’s The Loft. In 2014, she released The Avenues. Her current CD is titled Resistor, and delves into the world of “spacey, left-of-center rock and experimental pop-noire.”
Cheryl Wheeler - A consummate entertainer and natural storyteller, singer/songwriter Cheryl Wheeler alternately pens some of the most alluring ballads on the folk scene - and some wittiest social satires including “Is It Peace Or Is It Prozac?” and “Does The Future Look Black?” Wheeler’s songs have been covered by artists ranging from Kenny Loggins, Garth Brooks and Suzy Bogguss to Bette Midler, Maura O'Connell and Kathy Mattea. She tours extensively, often performing solo or with Kenny White. She appeared as part of the “On a Winter's Night” tour and was part of Philo Records’ 25th Anniversary tour. In 2009, she released Pointing at the Sun which was followed by the live Greetings From: Cheryl Wheeler in 2012.
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley - This bluegrass duo pairs veteran instrumentalist Rob Ickes with red-hot newcomer, singer/guitarist Trey Hensley. Dobro and lap steel master Rob Ickes, has been playing bluegrass with the much-awarded band, Blue Highway, for more than two decades. During that time, he was been named “Bluegrass Dobro Player Of the Year” 15 times. Ickes has played on countless sessions for artists including Merle Haggard, Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss. He also helped form the jazz trio, Three Ring Circle, along with Andy Leftwich and Dave Pomeroy. His most recent recording, “Three Bells,” is a true “dobro summit” that features fellow greats Jerry Douglas and the late Mike Auldridge. Meanwhile, Trey Hensley, also a songwriter, is at home with classic bluegrass and traditional country. In addition to his rich baritone vocals, he’s a killer electric and acoustic guitarist.
Nora Jane Struthers - A former member of Alaskan bluegrass band Bearfoot, Nora Jane Struthers attended festivals and fiddlers’ conventions around the south with her banjo-playing father. Although she began playing before she reached her teens, after graduating from NYU with an education degree, she taught high school English in Brooklyn and put music on the back burner. That changed when she went to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in the early 2000s and saw one of her heroes, Tim O’Brien. A move to Nashville followed as did joining Bearfoot and forming the Bootleggers - who won bluegrass honors at Telluride in 2008 and 2011. After two releases, she formed Party Line in 2012. The group strikes a balance between roots and rock. Her current release is titled “Wake.”
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