Known as the Father of Newgrass, Sam Bush releases his highly anticipated new solo album, Storyman, on June 24, 2016. The recording, his first since 2009’s Circles Around Me, features songs Bush co-wrote with his many musical friends, including the late Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Jon Randall Stewart, Jeff Black, Stephen Mougin, and others. The release comes via Sugar Hill Records, a major player on the bluegrass and Americana scenes.
On his website, Bush describes Storyman as his singer/songwriter album and explains the time it took to get the new project together. “It’s still important to me that all of the songs fit together on an album,” he says. “I’m well aware that people buy individual tracks digitally, and that’s good. But I still think of it as an album––a body of work. And I’m really satisfied with these songs. It’s taken awhile, but I sure am happy with them.”
The tracks on Storyman range through many genres including influences of jazz, folk, blues, reggae, country swing, and, of course, bluegrass. Bush produced the album himself and recorded it at Neptone Recording Studios in Destin, Florida, and Nashville’s Sound Emporium. He also provides the vocals on many of the 11 tracks, joined by Deborah Holland on “Everything Is Possible,” Alison Krauss on “Lefty’s Song,” and Emmylou Harris on “Handmics Killed Country Music,” a song that the long-time collaborators wrote together.
The wryly funny “Handmics Killed Country Music” is a honky tonk shuffle, featuring a steel guitar and trio of fiddles, as well as the old-time piano shuffle stylings of Pig Robbins. A Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Robbins is a legendary session player who has contributed to numerous hits by Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers, George Jones, Bob Dylan, and many others in a career that stretches back to the 1950s.
“Lefty’s Song” was co-written by Sam and the late Steven Brines by letter correspondence back in the 70s. The song was recorded on tape and, after Brines died in the 1980s, Bush lost the tape. Recently he found it and the song reemerges on Storyman after almost 40 years.
Best known today for his fiery mandolin style, Sam Bush started out making music on his father’s farm in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Originally he took up the fiddle, winning a top prize at the National Oldtime Fiddler's Contest as a teenager, but became proficient on the mandolin as well. In the early 1970s, Sam became a founding member of the seminal New Grass Revival. The group, which included artists such as Bela Fleck and Pat Flynn, is credited with sparking the progressive bluegrass movement and popularizing the style while touring with Leon Russell in the early ‘80s.
In 1989, the New Grass Revival dissolved and Bush joined Emmylou Harris's backing group the Nash Ramblers. Their album, Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers At The Ryman, received the 1992 Grammy for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, gaining Sam Bush his first Grammy award. Another Grammy arrived in 1996 for Bush’s work on Bela Fleck and the Flecktones’ song “The Sinister Minister,” winner in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category. A third came his way in 2001 for his contributions to the 2001 Album of the Year, the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack.
In 2009, the Americana Music Association (AMA) presented Sam Bush with its Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist award. He has hosted the award show of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) several times, and received the IBMA’s Mandolinist of the Year title four times.
Although recordings have been few and far between in Sam Bush’s career, he’s hardly been sitting on the porch. He has the reputation as one of the most tireless and enthusiastic touring artists in bluegrass and is a regular at numerous music festivals, including MerleFest, where Bush is one of the few artists to appear every year since its founding, and hosts the annual Mando Mania as well as participating in numerous other jams.
This year, Bush will be taking his band to Bonnaroo, Rockygrass, the John Hartford Memorial Festival, and many other venues to introduce his new album. He’s just off another triumphant appearance at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, where he plays the 8 p.m. slot on Saturday every year. Known as the “King of Telluride,” Bush made numerous other appearances during the four-day festival, including closing out the weekend on Sunday night, with the all-star Telluride House Band, made up of Bush, Bela Fleck, Bryan Sutton, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan.
Confirmed dates for the Sam Bush Band in 2016 include:
6/25/2016 ROMP, Owensboro, KY
7/8/2016 Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA
7/9/2016 Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley, CA
7/10/2016 Green Music Center, Rohnert, CA
7/14/2016 Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO
7/15/2016 Olathe Summer Concert Series, Olathe, KS
7/16/2016 Camp Euforia, Lone Tree, IA
7/29/2016 Rockygrass, Lyons, CO
7/30/2016 Rockygrass, Lyons, CO
8/5/2016 Charleston Music Hall, Charleston, SC
8/6/2016 City Winery Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
8/13/2016 Targhee Bluegrass Festival, Alta, WY
9/9/2016 Carolina Theatre, Durham, NC
9/16/2016 Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ
9/17/2016 Pickin' in the Pines, Flagstaff, AZ
9/23/2016 Watermelon Park Fest, Berryville, VA
10/1/2016 Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, Columbia, MO
Visit the Sam Bush official website for updates, additions and info on ordering the new album.