Head for the Hills

Review: The Bluegrass Ball

The Bluegrass Ball @ The Old Rock House, March 12-13

Fellow music junkie Rex Thomson, a photographer and journalist, has made quite a name for himself over the past few years shooting and writing about bands from the jam, bluegrass, Americana and rock scenes for various publications and his own Rex-A-Vision Facebook page. We’re honored to welcome Rex to the HT Team for the occasional review and photo set starting with this piece on The Bluegrass Ball…

We can all use a little help from our friends from time to time, and when you’ve been in the music business from birth, as Ronnie and Robbie McCoury have been, you make some fairly interesting friends. So when the brothers and the rest of their band, along with guest guitarist Cody Kilby, alongside Travelin’ regulars fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram decided to do a four-night, two-city barn storm run, they went thru their phone lists and called the finest players they could think of to help make it a special weekend for all lucky enough to witness the collection of talent on the stage.

[All photos by Rex Thomson]

Multiple award winning mandolin player Ronnie McCoury was joined on his beloved instrument by fellow wizards of the mando Drew Emmitt, of Leftover Salmon and The Emmitt-Nershi Band, and Jeff Austin of the Yonder Mountain String Band took the stage alongside Robbie McCoury and his five-string banjo. To help keep Jason Carter from feeling left out on the far side of the stage, fiery fiddler Allie Kral, of the band Cornmeal, was brought in to bring an element of grandeur and the lineup for the run was complete.

After two nights in the windy city of Chicago, the ensemble took to the road for a two night stand at the Old Rock House in St. Louis, a beautifully restored room with a variety of tiers to watch the action from, including a well situated U-Shaped balcony/second floor. The multiple vantage points gave viewers excellent angles to see the impressive light rigging in use. In fact, the clubs presentation reminds one of something far more like a concert hall than the classic façade would lead you to believe.

READ ON for more on The Bluegrass Ball…

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Blips: Three Under the Radar Bands

In our never-ending quest to dig up some great bands that cost less than a corned beef sandwich at Katz’s Deli, we bring you another round of Blips. Blips highlights some great bands that are largely still in their larvae stage, but will soon morph into their beautiful butterfly. In this edition, we have some really cool new music, so take a sec, poke around the bands’ various websites, and see what you think of these three under the radar acts…

We Were Promised Jetpacks


MySpace / Website

Not only do We Were Promised Jetpacks boast one of the finest aeronautical band names since Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, but they share a very similar sound with Frightened Rabbit – albeit on overdrive – as a) they possess the requisite Scottish accents and b) often construct their songs similarly by building progressions via scalar chord combinations. In other words, they’ll start with a chord and structure a progression by adding and subtracting notes within that same scale. The result translates to unique and peaceful indie pop.

If there’s anyone besides me out there counting the days down to the release of Frightened Rabbit’s third full-length as your most anticipated of the year, these guys ought to buy you some time. The comparisons should come as no surprise as the two bands are label mates, thereby officially making Fat Cat Records of the most promising indie labels today. That makes two terrific Scottish bands without ceilings in as many years (three if you count the Twilight Sad, but I’m not quite sold on them yet).


READ ON for more Blips-worthy bands – Lubriphonic & Head For The Hills…

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