:: Sam Bush ::Cervantes’ Masterpiece :: Jan. 17 ::
By Kathy Foster-Patton
Sam Bush is one of those guys who is a staple of the bluegrass scene and especially the progressive aspect of the genre. The mandolin guru founded New Grass Revival back in the 1970s and led it for 18 years. His band influenced the evolution of standard bluegrass into the progressive sounds of the likes of Nickel Creek and Yonder Mountain String Band, among others.
Bush spoke with The Marquee while on a working vacation in Florida, a couple of days after temperatures in Denver hit seventeen degrees below zero and he was quick to lord over the writer with his current location. “Wow — I shouldn’t even tell you where we are — 70 degrees. Bathing suits,” he said, adding, I suppose to elicit some sympathy, “It’s a working vacation. I bring my instruments and an 8-track digital machine and it’s a great way to spend December. We live in Nashville and we get so busy and it’s fun to come down and concentrate on the preproduction of the next record.”
The next record is a project Bush is working on and planning to release sometime in 2009. It’s the first album he’s released since Laps in Seven came out in 2006. He noted that he has two different ideas about direction for the next recording. “If anything, I’m down here sorting out my ideas. The good news is I’m really not short on ideas, I just need to execute a few of them,” said Bush.
In addition to a future CD, Bush described another project that he is knee deep in at the moment. “We’ve been making a documentary on sort of the start of ‘newgrass’ music based around Louisville, Ky. in the early ’70s. The band I moved there to play in, called The Bluegrass Alliance, was big in Louisville. Then four members of the Alliance split off and we started the New Grass Revival in 1971. The tie-in to all of this is when a friend of ours bought a big old Victorian house and he would let all the young bluegrass musicians stay there, because there was not a lot of money to be made in bluegrass, but there was a lot of music to be played. I didn’t live in the bluegrass hotel, but I visited the bluegrass hotel. Vince Gill was one of the boarders there. Anyway, to make a long story short, we’re making a documentary for Kentucky educational TV, or PBS, or a DVD,” he said.
Bush ended 2008 by flying to Alaska — a trip he was preparing for when we spoke. “We leave Florida on December 28, and then the whole band goes to Anchorage to do a New Year’s Eve party with the David Grisman Quintet, and I hear you can see Russia from there! From the beach to Alaska — that’s what I love about America, the incredible variety,” said Bush.
This month Bush and his band start out the new year with a tour of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. He expects to be back in Colorado later in the year for his alumni roles at the Telluride Bluegrass and RockyGrass festivals with his band, which includes bassist Byron House, drummer Chris Brown, Scott Vestal on the banjo and Steven Mougin on guitar. “I’m very fortunate that I’m still playing with these great guys who I’ve been playing with the last few years,” he said.
Anyone who has seen Sam Bush perform knows that his music may be acoustic or electric, but it is based on rock. His grooves are much closer to hard rock than traditional bluegrass.
When Bush and company land in Denver, they’ll be on hand to help celebrate the sixth anniversary of Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, along with Honkytonk Homeslice, Band of Heathens and Hunker Down Bluegrass. “It’ll be variety with an acoustic instrument — positive energy — entertainers! We just want to entertain the folks. I know when I go to a music show if I think of other things I need to be doing, that means I’m not being entertained enough. Our goal is to take people away from the daily grind,” he said.
Bush has his work cut out for him after the Colorado tour. “Once we get done with our Colorado tour, I’m going to start recording sometime in February or March,” said Bush. “I’ll be working on the documentary and the CD simultaneously.” And speaking of multi-tasking, if you’ve ever seen Sam Bush on stage, you know that the audience can’t figure out if they’re at a bluegrassy rock show, or a rockin’ bluegrass show.
:: Sam Bush ::
::Cervantes’ Masterpiece :: Jan. 17 ::
Recommended if you Like:
• Bill Monroe
• New Grass Revival
• Yonder Mountain String Band