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Saturday, November 7, 2020 7:30pm

Event Description

SAT 7 NOV: 7:30pm

Streaming live from Paristown Hall, we present a salute to the American folk music tradition. Special guest artist and legendary bluegrass musician SAM BUSH joins the LO for a celebration of tradition and music.

This Louisville Orchestra Virtual Edition concert is available in our online package. Get your subscription for all 4 online concerts this fall and get the bonus videos too! Interviews, more music, and video features are packed into our new online video channel. Subscribe to view this concert live online OR view at your convenience until 31 DEC 2020.

This concert may also be a one-time-only view. Details will be announced soon.

Aaron COPLAND: Appalachian Spring
Other works TBA

SAM BUSH, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, etc.
TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor

Welcome SAM BUSH!

There was only one prize-winning teenager and son of Kentucky finding a light of inspiration from Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys and catching a fire from Bob Marley and The Wailers. Only one progressive hippie allying with like-minded conspirators, rolling out the New Grass revolution, and then leaving the genre’s torch-bearing band behind as it reached its commercial peak.

There is only one consensus pick of peers and predecessors, of the traditionalists, the rebels, and the next-gen devotees. Music’s ultimate inside outsider. Or is it outside insider? There is only one Sam Bush.

On a Bowling Green, Kentucky cattle farm in the post-war 1950s, Bush grew up an only son, and with four sisters. His love of music came immediately, encouraged by his parents’ record collection and, particularly, by his father Charlie, a fiddler, who organized local jams. Charlie envisioned his son someday a staff fiddler at the Grand Ole Opry, but a clear day’s signal from Nashville brought to Bush’s television screen a tow-headed boy named Ricky Skaggs playing mandolin with Flatt and Scruggs, and an epiphany for Bush. At 11, he purchased his first mandolin.

As a teen fiddler, Bush was a three-time national champion in the junior division of the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest. He recorded an instrumental album, Poor Richard’s Almanac as a high school senior and in the spring of 1970 attended the Fiddlers Convention in Union Grove, NC. There he heard the New Deal String Band, taking notice of their rock-inspired brand of progressive bluegrass.

Roy Acuff offered him a spot in his band. Bush politely turned down the country titan. It was not the music he wanted to play. He admired the grace of Flatt & Scruggs and loved Bill Monroe but he’d discovered electrified alternatives to tradition in the Osborne Brothers and manifest destiny in The Dillards.

“I started working at the Holiday Inn as a busboy,” Bush recalls. “Ebo Walker and Lonnie Peerce came in one night asking if I wanted to come to Louisville and play five nights a week with the Bluegrass Alliance. That was a big, ol’ ‘Hell yes, let’s go.’”

Bush played guitar in the group, then began playing mandolin after recruiting guitarist Tony Rice to the fold. Following a fallout with Peerce in 1971, Bush and his Alliance bandmates – Walker, Courtney Johnson, and Curtis Burch – formed the New Grass Revival, issuing the band’s debut, New Grass Revival. Walker left soon after, replaced temporarily by Butch Robins, with the quartet solidifying around the arrival of bassist John Cowan.

“There were already people that had deviated from Bill Monroe’s style of bluegrass,” Bush explains. “If anything, we were reviving a newgrass style that had already been started. Our kind of music tended to come from the idea of long jams and rock-n-roll songs.”

Shunned by some traditionalists, New Grass Revival played bluegrass fests slotted in late-night sets for the “long-hairs and hippies.” Quickly becoming a favorite of rock audiences, they garnered the attention of Leon Russell, one of the era’s most popular artists. Russell hired New Grass as his supporting act on a massive tour in 1973 that put the band nightly in front of tens of thousands.

Over his 50-year career, Sam Bush has performed for millions, issued acclaimed albums, and become a favorite on the festival circuit. He’s influenced dozens of newgrass bands including Punch Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, and Greensky Bluegrass to name a few. His joy in this music undiminished from his earliest days in Kentucky.

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