Back in September, we took a look at up-and-coming jam bands that are setting themselves up to be the next big thing. It was tough picking out just five, as the jam scene is already hugely diverse and always in a state of growth, with acts synthesizing influences ranging from EDM to bluegrass. That got us thinking about how we could show some love to up-and-comers in the other genres we cover while giving our readers the heads-up of who to keep an eye out for; thus, for your reading pleasure, for our next installment in the series, we’ve sat down and picked out five of our favorite bluegrass rising stars who should be on your radar.Bluegrass is a dynamic genre, as explained by this wonderful essay by Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters detailing the history behind the two diverging sects of the genre: old-school traditionalists and those of the inventive “newgrass” mindset. Pandolfi writes, “Bands like Yonder Mountain String Band, the Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, Punch Brothers, and Railroad Earth [are] now all prominent members of the thriving progressive music world. These groups have origins in bluegrass, but our metric for success has little to do with how authentically ‘bluegrass’ we are. . . . In 2016, progressive bands are hitting that stride and changing people’s idea of what’s possible. Right behind us is a long line of quality young acts, all with their own original acoustic sound, eager to be a part of a growing bluegrass-rooted scene. From this side of the divide, bluegrass has never looked healthier.”We have to agree with the infamous stringduster. We love the new acts that are being born out of the genre and rising the ranks, and we’re constantly excited by the innovation that young players are bringing to the table. The competition was fierce and this list is by no means complete, but make sure to keep an eye on these newer names on the bluegrass circuit, as we expect you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the future. We love these acts for their ability to tap into bluegrass’s roots while simultaneously using music as an expression of themselves and captivating and converting contemporary audiences. We think you’ll love them too.Horseshoes & Hand GrenadesWisconsin’s Horseshoes & Hand Grenades formed in 2010, and since then have been grinding away, slowly building a name for themselves with their exceptional songwriting, stellar picking, and near-constant touring schedule. Having shared the stage with Merle Haggard, the Del McCoury Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled By Turtles, Yonder Mountain String Band, and more, it’s clear that other bluegrass musicians are also feeling the group’s high-energy and progressive twist on the basic elements of old-time and bluegrass.The group consists of David C. Lynch (harmonica, accordion), Russell Pedersen (banjo, fiddle), Adam Greuel (guitar, dobro), Sam Odin (bass), Collin Mettelka (fiddle, mandolin), who consistently woo fans with the undeniable fun-lovin’ and foot-stompin’ spirit they bring to their frequent live performances. You can check out Horseshoes & Hand Grenades when they hit the American Beauty in New York City this Friday (tickets available here) before continuing on their tour that runs from now through the end of August (see, we told you they tour a lot!). Watch one of their live performances below to see what we mean about their high-octane bluegrass stylin’s, and check out their website here for more information and additional tour dates![Video courtesy of wklitz1]Kitchen DwellersThis year has been very good for the Kitchen Dwellers, the Montana-based quartet featuring Joe Funk (bass), Shawn Swain (mandolin), Torrin Daniels (banjo), and Max Davies (guitar), only confirming the upward trajectory of the band since their inception in 2010. Fans of all musical persuasions love their fusion of psychedelia and jam-band elements into their bluegrass-rooted sound, creating a unique jamgrass synthesis the Kitchen Dwellers call “galaxygrass,” while their undeniable musicianship both as writers and players grounds the band and gives them the foundation that allows them to innovate.Last week, they released their latest album, Ghost In The Bottle, produced by Andy Thorne of Leftover Salmon and featuring members of Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Twiddle, and Little Feat, with a giant two-day 4/20 blowout across Colorado’s front range. With the success of their album release parties, the band is riding high as they look to their summer tour, dates for which can be found here. Check out a live performance from the Kitchen Dwellers below, and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for these boys when they hit a town near you.[Video courtesy of Kontagium]Lindsay Lou & The FlatbellysBorn in 2009 in Michigan, Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys were born, and their intelligent and dynamic blend of Americana, roots, jazz, and bluegrass has allowed them to rise the ranks and gain notoriety within the scene. Even their name speaks to their cross-generational bluegrass appeal, having earned the title after a fellow musician announced “It’s good to see you Flatbellys out here pickin’ with us Greybeards” late-night during a bluegrass festival. Lindsay Lou’s voice is soulful and cuts straight to the heart, while Joshua Rilko (mandolin), PJ George (bass), and Mark Lavengood (guitar) are responsible for weaving the gorgeous and delicate instrumentation of the band.Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys seem to be primarily interested in honoring their own musical vision, which is clearly working considering the steadily rising numbers in their fan base. You rarely find them breaking out into frenetic bluegrass pickings like others in the list, but it’s all for the better, as the talented musicians are honing in on a truly unique sound rooted in bluegrass tradition.You can check out a performance of the quartet below, and mosey over to their website for more information. Also, friends hitting The Aiken Bluegrass Festival should make sure to see Lindsay Lou & The Ladies, a special set featuring all the ladies of the festival, including Allie Kral (Yonder Mountain String Band), Mimi Naja (Fruition), Jenny Keel (Larry Keel Experience), and Mackenzie Page (Gipsy Moon).[Video courtesy of Audiotree]Billy StringsThe guitarist Billy Strings is young, but he’s good. He’s stupid good. The Kentucky-born Michigan-transplant is only now rounding into his mid-20’s, and he leaves those who see him play with their jaws on the floor. He’s cut his teeth playing bluegrass since a young age, and it shows with his raw and energized playing while sharing the stage with the likes of Don Julin and Greensky Bluegrass. He can pick with the best of them, though the guitarist imbues his playing and stage presence with a distinctly rock ‘n’ roll style, a sensibility that enraptures eager audiences and can get a room amped up and energized in record speed. You can check out a video of a full performance of his with the Billy Strings Band below, as well as hit up his website here for upcoming dates for his aggressive touring schedule this summer.[Video courtesy of wklitz1]Kind CountrySnagging the last spot and rounding out our not-very-extensive list is Kind Country, the Minneapolis-based jamgrass band forged in 2012. Originally started as a four-piece string band, the band expanded into six-member ensemble featuring Mitch Johnson (guitar), Brandon Johnson (guitar), Max Graham (mandolin), Joe Sheehan (bass), Chris Forsberg (violin), and Chris Wittrock (drums). These guys have some thing special going on, with the addition of drums allowing the group to go deeper in exploring how bluegrass can morph and intersect with other genres and giving them the freedom to create a sound that is truly their own. However, they still stay true to their string-band origins and bluegrass roots, with their energetic playing and the talent among the six players more-or-less guaranteeing a foot-stompin’ good time. You can watch Kind Country performing below, and check out their website for more information and their upcoming tour schedule here.[Video courtesy of Ocooch Mountain Music]
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York “West Side Story” had the audience on its feet applauding wildly and shouting bravos after its first Saturday night performance at the John W. Engeman Theater. The musical saga of star-crossed lovers whose Manhattan romance is doomed by cultural discord is not only simply sensational, but the perfect choice for the Northport theater’s 50th production.The show itself has some stellar history too. “West Side Story” first graced Broadway in 1957. It brought together an extraordinarily talented creative team: composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim, playwright Arthur Laurents, and director and choreographer Jerome Robbins. According to Larry Stempel’s Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater, the production ushered in a new era by blurring the lines between musical theater and opera while adding social commentary to the mix.Showcasing what many consider to be Bernstein’s finest work, the musical also gave these legendary artists the opportunity to stretch themselves as never before. It was the first time that Sondheim ever wrote lyrics for a Broadway production; for Laurents, it was his first Broadway libretto.If the story line of forbidden love gone terribly awry sounds familiar, it should. “West Side Story” is based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which tells of the tragedy ensnaring the romantically linked offspring of two feuding noble families, the Montagues and Capulets. Fast-forward another four centuries to the 1950s, and “West Side Story” is the urban version.Shakespeare’s portrayal of the intoxication and blind innocence of first love countered by senseless rivalry and the unceasing desire for revenge still rings true today. Under Igor Goldin’s masterful direction at the Engeman Theater, the cast brings this New Age Romeo and Juliet, this blend of light and dark, hope and heartache, comedy and despair, to glorious fruition.Set in a blue-collar neighborhood in the Upper West Side in 1957, the venue is far from pretty, yet this forsaken piece of turf bound by brick walls and chain-link fences is the subject of intense rivalry between two street gangs, the Jets, the established white ethnics, and the Sharks, the Puerto Rican newcomers.A dance at a local gymnasium brings the warring gangs together on what is supposedly neutral territory. As the Jets and Sharks assert their superiority by alternately usurping the dance floor, something magical happens. Amidst the whirlwind of frenetic movement, Tony, a Jet, and Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the Shark’s leader, spot each other from across the room and are drawn together like magnets. Both are immediately smitten, but Bernardo has brought Maria from Puerto Rico so she could marry his friend, Chico.While his friends are riveted in the gritty here and now, Tony, played by Zach Trimmer, is dreaming of a better life. Carl Sagan once spoke of the optimistic human belief that there is something marvelous around the corner yet undiscovered, a vision that Tony brings to life when he sings “Something’s Coming.”Later that night, Maria (Samantha Williams) stands on her tenement apartment’s fire escape with Tony below, and the chemistry is palpable. His serenade, “Tonight,” is a joyous prelude to the uncharted territory that is love. Young Williams’ mellifluous singing voice is astounding. Trimmer renders “Maria,” so tenderly that he makes it a fitting tribute to the transformative power of love.Shakespeare liked to alternate between moods in his plays, and “West Side Story” follows his lead, with romance giving way to comedy–before the tragedy you know is coming.In the sardonic song, “America,” Rosalia (Ashley Pérez Flanagan) extols the virtues of Puerto Rico, while the other Shark Girls–Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita (Karli Dinardo), Francisca (Victoria Casillo) and Marguerita (Ashley Marinelli) counter with wisecracks. The girls are dressed in gorgeous jewel-toned dresses made for swirling and flaunting. The song is incredibly amusing; the dancing spectacular. It’s pure eye candy that delights the heart and the soul. Kudos to Tristan Raines for the costume design.What a cast! Dinardo excels as Anita, the worldly, “older” sister to Maria, who has just come to America and is inexperienced when it comes to the opposite sex. Their close relationship makes their final duet, “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love,” all the more bittersweet.Riff (Sam Wolf) and Bernardo (Nikko Kimzin) are both effectively commanding and conflicted in their roles as respective leaders of the Jets and Sharks who must decide the terms of the rumble that will settle the turf dispute once and for all.The action slowly builds momentum, with anticipation reaching its apex towards the end of Act I, when the whole company gathers to sing “Tonight.” Absolutely breathtaking, it is musical theater at its best.This show demands great choreography, and Jeffry Denman, assisted by Lauren Cannon, and assistant director/fight choreographer, Trey Compton, deliver it big time. Some of the finest dancing is showcased in “Somewhere,” a dreamy, wishful sequence in which Maria and Tony watch dancers dressed in white move blithely across the stage with joyous grace despite the rumble’s tragic ending. As Trimmer, Williams and company sing, Ashley Pérez Flanagan gives an outstanding solo that further lights up this poignant scene.Also worthy of mention is the hilarious song, “Gee, Officer Krupke,” featuring the well-choregraphed antics of Action (Scott Shedenhelm) and the rest of the Jets. In Act II, it offers needed comic relief as the world that these young adults know starts to spiral out of control.As always, the band at the Engeman, led by musical director James Olmstead on keyboard, is topnotch and does full justice to Bernstein’s musical genius. The music and lyrics linger on long after you leave the theater.“West Side Story” runs through November 8, but the popular show will likely sell out soon. The John W. Engeman Theater is located at 250 Main St., Northport. For more information, call (631) 261-2900 or by visit www.engemantheater.com.
___The Atlantic Coast Conference is putting fall competitions on hold until at least Sept. 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a move that won’t affect football as of now.The league announced the decision Thursday impacting non-revenue sports such as soccer, volleyball, field hockey and cross country. North Carolina State and Louisville meet on Sept. 2 in the first football game involving any league teams.Schools won’t be able to hold exhibitions or regular-season competition before that date, and it will be up to the schools to determine whether to reschedule any affected events. But the ACC isn’t barring teams from holding workouts and preseason practices “in anticipation of a fall season.”___ July 9, 2020 ___Brazil’s soccer confederation said Thursday its main national championship will be played between Aug.9 and Feb.21. The Brasileirāo tournament usually starts in May and ends in December but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The confederation also said it expected World Cup qualifiers to be played in the same dates decided by FIFA. The earliest fixtures are scheduled for September. More than 68,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, and another 1.7 million are confirmed to have the disease. ___The plan to have fans at the World Golf Championships event in Memphis has been scrapped.Officials announced Thursday that the FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind will not have any spectators due to what they call “an abundance of caution.” Tournament officials have been talking extensively with both the PGA Tour and local and state health officials. Executive director Darrell Smith says they had a safety plan for limited spectators but ultimately felt it was best to host without any fans. Ticket purchases will be refunded automatically.The PGA Tour and the Memorial announced Monday a reversal of their plan for a limited amount of spectators next week in Dublin, Ohio, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that every PGA Tour event through at least July will be held without fans since play resumed June 11 in Texas. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___Cleveland Indians outfielder Franmil Reyes apologized for putting himself and his teammates at risk by not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing at a weekend holiday party. ___Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says forward Vinícius Júnior will need to have another coronavirus test after an initial test result came out “wrong.”Zidane says “the doctor informed me that the test had come out wrong and we were going to repeat it.”Zidane says the Brazilian’s test was not positive. He says “sometimes there are errors. It wasn’t negative or positive.”Spanish league players have undergone regular testing since the competition resumed last month. The Ivy League school announced Thursday that men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing, have been cut, effective immediately. That drops to 30 the number of varsity teams and will reduce the number of recruited athletes in incoming classes by 10%. A total of about 110 student-athletes are affected. Jobs for 15 staff, including eight coaching positions, also will end.The change in the number of teams does not alter the college’s compliance with federal Title IX regulations, which require equal opportunities for women and men in varsity athletics, Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon said in an email to faculty, students, staff, and undergraduate families.Dartmouth also is permanently closing its Hanover Country Club, which has deficits expected to swell to $1 million a year.The cuts are projected to save more than $2 million as the school addresses a projected $150 million deficit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.___ Associated Press North Carolina State says five people tied to Wolfpack sports have tested positive for the new coronavirus.Athletics spokesman Fred Demarest said Thursday those positives came after the school tested 315 athletes, coaches and staff starting May 29. That’s a positive rate of roughly 1.6%.N.C. State athletic director Boo Corrigan had announced in early June that the school had begun a schedule of allowing athletes to return in phases to campus.That plan started with testing of members of the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball programs who live locally. Athletes who were cleared were then allowed to participate in voluntary workouts in small groups.On Wednesday, rival North Carolina said it was pausing football workouts for at least a week. That came after 37 positive results among 429 tests administered to UNC athletes, coaches and staff as they returned to campus in phases starting in June. The Latest: Franmil Reyes apologizes to Cleveland teammates The club kept Reyes away from its training camp after he was spotted on social media attending a Fourth of July get-together. Reyes had to be re-tested for the new coronavirus and cleared by Indians medical personnel before he was allowed to practice.“I really apologize, because I was not protecting myself and my teammates,” Reyes said on a Zoom call from Progressive Field. “I learned from it and it won’t happen again. I really don’t want to stop practicing. I really apologize and I swear it won’t happen again.”This will be his first full season with the Indians, who acquired him last year in a trade with the San Diego Padres. The 25-year-old slugger hit a combined 37 homers last year for San Diego and Cleveland and may get some playing time in right field.___The Seattle Seahawks are allowing season ticket holders the option to pause their season tickets and receive a refund for the upcoming NFL season or keep a credit in their account for the 2021 season. Some players and staff members at Valencia and Alavés tested positive in March. They have all recovered. No player has tested positive since the competition resumed in empty stadiums.Madrid leads the Spanish league with four games left.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Planning for a season they acknowledge will be “very different,” the Cleveland Browns told their season-ticket holders they can opt out of the 2020 season without penalty and other plans related to the COVID-19 virus and its impact on the NFL.The Browns sent a letter to their fans on Thursday that outlined some new policies due to the pandemic. Anyone attending a game at FirstEnergy Stadium will have to follow physical-distancing guidelines and wear “mandated facial coverings.”The team did not say how many fans will be allowed in the 67,000-seat stadium, which has been the Browns’ lakefront home since 1999.Earlier this week, the Baltimore Ravens said they’ll seat fewer than 14,000 fans at M&T Bank Stadium. The Browns are scheduled to open the season there on Sept. 13. If Cleveland season-ticket holders decide not to attend games in 2020, they can retain their same seat location in 2021. In a letter to season ticket holders on Thursday, the team said choosing to pause a season ticket will release the seats for the 2020 season only, and the ticket holder will be able to purchase the same seat again in 2021.Fans who choose to keep their tickets for the 2020 upcoming season will have priority if there are schedule changes or changes in stadium capacity.The Seahawks did not say how many fans would be allowed inside CenturyLink Field. Earlier this week, the Baltimore Ravens said they’ll seat fewer than 14,000 fans at M&T Bank Stadium.___Dartmouth is eliminating five varsity sports teams and several staff positions.
PHOTO CAPTION: Vice Mayor City of Miramar and host to the Reggae Girlz, Alexandra Davis; Consul General of Miami, Oliver Mair; Entertainer and Minister, Papa San; Reggae Girlz Player, Ashleigh Shim; Reggae Girlz Assistant Coach, Hubert Busby and President of the Reggae Girlz Foundation, Michelle Adamolekun Alex Vice Mayor of the City of Miramar, Alexandra Davis, will be hosting the Reggae Girlz for Send-Off Celebration fundraising events and activities, May 20-24, in support of their qualification to the FIFA’s Women’s World Cup France 2019. “We are excited and honored to host the Reggae Girlz Send-off Celebration with events throughout the City of Miramar,” Vice Mayor Davis told CNW. “With the Miramar community having such deep roots in Jamaica and the Caribbean overall, it’s a natural connection to host the Reggae Girlz. We are honored to be a part of such a great experience.”Vice Mayor Davis has her own strong connection to the island of Jamaica. She was born in England to Jamaican, but grew up in her parents’ homeland where she attended Mico Practicing All Age School, Wolmer’s Girls’ High School and the University of the West Indies. She then went on to work for the Ministry of Agriculture in Kingston. Since moving to Florida, the Miramar Vice Mayor created a non-profit organization called Caribefest. The organization aims to foster diversity, tolerance and unity within Miramar’s robust Caribbean community, and hosts the Caribefest cultural festival. As a certified teacher, Vice Mayor Davis also formed another non-profit called Caribbean American Teachers Association of Florida, with the motto “Inspiring Students and Empowering Teachers”. The Vice Mayor is excited to support the history-making Reggae Girlz on their journey to France, and is imploring her Miramar community and Jamaicans throughout South Florida to come participate in the festivities, especially the main send-off event which will be held at Miramar’s Ansin Sports Complex on Thursday, May 23 from 5-10pm. “Come, wear your colors, and let’s send off our Reggae Girlz in style!” Vice Mayor Davis says.