BACKSTAGEVIEW.COM

TURNING GROUND
from
Salyersville, Kentucky

Travelin' McCourys w/ Bill Nershi

                                             and The Jeff Austin Band


Another major snowstorm was hitting the East Coast with 7 to 10 inches expected. 


Everything is closed so stay home. Unless, of course, you are planning to catch "The Road To Delfest" at The Ardmore in Philadelphia with the Travelin' McCourys featuring the great Bill Nershi and the opener of The Jeff Austin Band featuring Danny Barnes.


"What snow?" was the comment on the Travelin' McCoury's Facebook page that day and thank goodness for that.


I arrived before noon for a show that didn’t begin seating until 7 P.M. hoping to interview these guys. I thought that they would have come in the night before from the Brooklyn Bowl but apparently not (just part of the job for a Passionate Street Reporter for Backstage View).


Jeff Austin took the stage with his band and instantly reminded us of what a talented musician and personality he is. Jeff put together a band that is worth writing home about. 


Guitarist Ross Martin has chops. On bass is Eric Thorin. He really knows how to rip it apart on the bass along with longtime collaborator Danny Barnes. 


I keep thinking that the best way of describing Danny Barnes was the look on Jason Carter's face when everyone was on stage jammed together towards the end of the night and Jason was observing Danny up close. The interest, what appeared to be astonishment, seems to have said so much.


Jeff's band plays awesome, but it is not your standard straight forward toe-tapping songs all the time. They go into these space sets that had the genius of what you would expect if the late, great Frank Zappa was writing the score (In my book that is a great compliment to the band).


The group’s debut solo album is called “The Simple Truth.” Every Jeff Austin fan owes it himself to pick this up. It's not your familiar jam band sounds as you will hear hints of power pop, ballads, bluegrass and rock as only Jeff Austin's band can do. 


Cody Dickinson of The North Mississippi Allstars is on percussion on the new CD (also assisting on the new CD are acclaimed guests including Todd Snider, Jenn Harswick, Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey's McGee and Sarah Siskind).


It seemed like mostly original songs that they played at the show. Although at one time there was a familiarity and then the words to "Ragdoll" began. I got thumbs up from "Puffy" across the other side of the floor (see Puffy's Picks on this site). Our band used to play that song, but certainly nothing like this. The Jeff Austin Band goes where no man has gone before. 


This was a real long version of the song and I wasn't sure we were still in that song until close to the end when Jeff brought us back from very far away. Jeff is a great front man. He reminds us how lucky we are to be in a world where Del McCoury is still performing. Amen to that, or rather Del, “yeah to that.”


After a short break the Travelin' McCoury's took the stage. Joining the band was Bill Nershi, a founding member of the String Cheese Incident, Honkytonk Homeslice, and the great Emmitt Nershi Band. 


I have always loved watching and listening to Nershi but after this show I can say the same thing and add 10 times to that. Bill Nershi is such a talented musician. He has awesome tunes that everyone can't help but love and want to sing along with. He is a brilliant guitar flatpicker and is seriously an impressive guitarist. 


I had listened and investigated his music since the show and it seems he has done some great work with so many people including his daughter Jillian who has such a great voice.


If you have ever seen the Travelin' McCoury's you know what to expect. Just the best musicians ripping it apart and giving you the best show that money can buy. They are consistently great and give you the best show that money can buy. Each band member is a master of their craft. Seriously. They have won every award there is to win numerous times. Any artist would love to have any of them working on their projects.


Rob McCoury has his first new solo album out and The 5String Flame Thrower is really great. Bobby Osborne guests on a few tunes singing and playing mandolin. Sonny sings and plays a bit of twin banjo too. 


Also, check this out: Robbie sings a complex low harmony part with Bobby and Sonny (you can go back and reread that. It's true). Personally, I love listening when Jason and Ronnie just totally take off. I had bought a CD when they first came out and was looking forward to buying another as a gift but I was bummed they didn't have copies for sale at the show. This is something you want to look for if you don't already have a copy.


These guys are so incredible that each one of them deserves mentioning. Alan Bartrum plays bass in an incredible way. His vocals are stellar and his stage presence and banter with the audience are terrific. 


Jason Carter is probably the most versatile fiddle players alive. Let me just remind you that he won "Fiddle player of the Year" at the IBMA's ...yet again for the third time. On top of that he also sings some great tunes and adds so much to the harmonies. 


Rob on the 5-string kills it. He is so good on the banjo that he makes it look so easy. He is a Scruggs protégé.


Together Rob and Brother Ronnie literally have it in their blood. And Ronnie is without a doubt a mandolin messiah. He is the Michael Jordan of mandolin players. I don't think anybody will argue that since he is the winner of mandolin player of the year eight times in a row.


After a short break the two bands come out together and jam like there is no tomorrow. They remind us of the upcoming Delfest Festival (see my review in the Festival section). Delfest is something you need to checkout. Just look at the lineup. Del goes way out of the Bluegrass Box and has a lineup that is amazing. I have never missed a Delfest yet. 


Check it out and you will understand why.


Don't miss The Travelin' McCoury's, Bill Nershi, The Jeff Austin Band or especially The Del McCoury Band and Delfest. They are always great shows, guaranteed. 


Look for Rob McCoury's new album 

“The 5-String Flame Thrower.”