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Thread: New grass revival

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    Registered User Sergio Lara's Avatar
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    New Grass Revival.................what a band, cool, awesome, outrageous...!

    With Sam, John, Courtney and Curtis.

    Absolutely my favorite band and lineup of all time.

    Incredible musicianship, tunes, vibe and of course my favorite mandolin player Sammy Bush.

    A great legacy of recordings and historic contribution to progressive acoustic music, bluegrass and the mandolin world.

    Of course, I also enjoyed the latest lineup with Bela and Pat, but those early recordings; specially "Barren County", "Commonwealth" and "Too Late To Turn back Now" - The Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival album are IMHO unsurpassed.

    Plus of course Sam and Hoss.............................man, then and now, incredible.

    I just wanted to post about my love for this great band and to hear about your input and memories.

    I first saw them with Leon back in '81.....it changed my life. And I was lucky enough to see them and hang out with them many, many times after that.

    Reunion?............I doubt it. But never say never and it would really be incredible.

    Thanks for reading.

    New Grass Revival rules!




  2. #2

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    "Commonwealth" was the one for me; it was as if whatever they were trying to achieve reached critical mass, and every sound heard on the recording was significant. Curtis Birch's outrageous dobro & guitar playing and Courtney's "Martian" banjo with Sam & John was something to hear.
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    And Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    New Grass Revival is the entire reason I play acoustic music.

    The Courtney and Curtis line-up is my favorite for a variety of reasons, but the two top-most are the repertoire and the rawness of the energy. The later Pat and Bela version was excellent and I saw them many times in the 80's, but they were very polished. And frankly, outside of Bela's and Pat's originals, I was never impressed with the song choices, which were very Nashville radio friendly. Me, I loved the old Bob Lucas songs like Deeper and Deeper, or other tunes like Fly Through The Country, Spring Peepers, or Pack of Fools.

    Later on here in life, I have counted myself very fortunate to have made friends with one of the greatest of banjoists, Butch Robins, who was very much tied in with these guys as a former member and friend and have enjoyed hearing his stories of Sam and Courtney.

    As great a banjoist that Butch is, it amazes me the amount of respect and awe he gives Courtney. Butch is known for many of his arrangements of classic fiddle tunes, Grey Eagle being one of them. He and I sat one day listening to an old Revival concert from 72 or thereabouts (Ebo was still in the band)and studied Courtney's rendition of the tune. Butch kept pointing out how Courtney really understood how to get the fiddle phrasing on the banjo. It just amazed me, cause that's one of Butch's signature pieces, yet he humbled himself before Courtney. Also, they were real close, so it's the love that a buddy shows another.

    Bush was the reason I took up mandolin the first time almost 25 years ago. Sapporo, the slide on Fly Through the Country, Lonesome Fiddle Blues--man, all those wanted to make me play.

    A great band and would love to see them (the Pat/Bela version) reunite at some point.

    Jim

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    Registered User Greg H.'s Avatar
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    The first time I saw them was somewhere around '74. Butch Robins was playing bass with them at that point (I think Ebo Walker quit the year before--correct me if I'm wrong here but that's not long after the first album came out). It was at a bluegrass festival in Oklahoma and most of the crowd had the very traditional attitude that "That ain't bluegrass" at that time so we got great seats up front. I was hooked after that show, and Sam has always been one of my favorite, if not the favorite, mandolinists.
    Greg Henkle

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    Quote Originally Posted by (fusionacustica @ July 29 2007, 23:24)
    The Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival album are IMHO unsurpassed.
    Have I been missing something here?

    There is a great live set with the Flynn/Fleck lineup, but that was recorded in France. If there was another live album, that would be too goog to be true!
    Who am I and if yes, how many?

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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    fusionacustica: New Grass Revival rules!
    What do they rule Sergio? #

    Just kidding -- don't answer that. #

    I agree they were so influencial in bringing bluegrass to a whole new audience --I think back fondly on all these heated arguments on the the merits of "new" grass versus bluegrass back in the 1970's when they broke onto the scene. # Those were the days my friend!

    Speaking of days -- thanks for sharing your web page - you have some photographs to die for on there. #Loved seeing them.
    Bernie
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    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

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    I remember buying a Starday record back in '76. Had the bg instruments on the cover, with tunes by Reno and Smiley, F&S, CG, Moore and Napier and Great Balls of Fire by NGR. Sam's break in B chord did it to me.

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    Registered User Sergio Lara's Avatar
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    The live album recorded at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival title is: - New Grass Revival - "Too Late To Turn Back Now" with the Sam Bush, John Cowan, Courtney Johnson and Curtis Burch lineup. It was released around '77

    As far as I know, the CD is still in print.

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (fusionacustica @ July 30 2007, 09:18)
    The live album recorded at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival title is: - New Grass Revival - "Too Late To Turn Back Now" with the Sam Bush, John Cowan, Courtney Johnson and Curtis Burch lineup. It was released around '77

    As far as I know, the CD is still in print.
    And should be owned by any self-respecting lover of live albums--essential listening, if just for Cowan singing Watermelon Man.

    Jim

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    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    There was a brief NGR reunion of sorts during the 20th Anniversary Jam at MerleFest this year. Sam Bush hosted the jam. Bela Fleck and John Cowan were on stage and Sam "summoned" Pat Flynn. They did White Freight Liner. This may have been the first time all 4 have performed together since the breakup.
    Russ Jordan

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    Quote Originally Posted by (JimRichter @ July 30 2007, 09:36)
    --essential listening, if just for Cowan singing Watermelon Man.

    Jim
    That is, if you like John Cowan's vocals. I remember one year at M-fest, he was doing Good Woman's Love as I was leaving. Made me glad I was walking that way.

    "To each his own, it's all I've known, if dogs run free"

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (AlanN @ July 30 2007, 10:00)
    Quote Originally Posted by (JimRichter @ July 30 2007, 09:36)
    --essential listening, if just for Cowan singing Watermelon Man.

    Jim
    That is, if you like John Cowan's vocals. I remember one year at M-fest, he was doing Good Woman's Love as I was leaving. Made me glad I was walking that way.

    "To each his own, it's all I've known, if dogs run free"
    I agree with you regarding John Cowan. There are times I can definitely leave him. However, back then, I still think he was a bit "restrained," if that's possible. Frankly, I noticed a change in his singing approach after the time the band spent backing Leon Russell. I noticed little things that seem to be Leon-isms.

    His new band--outside of the instrumentalists, I have no interest in it. John leaves me a bit cold.

    Jim

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    Feel the same. Back when they were doing "In the wind", etc., that was do-able, for me. I could even take Sailing Shoes, although that borderd on 'ugh'.

    No denying he and Sam sang/blended well together.

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    New Grass Revival was a very influential band and still continues to this day. I am amazed at the production of the
    collective members of NGR as solo performers and with their
    own bands. The Sam Bush Band, The John Cowan Band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and of course the two great solo projects by Pat Flynn. The volume of work is amazing and of such great quality. I enjoy it all and of course I miss the New Grass Revival but I have enjoyed the works of all the members since they parted ways in 1989. There have always been critics from the beginning of NGR but few can deny that they were influential and they were the fathers
    of Newgrass, jamgrass and/or jam bands. I believe some of those critics have never really listened to much of the collective works of NGR and the ensuing family tree.




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    Registered User gr_store_feet's Avatar
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    Is there an album released in which they backed up Leon Russell?

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    We were lucky. NGR played the DC area pretty regularly, from the very beginning. I first heard them at the Timberlake Bluegrass Festival in Virginia in 1972, with the original lineup. Folks in DC thought they were pretty progressive, listening to Emerson and Waldron, the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene. But no one had heard anything like "Great Balls of Fire" before.

    Then a few years later, at the Red Fox in Bethesda, Sam pulled out the slide mandolin for "Fly through the Country," they did an instrumental in 5/4 time("Crooked Smile"?)and Curtis and Sam played twin Dobro and Stratocaster on "These Days." I still remember that night, opening ears to the possibilities of bluegrass music.

    I think the real lasting influence of the New Grass Revival, beyond their still-fresh recordings, was the idea that you can stretch the limits of a musical style. A lot of today's hot young pickers (and some of us old not-so-hot pickers) are in their debt.

    Dan

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    Quote Originally Posted by (gr_store_feet @ July 30 2007, 13:07)
    Is there an album released in which they backed up Leon Russell?
    Look for "Rhythm & Bluegrass: Hank Wilson Vol. IV." There was a live album, which I think is out of print. Also a concert DVD. Search amazon.com.

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    The one time I saw them live there couldn't have been more than 10 people in the audience.We were sitting in the front row - it was an old converted movie theater. After one song I leaned over to my friend and commented - "that was really hot". I hadn't intended for the band to hear it but Sam leaned over and said - "Hey - thanks".



    You can't see your future in a rear view mirror.

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    I first saw/heard NGR in 1976. #John Hartford opened the show @ 'Steamboat Days' in downtown Peoria, IL and NGR followed. #I remember my dad introducing me to John before the show. #John was a licensed steamboat pilot for the Julia Belle Swain (which was docked in Peoria at the time). # While busy doing chores (carrying the garbage off the boat to the dumpster), my dad saw him and said
    "John?"...to which Hartford spun around..said hi...took off his gloves, shook my Dad's and my hand and chit chatted for a bit. #Pretty cool for a then 13 yr old kid. #NGR had him up on stage for a few tunes..including his std. 'Skippin in the Mississippi Dew'. # Later saw NGR @ Winfield in 86 and a few other times. #I remember Bela was picking a few tunes and hanging out with Geoff Stelling. #
    Andy Hodge

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    I met them before i heard them ... Black Mountain 1974 (not Grey Eagle or Gray Fox whatever the great festival in Swannanoa) We camped on the 'outer limits' of the festival camping because back then long-haired pot-smokin' hippies were not treated real well by most bluegrass fans. These 5 guys and a woman pulled up beside our campsite in an old Plymouth station wagon (i could be wrong - often am) and set up camp beside us. We talked and pretty soon were partaking of food, drink, and other libations together in fellowship that still exists today!. A few hours later we saw them on stage and my friends and i were blown away! Courtney, Curtis, and Sam were the nucleus. I think the bass player was named Ebo, but can't be sure. They had a DRUMMER who played a snare, hi-hat, kick drum rig ... but you KNOW that made the other folks mad ... they wound up getting kicked off stage by security during Lonesome Fiddle Blues on the last night, when they played too long. One of the remarkable things about the band was the woman who sat in the back of the band restringing instruments and handing off spare instruments, because they played so hard they all broke strings!! I bought my first mandolin a few months later. One of my first serious bands did "Great Balls of Fire" copied from them! I loved that band, and loved the Cowan, Flynn, Fleck group that Sam put together. In Nashville, all are in high regard! The crowning moment of my love affair came when i told my 17 year old son that he should go to a local Nashville park to hear the Sam Bush band. He came home and said "Dad!! O My God! Sam Bush!" and he made sure to catch him at Bonaroo, and some other festivals this year. 33 years with Sam - I love you man!
    Chip Smith
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Another boy from D.C. Saw them also in 1972 and also 1973 at bluegrass festivals in Culpeper/Warrington. Great stuff - bought their first album immediatly. Then I went to college in Colorado. They played a small bar in Denver and I was working at the campus center 3.2 "bar". I was asked to go listen to the NGR for booking at our campus "bar". O.K., I said. From that trip, we booked NGR to the CSU campus "bar" and from there they found Fort Collins (well they would have likely found it on their own). First Telluride festival, I was there. More great music. That said, I wasn't drawn to Cowen's voice, their subsuquent albums just didn't do it for me. Sam's playing though has always been great.

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    Speaking of missing the train, when I moved to Telluride in the late eighties, the first Telluride bluegrass festival I attended was the first Telluride bluegrass festival NGR Revival didn't attend.

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    I caught them at Peaceful Valley one year, maybe 1987 and one time on Staten Island, where they opened the first set with Big Country (the Ponty tune, not the banjer tune).

    This same SI fest featured Frank Wakefield and Jimmy Arnold (RIP) solo, and one drunk guy was yelling constantly for Jimmy to "play some real music". Jimmy put him in his place right quick.

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    Registered User JimRichter's Avatar
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    One of the few times that I ever cried out in public listening to a piece of music was in 87 or 88 at the KFC Bluegrass Fest in Louisville listening to the Revival. Bela had just written Bigfoot not too long before and had yet to record it. Saturday night, dark outside, a little cool, listening to those opening banjo lines and then hearing Sam's fiddle come in. Just brilliant.

    I remember earlier that day my brother had cornered Bela and had made a request that they play "Crooked Smile" (one of Sam's tunes from the old Revival) that night. Bela said, "We'll be playing one of mine." I'm glad he did!

    Jim

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    John is one of the greatest singers of all time in any style and an incredible bass player.

    Soulful, warm,........................what a feeling..............and a hell of a nice guy. Him and Sam on vocals.............just listen to them on "Steam Powered Airplaine", "Lonesome and a long way from home", "Deeper and deeper".................an many, many more. Just one of the greatest bands , for me.

    Love all the stories, keep them coming.




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