Bluegrass From the Forest 2017 Line Up
For the past twelve years we’ve made it our mission to bring the best national talent and top regional groups to Bluegrass From the Forest. Some past acts were The Boxcars, Grasstowne, Cedar Hill, Audie Blaylock, Jr. Sisk, Frank Solivan, Michael Cleveland and many others.
Special Consensus is a superb bluegrass outfit in a classic vein, but with more than enough modern sensibilities to attract every ear in this now pleasantly fractionating genre. The vocals are spotless, the playing as shiny as a newly minted penny, and music like this is the reason people come to love bluegrass… Special Consensus approaches this hallowed American musical form with boundless energy and an aesthetic reverence that tickles the ribs, tugs at the heart, and puts a restless two-step in boots and bare feet…
Formed in the Chicago area in 1975, The Special Consensus is a four-person acoustic bluegrass band with a repertoire that features traditional bluegrass standards, original compositions by band members and professional songwriters, and songs from other musical genres performed in the bluegrass format. The band has released 18 recordings and has appeared on numerous National Public Radio programs and cable television shows, including The Nashville Network and the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. International tours have brought the band to Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Special C has appeared in concert with many symphony orchestras nationwide and has brought an informative in-school presentation to schools nationally and internationally since 1984. Band leader/banjo player Greg Cahill is the former President/Board Chair of the Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), the former Board Chair of the Nashville-based Foundation for Bluegrass Music and a recipient of the prestigious IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award (in 2011). Other band members include guitar player Rick Faris, bass player Dan Eubanks and mandolin player Nick Dumas. The 2012 band release Scratch Gravel Road (Compass Records) was GRAMMY nominated for Best Bluegrass Album and two songs from the 2014 band release Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver (Compass Records) won IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year and Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year. The tune “Fireball” (featuring special guests Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley and Alison Brown) on the 2016 Compass Records band recording Long I Ride won the 2016 IBMA Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year Award.
GRAMMY NOMINATED | Best Bluegrass Album – 2012 Scratch Gravel Road Visit website
The Purple Hulls
You could easily say these two musicians were born to make music together. Identical twins Katy Lou and Penny Lea Clark of The Purple Hulls were raised on a working family farm in the deep piney woods of East Texas, but that didn’t stop the Texans from finding their way to the hills of Tennessee, specifically, Music City, where they began touring with various country artists and writing songs for Nashville’s largest publishing company, Sony Tree.
The Purple Hulls are no stranger to road life and are now blazing the trail as a dynamic sister duo, showcasing their unique sibling harmonies while ripping the strings off any instrument they can get their hands on. If you’re looking for authentic acoustic driven music delivered at its best, your search is over.
They will be joined by Jed Mobley on bass, who began playing at the age of nine, and later learned mandolin. His family band, Gray Fox, still plays on special occasions. He is also a member of Augusta Road and East Mountain Bluegrass Gospel Band. Visit website
Richard Bennett and Phil Leadbetter
This duo brings together two stalwarts of modern bluegrass.
Richard Bennett is a terrific singer and flatpicking guitar player who also is known for his songwriting. He learned guitar starting at age 7 and was playing professionally by 15.
His first recording was with the stellar trio of Vassar Clements, Mark Schatz and Randy Howard. He, too, played with J.D. Crowe and made three albums with Jimmy Gaudreau and Mike Aldridge.
Richard has three solo albums, has toured with bluegrass icon Bobby Osborne and crosses musical genres with his songwriting and other musical partners.
Phil Leadbetter is regarded as one of the world’s top resonator guitar players. He has won “Dobro player of the year” awards from the country’s top two bluegrass organizations. He has recorded on many projects earning Grammy nominations and other top honors.
By age 14, Knoxville-born Phil had performed for President Gerald Ford at the White House. Many bluegrassers came to know him when he toured with J.D. Crowe & the New South – demonstrating his traditional orientation coupled with Crowe’s not-always-straight-bluegrass repertoire.
He co-founded two popular bands, Wildfire and Grasstowne, and played with the Whites before taking time off for successful treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
A sought-after performer and studio musician, Phil’s playing can be heard on albums by Dolly Parton, Dale Ann Bradley, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and many others. Visit their website
Whiskey Deaf is a powerhouse bluegrass band! Annie Staninec has been playing fiddle since the age of four, and can rattle your teeth with a bluegrass breakdown, tug at your soul on a lonesome ballad, or kick you out of your seat with a cajun two-step. She’s toured the world and recorded with renowned artists such as Kathy Kallick, Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, John Reischman, David Grisman, Darol Anger, Mary Gauthier, and Town Mountain, and she’s taught at some of the most prestigious music camps in the country. Most recently, she is a full time member of the Rod Stewart Band.
John Kael has been teaching and performing bluegrass guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass for over 20 years, and is also an established songwriter – his award-winning song Handmade Cross can be heard on the Grammy-nominated album “Hard Game of Love” by Doyle Lawson.
Ethan Lawton is a gifted singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, and has performed on countless stages throughout the US and internationally with Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers, Cahalen Morrison and Country Hammer and others, and he is also a founding member of the acclaimed band Western Centuries.
Jamie Blair is a lightning-fingered and innovative banjo player, who began performing as just a youngun in Ohio with the Bluegrass Freightliners, and has performed and recorded with numerous bands since including the Ohop Valley Boys, Cascade Mountain Boys, Grapevine, Faast and Blair, and Blue Hill.
Dee Johnson is a staple in the northwest bluegrass scene, and is the rhythmic rock at the center of several bands including Mountain Honey, the Loafers, Grapevine, and Whiskey Deaf (of course!). Visit website
String Theory – Tacoma, Seattle
String Theory is one of the Northwest’s newest groups. It is comprised of bluegrass veterans as well as newbies.
Holding down banjo duties, along with lead and tenor vocals, is Jamie Blair. Jamie is a multi-instrumentalist who has been playing banjo since he was eight years old. In addition to playing with some of the Northwest’s top bands, Jamie toured with the Stoneman Family Band, and even once shared the stage with Keith Whitley.
Eric Davis is the newest transplant to the Northwest. Eric has been playing mandolin since the age of twelve, after seeing Bill Monroe on television. In 2009, Eric placed 7th in the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention Mandolin Competition. Like Jamie, Eric is also multi-talented. He plays guitar and mandolin with String Theory and sings lead and tenor vocals. He also contributes original songs to the band.
Ruben Taylor hails from Alaska. While there, Rueben cut his musical teeth on piano and fiddle, competing in several contests. Since then, Ruben picked up mandolin and guitar, both of which he plays in String Theory.
Kent Powell is a veteran of the Northwest bluegrass scene. He has played in such notable local groups as Crossfire, Runaway Train, and North Country, and has played brief stints with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado. Kent plays bass and sings lead and baritone vocals.
Runaway Train Bluegrass Band – south Puget Sound Area (host band)
Formed 17 years ago, Runaway Train has held true to its roots having evolved into a solid performer of traditional as well as progressive bluegrass. Rich harmonies and crisp instrumental work showcase each individual’s talent and put together among the four members creates the band’s unique sound. This band is well known from the many events they have performed at through the years, and have been (and still are) host band for this festival for the past 12 years! Band members are: Greg Linder – guitar, Kent Powell – bass, Nolen Elwell – mandolin Clayton Hess – banjo. Visit Facebook page