Joe Kendrick

No survey of current bluegrass is accurate without mention of Darin and Brooke Aldridge. The husband and wife duo, whose first album came in 2008, are now at the center of what contemporary bluegrass does best. And they have the hardware and chart hits to attest to that — for starters, Brooke is the 4-time, reigning IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, and their 2019 album Inner Journey rose to the top of the charts, surprising no one on both counts.

(l to r) Woody Platt and Graham Sharp warm up in WNCW’s Studio B 9/28/20
Mike Gavin

It could be easy to lose sight of this, with all of the trials and tribulations we have endured in 2020, but Steep Canyon Rangers is having a banner year. Beginning with their live album North Carolina Songbook, continuing with a surprise collaboration with Boyz II Men on the remake of their song “Be Still Moses”, and finishing with their studio album Arm in Arm, the western North Carolina six piece band has been fully en fuego despite all of the cold water thrown on the music world lately.

In 2018, the four piece group Wood & Wire was nominated for a Grammy award for their album North of Despair. Since their four members had come up playing styles like jazz and punk rock, of course they would find themselves in a band on the verge of winning nationwide recognition as a bluegrass band -- from that hotbed of the genre, Austin Texas no less. Somehow, two plus two equals five with Wood & Wire, and here they are, carving out a niche that seems as unlikely as it is fortunate.

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires are amongst the most celebrated couples in music, and their star continues to rise. Theirs is a story that brings to mind iconic husband and wife teams like Johnny and June, and they can boast an ever growing legion of fans and critical acclaim. The past year or so has proved to be one of their most successful in terms of their music, while it has also been a span with times of great difficulty -- both with their art and their relationship.

WNCW's Program Director, Joe Kendrick talks with Bluegrass musicians Darin and Brooke Aldridge about producing albums, changes in bluegrass, and more.

In May of 1989, Doc Watson was 66 years old. He was known around the world, and had already cemented his legacy, but was nowhere near the end of his achievements. With four Grammy awards under his belt, he had four more to go. He had yet to be inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall Of Honor, and was probably not anticipating that the National Medal Of Arts would be awarded to him in the coming decade. One of his great contributions to the music world had begun just the year before: the event which was born out of the tragedy of losing his son, MerleFest.

On Monday, September 21st, tune in during the music mix with Joe Kendrick as he brings you a special presentation of his interviews of Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, just after NPR headlines in the 1pm hour. This half-hour session with Jason and wife Amanda features new music from both artists, along with wide-ranging conversation, and is a preview of their upcoming episode of the documentary music podcast Southern Songs and Stories.

Tune your dial to 88.7FM or listen live online.

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