* Bluegrass Music News,
With Emphasis on Southwestern PA. *
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sam Bush - Looking for That Joyful Noise
By Larry Nager
Sam Bush stands center stage at Nashville’s most elegant concert hall, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, leading the biggest band of his life. He’s playing “The Old North Woods,” his Monroe-styled minor waltz, and as the Nashville Symphony Orchestra joins in, Bush throws back his head, his face exploding into a mile-wide grin. That expression is familiar to anyone who’s seen the master mandolinist/fiddler perform over the past four decades, the sign that Bush has found the “joyful noise” he’s been seeking since 1963, when an 11-year-old kid in Bowling Green, Ky., started picking mandolin.
The occasion is “Americana At The Symphony,” a concert combining the NSO with the all-star band of Jerry Douglas, Alison Brown, Byron House, Buddy Miller, and Abigail Washburn. A few days later, Bush will receive the instrumentalist Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Music Awards, followed on with a nomination and additional appearance at the IBMA Awards.
They say today’s statesmen are yesterday’s revolutionaries, and that’s true of Sam Bush. At 57, he’s best-known for heading New Grass Revival (NGR), the group that led the counter-culture insurgence in bluegrass in the early ’70s, when the music’s traditionalist/progressive split was slightly more volatile than a healthcare town hall meeting.