As key member of celebrated hip hop group L.A. Symphony, Sareem Poems has seen his career span such accolades as L.A. Times Hip Hop Group of the Year, national tours sponsored by NBA, and sharing the stage with musical mainstays such as Public Enemy, De La Soul, P.O.D., Ice Cube & Good Charlotte.
Bluegrass; Mountain Home Music Company — STREAM / BUY single
For their first Mountain Home Music Company single, ace songwriting colleagues Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford have chosen “Still Here,” a bleak yet ultimately poignant portrait of a man trapped in a life away from the only place he feels at home.
“I love the money but I hate this town / Every day I’m here just wears me down,” Gulley sings in weary tones, as the song shifts from its hushed, moody opening feel into the solid bluegrass rhythms of the first chorus and its downcast conclusion: “Costs me more than this place will ever give me / But here I am…still here.”
With a searing fiddle solo by ace studio musician Ron Stewart (who also contributes banjo) that perfectly captures the narrator’s mingled bitterness and resignation over Stafford’s muscular, mournful guitar rhythms, bassist Barry Bales’ steady pulse and the brisk groove of mandolinist Thomas Cassell (Circus No.9), “Still Here” offers a polished, musically sophisticated yet viscerally emotional reading that serves to reintroduce the duo in their first joint project in a decade. Both men are renowned performers in their own rights — Gulley as an esteemed singer and hit maker with his own Steve Gulley & New Pinnacle, Stafford as a founding member of Blue Highway and an influential guitarist — but have only one previous recording together to their credit, 2010’s Dogwood Winter.
“This is one man’s regret at living so long somewhere he didn’t want to be,” says Stafford of “Still Here.” “And despite everything he’s endured, including his homesickness for Appalachia. But I think it can be generalized to anyone who feels out of place.”
“I think a lot of people can relate to the story in the song,” adds Gulley. “Most all of us have had times when we’ve felt out of place and missed home. I know I have.”
And circling back to the title, Stafford concludes, “Despite it all, he’s still here.”
Bluegrass 2020, a record that is 19 years in the making, is officially available today. The collection features a track list of instrumentals organized by leader Scott Vestal, as he’s joined by top musicians Patrick McAvinue (Dailey & Vincent), Cody Kilby (The Travelin’ McCourys), Dominick Leslie (Hawktail) and Curtis Vestal. It’s the follow-up to the IBMA award-winning series, which was originally released in 1995, marking the 25th Anniversary of the historic project.
The album includes the lead single “Five & Dime.” Since its release earlier this spring, the track has already started turning heads, making its debut inside the Top 20 on Bluegrass Today’s Weekly Airplay Chart last week. Written by Patrick McAvinue, the tune is a fast-paced fiddle-driven song which showcases each member’s world-class musicianship. To highlight another angle of Bluegrass 2020, The Bluegrass Situation gave fans an exclusive first-listen of the cut “Vanleer” earlier this week (check it out HERE).
In total, Bluegrass 2020 has 10 new recordings. In an effort to stay true to the theme of the original series, the project features the most current styles and inspirations which go into modern Bluegrass, while also staying true to the signature sound dating back to the 90s. In addition to all-new material, also featured on the record are fresh takes on tracks made famous by Bluegrass legends Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. On the newer side, multiple songs were penned by Bluegrass 2020 members Scott Vestal and Patrick McAvinue, plus a very special recording written by Moon Mullican.
The series first turned heads with Bluegrass ‘95, which was highly praised and even won the IBMA award for “Recorded Event of the Year.” The concept is that each year’s release represents who Vestal was doing active sessions with. It was that inspiration and connectivity that made it possible for them to make memorable recordings. Bringing in Patrick McAvinue, Cody Kilby, Dominick Leslie, and brother Curtis Vestal is no coincidence. They are all often recording at Vestal’s Digital Underground studio outside of Nashville.
Bluegrass 2020 track listing:
1. Foggy Mountain Chimes
2. Five & Dime
3. Kentucky Mandolin
4. Pipeliner Blues
5. Sunday Drive
6. Shenandoah Breakdown
7. Storm and Desire
9. Valley Forge
10. By Stealth
Christian, worship/praise; The Grove Church — STREAM / BUY single
Grove Church Worship is a creative music group in San Diego, CA. The collective released their debut live album The Dream Project in 2018, which was recorded on a mountain-top in La Mesa, CA. The group is currently recording their second album that promises to connect with a world that desperately needs to hear a positive message!
Johnny Britt is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, producer, trumpeter, arranger and composer with an impressive list of recording and performance credits including The Temptations, Chuck Mangione, Luther Vandross, Harry Styles, Annie Lennox, Peabo Bryson, Micheal Bolton among many others. As a solo artists, Britt has earned three #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Singles, one an original composition that remained in the top position for 8 consecutive weeks.