Bluegrass lovers in Louisville, KY have something new to look forward to on Sunday evenings – a 5 hour block of bluegrass programming on WFPK, 91.9 independent public radio. As your weekend is coming to a close, you can enjoy Bluegrass Evolution with Aaron Biblehauser from 6:00-9:00 p.m., followed by Best Of Bluegrass (BOB) with Bob Mitchell from 9:00-11:00.
Wait, you may be asking… Isn’t Aaron a bluegrass singer, songwriter, and banjo player, not a radio guy? And you would be right. A popular Louisville bluegrass personality, he responded about a year ago to a request to get involved on that side of the microphone, and found that he really liked it.
Though both shows are new to WFPK, the two hosts have a history with the station. As alluded to above, Biblehauser took over the long running Sunday Bluegrass program last year from Burke Bryant, who retired in 2018 at 87 years of age. Management wanted to hold off on rebranding the show right away, both in showing respect for Bryant, and to maintain continuity in the schedule.
But now that Aaron’s show is moving to the earlier time from it’s previous 8:00-11:00 slot, it seemed like a good time for a new name, and Bluegrass Evolution was born.
Mitchell has recorded his show at WFPK since 2008, though it had never been broadcast over their air until now. Best Of Bluegrass had been syndicated to a couple of other nearby Kentucky stations, and he is delighted to find it finally at 91.9. Bob had also served as a backup host for Burke when he couldn’t make it to do Sunday Bluegrass over the years.
Aaron tells us that his and Bob’s shows should mesh very well, since they expect to feature slightly different blends of traditional and contemporary bluegrass.
“Burke didn’t like to play a lot of progressive grass, and I plan to mix some in with traditional and contemporary. Bob also like to feature traditional grass, and includes interviews in many of his shows. It’s great to be with him on WFPK, as he was a great mentor to me when I was younger, and a big booster of my music.
I have a large collection of vintage bluegrass vinyl, and bring 20 or so LPs along each week to the station. I’m into having vinyl, but I know a lot of DJs who prefer CDs.
I do the show live almost every week. But I’m pretty busy, and can’t always make it. Then I produce it live at home and get it to the station for broadcast. I like doing it live because it helps me get better at it, and I can sometimes get new music played sooner if it comes in late in the week.
I never had any ambition to do radio, but I have really enjoyed it. And it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in bluegrass.”
Folks in and around Louisville can hear the Sunday bluegrass block on WFPK at 91.9 FM. Locals and bluegrass lovers all over the world alike can listen in live from the station web site, or by downloading their free iOS or Android app.
Switching hats quickly, we also quizzed Aaron about his other grass activity, his recording career. He told us that he is finishing work now on his next album, a bluegrass tribute to a good friend, the recently departed Louisville country songwriter Mickey Clark.
“The concept for the next record is paying tribute to Mickey Clark. He wrote and pitched songs to the country market all his life. He died from pancreatic cancer, but after he was diagnosed I asked him what he would think about doing a bluegrass record of his songs. He was a friend and a mentor to me, and he liked the idea. But he didn’t make it long enough to hear any of the music. Mickey died about a year ago.
There were several of his songs that I had always thought would make good bluegrass songs, so I started looking into other ones that might work. It’s been really fun to experiment with them for this project.”
Guests on the album include Sam Bush, Shawn Camp, Michael Cleveland, Balsam Range, FY5, and T. Michael Coleman.
A first single, Wyoming Child, was released in May, and another is expected in August. This will be an independent release, coming early in 2020.