Big changes in Bearfoot

Popular bluegrass/Americana group Bearfoot has announced a personnel switch, with Nora Jane Struthers leaving the group to support her upcoming solo project, taking bassist P.J. George along for the ride.

In her stead, Bearfoot has brought on guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Megan McCormick, who had toured and recorded with Missy Raines & the New Hip. Megan is an Alaska native, as are Bearfooot fiddler Angela Oudean and guitarist Todd Grebe. She had traveled previously with the band, and is her song, Oh My Love, was the opening track of Doors and Windows, the band’s 2009 album.

For the short term, Mike Bub will fill in on bass, until a permanent hire is made.

For her part, Struthers has assembled a new group, and will start recording in October for an independent project anticipated in the Spring of 2013. In a recent interview, she filled in some background.

“When P. J. and I put in our notice with Bearfoot, we did not have a band put together but, in the past few months and weeks, the stars have aligned and we’ve got a killer group of musician-friends on board to record and tour with full-time!

On fiddle we have Aaron Jonah Lewis. Originally from Detroit, Aaron’s been living in Berlin, Germany for the past four years and he is making the move across the pond to base himself in Nashville. He’s an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and a wonderfully versatile fiddle player (and a heck of a nice guy to boot.) I met Aaron 10 years ago at the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention and, a few years later, Aaron was the first person to encourage me to become a musician. I recall his exact words: ‘You should quit your job and become a musician.’ I am thrilled to have him join me on this new project.

On claw-hammer banjo we have Joe Overton. Joe is one of those rare Nashville-Natives and when I moved to music-city in 2008, Joe was one of my first, and best, friends. We were roommates for a brief three months in a sweet little upstairs apartment in a house on Belmont Blvd. until springs first thaw revealed the apartment’s black-mold infestation and we both moved out in a hurry. Joe too is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist with a passion, and penchant, for old-time banjo and fiddle music, appalachian ballads, punk rock, and country and western music. For the past two years, Joe has been making a name for himself as a band leader with his project The Clear Blue Sky and utility musician in Charlottesville, VA and I am so proud to be the one to bring him back to Nashville. He will be doing a lot of singing with me in the band which I am especially excited about.

On drums and percussion we have Drew Lawhorn. Originally from Salem, Virginia, Drew and P. J. have been friends for over 10 years. They met when Drew was 12 years old; he walked into Ridenhour Music for his first drum lesson and P. J. was the instructor. Drew played for several months with us in Bearfoot and his musicality really kicked us up a few notches. I have been consistently amazed at how Drew can win-over even the most skeptical acoustic music lovers. He is truly tasteful and he brings amazing energy to the stage, every time.

I’d like to say a few words about P. J. George too, as he has been my musical partner for the past four years. P. J., originally from Salem, Virginia, is a phenomenal musician. For the past two years, he has been playing bass with Bearfoot, and before that I was lucky enough to have him in my band. On our new project, he will be primarily playing bass and singing harmony, but thanks to the multi-instrumentalist skills of Joe and Aaron, we will be able to mix it up on some songs and have P. J. pick up the accordion, mandolin, banjo, piano, fiddle, guitar, sticks or bones. I am so grateful for his dedication to this project and for his passion for the music.”

Nora Jane said that she and George only have a few remaining dates they will do with Bearfoot.

“We will still be accompanying the band on the Bluegrass Jamboree tour in Germany this December, but we will not be playing any more shows with them in the states as they have begun performing with a new line-up. They have their old friend Megan McCormick playing with them, and Angela is going to do a lot more singing which will be great.”

We’ll update with more details about Struthers’ CD, and the revamped Bearfoot as they are announced.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.