Big day for The Allegheny Drifters

Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Drifters had a big night earlier this month when they were invited to perform at the Steel City premiere of the National Geographic documentary, Paris To Pittsburgh.

The film, which began airing on the National Geographic channel on December 12, highlights individuals and groups around the world who are taking action to fight against the changing climate, taking the position that it is an imminent crisis especially after the US pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Simultaneous premieres were held on December 3 in 7 US cities – New York, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, Charleston, Minneapolis and Orlando – with bluegrass entertainers booked to play at each. This is a nod to the fact that popular alt-folk group, The Avett Brothers, had recorded a version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land for the documentary. Premieres were also held in England, Puerto Rico, and Poland.

According to Karen Artis of the Drifters, “The band performed during the cocktail reception in the Tropical Forest Conservancy of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a City of Pittsburgh historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and one of the ‘greenest’ facilities in the world.”

Karen plays bass with the group, along with her husband, Bob Artis on mandolin (yes… that Bob Artis), Bernie Cunningham on guitar, Radford Vance on banjo, and Michele Birkby-Vance on fiddle. They share their bluegrass with audiences all over western Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to The Allegheny Drifters for being invited to represent bluegrass at such an arts and society event!

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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.