Jerry Salley and Ed Leonard (standing) sign a contract with Darrell Webb and Barry Abernathy
Billy Blue Records, the newly-formed bluegrass label headed by Jerry Salley and Ed Leonard, has signed their first artists, Appalachian Road Show, a new band project featuring Darrell Webb and Barry Abernathy.
Both Webb and Abernathy have spent most of their lives performing on the bluegrass scene. Darrell joined Lonesome River Band as a teenager, and his subsequent career has found him working with top acts like Rhonda Vincent and J.D. Crowe, before fronting his own group in recent years. Barry came to prominence with Doyle Lawson, and was a founding member of Mountain Heart after some time with IIIrd Tyme Out.
The two are both strong instrumentalists and powerhouse vocalists, with Barry on banjo and Darell on mandolin. They will be joined by Jim VanCleve on fiddle, Todd Phillips on bass, and Zeb Snyder on guitar. Jim was with Barry in both Doyle Lawson and Mountain Heart, and Phillips has been along for some of the most important rides in bluegrass history, including David Grisman Quintet and The Bluegrass Album Band. Snyder is just a youngster by comparison, but has already established himself as a flatpicker to be reckoned with. That some serious bluegrass heft right there.
When we spoke with Darrell this afternoon, he said that they are finishing up a record for Billy Blue now, and are all ready and rarin’ to go.
“We’re really, really excited about this. I haven’t been fired up like this for a long time.
Barry and I have been thinking about this for almost two years. We had talked about wanting to play together, just as buddies, but the timing was never right. Until now, I guess.”
Salley, A&R and Creative Director for Billy Blue Records, agrees that what they have is something special.
“Barry and Darrell bring a rich history to their vision for Appalachian Road Show. This band has exactly the type of first-rate musicianship that a new label seeks in order to take flight.”
Appalachian Road Show will play their first concert on August 18 in Salyersville, KY at the 14th annual Magoffin County Community Day festival.
At present, Barry is booking the band, and can be reached online.
Darrell says that they purposely chose a name that implies what they will be presenting.
“The name indicates that what we’re doing is more than just a band. We want to try to get into festivals that feature more than just bluegrass, and incorporate more of a complete picture of Appalachian culture. That’s where both me and Barry come from.
We’ll play bluegrass, but will incorporate old time church songs, songs about the mining camps going back to Charlie Poole and Doc Watson
And in show business, if you don’t have a show that engages people, you don’t have much of nothing.”
A debut single is expected within the next few weeks, with an album release planned during IBMA’s World Of Bluegrass convention. A CD release event will be held on September 26 at Kings in Raleigh, NC at 11:00 p.m.