Blue Mafia takes a breather

Blue Mafia is pulling off the bluegrass highway for at least the rest of 2018, while guitarist and founder Tony Wray enjoys his ride with Tyminski and fiddler Kent Todd takes on a full-time job and focuses on his family.

The band will, however, continue with plans to release a new project for Pinecastle Records later this year and hopes to resume a limited run next year, with 15 to 20 weekend dates around Wray’s Tyminski tour and Todd’s job and child visitation schedule.

“We don’t want to stop,” said Dara Wray, Tony’s wife, the band’s mandolin player and one of the primary vocalists. “But it’s the best decision for us to put the brakes on for a little while.”

She called the decision “heartbreaking” on Facebook, but by the time we talked Sunday afternoon, she was more philosophical.

“I don’t know if I want to play music without Tony and Kent,” she said, a likely prospect if the band kept its 2018 dates and had to find regular replacements for them. “We wouldn’t be able to do our own material. I don’t want to disappoint the fans. I don’t want to disappoint the promoters. It wouldn’t be a Blue Mafia show. It only takes one bad show to destroy all the hard work you’ve put into it.”

She fully supports Tony’s decision to play banjo and other instruments with Tyminski, the country-flavored band led by Dan Tyminski, a longtime sideman for Alison Krauss. It could open new doors for them and make more fans aware of Blue Mafia.

She says Pinecastle is supportive, too, and willing to back a record that the band won’t be able to support with a tour until next year, and a limited tour at that.

She knows there’s a risk in stepping away. But she’s optimistic that there will be more music from Blue Mafia down the road.

“I don’t want this to be the end of our band,” she said. “You have to trust that God knows what he’s doing.”

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.