Checking in with Jim VanCleve

Fiddle phenom Jim VanCleve asked us to share this message regarding his musical plans post Mountain Heart.

Jim VanCleve performing with Josh TurnerSince the public disclosure of my departure from Mountain Heart last week, I’ve had a whole bunch of folks ask what my plans were. Before I answer, I just first of all want to say a great big “THANK YOU!!” to everyone who has asked. It’s overwhelming to feel that kind of support, and I am very grateful.

In response, I’m extremely excited to announce that I recently was offered the position playing fiddle, mandolin, and singing harmony with multi-platinum country artist, Josh Turner. As some folks likely already know, Josh’s music has a bit more of a bluegrass thread running through it than a lot of what you’ll hear at the top of the country music charts these days, so I do feel quite fortunate, and so far, am really enjoying myself!

That said, it still was not an easy decision to arrive at. I’ve enjoyed nearly 17 years with Mountain Heart, and beyond having a personal investment in the music, the guys there have become a brotherhood. They have been (and remain) some of my best friends, and obviously, some of the most gifted musicians on the planet. I think the world of those guys and I will miss them. Mountain Heart has a new record in the can (which is going to be great), and a huge tour coming up. I am super excited to see what the future holds for them and I encourage everyone to continue supporting them as always. But, after much prayer, I am certain that God has me right where He wants me, and that this was the right choice for my career and for my family.

Josh Turner in concertI’ve been playing dates with Josh Turner since about the middle of February and it has been nothing short of wonderful. Just this past 4th of July weekend we concluded a 12 day trip by playing in New Orleans and in Houston along with Lonestar and Clint Black, respectively – for what I’m told was upwards of 50,000 people. So, I guess you might say that it’s quite a different scene than what I’d grown used to! But, I’m feeling pretty much at home, as there are more than a few bluegrass and classic country enthusiasts on board this tour, including Josh himself. In fact, Kevin Haynie (Aubrey Haynie’s brother) is playing banjo and acoustic guitar with Josh, and we’ve had at least a couple of bluegrass mini-jams in our sound checks already. The band and the whole crew is a great bunch of guys, and they’ve made me feel right at home… for which I’m very grateful!

In addition to touring with Josh, I’m still also staying extremely busy in the studio, both as a session musician and as a producer. I have two productions which just wrapped and are slated for release very soon and am in the middle of two others. One of these, Shotgun Holler (Dry Lightning Records), just appeared on CMT with Josh Wolf out in Hollywood over the weekend, and the other, Cindy G (Blue Road Records), is launching her first single (featuring Rhonda Vincent, Sam Bush, Todd Phillips, Rob Ickes, Seth Taylor, Scott Vestal, Bryan Sutton, and myself) to radio any day. Anyhow, I’m VERY excited about them all and will share much more a little later. I’m also in the process of fielding new projects and artists for Fall/Winter production schedule as well.

Somehow, in the past 8 or 9 years, I’ve been blessed with the opportunities to produce nearly 30 projects. (I’m still kind of shaking my head at that number… it seems impossible!) At any rate, in light of this fact, the time has definitely come for the branding and launch of an official production company, so I’m going to be moving the ball downfield on that front in the next little bit. ….And… while I’m at it… it’s been almost 10 years since I released my first solo project, No Apologies, and I have had eyes on a sequel for some time…

I plan to also fill in with as many bluegrass friends as possible whenever the stars line up to allow it, but, in the meantime, I’d love to see some old friends at a Josh Turner show sometime soon!

So, for those who’ve asked, I’ll still be out there playing music, and in the studio making records!