David Via is one of those guys whose name bluegrass fans may recognize, but without necessarily being familiar with his music. Unless you follow the jamgrass scene, where Via is a hero, or the cult of acoustic/bluegrass songwriters where he also has a very strong following.
Via (rhymes with sky) is the winner of the 2009 Mountain Stage/American Folk Alliance Songwriters Contest, and has picked up the Merlefest Chris Austin songwriter prize three times.
His new CD, All Night Long, features 11 of his songs performed with some top-flight bluegrass pickers, and a version of the traditional hymn, Rock Of Ages. The musicians on the album are mostly friends who either lived or grew up within the scope of the Galax contest in southwestern VA. Via is a native of Patrick County, VA, as is Sammy Shelor who plays banjo on much the record. Old friends from nearby western North Carolina Alan Bibey plays the mandolin on most of the tracks, and Jim VanCleve handles fiddle on 2 tracks.
Also appearing are Rob McCoury on banjo, Dan Tyminski on mandolin, Nate Leath on fiddle, Dennis Crouch on bass, Randy Kohrs and Curtis Burch on reso guitar, and Tommy Morse on banjo.
Sharing the vocal duties with Via are Ronnie Bowman and Tim O’Brien, both friends and strong supporters of his music. In fact, O’Brien shared this quote for the promotional materials accompanying the CD:
“David Via is one of the best home grown songwriters in modern bluegrass.”
The music is straightahead grass, with Via’s quirky voice the perfect fit for these songs, which are typically non-typical. Here are a couple of samples.
Boones Mill – Listen Now [http://www.davidvia.com/sounds/BoonesMill-cut.mp3]
Big Hit Song – Listen Now [http://www.davidvia.com/sounds/BigHitSong-cut.mp3]
For those who don’t travel US Rt. 220 in Virginia, the town of Boones Mill is a notorious speed trap between Roanoke and Rocky Mount. Many a bluegrass musician coming to record at the old Doobie Shea Studio in the 1990s learned about Boones Mill sheriffs the hard way.