The Dixie Bee-Liners could be seen as an anomaly in the rapidly expanding world of bluegrass and acoustic music – a male/female, singer/songwriter duo playing Appalachian-inflected original music with their band, originally from a base in New York City.
On second thought, maybe there isn’t much of an anomaly at all, as artists based in in every corner of the globe seek to claim, and redefine, the music that originated in the southeastern mountain regions of the United States. Recent entrants have included The Earl Brothers, playing a minimalistic sort of mountain string music from CA, and G2, a bluegrass band in Sweden whose music sounds very much like what I encounter here in southwestern VA.
The Bee-Liners are Brandi Hart and Buddy Woodward, both accomplished bluegrass players, singers and songwriters. While Buddy is a New Yorker, Brandi hails from the Bluegrass State, growing up in Lexington, KY. Brandi will be a showcase songwriter at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass this fall, and Buddy will be appearing before audiences throughout the south this fall reprising his multiple roles in the touring show for Man Of Constant Sorrow: The Story of the Stanley Brothers, originally staged at The Barter Theater in Abingdon, VA.
Their debut release was a self-titled EP CD containing 8 songs, was widely praised by critics, with the “culture clash” between the Appalachians and the Big Apple a major part of their sound. It spent six weeks in the Top Ten on the Roots Music Report bluegrass chart after its release.
The reaction to this initial project has led them to a current collaboration with Tim Crouch and Doug Deforest, who are producing their next recording. The project is being shopped now to labels, and will be completed once those arrangements are concluded.
I had the opportunity to hear several tracks from this yet-to-be-completed project, and was immediately struck by the warmth of the recording, the leap in maturity in both the songs and the arrangements as compared to the first release, and the success with which they merge a more modern approach to songwriting with the traditional forms of bluegrass and old time music.
Buddy credits Tim and Doug for much of this success of this new set of tracks, which also feature Ned Luberecki on banjo, and Travis Troy (of Rascal Flatts) on dobro, along with Buddy on mandolin, Brandi on guitar, Tim Crouch on fiddle and Doug Deforest on bass.
Returning to the theme expressed in the title of this post, Brandi and Buddy have recently made the move from NYC to Abingdon, both to be closer to Barter Theater and Virginia’s Crooked Road project (with whom they have worked closely), and to live amongst the mountains, the music and the people where the seeds of their sound were initially sown.
They discussed the move recently with Tad Dickens of The Roanoke Times, in an article posted on the RT site.
You can find more details about the band on their web site.