The Bluegrass Ramble at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, provides fans with a chance to see two types of bands: established groups with significant lineup changes or a new sound, and up-and-comers who are beginning to break out into the national touring and radio scene. One of the thirty bands performing as part of this year’s Ramble is Mile Twelve, a young group based in and around Boston, Massachusetts. They’ve got a brand new album set to release October 27, and they’re ready to hit World of Bluegrass for the first time as a full five-piece band.
Mile Twelve first came together in fall 2014 with four founding members. Fiddler Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, banjo player BB Bowness, and bassist Nate Sabat were looking for a new music project to become involved in, and guitarist Evan Murphy, who was also interested in joining a new group, had recently moved back to his hometown of Boston, near where the rest of the members were based. The four musicians met up, began working up original material and booking gigs, and a band was born. They added mandolin player David Benedict last fall, and have since recorded their first full-length album and booked tour dates throughout the country and internationally. In fact, they’ll be visiting New Zealand (home of Bowness) and Australia this October.
The new album, Onwards, was produced and engineered by Stephen Mougin, who has become quite the mentor to young bands in recent years. The album’s twelve tracks include ten originals, with contributions from each band member. “Mile Twelve is devoted to creating and arranging material that is authentic to us, and that honors the tradition of bluegrass at the same time – not an easy task,” says Keith-Hynes. “We don’t want to rewrite the book on bluegrass, we just want to add our small chapter to it. Creating songs that are real, meaningful, and true to us is our top priority. That’s what the bluegrass pioneers were doing.”
Mile Twelve might not be writing any cabin or mama-in-heaven songs like the bluegrass pioneers, but their songs are definitely inspired by their own life experiences. Murphy’s Call My Soul, for example, is about growing up Catholic in Boston. Other songs pay homage to life on the New England coast and in the big city. The music on Onwards, and the band’s music in general, can have a traditional bent, though they find inspiration everywhere from Celtic tunes to the Punch Brothers to Alan Jackson.
The group is excited to spend the week in Raleigh and the members are looking forward to both the picking and the networking opportunities. As showcase artists, they’re hoping to meet event producers, specifically from festivals, and veteran musicians to serve as mentors or who might be looking for an opening act. They also hope to find a wider audience for their music and of course, earn new fans in the process. In addition to their showcases, the group plans to attend the business conference and spend plenty of time jamming and networking after hours. “WOB is the place to meet and pick with the best bluegrassers on the planet,” says Keith-Hynes. “You can find yourself in a jam session with one of your heroes!”
Fans and interested listeners can catch Mile Twelve both on the Bluegrass Ramble and at other various showcases throughout the week. They’ll be at the Architect Bar and in the Marriott’s Charm City Bluegrass Suite Tuesday night, performing in the convention center, in the Boston Bluegrass Room at the Marriott, and at the FloydFest Showcase on Wednesday, and again in the Boston Bluegrass Room Thursday. The band is also a featured performer at Wednesday morning’s Momentum Awards Luncheon. Even though their new album isn’t set to come out until next month, check their record table – they’re sure to have some advance copies!
For more information on Mile Twelve, visit them online at www.miletwelvebluegrass.com.