Liberty Pike in session at IBMM

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike have plans to release an historic album this spring – a museum piece, even!

OK… that may be laying it on a bit think, but their next CD, Blame It On the Bluegrass, is an interesting concept project, both inspired and facilitated by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY.

Val and her talented band served a two week Artists In Residence at IBMM in January, during which time they taught about bluegrass in area schools. Before turning to music full time, Smith was an elementary school teacher and she has developed a curriculum for exposing young people to bluegrass which has been approved by numerous school boards for use in the classroom. She has delivered this presentation hundreds of times across the US, and is often requeated by the IBMM for their annual Kentucky outreach.

While in Owensboro for the schools, the band drug along their road engineer, Lauren Vessio – and a raft of high end audio gear – and spent their “down time” tracking.

“Liberty Pike (Becky Buller, Rebekah Long, Ernie Evans) and I co-produced a bluegrass album at the Museum during our Bluegrass in the Schools program. We gave presentations at 23 schools, covering the history and basics of the music, during our time in Owensboro.

Then in the evenings we recorded the project in the ‘Cave’ of the museum. I had been inspired by all of the different artists and flavors of bluegrass music during my visit to the museum. Each tune represents a ‘feel’ from different generations of bluegrass and artists. Most of the songs are original from a wide range of writers; a few are classic tunes that I have cherished for years.”

Liberty Pike is unique in the fact that they have several audio engineers in the band. Both Vessio and bassist Rebekah Long, are graduates of the SAE audio technology program in Nashville, and mandolinist Ernie Evans is an old studio hand as well. They not only tracked the audio there in the Museum, they also shot video of the sessions which are expected to be edited into a DVD project which will be released by IBMM.

The multitrack audio will be mixed and mastered at the Bell Buckle studios in Nashville, and an April release is anticipated. This will mark the first major recording project to have taken place in the Museum, and a release celebration will be held on site.

A debut single, Where The Sun Never Shines, will hit in March.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.