Michael Martin Murphey goes bluegrass

Michael Martin Murphey - Buckaroo BluegrassMichael Martin Murphey carved his name in pop music granite back in 1975 when his Blue Sky, Night Thunder album was released on Epic Records.

That record contained his two biggest hits, Wildfire and Carolina In The Pines, the latter of which featured the banjo and mandolin prominently (by John McEuen, then with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). It played a major role in igniting the folk/rock movement in the 1970s, as well as a revival of interest in acoustic and traditional music among young people at that time.

Carolina In The Pines quickly worked its way into the bluegrass repertoire, and has since been recorded dozens of times by bluegrass acts.

Now, 34 years after that song made its mark on bluegrass, Michael is returning the favor, and is set to release his first all-bluegrass album on February 10, 2009 (Rural Rhythm Records). Buckaroo Blue Grass will combine his current focus on cowboy and western themes with a red hot roster of bluegrass pickers – Sam Bush, Rob Ickes, Ronnie McCoury, Andy Leftwich, Pat Flynn, Charlie Cushman, and Rhonda Vincent.

Michael Martin Murphey at the 2008 IBMA Fan Fest - Mike Witcher, Jonathan Yudkin (partially hidden), Craig Nelson, Ryan Murphey, Michael Martin Murphey, Tim May, Pat Flynn and Charlie Cushman - photo ¬© Ted LehmannThe songs are all Murphey originals and include some of his top hits (Carolina In The Pines, Fiddlin’ Man, Lost River) plus a couple he wrote that were cut by other artists (The Monkee’s What Am I Doing Hangin Around and John Denver’s Boy From The Country).

Michael debuted his bluegrass sound during the 2008 IBMA Fan Fest in Nashville and he will be touring with a bluegrass band in support of Buckaroo Blue Grass in 2009.

We will be doing an interview with Murphey shortly, and look forward to hearing how he found himself cutting a bluegrass record. In the meantime, here is a sample from one of the tracks, Lone Cowboy.

Listen now: [http://media.libsyn.com/media/thegrasscast/mmm_cowboy.mp3]

That song, along with a newly rerecorded version of Carolina In The Pines, shipped to bluegrass radio this week on a Rural Rhthm radio sampler. You should be hearing them soon on your favorite radio shows.

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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.