Missy Raines is getting ready to celebrate a return to post-pandemic normalcy with another return – to her roots.
The nine-time IBMA bass player of the year is booking dates and planning to record with her new band – her new BLUEGRASS band – Missy Raines and Allegheny.
The band “is the perfect vehicle for me to connect with my bluegrass roots,” she said. “When I thought about it, I realized this is the first time I’ve embraced those roots as a solo artist.”
It might already have happened if not for COVID-19 erasing most gigs in the last 15 months or so. “Just before the pandemic hit,” she explained, “I knew I wanted to commit to a more bluegrass sound, and was in the process of making that happen, so we’re just picking up where we left off.”
Raines has been doing a great deal of writing and co-writing for the new record, which she said “gave me a real sense of calmness during the pandemic.”
Though she has played bluegrass as a band member over the years, starting as a teen in West Virginia, her solo career has mostly focused on Missy Raines and the New Hip, which played an adventurous, jazz-influenced blend of folk and Americana, with a dash of bluegrass.
“New Hip is being wrapped lovingly and placed carefully on the shelf,” she said. “It will surface again some day, when I want. As it stands, my heart is in a completely different place.”
While the name of her former band was a play on words – Missy had hip replacement surgery – the new band’s name is a reflection of where she comes from.
“I chose the name Allegheny to signal this new, yet perhaps somewhat expected road, because the Allegheny Mountains are my home, just as bluegrass is my musical home. Their combined imprint on me is profound and deep.”
Bandmates in the quartet are Avery Merritt on fiddle, Tristan Scroggins on mandolin, and Ben Garnett on guitar. Purists should note that there will be banjo on the record, and a banjo player may be added to the lineup down the road.
Fans in Ohio can get a sneak preview of what to expect from the new direction at a pair of shows next week. On Thursday, June 17, the band will play at Myers Memorial Bandshell in Ashland, Ohio. The next night, the quartet will pick and sing at Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Music in Worthington, Ohio. More dates will be added for the summer and fall. For details and updates, visit Missy online.
Raines can’t wait to play bluegrass again.
“I’m looking forward to honoring this tradition that is so much a part of where I come from, and to exploring where we can go from here,” she said.
Surely a lot of others will join me in eagerly awaiting the new sound.
A few years back, Missy told me that she would return to bluegrass “someday.” Praise the Lord and pass the cornbread, someday has finally arrived!