Rising country singer Mo Pitney grew up loving bluegrass as much as he did the country music of Merle Haggard and George Jones. As a wiry teenager he could be found at bluegrass jams and festivals in the central US, working on his guitar and vocal chops, singing Keith Whitley and Tony Rice songs with whoever felt like playing them. Had Nashville and Curb Records not wooed him to town with a serious record deal, he would probably be a top singer in the bluegrass world today.
The attention he gets from the country music press has made his forays into bluegrass a bit more visible. Videos of him jamming on some grass get way more views than most average sessions online, and his smooth voice and easygoing manner are winning folks over to the sounds of The New South who only clicked because they recognized his face or name.
Here he is singing the Dillard’s hit Old Home Place with some Nashville buddies (The Meyer Family, Gaven Largent, and Cory Piatt):
…and sitting in with The New South at Nashville’s Station Inn singing one of Whitley’s biggest blugrass numbers, I’ll Be Your Stepping Stone.
Pitney’s bluegrass cred was cemented when he sang on several tracks for Rickey Wasson’s Croweology album in 2016, retracing the sound of classic Whitley tracks from when he was working with Crowe in the late 1970s. It was a brilliant recording, and his take on hits like She’s Gone, Gone, Gone, and You Can Share My Blanket were a revelation for folks who didn’t know Mo was a bluegrass boy at heart.
And he even married a bluegrass girl, Emily Bankester. Together they have a lovely young daughter, Evie.
Now comes some great news for grass fans in east Tennessee. The Sevierville Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass festival in May will close out their show with a bluegrass set from Mo Pitney on Saturday night. He’s assembled a group of young pickers from his wide circle of friends, and will deliver some solid bluegrass on stage at the festival.
To make it even better, Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass is a free downtown event, on the courthouse square in Sevierville. Just drag along your lawn chairs for two full days of music at no charge. There is plenty of parking in the Wal-Mart lot across the street, and every imaginable sort of food vendor can be found out behind the court building for blocks in every direction. Local businesses sponsor this annual event to show visitors everything that Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, TN offer as a vacation spot, and they certainly hope you’ll come on back and bring the family.
The festival has lots of other top talent featured May 18-19. Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out will be on hand, along with bluegrass comedy from The Cleverlys, plus Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley and two sets from the newest bluegrass supergroup, Highland Travelers.
You can find all the details online.