Mountain Heart to start live album next week

Mountain Heart, with new member Josh Shilling (center)Mountain Heart is set to start work next week on their next CD – a live recording to be tracked at a number of shows over the next few weeks.

Mandolinist Adam Steffey told us this morning that they had long wanted to record a live project, and that fans had been asking at shows if such a project was available for years. He also suggested that the live CD will be a high energy effort – and their grassiest project in some time.

Adam insisted that it would be a true live album, not “a bunch of overdubs with an audience track.”

Fiddler Jim VanCleve says that even though they had been interested in doing a live album for years, the way this project has come to pass comes with an interesting story.

“We were asked to play the Ann Arbor folk festival, on the campus of Michigan University earlier this year. We went on right after actor Jeff Daniels did a short set, and right before John Prine. There were in excess of 8,000 on hand there, we were told, and it was a pretty hyped crowd.

When we got finished, the crowd response was one of the most incredible experiences of my career. I had to pull my ear monitors out. The crowd’s reaction to the set was so loud coming back through the mics onstage that it was hurting my ears! Anyways, we made the announcement we were going to be playing Ann Arbor’s home for great music, The Ark, a month or so later, and the place erupted. We sold all our CD’s there that night, and had about a thousand or so emails regarding the show. The Ark is one of the premiere music rooms in the country, indisputably.

A month later when we actually got to the Ark, we found out the show had been sold out for hours in advance, and was going to be standing room only. It was, again, one of the most special nights I’ve experienced in my whole career – just an insane response. We had tossed the idea of recording the show that night around a bit, but it didn’t come to pass. When I mentioned that to the crowd, they went nuts. So after the show, the owner approached us, and told us the show had been the best he’d ever seen at his venue, which floored us, of course! Then, he pursued the possibility of us recording there.

Fast forward about two months. The day after we actually booked the show, it was on the front page of the Ann Arbor newspaper. Who knew a bluegrass band could ever have such an impact on a big town like that?

So, here we go. We’re starting our first-ever, full length MH LIVE album. We’re pretty excited about it. We’ve had so many people ask for this very thing for years, that to finally do it, to finally get what MH is really all about to tape and let people hear what they’ve been asking for on records since our start, is going to be really nice! The live show has become our trademark, and we see a lot of bands emulating what we’re doing lately, which is very flattering. So we’re finally taking the next step and making that very thing available to people in a format they can take home with them and listen to over and over again.

This will be a unique recording on a number of levels. First, and most obviously, it will be the first to feature our amazing new band member, Josh Shilling. We’ve had more requests than we can count since he’s been here… ‘Which album’s got the new guy on it??’ So, this one will finally ‘have the new guy on it!’ We’re all really excited to get started and see what happens that night.

We’ll have the big announcement in a couple weeks about the title of the album, the first single, the label and all that. But for now, the main thing is, Mountain Heart is going to do a Live Album.”

Tickets for the Ark show on May 26 are on sale now. You can get information through the Michigan Union ticket office, (734-763-TKTS) and through Ticketmaster.

We’ll be sure to post again when more details about the Mountain Heart live CD are announced.

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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.