This post is a contribution from Casey Henry. Casey is the daughter of banjo player and bluegrass entrepreneur, Murphy Henry, and an accomplished banjo player in her own right, as well as an experienced instructor. Currently Casey and her brother Chris are fronting a band called The Two-Stringers. She first posted this on The B, where we encourage any IBMA attendees to share their impressions of this week’s events in Nashville.
You never know what you’re going to walk away with when you come to IBMA. You can plan and make your agenda, but you can never tell what band is going to blindside you with its brilliance or who you’ll unexpectedly make a connection with. I heard some really good music last night and I heard some awesome music last night, and I’m going to tell you who was playing it so you can go see it, too.
The band that blindsided me, though I’m not sure why she did – I was fully aware of her brilliance before seeing this new band – was the Missy Raines Band. I’d been seeing square pins around the exhibit hall that read "song + groove: MRB" but I didn’t know what they meant.
Now I do. Missy played a showcase in The Murphy Method room and I was only able to catch the last song, but Holy Mother of God she was amazing. I’d heard her play the tune, one she wrote, with Jim Hurst as a duo, but it was a completely different animal in this setting. It’s a five-piece band including Megan McCormick on guitar and Mike Witcher on Dobro, Matt Flinner on mandolin, and a percussionist who normally plays with Alison Brown. They had some kinda groove, some kinda funk, and I heard talk that Missy was contemplating re-naming the group Missy Raines and the New Hip, a name I love on many levels. (For those of you who don’t know Missy had hip replacement surgery last year.) If you have a chance to see Missy play, DO IT!
Another group I was pleasantly surprised by was Anne and Pete Sibley. They’re a wife and husband from Wisconsin who decided to come to IBMA at the last minute. They also showcased in The Murphy Method room. They have one more showcase tonight in the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society room at midnight (alas for them, it’s opposite Chris Thile’s showcase). They play clawhammer banjo and guitar, write songs, and are wonderful singers. They don’t sound like anybody else, and their songs had a marvelous feel. They’re also really nice people.
My band, Casey and Chris and the Two-Stringers played three times and we’re playing tonight at 12:30 in the NIBGA room. We’re excited to have Marshall Wilborn with us playing bass tonight. He and Lynn Morris didn’t expect to be here, but they decided to stay for the whole week. It’s so good to see Lynn out and about. She’s had a long road of recovery after her stroke three years ago, and has been out of the public eye most of the time, but she still thrives on music and I know people want to talk to her and find out how she’s doing.
It is encouraging this year to see the preponderance of young girl pickers ripping it up on their instruments. The Lovell Sisters from Georgia are top-notch pickers in the modern style. A trio of sisters from Leesburg, VA, called Gold Heart (their last name is Gold) followed us at one showcase. They’d only been playing their instruments for a year, but the 10, 14, and 16 year old were surprisingly good, had a great three-part harmony, and wrote some of their own songs. And of course April Verch, the Ottowa Valley fiddler who has former Two-Stringer Amanda Kowalski on the bass, fiddles and dances up a storm and is well worth hearing.
And last, but certainly not least I heard the first few songs of Laurie Lewis’s new CD on the drive back to the house last night. It is hard core, with that clever California twist. Her voice is unique and instantly recognizable and with Craig Smith on the banjo how can you go wrong?
I’ll be back out at the Trade Show today at the Murphy Method booth (#50). Stop by and say Hi!