The band is the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Brandi Hart and mandolinist Buddy Woodward who got the band started in New York. After completing an all-original short form CD, they moved to southwestern Virginia to pursue the music more aggressively. Both write songs for the band, which also includes Rachel Renee Johnson on fiddle, Sam Morrow on banjo, Jonathan Maness on guitar and Jeremy Darrow on bass.
We caught up with co-band leaders Brandi and Buddy for a tag-team interview yesterday.
Brandi: We are absolutely psyched to see RIPE hit the streets! We have been amazingly blessed to have the opportunity to record for Pinecastle and to work with such talented people on this new project. We’re very proud of the record, and I’m thrilled to say that, so far, we’ve gotten a great reaction from DJ’s and fans alike.
I was curious how things look to them now as compared to when they released their self-produced EP/CD.
Brandi: When we released the EP back in 2005, we were doing a lot of dreaming and planning for the future. All we had back then was faith and determination, but we’ve been very lucky: Lots of doors opened up for the band which have allowed those dreams and plans to become a reality in a relatively short period of time.
Buddy: Having a producer, especially one as good as Bil VornDick, made a big difference. Quite aside from the studio wizardry one expects from him, he has a certain name cach?©…he doesn’t get involved in a project unless he thinks its good, so people that know or know of him are more likely to listen. Also, we have a steady band now, which makes a big difference in the sound. Sam and Rachel are on RIPE, of course, but we’re really looking forward to bringing Jonathan and Jeremy as well into the studio with us next time. Plus, we’ll have the added advantage of working the new songs out on the road first before we record the next one.
This CD has been available to radio for some time, with a single, Down On The Crooked Road, promoted via Prime Cuts of Bluegrass. It spent nine weeks in the #1 position on the Roots Music Report bluegrass chart, and reached the top of the Bluegrass Music Profiles chart as well.
Brandi: The response from radio has been overwhelming! We were just blown away by the positive feedback. We received a great note from one radio station who started off playing one cut from RIPE because they liked the album cover… but then they ended up spinning the entire album because people kept asking for more!
I’ve got to tell you that not a day goes by that we’re not grateful for all the interest we’ve had in the album. We feel very fortunate that folks have taken a shine to the project.
Lastly, I asked what they saw as having been available to them working with a label as opposed to going it alone?
Brandi: First, let me say that Pinecastle has been wonderful to work with. They’ve given us unlimited creative freedom, which is critical for any artist who’s writing and performing their own material. Beyond that, being on a label has provided many great advantages to “going it alone” as an indie artist: publicity and marketing support, broader distribution, business advice, and so much more! I think it also helps to grow the band’s reputation to see that a record label is willing to invest its resources in a particular artist. For emerging artists like The Dixie Bee-Liners, it has worked almost like a “seal of approval.” We’ve had several significant career opportunities that have developed precisely because of that relationship with our record label. We’ll always be grateful that Pinecastle was willing to take a chance on us, and we work hard every single day to make good on their investment in our career.
Buddy: We still need a manager, though! There’s just so much stuff coming at us that we can’t keep on top of it all. I’m not complaining; years ago we used to say to each other, “we should have such problems.” Now we do, and we’re very grateful.