We just got word of a new “part time” band that will performing selected dates starting later in 2010. The group is made up of several prominent musicians who have made their careers primarily as sidemen, so it will be interesting to see what they pull together.
Southern Accent is the name they have chosen for the new venture, which will feature Wyatt Rice and John Miller on guitar, Jesse Brock on mandolin, Joey Cox on banjo and Mike Conner on bass. Given Jesse’s sturdy commitment to Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Norman Wright will also do shows with the band on mandolin when he isn’t tied up with Darren Beachley and the Legends of the Potomac.
Conner, who will be managing the band, shared a nice overview of why there is reason to expect a great deal from this bunch.
“Musicians are always looking for other avenues of expression, other ways to do what they do. This group is no different.
As you’re probably aware, Wyatt splits his time between touring with brother Tony and The Unit, and a busy schedule from his own studio where’s he’s built quite a reputation as a mixing engineer along with brother Ronnie. When it comes to the guitar, there’s virtually nothing beyond his abilities or musical vision.
The same can be said of Jesse, who not only works regularly with one of the hottest bluegrass groups touring today, but has recently been co-producing with John Miller a fantastic new all-gospel project with prolific writer Rick Lang in Maine. I’ve heard some cuts off of that project (Wyatt and Ronnie Rice are mixing & mastering it now) and I predict it will be one of the most talked about new albums of 2010-2011. The ‘cast of characters’ of singers and musicians on this project is absolutely top-flight (Russell Moore & Dale Ann Bradley for starters – pretty good starting spot), great arrangements, just a pleasure to listen to.
Joey is of course still a young man, but his musical experience with Doyle Lawson, Blueridge, and Kenny & Amanda Smith just to name a few, is a resume that few players of bluegrass can claim, and for the first time in a while, he’ll get to show off that voice he’s been hiding, not to mention the other instruments on which he’s more than proficient.
John is a multi-instrumentalist, doubling on guitar & mandolin, and some soaring vocals of his own. And when we begin to talk about ‘road schola'” experience in his case, the list is pretty impressive as well. LRB, J D Crowe, Bill Emerson, Junior Sisk, Norman Wright, and Herschel Sizemore have all had the pleasure of John’s musical support on stage, and in some cases in the studio.
As the guy with the least ‘street cred’ in the bluegrass world, playing with these fellows is quite a treat for me, one I’m very much looking forward to. I’ve had the recent pleasure of working with Jason Moore on some bass workshops (next being The DC Bass Strummit with Jason, Mike, and guest bassist Tom Gray at the DCBU Festival March 27th), my on-going work with Roanoke FiddleFest now in its 8th year, and I’m still picking with the guys in Sandy Ridge. John & I do a duo gig as well (The Retreads) locally to keep our chops up and have a bit of walking around money, so although music isn’t my full-time occupation, I’m most certainly busy with it.”
Southern Accent doesn’t yet have a web presence, but that is in the works. They expect to tour primarily in the fall and winter when the festivals slow down and bluegrass moves indoors. Promoters and venues interested in working with the band can reach Mike Conner by email or phone (866-883-9466).