The Bluegrass Trail debuts this Sunday on RFD-TV

Since the Cumberland Highlanders program ceased production in September of 2016, RFD-TV has been without an all bluegrass performance program on the network. The show had been produced by Campbell Mercer of the Jerusalem Ridge festival fame, and had run on RFD since 2004. But when Mercer decided to focus his energies on his veterinary practice, he left both the festival and the program behind.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Alan Sibley & The Magnolia Ramblers, traditional bluegrass returns to the network this Sunday with a new show called The Bluegrass Trail. Gary Kanofsky is the producer with Alan serving as host, and they will have a new episode each weekend airing Sundays at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). It will be a 30-minute program, with live performances by Sibley and his band and a different guest artist each week.

13 episodes have been completed for broadcast, mixing live music with visits out into the rural areas where old time bluegrass was born and thrives still today.

Alan says that everything they will present on The Bluegrass Trail will be authentic old time and bluegrass music.

“The first thirteen episodes were filmed at RFDTV’s studios in downtown Nashville. We were privileged to be able to bring some traditional bluegrass back to Music Row!

When Mr. Gary told me his idea of coming to Mississippi and filming some segments at my home and surrounding rural Choctaw County, I immediately set about planning where I would take them. We visited some really historic places in the backwoods! We wanted to show the connection that bluegrass music has with the history of rural America. I sure hope to follow up on the same idea again in the second season.”

For this summer season, guests on the show will include:

  • The Baker Family
  • David Davis & The Warrior River Boys
  • Phillip Steinmetz & His Sunny Tennesseans
  • The Price Sisters
  • Travers Chandler & Avery County
  • Fire Box
  • The Kody Norris Show
  • Alex Leach & Mountain Heartache
  • Carolina Blue Band

Sibley said that it wasn’t a hard sell to convince RFD to trust him with a new program.

“We’ve already enjoyed a good deal of popularity from our past guest appearances on RFDTV’s, The Cumberland Highlander’s Show. Campbell Mercer has been a dear friend of mine for many years and he was always kind enough to feature us on his show several times a year.

But really, the thing that motivates me isn’t necessarily personal success. I’ve been traveling the back roads of this great country a long time now, playing bluegrass Gospel music wherever the Lord opens the door for us to go. I know how ready the bluegrass fans of rural America are for a traditional show like this. My personal motivation stems from the satisfaction of knowing I’m giving them something they’ve wanted for a long time. These fans are my inspiration!”

Here are a couple of brief video samples from the debut episode coming up.

Alan has plans to start shooting the next 13 episodes soon, and feels a special responsibility to keep it bluegrass.

“The Magnolia Ramblers and myself are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our music to the homes of bluegrass fans across America and feel that we couldn’t be associated with a better network for promoting traditional bluegrass than RFDTV.”

David Davis is the guest for this first week, July 8, sharing music from his new Rounder album, Didn’t He Ramble. You can learn more about the show  .

RFD-TV is available on a good many cable and satellite TV providers in the US, or with a subscription to watch online.

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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.