Track Premiere: Spirit from Buster Sledge

Discovering new music of quality is always exciting, perhaps even more so when it comes from an unknown or unexpected source.

Such is the recent news of a debut album from Buster Sledge, an enterprising trio from north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. The newly-formed group has been hard at it in the studio since coming together in September of last year, completing this project and getting it to the street in just six months, with much to show for their efforts.

The band consists of Michael Barrett Donovan, an expat American living in Norway, plus a pair of locals, Mikael Jonassen on banjo and Jakob Folke Ossum on guitar. The three men met at a get-together to welcome Donovan to the area after moving from California, and to introduce him to some Norwegian grassers. Jonassen and Ossum are conservatory trained musicians, with Mikael being the first musician in Norway to graduate from music school with banjo as his principal instrument. Jakob discovered bluegrass while studying jazz guitar in college.

All three hit it off quickly, and by the end of that first meeting, they were trying out some of Michael’s original music, enhancing and arranging it as they played. Just a few months later they were in Jonassen’s home studio in Bodø, with the result being Sprit.

Buster Sledge has agreed to allow us to premiere the title track today, and introduce their distinctive contemporary bluegrass sound to the world. You can hear sounds of traditional Nordic folk music in with the bluegrass.

If you would like to see and hear more of Buster Sledge, you can catch their live CD release concert this Friday (6/19) via Facebook Live. They will perform the entire album starting at 2:00 p.m. (EDT), or 8:00 p.m. local time (UTC+02).

Spirit can be ordered directly from the band web site. Interested radio programmers can contact the band by email to receive tracks for airplay.

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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.