Sounds of the Mountains Concert Series
presented by The Blue Ridge Music Center (Website
) and Yadkin Arts (Website
Among the younger artists who live on the border between traditional country music and singer-songwriterly Americana, women are currently leading the way. Kelsey Waldon is one of the best among them, crafting musical commentaries on 21st-century American lives that honor the past while remaining fiercely engaged with the present.
Waldon, who was raised playing acoustic music in small-town Kentucky, has become a key player in the East Nashville music community by penning songs that capture the heartland through twentysomething eyes, and performing them within classic settings so musically rich and engaging that they never sound like museum pieces. Waldon's powerful, slightly vinegary alto communicates both her love of elders like Loretta Lynn and her generational connection to Southern millennials like Kacey Musgraves. She's recently been invited onstage to sing with John Prine, Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson.
Waldon grew up playing bluegrass and learning the songbooks of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, and she's built a band that can range from rockabilly to an expansive newgrass take on the Bill Monroe classic "Travelin' Down This Lonesome Road." Producer Michael Rinne makes sure everything sounds both clean and live. The way Waldon's take on "There Must Be A Someone" splits the difference between the two best-known versions, the more traditional one by the Gosdin Brothers and the singer-songwriterly spin by The Byrds, shows how deep her record collection goes. But it's the immediacy of her storytelling, utterly unsentimental yet deeply heartfelt, that makes Kelsey Waldon a queen of the cool rejoinder and an all-around contender.
Though she’s been touring nonstop of late, it’s been since 2016’s I’ve Got a Way that Kelsey Waldon released new material. But the Kentucky native is gearing up for a long-awaited new album, "Havin' Hard Times" in 2019. At recent shows, she's been debuting some excellent fresh tracks, off the soon to be released record - about life working in the coal mines, to soulful country songs about drugs (“not the good ones,” she told the crowd), heartbreak and home.
None of the Above
Hailing from the Foothills of North Carolina’s Piedmont, None of the Above plays bluegrass-based acoustic music. Working with traditional bluegrass instrumentation, the band creates a unique sound that includes elements and material from a variety of styles including bluegrass, Americana, alternative country, and their own original material.