This year’s Graves Mountain Festival of Music is bringing some well-known stars like Larry Sparks, Mo Pitney and Ralph Stanley II to Syria, and will close out Saturday night, June 1, with the Appalachian Road Show.
While that name may not be familiar to most bluegrass fans, the group’s members span a who’s-who of important acoustic music groups of the last 3 decades. Banjo player and singer Barry Abernathy visited the Graves Festival in past years as a member of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Mountain Heart. He came up with the idea for Appalachian Road Show as a way to way to teach people about the culture of the region. The self-titled début album was released last year under Abernathy’s name, along with mandolin player Darrell Webb. The album kicks off with a spoken-word introduction that serves as a mission statement for the project.
“That introduction to the album says what I’m thinking—this is our culture,” said Abernathy. “The music of the great Appalachian mountain people has been described as the very soul of this region’s rich history.”
Abernathy shared his vision for the project with fellow Mountain Heart alumni, fiddle player Jimmy Van Cleve and mandolin player Darrell Webb (Wildfire, Lonesome River Band, Rhonda Vincent). They recruited veteran bassist Todd Phillips (Dave Grisman, Doyle Lawson, Ricky Skaggs) and guitarist Zeb Snyder to round out the band. The group went into the studio to play together for the first time, along with notable guest musicians Bryan Sutton on guitar and Stuart Duncan on fiddle.
The material on the album spans traditional gospel to classic rock, all done in a style that stays in touch with the roots of Appalachian music.