Growing up on a farm in Southwest Ohio, little did I know the rich history of bluegrass music that took place in this region. I’ve always been drawn to the genre as the sound and storytelling captures my family’s love of the land, along with the joy we have in living a simple life. So, when I was invited by Pluck It! Music Brand to interview some of the best in bluegrass at the Industrial Strength Bluegrass Festival, I was so excited. Here is a look at my experience at the event and a glimpse of the exclusive interviews to be featured on Pluck It! Music Brand YouTube channel.
Learning About Industrial Strength Bluegrass
Industrial Strength Bluegrass Festival (formally Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival) is hosted by Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers with many people behind the scenes working hard to coordinate the event that takes place every March and November in Wilmington, Ohio. I sat down with Joe’s daughter, Sarah Mullins, to learn more about the coordination of this dynamic event that features bluegrass, old-time, gospel, and roots music, combined with family fun and educational opportunities. Sarah has been helping with the coordination for many years alongside her family. During our interview, she explained how her brother, Daniel Mullins, helps book the artists and she helps wherever needed.
Sarah also told of how proud she was when the Industrial Strength Bluegrass Festival was named Event of the Year at last September’s IBMA Awards. “Having this event gives me that built-in time to catch up with people I love very much. That is my number one favorite part of this event… once you’re here you (want to) come back every time,” said Sarah. It’s no wonder why top talent in bluegrass keeps returning year after year and why it attracts some of the best new acts. Sarah closed by talking about how to keep up with the artists on Real Roots Radio (Joe’s network of Southwest Ohio radio stations) – this is perfect for when I’m on the farm and want to get my bluegrass fix because you can stream it from the app 24/7.
I also sat down with the Master of Ceremonies, Blake Williams, to learn about what to expect from the highly anticipated lineup of artists. Blake has played banjo with icons such as Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt. It was great to learn more about Blake as an artist and what led him to serve as Master of Ceremonies. He always looks forward to Industrial Strength and its lineup that attracts bluegrass fans of all ages. “In bluegrass music, the artists make themselves readily available to the crowd… If you like an artist and want to meet them, buy their music or get an autograph – they will come out into the lobby and you can get acquainted with your favorite artist,” Blake said.
The highlight of being at the event with Pluck It! Music Brand was being able to interview artists about their planned set lists, new projects and the inspiration behind their music. There was so much talent in one place. Here is a glimpse of what the artists shared with me.
Dale Ann Bradley – Dale Ann was the sweetest. She told me about covering “Over My Head” by Fleetwood Mac during her performance to honor Christine McVie, along with details about her newly released single “Love Train” that will be on her upcoming album – Kentucky For Me.
Sammy Shelor – Sammy of Lonesome River Band (LRB) took the time to sit down with me and talk about the band’s success with their new album and single, Heyday. We also talked about the importance of making music that resonates with their fans in rural America, along with the fun they had filming the music video for the single.
Kentucky Just Us – Jesse and Kacey of Kentucky Just Us, talked with me about the success of their fresh take on “Fraulein” from their album, Mountains of Home. They enjoy combining bluegrass sounds of the past with the new to create their own unique sound that many people will enjoy.
Chris Davis – Chris was at the event to perform with Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, but we took some time to chat about his recent solo releases, “Heart Like Mine” and “It’s Worth A Shot“. Both tell different stories of love and heartbreak. Fans can also look forward to an upcoming album from Chris.
Seth Mulder & Midnight Run – I had fun catching up with Seth Mulder & Midnight Run. We talked about their recent album, In Dreams I Go Back, that was nominated for Album of the Year, along with the success of the single, “My My My“, that won Song of the Year at SPBGMA. They also caught me up on how Midnight Run got its name and they were pumped to be playing a Midnight jam that evening.
Classy & Grassy – Traveling from Western Kentucky to be at the event, Classy & Grassy took time to tell me about the group and all the fun they have on stage. The Singleton brothers don’t hesitate to poke fun at one another between songs, but they will always be classy with a bluegrassy sound. We talked about all the group has been up to, from winning the FFA Talent contest to working on a new album.
Behind the Music
Paige Capo – In addition to the many interviews with artists, Brian from Paige Capo took time to sit down with me and explain the technology in their capos. Their booth was busy with curious musicians wanting to know more, along with the jam sessions that always had a crowd gathering around. Paige Capo endorsed several artists at the festival and their booth even got a visit from Jerry Douglas who was excited to use the capo.
Michelle Lee & Marsha Channel – I closed out the interviews with Michelle Lee and Marsha Channel who filled me in on all they got going on to share bluegrass music and promote the artists on their shows. Michelle Lee is the 2022 SPGMA Bluegrass DJ of the Year. She hosts the Smoked Country Jam where she features one on one interviews with artists, along with the Bluegrass Borderline, that features a weekly top ten countdown sponsored by Paige Capo. In addition, Michelle and Marsha host M&M Real Talk, a podcast where they have fun talking with artists on a more personal level.
All of these exclusive interviews will be featured on Pluck It! Music Brand’s YouTube channel in the weeks to come. We hope you enjoy them and can’t wait to see y’all at a future festival. To be in the know of all the festivals Pluck It! will be at with their apparel be sure to visit pluckitmusicbrand.com and follow @pluckitmusicbrand on social media. A special thanks to @mattmunsey and @xlacimack at Pluck It! for making this all possible!