Often lively and sometimes sorrowful, American bluegrass music owes its existence to the folk music of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Great Britain. In the United States, bluegrass is often placed under the broad category of roots music, which includes Cajun, Appalachian folk, country, old time, gospel and jug bands. The Appalachian branch of bluegrass is influenced by the English ballad tradition. Typically, it features instruments such as the guitar, fretted dulcimer, banjo, American fiddle and mandolin. Philadelphia has long been a venue for bluegrass musicians, which has provided the city a treasure trove of bluegrass artists.
Haddon Heights, NJ
Known for his virtuosity on guitar, Jimmy Heffernan hails from Haddon Heights, NJ. In 2003, Heffernan collaborated with legendary Dobro artist Mike Auldridge and released “The Resocasters” to critical acclaim. Heffernan’s musical career began in 1974, when he performed with the bluegrass band Raintree. A veteran performer, Heffernan has been featured at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Lincoln Center. Recently, Heffernan has been performing with Mark Cosgrove and the Jerry Douglas Band. In 2009, he was featured at Sore Fingers in England and in 2010, he participated in Sore Fingers in Munich, Germany.
Marc Silver and The Stonethrowers
Marc Silver and The Stonethrowers has been a favorite bluegrass band since it began performing in January 2007. Featured at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the group has released a number of recordings – “A Miner’s Town,” “California Avenue,” “Naive Lovers” and in 2008, “Past Is Prelude.” From songs of joy to mournful ballads about lost love, the group mixes original songs with favorite standards. In 2008, the band was named the Best Band at Pickin In the Panhandle.
Heavy Traffic Bluegrass Band
Based in New Jersey, the four-piece traditional bluegrass band Heavy Traffic Bluegrass Band is well known in the tri-state area. Performing at parties, weddings and festivals, the founder of the band, Earl Karlsen, who plays mandolin and sings, is the host of the Bluegrass Express radio show, broadcast from Farleigh Dickinson University. Founded in 2001, the band’s other members include Jeff Propert, guitar and lead vocals; Guy Leatherman, bass and vocals; and Arnie Reisman, banjo and vocals.
The Last Whippoorwill Bluegrass Band
A five-member bluegrass band that features fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass, The Last Whippoorwill Bluegrass Band from Freehold, NJ, plays Appalachian bluegrass influenced by Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Stanleys. The musical style includes the free and sometimes improvisational dialogues between banjo, mandolin and guitar. A crowd-pleaser, the band prides itself on the personal touch it establishes with audiences.
Michael Patrick and The Suburban Hillbillies
Influenced by traditional folk, rockabilly, bluegrass, roots, country and gospel music, Michael Patrick and The Suburban Hillbillies perform original tunes mixed with standards by Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, John Prine, Johnny Cash and more. The group is well known for its Johnny Cash tribute show “Ring of Fire.” Performing throughout the tri-state area, the band has also gone on the road for three annual tours in the South.
Jeffrey B. Roth, has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on Examiner.com.