There may be no more uplifting sight in bluegrass than watching the irrepressible Sam Bush rock the stage.
Founder of the rock/’grass fusion band, New Grass Revival in 1971, and innovator of the “newgrass” genre, Bush is a dynamic, joyous performer, and among the most entertaining artists in acoustic music. Masterful on mandolin and fiddle, Bush loves his music and his fans love him.
“Storyman,” his first studio recording in seven years, was worth the wait. Its nine songs and two instrumentals were composed by Bush with contributions from friends, including the late Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris and banjoist bandmate Scott Vestal. Together, they present a portrait of “classic Sam Bush.”
The CD begins with a two-song declaration of optimism. In “Play by Your Own Rules,” Bush enjoins the listener, “Choose to be the one who favors/Kindness over wealth/Don’t be somebody else’s fool/You’ve gotta play by your own rules.”
With its contagious reggae vibe, “Everything is Possible” reminds us that even in our darkest hour, “Everything is possible/You can’t deny it’s true/So who’s to say something wonderful/Won’t happen to you.”
Channeling legendary Jimmie Rodgers, cancer survivors Bush and Clark co-wrote the defiant “Carcinoma Blues.” Bush teams with Harris for the sad-but true humor of “Handmics Killed Country Music.”
The album closes with the rhythmic ramble of “I Just Wanna Feel Something.” In his liner notes, Bush writes that it’s “A song about the love of playing music together and feeling the groove. Sums up the joy of the jam.”
Sam Bush joy, that is – pure joy.
Sam Bush and his band will perform at Durham’s Carolina Theatre Sept. 9.
Correspondent Jack Bernhardt
By Sam Bush