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Jim VanCleveFiddler Jim VanCleve has announced that he will be leaving Mountain Heart, a group he helpd establish almost 16 years ago. Jim has certainly made his mark with this outstanding group of bluegrass music artists and he and the group are seperating on good terms. Jim will keep his fans posted through his Facebook page. Mountain Heart has not announced any possible replacements and Jim will continue to fulfil his existing committments as best he can.

Jim VanCleve released this announcement regarding his decision...

Today, after nearly 16 years of touring and recording, I am publicly announcing my decision to leave Mountain Heart. We have discussed this together, and I leave on what I think must be considered the absolute best of terms. These fine gentlemen are much more than co-workers, they are family. While it’s been a very difficult decision to reach, I feel that the timing is right and that God has been tugging me to explore a number of different opportunities that have presented themselves over the last few months, as well as be open to new ones I’m not yet aware of.

As some may already know, I’ve been very blessed to become deeply engaged in the Nashville studio scene: from producing full projects in a variety of genres, to A & R, session work, mixing/mastering/editing, and a myriad of other tasks. Between all this, and my intent to freelance with a number of various artists, teaching online and at various camps, my goal is to be as busy as ever, which is just the way I like it. So, I am looking forward to collaborating with many new faces in a variety of situations moving forward!

My time with the Mountain Heart boys has been an amazing adventure. It’s no small thing to be able to create and perform your own music with literally some of the very best musicians in the world, who – as many of you know – are also some of the finest people you’ll meet as well. From the very first iteration of the band, almost 16 years ago, to today’s band, the hallmark we created with Mountain Heart has been a positively-charged, energetic, and highly personal approach to American Music. We poured ourselves into what we created. We took a lot of chances, broke a few rules, even took some lumps. But, ultimately we excelled and succeeded in many things we weren’t sure could be done. Mountain Heart has afforded me the opportunity to grow as a musician, as a producer, as a writer, as an arranger, and most importantly, as a teammate and person. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I am heartily wishing these boys the VERY best as they move forward, and continue to set new musical standards for us all.

I feel that I am leaving Mountain Heart as strong as ever, and that they are on the precipice of entering yet another great season. At present we have agreed that, though I will begin appearing with a variety of musical ensembles immediately, I will also be playing the remainder of the calendar dates Mountain Heart has scheduled for 2014 as well. It is my hope to be able to visit with many of our long time friends and fans during this time – and I’ll admit – to “throw down” with with these particular guys a few more times!

I look forward to seeing everyone, either with Mountain Heart over the next few months, or wherever our paths may cross from here forward!

Mountain Heart's Barry Abernathy represented the group and said,

“Jim VanCleve has been a wonderful friend and band mate for the last 16 years. I wish him nothing but the best in all of his endeavors. I feel privileged to have had Jimmy as a part of the band, as well as a huge part of my life over what has been the ‘Prime’ of our careers. I feel that I am a better person, and musician, having created music the last 15 years with this man. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for all the music and memories which I will cherish forever (or at least as long as I am in my right mind).

Good Luck Jimmy, and don’t forget to set your clock!”

Mountain Heart's musical virtuosity, unmatched energy, and keen sense of entertainment dynamics have helped them to forge a highly unique sound, and stage show, which appeals to an incredibly wide variety of musical tastes. From large outdoor folk music and bluegrass festivals, to sold-out arena shows opening for Southern Rock icons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, to co-headlining concerts with the acoustic guitar legend, Tony Rice, Mountain Heart always makes an undeniable connection to an audience, leaving them on their feet. In short, this rare comibination of abilities makes Mountain Heart one of the most versatile acts ever assembled.

As the group leading the charge in taking acoustic music to the masses, Mountain Heart deftly combines elements of southern rock, jam band, country, delta blues, jazz, funk and traditional bluegrass into a high-energy sound that is at once unique, fresh, accessible, and unmistakeable.

Fiddler Jim VanCleve has already achieved more than many musicians do in a lifetime, and with the release of his solo debut, No Apologies, the dynamic youngster has taken a bold step forward. Producing, arranging, performing, and sharing in the writing credits for more than half of the CD's eleven selections, Jim has created a collection of unusual depth and breadth that can only enhance his reputation as one of the leading musicians of his generation.

No Apologies was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year, garnering a 2006 Grammy Nomination, an IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year Nomination for 2007, and taking "Album of the Year" honors in the Folk Music category of the Indie Acoustic Awards. Following the success of his album, Jim was nominated as IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year.

As one of the most in-demand session musicians in Nashville, Jim has played on countless recordings. He played a prominent role as fiddler on the 2004 Country Album of the Year Livin', Lovin', Losin': The Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, winning him his first Grammy. He also recorded fiddle for a smash-hit single drawn from American Idol winner, Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts (2005)-his first participation in a multi-platinum seller.

As one of the original members of Mountain Heart, Jim has become well-known for the intense energy, charisma, and dazzling musicianship he brings to the stage. We all wish both Jim and Mountain Heart great future successes.

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Blue SmokeNew York, NY -- Sony Masterworks and internationally-renowned superstar Dolly Parton celebrate Record Store Day on Saturday, April 19, with the release of a limited 7-inch vinyl. The blue vinyl features two tracks from Parton’s upcoming album Blue Smoke - “Blue Smoke” and “Home.” Blue Smoke will be released by Sony Masterworks and Dolly Records on May 13, 2014. It is available for pre-order now. The album includes 12 bluegrass and country songs including covers of Bob Dylan and Bon Jovi classics, and duets with Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers. Blue Smoke marks the first release of new music from Parton since 2011.

April 19th is Record Store Day!! As a vinyl lover who still uses and appreciates the LP format including the newer "heavy vinyl" format, this day has special meaning for me. Bluegrass artists continue to produce albums in the LP vinyl format and this album is certainly part of this collection. Buying vinyl is only half the story. The other half is in helping the brick & mortar Mom & Pop record stores to stay open and offering to bring more vinyl to the market. With many younger people getting interested in the "old" format, more albums may be offered.

Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1000 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally. This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store - the staff, the customers, and the artists - to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances.

Sony Music Masterworks comprises the Masterworks, Sony Classical, OKeh, Portrait, Masterworks Broadway and Flying Buddha imprints. For email updates and information please visit www.SonyMasterworks.com

Achieving 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, Dolly has had 25 songs reach number 1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has 110 career charted singles over the past 40 years.

All-inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage during her Hall of Fame career have reportedly topped a staggering 100 million records worldwide. She has garnered 7 Grammy Awards, 10 Country Music Association Awards, 5 Academy of Country Music Awards, 3 American Music Awards and is one of only five female artists to win the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year Award. Dolly was inducted as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. And the litany goes on.

Dolly’s career has spanned nearly five decades and is showing no signs of slowing down. An internationally-renowned superstar, the iconic and irrepressible Parton has contributed countless treasures to the worlds of music, film and television. Some of her hit films have included Nine to Five, Steel Magnolias, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, Straight Talk, and Joyful Noise. Parton received two Oscar® nominations – one for writing the title tune to Nine to Five and the other for Travelin’ Thru from the film Transamerica.

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MASS MoCANorth Adams, MA -- The FreshGrass Award, a highlight of the eponymous three-day bluegrass and roots music festival held each fall at MASS MoCA, crowns up-and-coming musicians who offer a fresh take on the genre. Now in its second year, the Award expands from one category to three - giving unsigned bands, duos, and banjo players a chance to compete for cash prizes totaling $15,000, recording time at Compass Records' studio in Nashville, and a main stage slot at FreshGrass 2015. The competition, judged by a panel of industry professionals, is held concurrently with the festival on September 19-21, 2014, and contest performances are open to the festival audience.

To enter, contestants submit two videos via the festival's website freshgrass.com - one live performance of an original composition and one live performance of a bluegrass traditional. Notes festival producer Chris Wadsworth, "We want to hear musicians who know the rules well enough to break them!"

Submission videos are judged by originality, instrumental/vocal skill, and bluegrass proficiency. Award finalists are notified of their Award slot in mid-August. The contest runs on an indoor stage throughout the festival. The winner is announced on the festival main stage on Sunday afternoon, September 21st.

Developed in an effort to boost the careers of promising young musicians, the FreshGrass Award looks for future stars of the bluegrass festival circuit. 2013 Award winner Cricket Tell the Weather has filled clubs around the northeast since its FreshGrass debut last year, and performs at this year's festival. "It's a thrill," Wadsworth continues, "to watch the next generation of music-makers hunker down in this contest while the top bluegrass musicians in the country are playing right outside the doors on festival stages, jamming in workshops, picking in the courtyards, and sometimes popping on to the contest stage to have a listen."

An opportunity for enthusiasts to both appreciate and participate, FreshGrass is a family-friendly festival, brimming with bright talent on our four stages, and also in our galleries, brick-lined courtyards and grassy field. FreshGrass is more than a festival - the event and its website are a hub for the bluegrass community.

Music starts early in the museum courtyards, moves to a spacious (and grassy!) urban concert meadow, and continues well after dark with wild and wooly late-night barn dances in the Hunter Center on Friday and Saturday nights. Instrument-specific workshops and industry seminars are offered in conjunction with Berklee College of Music and its American Roots Program, and often feature guest musicians from the festival. The FreshGrass Award gives $15,000 in cash and prizes, rewarding fresh takes on bluegrass.

$15,000 in prizes offered to the brightest up-and-coming bluegrass talent in three categories: Band, Duo, and Banjo

The festival continues to be one of the best values on the festival circuit. Limited-time, early-bird, three-day festival passes are available for $87 adults, $77 students, and $43 children 7 to 16. Children 6 and under are admitted free. Single-day tickets may be offered closer to the event, on a space-available basis. Museum members receive a 10% discount on the regular ticket prices, but membership discounts do not apply to the early-worm and early-bird discounted ticket prices. The festival will be held rain or shine.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Railroad Earth, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn,Sam Bush, The Infamous Stringdusters, David Grisman Sextet, The Gibson Brothers, Alison Brown, Valerie June, Aoife O'Donovan, Rodney Crowell, Sam Amidon, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Claire Lynch, Darol Anger, Martha Redbone Roots Project, Cricket Tell The Weather

FreshGrass is sponsored by Compass Records, American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music, the Porches Inn, Chronogram, and The Fretboard Journal. FreshGrass is a coproduction of MASS MoCA and FreshGrass, LLC.

MASS MoCA is one of the world's liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today's most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. More platform than box, MASS MoCA strives to bring to its audiences art experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.

From June 21 through September 1, 2014, MASS MoCA's galleries are open 10am to 6pm every day, Sundays through Wednesdays, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays, when performing arts events are often featured. In non-summer months, MASS MoCA's galleries are open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. The Hall Art Foundation's Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally, Spring - Fall. As of June 21, 2014, gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $6 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit massmoca.org.

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The Stevens Family BandWillis, VA -- Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce today's release of Down on the Farm by West Virginia traditional bluegrass group The Stevens Family. The first single also titled “Down on the Farm,” was released earlier this year.

“Down on the Farm” was written and arranged by band member Sissy Stevens. The song is a true portrayal of actual events in Stevens life and expresses her love for her Grandfather ‘Kentucky Ken,” and other family members.

The remarkable Stevens Clan, with ten children, has been making music together at home and in church for decades. Since their debut as full-time professional performers in 2007, they've been impressing and captivating audiences from the Mid-Atlantic seaboard to Florida, from the Midwest to the Missouri Ozarks, up into Canada and back again. Their Appalachian roots lend a unique authenticity to their bluegrass-style sound and performances.

“You can hear the conviction in every song that was played or sang (by the Stevens Family) and I’m sure that it has been a blessing and inspiration to all who have listened...”
Russell Moore, IIIrd Tyme Out

Down on the Farm continues to convey the Steven’s Family’s easy going country mountaineer humor, stunning instrumental wizardry and a unique blend of vocal harmonies.

Through an impressive catalog of original songs, their performances capture not only the high lonesome sound of American bluegrass at its strongest, but also reveal the love, joy, passion and strong faith of this proud mountain family.

Very few bluegrass artists today can lay claim to such an authentic musical heritage, and every member of the band nurtures this heritage to bring audiences very real American roots music as it has been performed throughout the Appalachian Mountains for more than two hundred years.

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World of Bluegrass 2014Nashville, TN -- The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)’s World of Bluegrass 2014 event, September 30 – October 4 in Raleigh, North Carolina, is now open for conference registration, hotel reservations, Wide Open Bluegrass festival tickets, the IBMA Awards Show, and Bluegrass Ramble Showcase passes. Additional details about World of Bluegrass 2014 will be announced on May 7 at a press conference in Raleigh.

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass event, an annual bluegrass music homecoming, consists of four parts: the IBMA Business Conference, September 30 – October 2, the 25th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, scheduled for Thursday evening, October 2, the Wide Open Bluegrass Music Festival, October 3-4 (which includes both free stages and ticketed performances) and the Bluegrass Ramble, an innovative series of showcases, taking place September 30 – October 2 in downtown Raleigh and at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Those wishing to obtain tickets for the ticketed portion of the Wide Open Bluegrass festival (which takes place at Red Hat Amphitheater and Raleigh Convention Center Ballroom Stages), Bluegrass Ramble Showcase passes, conference registration, Award Show tickets and hotel reservations should go to IBMA’s website, www.ibma.org. Single day general admission for the ticketed portion of the Wide Open Bluegrass festival starts as low as $50, with a three-day Bluegrass Ramble pass available for $75. Additional details and pricing information are available at the website.

“All of Raleigh is so ready for the return of IBMA and the World of Bluegrass,” said the Honorable Nancy McFarlane, mayor of Raleigh. “I encourage everyone to get their tickets today to make sure that you are part of WOB14, which promises to be even greater than last year.”

Before opening World of Bluegrass tickets and registration to the general public today, the IBMA offered its members a chance to pre-purchase, and were very pleased with the results: “We’re excited to report the best kick-off week of World of Bluegrass sales in IBMA history beginning March 31 with our pre-sale for members,” said Executive Director Nancy Cardwell. “In the first week we sold around 1500 tickets for both Friday and Saturday night of the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival’s main stages (3000 for the weekend), more than 160 Bluegrass Ramble multi-day showcase tickets, 430 IBMA Awards Show tickets, and over 160 Business Conference full-attendee registrations.”

“We also had a number of exhibitors for the Bluegrass Expo sign up the first week. Hotel rooms at the two anchor hotels are going fast and are sold out on some nights already. The good news is that we still have rooms at all of our discount block hotels, as well as tent and RV camping availability.”

“The city of Raleigh and IBMA’s worldwide Bluegrass Nation had a great ‘first date’ at World of Bluegrass 2013, and we’re looking forward to continuing the relationship in 2014 with an even bigger and better IBMA Business Conference, plus expected repeat sell-outs at the International Bluegrass Music Awards and the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival,” Cardwell continued. “World of Bluegrass is the place to discover what’s new in bluegrass, promote your band or business, and to network with peers in the industry. If bluegrass music moves you, we invite you to register, buy tickets and make plans now to be at the event that moves the bluegrass music world Sept. 30-Oct. 4 in Raleigh, North Carolina.”

While a more extensive list of changes and additions to this year’s World of Bluegrass event are available at the IBMA website, some of the changes include:

  • Bluegrass Ramble:
    • An improved, dedicated transportation system – with extended hours – running between hotels and venues
    • An additional official showcase stage in the Raleigh Convention Center, which will provide an opportunity for attendees to see all showcase bands under one roof
    • A new “Late Night Showcase” and weekend “Wide Open After Hours” format will provide additional performance opportunities for both artists and bluegrass fans
  • Business Conference:
    • The debut of “Bluegrass Marketplace,” a two-hour concentrated “mini” exhibit hall
    • A return of the popular “DJ Taping Sessions”
    • An expanded four days for the Exhibit Hall ”Bluegrass Expo”
    • A special Talent Buyers Focus planned especially for event producers and agents, with a new pitching session, reception, an expanded Gig Fair and discounts for first-time talent buyer attendees.
    • Creative, new educational formats to help attendees learn and share their expertise.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that last year’s World of Bluegrass event generated $10 million in direct visitor spending for that region, with total attendance for the week’s activities estimated to be over 154,000, exceeding expectations for the event’s first year in Raleigh. Over 300 performances by more than 160 different artists took place during World of Bluegrass 2013.

IBMA – the International Bluegrass Music Association – is the professional trade organization for the global bluegrass music community. The organization’s three-year stay in Raleigh is the result of a partnership with The Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, PineCone—The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, the City of Raleigh and a local organizing committee. /li

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