Season 8 of Bluegrass Underground

About Season 8

Premieres September 2018

Taped deep within the subterranean amphitheater of The Caverns in Tennessee's majestic Cumberland Mountains, this "musical adventure" series features both long-established and emerging artists within a broad spectrum of genres to include Roots-Rock, Jamband, R&B, Soul, Folk, Americana, and yes… even Bluegrass!

Season 8's featured artists include Brandi Carlile, Billy Strings, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Sam Bush Band, Sweet Lizzy Project, Tim O’Brien, Lettuce, Kathy Mattea, the Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Turnpike Troubadours, Mary Gauthier, Flatt Lonesome, and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.

This is the first season for "Bluegrass Underground" in her new home in The Caverns near Pelham, TN. With a bigger room, broader stage and larger audience, every aspect of The Caverns heightens the experience of great music underground for concert-goers and home viewers alike.

Read more about the episodes below.

A Closer Look at Season 8

More About the Episodes

Episode 1 | Billy Strings (Premiere Date: September 5)

Reaction to Billy Strings come in two varieties: “Who is this guy?” and “That kid can play!” Strings won IBMA 2016 Momentum Awards Instrumentalist of the Year (for guitar, banjo and mandolin) and was voted #1 in The Bluegrass Situation’s Top 16 of 16. Michigan-raised from a long line of players, Billy Strings is a phenomenon whose articulation and entire approach is totally authentic.

Episode 2 | Aaron Lee Tasjan (Premiere Date: September 12) 

With a distinct "indie folk grit," Berklee-trained Tasjan has always considered himself a songwriter first even as he built creds with glam-rockers New York Dolls, southern rockers Drivin’ N Cryin’, arena rockers Semi Precious Weapons and British rockers Alberta Cross. Imbued with wry wit, a sharp tongue and a lot of heart, his songs harken John Prine, Tom Petty, Guy Clark, and Steve Goodman, solidifying him as one of the most intriguing songwriters to emerge in some time.

Episode 3 | The Sam Bush Band (Premiere Date: September 19)

Raised on a Kentucky farm, The Father of Newgrass and King of Telluride has long since established himself as roots royalty, soaking up honors such as an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award, three Grammys, and multiple International Bluegrass Music Association trophies. After a lifetime of channeling energy toward jazz, folk, blues, reggae, country swing, and bluegrass, Bush still strives relentlessly to create something new.

Episode 4 | Sweet Lizzy Project (Premiere Date: September 26)

Rare even in their hometown of Havana, Cuba, this gifted septet conquers every stage they play. Songs penned in English, Spanish and French have led to tours in Venezuela, Canada, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Russia, France, China and Portugal. Traditional Latin rhythms, Classical influences and American Roots-Rock sensibilities offer a fresh, truly singular approach perhaps best described as "Pan Americana."

Episode 5 | The Time O'Brien Bluegrass Band (Premiere Date: October 3)

With multiple awards from both Grammy and IBMA, this singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist grew up singing in church and in school, becoming a lifelong devotee of Old Time and Bluegrass music. First touring nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado Bluegrass band Hot Rize, O’Brien’s range over original compositions and traditional arrangements.

Episode 6 | Lettuce (Premiere Date: October 10)

Formed in 1992, Lettuce was founded on a shared love of funk artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. Lettuce brilliantly infuses their psychedelic/hip-hop sensibilities to bring a refreshing vitality to classic funk. Their tight sense of unity springs from a camaraderie that's only intensified over the lifespan of the band, deepening a sonic freedom with the infectious energy of an incendiary live show.

Episode 7 | Kathy Mattea (Premiere Date: October 17)

With two Grammys and 15 Top 10 singles on the Billboard charts, Mattea is a storied Nashville singer/songwriter. A genuine storyteller drawing on Appalachian roots, hers are classics infused with Bluegrass, Gospel and Celtic influences. Mattea pulls an acoustic eclectic set in duo long-time collaborator Bill Cooley featuring new material mixed with her extensive and decades-deep archive.

Episode 8 | The Reverend Osagyefo Sekou (Premiere Date: October 24)

Rev. Sekou's music offers a searing blend of North Mississippi Hill Country Music, Arkansas Delta Blues, Memphis Soul and Pentecostal steel guitar. AFROPUNK heralded the ”deep bone-marrow-level conviction” of his first album, which contained the single, “The Revolution Has Come.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch dubbed the song as the new anthem for the modern Civil Rights movement. 

Episode 9 | Turnpike Troubadours (Premiere Date: October 31)

Borrowing their name from the Indian Nation Turnpike that connected the more obscure dots of the Sooner state where they cut their artistic teeth, the Troubadours have honed a rowdy, quick-witted sound that’s brought together folks of all stripes. With a raw-boned energy and a knack for capturing slices of life in vivid detail, the band has evolved from acoustic explorations of Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker to full-throttle roadhouse country twang-tinged with a certain punk attitude hanging over from the band’s early years.

Episode 10 | Mary Gauthier (Premiere Date: November 7)

Hailing from New Orleans, Gauthier wrote her first song at the age of 35. Since, her extraordinarily confessional songs have garnered "New Artist of the Year" by The Americana Music Association and landed on Top 10 lists of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Daily News, No Depression, and Billboard Magazine. Her latest release, "Rifles and Rosary Beads" ("Thirty Tigers"), includes songs co-written with and for wounded veterans, all co-written as part of Darden Smith's SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.

Episode 11 | Flatt Lonesome (Premiere Date: November 14)

Debuting in 2013, this band is a musical force with Grand Ole Opry appearances, Billboard charting albums, and three top IBMA honors in 2016, Vocal Group, Song, Album of the Year, and Vocal Group for 2017. Digging into a well of emotion, expressive instrumentals, sophisticated writing and inventive arrangements, Flatt Lonesome continues to raise the bar of their own fiercely creative game.

Episode 12 | Brandi Carlile (Premiere Date: November 21)

Self taught, Washington-raised and Grammy nominated for Americana Album of the Year, Carlile’s style has revolved around several genres, including pop, rock, alternative country, and folk with songs serving as personal stories of parents and childhood, of divorces and religion, of marriage and having children, and of love and of loss.

Episode 13 | Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper (Premiere Date: November 28)

Ten-time IBMA Fiddler of the Year Award and one of the premier musicians of his generation. Originally trained in the classical Suzuki method, Cleveland’s blistering technical fluency pairs amazingly with Flamekeeper's tight harmonies and jaw dropping instrumental trades, finding balance between Bluegrass founding fathers and breaking new ground.

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