By and By
Boston-based group The By & By offers a fresh approach to American Roots music. The trio summons electrifying stage performances that infuse the raw energy of gospel and blues and the plaintive cry of country music with a modern edge. Drawing on improvisational skills honed at New England Conservatory, where Leah Hennessy (vocals), Jacob Means. (mandolin) and Brad Barrett (bass), met and formed The By & By in 2014, the group explores contemporary interpretations of traditional music ranging from Methodist hymnals, the Carter Family, Muddy Waters, and Blind Willie Johnson, among others. The By & By’s music dances skillfully across time signatures while maintaining an allegiance to the groove, with Hennessy’s bluesy and jazz-inflected vocals anchoring the intricate counterpoint between Means' mandolin and Barrett's bass. The resulting sound, inventive and yet familiar, forges new territory for the American String Band tradition.
Sally and George
In the town where country music was born--where two states come together on one street--a spark lit and a duo was ignited. At the 2012 Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, on the way to take the stage with his band, Sol Driven Train, guitarist/singer Joel Timmons found himself sidetracked by Della Mae, an all-female, GRAMMY-nominated bluegrass band. It was that group's bass player, Shelby Means, who most captivated his attention. After a conversation at the merchandise table about their shared love of travel and music, two-years passed before Means and Timmons would reconnect. A bold love song led the way, and eventually a growing romance turned into the Nashville-based duo Sally & George and their debut album tip my heart. With tip my heart, Sally & George have made an engaging, eclectic debut album. It’s a thoughtful meditation on Means’ and Timmons’ courtship and love (the duo got engaged in July 2016 on a mountain in North Carolina after work on tip my heart was completed). The album deftly moves from rollicking, electrified rockers to stripped down, gauzy reflections on love and faith, to walking bass-led country-indebted duets. All of it is done tastefully, with an earnestness that does not shy away from humor or the occasional cuss word. A longtime surfer in Charleston, Timmons’ love for Means meant uprooting himself and moving to Nashville. “Nashville Beach” is Timmons’ attempt to assuage his ocean heart by imagining life in Nashville as a different kind of wave. “Hey Wow” was Sally & George’s first appointment co-write. The duo scheduled a time and met in their living room, channeling the sometimes bawdy duets of John Prine and Iris Dement and the back and forth conversational style of Johnny and June Carter Cash.
Prior to forming Sally & George, Means and Timmons spent time in Della Mae and Sol Driven Train, respectively. Means was nominated for a GRAMMY for Della Mae’s this world oft can be, and the band won IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year. They performed at Bonnaroo, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Merlefest, Pickathon and twice at the Grand Ole Opry and were U.S. cultural ambassadors, performing in 20 countries around the world including Brazil, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Friends since childhood, the members of Sol Driven Train toured the U.S. for a decade, building a dedicated grassroots following. They independently released 10 albums, including two albums for children.