Published June 26, 2020

Something Borrowed, Something New

by Dale McCurry

John Prine
R.I.P. John Prine. NoteWorthy Music Photo.

As the first half of this notably noteworthy year draws to a close, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new collaboration with my dear friend Bambi Grinder, as goes live.

Who’s Who?
As Grinder so eloquently writes on our About page, we are “two word nerds from the Ozarks — carrying on a lifelong love affair with music.” As writers, “we are drawn to the song and deeply interested in the creation process. Our appreciation goes beyond to gratitude and respect for all creators and enjoyers of music.”

Much of my personal background is as a music journalist and editor and co-publisher of High Notes Magazine (HN) on the Western Slope of Colorado and its sister publication The Wires and the Wood (W&W) in my native Ozarks. To no small extent, for me, NoteWorthy Music (NWM) is a continuation of that work.

Dale McCurry interviewing Sam Bush at RockyGrass July 2016.

Sam Bush and Dale McCurry. NoteWorthy Music Photo.

What It Is
NWM is a platform for presenting, reviewing, discussing and writing about music and makers of music — via in-depth features and the briefest of briefs, reviews and analyses, quips and Q&As.

Additionally, once the apocalypse that is COVID-19 passes and live music rises from the ashes of 2020, NoteWorthy Music intends to bring quality shows back to the Ozarks by continuing the Singer Songwriter Showcase Series. Additionally, we will once again work as booking agents to help local artists find venues and gigs in new markets. In the meantime, this is our indie word-nerd version of live-streamed shows.

The COVID Connection
It was no sooner than Bambi and I had shaken hands to begin our little adventure that live music as we knew it — and assumed it always would be known — was closed off as abruptly and fully as turning off a faucet of lifegiving water.

As we watched artists pivot almost immediately to live-stream shows, our own plans morphed into a sort of zine zen project — dedicated to safely adding our voice to an urgent song. (Cue finger cymbals and incense.) There was a sense that with the technology available to us, artists and patrons of art would come together in our separation.

We wanted to be a part of that.

This is our indie word-nerd version of live-streamed shows.

As a result, in a series called The Day the Music Died, we will feature tales from people across the music industry sharing how the pandemic has affected them, their art and their life’s work. To read Ray Cardwell’s premier entry for the project, go to Music & Pandemia, where he shares “Renaissance Rising,” the story in which we learn how his new single “Rising Sun” came to be written and recorded during the lockdown.

Future tellers of apocalyptic tales include Tim O’Brien, Springfield musicians Jim Rea and Brandon Moore, as well as Ben Morrison of The Brothers Comatose and many more.

Play It Again
Our High Notes section will basically be an archive of previously published work, much of which appeared first in HN or W&W. Compilation will be a work in progress, but the section currently carries “​Bluegrass Revolution: The Mythology of Truegrass” in which we examine the evolution of bluegrass and the pride and prejudices surrounding that, and a recollection of a day spent with Joe Cocker called “Me-n-Joe.”

Sam Bush
Sam Bush. Photo by Teri Metallo of NightEagle Photography.

By and By, Americana Pie
And finally, we come to Americana Pie (be still my heart). We premiere this section by way of a Q&A conducted with a special person and performer, singer and songwriter — a piece called “Conversations with Tim O’Brien.” The conversations include, among other great anecdotes, a very intimate telling of the several-year development of his (and my) favorite Tim O’Brien song, “Brother Wind.”

When Tim is asked about major influences in his music and career and he names The Beatles as “the base camp,” followed immediately by Doc Watson — specifically because Doc was “the perfect example of how to make diverse music into your own bag” — I feel at home.

In a former life, co-publisher Jennifer Mandaville and I birthed High Notes Magazine in Ridgway, Colorado. The life-bending experience was heavily influenced — if not fully hijacked — by The Telluride Bluegrass Festival (TBF) just up the road.

It was there we first met and interviewed O’Brien, Sam Bush and Del McCoury as well as Lake Street Dive (hardly bluegrass) and Jeff Austin and more.

Jennifer Mandaville and Dale McCurry interviewing Del McCoury.

Jennifer Mandaville and Dale McCurry interviewing Del McCoury.
Photo by Josh Elioseff of Dancer Productions Photography.

Something akin to grace caused us to cool our heels in the fresh-melted headwaters of the San Miguel River in 2012 and wait to be literally “miracled” inside TBF. Once in, we rushed across the grounds for Jennifer’s interview with Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon (closer to Lynyrd Skynyrd than The Blue Grass Boys, except for their instruments).

When the interview was over, we sat in the “Poser Pit,” right in front of the stage, and were treated to face-to-face sets with singer-songwriter John Prine, followed by headliner Alison Krauss and Union Station (bluegrass and so much more).

What happened to me in Telluride that evening and the following seven Junes was to fall in love with a particular slant of musicians who have taken the common, mostly acoustic, instruments they (and I) grew up with and yielded them to a new sound — blowing preconceived notions and expectations wide open in the process.

It marked me; it’s a part of me. I will remember June moments spent in that box canyon on my death-bed, I am sure.

… Americana Pie, rich with the sweet and savory alchemy of blended genres …

I am aware there is so much great music out there that will not be subject for this section. I am a fan of much of it; much of it I would love if I only knew the work.

But I’ll often be found devouring a heaping helping of Americana Pie, rich with the sweet and savory alchemy of blended genres — ancient beats and rhythms, momentary harmonies and melodies — all topped with a frothy mousse of muse-driven freshness.

From bluegrass to hipstergrass to punkassgrass, from a girl and her guitar to seven-piece singer-songwriter bands of innovative folk-rock rockers playing their daddies’ acoustic instruments, you’ll find tales and tunes of such right here.

Jeff Austin

R.I.P. Jeff Austin. NoteWorthy Music Photo.

Dale McCurry

Dale McCurry

Writer and Editor

Following years as a reporter and editor of a handful of weekly newspapers, Dale McCurry was co-founder and publisher, writer and managing editor of High Notes Magazine on the Western Slope of Colorado and The Wires and the Wood in his native Ozarks. Today, he co-wears those hats for NoteWorthy Music as well.

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