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Newgrass artist to tell his story through traditional bluegrass instruments

Sam Bush will play from his latest album, Storyman, at the Englert on Friday night.

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Newgrass artist to tell his story through traditional bluegrass instruments

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Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

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Sam Bush, the longtime mandolin and fiddle player from Bowling Green, Kentucky, is set to roll into Iowa City while touring for his most recent album, Storyman.

The rightfully nicknamed “Father of Newgrass” will hit the Englert stage at 8 p.m. Friday. 

On Storyman, Bush reminisces in stories of his past in “the Bluegrass State” of Kentucky. 

RELATED: Backstage at the Englert with Elizabeth Moen

“ ‘Storyman’ is a nickname a buddy of mine gave me because I have a story for everything,” Bush said. “But more than that, I wanted to make sure I at least cowrote each song on the album.” 

One of the tracks, “Transcendental Meditation Blues,” tells the story of a Greyhound Bus that broke down while Bush was en route to meet his girlfriend, now wife of 35 years. 

“It was the summer of 1978, and I lived in the country at the time,” Bush said. “She lived in Louisville, and my transmission was out all summer. The point of the song is to be patient.” 

Other songs, including “Bowling Green,” were inspired by his father, who played fiddle, and his mother, who played guitar. The tune also incorporates the melody of an old fiddle tune between each verse. 

“Music was encouraged and loved in our house,” Bush said. “We listened to the radio every Friday and Saturday night. We lived 55 miles north of Nashville, so I grew up listening to country performers, too.” 

Bush bought his first mandolin at age 11 and inherited one of his father’s fiddles at 13, and the rest is history. The musician began playing right out of high school, and for 18 years was a part of the band New Grass Revival. Once that experience was over, Bush spent five years playing with Emmylou Harris, and in 1996, he decided it was time for him to start playing shows under his own name with his own band. 

“I love interacting with the musicians,” Bush said. “We are a true, equal, five-piece unit, reacting to each other’s music. I’m very fortunate, when it’s time to play, the music energizes me.”

Bush is well-known for his bluegrass roots, but he and his band are on the edge of releasing a rock ’n’ roll instrumental song called “Stop the Violence.” The YouTube music video is set to première March 22. 

“It’s just two songwriters wishing for a less violent society,” Bush said. “We both feel strongly on the issue. I mean, you don’t ever hear anyone say, “Oh yeah, we want more violence.” 

Along with his upcoming song, Bush is also the subject of a documentary film titled Revival: The Sam Bush Story. 

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About the Writer
Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Madison Lotenschtein is an arts reporter and digital producer at The Daily Iowan. She is a sophomore at the University...

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