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Sam Bush Continues to Blaze New Trails in Bluegrass


Multi-instrumentalist Sam Bush has been taking his music beyond the boundaries of traditional bluegrass for almost 35 years. As a founding member of the New Grass Revival, Sam pioneered a whole new direction for bluegrass. Since setting off on a solo career, he's broadened his approach to music by incorporating elements of jazz, folk, country and rock into his songs. VOA's Katherine Cole reports on Laps In Seven, a recording that continues down that genre-bending path.

Sam Bush is known for making eclectic records. So you shouldn't be shocked to hear him singing both the bluegrass classic "Bringing In The Georgia Mail" and the old hit, "White Bird" by It's A Beautiful Day (an early-1970s progressive rock group), on the same recording.

Sam Bush was a musical child prodigy, taking up mandolin and fiddle at age 11. By the time he graduated from high school, Sam had already won national music competitions. In 1969, he made his debut on The Grand Ole Opry, and recorded his first album that same year. A year later, Sam joined a group called The Bluegrass Alliance, which evolved into the New Grass Revival. This band added electric instruments and drums to the traditional sound, and set the standard for modern bluegrass. Today, Sam Bush considers his band to be a kind of acoustic rock, reggae and bluegrass band. Over the years, that kind of eclectic fusion has angered fans of traditional bluegrass, some of whom don't enjoy hearing more than one kind of music at a concert.

But that hasn't stopped Sam Bush, for whom unpredictability has become a character trait. His new CD, Laps In Seven, continues down this same course, mixing bluegrass, rock, and jazz with songs by writers including Jeff Black, Robbie Fulks and Darrell Scott. Sam says wanted to record Scott's powerful "River Take Me" ever since he first learned it originally learned it to play in a recording session for another artist.

Laps In Seven is a must for any Sam Bush fans. Newcomers will find it a good introduction to one of acoustic music's true innovators. Sam says the album's title track was inspired by the sound of his dog Ozzie lapping water in a 7/4 time signature, something only a musician would recognize! At the end of the tune, you actually hear Ozzie drinking his "Laps In Seven."

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