Headlined by Bowling Green natives and founding members Sam Bush and Curtis Burch, the band New Grass Revival will be inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame in a virtual ceremony Thursday.
Joining the band in this year’s hall of fame class are the Johnson Mountain Boys and Station Inn owner/promoter J.T. Gray.
The group will be enshrined in Owensboro, home of the IBMA Hall of Fame.
“It is a real honor,” Bush told the Daily News. “Hearing the news was quite overwhelming for someone who grew up on the outside of Bowling Green on a tobacco and cattle farm.”
New Grass Revival is recognized widely as one of the most progressive voices in the history of Bluegrass as its famous brand of music called Newgrass blended a number of musical genres. The band defined its game-changing style by playing contemporary music on Bluegrass instruments.
The band got its start in 1971 after founding members Bush, Burch, Courtney Johnson and Ebo Walker moved to Louisville to begin their careers.
In 1975, the band moved to Barren County, which was the home of Johnson. After the move, they spent the next few years opening for Leon Russell.
As their fame grew, the band anchored some of the largest festivals in the country including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colo.
Their final appearance together was opening for The Grateful Dead at the Oakland Coliseum in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve 1989.
During its existence, the band produced nine studio albums and two live albums. They received both best band and best album awards in 1988 from Fret Magazine and placed on the Billboard Top 100 six times and the Top 40 one time with “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”
Bush credits a variety of artists as his and the band’s major influences.
“We were honestly influenced by people who had already changed Bluegrass music,” Bush said. “Of course, the father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, played a large part in our music, but we were also influenced by famous rock artists of the time such as Eric Clapton and Jefferson Airplane.”
Bush was a part of the 1970 Warren Central High School graduating class where he said school band director George Mills was his first major musical influence.
Even though he never attended Western Kentucky University, Bush received an honorary doctorate during WKU’s 2019 spring commencement. Bush called the special day a “great experience.”
The now 68-year old Bush started playing music at 18 and never stopped over the last 50 years. Now, the musician headlines his own band aptly named The Sam Bush Band, which also specializes in Newgrass.
“The entire music business has been on hold right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bush said. “Right now, I’ve been doing some socially distanced shows, and our next one is on Oct. 26 in Virginia. I’m just fortunate this hall of fame ceremony is still actually happening.”
– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.