- BC Games
Bluegrass brothers head north
Just like the bloke singing about love in their song The Winds Are Blowing In Maggie Valley, Wayne and Josh Crowe are inspired by the place they call home.
Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, the siblings have a rich history to draw upon.
“We grew up in the business,” says Josh Crowe, who began playing on stage with his brother Wayne under the tutelage of their father Jr. Crowe.
Their professional break came in 1975 when they met banjo aficionado Raymond Fairchild at a bluegrass festival in Walhalla, South Carolina.
Fairchild offered the siblings a job with Josh playing guitar and being the front man of the show and Wayne playing bass.
Since that time, they have accomplished some of their biggest goals in the music business - such as being guests at The Grand Ole Opry since 1978.
Along with the bluegrass festivals they play at each year, some of their musical career highlights have been performances on “Bluegrass Spectacular” for PBS, The Nashville Network’s “Fire On The Mountain” series, TNN’S I-40 “Picking At The Paradise” and also “The Nashville Now” show with Ralph Emery.
The Crowe Brothers have been repeatedly voted amongst the top bluegrass acts for the past three decades and are up for International Bluegrass Music Association nominations this year as well.
Their blend of traditional bluegrass and acoustic country music, complete with intricate instrumentation and beautifully blended harmonies, is timeless.
“I like good melodies and good storytelling and I think a lot of people do,” says Crowe, lamenting that a lot of popular country music these days is “just a bunch of words thrown together.”
Although they’ve been a band for 39 years, the Crowe Brothers have no plans on retiring. They’ve got a new album in the works.
Josh Crowe, who is three years younger than Wayne, credits their different personalities for their longevity. They are never jostling for the spotlight.
“It’s not both of us trying to run the business, so our personalities didn’t clash,” he says, with a laugh.
“Wayne just kind of lets me run the show and it’s worked out pretty good that way.”
The brothers also enjoy sharing bluegrass traditions with a brand new generation. They paid homage to that with their last album titled Bridging the Gap.
“We are the bridge from the old ones to the new ones,” says Crowe.
The Crowe Brothers will be making their first trip to Canada to play at the True North Fraser Bluegrass Festival next week - a trip that’s been years in the making.
“People have been wanting us to come to Canada for a long time. We’ve got a lot of people up there who really like what we are doing,” says Crowe, speaking before a gig in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Crowe Brothers spend a good part of the year touring. Although they’ve been on the road for almost 40 years, they have no plans to staying put anytime soon.
“We don’t get tired of it,” says Crowe, noting with each new town comes a brand new audience.
“The good thing about our business, you are singing to a new audience so it’s new again when people enjoy what you are doing. The audience make all the difference in the world.”
• The Crowe Brothers play on the main stage Saturday, Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 1 at 3:20 p.m. and 8:20 p.m.
• High Plains Tradition has become a highly sought after band at festivals and concerts alike. The band features founding member Doug Elrick, Kenny Pabst, Steve Gilmore, Mark Leslie and Bobbie Vickery.
Their music is rooted in the “traditional” with just a touch of flair of their own.
On Stage: Friday at 9: 20 p.m., Saturday at 2:20 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 6:40 p.m.
• 5 on a String from Coquitlam features Hugh Ellenwood on fiddle, lead and bass vocals; Garry Stevenson on guitar, lead and baritone vocals; Gordie Sadler on banjo, lead and tenor vocals; Dan Mornar on upright bass, lead and tenor vocals and Tim Eccles on mandolin, lead and tenor vocals. The band plays a mostly traditional Bluegrass repertoire with a few original tunes and the occasional foray into old style country music like Merle Haggard and even one from Fats Domino.
On stage: Friday at 6:50 p.m.; Saturday at 12;40 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday at 11:50 p.m.
• The Still Blue - Drawing from the great period of progressive bluegrass, The Still Blue continues to deliver tight three-part harmonies and driving bluegrass. The band features Valerie Bailey on bass, David Sohn on banjo, Craig Marce on guitar and Colin Goldie on mandolin.
On Stage: The Still Blue play Friday at 6:1 0 p.m.; Saturday at 11:50 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
• The Fisher/Steven Bands - This new group from Alberta has a dynamic line up of multi-talented players from all over Western Canada. They reproduce a traditional bluegrass sound with great taste, tone and timing. All the members of the band have their roots in some of the best known Canadian bluegrass bands of the past 20 years and it shows.
On Stage: Friday at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday at 3:10 p.m. and 6:50
• The festival takes place Friday Aug. 30 to Sunday Sept. 1. For more, visit truenorthfraserbluegrass.com.