Interview by Scott Preston
The Dixie Bee Liners’ show on 10/31/11 starts at 8pm, and tickets are $10. The Leapin’ Lizard Lounge is located at 726 Main Street in Covington, KY. For more information, please call 513.509.0951, or visit The Dixie Bee-Liners on Facebook.
Though Monday’s concert will be full of spooky fun, The Dixie Bee-Liners take their music seriously. The ensemble has received worldwide acclaim for their innovative blend of traditional and contemporary sounds. The band has been heard on BBC Radio, The Food Network, Sirius-XM Satellite Radio, SkyArts Television, and hundreds of radio stations in North America and Europe. They were named Roots Music Association’s 2008 Bluegrass Artist of the Year, beating out such musical giants as Merle Haggard and Alison Krauss. Their 2008 cd RIPE achieved four #1′s on the bluegrass charts, and 2009′s Susanville was deemed “one of the most revolutionary bluegrass releases in recent memory” by Country Standard Time. The group is currently at work on a brand-new studio release, set for January.
Cincy Groove: Tell me about the unique approach to the bands next recording project
Buddy: It’s actually been done by a number of artists, going back to classic groups like The Band, Led Zeppelin, the Stones, etc. Basically, instead of going to an actual recording studio, you find a cool space, like a house in the hills, or a basement, or corn crib, haunted lighthouse or whatever, bring in mobile gear and capture the moment. We set up a studio in the main room of a friend’s cabin out in Amagansett, NY, on the farthest tip of Long Island. We spent three days tracking. Lots of pizza and beer were consumed, ideas were tossed around, new things were tried out, and magic happened…. It was pretty awesome, even with most of us getting head colds.
Cincy Groove: Tell me about the newer members of the Dixie Bee Liners, how has it affected the bands overall sound?
Brandi: New members always affect the sound in subtle ways, and you find new ways of feeding off each other in a live context, so you develop your own groove. Our show at the Leapin’ Lizard will feature Sav Sankaran on the bass, and we’re very excited about what he brings to the band. He’s got a rock-solid downbeat, and he’s a jaw-dropping tenor singer. Sav also wrote a song for our latest recording project and recently released his own solo album, too.
Cincy Groove: How was your experience at the IBMA’s this year?
Buddy: Decidedly more low key. There were definitely fewer after-hours showcase opportunities, but there was a lot of really interesting stuff was going on unofficially, in the hallways and stairways in the hotel. Each group were separated by floor, you had your traditionalists, then a couple floors down your modern contemporary players, a few floors up were the hippies, freaks, and geeks, in more or less equal proportions. Taken together, it seemed like it was roughly the right balance. If everybody can learn to coexist peaceably and stop trying to define the word “bluegrass” out of existence, I think bluegrass music has a great future.
Cincy Groove: Have you had any shows overseas recently?
Buddy: Our most recent overseas tour was just over a year ago, when we played Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival. It was truly a life-changing experience, sharing the stage with some of our musical heroes like Little Feat, Fairport, and Jacqui McShee. We had an amazing time in Britain, we’re currently working on putting together a tour of the United Kingdom and Europe in 2012. Any British/Scottish/Irish folk/Americana/Roots/bluegrass festivals reading this, please be in touch!
Cincy Groove: How has the band kept the momentum going?
Buddy: A tight wristband, and a new battery.
Brandi: And Barry’s Gold Blend tea.
Cincy Groove: Is the band excited for Halloween this year? Who spends the most time becoming a zombie?
Brandi: I can tell you who spends the least time: Buddy. That’s because he rocks at doing zombie make-up, so he has to make everybody else up. That leaves him with the least amount time to do his own.
Cincy Groove: Where does the bands’ great sense of humor come from?
Buddy: There’s a leak in the tour van’s exhaust system, so you can likely chalk it up to group carbon monoxide gas poisoning.
Cincy Groove: What is the bands’ favorite “festival” gig?
Buddy: It’s hard to name just one. We’ve been incredibly lucky to get to play some amazing festivals, but highlights for us would have to include Cropredy, Grey Fox, Hiawatha Traditional Music Fest, Pagosa Folk & Bluegrass Festival, Merlefest, Pickin’ In The Pines, Pickin’ In The Panhandle, Podunk…. Those really stand out to us for various reasons: Either we met some cool new friends and fans, or got to hang with some of our musical heroes, or had some great barbecue…. All of those festivals we’d be delighted to play again!
Cincy Groove: Any other exciting things happen to the band this year?
Buddy: The best thing ever for us was seeing George Shuffler inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame. Running a close second was having a cocktail invented and named after us in a restaurant after a gig up in Massachusetts. Also, the Podunk Bluegrass Festival was just wonderful — professionally run and a pleasure to play.
Brandi: Getting back into the studio has definitely been exciting. I’m thrilled to be endorsing the Folkcraft dulcimer company and playing two of their beautiful instruments onstage at every show. Our signature dulcimer will also be featured on our new cd.
Cincy Groove: What do you think are some of the good things and bad things about how the Internet has affected the music industry?
Brandi: The bluegrass circuit is slower to change than other genres, but of course, CD sales have slowed down for everybody. It’s back to the live show being artists’ primary career focus.
Buddy: The Internet is a great resource for spreading the word about a band. However, what makes it so great is what also makes it tough to stand out against all the background noise. If people hear about your show because of the Internet, but they don’t attend so they can stay in and play FarmVille or Mafia Wars, what good did that instant access do you? At the end of the day, artists are really having to focus on getting butts in seats.
Brandi: I think the trick is to encourage people to support live music where ever they find it. Music’s such an enriching and joyful part of life, but in a recession it can be easy to stay home and watch TV or surf the net. Let’s prioritize joy, people! When we celebrate our local music and arts communities, everybody wins.