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Music: New River Bluegrass

By: David Lyda (From: Volume 1 - Issue 2)

Chuck Price (Fiddle & Vocals)
Barry Long (Banjo, Dobro, & Vocals)
Andy Smith (Lead Guitar & Vocals)
Dwayne Brown (Bass & Vocals)
Mike Mullins (Mandolin & Vocals)
Mike Johnson (Guitar & Vocals)

Not all music can be considered "community" music, but it is a very appropriate description of bluegrass music. The musicians come together, do some picking and grinning, and their skills develop together. New River Bluegrass of Greer, SC share this familiar story of development. The difference can be found in their desire to share the gospel through their music. “To see people come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.”

With their love of bluegrass and the Lord meeting head on, members Barry Long and Mike Johnson brought this band of “community” musicians together around eight years ago. Inspired by a wide range of music, including Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Allison Krauss, the group developed into a signature gospel bluegrass and harmony band. Their newest release, “Heart on the Run,” came on the heels of the newest addition to their group, Andy Smith on lead guitar and vocals. After independently releasing three albums, New River Bluegrass are excited to see “Heart on the Run” available through the Pisgah Ridge record label.

God is continuing to open new doors for the band, and their record label has been one vehicle to make that happen. New opportunities for their music to be heard have come through promotion and internet availability. Just like Billy Graham adapted to ever changing technology, the music industry has had to embrace the internet. New River Bluegrass’ opportunity to spread the Gospel has been made available through I-tunes and in return has been touching lives all across the nation. The band has even found themselves with performance opportunities outside of the local area. Later this year, New River Bluegrass will be sharing their music at Dollywood for a few dates.

New River Bluegrass simply desire to be servants of God and go where He leads them. The new opportunities have even revealed possibility in prison ministries. Being a ministry based group, the band is often confronted with many of the hurts and hardships that people are facing. The troubles of men and women in prison can be obvious, but needs are also wide spread in our community. There are those that are lost, many that are facing financial troubles, and some that the devil just tries to bring down. As Barry Long will tell you, New River Bluegrass’ music not only evangelizes but it helps “to encourage people… to be uplifting to people that are maybe struggling.” How good our God is!

Live music will always be an experience that can never be fully recreated on an album. Unlike many gospel groups that perform with backing tracks, New River Bluegrass offers a true live experience with their musical abilities. Their acoustic based music is also highlighted by a wonderful blend of vocal harmonies. Something that Barry Long states that the band works very hard on.

With their live performances, you will also be treated to spontaneous comedy from these brothers in Christ. You can tell that New River Bluegrass enjoys what they do, and they enjoy each other. They respect the Lord, their craft, and the people that they play to. The group can be seen playing off of their various audiences, which can range from an audience that shouts to one that sits in quiet appreciation.

The music that they bring to the public comes from many different places. “It’s the message, not necessarily the brand.” Not to be limited, their aim is to craft music with a message through the instruments that they have. Their music goes from bluegrass, to a more progressive style, and even finds its way to country at times. Barry Long and Chuck Price are the primary songwriters in New River Bluegrass, but every member contributes to the arrangements, chord progressions, intros, and outros. Each song is made their own through their collaboration. Mike Johnson describes the rest of the band as aspiring songwriters too.

Songs also come from outside writers and traditional tunes. One such song is “I Was There” off of the new album. It came as a stripped down demo from a Nashville songwriter and was developed into its final piece by the whole band. “If I like played you ‘I Was There’, the rendition they sent me, you wouldn’t even think it was the same song.” says Barry Long. New River Bluegrass’s signature sound can be found on all the songs that they cover and put their own spin on. Their website describes their music best as “Delivering a blend of vocal harmony and acoustic music like no other.”

The band is excited about the future, and where God will have them go next. With the lead single release of “I Was There,” New River Bluegrass is poised to reach new audiences and continue to spread the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Booking: Contact Mike Johnson at gitarmn1@yahoo.com or 864-630-3790.

Download the free song "One Way" here.

(Photos courtesy of Summer Mason, Butterfly Moon Photography of Greer, SC.)


From: Volume 1 - Issue 2


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