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Posted August 24, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Bluegrass, Texas swing to close festival

By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

In its last weekend of the season, the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival will present nine-time Grammy-winning Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel and long-lasting progressive bluegrass band The Seldom Scene, with special guests Nothin' Fancy and Drymill Road.

The Seldom Scene will perform on Sept. 1, beginning at 6 p.m.

Guitarist and lead vocalist Dudley Connell said he feels great about the band's upcoming performance, featuring Americana bluegrass band Drymill Road, who performed with Cherryholmes at the festival in 2010, and Shenandoah Valley bluegrass band Nothin' Fancy.

In a recent phone interview, Connell referred to the band's style as urban.

"The band's always kind of done what it liked to do," he said. "And I don't think they were really ... swayed by outside influences."

"When I learned of the Seldom Scene, it was from the radio. My initial reaction was I didn't really care for the music."

He, like so many other bluegrass fans, preferred old standards like the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe.

But he said he realized, "for the music to live on you can't just repeat the same old music over and over again."

Before joining The Seldom Scene in 1996, Connell played with The Johnson Mountain Boys, who also practiced musical independence. They were slow to make fans, he said, because the band wasn't playing songs like "Fox on the Run," by the Country Gentlemen, and the Osborne Brothers' "Rocky Mountain."

Pretty soon it felt like they had no audience, he said, but that didn't last long.

"The Seldom Scene and the Johnson Mountain Boys were kind of polar opposites," he said, but they both stretched the limits of the bluegrass genre.

"We were different for the same sort of reason," Connell said.

Texas post-modern swing band Asleep at the Wheel, which will perform for the festival on Sept. 2 at 7 p.m., has been going strong since its beginning in 1970.

In 1978 the band won its first Grammy, said bandleader Ray Benson.

"The first one we didn't even go, because we didn't have any idea we were going to win," the guitarist and vocalist said in a phone interview from Austin, Tex.

The only remaining founding member, Benson said he's had too many amazing experiences to count.

"There's so many, so many," he said. It would be like choosing a favorite child, he said.
"Not a moment, sort of an accumulation of moments, you know; you get to a point, you know, after 20 or 30 years where, oh yeah, I know what I'm doing," he said, laughing.
Lately the seven-member band has been working on a documentary film, he said, but in spite of the extra work, they have not slowed down.

"Maybe I should have, but no," he said. "I just got back from Canada two days ago, I was in Honduras before that, we were in Europe about three months ago." Over the last couple weeks, the band planned to be in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California, he said. "And then we head your way."

The Seldom Scene will perform with special guests Drymill Road and Nothin' Fancy at 6 p.m. Sept. 1. Gates open at 5 p.m., and ticket prices are $28 for adult reserved pavilion seats,, $23 for adult lawn seats and $10 for under 18 lawn seats.

Asleep at the Wheel will perform at 7 p.m. Sept 2. Gates open at 5 p.m. and ticket prices are $29 for adult reserved pavilion seats,, $24 for adult lawn seats and $10 for under 18 lawn seats.

For more information, call 459-3396 or visit www.musicfest.org.

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