Sam Bush

born on 13/4/1952 in Bowling Green, KY, United States

Sam Bush

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Sam Bush
Born April 13 1952
Bowling Green, Kentucky, US
Genre(s) Bluegrass, Progressive bluegrass
Occupation(s) Musician
Instrument(s) Mandolin, Fiddle, Guitar
Years active 1963-present
Label(s) Flying Fish, Sugar Hill
Bluegrass Alliance, New Grass Revival, Strength in Numbers, Nash Ramblers, Sam Bush Band

Sam Bush (b. April 13, 1952 in Bowling Green, Kentucky) is an American bluegrass mandolin player considered an originator of the Newgrass style.


Sam Bush was exposed to country and bluegrass music at an early age through his father Charlie's record collection, and later by the Flatt & Scruggs television show. Buying his first mandolin at the age of 11, his musical interest was further piqued when he attended the inaugural Roanoke, VA Bluegrass Festival in 1965. As a teen Bush took first place three times in the junior division of the National Oldtime Fiddler's Contest in Weiser, ID. He joined guitarist Wayne Stewart and banjoist Alan Munde (later of Country Gazette) and the three recorded an instrumental album, Poor Richard's Almanac, in 1969.[1] In the spring of 1970, Bush attended the Fiddlers Convention at Union Grove, NC, and was inspired by the rock-flavored progressive bluegrass of the New Deal String Band.[2] Later that year, he moved to Louisville and joined the Bluegrass Alliance. In the fall of 1971, the band dissolved and reformed as the New Grass Revival.[3]

The New Grass Revival went through numerous personnel changes, with Bush remaining as the sole original member. Bassist and vocalist John Cowan joined in 1974, with banjo ace Béla Fleck and acoustic guitarist Pat Flynn being enlisted in 1981. From 1979 through 1981, the group toured with Leon Russell, opening the shows and backing Russell during his headlining set.

Beginning in 1980, Bush and Cowan periodically jammed with the Nashville-based Duckbutter Blues Band, whose other members were blues guitarist Kenny Lee, drummer Jeff Jones, and bassist Byron House. Bush recorded his debut solo album, Late as Usual, four years later. In 1989, Bush and Fleck joined Mark O'Connor, Jerry Douglas, and Edgar Meyer in an all-star bluegrass band, Strength in Numbers, at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado. When the New Grass Revival dissolved in 1989, Bush joined Emmylou Harris' Nash Ramblers, touring and recording with Harris for the next five years.

In 1995, Bush worked as a sideman with Lyle Lovett and Bela Fleck's Flecktones. He formed his own band, featuring Cowan and ex-Nash Ramblers Jon Randall and Larry Atamanuick, shortly before recording his second solo album, Glamour & Grits, in 1996. He released his next album, Howlin' at the Moon, in 1998, with many of the same players and special guests, including Harris, Fleck and J. D. Crowe.

In the winter of 1997, Bush and the New Grass Revival reunited for an appearance on The Conan O'Brien Show as the backup band for Garth Brooks. On March 28, 1998, Bush's hometown of Bowling Green, KY, honored him with a special "Sam Bush Day" celebration.

Following Howlin' at the Moon in 1998, he released Ice Caps: Peaks of Telluride in 2000, which was a live recording. In 2004, Randall left Bush's band and Brad Davis (musician) took over harmony vocals and guitar duties.

In 2006, Bush released Laps in Seven. The release was significant because it marked the return of the banjo to Bush's recordings, performed by Scott Vestal. The guitarist, Keith Sewell, performed on the recording, but shortly after took a job with the Dixie Chicks. Bush sought a new guitarist for his recordings and road band and found Stephen Mougin.

In 2007, Bush released his first live concert DVD, titled On The Road. 2007 also marked the first time he had been chosen to host the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards.


As well as being an accomplished bluegrass vocalist, Bush also is a capable instrumentalist on guitar and fiddle winning title of National Fiddle champion at fifteen years of age. He was a founding member of the New Grass Revival and has been called a modern day Bill Monroe, or as Sam would tell . .

. . if Bill was the father of bluegrass then I could be the mother because Monroe would say: 'here comes that mother now!'

Sam, affectionately "Sammy", or "Mr. Entertainment", also recalls meeting Mr. Monroe as a young teen. After demonstrating his mandolin technique Monroe offered the advice: "stick to the fiddle".

Sam is one of the main attractions at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colorado and plays the eight p.m. set on Saturday night as well as many guest appearances throughout the weekend. He is affectionately known as "The King of Telluride" for his perennial appearances there (and Emmylou Harris the "Queen of Telluride"). Sam did tour with Harris' band, The Nash Ramblers. Additional collaborations include recording and live performances with many virtuoso musicians and artists such as Doc Watson, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Ann Savoy, Tony Rice, Peter Rowan, Russ Barenberg, David Grisman, Mark O Connor, Edgar Meyer, and importantly; "Strength in Numbers", a band consisting of Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Mark O Connor, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas, and Sam Bush.

Strength in Numbers was a collaboration born from jam sessions at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The music on their CD release entitled "The Telluride Sessions" was all instrumental and recorded live, showcasing the individual talent of each player and their ability to improvise. During recent years (2000-2008) there have been many variations of the Strength in Numbers band, also known as "Bluegrass Sessions", always including Jerry Douglas, (Dobro), and usually bassist Byron House, also from Bowling Green, KY. Other musicians include Gabe Witcher (fiddle), Brian Sutton (guitar), Tim O'Brien (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals) and Darol Anger, (fiddle).

Sam Bush Band tours extensively, appearing at many small venues and large festivals such as the Strawberry Music Festival (Memorial Day and Labor Day), Rockygrass (late July), and every spring at the Americana Festival, Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Sam Bush is known as one of the liveliest performers at these festivals, and makes many guest appearances with the other artists.

Distinctions and awards

  • Chosen to host the 2007 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, held at the Grand Old Opry.
  • Sam walked away with an award himself for Mandolin Player of the Year IBMA 2007.
  • Nominated as "Instrumentalist of the Year" by the Americana Music Association.
  • He is affectionately known as "The King of Telluride" for his perennial appearances there (Emmylou Harris as the "Queen of Telluride").
  • Known as "King of Newgrass".


Solo albums

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Bluegrass US Country US Heat
1985 Late as Usual Rounder
1996 Glamour & Grits Sugar Hill
1998 Howlin' at the Moon
2000 Ice Caps: Peaks of Telluride
2003 Hold On, We're Strummin' (w/ David Grisman) 7 Acoustic Disc
2004 King of My World 2 64 Sugar Hill
2006 Laps in Seven 2
2009 Circles Around Me 3 47


  • On the Road (2007) Sugar Hill ASIN: B000RHRG5S

Specialty projects

  • Drive - Béla Fleck - Rounder Records 1988
  • The Telluride Sessions by supergroup Strength in Numbers - MCA 1989
  • Short Trip Home - Sony Classical 1999
(Edgar Meyer & Joshua Bell with Sam Bush and Mike Marshall)
  • Bluegrass Mandolin Extravaganza - Acoustic Disc 1999
(w/ David Grisman, Ronnie McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Ricky Skaggs, others)
  • The Bluegrass Sessions - Béla Fleck - Warner Bros. 1999
  • Soulgrass - Bluegrass and Jazz Fusion 2005

New Grass Revival

  • New Grass Revival (1972) Hollywood
  • Fly Through the Country (1975) Flying Fish
  • When the Storm Is Over (1977) Flying Fish
  • Too Late to Turn Back Now (1977) Flying Fish ASIN: B000000ME2
  • Barren County (1979) Flying Fish ASIN: B000000MEL
  • Leon Russell & New Grass Revival (1981) Paradise
  • Commonwealth (1981) Flying Fish ASIN: B000000MGE
  • On the Boulevard (1984) Sugar Hill ASIN: B000000EZL
  • Live in Toulouse (1984) Sugar Hill ASIN: B000000F0O
  • New Grass Revival (1986) Capitol
  • Hold to a Dream (1988) Capitol
  • Friday Night in America (1989) Capitol
  • When the Storm Is Over/Fly Through the Country (1992) Flying Fish ASIN: B000000MDQ
  • The Best of New Grass Revival (1994) Capitol ASIN: B000002TNY
  • Grass Roots: The Best of New Grass Revival (2005) Capitol ASIN: B0009ML1RK


Bush appears on numerous country and bluegrass albums, including those by:

* Jeff Black * Suzy Bogguss * Garth Brooks * Guy Clark
* John Cowan * Dan Crary * Brad Davis * Neil Diamond
* Jerry Douglas * Steve Earle * Eddie From Ohio * Béla Fleck
* Richie Furay * Nanci Griffith * David Grisman * Emmylou Harris
* John Hartford * Wynonna Judd * Alison Krauss * Leftover Salmon
* Lyle Lovett * Tim O'Brien * Dolly Parton * John Prine
* Tony Rice * Butch Robins * Linda Ronstadt * Peter Rowan
* Shel Silverstein * Ricky Skaggs * Shania Twain * Doc Watson
* Don Williams * Trisha Yearwood * Collin Raye


  • "The River's Gonna Run - Sam Bush"
  • "Sam Bush & Pat Flynn of New Grass Revival - Beaumont Rag"
  • "The New Grass Revival (Live) - Metric Lips"

See also

  • Bluegrass music
  • Country music
  • Mandolin
  • Grammy Awards
  • New Grass Revival
  • Progressive bluegrass
  • Telluride Bluegrass Festival
  • Merlefest
  • International Bluegrass Music Association
  • Americana Music Association
  • Grand Ole Opry
  • Bowling Green, Kentucky


  1. Fabian, Shelly. Sam Bush: A King of Acoustic Music. Retrieved on 2008-10-07.
  2. Harris, Craig. Sam Bush Biography. Retrieved on 2008-10-07.
  3. Hartman, Gary S (2008). Bluegrass Alliance. Retrieved on 2008-10-07.

Further reading

  • Bush, Sam (1999). Sam Bush Teaches Mandolin Repertoire and Technique (Listen & Learn), Hal Leonard, ISBN 0-7935-9950-4.
  • Rosenberg, Neil V.(2005). Bluegrass: A History, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-2520-7245-6.

External links

  • Official site
  • Sam Bush Music Video
Preceded by:
Larry Campbell
AMA Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist
Not Yet Awarded
This page was last modified 01.11.2009 02:45:04

This article uses material from the article Sam Bush from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.