- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
An award-winning bluegrass band is back by popular demand.
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out will play at Jameson-Harrison American Legion Post 238 on Sunday, a year after its last visit to the venue, said Jay Armsworthy, who organizes an annual bluegrass concert series there. People who attended last year asked Armsworthy to invite the group back.
The five-member band’s laurels include seven consecutive Vocal Group of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, and its frontman has been named male vocalist of the year five times. It performs pieces in traditional and contemporary styles, a versatility its banjo player said contributes to its popularity.
“I think the big thing that has been a success for us is the variety of music we play. We can do some traditional stuff; we can do more contemporary stuff. We do the traditional stuff; we do a lot of gospel singing in our shows. We always try to have a variety of things going on. Usually, you want to do something that somebody likes by the end of the night,” said Steve Dilling, who has played with IIIrd Tyme Out for 20 years.
The traditional sound tends to appeal more to older listeners, while younger fans prefer a contemporary style, Dilling said. The band switches up its set to appeal to its audience.
Last year, the group released its most recent album, “Timeless Hits From the Past, Bluegrassed,” featuring traditional country songs performed in a bluegrass style. These songs will be part of Sunday’s set, but the CD won’t be available at the show. Released in an exclusive deal with Cracker Barrel, the album is available for sale on the Cracker Barrel website and at its restaurants, where the songs are also on the soundtrack played to entertain diners.
Bluegrass was born in the Appalachian mountains from a mixture of folk music brought by Scotch-Irish settlers and styles adopted from African-Americans, Armsworthy said. Traditional bluegrass hews closely to that style, while contemporary pieces are influenced by rock and modern country.
“Progressive or contemporary bluegrass is more, there’s some electricity into it, but it’s more progressive, the notes are more melodic and a lot of the contemporary bluegrass attracts a younger audience in bluegrass, where the old traditional is where it all came from. Traditional bluegrass, to me, is the original country music,” Armsworthy said.
Armsworthy, who was elected to an IBMA leadership course in Nashville and is committed to promoting the genre, is a traditionalist. For him, “the purer, the straighter, the better,” he said.
But Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out is excellent no matter what it plays, he continued.
“They’re very talented musicians, every one of them are. They do their own thing, as do most of the groups coming along today. They have their own style, their own thing that they do. They’re unique. … Consequently, I’d say their music stands out over any of the rest.”