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Sam Bush: Mandolin master delivers the best of newgrass

September 7, 2018

Mandolin virtuoso Sam Bush, known as “The Father of Newgrass,” is headed to Ives Concert Park in Danbury. The Grammy-winning musician, singer and songwriter will perform with his band on Friday, Sept. 21.

Newgrass, also called progressive bluegrass, is a high-energy form of folk music that incorporates elements of rock and jazz, and makes use of modern (often electric) instruments. Bush, 66, is known for his artistry as a solo performer and as a sideman. He has worked with everyone from Emmylou Harris to Lyle Lovett and Béla Fleck.

“I feel fortunate that when it’s time to play, no matter how I feel physically or mentally, once the downbeat starts, my mind goes to a place that’s all music,” Bush says on his website. “The joy of the music comes to me and overtakes me sometimes — I just become part of the music.”

His latest album, “Storyman,” from 2016, features everything from jazz, folk, blues and reggae to country swing and bluegrass. Many of the songs are stories — several of them true. All were co-written with friends such as Harris, Guy Clark, Jon Randall Stewart and Jeff Black.

Bush was raised on a farm just outside Bowling Green, Ky., where he grew up plowing tobacco fields alongside his family. He started playing mandolin at the age of 11.

“I believe growing up on a farm probably helped me channel my energy into learning music and being so interested in it,” he says on the website.

“Me and my sisters, we all loved it. I’ve often wondered if that’s because growing up on a farm, you couldn’t go ride your bike all over town and horse around like the other kids.”

Aside from multiple Grammys, Bush is a recipient of the Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

Opening the concert on Ives’ Main Stage will be Grammy-nominated singer/guitarist Michael Daves and banjo legend Tony Trischka. The two will deliver some traditional bluegrass and progressive originals. The Flagpole Radio Café Orchestra kicks off the music on the Garden Stage.

No beverages, food or coolers may be brought into the park. Food, soft drinks, water, wine, beer and cocktails will be available for purchase. The show takes place rain or shine.

Ives Concert Park, 43 Lake Ave. Ext., Danbury. Friday, Sept. 21, 8:15 p.m. Tony Trischka and Michael Daves open at 7 p.m.; Flagpole Radio Café Orchestra 6:15 p.m. $35 reserved, $22 general admission, lawn. 203-837-9226, https://ticketf.ly/2NqaNUN

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