Acoustic Honky-tonk Trio BLUE YONDER Announce Winter Tour (Jan 27 – Feb 5)

November 26, 2018 by 1888media

Deftly navigating classic Country blues, hard-driving Western swing, toe-tapping Rockabilly, and rueful Appalachia with equal aplomb, Charleston, WV acoustic honky-tonk trio Blue Yonder is “ready for prime time on the Americana charts” (No Depression).
Led by singer/lyricist John Lilly, renown for starring in the Hank Williams production, The Lost Show, which has run annually in Charleston for the past 18 years, the band’s original material and kinetic musicianship flash echoes of Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Willis, Asleep At The Wheel and early 70s Grateful Dead.
Rounding out the core trio are two-time national flat-picking champion Robert Shafer and upright bassist Will Carter, who has played with numerous bluegrass and old-time bands, and is the founder of the “Clifftop” festival, an annual global summit of old-time musicians in West Virginia.

Recently appearing on the award-winning public radio show, Mountain Stage (for the second time), the band’s sophomore album, Rough and Ready Heart, continues to generate praise and acclaim. No Depression dubbed Ready Heart one of the “Best Roots Music Albums of 2018,” with Bluegrass Unlimited heralding its “Hard-driving Western Swing filled with lots of tasteful steel guitar.”

Vince Herman, of Leftover Salmon, reckons, “Blue Yonder is serious West Virginia treasure,” while Larry Groce, producer of Mountain Stage, proclaims, “A mix of virtuoso musicianship and original songwriting Blue Yonder lives where classic country music meets western swing, a honky-tonk beat meets a beautiful ballad, and red hot country jazz guitar licks meet cool blue yodel vocals.”


Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC, and produced by Gar Ragland, the 12-track album of all-original material features guest contributions by noted pedal steel guitarist Russ Hicks (Ween, Ray Price, Charlie McCoy) and drummer Tony Creasman, who’s played with such luminaries as Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris. Offering a range of Americana—honky-tonk to swing, rockabilly to bluegrass—the album’s songs range from barn-burning rockers (“Green Light”) to gentle waltzes (“Windswept”) to mournful ballads (“Lonely Hour”) to inspirational anthems (“Standing By The Side of the Road”).

With universal themes about “living, loving, losing along life’s back roads and highways,” says Lilly. “Our songs tell stories that anyone who’s been in relationships or set out on a road trip can relate to, no matter where they come from.”


Best known for their memorable songs, virtuoso musicianship and feel-good stage presence, every Tuesday evening at Bluegrass Kitchen since 2013, the band has given people in Charleston, WV, a venue for a soul-cleansing way to connect with themselves and each other.

Offers Carter, “The stories we tell take me out of my specific situation and connect me, through shared experiences and emotions, with everyone in the room. An evening with Blue Yonder is like telling tales around a campfire—the stories we tell take me out of my specific situation and connect me, through shared experiences and emotions, with everyone in the room.”

Of Lilly’s many songwriting styles, Shafer notes, “with Blue Yonder I can stretch out more than I can with most bands.” One of a few to win the prestigious Winfield Walnut Valley national flat-picking contest more than once, he is also known as a “spectacular rockabilly guitarist who also brings swing and bop influences to his playing” (Washington Post).

To support Rough and Ready Heart, the group is hitting the road in January, with a series of select dates in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and the Virginias. As a special guest at their Isis Music Hall show in Asheville, NC, Tony Creasman will play drums.


1/27 – Asheville, NC @ Isis Music Hall
1/28 – Knoxville, TN @ Blue Plate Special (12pm)
1/28 – Atlanta, GA @ Eddie’s Attic (9:10pm)
1/30 – Maryville, TN @ Behind The Barn (Barley’s Taproom)
1/31 – Johnson City, TN @ The Down Home
2/01 – Nashville, TN @ The Nashville Palace (WMOT Finally Friday) [12pm]
2/01 – Lebanon, TN @ Hillbilly Haiku
2/02 – Dahlonega, GA @ Crimson Moon

2/05 – Charleston, WV @ Bluegrass Kitchen

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