Winter Windswept Tour, January 27 – February 5, 2019
Vince Herman, Leftover Salmon
Larry Groce, Mountain Stage
Charleston, West Virginia-based trio Blue Yonder—John Lilly (vocals/songwriter, rhythm guitar), Robert Shafer (electric guitar), and Will Carter (acoustic bass, harmony vocals)—recently released their second full-length album, Rough and Ready Heart, on NewSong Recordings.
Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC and produced by Gar Ragland, the seasoned trio was joined by guest musicians Russ Hicks (pedal steel guitar) and Tony Creasman (drums/percussion) for the album, which is comprised of 12 original songs. Offering a range of Americana—honky-tonk to swing, rockabilly to bluegrass—the album’s songs range from barn-burning rockers to gentle waltzes to mournful ballads to inspirational anthems.
Featuring three musicians with distinctive and notable skills; award-winning songwriter John Lilly; two-time flat picking champion guitarist Robert Shafer; and 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.
Best known for their memorable original songs, virtuoso musicianship and feel-good stage presence, every Tuesday evening since 2013, the band has given people in Charleston, WV, a venue for a soul-cleansing way to connect with themselves and each other. “The stories we tell take me out of my specific situation and connect me, through shared experiences and emotions, with everyone in the room,” offers Will Carter.
Of Lilly’s many songwriting styles, Robert Shafer, notes “with Blue Yonder I can stretch out more than I can with most bands.” One of 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).
Bassist Will Carter says that for him “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.”
The band’s debut, Bittersweet Road, reached #2 on the Freeform American Roots radio chart.