For the second year, the town of Abingdon has partnered with Barter Theatre and Bonefire Brands to kick off the 2014 Abingdon Music Experience with the January Jams concert series. This series will include seven concerts, starting Jan. 9, and run every Friday and Saturday during January.
"We are excited to expand the number of shows offered from four to seven this year after the overwhelmingly positive response last year," says Sara Cardinale, special events coordinator for the ACVB. "The lineup this year has generated quite the buzz, and highlights Abingdon as an up-and-coming music destination."
The schedule showcases nationally recognized artists and includes:
• Thursday, Jan. 9: St. Paul and The Broken Bones with The Broadcast: Hailing from Asheville, N.C., The Broadcast is hard-edged, soulful rock music. Drawing much of their ambience from "70s classic rock, they're a band with an explosive female lead singer, riffing guitar, mood-altering keys and a rock-solid rhythm section. Their energy and approach match them well with headlining band, St. Paul and The Broken Bones. Based out of Alabama, St. Paul and The Broken Bones deliver soul mixed with grit, elemental rhythm, fabulous brass section and a performance that electrifies the crowd. Lead singer, Paul Janeway has an extroverted performing style that enraptures his audience. "I'm going to be dancing, getting in the aisles," he says. "That's just the way we do it. It really takes me back to church. There's not a lot of difference. When I get on stage, it's, "All right, it's time to pour it on.'"
• Friday, Jan. 10: Jim Lauderdale with Cruz Contreras: Cruz Contreras is the front man for the Americana band, The Black Lillies, from Knoxville, Tenn. His song-writing skills were recognized when he won the Independent Music Award for Best Song-Story in 2012. Contreras has collaborated in the past with Jim Lauderdale, who is the headlining act for the night. Lauderdale is a Grammy Award-winning musician and one of the most respected artists working in the bluegrass, country and Americana music communities today. Lauderdale is also in high demand as a player, touring with Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rhonda Vincent and Elvis Costello.
• Saturday, Jan. 11: Iris Dement with Beth Snapp. Beth Snapp, from Northeast Tennessee opens for Iris Dement. Snapp's vocals, lyrics and melodies blend together into a distinctive acoustic experience. She delivers a unique singer songwriter feel that is not only crisp and flowing but also unpredictable and a testament to her talent. Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Iris Dement headlines the show. Her style is often described as roots-folk as well as country, but no one denies that her songs speak to the heart. She recently released a new album of original material for the first time in 16 years, "Song of the Delta."
• Friday, Jan. 17: John Cowan with Mountain Heart. Mountain Heart is a Grammy award-winning band, which combines elements of rock, jam band, country, blues, jazz, folk and bluegrass music into a high-energy sound. Critics describe the band using terms such as "acoustic overdrive," "folk rock on steroids," and "slam grass." John Cowan, also known as the Voice of Newgrass, has been singing for 35 years, and his soaring vocals have improved with time. Together with Mountain Heart, they've been described as having a new, edgier, more rock-inflected sound.
• Saturday, Jan. 18: Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives with Lost River Cavemen. The Lost River Cavemen have been touring nationally and pumping life back into roots music since 2005. The Cavemen spin their music into an aural web that is catchy, profound and playful. Marty Stuart is a five-time Grammy winner, platinum recording artist, Grand Ole Opry star and charismatic force of nature. His latest musical oeuvre is supported by his backing band, The Fabulous Superlatives.
• Friday, Jan. 24: Jason Isbell with Holly Williams. Holly Williams, Hank Williams Sr.'s granddaughter, opens the show. She's described as a powerful singer-songwriter whose newest album has met with huge critical acclaim. Jason Isbell was once one of Drive-By Truckers' great songwriting weapons. The Alabama singer-songwriter just released "Southeastern," which candidly addresses his hard fall and hopeful rise. Not easily labeled, you could call Isbell a master of Americana rock.
• Saturday, Jan. 25: Tim O'Brien & Darrell Scott with special guest Amythyst Kiah. Local tour-de-force, Amythyst Kiah, is a singer-songwriter who has an eclectic array of musical influences. She fuses traditional roots music with a contemporary style and transforms them into powerful, soulful renditions. Grammy-winning folk and bluegrass musician, Tim O'Brien, teams up with award-winning country singer-songwriter, Darrell Scott, to perform as the headliner at this show. In 2000, the two kindred spirits joined forces to record "Real Time," which was widely acclaimed on release and has since become recognized as an achievement in Americana annals.
Doors open at 7:15 p.m. and the shows start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary for each show, and weekend passes are a new addition to the tickets this year. For more information and tickets call Barter Theatre box office at 276-628-3991 or visit www.bartertheatre.com.