King of Newgrass Sam Bush brings his love for music to Tupelo

Aug 12, 2011

Watch out, Tupelo - there’s a new king in town.

Bluegrass legend Sam Bush is known as the King of Newgrass, a style of bluegrass he developed in the ‘70s. His band New Grass Revival, which he formed with Bela Fleck, Courtney Johnson and others, pioneered the new sound.

“Basically you can boil it down to making traditional bluegrass-style instruments – fiddle, mandolin, banjo, etc. – to make contemporary music, new music,” Bush said in a phone interview from his home in Nashville. “We respect the tradition of bluegrass. In the words of Bill Monroe, ‘You make it your own.’ That’s what he used to say, ‘Well, that’s good, now make it your own.’”

Bush did just that.

One man, many crowns

He grew up on Monroe and other bluegrass masters, like Flatt and Scruggs and The Osborne Brothers. When it came time to make his own music, he took what he learned from them and borrowed from other genres to make a new sound.

Newgrass has served Bush well, as he’s become quite a legend in bluegrass music in the past 40 years.

In fact, he’s so well-loved and respected at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival that he’s earned another title: King of Telluride.

Bush is known for an exciting, diverse live show.

“We do a mix of acoustic and electric music. It can cover anything from bluegrass to newgrass to reggae to rock ‘n’ roll and country,” he said. “It’s a good, high-energy show.”

He’s been known to reach fans of all genres.

“To a rock ‘n’ roll audience, we look like a bluegrass band. To a bluegrass audience, we look like a rock ‘n’ roll band,” he said, laughing.

Playing live is what makes Sam Bush, King of Newgrass and King of Telluride, the happiest, and he likes to share that happiness with his audience.

“We truly have fun playing on stage. It is our most joyful noise. That is our joyful time, when we get to play music,” he said. “Come on out and enjoy a positive experience.”

- Sheena Barnett
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