When it comes to bluegrass, many folks have a preconceived notion on the sound they can expect. Swiftly picked guitars that hold a steady rhythm, fiddles that cut straight through the mix, a smooth riding bass line and some harmonies. It’s a fairly reasonable expectation really, considering how static the genre could be perceived throughout its history. However, as new generations take on these traditional genres they find new horizons, expanding into a melting pot of influences that makes for one refreshing take. That’s where acts like the Jon Stickley Trio come into play.
Jon Stickley is a Durham native, (you may know his brother Jeff as the drummer for Hammer No More The Fingers) but in recent years he’s called Asheville home. Stickley was one of the founders of Big Fat Gap, a North Carolina bluegrass institution, and has since gone on to perform alongside roots music icons like Larry Keel, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams and more. After all of his band-based endeavors, Stickley settled in to the solo digs and found himself two stunningly talented musicians. Lyndsay Pruett is on fiddle, bringing her classically trained skills to the forefront by adding in hints of Latin and Jazz influence while drummer Patrick Armitage pulls in subtle hip-hop influence to make for a well-rounded and unique take on this typified genre. Pruett and Armitage have worked with Futureman and hip-hop group Atmosphere respectively, so their back catalog provides a wonderful glimpse into the work they produce.
The trio came in for some live performances and interviews on Carolina Grown this past Friday before their set at the NC Roots Showcase at Tir Na Nog. The band discussed their origins, influences and forthcoming album throughout the segment, but most importantly they laid down some seriously stunning tunes.