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Hailing from the mountain towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland, The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers draw freely from Old-Time, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, and Swing music to create their own brand of high energy, Appalachian Bluegrass. Gary Antol (guitar/vocals) and Libby Eddy (fiddle/vocals) founded the band in 2014 with a very simple goal: write good songs, honor the music, and take it to the road. Their music, described as heavy and traditional with stirring harmonies, powerful instrumentation, and a progressive originality, has been experienced on festival stages including Delfest, Grey Fox, Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, Darrington Bluegrass Festival, and others across the country. JFS was honored to be an Official Showcase Artist at IBMA Bluegrass Ramble 2018.
In 2015, the band released their debut album,
The Lane Change, a collection of both original and traditional songs focusing on journeys through personal relationships as well as life in the coal mining towns of central Appalachia. The album was well received by fans and critics alike. “Mannington #9,” a searing tale of lives lost in a 1968 mining disaster in Mannington, WV, was featured in the Relix Magazine 2015 Summer CD Sampler. Written by West Virginia storyteller and old time musician, Keith McManus, the song’s driving rhythm and haunting melody capture the loss suffered by 78 families in this tragic accident.
The Lane Change also featured the powerhouse harmonies of Antol and Eddy on titles such as “No Ash Will Burn” and “Blue Diamond Mines.” Summer of 2016 saw two major highlights for the band. In addition to playing The Emerging Artist Showcase at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, the band released its sophomore effort, White Lightning Road. The title track, written by Fort Wayne, IN songwriter, Darren Hunt, follows the path of a moonshiner trying to survive in a dying coal town. The song’s soaring vocals showcase Libby Eddy’s uniquely Appalachian voice, steeped in the cultural traditions of her rural West Virginia upbringing, with the strength of a people ready to fight for survival. Hunt also contributed to Ray Steven’s inspired and instantly familiar, “Get Along Gone.” WYEP FM Pittsburgh listed White Lightning Road as one of the top ten bluegrass albums of 2016. WYEP has also featured two of Antol’s compositions on their “Local 913” program: “The Legend of Gandy Grey” (The Lane Change) and “Smokestacks” (White Lightning Road).
In 2018, the band released their third studio effort, Poison River, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Will Shenk at National Media Services in Front Royal, VA. Poison River features original music written by Antol, Eddy, and mandolinist, Ray Bruckman. Along with the addition of Bruckman on mandolin, the album features Jody Mosser, lending his soulful dobro playing to the sound. Appalachian Jamwich’s review of the album called it “pure musical magic.” The album’s lead single “When the Redbud Blooms” received national airplay including a premier on Annette Grady’s The Bluegrass Jamboree.
Valerie Smith is an award-winning Grassicana artist whose style is a mixture of bluegrass, country and Americana music. NPR radio host Dave Higgs, has noted, "She can be sassy, sultry, siren-like, sweet, smooth, soothing and smoldering---sometimes during the span of just one song!"
Valerie's show can be described as having non-stop energy and passion with a tremendous love for her audience. The beat of the music inspires her to dance and move; Valerie has soul.
She has recorded a number of projects, performed around the world and can be heard on several radio and television shows. Valerie is a music instructor and offers educational programs about songwriting, voice, bluegrass history and performance techniques. Please spend some time with her on this web page to get to know more about Valerie Smith's music.
Liberty Pike is Valerie's touring band. They are seasoned, talented musicians and have recorded several music projects of their own. The band offers an educational program and also enjoys reaching out to the fans. Members of Liberty Pike include Wally Hughes, Lisa Kay Howard Hughes, Joe Zauner and Tom Gray. This line-up of "Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike" have been going strong for 6 years. They have also developed a fan base and following within the bluegrass and Americana community. Each member is an active part of organizations, jamming and playing music professionally on a regular basis.
She is a recording artist that writes songs, produces, and is also the owner of Bell Buckle Records, Buckle Down Productions and Bell Buckle Radio for 18 years. She is an active member of the CMA , Grammy and IBMA organizations.
Valerie is currently in production on a major folk opera that she is writing called, "Maggie Brooks, The Box Car Journal", a single with Claire Lynch and Irene Kelley, "From a Distance" (The Single Factory),a 2019 Fall release, and her next CD will be produced by Missy Raines, "Dance with Me", released by Bell Buckle Records in the winter of 2020.
Jack Dunlap & Robert Mabe have been touring the country together since 2019; though collectively have performed and recorded with the likes of Larry Keel, Gina Furtado, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, Scythian, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Bud’s Collective, The Fly Birds, Dry Mill Road, Old Town Flood, Shannon Bielski & Moonlight Drive, Tim, and Savannah Finch and The Eastman Stringband, Lonesome Highway, Circa Blue, and Jakobs Ferry Stragglers, to name a few. They have also graced prestigious stages such as The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Carnegie Hall in New York City, Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska, The Hamilton in Washington, DC, and Forbes Center for the Performing Arts in Harrisonburg, VA. Both masters of their instruments play a mix of original tunes, classic bluegrass numbers, jazz favorites, and covers anyone would recognize. With roots planted firmly in bluegrass, they stretch their sound in ways that all audiences will enjoy and leave the performance wanting more.
Information coming to you soon!
Mike Owens: Singer, songwriter, performer, recording artist
A co-release with Codel Records, we still like to call Daniel Crabtree our own!
Daniel Crabtree is an emerging bluegrass gospel singer and songwriter. His love of music was sparked at a young age when he first picked up his father's guitar. Since then he has kept his passion for music alive through his bluegrass gospel group, The Lights Chapel Boys. Songwriting came later in life, but when it did, it arrived in full force. Before he knew it, an entire self-written album had emerged, the culmination of which was The Gospel Road. Follow-up projects include a second gospel record, In the Shadow of His Wings, and a secular bluegrass album titled The Storyteller in Me. Daniel's music is available now on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby and on DanielCrabtreeMusic.com.
IBMA Male Vocalist and Hall of Fame member Larry Sparks has recently recorded a song written by Daniel Crabtree, "Take Me Back to West Virginia". Daniel is now in the studio recording his next CD release with award-winning songwriter, producer and recording artist, Donna Ulisse.
"I think you will enjoy this cd by Daniel Crabtree. His delivery of the true to life songs he has written here will speak to all". - LARRY SPARKS, IBMA MALE VOCALIST, IBMA HALL OF FAME
Echo Valley's show is one you don't want to miss! Their lively, animated performance will leave you tapping your feet and smiling for a week. With their bright retro apparel and energetic stage presence, these five sisters and one brother impress with their tight sibling harmonies and multi-instrument talents. They have been entertaining people of all ages since 2009 with their variety of Bluegrass, Gospel, Retro and Grassicana styles.
Echo Valley plays 60+ dates a year. A few of their notable appearances have been: Dollywood Theme Park's Barbeque and Bluegrass Festival, Remmington Ryde, Mickey's Mountain, and Mansfield Jamfest. In the past, they have performed as guests with The Farm Hands and opened for Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, The Darrell Webb Band, and The Larry Stephenson Band!
This farm-raised, western Pennsylvania band has released 3 albums – Echo Valley (2016), Rise and Shine (2018), Christmas With Echo Valley (2018) and are working on a new project produced by Donna Ulisse, to be released in 2021.
From the rich musical culture of Martinsburg, West Virginia, Bell Buckle Recording artists, Circa Blue is a dynamic chart-topping bluegrass band that is no stranger to the stages of festivals and auditoriums throughout the United States.
Their music includes original tunes written by and arranged by Steve Harris, but also includes a list of award winning songwriters that flow with rich lyrics and tuneful melodies. Furthermore, Circa Blue makes every song fit like a familiar old shoe in the studio by performing each tune effortlessly, adding rich instrumental riffs and smooth vocal harmonies.
Their audiences love them and the band continues to hold a strong following of fans. Circa Blue is known for their creative-dynamic arrangements, clean instrumentation and tight vocal harmonies, they perform a mix of original and cover material that bridges the musical boundaries.
5 critically acclaimed albums to their credit, charting all with the exception of their first self-titled debut.
“A Darker Blue” -#38 out of the top 100 albums for 2016~Roots Music Charts. It was on the worldwide radio charts for 11 months straight with multiple songs AND album charting.
“Once Upon a Time” (Orange Blossom Record Label) - The title cut “Once Upon a Time”, written by Steve Harris, charted multiple times on Bluegrass Today Radio Charts as high as #11.
“Bells of Home” (NMS )- In 2016 we were chosen as the National Artist to record National Media Services annual Christmas album. For ten years running, they chose a national artist to record a Christmas CD, and released it each year at IBMA.
The title cut “Bells of Home” charted multiple years as high as #8 on Bluegrass Today Radio Charts, and won “The Presidents Award” from Strictly Country Magazine.
The instrumental, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” charted in the top 20.
“Footprints in a Song” (Bell Buckle Record Label)- Current release (2019) and has charted multiple times, and is receiving substantial airplay.
Steve Harris released a solo Gospel Album in 2015, “Sundown” that continues to receive radio airplay.
Introducing two of the most talented, ear-pleasing and heart-warming singer-songwriters Americana and folk music has to offer, Jim and Lynna Woolsey. If they haven't graced your radio dial or a stage near you with their incredible organic sound yet, trust me, there is no time to lose.
Moving forward towards the year of the pandemic, Jim and Lynna had begun working on a Christian faith based novel that served as a collection of stories from their lives. It was something that Lynna always dreamed of doing and suddenly, it was becoming a reality. They engaged the help of David Morris, well known journalist and songwriter in the political arena and Bluegrass industry, as well as Nashville based, Wayne Hastings, accomplished Christian publisher and speaker, to assist them in writing and editing their work. As they began sharing their book with their peers to gain shareable thoughts and quotes about their life stories, one thing became entirely evident. People were incredibly moved by this book and by all that the Woolsey’s had shared.
Jim and Lynna had also decided to gather a collection of songs on a CD to accompany the book release. Each of the Gospel songs they have written had also come from these events that took place in their lives, so it all made perfect sense to assemble those compositions in one place as well. They set to work collecting those songs which were already on other projects, as well as writing four brand new songs to record.
This grand new project, book and CD is titled THE FALL, and will be released by Bell Buckle Records in 2021. The first single, “Calling Out Your Name,” is available to radio now on Airplay Direct, and is expected worldwide on February 6th. The book can be purchased online at Amazon, or from the Woolsey’s, through their website at http://www.jimandlynnawoolsey.com/.
Performing and writing music together for nearly three decades, this dynamic and talented power couple, Jim and Lynna Woolsey finally decided in 2016 it was time to record a commercial CD with studio musicians. HEART AND SOUL, BLOOD AND BONE was born, and anyone who heard it, is grateful to them for that every day.
For HEART AND SOUL, BLOOD AND BONE, they called Randy Kohrs, owner/engineer of Slack Key Studios in Nashville, TN,. and the rest is history. Randy not only produced and engineered the record, but the award winning musician also played resonator guitar & sang harmony. Mike Sumner co-produced and played banjo, Clay Hess added the mandolin tracks, Mark Fain added the upright bass track, and Tim Crouch provided outstanding fiddle.
The album remained on the bluegrass charts for more than 10 months, solidifying it's status not only as a hit, but as a quality project that will be around for years to come. The record established legacy and prestige and made the Woolsey's very proud.
“Jim and Lynna Woolsey have made a beautiful recording. Debuting their thoughts, family stories, honest emotions, true grit and heart, They tell the tales a few minutes at a time. A few minutes is all it takes to fall in love with their music.”
“Jim and Lynna Woolsey are two of my favorite songwriters and singers-and a vital part of the Woodsong Farm Writers Community for two years. They have more than talent and determination. They have that magical quality of being tuned in to real life, attention to the small stuff, and open heartedness that makes for great songs, and great friends.”
— Louisa Branscomb
"The songwriting, musical creativity, guest artists and performances of these original songs is refreshing and powerful. I hope you enjoy the journey you’re about to take with Jim and Lynna as much as I do.”
— Mike Sumner
In 2018, during the IBMA festivities in Raleigh, NC, Jim and Lynna Woolsey signed their first professional recording contract with Bonfire Recording Company, the "sister" label to Pinecastle Records. Bonfire released Jim and Lynna’s debut project for them in April 2019 titled, LONG AGO. The new project once again showcased the incredible songwriting talent and strong vocals that the husband and wife duo deliver.
Jim and Lynna travel with a full band of great professional musicians from their region in the great bluegrass state of Indiana! The band includes: Jim Woolsey, lead guitar/lead vocal, Lynna Woolsey, rhythm guitar/lead vocal, David Foster, bass/lead and harmony vocal, Mike Curtis, resonator guitar, and Brian Lever, banjo.
Born into a family of musicians, Jim began playing with the popular local band, The Patoka Valley Boys when he was just fifteen years old. Soon after, he and Lynna met and married, and she also started playing and singing in the same band. In 1979, a documentary was made about the band and is still visible online, Tough, Pretty or Smart which was produced for public television by Dick Cane and Dillon Buston.
As a single act or in a band, Jim has shared the stage with acts like The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Andy Williams, Marty Robbins and more. Both Jim and Lynna have won various bluegrass awards for Old Time Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin as well as many band titles. In 2002 and 2003, their band Fields of Home, won first place in the Indiana Picking and Fiddling Contest. Jim and Lynna have performed together at the Bluebird Café in Nashville and Goldie's Opera House in Owensboro, KY. They also won the Kentucky Fried Chicken Talent Hunt, in 1989. Jim was even a contestant on You Can Be a Star. Through it all, the Woolsey's have remained grounded and close to their community, family and their church.
"Community is very important to us and we often give benefit performances. We also sing at churches in the tri-state, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. We love being able to lend a hand to the community that has supported us over the years and those in need of help," comments Lynna.
Before becoming a duo with wife Leslie, Dewey Brown spent more than a decade playing fiddle with bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley and made a number of high-profile appearances, including The Late Show With David Letterman, Carnegie Hall, and a performance for Queen Elizabeth.
His dynamic pairing with his equally talented singer-songwriter wife (vocals, bass) has amassed a following among bluegrass traditionalists and Americana fans alike. Their latest release with their band, the Carolina Gentlemen, Under the Mountain, earned them the Traditional American Bluegrass CD of the Year award from the Rural Roots Music Commission. We welcome them to Bell Buckle Records team!
Visit Dewey and Leslie!
Expect the unexpected when it comes to the GoodFellers! Their award-winning traditional bluegrass chops don't tell the whole story. With a sound shaped by various musical backgrounds and highlighted by rock flavored vocals, the band moves seamlessly through different styles making each GoodFellers song unique and entertaining. They have fun when they play and it's infectious.
Rooted in bluegrass, inspired by rock vocals and with an ever-expanding set list that draws from most musical styles, each GoodFellers show promises to be unique and entertaining. Versatility bolstered by award-winning musicianship has made the GoodFellers in demand all along the East Coast and beyond.
The GoodFellers have traveled throughout the USA, Canada, and Europe, constantly redefining their own unique Newgrass sound. Along the way, the band has recorded and performed thousands of songs from all music styles.
The Goodfellers now offer up a new single, "To Love Somebody," featuring the rich, earthy voice of Teddy Barncastle. Teddy describes what inspired him to record the song, "I got a call today from a friend of mine who is a Texas writer. We share a mutual friend who was also an entertainer; he lost his mom today, which upset me and brought to mind the line "You don't know what it's like, baby, you don't know what it's like, to love somebody, to love somebody, the way I love you." I think those are compelling lyrics; they really hit me today, tears and all. I thought, how powerful are the words to that song. Maybe I need to rethink what I'm doing. I want to affect people with our music, making them love more, hate less, laugh, think of others, and enjoy their lives.
Pam adds to her musical memories with the current lineup of groups she performs with; The Pam Setser Band, Apple & Setser, Leatherwoods, and Ozark Granny Chicks. She also performs as a solo artist. And today, Pam's newest album, Now, reflects her life in music. It is an Americana mix of folk, bluegrass, gospel, 1930s swing, and country.
It all began with her family. "I started singing when I was 5 years old," Pam recalls. "My dad was already playing some guitar; mom played some autoharp…so we started playing as a family band, The Simmons Family." She feels blessed to have been able to play music with her parents. "I am the youngest of four children, so music was a great outlet for me to see places I wouldn't have experienced otherwise," Pam says. "We had lots of fun and adventures together, and I treasure those memories." Pam also sang in church. "My grandpa was a Baptist preacher," Pam says, "so the church was and still is a part of my life."
Pam learned to play the autoharp when she was 8. "I would lay it on my lap to play so I could use my left hand for strumming" recalls the left-handed musician. She describes how "my mother tried to teach me on a right-handed mountain dulcimer, but I was having trouble..."; so "Lynn McSpadden, the maker, said, 'Let me make her a left-handed dulcimer.' And that was what I needed."
At 15, Pam took up spoons. "I saw someone play them and just thought how neat," she remembers. "I want to do that!" By the time she was 23, it was time to learn guitar and upright bass. "Most of my guitars have been specially ordered," Pam says. "Not every music store carries lefties. My latest guitar is a Red Gibson J200. We looked for it for three years and finally found it at a store in Texas called Southpaw." She plays upright bass, by the way, right-handed. Of all these instruments the mountain dulcimer is her favorite. "It has such a sweet sound, and I have such wonderful memories playing duets with my mom." While rearing her two children, Pam says, "my income from my music was our fun money…money was tight then."
You can find Pam on many, many recordings. "The Simmons Family Band” made four albums. She is on five mountain dulcimer albums with her mom. Her solo albums are At Last, Crooked Ridge, and her latest Now.
"Most of the songs on Crooked Ridge are more familiar songs," Pam says, "whereas on Now, most of these songs are first-time recordings." Pam enjoys a diversity of Americana music, and that is reflected in the 13 songs on Now. But at the end of the day, it is all about the song. "I didn't pick the songs thinking about genres. I picked the songs because I liked the words and melody. When we recorded them, each song took its own direction."
Pam is now with Valerie Smith's Bell Buckle Records. Valerie is also acting as Pam's creative marketing director. Pam continues to make her musical memories with her records, performances with her bands while living in Mountain View, Arkansas, the place where she grew up and still calls home.
Like many musicians, Pam has been performing on Facebook because of the pandemic. "I feel God has given me my talent, and I always hope my music blesses those who listen," Pam says. "I feed off an audience that gets into your performance. No matter what is going on in my life, when I get on stage, it's like all is OK."
Called one of the best singers of her generation by Christine Lavin, and “the new standard-bearer for folk music” by the Midwest Record, singer and jewelry designer Mara Levine is known as an exceptional song-finder, selecting and then creating beautiful interpretations of fine traditional and contemporary songs. “You Reap What You Sow” was released in 2019 as part of her critically-acclaimed chart-topping album Facets Of Folk, which hit #1 on the Folk Alliance International Folk DJ chart for January 2019, with the #1 artist and song spots, and was the #3 album for 2019, with Mara claiming the #2 artist spot overall for 2019.
Her second CD, Jewels and Harmony, was the #1 album on Folk DJ-Chart for January 2013, with the #1 artist and song slots, and finished #3 for the year. She's also had six #1 songs on that chart over the years, including “You Reap What You Sow,” which also spent 22 weeks on the Bluegrass Today Grassicana Chart. Levine tours nationally, in addition, she has performed in Toronto, Germany, Ireland, France and The Netherlands. Previously, Levine was selected for a Folk DJ showcase (2009), an official showcase (2014), and an official showcase (2019) at the North East Regional Folk Alliance conference.
“Mara, I think you are one of the best singers of your generation. Every songwriter worth their salt should be sending you their tunes. You have such a beautiful, timeless quality to your voice and you make beautiful recordings. I just LOVE what you do.”
— Christine Lavin, singer-songwriter
Beautifully articulated, Mara's latest recording, "Facets of Folk" is a perfect complement of her gorgeous vocals with a strong sense of who she is and how she wants to express herself. She meticulously picks each song and orders them so that you will be taken on a moving journey. The album reflects a strong theme of social conscience throughout.” - Jeanne Holton, WMNF-FM Tampa, FL
Bobby's father Marion Murray Giles was a conductor on the Santa Fe Railroad. He loved the railroad, his family, football, quail huntin', fishin' and music. He taught Bobby the importance of being passionate about everything he does. Bobby and his brother Dan were proud sons of 'ManyMilesGiles' in his sharp conductor's uniform. One day he brought Bobby a shiny new Kay Sunburst dreadnought. Bobby taught himself to play by watching the Honest Jess and Ernest Tubb shows on Saturdays, every Gospel quartet show he could find on Sunday morning before church, and by emulating the sounds that filled his bedroom from his transistor radio."
His grandpa's name was Virgil, but everyone called him "Pa." Long after Bobby got his first guitar, his father came by the house and took him to the fairgrounds where a bluegrass band was playing. Bobby always remembered their 3-part harmonies and the chords their guitar player played. He went home that night and started learning the value of practice!
Like most young musicians, Bobby had grandiose aspirations of being the next " big deal," but he was also a reasonably decent football player. That took the center stage until his playing days were over at the University of Texas. Luckily for us, he never quit playing those chords he learned from that bluegrass guitar player at the fairgrounds.
Coming forward to the present times, Bobby pursues his love for bluegrass music through songwriting, performing, and recording. He recently has had the honor and privilege of being produced by award-winning fiddle player and member of Appalachian Roadshow Jimmy VanCleve. Bobby Giles and Texas have recently teamed up with Bell Buckle Records to release his latest project, "In Tennessee." The album will be released during the summer of 2022.