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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.
“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
Chart-Topping Folk Performer Mara Levine, whose latest album Facets Of Folk hit #1 on the Folk Alliance International Folk DJ charts and had nine songs featured among the Top 20, has announced that she has signed a deal with renowned TN-based label Bell Buckle Records. According to Levine, this new partnership was the “logical next step in the evolution of my career”.
The New Jersey-based independent artist, who was hailed as “the new standard bearer for folk music” by the Midwest Record, says that her goal in joining Bell Buckle’s family of artists is twofold - to help her reach a wider audience with her music, while also exploring other genres and diversifying her style.
"After working independently for many years, I'm so excited for this opportunity”, said Levine. “Bell Buckle Records is the perfect team to assist me with getting my music out to a much broader audience. I am deeply rooted in folk music, however the past few years I've been studying and doing some performing and recording in the bluegrass genre. I love that Bell Buckle embraces multiple genres and, under their mentorship and support, I can see myself growing musically and working on projects that cross over between folk and bluegrass."
Bell Buckle Records, which is also home to such esteemed artists as Jakob's Ferry Stragglers, Crandall Creek, singer-songwriter Daniel Crabtree and many more, is owned by veteran roots recording artist Valerie Smith. Located in the historic town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, the label provides full marketing, video production, photography, promotion and social media support to its clients, as well as digital music servicing and artist development. Valerie Smith is known in the industry as a creative entity who thinks outside the box and recognizes that no two artists are the same.
"I'm excited to be adding such an established folk/grassicana artist to our roster at Bell Buckle Records”, said Smith. “I believe that Mara will add depth to our talent base and catalog offering for our customers and radio DJs. Mara is definitely someone that I have been looking forward to working with. Her voice is unique, her recordings are beautiful and her talent as a musician is undeniable. I look forward to seeing what she has coming next and I am excited that it will be with Bell Buckle Records."
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
Mike Pokalsky collaborated with music industry veteran, Valerie Smith from Bell Buckle Records with the Chad Darou release, "Raising the Bar" and she continues to be a part of the marketing team. Midnite Mountain Music provides many services for artists. We finance the production of projects, can provide for both In-house and remote recording with engineering, mixing, mastering, and manufacturing of CD's done in-house. We also offer strong promotion, publicity, radio, and media coordination. Arrangements can be different with each artist, but either way, we at Midnight Mountain Music give our very best and more.
Also, welcome our newest member, "Midnite" a Siberian Husky 1 year old puppy to the team. She is the brains of the entire operation! Midnite Mountain Music has enjoyed much success over the past year and will continue to do so for many years. It’s our firm belief that if you provide the artists the foundation and support to do what they love, amazing things can happen.
Radio broadcasters have grown to love us because they know what we send them will be great.
The company has a strong commitment to quality. We strive for seasoned, outstanding artists, clever songwriting, thoughtful production, efficient recording, organized promotion, and valuable relationships that add up to quality results.
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.
West Virginia’s Crandall Creek has shared some terrific news with their followers, starting with an update on band leader Jerry Andrews’ ongoing battle with colon cancer.
Following surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, doctors were able to tell Jerry that the surgery had been a success, and that he was cancer free. It is hard to imagine how liberating how such a report must be, and we share with many others in wishing Jerry good luck going forward.
Correspondent Bruce Winges shared some further details.
Jerry has a temporary ileostomy, which will be surgically reversed in six weeks. Once healed, Jerry will have a series of 12 chemotherapy treatments over six months.
“I am thankful that this is going to turn out well,” Jerry said. “I also want to thank all those who sent prayers and wished me well – there is strength in faith and community.”
Jerry hopes that by sharing his story, others will take it upon themselves to get cancer screening tests. If Jerry had a colonoscopy at age 50, he would not have needed the surgery 14 years later. Patients who are 50 or older account for 91 percent of new colon cancer cases.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people start screening for colon cancer at age 45, and people in good health should be screened every 10 years. Removing precancerous polyps by colonoscopy reduces the chance of getting colon cancer by up to 70 percent.
The band has also announced the hiring of Abby Latocha as their new lead singer, following the recent departure of their bass player and vocalist, Lili Gadd. Abby, a resident of Mannington, WV, has just turned 20 years old and has been pursuing music and songwriting since she was a young teen. Her music up to this point has been focused on country and Americana.
A new single featuring her lead vocal is expected quite soon.
Crandall Creek has also announced Patricia Imbrogno, who goes by Trish, as their new bassist. Living in Pittsburg, she has many years of experience as a professional musician in a wide variety of genres, including bluegrass, of course. Trish received a classical education, and spent much of her career in that realm, but is a convert to the grass, and a 2018 graduate of Leadership Bluegrass.
Other members of Crandall Creek include Dustin Terpenning on banjo, Kathy Wigman Lesnock on mandolin, and Roger Hoard on guitar. All are looking forward to a return to live shows later this month.
Written by Bruce Winges
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!
We are currently awaiting new music from Country/Bluegrass artist, Mike Owens. He is in the process of building his brand, sound and touring schedule. Please stay in touch as his career grows and Bell Buckle Records launches a 4-song EP showcasing his music.
Mike Owens’ sound can be described as classic country mixing with a flare of bluegrass music. His trio can play a variety of genres (Country, Rock ’n Roll and Bluegrass). He has been performing at dance clubs, community and fraternal organizations, VFWs, yacht clubs, casinos, private parties, and much more throughout Maryland.
Audiences have been attending Mike's music concerts because his band can play anything and everything, yet still he has his own sound. His sound is true to Maryland's musical style - classic country meets folk and bluegrass music.