What to Do Tonight: Sam Bush

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Free ride
  • Free ride

When he was a fiddle-playing teen, Sam Bush met bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and tried to show off his blossoming mandolin skills to the icon, who advised, “Stick to the fiddle.” Bush ignored him and went on to become the Father of Newgrass. Bush first picked up the mandolin when he was 11, won the junior division of the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest three times, and released his first recording, 1969’s Poor Richard’s Almanac (with Wayne Stewart and Alan Munde), when he was 17. The following year, energized by the New Deal String Band’s rock-tinged bluegrass, Bush joined the similarly grained Bluegrass Alliance, and when the group dissolved, he reassembled it as New Grass Revival in 1971. The band’s fluctuating lineup included some of bluegrass’ biggest names (like Bela Fleck) before Bush dissolved it in 1989. He quickly moved on to a variety of projects: forming Strength in Numbers with Fleck and other likeminded musicians, playing with Emmylou Harris’ Nash Ramblers, performing sessions with Lyle Lovett, and launching the Sam Bush Band. Bush’s frequent and ecstatically received appearances at the country’s most prestigious bluegrass festival inspired his other title, the King of Telluride, and three years ago he mantled the International Bluegrass Music Award trophy for Mandolinist of the Year. Somewhere, Monroe is having a good laugh. Bush plays the Kent Stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. —Brian Baker

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