On August 23-26 the 39th Annual Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Music Festival will be happening at the Litchfield Fairgrounds in Litchfield. For more festival information, visit blisteredfingers.com. Presented by Greg and Sandy Cormier, the gathering brings together top talent from all around the country including this year’s headlining act, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out.
This quintet includes founding member Moore on guitar and lead vocals, Steve Dilling on banjo and harmony vocals, Wayne Benson on mandolin, Justen Haynes on fiddle and harmony vocals, and Edgar Loudermilk on upright bass and harmony vocals and they are touring in support of their latest CD “Prime Tyme.” From his home office in Cumming, Georgia, Moore recently called to chat.

Q: Have you played in Maine frequently over your career?
Moore: Well, I wouldn’t say frequently, but we have been in Maine several times throughout our 20 years. It’s been a while since we started going up with Greg and Sandy for their festivals. I’m trying to think if it was last year we were up at their festival — not the one in August, the other one in June. But we’re looking forward to this one, too. It’s a beautiful campground up there — it’s a great place to play some music.

Q: To what do you attribute bluegrass’ popularity?
Moore: I don’t know, I think there’s some talented people in bluegrass music these days — not that there hasn’t been in the past — but it really seems that everywhere you turn now, you’re hearing some great vocalists or you’re hearing some super pickers and young people. I think that’s a key. When you can get young people involved in the music it’s three-fold: you get (them), you get the parents and you get the grandparents. Music is a universal kind of thing, and everybody loves music. They just feel good about it, you know I’m saying? I also think that everybody in the music industry — the record labels, the band, the media — is learning how to better promote the music and get the word out with the Internet and all. My gosh, there’s no reason that you can’t get the word out about what’s going on. So I think that that’s got a lot to do with it as well. And then also the IBMA — the International Bluegrass Music Association — after it formed and they got moving forward I think that they’ve helped broaden the appeal as much as they can within our industry. So it’s not any one thing, but just a lot of things I think have contributed to the growth and popularity of bluegrass music.

Q: I also think that bluegrass possesses a high level of honesty and is very simple in its approach.
Moore: Yeah, I think so. You know, the subject matter for the majority of bluegrass songs is about real life … which is basically what you just said.

Q: The newest album “Prime Tyme,” came out last year, correct?
Moore: Yes, in October of 2011.

Q: Are you working on something new?
Moore: Well, we’re always looking for material but we don’t have any immediate plans right now — we don’t have any studio time scheduled, let’s put it that way — but we are planning before the end of the year being in the studio doing something. We have a couple or three different routes that we can take and we’re standing at the crossroads of all three roads and we’re waiting for some information to come in that I can’t speak about right now. If it does come in then we know the road we’re going to take, if it doesn’t then we have two other options of doing either another bluegrass recording or possibly even another all-gospel recording. So that’s kind of where we’re at on the recording process.

Q: Is there anything you would like to pass on to folks reading this article?
Moore: Just that we’re definitely looking forward to coming back up into the state of Maine, and getting to perform for the people who are going to be attending the festival and getting to visit with them while we’re there. We’re hoping that they’ll show their support for Greg and Sandy and their festival there, which I’m sure they will. They’re great people — they really are — and they put on a really nice presentation for their shows. So I guess what I’d like to do is offer a big invitation to everybody to come out and spend the day with us, let us get to know you and visit with you for a little while and have a good time.

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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