Bluegrass Powerhouse Sideline's Album, Ups, Downs and No Name Towns Reaches New Heights
Bluegrass powerhouse Sideline’s newest full length album, Ups, Downs and No Name Towns, finds the celebrated sextet — recipients of 2019’s International Bluegrass Music Association Song Of the Year award for their hit song, “Thunder Dan” and a group known for their distinctively stylish and explosive bluegrass that has netted them chart-topping singles and well-received albums — reaching new heights with a set that includes the kind of hard-hitting arrangements of classics that brought them acclaim in the first place, yet focuses on new material, chosen and delivered by a band with a perfect sense of who they are and what they have to say.
The album’s title, drawn from “Old Guitar Case,” not only describes the band’s journey, but also acknowledges the recent struggle of the music industry — and especially its professional touring musicians — to cope with a months-long, pandemic-driven shutdown. Through the song’s depiction of the details of a road musician’s life, it reveals profound truths about journeys of hardship and triumphs, victories and defeats — all undertaken with the aim of reaching new heights as the music and the community it builds continue to grow.
“In the musical slump caused by the shutdowns of 2020, Sideline decided to pull together and start on a new project. We had time, we had each other, and we decided to put it all to work in a way we had never done before,” says Skip Cherryholmes. “The inspiration and variety that make up this project really relate directly to the ‘Ups and Downs’ we were dealing with in real time. Working together to find ways to survive and remain relevant, while receiving dozens of calls day after day for canceled work — this became a whole new full-time, emotionally exhausting job. I truly feel that all of these experiences played the biggest part in the development of the music for this project. It affected every bit of attention and care to capture each performance exactly how we felt it, all the way down to the cover concept. In so many ways this tattered old guitar case represents the beating our band and career took through the pandemic. The fact that it still stands symbolizes our resilience and ability to persevere. Ups, Downs, and No Name Towns is by far the most musically developed project we’ve recorded to date, but it is also the most connected and inspired effort we’ve ever experienced, personally or musically.”
The Bluegrass Standard Magazine
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