Celebrate Independence Day weekend at Bluegrass Under the Stars. On Friday night, following an opening performance by Forrest O’Connor, Rhonda Vincent takes the stage. Vincent is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and seven-time Grammy nominee, including the winner of the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2017. On Saturday, Carley Arrowood opens for three-time Grammy nominated bluegrass powerhouses, The Grascals.
Member Tickets | $55
Not-yet Member Tickets | $65
Nashville-born singer-songwriter and guitarist Forrest O’Connor earned national recognition as one of the lead vocalists and instrumentalists in the O’Connor Band, a group he co-founded with his wife, Kate Lee O’Connor, and his father, seven-time CMA Award-winning violinist Mark O’Connor. Forrest wrote several songs, including the title track, for the O’Connor Band’s debut album Coming Home, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums Chart and won a Grammy Award in 2017. Most recently, he arranged and contributed a track to the John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project Vol. 1 tribute album, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2021.
Both independently and as part of the O’Connor Band, Forrest has performed and/or recorded with Paul Simon, Zac Brown, Judah & The Lion, Kenny Loggins, Clint Black, Emmylou Harris, Suzy Bogguss, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, and many others. He has played several times at The Grand Ole Opry as well as at other notable venues and festivals around the country, including Fenway Park, the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards Ceremony, the Strathmore Center for the Arts, RockyGrass Festival, DelFest, and Grey Fox. He also appeared in the final episode of the fourth season of ABC’s hit series Nashville, performing behind Chris Carmack’s character, Will Lexington.
Prior to the O’Connor Band, Forrest toured nationally as a duo with Kate (sometimes along with his college buddy, singer-songwriter Jim Shirey) and frequently performed as a sideman at The Station Inn in Nashville. In 2014, he won the Tennessee State Mandolin Championship.
A musician’s path is often a winding one; moving from one gig to another over the course of a career, diligently putting time in with dozens of bands and hundreds of fellow players. Perhaps waiting many years before stepping forward as an artist and leader in their own right, if they ever do at all. But sometimes a young performer knows early on that they have been called to take the reins of their careers, and they begin to tell their own story. As her last name suggests, Carley Arrowood’s trajectory has been a nearly straight line. From the moment she was first inspired to pick up the fiddle, to bands with friends and youth symphony, to taking her first professional job with a top bluegrass act, to striking out on her own, every step she’s taken has been a step forward.
With the release of her very first singles for Mountain Home Music Company Carley has begun to make her mark as a singer, a songwriter, and of course a cutting-edge fiddler. Her forthright delivery of every song shows an uncommon poise for so young a singer, and tells the audience that this young woman of faith knows what she wants to say.
Carley’s voice on the fiddle is forceful and bright, with her formidable technique and diverse musical vocabulary put to work in service to the piece. Years of study, natural ability, and the crucial component of finely-honed creative taste, make Carley’s approach to her instrument unique and uniquely powerful. Astute listeners will hear in her playing a masterful bluegrass fiddler from North Carolina, of course, but also the ancient tones of Celtic music, and the refinement of a symphonic and chamber musician.
Great musicians will always find a way to make good music, but for great musicians to make great music, they must form a bond – one that, more often than not, goes beyond the purely musical to the personal. For The Grascals, that bond has been forged at the intersection of personal friendships, shared professional resumes and an appreciation for the innovative mingling of bluegrass and country music that has been a hallmark of the Nashville scene for more than forty years.
Their cutting-edge modern bluegrass is delivered with a deep knowledge of, and admiration for, the work of the music’s founding fathers. Timely yet timeless, The Grascals make music that is entirely relevant to the here and now, yet immersed in traditional values of soul and musicianship. It’s a unique sound that has earned three Grammy® nominations and two Entertainer of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, as well as national media attention that seems to perpetually elude acts entrenched in niche genres. Such appearances include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox & Friends, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and CBS’ The Talk. All the while, stages that represent the strongest bastions of tradition continually welcome them, as evidenced by the over 200 performances on the Grand Ole Opry. Honors also include performing twice for President George W. Bush and at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball at the Smithsonian.
As their records prove, The Grascals’ rare musical empathy gives them an unerring ear for just the right touch to illuminate each offering’s deepest spirit – whether they’re digging into one of their original songs or reworking a bluegrass classic or a pop standard. Take for instance, fan favorite, “Last Train to Clarksville.” Non-bluegrass listeners enjoy a new take on a familiar song, while diehard bluegrass audiences who may have never heard the Monkees classic, respond in-kind, not even realizing that the song has been Grascalized.
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