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Bluegrass Legend Gary Brewer Celebrates a Musical 40th Anniversary

Gary Brewer

He may be the hardest working man in bluegrass. With a career that spans 4 decades, Kentucky’s own Gary Brewer is truly a bluegrass legend. To celebrate this milestone in his monumental career, comes the release of the new album from Gary Brewer & The Kentucky Ramblers appropriately titled, “40th Anniversary Celebration”. It’s 14 original tracks that feature a star-studded guest list that includes The Travelin' McCourys, Sam Bush, Russell Moore, Justin Moses, Ashton Shepherd, T. Graham Brown, Ralph Stanley II, Dale Ann Bradley, and Doug Phelps from The Kentucky Headhunters.

Gary was kind enough to take some time to talk with us about the new album.

Congratulations on your 40 year anniversary! There’s quite a lot of history in your monumental career. You’ve traveled far and wide and worked with so many great artists. What are a couple of personal highlights for you?

"Thank You, it's been a great ride! I've had many highlights over the years and several stand out: Performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, The Lincoln Center in New York, being nominated for 2 GRAMMYs, just to name a few. But an ongoing highlight is stepping onstage with my Father and both my sons performing together across the country."

Your new album will be released this Friday (5/29) and is aptly titled, “40th Anniversary Celebration”. We're really taken with the first single, "Goin' Up Shell Creek" that features The Travelin' McCourys. Apparently we're not the only ones!  The song has been doing tremendously well on the charts. Tell us a bit about the song, how it's doing, and why you picked the McCourys to join you on this particular track.

“Thank you! And yes we are very happy with the success of the single. It remained in the #1 spot on the Global APD Radio Charts for weeks after it was released. I decided to feature The Travelin’ McCourys because we go way back and have so much in common. We all grew up in the music and have been blessed to be able to travel with our dads throughout our entire career thus far. Now, we both share the stage with our sons and fathers. This collaboration between myself and The Travelin’ McCourys speaks loud in tradition, and we are very proud of that."

Another preview of the album is the catchy, banjo-driven song, “Big Train”. It features fellow Kentuckian Doug Phelps from the Kentucky Headhunters. He’s just one of the many great guest artists on the album. We’re looking forward to hearing what songs you’ve worked up with them! Are these new songs, or re-visiting old favorites with your guest artists?

"They are all original songs of mine that I have written over my career. I chose Doug to (Ride the Big Train) on this song. I thought it fit his vocal style and we had a blast in the studio."

We had planned on being able to celebrate the album release with you at our WFPK Waterfront Wednesday this month. Obviously, all touring has been put on hold for the time being. When the quarantine ends, and you can get back to touring, any big plans on continuing the 40th year celebration?

"Yes, we were looking forward to the Waterfront performance as well. Hopefully, we can reschedule it soon. We are continuing the 40 year Anniversary Celebration Tour as soon as restrictions are lifted. We have already rescheduled a lot of canceled performances and will most certainly try to get back out on the road as soon as possible. The tour will continue through 2021, including our 3 week European Tour that was recently postponed. We would love to encourage our fans to pick up the new '40th Anniversary Celebration' CD online at www.brewgrass.com. For now, stay safe until we can get out and see everyone!"

John is the mid-morning host on WFPK. Email John at jtimmons@lpm.org

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