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The Old Fashioned
Saturday at 9 a.m. and Tuesday at 8 p.m.

The Old Fashioned is a weekly bluegrass and old-time program, hosted by Craig Havighurst and Amy Alvey. As they say on the air, The Old Fashioned (yes, named for the world-famous cocktail) stirs up strong spirits with a bit of sugar, a dash of bitters and a twist of zest, telling the ongoing story of traditional music in Americana. With commentary and context to bring their listeners along for the journey, Craig and Amy spin old-time bands, traditional bluegrass, regional folk styles, acoustic blues, and gospel. Audio for each episode stays up for two weeks, but you can search our catalog for past playlists any time.

Latest Episodes
  • It’s a week of album premieres, one long awaited and one kind of a surprise. The latter comes from Brit Taylor, the wonderful and versatile singer from Kentucky who reminds us of a modern day Patty Loveless. She’s so versatile that she took her Kentucky Blue album of 2023 and rearranged some of its songs – and added some new ones – to give us Kentucky Bluegrassed, a magical acoustic collection, and we’ve got the title track. But I buried the lead. Ten-time IBMA Bass Player of the Year and beloved industry veteran Missy Raines has released Highlander, her first traditional, banjo-driven album as a band leader. Her band Allegheny, which has been touring since last year, includes Ben Garnett on guitar, Eli Gilbert on banjo, Ellie Hakanson on fiddle, and Tristan Scroggins on mandolin. It’s a treat to play the opening cut “Listen To The Lonesome Wind.” Also this week, new stuff from Larry Stephenson and the Skaggs and Rice kind of duo Shawn Lane and Richard Bennett. Historic tracks come from Peter Rowan and Red Smiley.
  • The bluegrass community does a great job encouraging youngsters to take up instruments and elevating those who show talent, but it’s been a while since a virtuoso stirred people up quite like Wyatt Ellis. He grew up in East Tennessee and latched on to mandolin inspired by Bobby Osborne playing “Rocky Top.” He hit the woodshed hard during the pandemic and took on a Tennessee Folklife Apprenticeship with Sierra Hull. Now he’s playing with his heroes and releasing his first album. We celebrate that with the title cut “Happy Valley.” Also this week, new tunes from Liam Purcell, Willi Carlisle, and another prodigy, 17-year-old Muiranne Bradley, a fingerstyle guitarist from Ireland.
  • When bluegrass icon Doyle Lawson retired from the road at the end of 2021, his band Quicksilver regrouped as Authentic Unlimited. So when the band won New Artist of the Year at the 2023 IBMA Awards, it was a little bit ironic because these fellows are well known and appreciated on the scene. Other honors followed though, including an AU debut on the Grand Ole Opry and some very recent SPBGMA Awards for Gospel Group and Vocal Group Of The Year. This week, I spun their new fast-rolling single Big Wheels, a tale of a fellow trying to outrun his heartbreak by hitching a ride on an 18-wheeler, written by bass player Jerry Cole. Their album So Much For Forever is set for release on March 29. Also new, the swift and fluid “Will You Ever Be Mine” by Bronwyn Keith-Hynes and “Weary Town” from NC’s Unspoken Tradition. Inspired by recently writing a feature about Jerry Garcia for Bluegrass Unlimited, which comes out in advance of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame’s special exhibit, I have a block of Jerry-grass, including Old And In The Way and classics from his collaborations with David Grisman.
  • It’s been a long wait since the award-winning band Sister Sadie negotiated big lineup changes and worked up their newest album No Fear. But never fear. It’s here, as of January 26, and we jumped on it by opening TOF #92 with the single “Cannonball,” a song that its lead vocalist and cowriter Dani Flowers says is about “falling in love and being hopeful that person you’re falling for will be careful with your heart.” Dani and bass player Maddie Dalton are newest to the project. Jaelee Roberts who we’ve played here a lot thanks to her fine solo album, has been on board for some time. Fiddler Deanie Richardson and banjo player Gina Britt are co-founders. We won’t be surprised if this new quintet wins more IBMA prizes. Otherwise, we’ve got new music from Armchair Boogie, The Price Sisters, Thomas Cassell, and Missy Raines. The Lilly Brothers and Flatt & Scruggs bring the vintage wine.
  • For our first show of 2024, we look back and spin our favorite bluegrass and old time albums of 2023. Personally, I feel like East Nash Grass had the release of the year with Last Chance To Win, their second album and the one that coincided with their breakout as a national touring act. They got on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time and took their place in history alongside the Nashville Bluegrass Band and the Steeldrivers as city-born exemplars of the high lonesome arts. Of course Molly Tuttle’s sophomore album City of Gold was a big moment for Americana generally, as a bluegrass artist with mainstream appeal. Also in the hour, Alice Gerrard with a powerfully political album at age 89, Sami Braman with a fiercely original instrumental fiddle album, and my personal discovery of the year – thanks to Amy Alvey – of West Virginia dulcimer player and singer Sarah Kate Morgan. Her voice and her touch on her instrument are both exceptional, and I can’t wait to see what she offers in the year(s) to come.
  • When it came time to curate our second annual bluegrass Christmas special, it was tempting to just play all of last year’s songs again because we were so happy with the collection! And indeed we did leave a few of what have become perennial favorites – the Cox Family’s “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” for example. And the gorgeous “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” by Chosen Road. But we found some fine new music as well, including new singles from the Kody Norris Show, Darin and Brooke Aldridge (they have a new holiday album), and Joe Mullins. New vintage music comes from Laurie Lewis, John Hartford and Newgrange. So let the mandolins ring and the high tenors sing. Amy Alvey and I wish you a very happy holiday season.
  • In show #88 I shared my remix of the 1986 Rounder Bluegrass compilation that turned me into a lifelong fan. This week, we hear some of Amy Alvey’s core influences, starting with the ephiphany she had when she heard Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen” while a fiddle student at Berklee College of Music. Her sets also include Bruce Molsky, Crooked Still, and Nashville’s own Brittany Haas. But that’s all in the second half of the show. Up front, new singles from Blue Highway, Billy Droze, the Kathy Kallick Band and banjo player Daniel Grindstaff. Maybe this compilation will change your life!
  • From its origins in 1970 to its current work with Sierra Ferrell, Sarah Jarosz and others, Rounder Records has been arguably the most important and influential roots music label in America. Throughout, Rounder has been in the vanguard of bluegrass music with a remarkable legacy of artists. My own bluegrass adventure began with a Rounder Bluegrass sampler album in 1987, and we dedicate this special episode to that collection. After only owning the collection on hand-dubbed cassette for decades, I found the CD of the album online and here I've remixed it with commentary by me and Amy, who was hearing most of this old bluegrass for the first time. You'll hear vintage David Grisman, Ricky Skaggs, Byron Berline, Hazel & Alice, and Del McCoury among others. We had a blast putting this together and hope you have a bluegrass epiphany like I did.
  • We’ve been playing singles in advance of the new album from Balsam Range, but it’s here now, out Dec. 1, and it’s called Kinetic Tone, a nice title for science nerds like me. The band is a staple in its home region of western NC, but of course the quintet has reached audiences far and wide, hence being named Entertainers of the Year by the IBMA in 2018. We open this week with a cool album cut, a cinematic California gold rush song written by Milan Miller. Also this week, brand new music from Alice Gerrard, killing it with her new album Sun to Sun at age 89. And it’s veterans’ day apparently with new singles from Larry Stephenson, Jeff Parker and David Parmley. Historic cuts come from the Johnson Mountain Boys and the Bluegrass Cardinals.
  • That album we’ve been talking about and puzzling over – Cambium from Full Cord – finally arrived from Dark Shadow Recording, and they offer our leadoff track this week. The Grand Haven, MI band won the Telluride band contest in 2022 and the IBMA Momentum Band of the Year award this fall, so they’re off and running. They draw their band name and album title from the world of wood and timber and trees, and there’s woody tones to spare, along with some fine singing and original songwriting. Also this hour, German-born mandolinist Mark Stoffel (of Chris Jones and the Night Drivers) brings a hot and funky instrumental, while North Carolina’s Resonant Rogues, a great discovery by Amy, deliver a mournful and blue song from their new self-titled album. Historic tracks come from Rickey Wasson, Gillian Welch and the sometime duo of Dudley Connell and Don Rigsby.