Sam Bush is a mandolin and fiddle playing bluegrass singer and songwriter born in Bowling Green Kentucky. At age 72, he is an active entertainer with a long list of accomplishments already in his illustrious career. He began playing mandolin at age 11 and as a teenager, he had taken three first places in the junior division of the National Old-time Fiddler’s contest. Not too long after, he recorded the album, Poor Richard’s Almanac with banjo great, Alan Munde. All of this led to the band’s formation that would forever change bluegrass and give us all a new name for the progressive mix of bluegrass, jazz and rock known as NewGrass. Sam Bush formed the New Grass Revival in 1971 along with Curtis Burch, John Cowan and Courtney Johnson. This lineup eventually changed to include Bela Fleck on banjo and Pat Flynn on guitar. They toured with Leon Russel as his band and in 1989 their recording of “Callin’ Baton Rouge” peaked at 37 in the US country charts. Five years later, the same song was recorded by Garth Brooks with the New Grass Revival backing him up and it became a top 5 country hit for the Revival and Garth.

I’ve seen the New Grass Revival at a small festival that we played in Deposit NY, the Rooney Mountain Festival in the 1980’s, and I’ve seen Sam Bush close the Saturday night show at the Grey Fox Festival for the better part of the last 20 years. Sam Bush is a force of musical genius and extraordinary energy. It’s no coincidence that Sam Bush is consistently tapped to close most bluegrass festivals he is booked for. The picking will always be stellar! The harmonies and lead vocals will be breathtaking! And the songs played will resonate with the crowds in front of him. Here’s a sample from  a couple months ago.

Western New York bluegrass fans have a rare opportunity to see Sam Bush and his band at the Great Blue Heron music festival in Sherman NY on Saturday, July 6th. Also on the bill that night are Driftwood, Donna The Buffalo and The Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars with Bill Ward.


Do you like the refreshing sounds of Chris Stapleton coming out of Nashville? It’s a smoky, bluesy throwback to the honky tonk sounds of the 1950’s. Well Stapleton began as the lead vocalist to a very popular bluegrass band from Nashville, The SteelDrivers. When he left to pursue a solo career, the SteelDrivers continued with the same great songwriting, sparkling instrumental presentation and gritty, blues-laced lead vocals with new lead singers. You can see and hear the SteelDrivers on Saturday, July 20th at the Point of the Bluff Vineyards in Hammondsport, NY,


Writing this monthly article sometimes takes me to unexpected places and reveals new bands that were not on my radar before. This month the searching brought me to two newer Americana/Bluegrass bands that are coming to our area in August. The first one is The Steel Wheels coming to Buffalo Iron Works on August 1st. The vocal harmonies and instrumental diversity struck me on my first dives into YouTube for Steel Wheels.


The second new find for me was a string band, Twisted Pine. National Public Radio remarked that Twisted Pine are “An upbeat, poppy vibe; energetic, driving rhythms; virtuosic solos; tight harmonies. This is definitely a band to watch”. This band based in Boston, MA has very tasty fiddling, a strong mandolin player and a great flute that really fits and adds to the sound. They will be at the Chautauqua Institute on Monday, July 12

With a few of these links to YouTube, I hope it may lead you to discover some of the other great Americana and Bluegrass groups out there.

Bluegrass shows in July:

Friday, July 5, 2024 – Great Blue Heron music festival (Day 1/3), Sherman, NY

Headliners- Driftwood and Jimkata

Saturday, July 6, 2024 -Great Blue Heron music festival (Day 2/3) Sherman, NY

Including Bill Ward and the Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars 11:30am – 12:30pm

Headliners- Sam Bush and Donna the Buffalo

Sunday, July, 7 2024 – Great Blue Heron music festival (Day 3/3), Sherman NY

Headliners- The Town Pants and Donna the Buffalo

Wednesday, July 10,  7 – 9pm – Creek Bend  @ Alden Town Park

Thursday July 11, 7 – 8:30pm – Heart ll Heart @ 211 Clinton St, Cowlesville NY town concert

Saturday, July 13, 6 – 9pm – Creek Bend – Community Fellowship Church, 3146 Johnson Creek Road,                                                              Middleport, New York.

Sunday, July 14,  2 – 7pm – the Monthly Jam session Bennington Lanes, 1374 Clinton Street Road,  Attica, NY

Thursday July 18, 12 – 2:15pm – Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars Lunch, Sportsmen’s Tavern  326 Amherst St, Buffalo, NY

Friday, July 19- The Infamous Stringdusters@ Lincoln Hill Farms, Canandaigua, NY

Saturday July 20, 3:30 – 5:30pm – Crane Library old Timey jam, Buffalo NY

Saturday, July 20 3:30-5:30 PM– The SteelDrivers @ Point of the Bluff Vineyards, Hammondsport, NY.

Sunday July 21, 4 – 7pm – Old time string jam session @42 North Brewing Company, East Aurora,  NY NY

Thursday July 25, 6 – 8pm – Creek Bend @Haxton Memorial Library (Oakfield, NY)

Friday July 26, 7 – 9pm – Creek Bend @Jackson Square, Batavia, NY

Saturday July 27, 7 – 9pm – Creek Bend – Palmer Opera House, Cuba, NY

Tuesday July 30, 7 – 9pm – Creek Bend – Quaker Arts Pavilion – middle school – Orchard Park NY

Bluegrass Shows on the horizon

Thursday, August 1 – The Steel Wheels @ Buffalo Iron Works, Buffalo, NY –

Thursday August 1, 2 – 2:15pm – Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars Lunch, Sportsmen’s Taver, 326 Amherst St, Buffalo, NY

Thursday August 1, 6 – 8pm – The Panfil Bros. Trio Lake Erie Beach

Monday, August 5 – Greensky Bluegrass @ Perinton Center, Fairport NY

Monday, August 12 – Twisted Pine @ Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater – Fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, acoustic guitar and flute with beautiful and bluesy female vocals.

Saturday, August 17- 11:30 AM- 9:30 PM- The Mayville Bluegrass Festival at Big Inlet Brewing featuring: The Clay Hess Band, Gregg Welty, South 79, Knarly Knuckles, Creek Bend, Mountain Run feat with Doug Yeomans, Michael Gerholt, Jon Garon & Friends, Big Inlet Bluegrass All-Stars and Bill Ward & FriendsNY

Friday, August 23 – Sarah Jarosz, four time Grammy Award Winner @  the Theater at Innovation Square, Rochester, NY

Here is a reminder of local Bluegrass festivals;


5-6       Great Blue Heron Music Festival, Sherman, NY

12-14   Busy Bird Bluegrass Festival, Berkshire, NY

13        Bluegrass on the Grass, Carlisle, PA

14-19   Augusta Heritage Center Bluegrass & Vocal Week, Elkins, WV

17-21   Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Oak Hill, NY

25-28   Brantling Bluegrass Festival, Sodus, NY


1-4       Appalachian Fiddle & Bluegrass Association Festival, Wind Gap, PA

2-4       Grassfire Festival, Garrettsville, OH

3          Vernon Fest 2024, Hamilton, OH

9-11     Wattsburg Bluegrass Music Festival, Wattsburg, PA

15-18   Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, Gettysburg, PA

17        Long Island Bluegrass & Roots Music Festival, Copiague, NY

17        Mayville Bluegrass Festival Mayville, NY

17-18   Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival, Somerset, PA

22-24   Pickin’ in the Pasture, Lodi, NY

22-24   Brown County Bluegrass Festival, Georgetown, OH

22-25   Crook Farm Old-Time Music Festival, Bradford, PA

8/28-9/2  SamJam Bluegrass Festival, Piketon, OH

Have a great July and I hope to see you at a Bluegrass show this summer,

Until next time, Keep on Pickin’!

Mark Panfil, Creek Bend and


Mark Panfil

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