missy raines & the new hip
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missy raines & the new hip


Band Country Bluegrass


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July 24, 2008 3:43 am

Would 'Father of Bluegrass' Bill Monroe consider Missy Raines' bass-fronted band sacrilegious? Not if he'd had the opportunity to hear them play, Raines believes: 'Monroe was an innovator.'

When it comes to bluegrass, the bassist rarely gets any of the love heaped on fiddlers, mandolin players or guitarists. While it's nearly impossible to pull off great 'grass without that thumping low end, the bass player rarely gets a chance to shine.

Not so with Missy Raines, who probably tops the very short list of superstar bluegrass bassists. She is a seven-time International Bluegrass Music Association bass player of the year, and is one of the few players to have developed a following for her skill on the bass fiddle.

Raines, who is most recognized for her work with Claire Lynch's Front Porch Band, is coming to Fredericksburg on Saturday as part of the Acoustic Roots Concert series at LibertyTown. She's leading her own band now, the New Hip--and the sounds aren't exactly Bill Monroe's bluegrass.

Born in Short Gap, W.Va., Raines grew up jumping from festival to festival, jamming all the way. Her career circumscribed the traditional bluegrass map. Before long, she was incorporating elements of jazz and rock into her country sound. Like fellow virtuosos Chris Thile, Mark O'Connor and Alison Brown, Raines decided to allow her skills some genre-blurring freedom.

Enter the New Hip, a group of talented young players who are at ease in almost any genre: bluegrass, jazz, swing, classical. "Starting this band was a big risk," Raines said in a recent phone interview.

"But I knew I had to do it or I'd explode. It was frustrating not doing it. There was all of this other stuff in my brain that needed an outlet."

The New Hip is Ethan Ballinger on mandolin, Michael Witcher on resonator guitar, Megan McCormick on guitar, Lee Holland on drums and Dillon Hodges, also on guitar.

Raines selected the players based not only on their talent, but their musical outlook. "I needed players who were versatile, mature and open-minded," she said.

It helps if fans approach listening in the same way. There is nothing simple about the tunes on the band's new self-titled EP--but this is a group that finds comfort in complexity.

In the bluegrass world, "different" can be a death sentence. That's unlikely to be the case with Raines and her band, who balance experimentation with experience. "I wanted the band to be acoustic and electric," Raines said. "I wanted to have lots of options."

If stubborn mountain-music diehards insist on plugging their ears, they will miss a gorgeous application of bluegrass skills. Yes, there are (tasteful) drums and (occasional) electric guitars; but the sound is an honest extension of mountain roots.

"I knew it would be a departure from the tradition I grew up in," Raines said. "I was content with the idea that it would be different."

The band's set at the recent Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in New York earned a standing ovation from a crowd that wasn't sure what to expect.

Raines takes particular pride in winning over old fans who are cautious about her new band. So far, they love it. It doesn't really surprise Raines.

"Bluegrass is about innovation," she said. "It's surprising that people put such tight fences around it. Monroe was an innovator."

To reach Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036
Email: jbeals@freelancestar.com

Who: Missy Raines and the New Hip, presented by Acoustic Roots Concerts When: Saturday, 8 p.m. Where: LibertyTown Arts Workshop, 916 Liberty St. Cost: $16 (free, ages 12 and under) Info: 540/371-7255 Web: libertytownarts.com

Copyright 2008 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company. - Free Lance-Star


Nashville Scene EP release preview

Seven time IBMA Bass Player of the Year Raines isn’t resting on her bluegrass laurels. Instead, she’s brought together a startlingly gifted quintet that opts for groove over narrow stylistic consistency. The New Hip’s EP shows off the group’s range, from the melancholy, folk-leaning “Fingernail Moon” to the swinging funk of “Stop, Drop And Wiggle,” which cleaned up in ourstage.com’s JVC Newport Jazz Fest Channel song competition in May. Original guitarist Megan McCormick, who appears on the EP, recently departed the group, but phenom Dillon Hodges has made the transition seamless, and the band’s musical horizons continue to expand. Forget about categories—this is just good stuff, both deep and enormously enjoyable… —JON WEISBERGER

- Nashville Scene


“… I once had a dream about the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, pop master Joe Jackson and jazz giant Ray Brown. They were like… friends. They got together and jammed and it was a whole new kind of music, it was very cool. And then I woke up, and I knew what I had to do…” says Missy Raines; but progressive bluegrass is nothing new to her. She launched her career with the experimental bluegrass band Cloud Valley, toured with Eddie and Martha Adcock, was a member of Claire Lynch’s Front Porch Band, and won IBMA's Best Bass Player of the Year award 7(!) times. Missy's influences are diverse: Tom Gray, Todd Phillips, Ron Carter, Christian McBride as bass players; Tony Rice, Sam Bush, and David Grisman as three major life changing influences.

Missy’s dream finally came true when she brought 4 very talented musicians together to form a new band: Missy Raines and The New Hip. But how did these musicians come together? Missy says: “They are fabulous talents and I feel very lucky to have found them. It took a while to assemble everyone and it wasn't easy. One tactic was to find the players whose playing I loved, but who were already knee deep in their own careers but to ask them about protégés, students, folks they'd heard recently who impressed them. That's exactly how I found Ethan Ballinger- through Matt Flinner. I love Matt's playing and I wanted someone with that sensibility. Ethan was one of Matt's students till he got so good they started gigging together. I've known Michael for years and when I first heard him play I knew he was special and I knew I wanted him in the band. He's been there since the start. I met Megan at a session in town and Lee through Ethan."

She adds: "Word of mouth is a pretty powerful tool. The bigger question is, "how do you keep them?" I think it comes down to creating a band that you would want to be in yourself. Musically, everyone contributes- ideas are solicited and most arrangements are group efforts. Everyone writes in this band, so we often feature individuals with their own tunes. At the end of the day, I have to ultimately be responsible for what goes out, but I'm constantly aware that I've got amazing musicians around me and I really try to tap into the creativity and synergy that is going on when we're all together. We're all building a trust among us and that takes time but is one of those things that make bands thrive."

There is indeed great chemistry between the band members and it most definitely reflects to the music they create. Their debut 5 song EP recently came out (May 20th 2008). The opening track is a great bluegrass/jazz piece called "Eye of the Liger", an Ethan Ballinger song. Ballinger, 21 years old, started his music career playing rock and blues electric guitar. He is however playing mandolin and mandola now and blending his jazz skills with bluegrass and acoustic music. Ethan, Megan and Michael each take their solo turns on "Eye of he Liger". Please pay close attention to Megan McCormick who was already featured at such a young age on Flatpicking Guitar Magazine's September-October 2006 issue. The founder of the magazine Dan Miller says she will be a role model for guitarists regardless of gender and generation. Lee Holland, the most recent addition to the band plays percussion on "Eye of the Liger" and "Basket of Singing Birds".

With her incredible bass playing aside, Missy's steamy vocals are also unique for the genre. She has the voice of a jazz singer mixed with country and pop influences. "Basket of Singing Birds", a song written by Ed Snodderly, really does suit her voice as the verses are on country-pop side and the chorus is on pop-jazz. She did not win the best bass player award for nothing 7 times in a row. When you hear her play you will immediately realize that she treats bass as a lead instrument more than just a rhythm section element. Like on "Stop, Drop & Wiggle", the second instrumental song written by the band. Guitarist Michael Witcher brings a more bluesy sound to this song whereas the guest John R. Burr takes a fusion-like turn on hammond organ. "Magnolia", written by Ed Snodderly sounds like Nickel Creek meets early John Cowan solo. Last track "Fingernail Moon" is more on the folk side with a little bit of Joni Mitchell feel.

This album is loaded with positive energy. It is in the lyrics, it is in the melodies, it is everywhere. Do not try to pinpoint this band's sound by picking it apart song by song, we actually discourage you to do so. Enjoy the music as a whole and it will get to you quickly when you don't try to categorize it. Tony Rice said "Playing with Missy is like walking on air", well, listening to Missy Raines and The New Hip feels the same way, truly uplifting...

Visit the band's website at: www.missyraines.com

Visit their myspace and listen to their songs at: www.myspace.com/missyrainesandthenewhip - PROGFILES.COM

"With basses loaded, Raines hits one out of the park"

By Jane Norris
Published: March 26, 2009

Missy Raines jumped off the front porch without a safety net. Since then, she’s been soaring.

Pop “Inside Out,” the new CD by Raines and the New Hip, into your player and get ready to hear jazz one minute, bluegrass the next and remarkable musicianship, ensemble and timing throughout.
But starting the kind of new band you’ve always dreamed of and collaborating with its members on exactly what you’ve always wanted to play means stepping outside your comfort zone. And for Raines, selected seven times as bass player of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association, stepping out in faith meant bowing out of a lineup that meant a lot to her.

She performed with Claire Lynch’s Front Porch String Band from 1995 to 2000 and then again from 2005 to 2008, building strong friendships, forming a popular duo with band mate Jim Hurst and cranking out some top‐notch music. “It was hard to walk away from that band,” Raines said. “It was a bit scary there for a while.”

But the only way to make her own dream a reality was to go out there and give it a shot. “If I could see it in my head — not to sound like a sound bite from a self‐help seminar — if I could see it in the back of my mind, I could make it happen,” Raines
said. “My husband has been completely supportive of me and believed in it as much as I did. Believe me, there were times when I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ ’’

What she did was surround herself with skilled players who believed in her vision and wanted to be part of it. Ethan Ballinger plays mandolin and mandola; Michael Witcher brings resonator guitar, lap steel and vocals; and Dillon Hodges adds guitar and vocals. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have players of this magnitude going out and being on this record and being committed to this project,” Raines said. “It’s a very collaborative effort.”

And a busy one, too. “It has been a great year,” she said. “The CD has propelled us.” She calls her label, Compass Records, “a perfect match for us.”

On Sunday night, she’ll be playing the music she loves in a city she misses. Raines lived in Charlottesville for almost a decade. “I have fond memories of everything about it,” Raines said of living in Charlottesville. “When my husband and I made the decision to move to Nashville, I hated it.”

She moved here to perform in Cloud Valley with her friend Bill Evans. That chance paid off handsomely, too, as Raines first began to make a name for herself in the experimental bluegrass band.

“Bill is the reason I moved to Charlottesville,” she said. “It was the first real professional gig I took after high school.” That’s why Sunday’s show is a double homecoming of sorts, because it’s a co‐bill with Evans and Megan Lynch. - The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, VA


February 10, 2009: 'Inside Out' on Compass Records
May 2008 - self-titled EP on MR Records



“If you allow it” says Missy Raines, “music can take people and let them be seen from the inside out. It’s a way of letting people see who you are without having to sit there and talk about yourself. For instance, the title tune contains the sort of changes that life often forces upon you, expressed musically. When I was writing the tune, I was thinking, ‘this all makes really musical sense except this one half-step change here.’ That’s what throws you off. For me that’s what I’ve been through. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something comes up and surprises you.”

Inside Out by Missy Raines and The New Hip is the product of the renowned bluegrass bass player’s twenty-year long dream. The album, she stresses, is a true collaboration between her and her carefully constructed band, The New Hip: Ethan Ballinger, (mandolin/mandola), Michael Witcher (resonator guitar/lap steel/vocals), and Dillon Hodges (guitar/vocals). “I’ve wanted this for a very, very long time. This band and this sound has existed, at least in my head, for almost two decades – it was just a matter of finding musicians that could read my mind,” laughs Raines.

Raines’ groundbreaking, adventurous musical career as one of the pre-eminent female bass players began with an unexpected surprise from her father. “My father had been playing a washtub that he’d made himself and then decided impulsively (without consulting my mother) to buy a bass. I was already playing the piano and guitar by then, but when you’re ten or eleven years old and there is a new instrument in the house…well, I couldn’t stay away from it. That’s the bass I still have and play today.”

Growing up in West Virginia, Raines was well placed to join her family in their favorite summer pastime of attending music festivals, which migrated to home picking parties in the winter. Her parents thought nothing of traveling 2-3 hours to go to a jam, and it was at these events that Raines cut her musical teeth.

As Raines’ technique improved she found herself jamming with and then learning from bigger and better players, most notably International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor member Tom Gray (The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene) “I met him through mutual friends when I was 12 and it was one of the biggest deals of my life up to that point,” she remembers. “Tom is an amazing person and he took me under his wing. He says though that I never asked him to show me how to do anything; that I would just talk about how he played. I thought I was picking his brain,” she laughs.

Raines cites her earliest influences as Bill Monroe, The Country Gentleman, The Stanley Brothers, The Bluegrass Alliance, and David Grisman. She then immersed herself in jazz before discovering the music of Joe Jackson in the early 1980s. “I’d never gotten into the rock/pop scene at all - I’d been affected by it peripherally but not directly. And then I got totally caught up in his music and his writing and a whole new world was suddenly opened up for me.”

Professionally, Raines has lent her skills to a variety of projects that have capitalized on her varied interests. She launched her career with experimental bluegrass outfit Cloud Valley and toured with Eddie and Martha Adcock before joining up with The Masters (Adcock, Kenny Baker, Josh Graves and Jesse McReynolds). Raines toured and recorded with Claire Lynch's Front Porch String Band from 1995-2000 and again from 2005-2008, along the way developing a successful duo with band mate Jim Hurst. A stint with the Brother Boys opened Raines' eyes to the value of musical spontaneity.

Missy Raines is now fulfilling a long-held vision: the release of Inside Out, her first full-length album that reflects all of her many musical influences while playing alongside her dream band The New Hip. Inside Out will be available on Compass Records February 10, 2009.