Above the Bay presents the best in Bluegrass and Americana music.
The Special Consensus
The Special Consensus is a bluegrass band that has achieved a contemporary sound in their four decades of performing, making their music a modern classic. Band leader and founder Greg Cahill is a recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and Special Consensus has received five awards from the IBMA and two Grammy nominations.
Special Consensus’ sound is grounded in a deep appreciation and understanding of bluegrass music; the infectious band sound reminds people of the past while utilizing the innovations of today. With the foundation of Greg’s unique banjo playing style, Rick Faris (guitar), Nick Dumas (mandolin), and Dan Eubanks (bass) effortlessly support each other and consistently maintain their bluegrass center whether they’re playing a jazz-tinged instrumental or a song from their award-winning John Denver tribute album while consistently maintaining their bluegrass center. These four talented vocalists and instrumentalists follow their creative desires without straying too far from their roots.
Rivers and Roads, the band’s 19th recording, was nominated for a 2019 Grammy, received five 2018 IBMA nominations, and was awarded Album of the Year. The tune “Squirrel Hunters” from that recording received the Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year award.
Rivers and Roads captures the energy of a live Special C show. Just listen to Rick’s high, emotional singing, Nick’s fluid mandolin providing the formidable counter to Greg’s driving banjo and Dan holding everything together on the bass with his bluegrass, country, and jazz experience. Their voices blend seamlessly. International tours have brought the band to Canada, Europe, South America, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The band has appeared on National Public Radio, The Nashville Network, the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, and in concert with symphony orchestras nationwide.
Dedicated to preserving their craft as well as keeping it fresh, in 1984 Special Consensus initiated the Traditional American Music (TAM) Program, to introduce bluegrass music to students in schools across the country and in several foreign lands.
Special C’s continued success is a testament to their adaptability and contemporary appeal. The band records for Compass Records and proudly celebrates its 44th anniversary in 2019.
Megan B. Lynch Chowning
Megan Lynch Chowning, originally from Redding, California, is a seven-time national fiddle champion, touring musician, recording artist, teacher, singer, and flatfooter. She recently finished four years on the road and at the Grand Ole Opry with legendary country music artists Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, and has played with bluegrass stars Dale Ann Bradley, Roland White, Larry Cordle, Jim Hurst, Chris Jones, 3 Fox Drive, Due West, Chris Stuart, and BEML (the duo of Bill Evans and Megan). Megan has fiddled and sung on more than 3 dozen projects, and has a new solo album out called Gathers No Moss. She has taught fiddle at prestigious camps such as Augusta Heritage Week, the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop, Sore Fingers Bluegrass Week in the UK, and the California Bluegrass Association Camp, among many others. She’s the co-director (with her husband Adam) of the IBMA award-winning Nashville Acoustic Camps. But sometimes she just likes to sit quietly and smell the flowers.
Sideline is a pedigreed six-piece powerhouse whose style has set the pace in bluegrass for over two decades. Founders Steve Dilling, Skip Cherryholmes, and Jason Moore can all claim their own historical significance to the genre as members of highly awarded groups, multiple Grand Ole Opry appearances and years of national and international touring.
What started as a side project for the seasoned players soon moved to the front and center as the three were joined by talents of Bailey Coe; guitar, Troy Boone; mandolin, and Daniel Greeson; fiddle, and began to record and release albums in earnest.
To listen to Sideline reminds the fan of why so many people fall in love with Bluegrass in the first place; pulse-pounding drive, songs sung from the heart, perfected timing and dynamics as well as a visceral emotion in the rendering. A band that was started as an off-season fun experiment has become a full-time dream team of players and singers.
The band, recorded or live, move dynamically from well chosen, hard-hitting neo-traditional covers of classic songs to new material curated by a band with a perfect sense of who they are and what they have to say. Combine all this with their on-stage energy and finesse as well as their powerful and affecting harmonies, and you have the embodiment of the North Carolina Bluegrass sound. Sideline has released 3 national projects and currently records for the highly awarded Mountain Home Music Company based near Asheville, NC.
Megan and Mary Sue
Megan Lynch Chowning and Mary Sue Englund met years ago when Mary Sue had to explain all the complicated harmony vocal parts to Megan during Megan's first rehearsal with their mutual employer, the country music star, Pam Tillis. Megan, ever grateful, showed Mary Sue a few things on the fiddle and then they did a little shopping together and a little laughing together and a lifelong friendship was born. Over the last decade Megan and Mary Sue have traveled the world together, sharing stages in many countries and just about all the states and their friendship has only gotten stronger. In 2015, Megan and Mary Sue decided to take things to another level - they have stepped into the middle of the stage and are now singing and playing their own music together.
Megan, a seven time National Champion fiddler, and Mary Sue, an award-winning singer/songwriter, have put together a charming, meaningful show full of songs Mary Sue has written and songs Megan has written and songs they both just love that other people have written. Mary Sue has a special knack for writing what people call “healing music”. These are songs that stay with you and continue to impact your life, long after the show is over. Megan is a little more quirky and finds and writes things that help you see the world in a little different way. Their duo show is a beautiful combination of all these parts of their personalities and just wait until you hang out with them after the show. They're pretty hilarious and awfully kind and they just can't wait to meet you.