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Bluegrass comes to Tucson

Photo Courtesy of Blue Moon Rising
Blue Moon Rising will showcase its bluegrass styles at the Tucson Bluegrass Music Festival on Saturday and Sunday.
By Randi Eichenbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 27, 2005
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The state of Tennessee might be best known as the landmark of Elvis and other big-time music legends, but it is also known for being the starting point for up-and-coming bluegrass musicians. While we do not quite have the same sort of following for the "country, but not" genre of music, Tucson is bringing us some of that Southern flavor to the sixth annual Tucson Bluegrass Festival.

Bluegrass musician and Tennessee native Tim Tipton will be at the festival with his band, Blue Moon Rising, among a handful of other groups.

The band started up three years ago, bringing together musicians from Tennessee and Kentucky who share the love for the folksy sounds that bluegrass has to offer. The band has most recently been on tour around the country, promoting their latest album, On the Rise.

"The recording process is several months of hard work but once the material is finished, it's exciting to bring it to the fans, or people that become your fans," Tipton said.

This particular album is the group's third, but has been the most successful in the sense of audience feedback and has opened up the doors to a mainstream fan base.

"We're now able to get in front of audiences, not necessarily bluegrass crowds, and we're able to play at all sorts of different venues," Tipton said.

In addition to the album, shows such as this one are a great way to not only promote the band but the genre of bluegrass music in general.

"They never get the exposure that country and rock 'n' roll groups do," Tipton said.

However, not being a part of the Top 40 genre of music might not be such a bad thing. The lack of popularity serves to make a more personable atmosphere among the musicians.

"People will come up and say, 'Hey, you guys did great,' or 'You guys sound just like the CD.' That's the thing about bluegrass music, all the bands and musicians are so accessible," Tipton said.

The band seems to be getting the credit they deserve, with a group of five musicians all from talented backgrounds. The group has been particularly lucky with their vocalists.

"Lots of bands are fortunate to have one singer - we're fortunate to have two," Tipton said.

Tipton attributes a lot of its sound to some of the greats of bluegrass music, particularly the artist Bill Monroe, who has been labeled the father of bluegrass. In fact, the band's name comes from him.

"We had about 300 names to choose from," Tipton said. "Let me tell you, choosing a name for your band is 10 times worse than trying to name a child."

During the band's naming process, a friend brought in an article on Monroe titled "Blue Moon Rising" and, well, you can guess what happened from there.

"It was just ironic, we're all Monroe fans, so it just stuck," Tipton said. "We're pleased with it."

The Tucson Bluegrass Music Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Daily admission is $18 and weekend passes are $30. Admission for children 16 and younger is free with a paying adult.

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