It’s already that time of year & we are looking back at some of our favorite live sets of music we saw in 2016, and we saw a lot!  Between our live radio tapings, PBS tapings and our new series Live from the Underground we featured over 50 artists deep in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee. Of course, musical tastes are subjective and the artist/fan/venue experience is the core to a great musical moment.  Experiencing music 333′ underground at Bluegrass Underground is special & connects artists with fans like no other venue making magical moments every show for everyone!  Here are just a few of our favorite moments & experiences of 2016. We want to hear yours, comment below with your favorite 2016 live moments.

10. Biggest Surprise of 2016 (TIE) – Allen Stone  Sometimes an artist smacks you across the face with their music when you least expect it.  On October 21, 2016 Allen Stone, joined by King Charles & Moorea Masa, did just that to our Bluegrass Underground family.  Stone’s combination of soul, americana, pop, R&B is hard to not to get sucked into.  He is self-described as a “hippie with a soul”, we suggest you check him out for yourself in 2017. 
dsc_0852See more info on Allen Stone’s upcoming tours here.

9. Biggest Surprise of 2016 (TIE) – The Suffers  The Texas-based Suffers pulled into the cave with not many people knowing what to expect from them.  But as with many emerging artists that come into the cave they brought their “A game” 333′ underground.  Lead singer Kam Franklin fronts this group with sensitivity, power and full throttle vocals.   Between Franklin’s stage presence and the bands driving, soul the cave fans were pleasantly shocked and awed by this group.  Check out their PBS Season VI Bluegrass Underground clip here. mcw_2183Keep The Suffers on your radar.

8. Best Bluegrass in the Cave – Flatt Lonesome  We’ve had some amazing bluegrass talent pass through the doors of Cumberland Caverns in 2016 including the IBMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year (Danny Paisley), Mandolin Player of the Year (Sierra Hull) & so many more it’s hard to pick the best, but since you’re asking…. On October 15, 2016 the combination of energy, excitement and the pure fury that came off the strings & vocal chords of the talented young Flatt Lonesome sticks out to many in the Bluegrass Underground family.  This performance, coming right after the group had won IBMA awards for Album of the Year and Song of the Year, seemed to have that perfect magical quality for everyone. Plus, the Waydown Wanderers opened for them with their unique, innovative style that set the stage for a perfect day!  10-15-16bguflattlonesome-115Check out Flatt Lonesome here, and The Waydown Wanderers here.

7. Most Magical Moment – The Lone Bellow  Brooklyn’s Lone Bellow seemed right at home on the dirt floor stage of the Volcano room 333′ underground in a cave, not their average performance space.  Maybe it was the chandelier who is a native New Yorker or more likely just the magic of the cave this set seemed to hit a lot of the Bluegrass Underground family right in the heart.  It’s not quite the same on a screen, but check out this clip from their performance during our Season VI PBS taping this past April. mcw_2439Check out The Lone Bellow.

6. Best Collaboration – Keller Williams w. Zach Deputy  Hands down the best collaboration came from two of the biggest & brightest personalities we  saw in the cave this year.  Keller Williams, who has become known as one of Americana/Jam world’s greatest entertainers came 333′ underground to headline as a solo artist, not an easy feat for anyone. With Keller coming into the cave as a solo performer we knew the amazing Zach Deputy would make the perfect opening act for the seasoned Williams.  Both of their sets were amazing, but the real sparks flew when Keller invited Zach to join him on stage.  These two exchanged energy that would make the Hoover Dam jealous.  These are the kind of moments we can’t plan or recreate, but are very grateful for! 23rdjuly2016bgu058See Keller Williams & Zach Deputy in 2017!

5.  Best Comeback Set of 2016 – Drivin’ N’ Cryin’  Rolling Stone magazine explained these veteran rockers as thusly, “Crunching hard rock is the Drivin’ part. Brittle country-ish balladry the Cryin’…” Drivin’ N Cryin’ have for 30 years offered die-hard fans a blend that arcs from intimate acoustic folk to soaring (and searing) guitar-laden Southern Rock. They haven’t lost their performance luster one bit!  Their PBS set for the Season VI April taping of Bluegrass Underground provided fans a new take on their classic hits that had the Bluegrass Underground for their full set. Not only did they completely blow away long time fans, they gained many new fans! Check out a clip from this performance here. mcw_0636We suggest you check out Drivin’ N Cryin’ again or for the first time.

4. Most Legendary Set – Del & Dawg  Whenever legends take the stage at Bluegrass Underground even the busiest people on the crew will step away from their tasks to take in as much of the set as possible expecting to see & hear greatness. On October 29, 2016 Del McCoury took the stage as duo with David Grisman. This set had all of the raw, intimate moments you’d expect from a legendary duo but it also transcended expectations.  The two have a connection & shared history that filled the room making everyone feel at ease.   Even their instruments seem to speak to each other as if they’re old friends have a good ole living room “picking”.  102916bgulr-210Come see Del this 12/30 with the legendary Del McCoury Band 333 underground, check out David Grisman here.

 3. Most Cavey Set of 2016 – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros  Edward Sharpe literally rolled into the cave on a folding bicycle on a sunny May 30th, 2016 afternoon.  His fans waiting in line, catching spring rays, took double & in some cases triple takes as their idol casually cycled past them riding his bike into the cave.  This intimacy & confidence extended into the stage performance with Sharpe seeming to literally be at “Home” on this stage with his fans.   The cave has a funny way of doing that to fans & artists, leveling the playing field per say & Edward Sharpe embraced it fully on & off stage making for a truly ethereal show that we will not ever forget. Including an onstage proposal during the hit “Home”, and she said ‘YES”- What a day! untitled-3237See Edward Sharpe info here.

 2. Most Captivating Set of 2016 – The Secret Sisters  We started the year off with a show that paired together a preview of an upcoming PBS documentary, American Epic, along with two artists from the soundtrack, The Americans & the Secret Sisters. Our presenting station WCTE‘s CEO & President Becky Magura started the day w. background on the upcoming documentary that tells the story of the original folk & americana artists like The Carter Family & Jimmy Rodgers that paved the path for all the music we celebrate in the cave today.  When the Secret Sisters took to the stage as a stripped duo with just one guitar something strange happened. The whole room was filled with as much sound & energy as if there was a full band on stage. The dry wit & humor between these two sisters couldn’t have been scripted better. You truly could hear a drop of water drip from a stalactite as they performed.  Truly one of the most captivating set of the year with the same soul as the original folk artists over 100 years ago. brendasblog-1385Check out more on The Secret Sisters here.

1. Best Set of 2016 – St. Paul & the Broken Bones  The Bluegrass Underground family knew that St. Paul packed a big punch & we were ready for a musical wallop as they took the stage on April 3rd, 2016 for their Season VI taping of PBS’s Bluegrass Underground. St. Paul not only gave us a punch they knocked the cave out that day.  The positive energy, deep emotion & exuberance this band performed with that day was second to none all year. We are so happy to have captured it as a part of PBS’s Season VI of Bluegrass Underground, check your local listings.  We highly recommend you check out this clip from the show. mcw_3070 mcw_3074 mcw_3096 mcw_3209Check St. Paul & the Broken Bones out now.

Come see us 333′ underground!  We still have a few tickets left for our New Years eve weekend getaway package, get yours today here.  Our initial 2017 shows are now on sale here. Gift certificates to Bluegrass Underground are also available and make great holiday gifts here.