‘Father of newgrass’ to play SKyPAC

Chris Rutledge

Sam Bush doesn’t get to visit his hometown as often as he would like.

When he’s not touring with his band, he’s playing with someone else, and when he does get to visit, it’s often very brief. That’s why the “father of newgrass” is so excited about SKyPAC.

“It’s a great sign for the town,” Bush said. “When I was growing up, there wasn’t a nice large venue like this, and people would always just drive down to Nashville.”

Though Bush has lived in Nashville since the ’80s, he said his roots run deep with Bowling Green.

“I guess there’s a reason I never moved any further away than I did,” he said. “I still want to be close by.”

Bush hopes to take advantage of the fact that he now has a venue in town that can accommodate him.

The mandolin legend will bring his unique blend of music — dubbed newgrass — to the performance hall at SKyPAC on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

For those not familiar with newgrass, Bush describes it as contemporary music played on traditional bluegrass instruments.

“We cover everything from blues to reggae to rock,” he said.

Because of his busy schedule, Bush said he appreciates it even more when people take time out to come see his show.

“We just want people to come and be able to forget about anything else they should be doing,” he said.

Jan Zarr, programming director at SKyPAC, said he hopes fans will do just that.

“Mostly what we wanted to do in the inaugural season, with Sam being a legend in this area, was to highlight him,” Zarr said.

Zarr said there are plenty of tickets left, and students who present their IDs can purchase discounted tickets at $15 apiece.

“That’s a great incentive, I think, to come and see Sam,” Zarr said.

Local folk band Barren River Trio will open the show, which Zarr said he’s also excited about.

SKyPAC will also feature the Lost River Cavemen on Saturday night as part of its “Music in the Studio” series.

Bush said he’s not as familiar with local Bowling Green bands as he would like, but he’s happy about the success of bands like Cage The Elephant and Sleeper Agent.

“There’s always been great musicians in and around Bowling Green,” he said. “It’s their time to get out on the road and experience the whole thing.”

Mostly though, Bush is just happy to be coming home.

“For me, it is a homecoming,” Bush said. “It’s always a homecoming when I come back to Bowling Green.”

Bush said he’s looking forward to seeing friends and family and old high school classmates.

“It’s not just another show,” he said. “I go through all kinds of positive, fun emotions when I play there, and this one is going to be special.”