Rough and Ready Heart (2018)
“Best Roots Music Albums of 2018. Ready for prime time on the Americana charts.” — Amos Perrine, No Depression
“A mix of virtuoso musicianship and original songwriting, Blue Yonder lives where classic country music meets western swing, a honky-tonk beat meets a beautiful ballad, and red hot country jazz guitar licks meet cool blue yodel vocals.”— Larry Groce, Mountain Stage
“Blue Yonder is serious West Virginia treasure.” — Vince Herman, Leftover Salmon
“The new standard bearers of organic music. Killer stuff. ” — Midwest Record
“Hard-driving Western Swing filled with lots of tasteful steel guitar.”— Bluegrass Unlimited
“Unique ability to create music within a classic context that still sounds contemporary.” — Lee Zimmerman, The Daily Times
“When you hear the lead vocals, you can’t help but think about Gram Parsons. This is a country album filled with catchy melodies and great harmony vocals provided by tremendous musicians.” — AXS
“A fast paced, sweet harmony drenched set list full of clever storytelling.” — Jonathan Widran, JW Vibe
“Solid, well-structured and crisp, the sound is authentically pure, reminding us how good country music can be in the hands of masters.” — Jim Hynes, Country Standard Time
“The beauty of this album is that it touches on so many styles; country, swing, blues, rock-a-billy, sad songs, happy songs. A very special album indeed.” — Country Music People (U.K.)
“The music of Blue Yonder is forged in time-tested tones, influences, and themes that will never go out-of-style. Trends come and go, but the appeal for classic country always remains.” — Saving Country Music
Every Tuesday evening since early 2013, Blue Yonder, a trio of nationally-known musicians representing diverse strands of Americana musical traditions, has given people in a small Charleston, WV, venue a soul-cleansing way to connect with themselves and each other.
With the February 2018 release of their new recording “Rough and Ready Heart,” Blue Yonder plans to bring this same experience to new audiences in similarly intimate settings beyond their home state of West Virginia. Anchored in compelling grooves of classic country, rockabilly, swing and folk music, the band presents original songs about “living, loving and losing along life’s backroads and highways” that people from all walks of life can relate to.
“My songs tell stories that anyone who’s been in relationships or set out on a road trip can relate to, no matter where they come from,” says John Lilly, Blue Yonder’s national award-winning and internationally-traveled, performing songwriter. “It’s been great to be able to work in my home town with guys who appreciate playing mostly original music, and to share that music every week with our regulars, who keep coming back to hear new material.”
Blue Yonder guitarist Robert Shafer, noting the many styles of Lilly’s songwriting, appreciates that “with Blue Yonder I can stretch out more than I can with most bands.” One of few to win the prestigious Winfield Walnut Valley national flat-picking contest more than once, Shafer is also known as a “spectacular rockabilly guitarist who also brings swing and bop influences to his playing” (Washington Post).
Blue Yonder upright bass player and producer Will Carter, best known for founding the global summit of old-time musicians at the annual “Clifftop” festival in WV, reports that for him “an evening with Blue Yonder is like telling tales around a campfire – the stories we tell take me out of my specific situation and connect me, through shared experiences and emotions, with everyone in the room.”
Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC, Rough and Ready Heart introduces listeners to characters dealing with life and death, love and loss, memories and aspirations – with stories set to a pleasing arc of Americana styles ranging from barn-burning rockers to gentle waltzes to mournful ballads to inspirational anthems. The band’s debut recording, Bittersweet Road, features all original songs and reached #2 on the Freeform American Roots radio chart in late 2013.