Marshall Stephenson & the Bluegrass Train

Location: R.A. Fountain

Our promo for this show:

Marshall Stephenson and the Bluegrass Train ring in the new year early with a special all-star concert at Fountain General Store that will feature two of the best young pickers in the region. This Friday night show will also be a homecoming for John Mark Batchelor, the young banjo picker from Back Swamp who recently won an International Bluegrass Music Association award in the “best instrumental band” category. 

Stephenson, the Raleigh-based bluegrass impresario and recording artist, says that Batchelor and 18-year-old Ashley Davis, on fiddle, are two of the best he’s ever played with. 

And that’s saying a lot, as Stephenson has been playing and promoting bluegrass in eastern NC since the 1960s, when he was at the forefront of pioneering the bluegrass festival scene that today is the mainstay for most of the genre’s best lineups, venues, crowds, and pay. 

John Mark Batchelor has performed in Fountain several times with Stephenson. He currently plays with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. Cleveland also won his 5th IBMA for best fiddler of the year. “I don’t think John Mark believed me when I told him he could be playing music full-time,” said Stephenson, who gave Batchelor his first jobs. “He’s literally not but a couple of years off the farm, and he’s already one of the really good ones. I’m real tickled that he’s coming back home to play with me again.”

Davis, from Fayetteville, has been tutored by Les Sandy. She recently released her first CD, named to honor her mentor, “Picking with Les.”  She patterns her playing and singing after Alison Krause and Rhonda Vincent. This will mark her first appearance in Fountain. “She’s a whiz,” said Stephenson. “Folks in Fountain are really going to love her fiddling, and her singing, too.”

Also in this evening’s all-star band of pickers are Joe Pessalano, whose mandolin picking impressed the Fountain crowd last time through with Stephenson, and Ken Glover on bass. Glover, like Stephenson, has performed over the past five decades with a who’s who of bluegrass legends.

Fountain General Store’s second [and what proved to be our last] very early New Year’s celebration with Marshall Stephenson and the Bluegrass Train begins at 7:30. General admission is $7.50; reserved seats are $10.

Tags: bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, classic, Concert, country, tradtional bluegrass