Little Black Train

A fun, refreshing fusion of vintage fiddle tunes, blazing mandolin, and songs of old-time Americana.


What do you get when you mash up a virtuosic bluegrass mandolinist, a traditional Irish fiddler, and an old-timey songster? Kenny Blackwell (mandolin and guitar), John Weed (fiddle), and Stuart Mason (guitar, banjo, and mandola) are the bluegrass-roots trio Little Black Train. From Depression-era gospel and blues to Appalachian and Celtic dance tunes, they dig up the roots of bluegrass that traveled to America from Ireland and Scotland in the 19th century. Avid practitioners of the time-honored folk process, these boys combine new words and melodies with traditional songs from sources such as the Carter Family, Doc Boggs, and Charlie Poole. On the instrumental side, they mine fiddle tunes from archival sources in West Virginia, Ireland, and Scotland.

“Each of these three is amazingly accomplished, but something magical happens when they play together, their instruments swirling around one another like curls of smoke from a smoldering fire. This is old-time music at its most riveting!” –Glen Starkey, New Times SLO

Mandolinist Kenny Blackwell, who studied with the legendary Jethro Burns, has been a fixture in the West Coast bluegrass scene since the late ’80s. He is known for his extensive studio work on various projects, as well as his collaborations with progressive fiddler Richard Greene and his membership in the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, a legendary California bluegrass outfit.

An accomplished fiddler across genres, John Weed has lived in Ireland and immersed himself in the traditional styles of Clare and Donegal. The result is an old-time Irish fiddling style that compliments his forays into bluegrass, swing, and other American music. A classically trained violinist, John leverages his understanding of the instrument to coax emotion from every tune.

Guitarist Stuart Mason is known for his authentic vocals, melodic mandola, and inability to hold his whiskey. A native of West Virginia, Stuart has won awards for traditional singing (Goleta Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention), mandola (Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest), and songwriting (West Coast Songwriter’s Association). In 2009 a song from his solo release “Appalachian Bride” was selected from among 286 entries to appear on the first New Times Music Awards Compilation CD.

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