Little Black Train is an exciting new project for Central Coast acoustic wizards John Weed (fiddle), Kenny Blackwell (mandolin), and Stuart Mason (guitar). Named after a traditional Carter Family gospel song, the group fuses old-time Americana with Celtic and original pieces to produce a crowd-pleasing mix of “oldternative” bluegrass music. Weed and Mason are both members of international touring Celtic band Molly’s Revenge. Both have performed at festivals in China, Scotland, Ireland, and many of the United States, while Kenny tours regularly with guitarist Dorian Michael.
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 wrestle every last bit of tone and emotion from each piece he performs.
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 July 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.
John Weed and Stuart Mason played a concert at Painted Sky Studios in Cambria, California on November 9, 2008, when these live tracks were recorded. Enjoy!
LISTEN: The Abbey Set (MP3)
LISTEN: Kenny Wagoner (MP3)
LISTEN: The Old Bush Set (MP3)
A classically trained violinist, John Weed leverages his understanding of the instrument to wrestle every last bit of tone and emotion from each piece he performs. Stuart Mason is known for his strong, rhythmic guitar backup style using both standard and alternate tunings, and his “oldternative” songs are deeply rooted in the mountain tradition.
John Weed began his classical training on violin at the age of nine, and immediately fell in love with the instrument. Doors opened up when he went to Ireland for the first time, and as the result of a chance meeting with legendary Clare flute player Bill McNamara, John returned to Ireland the following summer to study and perform with Bill for six months. He returns annually to Ireland to recharge his batteries. The result is an authentic, rooted Irish fiddling style that compliments his forays into bluegrass, swing, and American old-time music.
The earthy twang of a homemade banjo as it’s frailed in the old mountain style. The ringing song of a wood thrush from deep in a West Virginia laurel thicket. The slap of leather soles on a hardwood dance floor at the local parish hall.
Stuart Mason sings a mixture of traditional American music and original “oldternative” songs that take the listener on an autobiographical journey deep into the West Virginia mountains of his birthplace. Stuart is also known to Celtic music fans as the guitar and mandola player in hard-working band Molly’s Revenge. He has appeared on stage from Ireland to China performing traditional Celtic, old time bluegrass, and his original songs.
His solo release Appalachian Bride features his award-winning traditional singing on original and traditional pieces with acoustic guitar, mandolin, and clawhammer banjo. Blazing fiddlers Gilles Apap, James Wimmer, and John Weed lend a hand, as well as Jonas Richardson on harmonica, Duane Inglish on accordion, and Bruce Powers on hammered dulcimer. Listen to sample audio clips on CD Baby and MySpace.