This year has been a crucial time for six-piece bluegrass outfit By & By. On their checklist of accomplishments for 2013, you’ll find a high profile gig at the Kennedy Center along with co-headlining the Kingsman Island Bluegrass Festival in April.
The animated group is comprised of Claire Blaustein on the fiddle, guitarist Daniel Buchner, Steve Grossman on the banjo, bassist Matt Iadanza, James Millward on the mandolin and lead vocalist/guitarist Elise Smithmyer. By & By’s theory for their rising success is attributed to a bluegrass resurgence that has bestowed the D.C. music scene. “D.C. has a long bluegrass history”, notes Blaustein. “There have been huge artists who have come out of this scene, and WAMU started playing bluegrass back in the 1960s.”
Blaustein also notes that support groups in the area have been essential to helping By & By prosper. “Organizations like the D.C. Bluegrass Union and CABOMA (Capitol Area Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association) really help support artists and run festivals to promote them.”
Blaustein credits the rise of bluegrass and folk in mainstream music to a certain instrument and attitude. “ I mean, who doesn’t want more banjo?,” she jokes, “But really – I feel like a lot of the things that people find a connection to in folk music are also in bluegrass – the sing-along tunes, great songwriting.”
While they rely on their extensive catalog of traditional music (their cover of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” is one of the best), three of the band members have all contributed to the songwriting efforts of their forthcoming album, Get It While You Can!. “It’s almost entirely original tunes, and we’re looking forward to having it at our shows and hearing what people think!”
Catch By & By at their CD release show this Saturday at Solly’s. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and it’s free to get in.