Long Road Home
Long Road Home is the freshest new entry to the Colorado bluegrass scene in a long while. Wherever they play, audiences are excited by their forceful yet polished approach to traditional bluegrass. A unique aspect is the band’s blend of three outstanding twenty-something musicians with “grizzled veterans” banjoist Pete Wernick (30+ years in Hot Rize) and bassist Gene (“Machine LeBass”) Libbea, 12-year member of the Grammy-winning Nashville Bluegrass Band.
The band was formed out of a jam session of like-minded youngsters at the 2005 Midwinter Bluegrass Festival in Denver, CO. The next year, they took first place in the Rockygrass Band Competition. In the fall of 2007, with the departure of three members, fiddler Justin Hoffenberg and lead singer/guitarist Martin Gilmore found themselves at a crossroads. They realized they had the opportunity to make the jump from a “good kid band” to a respected bluegrass act.
Libbea and Wernick were glad to be recruited into Long Road Home, and with the addition in 2008 of Tennessean Jordan Ramsey, RockyGrass Mandolin Champion, the band jelled into a tight unit. The group continues to create original material with an unconventional but decidedly traditional approach.
The band’s first album, recorded live, will be released in fall of 2009.
From Pete about Long Road Home and the new recording (quoted from The Blue Grass Blog, May 18, 2009):
“I’ve been playing with these guys for over a year now, and it gets more and more fun as it goes along. It’s an unusual band in that two of us are “older” (me and Gene Libbea), and the other three are in their 20s. We’re all very much on the same page about unmistakably tradition-based bluegrass. As with Hot Rize, we all play other kinds of music, but we know what straight bluegrass is, and that’s what the band is about. Here and there a bit of weirdness will sneak in, but that helps keep it interesting without disrupting the bluegrass feel. What we might lack in complexity we make up in intensity. Martin Gilmore, our lead singer, writes some fine songs and is a strong and soulful singer. Justin Hoffenberg is a righteous fiddle player with blazing tone, and Jordan Ramsey is a creative and hot picker, winner of the Rocky Grass mando contest last year. We have a lot of fun when we play. Gene’s attitude and his bass playing kick our butt!
The idea of a live recording is to capture the band’s energy. We use two mics and work them as needed. The site of the recording is the new headquarters of the famous Etown radio show, hosted by my Hot Rize buddy Nick Forster and his wife Helen. It’s a sweet venue in Boulder where Hot Rize recently played. It happens that Justin, fiddler in Long Road Home, is also the overseer of the Hot Rize live archive, with over 200 shows back to 1978, ten years before he was born. That’s kind of cool to me.”