Bluegrass band SIDELINE is set to release their first album for Mountain Home Music Company, FRONT AND CENTER. The album is set for release on April 27.
FRONT AND CENTER marks the group's first outing with respected producer Tim Surrett at the helm, and each of the project's 12 tracks fits snugly into the revered Carolina 'Grass style. Multiple award-winning banjo player Steve Dilling, bass player Jason Moore, guitarist Skip Cherryholmes, Daniel Greeson on fiddle, mandolinist Troy Boone and guitarist Bailey Coe are the force behind SIDELINE, and their combined experience is evident here.
FRONT AND CENTER is available for pre-order now.
Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourselves, who is Sideline?
Sideline started out in 2013 as a group of friends- all in other full-time touring groups who would do a few show together in their off time or during some of the slower months. It was all in the fun spirit of playing good, tight, hard-driving, cutting-edge bluegrass music, and a desire to put on a high-powered, diverse show for any audience we appeared in front of, but quickly showed the opportunity to become something bigger. We all put in notices with our perspective full-time groups and "took the leap" into becoming our own brand of bluegrass. The band continues now with founding members Steve Dilling (Banjo), Jason Moore (Bass), Skip Cherryholmes (Guitar), along with new additions Troy Boone (Mandolin), Bailey Coe (Guitar), and Daniel Greeson (Fiddle).
Q: Why do you call yourselves Sideline?
Starting out with 6-7 shows per year, we would just bill ourselves as "*Band Member* & Friends" depending on who booked the gig. As our schedule started to increase we realized that we needed an actual band name. We were sidemen in other bands at the time, and this was essentially a "side-job" for us. Darrell Webb, our mandolin player at the time, suggested "Sideline" as a nod to our current status. In addition, we didn't put a feature name in front. This has been, is, and always will be a group effort, with every band member putting in 100% for the best of the band and our initial purpose.
When it became obvious that it was no longer a side job, many people asked us if we considered changing the name, but we felt that Sideline was a reflection and reminder of how we started, so we've held on to it.
Q: With so many bluegrass bands out there, what do you think sets your sound apart?
Our drive and edge is the main event in our sound. Our rhythm section is the foundation of everything we do, and our music is created around it. Even when we soundcheck at live shows, we started with the rhythm and add onto it, making it the forefront. The energy we perform with, and the variety our show has to offer are key as well. We have in-your-face bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, artistic ballads, a cappella blues, old-time, personal and comedic banter on stage. All pieces of the puzzle that feature the very best of each member.
Q: This is your first album working with producer Tim Surrett. How did get to work with Tim? What do you appreciate most about what he brings to the record?
Tim is a remarkable producer. His experience and perspective on music were invaluable to our process in the studio. He brought out the best performance in every member, along with providing innovative ideas on arrangement and instrumentation. To top it all off, he is just a great guy to work with. The studio can be an extremely grueling, stressful experience. So many great stories and laughs from the road kept the atmosphere light and inspiring, and I believe that came through on the album.
Q: I love your story songs especially your current single "Thunder Dan." For our readers who may not have heard the song yet, tell us what the song is about. How did you come about to record this cut?
"Thunder Dan," authored by Josh Manning, was brought to our attention through a demo given to the band at a show in Kentucky. It talks about a rough, mean mountain man that everyone tries to avoid, lest they meet an early fate. Being that the message is very mean, we sought to capture the same aggression in the music, with pounding rhythm and a bluesy structure. It is such a fun song to play, and definitely one of our favorites.
Q: Why did you choose to cover Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night" for this record?
In the fall of 2016, Steve co-produced a tribute show and benefit for bluegrass legend Tony Rice. The show was roughly 2.5 hours long, covering of a walk through Tony's amazing career. It featured many different artists, focusing on guitar players that were inspired by his style. I was asked to perform two numbers in the tribute, on which the band would back me up, and that was one of my selections. After we worked it up we decided to add it into the Sideline show, and it was well received. We chose to put it on the album, and it came out so beautifully. I am very honored that it made the cut.
Q: If you could pick two songs off the new album that you are most excited about, which would they be? And why?
It is so hard to pick a favorite on this album, but if I had to pick two I would say "Frozen In Time" and "Memories That We Shared." "Frozen In Time" is an amazing story song that has all points of relation. Whether you grew up in the city or the country, memories of your childhood, your family, and your home ring through. You can take away every physical aspect, but the memories are forever irreplaceable. It makes you think about what you're doing with your life too, and what kind of memories you're creating for your loved ones.
"Memories That We Shared" is an old Johnson Mountain Boys song, that took a totally new spin when we went to lay it down. Of all of the songs we have in our repertoire, this is one of the few that we would call "back-side groove", because it's super lazy and bluesy, where most of our stuff is very forward driven. It's so unique and Bailey's lead vocal performance really captures the blues feel.
Q: You have also included two Gospel songs. Tell us about your faith journey, what does the Christian faith mean to you?
I grew up in a Christian home. My grandfather had been a pastor in Southern California for years before I was born, and still is to this day. My family has undergone many mountains and many valleys, including the loss of my sister when I was 9. Our faith is the only thing that truly carries us through. Nothing we have accomplished in any of our individual careers, or our career as Sideline, would be possible without our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the one that brought us together.
He is the one that holds our families together as we travel. He's helped us through the tough times, and has been our celebration in the good. This is a tough life in a tough world, and the signs of the second coming are imminent. It's good to know that the five guys I stand on stage with, and the families they represent will all be caught up with mine when it does.