Appalachian Bluegrasser Missy Raines Explains The West Virginia Thing

Acclaimed bluegrass musician Missy Raines is also a very cool and funny lady originally from West Virginia, not far from the Maryland border and the city of Cumberland. First of all, I had questions for her about why people from West Virginia are SO into their state. She gets into that and also the influence of the rich tapestry of bluegrass music she found there as well as the scene in nearby Washington DC. Raines has made a significant impact on the genre, earning 14 International Bluegrass Music Association awards, including 10 for “Bass Player of the Year.” Her latest album, “Highlander,” showcases Raines’ mastery of the bass alongside an ensemble of top-tier musicians from Nashville (her home base for the last 34 years) and beyond, blending traditional bluegrass with innovative twists.

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Throughout our conversation, Raines reflects on her deep connection to Appalachian culture and the Appalachian Mountains, which have profoundly influenced her music. We explore her experiences performing live at music festivals and the evolution of bluegrass music. We recount the passion her family felt for music touching on the story of her mom and aunt crying their eyes out over John Duffy leaving their favorite bluegrass band, The Country Gentlemen. She also talks about taking care of her late brother Rick, who died in 1994 from AIDS at the age of 39. Through that experience, she was empowered to help others whose loved ones were also dying and suffering from HIV and AIDS. With her unique blend of banjo and fiddle music and her activism in a normally conservative genre, Raines continues to push the boundaries of the genre while staying true to its roots, making her a trailblazer in the world of Americana and folk music. Our conversation was in depth, fun and enlightening – I had high hopes for this one and I was not disappointed!

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