By David Knox
Legendary bluegrass icon Sam Bush, 67, had some health issues earlier this year, but he’s bounced back strong and been touring many festivals this summer, and Lynchburg was fortunate to land the honored mandolin picker for the first Lynchburg Music Fest.
What keeps him going?
“It’s quite simply the music itself,” Bush said before his Saturday afternoon set. “What we really do is travel for a living and then we get to play music for two hours. That’s the joyful part of the day. Yes, we all tire of travel but that’s how we get to play. I am fortunate that when it’s time for the show to start I’m ready to play and go to my happy place. As far as the enthusiasm of playing, I’m fortunate I still love to do it.”
He’s still playing and he’s still garnering honors.
He and his band have been nominated by the International Bluegrass Music Association in five categories. The Sam Bush Band as Entertainer of the Year and as Instrumental Group of the Year; Bush for Instrumental Recording of the Year for “Sunrise” with Bela Fleck; banjo player Scott Vestal for Banjo Player of the Year; and Bush for Mandolin Player of the Year.
“One thing that I do take pride in is that I’ve won the mandolin award four years in the 30 years they’ve given the award, I’m the only person that’s always had a nomination in that category, and I do take great pride in that,” Bush said. “I think the first year I don’t get the nomination that’ll be the biggest disappointed.”
“I’ve been fortunate to play some festivals the first year, like the Blue Ox in Wisconsin. So I think it’s a wonderful thing to be in on the ground floor with a festival. And if you can help it succeed, great. And if you’re one of the fortunate ones to get called back, that’s special. Hopefully, we’ll do well and they’ll call us back.
“But this is a neat thing.”