Charleston, WV’s Blue Yonder is an acoustic honky-tonk trio of seasoned veterans that deftly navigate classic Country blues, hard-driving Western swing, toe-tapping Rockabilly, and rueful Appalachia with equal aplomb. Led by singer/lyricist John Lilly, renown for starring in the Hank Williams production, The Lost Show, which has run annually in Charleston for the past 18 years, the band’s original material and kinetic musicianship flash echoes of Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Willis, Asleep At The Wheel and early 70s Grateful Dead. Rounding out the core trio are two-time national flat-picking champion Robert Shafer and upright bassist Will Carter, who has played with numerous bluegrass and old-time bands, and is the founder of the “Clifftop” festival, an annual global summit of old-time musicians in West Virginia.
Recently appearing on the award-winning public radio show, Mountain Stage, for the second time, the band continues to tour the U.S. in support of their critically-acclaimed sophomore album, Rough and Ready Heart, which was recorded at Echo Mountain Studios and released by Asheville’s NewSong Recordings. Special guests on the record include pedal steel guitarist Russ Hicks (Ween, Ray Price, Charlie McCoy) and drummer Tony Creasman (Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris).
No Depression dubbed Rough and Ready Heart one of the “Best Roots Music Albums of 2018,” with Bluegrass Unlimited heralding its “Hard-driving Western Swing filled with lots of tasteful steel guitar.” Vince Herman, of Leftover Salmon, reckons, “Blue Yonder is serious West Virginia treasure,” while Larry Groce, producer of Mountain Stage, proclaims, “A mix of virtuoso musicianship and original songwriting Blue Yonder lives where classic country music meets western swing, a honky-tonk beat meets a beautiful ballad, and red hot country jazz guitar licks meet cool blue yodel vocals.”