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Nancy Cardwell to Represent Valerie Smith, Jesse McReynolds and Ray Cardwell

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Nancy CardwellWorking in conjunction with BuckleDown Productions owned by J. Gregory Heinike and Valerie Smith, Nancy Cardwell of Nashville, TN announced this week that she will be booking dates for 2016 and 2017 for Bluegrass Hall of Fame member and Grand Ole Opry star Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys; the most entertaining woman in bluegrass music, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike; and an exciting talent who has recently returned to Nashville, Ray Cardwell & Tennessee Moon. Cardwell may be reached at (615) 260-4807 or The home office for BuckleDown Productions is in Bell Buckle, TN, at (931) 389-0222.

Cardwell brings years of music industry experience to BuckleDown Productions. She has written for entertainment and trade publications about bluegrass and country music since 1981, and her book, The Words and Music of Dolly Parton, Country Music’s Iron Butterfly, was published by Praeger (ABC-Clio) in 2011. Nancy was honored with the Charlie Lamb Excellence in Country Music Journalism Award at the International Academic Conference on Country Music in 2006.

A graduate of both Leadership Bluegrass (2000) and Leadership Music (2009), Cardwell served as Special Projects Director at the International Bluegrass Music Association from 1994-2012, where she managed professional development and leadership events, developed the Bluegrass in the Schools program and edited publications, plus more.

During her 2 ½ year term as executive director (2012-2015), public perception of IBMA in the bluegrass world and wider entertainment business community improved with increased youth involvement; new programs, events and services; an updated online presence; and mainstream media attention. Finances improved, membership increased 40%, and the IBMA team collaborated with leaders in Raleigh, NC to orchestrate a successful move of World of Bluegrass events from Nashville to Raleigh. More than 180,000 attended the weeklong events in 2014 with a $10.8 million local economic impact, and sponsorship increased 49% from 2012 to 2014. Both Bluegrass Fan Fest 2012 and the 2014 International Bluegrass Music Awards aired on PBS television for the first time.

Nancy grew up in a family bluegrass band in southwest Missouri and has performed as a singer and musician in Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and on national and international tours. She and co-writer Becky Buller won 2nd place in the DC Bluegrass Union’s first annual Hazel Dickens Song Contest in 2015. During the past year she served on the “Remembering Miss Dixie Committee,” created to honor the songwriting and philanthropic legacy of Dixie Hall.

“I’m thrilled to represent a diverse trio of bluegrass artists who have some important things in common: an innate talent for entertaining and capturing an audience’s heart, along with and original, creative streak a mile wide,” Cardwell said.

“Mr. Mandolin” Jesse McReynolds is a living legend and elder statesman of bluegrass music, but the years haven’t slowed him down at all when it comes to his music. With his late brother Jim, Jesse received the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1997 for their contributions to American music. Members of the Grand Ole Opry since 1964, Jim & Jesse were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1993. Jesse has received four Grammy nominations and recorded more than 50 albums. A soulful lead singer and stylist who has influenced several generations of musicians, Jesse is known in particular for a unique mandolin style he created and popularized called “cross-picking” that involves intricate split string patterns. Jesse is currently in the studio working on a new instrumental album that spotlights the fiddle and banjo his grandfather played on the original Bristol sessions, as a follow up to his appearance on Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited, produced by Carl Jackson. McReynolds is also re-mastering two syndicated Jim & Jesse television series, the first filmed in Nashville, TN and Lexington, KY in the early 1970s, and also Country Music Carousel hosted by Slim Wilson, which was produced in Springfield, MO in the 1980s.

“Valerie Smith can be sassy, sultry, siren-like, sweet, smooth, soothing and smoldering—sometimes in the same song!” according to Bluegrass Breakdown public radio show host, Dave Higgs. A popular national and international touring artist for the past 20 years, Valerie Smith is based in Bell Buckle, TN. Smith’s break-out hit, “Red Clay Halo,” written by Gillian Welch, charted in the bluegrass, folk and country music worlds and was voted one of the Top 60 Songs of the Decade in the 1990s.

An international touring and Grammy-nominated artist, Smith released a critically acclaimed album in 2014, The Human Condition, which received extensive airplay on Americana and roots music radio stations. Val’s current line-up of Liberty Pike includes two-time Bluegrass Hall of Famer Tom Gray, along with Lisa Kay and Wally Hughes, and Joe Zauner. The band is currently in the studio working on a new bluegrass album which will be titled Hometown Heroes. The band also presents fun-filled educational bluegrass programs for schools, and Smith and Gray are both sought after presenters at vocal and bass workshops, respectively.

The third artist on Nancy’s roster is her brother, Ray Cardwell, who recently moved from Missouri to Nashville to return to a career in bluegrass music. He was previously based in Music City from 1994-96 when he played bass and sang lead with Brentwood recording artists, the New Tradition.

Ray has been in the studio this winter with New Grass Revival alum Pat Flynn in the producer’s chair, recording original music that honors his bluegrass roots, but with a completely unique and contemporary, blues-tinged twist. “One of the most interesting things about Ray is his range,” Flynn says. “He has a very diverse musical background. We have a bluegrass foundation on these recordings, but we’re doing everything from blues and gospel a cappella to straight-up bluegrass. I like the fact that Ray is able to embrace a lot of different styles…and pull them all off. His vocals are very distinctive, as well as his bass playing; that sets the stage for us to do a lot of things acoustically with modern bluegrass as a base.” Ray Cardwell & Tennessee Moon demos will be available soon to interested event producers, with more details and an expanded social media presence to launch by February.

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