Sat, Feb 03|
The Lincoln Theatre
Song of the Mountains featuring The Malpass Brothers and The Kody Norris Show
Song of the Mountains incorporates both traditional and contemporary performance styles in featuring old-time and bluegrass music from the region's brightest stars. It showcases talented musicians, musical heritage, and culture of the Southern Appalachians. Presented by: Appalachian Music Heritage
Time & Location
Feb 03, 2024, 7:00 PM
The Lincoln Theatre, 117 E Main St, Marion, VA 24354, USA
About the Event
It was a transformative moment when two young brothers discovered their grandfather Malpass’ LPs collection. Drawn like a moth to a flame, the classic-filled treasure trove from the golden era of traditional country music gathered little dust in the Malpass household. Chris and Taylor studied the brother-harmony bluegrass duos of Jim & Jesse, the Louvin and Wilburn Brothers and bathed in the sounds of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Charlie Pride, Merle Haggard. It was musical Manna to the boys—there was nothing in the marketplace that fed The Malpass Brothers’ soul more than the music of this bygone era--and they would stay true to it.
Best known as modern-day troubadours who carry the torch for traditional country music, The Malpass Brothers began singing and playing together professionally at a very young age. Alongside their dad, Chris Malpass Sr., the siblings performed at churches all over the southeast, but they continued to hone their traditional sound by working alongside and amongst the legends.
While Taylor finished high school, Chris began honing his songwriting skills, and working with steel guitar legend, Don Helms—an original member of the Drifting Cowboys. A few years later, he found himself on Merle Haggard’s bus, singing and performing for Merle on his 000 Martin guitar. Taylor, in the meantime, played lead guitar in a local band, and upon graduation, flew out to Redding, CA to join his brother as the opening act for Merle Haggard for the next seven years.
In 2011, Haggard produced The Malpass Brothers’ debut album, Memory That Bad on Hag Records. The title track hit number 6 on the CMT Pure Country 12-Pack Countdown and remained in the charts for several weeks. In 2015, Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee, Doyle Lawson picked up the gauntlet and produced their sophomore, self-titled album on Organic Records, and in 2017, The Malpass Brothers released a live album, Live at the Paramount, which captures the energy and excitement of their highly polished, traditional country music show.
However, their latest album, Lonely Street (released May 12, 2023), also produced by Lawson alongside Ben Isaacs (of the multi-Dove Award-winning/Grammy nominated group The Isaacs), may be their strongest project to date. Notably engineered by the late Grammy Award-winning Mark Capps under the oversight of Executive Producer and longstanding Malpass manager, Dan Mann, this 12-song album teems with brand new, traditional country music that sounds as if it were curated from a 50s/60s/70s smoke-filled, classic country jukebox. Chris Malpass wrote the majority of the songs, including co-writes by Dickey Lee, Shawn Camp, Conrad Fisher and Taylor Dunn. The album also includes cover nods like “Love Slips Away” by Merle Haggard and Jeannie Seely’s “We Don’t.”
The Malpass Brothers are anything but a “throwback” cover group. Instead, they are the “real deal.” Mentored and credentialed by the biggest legends of bluegrass and country music, the brother duo continues to deliver new, yet traditional music in modern times (complete with pearl-snap shirts, Manuel/Nudie suits, over-shaped cowboy hats, and pompadour coiffure, just to drive home the point). Their firm “traditionalism” has captured the attention of the industry and traditional country fans, leading to their worldwide notoriety.
The Malpass Brothers made their Grand Ole Opry debut in December of 2018 and have been asked to return to the hallowed circle well over a dozen times since. The brother duo has headlined international tours and festivals in Ireland, Switzerland, and in Scotland, and been featured on multiple national television shows including TBN’s “The Huckabee Show” and RFD’s “Country’s Family Reunion” and “Larry’s Country Diner”—and compilation of performances from the later was released earlier this year.
Whatever you do, don't call The Kody Norris Show 'retro'.
Because while the reigning SPBGMA Entertainers of the Year are known for the rhinestones that shine from their lapels and the fringe that hangs from their collars seem to conjure up memories of times gone by, The Kody Norris Show are very much directing their gaze forever forward.
Now, more than ever before.
The talented group, made up of frontman Kody Norris, Josiah Tyree, Mary Rachel Nalley-Norris, and Charlie Lowman, finds themselves with a growing legion of fans craving the comfort that comes from their retro look, but equally craving dynamic instrumentation and thought-provoking lyrics – all of which can be heard throughout their epic new album Rhinestone Revival.
“There is a whole chapter of country music that's just kind of faded away,” The Kody Norris Show’s frontman once said. “I believe The Kody Norris Show has been instrumental in bringing back some of that nostalgia and some of that classic look that country music and bluegrass music used to have.”
The foundations of the electrifying four-piece band can be found within the roots of Kody Norris himself, a once inquisitive youngster from Mountain City, Tennessee who would spend hours sitting in the passenger seat of his Uncle Jack’s Chevrolet El Camino listening to the entirety of The Stanley Brothers 16 Greatest Hits tape, wondering if he would ever be able to match the sweet harmonies coming through the speakers.
It was those very harmonies that Norris also would recognize wavering through the rafters of the Baptist church he attended as a kid. There was a bluegrass quartet that would play in the Free Will Baptist Church, and soon Norris became infatuated with the music that could materialize from a banjo and a guitar. So, at nine years old, he picked up the mandolin.
And he never put it down.
It was a similar love affair of music for Mary Rachel Nalley-Norris, who started playing classical violin in the fourth grade, but by the fifth grade, she knew it wasn’t for her. Instead, in a quest to differentiate herself from her musical counterparts in her grade school orchestra, she took up the fiddle. She began playing the festival circuit alongside the likes of the legendary Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers and soon became one of the most dynamic females on those festival stages.
It was on that stage she eventually met her husband Kody, who had already gone on to play alongside the likes of Ralph Stanley, Ralph Stanley II, and Joe Isaacs throughout his already impressive career. In 2017, banjo extraordinaire Josiah Tyree signed on with The Kody Norris Show, and soon his old-time clawhammer style fit right into the bluegrass style that the band was becoming known for across the country. And when bass player Charlie Lowman joined in on the fun, armed with a giddiness and love for the music that he plays that soon became infectious, The Kody Norris Show as we now know it was complete.
It was musical magic at its finest.
It’s this easy-going nature that became downright illuminated on 2017’s When I Get the Money Made, which was named Bluegrass Album of the Year by the National Traditional Country Music Association. The Kody Norris Show followed it up with 2019’s All Suited Up, which debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts. Now playing over 100 dates a year across the country and around the world, The Kody Norris Show have been part of the University of Chicago Folk Festival and are part of two weekly programs on the acclaimed RFD-TV's network, The Cumberland Highlanders Show and The Bluegrass Trail.
But with the release of Rhinestone Revival comes a feeling that listeners have just begun to witness The Kody Norris Show’s very own revival, as the band finds themselves sprinkling their iconic rhinestones on a few different music genres to solidify their place on the musical landscape.
And the fans can’t get enough.
In fact, it’s those fans that have raised The Kody Norris Show to a place in which they stand today, a place where the four-piece, multi-instrumentalist, bluegrass band are quickly becoming four of the most epic entertainers of our time. Add that to the songwriting displayed on the Kody Norris-penned “Baltimore I’m Leaving,” “Fiddler’s Rock,” “Please Tell Me Why,” and the infectious “Gotta Get My Baby Back” on Rhinestone Revival, and there is no doubt that The Kody Norris Show is as current as ever.
They ain’t retro. They have something different. They have something uniquely theirs. They have something that makes them stand out.
“We want people to know who we are,” Norris once said.
And they will.