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Blugrass Jamboree: Concert this weekend at Cape’s Historical Museum

By Staff | Jan 24, 2019

One of the country’s leading bluegrass bands is bringing its talents to Cape Coral this weekend.

The musical road is a long and winding one, and for Nu-Blu, coming back to Southwest Florida to headline the Cape Coral Historical Museum’s fourth annual Bluegrass Jamboree, is a pleasant stop along the way.

“We love Southwest Florida,” said Nu-Blu vocalist and bassist, Carolyn Routh. “We haven’t spent enough time here yet, and we’re excited to get back. Every time we get down here we get a great response, and Florida is a great time for us, always with well-attended shows.”

Nu-Blu, out of Siler City, North Carolina, is comprised of Routh and husband Daniel, who is a multi-instrumentalist, along with Calder Baker on banjo and Justin Harrison working the mandolin and fiddle to complete the quartet’s “warm, layered, Appalachian sound.”

The band, founded by the husband-and-wife duo, began collaborating in 2003, and went full-time in 2011.

Eight years later, Nu-Blu has accumulated national attention for its work, including having the most played song on SiriusXm’s Bluegrass junction in 2015 with That’s What Makes The Bluegrass Blue.

Other highlights include being named the Carolina Music Awards Country Band of the Year, charting “Top 10” on Billboard, Bluegrass Unlimited, Roots Music, and Bluegrass Today Radio and being a two-time CMA FanFest Performing Artist.

Late last year, Nu-Blu released its first song into mainstream country, “A Lot More Love,” off of their album, “Vegabonds.”

The album already has three Top 10 national airplay hits.

They were also announced as official members of the Country Music Association family in Aug. of 2018.

“We’re trying to break down walls and expand boundaries,” Routh said. “We have songs in many different categories. We found in doing that, we have reached a bigger audience and fans are crossing the aisle. It’s a win-win for everybody. We’re getting to spread our wings.”

Their sound is a mix of contemporary bluegrass and traditional, with the ensemble enjoying the story telling aspect of music, said Routh.

“We enjoy songs that grab you by the heartstrings and inspire emotion,” she said. “Whether it’s sad, happy, or makes you want to get up and dance-as long as it evokes an emotion. It makes for a better connection with the audience. It’s humbling to connect with people on that level.”

Their performances are that of “high-energy” featuring their original works, as well as some classic Americana covers.

The Rouths share diverse musical backgrounds, finding each other for the first time in ’01 while playing in a Christian band.

Routh said Daniel discovered his love of the banjo while driving to church as a kid hearing the stringed instrument on the radio, and she, always having a love for singing since a child in her choir, said the performing-bug found her at a young age.

For the Rouths, a career in music was always a goal, not necessarily a dream-as they always “kept their eye on the prize.”

Their environment also serves as a hotbed for musicians in their genre of music, Routh saying, “You can’t stand on a corner in North Carolina and throw a rock and not hit a bluegrass artist.”

The two were married in ’06, and play over 200 shows a year together, along side Baker and Harrison.

Now, Routh feels as if they are just hitting their stride.

“The biggest thing from now to then, is that we’re comfortable now in our own skin,” she said. “It’s our own music. If I listen to our first CD now, there’s such a huge difference. We always concentrated on what other people wanted- and that’s really important, but progressing from album to album, we started following our own heart when it came to song choices. We got back to finding that connection, and found out that it endeared us to our fans more. It’s finding our own way and trusting ourselves and letting that be enough.”

With growing popularity comes increased opportunities, and Nu-Blu is taking advantage of them.

The band took over as the permanent host of the nationally syndicated TV series, “Bluegrass Ridge.”

They are set to to cross the pond for the first time as a band to perform in Ireland, and will also play on three different bluegrass cruises throughout the year.

“Though the travel can wear on you, performing is the juice you need to keep going,” Routh said.

Her message to those who haven’t seen Nu-Blu live and in color?

“I promise if you come we will make you laugh, cry and leave you wanting more. We love to meet new people and hear new stories.”

Cape Coral Historical Museum’s President, Wendy Schroder, is delighted and enthused to have Nu-Blu come to the Bluegrass Jamboree.

“We are thrilled to have a nationally recognized band for the first time this year and our ticket sales indicate that the community is excited to see them as well,” she said.

The jamboree takes place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the museum grounds, with plenty to do from live music, to great food, drinks and atmosphere.

“The event, Held in an open air setting on the beautiful property of the Cape Coral Historical Museum, allows not only for the enjoyment of bluegrass music, but food and drinks are available for purchase by Currie’s Smokin’ Hot BBQ, Frozen Chosen ice cream and Trafalgar Middle School. Guests will also have the opportunity to win prizes with both a 50/50 raffle and museum basket filled with history to be raffled off.”

General admission tickets are $20 at the gate, with all VIP tickets having been sold out.

The proceeds of the event benefit the museum directly, along with a charitable donation.

“The proceeds benefit the Cape Coral Historical Society and Museum, allowing the organization to fulfill its mission to preserve the history of Cape Coral as well as provide educational programming and experiences throughout the year. Parking is provided by Boy Scout Troop #8463 for a $3 suggested donation,” said museum Executive Director, Janel Trull.

“We are looking forward to seeing the community gathered in the park behind the museum, coming together for a great cause while listening to fantastic American roots music,” added Schroder.

The museum is grateful to all who volunteered their time to make the event possible, as well as sponsors.

“A large outdoor event like the Cape Coral Historical Museum Bluegrass Jamboree takes a lot of planning and coordination, numerous volunteers and the support of the community through ticket sales and sponsorships. We are blessed this year to have not only 21 sponsors including the city of Cape Coral, Cape Coral Breeze, Suncoast Beverage, LCEC and Waste Pro, but our bands have been sponsored this year by the Gunterberg Charitable Foundation and Culliton Family as well,” said Schroder.

Other live music includes a “Tribute to Patsy Cline” by Linda Fazioli(12:15-1p.m.), Swinging Bridge(1:10-2:20 p.m.) and Blu-Ridg (11-12 p.m.).

Nu-Blu will perform from 2:40 to 5 p.m.

The event will once again be emceed by 88.5 HD-2 WAMU bluegrass radio host Dick Spottswood.

The Cape Coral Historical Museum is at 544 Cultural Park Boulevard.

For tickets and more information on the museum, visit www.capecoralhistoricalmuseum.org.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj