Calder Baker to Nu-Blu on banjo

Nu-Blu has announced the addition of Calder Baker to the band, playing banjo. A recent graduate of the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University, Baker was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI and started his pursuit of bluegrass as a youngster.

At ETSU, he established himself as a top practitioner of the banjo, earning a spot in the school Bluegrass Pride Band, reserved for performers who stand out in the department. Dan Boner, director of the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music program, said of him…

“Calder is certainly one of the finest banjo players ever to work in the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band. He has admirable technical control, tone, and consistency, which makes even his most complicated musical ideas sound accessible to listeners – a true sign of maturity. I’m eager to hear the sound of Nu-Blu with Calder on the five-string.”

Since graduation, Baker has been teaching private music lessons in the Johnson City area, and says that he is excited to start his first full time professional position.

“I am thrilled and motivated to be playing music with Nu-Blu. The momentum and trajectory of this unit is exactly what I have been wanting to play for. The fact that everyone in this band wants to improve individually and together is what makes music fun for me, and I am stoked to see what the future holds with Nu-Blu.” - Read more at

Nu-Blu Featured Artist For Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine!

Nu-Blu was chosen as the cover and feature artist for the month of February 2018! Read the feature article below:

Finds Success As A Cross-Genre Outfit
By Michael K. Brantley

I always tell people we’re a bluegrass band and sometimes get a puzzled look from them,” said Nu-Blu cofounder Daniel Routh. “Then I have to explain what bluegrass is and we always tell them it’s acoustic music played with power and drive, upbeat, and with passion. Sometimes, we have to explain drive and I just say, ‘Think of your favorite rock band, playing acoustic, without drums.’ I know that’s not a full description of bluegrass, but you have to find a way to relate the music to something they can understand.”

Daniel and his wife, partner and co-founder Carolyn, have lots of conversations with fans that have had little exposure to bluegrass music. Nu-Blu is on the road over 200 days a year, playing all types of venues and to all types of audiences and music listeners. Those listeners often have outdated or simply untrue perceptions about what constitutes bluegrass.

Nu-Blu, which also features T.J. Honaker on vocals and banjo and Justin Harrison on vocals and mandolin, is out promoting its new album and sixth national release, Vagabonds, on Voxhall Records. The North Carolina-based band feels it is their strongest effort yet.

Daniel said, “When people ask about our sound, we tell them to listen to Vagabonds.”

While the album is new, the concept has been in the works for well over a decade. “The concept for this album came about when Carolyn heard Sawyer Brown do their song ‘Gypsies On Parade’ live. We’ve known since 2003 when we formed the band, we wanted to record this song. It sets the mood for the whole album, and the title comes out of that song—from a line that says: Vagabonds that got it made.”

The new album is different in several ways for Nu-Blu. It’s the first effort that doesn’t include any songs written by the Rouths.

“How this came together is unusual,” Daniel said. “We typically don’t record cover songs, and Vagabondshas more cover tunes than we’ve ever done. We usually write songs or get songs from other songwriters and go with whatever fits that particular project best. We’re very careful about how an album flows.”

Daniel said it’s why this album was lingering in the background for so long. “When we record a song, we have to make sure we feel something—happy, sad, angry, something. It needs to hit us emotionally, and it also has to fit the whole story we’re trying to tell with the album. For example, ‘Still Small Voice’ was pitched to us a couple of albums ago, and it just didn’t fit, but when we were working on Vagabonds, Carolyn knew instantly that the timing was right for it. That’s happened on just about every album. Sometimes, you just have to wait on things to come around.”

That’s exactly what happened with “Gypsies On Parade.” An early review referred to the song as the bluegrass equivalent of rocker Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page,” as it talks about life on the road. “It’s about being away from family,” Daniel said. “With us, you just can’t sing about it, you’ve got to live it. When we started, we were weekend warriors then, and we’re full-time now. We are more like vagabonds now—we know that emotion. At some point during the recording, we were all crying. Doing what we do, there are things that you have to sacrifice. But in the end, we have the best job in the world—to make people smile.”

A beginning that almost wasn’t

   Music brought the Rouths together earlier this century. They were both playing in a contemporary Christian band together, and Daniel was moonlighting on banjo with another band. When both groups broke up around the same time, Carolyn suggested they start a bluegrass band. However, just as they were starting out, the unthinkable happened.

“I had two strokes right after we started the band in the fall of 2003,” said Carolyn, who was in her early 30s at the time. “It was two incidents on Thanksgiving Day that happened at about the same time and affected two spots on my brain. At the onset, I couldn’t form words at all and then was in a medically-induced coma for three or four days. When I came out, I could talk.”

Undeterred, the duo (who married in 2006) got right back after it. Carolyn credits much of that to an early music teacher and mentor, Dr. JoAnn Bowman. “It was a dream to start a band, and Dr. Bowman taught me to keep going and the importance of how the show must go on; when you’re scheduled to perform, you perform,” she said. “I’m very goal-oriented. I’ve been blessed to have come back and now be full-time.”

Both of the Rouths got their starts in music early. As a teenager, Daniel got his first taste of bluegrass on a Sunday morning ride to church. “My dad was flipping through the dial on the radio and I heard something and said, ‘Whoa, flip back. What was that?’ And he said, ‘That’s bluegrass.’ It was Flatt & Scruggs doing ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown.’ I was hooked.” His father took him around to play with local musicians, and Daniel started on guitar before moving to banjo. He said that time was key and very formative to his musical development. “It was then that I realized music was something I could do as a career.”

Carolyn got her start in the same setting, albeit earlier, in her hometown of Siler City, N.C. “I started singing as a little-bitty thing in a typical country Baptist church,” she said. “I took piano on and off, and I learned to read music, and I still see the keys in my head when I play bass. Even in high school, everything I did centered around music and learning to sing properly.”

Nu-Blu released Nights in 2010, The Blue Disc in 2011, Nail By Nail in 2012, and a tenth anniversary CD appropriately titled Ten in 2013. In 2014, All The Way was released, the title-track is a Carl Jackson tune and there was a guest appearance by Rhonda Vincent. That was also the year that proved pivotal for the group when they participated in a George Jones tribute, recording “Jesus And Jones” with Sam Moore of the legendary duo Sam & Dave. “That really helped knock down some genre walls for people outside of bluegrass,” Carolyn said. “It opened a lot of doors. We got a lot of media and a lot of phone calls. We were on Imus In The MorningHuckabee, and Ronnie Reno’s show, among other national broadcasts and interviews. Then we had ‘That’s What Makes The Bluegrass Blue,’ which was the most played song on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction in February of 2015.”

As the band went full-steam ahead, they continued playing many shows outside of bluegrass venues, and they’ve played in 47 of the 48 continental states. The Rouths believe it not only expanded Nu-Blu’s base, but also helped them to become bluegrass ambassadors. “We do traditional bluegrass shows and festivals, but we also get invited to do more general music events. What’s exciting is that we’re able to take bluegrass music to a whole lot more people. We’re exposed to hundreds of thousands more people,” Daniel said. “We always have folks who come up to us and have never realized or paid attention to bluegrass and say, ‘Wow, we really liked your music.’ Then when we come back around to those places, they tell us they’ve been to a bluegrass festival or show. We’re helping to get more people into the bluegrass fold, and that’s very satisfying and part of a much bigger picture.”

Daniel said a performance at the NAMM show (a music products convention) a couple of years ago is a great example. “The pop and rock guys were right in front of the stage, and they thought it was acoustic rock,” Daniel said with a laugh. “That’s what holds true with bluegrass. People don’t get it until they see it live. They are used to large bands with lots of musicians and a front person, then they see a bluegrass band with just a few people, and they see what everybody’s doing and how it works together.”

Carolyn said that the expansion to other venues has been important to the business ledger as well. “The momentum we have created helps, and it is a business. You have to realize it’s called the ‘music business’ for a reason. It’s good to step outside bluegrass and see what other people are doing and to get the larger picture. You’ve got to be thinking about what is the next step. Adding Webster Public Relations in Nashville to our team, who don’t just represent bluegrass, has also opened doors. The music world is a small community, and there is respect and camaraderie from other genres.”

Carolyn said that she and Daniel also want to offer encouragement to other musicians. “People say you can’t make a living in bluegrass, it’s impossible. I get frustrated when I hear that. We should encourage young people who dream to do this, who want to entertain. We shouldn’t tell them ‘you need another job’ to do this. We should say, ‘You’ve got to work hard and structure your time, and learn the business.’”

While they are enjoying their exposure outside of bluegrass, Nu-Blu plans to stay true to its core and its belief that good music is good music. “A great song is a great song,” Daniel said. “We’ve got straight-up bluegrass on this album, and then we’ve got tunes like ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door.’ On the side of our tour bus we have printed: ‘Bending the Boundaries of Bluegrass.’ We will always be a bluegrass band, but we’re kind of stretching what areas that bluegrass can exist in. We’re reaching people who didn’t or wouldn’t normally listen, and for me, that’s gold. That’s when we expand the music.”

Carolyn takes that a step further. “The heart of it is that it starts with a good song, and a good song is one you want to hear again and again. It doesn’t matter the genre if it sparks an emotion. I love where we are right now. This album started with ‘Gypsies,’ and we aren’t just singing it—it’s my life. I’m thankful everyday. It’s a great life, and a great big world with lots of stages, and I want to play as many of them as possible.”

Justin Harrison to Nu-Blu

With 2018 already in full swing, Nu-Blu is happy to announce the addition of Justin Harrison to the band. The 24-year-old Morehead State University graduate from the Traditional Music Program will serve as the group’s new mandolin player.  Harrison will join other band members, including lead singer / bass player Carolyn Routh, lead guitarist Daniel Routh and banjo player TJ Honaker.

“The move to join Nu-Blu was an easy choice to make. They are poised to make big moves in the next several years, and the band structure and marketing is set up like none that I’ve ever seen,” says Harrison. “I am looking forward to all the music and memories to come."

Harrison has a rich history as a musician, with the performer’s father also playing mandolin.  The instrumentalist has experience performing for Bluegrass fans already, after a recent tenure with The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show. The North Carolina native  also has experience touring stateside and internationally, including a tour in China with the Morehead State University Mountain Music Ambassadors Band.

“Timing is everything, and that’s definitely evident with the way things have worked out to bring Justin into Nu-Blu,” said Daniel Routh.  “With the opportunities we have on the horizon and the direction we are going, he’s the perfect fit for the band.” 

Nu-Blu’s Daniel and Carolyn Routh Talk Christmas Holidays and Their Favorite Holiday Treat!!

Sausage Balls Recipe:

2lb. Sausage, hot or mild, or mix

2lb. Grated Cheese, mild or sharp

6 cups of Bisquick

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.

  2. Mix baking mix, Cheddar cheese, sage-flavored pork sausage, and hot pork sausage together in a bowl. Roll mixture into golf ball-sized balls; arrange balls on the prepared baking sheet.

  3. Bake in the preheated oven until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle and browned on the outside, 25 to 30 minutes.


Do you have a favorite Christmas candy?  

It’s not really a candy, but I can eat my weight each Christmas in Sausage Balls, lol!  -Daniel Routh

Chocolate Covered Cherries – Carolyn Routh

What’s your favorite Christmas memory/is there a toy you received that to this day still makes you smile thinking of it?

I think it would have to be the year I got a go-cart.  My dad had been locking up the shop and not letting me go near it.  I was pretty upset for about three months leading up to Christmas because building things in there was one of my favorite things to do.  Little did I know he was completely restoring a go-cart for me that whole time!  -Daniel Routh

Laying on the floor under the Christmas tree watching the lights dance on the ceiling. Favorite gift: Cowboy Boots -Carolyn Routh

What sort of things did you get in your stocking as a child?  

Mostly the normal stuff, candy, Hot Wheels, etc.  -Daniel Routh

Fruit and candy -Carolyn Routh

Do you have a favorite Christmas album?

Mine would have to be Perry Como’s Christmas Album.  It’s not Christmas without hearing that over and over. -Daniel Routh

‘Shine’ by Nu-Blu -Carolyn Routh

Do you have any favorite tradition’s or favorite movie’s for the holiday season?  

Oh, no question, “It’s A Wonderful Life,”  is the best movie ever made!!!   Period.  -Daniel Routh

Decorating the tree and putting out the nativity scene. Favorite movie: “Christmas with the Kranks” -Carolyn Routh

What are you thankful for this year?  

I think that I’m most thankful for where I’m at in life in general.  Our band is in a great place with a great team, we have lots going on and building for next year.  I was just thinking the other day that while I’m always looking to the future and pressing to reach my goals, that its so necessary to be comfortable in the place where you are now.  I think that allows for the most creativity to flow.  -Daniel Routh

My family, my health, and the opportunity to live my dreams. -Carolyn Routh

What are your hopes for 2018?

Really looking for a great year.  The biggest hope for 18 is that we have even more chances to reach new fans with our music. -Daniel Routh

As always, health, wealth, and prosperity.  -Carolyn Routh

Country Fancast Debuts 'Shine' Lyric Video

Among the group’s latest musical output is a beautifully delivered Christmas song called “Shine,” which offers up a very different viewpoint of Christ’s birth.

“There are many great traditional Christmas songs, which makes finding or writing a new one quite challenging. This makes ‘Shine’ even more special. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring it to you and hope you enjoy this slightly different view of Christ’s birth from the perspective of the Star of Bethlehem,” lead singer Carolyn explains.

This song serves as the title track for the Bluegrass band’s latest EP, which dropped on November 17th and can be purchased via iTunes here. Included on the project are Christmas classics “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as well as seasonal sacred tunes “Mary Did You Know” and “What Child Is This.”

“Christmas is our favorite time of the year! This year is extra special because we have the opportunity to share a few of our favorite Christmas songs, both sacred and secular on our first ever Christmas CD. Recording this project was an exciting, unique, and very emotional experience. The birth of our Savior is not only a time for quiet reflection, but also for great joy and celebration. That’s what we have strived to convey for this wonderful season,” Carolyn also shared.

Be sure to share this gorgeous Christmas tune with others who would appreciate it!

Nu-Blu Announces Upcoming Holiday EP 'Shine'

 Nashville,Tenn. 11/17/18 -It may only be November, but Bluegrass sensation Nu-Blu isn’t wasting any time getting into the Christmas spirit with their upcoming project, Shine. The EP serves as the award-winning band’s first holiday effort. The future stocking-stuffer will be available this Friday, November 17 and is released via Voxhall Records.  Fans can purchase a copy on iTunesAmazon, and other popular digital retailers nationwide, or stream on Spotify, Pandora or other major streaming services. 

 “Christmas is our favorite time of the year! This year is extra special because we have the opportunity to share a few of our favorite Christmas songs, both sacred and secular on our first ever Christmas CD. Recording this project was an exciting, unique, and very emotional experience. The birth of our Savior is not only a time for quiet reflection, but also for great joy and celebration. That’s what we have strived to convey for this wonderful season.”  -Carolyn J Routh, Nu-Blu

 The lead single from the EP, “Shine,” was penned by award-winning songwriters Kristy Jackson (Take It Back – Reba McEntire) and Megan Conner (Rascal Flatts, Chris Young, The Swon Brothers). The title track tells a familiar story, with a clever spin, detailing the Saviors birth from the perspective of the star that marked his birthplace in Bethlehem.

Shine features five new recordings, all with a unique Bluegrass twist. Included on the project are Christmas classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as well as seasonal sacred tunes “Mary Did You Know” and “What Child Is This.”

It’s been a jam-packed year for Nu-Blu, who kicked off the 2017 performing at the national NAMM show in Anaheim, California; the year would later see the in-demand Americana/Bluegrass band performing throughout North America. Nu-Blu continued to send shockwaves within the genre on the release of their latest full-length album, Vagabonds. The project’s lead single, “Still Small Voice,” features Country Music Hall of Fame Statler Brothers member Jimmy Fortune. The song currently sits at No. 8 on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Airplay Chart.

"They’re back this summer with Vagabonds from Voxhall Records, eleven tracks full of emotional stories and smooth, country-tinged melodies." - John Goad / Bluegrass Today

It’s been a little while since we’ve had new music from Nu-Blu, the North Carolina-based band headed up by husband-and-wife team Daniel and Carolyn Routh. Their last album, All the Way, came out back in 2014, with hit single That’s What Makes the Bluegrass Blue taking the airwaves by storm throughout 2015. They’re back this summer with Vagabonds from Voxhall Records, eleven tracks full of emotional stories and smooth, country-tinged melodies.

The band’s showpiece is bass player Carolyn Routh’s voice, which is in the forefront on all but one song. Part of her talent lies in knowing when a song calls for belting out the lyrics, and when it calls for a softer, more restrained vocal. On opening track, The Bridges That You’ve Burned, a rollicking kiss-off number led by T.J. Honaker’s banjo, she embraces the anger and bitterness in the lyrics, giving a no-good man a firm goodbye. A fun cover of Waylon Jennings’ and Willie Nelson’s Good Hearted Woman calls for a country powerhouse approach (think Tammy Wynette), set to bouncy contemporary grass instrumentation.

On the other hand, the soft guitar intro of 640 Battlefield Drive sets the tone for a story of a mother sending her two sons off to war. Carolyn’s more delicate approach here matches the mother’s pain when she finds out that only one will be coming home. A similar tactic is used on Gypsies on Parade, a melancholy-sounding number written by Mark Miller that takes listeners behind the scenes of a famous band on tour. It’s not all adoring fans and number ones, but plenty of lonely nights and regrets for leaving loved ones at home. Stripped down mandolin and guitar from Clint White and former member Levi Austin work well together to create the song’s atmosphere.

A Lot More Love, penned by Michael Gresham, Jill Spencer, and Troy Johnson, tackles pertinent societal issues, urging listeners to overlook outer appearances, religion, and political beliefs in favor of remembering that “everybody’s got a heart that bleeds, everybody’s got a road to walk.” The lyrics present fairly broad images (a man in a truck with a gun rack, a woman in a VW bug with a rainbow on its window), and it could be argued that it will take more than “a little less hate and lot more love” to fix the divides in American society, but the song is definitely a good reminder to think before judging others. Surround Me with Love, originally an early eighties hit by country singer Charly McClain, is another track with a positive message. It speaks of a comforting person that the singer goes to when “dreams come falling down, friends just can’t be found.” It could easily be read as either a secular love song or as a Gospel song.

Other highlights include the gently rolling How Many Rivers, a quietly lonesome number penned by Shawn Lane and Gerald Ellenburg with lead vocals from Daniel Routh, and the uplifting anthem Still Small Voice from Jimmy Fortune, Tony Lopacinski, and Devin Belle. Fortune and Ben Isaacs provide guest vocals on the stirring song, which urges listeners to allow their inner selves out, embracing imagination and voicing opinions. The band takes a poppy, progressive approach to the song, with a nice buildup to the chorus.

Nu-Blu is a creative band. You’ll very rarely hear them relying on old standards or even bluegrass deep cuts. Instead, they find intriguing new songs from writers both in and outside the genre, and reinvent older tracks that, in general, haven’t yet found a home in bluegrass. On Vagabonds, as on some of their past releases, they embrace more of an acoustic country vibe rather than straight-ahead bluegrass, and it’s definitely a sound that works for them and allows Carolyn Routh’s vocals to shine.

"The result is a track that is as good as progressive bluegrass can be." - Bob Oermann / Music Row Magazine

This North Carolina group is anchored by the warm soprano lead singing of Carolyn Routh. On this upbeat lyric about finding inner strength, she is joined by former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune and the Isaacs’ exemplary harmony man Ben. The result is a track that is as good as progressive bluegrass can be. In its third month on the chart, this track from the Vagabonds CD lands at No. 19. The collection also includes imaginative rearrangements of Waylon & Willie’s “Good Hearted Woman,” Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the late Norro Wilson’s Charly McClain oldie “Surround Me with Love” and the Sawyer Brown tune “Gypsies on Parade.”  - Bob Oermann


"...they do it all with a natural togetherness that can’t be faked, forged over hundreds of shows on the road." - Nashville Entertainment Weekly

Click here to watch video! 

Nashville Entertainment Weekly with Host Tj Cates has special #BlueGrass guest Nu-Blu Bluegrass Artists . Heart and soul is husband-and-wife duo Daniel and Carolyn Routh. Carolyn’s caramel-coated soprano is one of the band’s defining traits, at times a tender lullaby, at times a freight train headed straight for you, but always unwinding a surprising tale. Daniel is the group’s backbone, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who also handles band management. TJ Honaker on vocals and banjo, and Clint White on fiddle/mandolin round out the quartet’s warm, layered, American roots sound. Together they deliver upbeat, blazing-fingers pick work just as well as gentle, heartwarming ballads, and they do it all with a natural togetherness that can’t be faked, forged over hundreds of shows on the road. Stay tuned after the interview for the New Music Video for "'Still Small Voice". Thank You to Jill Santibanez and Webster Public Relations for setting up the #MusicRow Interview.

"...expanding on the potential of the genre. Nu-Blu stretch the reach of their songs by adding touches of Americana, Country, and Soul to string band mountain music..." - The Alternate Root

Continuing to take their brand of Bluegrass on the road, Nu-Blu are Vagabonds for their recent album release. The North Carolina-based quartet stay true to Bluegrass traditions in their music, expanding on the potential of the genre. Nu-Blu stretch the reach of their songs by adding touches of Americana, Country, and Soul to string band mountain music heritage as Vagabonds opens by setting fire to the past with “Bridges That You Burned”. Nu-Blu slow the strums to cruise down “Battlefield Drive” as the song waves goodbye to young soldiers leaving home, take “A Fool and Her Heart” for a spin on a honky tonk dance floor, voice dreams with hopeful words and whispered rhythms in “Surround Me with Love”, and wonder “How Many Rivers” will tears create for a lonely soul.

Husband and wife team Daniel (guitar, vocal) and Caroline Routh (vocals, upright bass) stand at the heart of Nu-Blu as fellow band members flesh out the music with fiddle, mandolin (Clint White) and banjo (TJ Honaker). Vagabonds welcomes harmony into “Still Small Voices” from Jimmy Fortune and Ben Isaacs as the album brings in songs from Bob Dylan (“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) and Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson (“Good Hearted Woman”). The benefits of being a touring band moving from show to show gives Vagabonds an intuitive unity to its songs as the music tells the tale of a “Troublemaker” formed from abuse and honors the troubadours as “Gypsies on Parade” pulls into a late-night diner. Nu-Blu pair people from varied backgrounds as they tie humanity together with the wishes of “A Lot More Love” as the band builds a bridge to tear down the walls that keep us apart.

"(Carolyn Routh) sounds like Loretta Lynn on a very good day." - Country Standard Time

In bluegrass music these days, accomplished pickers abound. Some say, however, that the soul of bluegrass music is in vocals. Sonny Osborne, an estimable banjo player, would often say that his brother Bobby's vocals "paid for the farm," despite The Osborne Brothers' success as a bluegrass band. If the late Mr. Osborne was right, then Nu-Blu is on the right track. Nu-Blu features fearsome instrumentalists, but the real attraction to their new release, "Vagabond" is the vocals.

"640 Battlefield Drive" treads the well-worn path of country boys going off to fight a nasty political war ill-suited to their aspirations. But Caroline Routh's penetrating soprano chillingly spins the story from a mother's point of view. Routh's vocals are a solid constant through "Vagabonds," giving an edge to the Parton-ish "A Fool and Her Heart" and "A Lot More Love," which in other hands, would be an empty pop-country anthem. With Routh, it's down-home pathos. "Good Hearted Woman," one of Waylon Jennings' signature pieces (which he wrote with Willie Nelson), sounds like Loretta Lynn on a very good day.

Caroline Routh's vocals may be a centerpiece of Nu-Blu, but the accompaniments are equally as tasty. Husband Daniel tackles vocal duties and instrumental turns with equal efficiency. TJ Honaker on vocals and banjo, and Clint White on mandolin and fiddle complete the quartet. Their licks are startlingly tight and measured, transporting, not overpowering.

Nu-Blu has a good ear for material and for delivering smooth, never choppy, bluegrass licks. Bob Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door" is delivered at 60 percent of the pace of the original, with Honaker's banjo and White's mandolin carrying the torch, lighting the way for Caroline Routh's powerful vocals. There's also an "I'm missing you from the road" song "Gypsies On Parade." The title of the CD derives from its lyrics. When Daniel Routh's lead vocals take center stage on "How Many Rivers," Nu-Blu follows the same approach; the backing instrumentals never overpower the vocals.

"Vagabonds" displays a confident band, minding the bluegrass tradition, but adding its own splash of emotion and clarity.

Nu-Blu, ‘Still Small Voice’ Music Video [Exclusive Premiere]

North Carolina-based bluegrass four-piece Nu-Blu are premiering the music video for their song “Still Small Voice” exclusively for readers of The Boot. The song was co-written by Jimmy Fortune; readers can press play above to watch the clip.

Recorded in 2016 and released on their newest album, Vagabonds, Nu-Blu’s rendition of “Still Small Voice” was a long time coming. They were originally pitched the song in 2011, the band’s Carolyn Routh tells The Boot.

“We knew it was a song that we wanted to record, but it just didn’t ‘fit’ the current album that we were recording at the time,” Routh explains. “It’s really hard to have a song this great and not cut it, but we had to do what was right for that album, so we reluctantly had to let it go.”

As Nu-Blu began work on Vagabonds, their sixth full-length release, “Still Small Voice” resurfaced — or, more accurately, they sought it out, and were successful.

“After some phone calls and a few emails, I managed to track [the song] down,” Routh recalls. “To my surprise and great delight, it had not yet been recorded by anyone. Score!”

It was then that Nu-Blu learned that Fortune — known for his two decades with the Statler Brothers, as well as for his work as a songwriter in Nashville and his country and gospel solo albums — co-wrote “Still Small Voice.” He makes a cameo in Nu-Blu’s music video for the song, as does Ben Isaacs (of the Isaacs); Nu-Blu added a third vocal part to give Isaacs a chance to sing on the tune.

Filmed at Nashville’s Skaggs Place Studios, Nu-Blu’s “Still Small Voice” music video is dedicated to Tony Lopacinski, Fortune’s co-writer and pop-rock band Train’s former guitarist. Lopacinski died of cancer shortly after Nu-Blu were first approached with the song.

“It’s overwhelming to us, the response we have gotten so far on this song; it seems to affect each person who hears it in a different way,” says Routh. “We wanted the video to reflect its true spirit and show a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the studio atmosphere it was recorded in.”

Nu-Blu’s latest album, Vagabonds, was released in April. Visit their official website for more information on the record and upcoming shows.

Read More: Nu-Blu, 'Still Small Voice' Music Video |

"(Carolyn's) voice always speaks to me unlike any other bluegrass artists I've heard." - Kelly's Country


Welcome to TURNTABLE TUESDAY - yeah, I'm  a bit behind today. Traveled all day yesterday and didn't sleep well last night. I could not force myself to move. 

My experience led me to think about the album on the turntable this week and groups like Nu-Blu. VAGABONDS truly is a representation of an artists life. Whether it's original music being performed or nods to others such as Bob Dylan and Guns & Roses with Knockin On Heaven's Door, Waylon Jennings' Good Hearted Woman, Surround Me With Love (Charly McClain) or tunes such as Gypsies On Parade, everything comes together under the cover of the beautiful gypsy caravan on the CD cover.

Songs like Knockin On Heaven's Door or Good Hearted Woman, Surround Me With Love don't exactly come to mind when you think of Bluegrass, yet they fit seamlessly in with the other nine tracks. 

Carolyn's amazing soprano kicks things off with The Bridges That You've Burned.  Their One-Sheet calls her voice 'caramel-coated... at times a tender lullaby, at times a freight train headed straight for you.'  You can hear the distinctive beat of the clickety clack of the track on the true-to-point Troublemaker. Her voice always speaks to me unlike any other bluegrass artists I've heard. 

Daniel spoke yesterday of the emotional pull of Gypsies On Parade. Their story is deep in the lyrics.

Still Small Voice is one of the two pillars of strength on this CD. The tune features vocals with Jimmy Fortune and Ben Isaacs. Both amazing multi-talented artists in their own right, but to be paired with Nu-Blu truly is added power to an emotionally charged album.

The other pillar stands strong while bringing you to your knees in 640 Battlefield Drive. I'd love to have a video for this tune to feature during July 4th week or Memorial Day. 

Though I've not singled out A Lot More LoveHow Many RiversA Fool and Her Heart, they each bring their own special touch to the power of this album and like ingredients in a flavorful stew, they would be the that 'something missing if they weren't included.

This is my favorite Nu-Blu compilation so far and I look forward to more from them. 

I'm giving the CD 5 hats! 

OUT OF THE CHUTE - Nu-Blu Today, we're stepping off the 8-seconds Q & A to do a Fast Five with Nu-Blu. - The Country Angel

Tomorrow, their new CD - VAGABONDS will be on the Turntable Tuesday so I've focused the Fast Five on their newest project.

Vagabonds seems to have a bit more ‘travel’ in the pacing of the tunes, differing from Your “All the Way” CD. Carolyn, I also know from our previous interview that you look for songs that really hit you.  What was your first pick for Vagabonds and what about the tune spoke to you?

The first song pick was the title cut, "Gypsies on Parade". This song has been on my "must do" list since the first time I heard Sawyer Brown perform it way back in the eighties. When I heard it then, knowing how much they were on the road, it really touched me. Every CD Nu-Blu has ever recorded. "Gypsies on Parade" has been on the table. (I've kept it to myself because I've always been fearful that if another band heard it, they might beat me into the studio with it.) Now since spending in excess of 200 days a year on the road touring since going full time in 2011, the timing was finally right.

"Gypsies on Parade" is very emotional for me because, it's my life. I love what I do and am thankful for the opportunity to live this life I always dreamed about, but it can be very demanding, both physically and mentally. It is oftentimes very emotionally taxing having to be gone so much from family and friends. This song is so close to my heart, that it is the only song I've ever cried on While in the studio cutting my vocals.

You teamed up with Jimmy Fortune on a single he co-wrote ‘Still Small Voice’. In a interview with Bluegrass Today, you spoke of what that song meant to you. Do you think people listen to that voice enough today? If not, what are some of the impacts we would see in our world today, if they did?

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. And of course each person can think of a place or choice they had to make in their life where they wish they would have listened to “that voice” or “a gut feeling.” I think that the biggest impact would be seen in a “pay it forward” fashion if more folks took the time to listen to that voice. Life is so busy and it seems we jump from one thing to the next so quickly, that if we just slow down and think it through, that we would realize many of the issues we face in life are in fact ones we create for ourselves.


CMT said ‘their sound acknowledges the traditional institutions that have shaped it yet is innovative and daring enough to bring a fresh sparkle to contemporary acoustic music…’What about this new album do you think is most representative of that quote?

Everything. We do hold traditional bluegrass close to our hearts, it’s what we love. That being said, good music is good music and a great song is a great song.   When we decide to record or perform a song, the decision isn’t based on whether it fits in the box or not. We decide based on how it fits us emotionally and by our fan feedback. How we treat that song is a decision made by simply listening to the song itself. It will tell you what it needs and doesn’t need, just don’t try and force it into a container that it doesn’t fit in. Some of our songs are bluegrass, some aren’t, and we are aware of that and will be the first to say it, but isn’t that the coolest thing about music? It just is, and without labels.

What makes Vagabonds different from anything you’ve done prior while still making it feel a part of the Nu-Blu family?

We feel that any band and their music are constantly shaped by the environment and people that they exist in and around. It’s no different for Nu-Blu. This album has been shaped by our life over the last couple years. Heavy touring, very little time at home, having to record parts of the album on the road, all this combined with. meeting folks from all over the world as we tour, learning from them, becoming friends and listening to their experiences. This all goes into the makeup of “Vagabonds’.

Daniel, a lot of the rise of Nu-Blu can be attributed to your attention to the businesses side of the band. What was the hardest part of ‘branding’ that you knew if you could just get that puzzle piece in place, Nu-Blu would be on its way to what you and the rest of the band knew it could be?

Well, any measure of success can never be attributed to one person. It’s taken a collective effort of current and past band members, an amazing team, lots of lost sleep, and yes, running the band as a business. That’s what it is. We exist in the business of music, and there’s as many sides to it as there are to any other business. I think that the largest challenge to “making it” in the music industry is the fact that music is something people do as a hobby and for fun as well. So that makes it much harder to separate and draw a line.

Think of it this way. If a person builds birdhouses for a hobby in the backyard and the occasional neighbor asks for one to be made as a gift, or even if that person makes a few on a weekend and sells them at a local craft fair. That’s one thing, but is that the person going to be the person that you get to build your house? No, of course not. It’s not that the talent isn’t equal or perhaps even greater on the hobbyists side, it’s more planning, permitting, and sometimes having the crew to get it done on a larger scale. That line is much more blurred inside of music, so branding is something that becomes even harder to do. There’s no magic puzzle piece, it’s having all the pieces, all at the same time working toward a common group of goals. As an artist, you have to trust your team.

We have the most talented folks working with us. I’m truly thankful everyday for them. For any artist that is struggling to “make it” the best advice I can give is set your goals, build a team and trust them to drive the train, and learn…learn all you can about the business side of music, oh, and that learning never stops…

"Vagabonds is an album not to miss." -

Nu-Blu - Vagabonds (Voxhall Records)
The Bluegrass stalwarts return with an expansive collection of songs with nine new songs and two spirited covers of iconic country and rock songs. The covers (“Good Hearted Woman” and “Knocking’ On Heaven’s Door”) showcase how Bluegrass can take just about any great song and make it work within the genre’s tight confines. Nu-Blu is a progressive Bluegrass band and
with tight performances and great musicianship, Vagabonds is a record not to miss; Especially for traditional country music fans looking for something new. Other highlights include “Troublemaker,” “A Lot More Love,” “640 Battlefield Drive,” and “A Fool and Her Heart.”

"'Gypsies on Parade' is to bluegrass as Bob Seger’s 'Turn the Page' is to rock and roll."-Backstageaxxcess

Nu-Blu, a bluegrass band hailing from Siler City, North Carolina, is set to release studio album number six called “Vagabonds” on Voxhall Records on April 28th.  It was a privilege to preview this album.  The musicianship is outstanding and a true slice of Americana.  The husband-and-wife duo, Daniel (vocals and guitar) and Carolyn (lead vocals and bass) Routh are joined by band-mates TJ Honaker (vocals and banjo) and Clint White (fiddle and mandolin). 

The album starts off with the upbeat tempo of “The Bridges That You’ve Burned,” showcasing Carolyn’s powerful voice from the get go.  Another notable tune is “Still Small Voice,” featuring guest vocalists Jimmy Fortune and Ben Isaacs.  Lush vocal harmonies and fast finger picking are a winning combination. 

“640 Battlefield Drive,” albeit a beautiful song, was simply too sad for my liking but certainly accomplishes a heightened sense of emotions with a heart-wrenching story.  Daniel handles lead vocals on “How Many Rivers” and Carolyn harmonizes exquisitely.  My favorite track on this CD is “Gypsies on Parade.”  It’s about life on the road and it has an autobiographical feel to it.  It’s a bold statement but “Gypsies on Parade” is to bluegrass as Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” is to rock and roll.

The band also puts a bluegrass spin on the Willie Nelson/ Waylon Jennings  classic “Good Hearted Woman” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”  The arrangement on Dylan’s classic rock anthem is brilliant, complete with a layered string section that includes a standout fiddle that cries behind the vocals.  If you like bluegrass, this is a must for your collection.  Moreover, Nu-Blu’s “Vagabonds” album could serve as a great introduction to this fast picking genre of music.

Parcbench Review-Vagabonds- "It overflows with heart and harmony."

The Bluegrass/Americana group Nu-Blu has released their new album, Vagabonds (their sixth studio album). It overflows with heart and harmony. The lead single, “Still Small Voice,” features Country Music Hall of Fame singer Jimmy Fortune. Like nearly every track, the single is thoughtful and inspiring, create a highly satisfying experience. What separates Nu-Blu from so many other bluegrass bands out there is their uncanny sense of restraint; they always leave you wanting more.

Strong in story songs, the album fully conveys the power of bluegrass to touch upon character, emotion, situation and something eternal, all by letting the band establish their ability to levitate as an ensemble and then letting each individual taking to ocassional flight. The low point (lyrically speaking) is the simplistic “A Lot More Love.” The song’s reductive quality seems left over from a well-meaning 1980s Kathy Mattea album. In 2017, without a new way to say it, it is sadly inneffectual. The performance of the song, however, is impeccable.

On the whole, this is a very successful project that will please fans of the group, and surely create new followers for them, as well. Nu-Blu consists of Carolyn Routh (crystalline lead vocals), Daniel Routh, TJ Honaker and Clint White.

Essential Downloads: “The Bridges That You’ve Burned,” “Still Small Voice,” “Troublemaker,” “Gypsies On Parade.”

To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.


NASHVILLE, TENN. (March 8, 2016) - Bluegrass/Americana breakout stars Nu-Blu are gearing up for the release of their upcoming project, Vagabonds. The album will serve as the award winning band’s sixth studio album, and is set for release on April 28. The album is fueled by the latest lead single, “Still Small Voice” featuring Country Music Hall of Fame Statler Brothers member Jimmy Fortune. The project will be released via Voxhall Records, and made available on iTunes, Amazon and wherever music is sold.

“Vagabonds has been an emotional endeavor from the beginning. For seven years now, having spent over 200 days each on tour, the road has become our home,” says Nu-Blu’s Carolyn Routh. “We have seen a lot, done a lot, and embraced life not only through our own experiences, but also through the lives of those we have met. This project reflects the collective heart and soul of them, and of ourselves along the way."

Vagabonds first single is “Still Small Voice,” featuring Jimmy Fortune, who also co-wrote the song alongside Tony Lopacinski and Devin Belle. Accompanying lead singer Carolyn Routh and Fortune on harmonies is Dove Award winning singer Ben Isaacs. The song has already begun to generate traction since being released earlier this year, recently climbing its way to No. 3 this week on Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Contemporary Bluegrass Song Chart, which counts down the top songs in the genre.

Standout songs on the album include the feel-good track, “A Lot More Love,” which has universal appeal with its inspiring sing-along message. Key lyrics on the song include the line, “we could all use a little less hate, and a lot more love,” with other lines through the song tackling the problems of the world. The song “Gypsies on Parade” is the inspiration behind the album title, which touches on the struggles of being on the road touring. Like previous albums, powerhouse lead-vocalist Carolyn Routh hits the high notes on ballads like the heartbreaking “640 Battlefield Drive” and the warm “Surround Me With Love.”

Nu-Blu also takes on some of country and rock music’s biggest hits, with a new approach. The rock anthem “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was remade with a fresh, bluegrass approach. The song was originally released by Bob Dylan in 1973, while also being re-recorded by singers like Eric Clapton and Guns N’ Roses. The band also recorded a version of “Good Hearted Woman,” a record made famous by country music icons Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, where it hit the top of the charts in 1976.