Bluegrass Unlimited Reviews "TEN"



Rural Rhythm
RUR 1114

Carolyn Routh, the centerpiece of the band that she and her husband Daniel (vocals and guitar) formed, is a stupendous singer who ranks among the likes of Rhonda Vincent and Claire Lynch. Under her powers, ballads like “Without A Kiss” (co-written by Scott Filson, Michael Mahler, and Bill Filson) and “Shadows Of The Night” (D.L. Byron) heard on Nu-Blu’s latest album Ten (which celebrates this North Carolina-based band’s tenth anniversary) take on an almost transcendent credibility and beauty.

There’s a back-story here that makes her stellar vocal performances all the more inspiring to anyone who has endured serious health issues. In 2003, around the time of Nu-Blu’s inception, Carolyn had a series of strokes that for a while left her unable to talk and barely able to walk. Needless to say, she’s bounced back beautifully. But as is manifest on Ten, Carolyn’s show-stopping pipes and courageous powers of renewal are merely the tip of the iceberg. These ten well-chosen songs also highlight the highly accomplished picking and harmony singing that this four-member ensemble brings to the show.

Along with the Rouths, the band is rounded out by Levi Austin (vocals, banjo, and guitar) and Austin Koerner on mandolin. (Carolyn also doubles on bass.) For these sessions, they were joined by ace fiddlers Ron Stewart and Jim VanCleve. Daniel Routh is a far more low-key and ordinary lead singer than his wife is. Yet he brings quiet earnestness and dignity to moving heartland celebrations like “Eddie’s Garage” and “The Seed.” The entire band also takes a collective star turn on a powerhouse bluegrass instrumental breakdown called “Giant Squid.”

Even if a few of the songs on Ten, such as “Shadows Of The Night,” lean slightly toward the pop end of the spectrum, their power and appeal are unquestionable. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121,


Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine-Feature Article



Hailing from the abundant bluegrass lands of North Carolina, Nu-Blu was founded in 2003. With three albums, The Grass Still Grows, Nights, and their latest release The Blu-Disc to their credit, the band is quickly making a name for themselves in the bluegrass world. Comprised of Daniel Routh (vocals/guitar), Carolyn Routh (vocals/bass), Levi Austin (vocals/banjo), and their newest member, Austin Koerner (mandolin), Nu-Blu has forged their sound in the fires of tribulation that would have ended most groups. From the two near fatal strokes suffered by Carolyn to the dissolving and subsequent reforming of their recording label, Pinecastle, they have survived the gauntlet of bad breaks and kept right on rolling. The story of how Nu-Blu formed is a tale for the Hallmark Channel. The forming of Nu-Blu is synonymous with how Daniel and Carolyn came together as a couple. Carolyn explains, “In late 2000, I had begun singing with a contemporary Christian trio. Around the same time, Daniel and I met at our local Wal-Mart where he was the grocery manager. He was playing banjo in a band with Donna Hughes at the time. One day, when Daniel was having lunch at my family’s restaurant, he mentioned that he was looking for a guitar player and I retorted that I was looking for a bass player. ‘I’ll play bass,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how, but I’ll learn,’ he replied. Daniel took me to see Lonesome River Band at the Bass Mountain Bluegrass Festival. That was the first bluegrass event I’d been to in many years. Remember, I was a rock-and-roll chick at heart. Lonesome River Band hit the stage wide open. They popped off at least four to five songs nonstop, no talking, no tuning, just straight-up hard-driving ’grass. I was blown away! I never knew bluegrass could have the kind of energy and punch that I got from rock music, but there it was. I was in love. With the realization that playing rock was going to mean late nights, smoky bars, and little to no money, I began to reconsider the logic behind a decision that neither of us felt comfortable about anymore. I asked Daniel if he thought we could put together a bluegrass band. At first, he was reluctant to agree. He says now that he wanted to be sure I was serious. Nu-Blu was up and running, well more like limping in the beginning, but you have to start somewhere. Then my health began to fail. The headaches began to get worse. Then in November they scheduled me for a MRI at a neurological clinic. Two days before the appointment I was hospitalized because I was unable to generally function due to the pain. I had lost my ability to form coherent words and the use of my right side. I was terrified!” Carolyn pauses. “Daniel was there, holding my hand, trying to calm me down, carrying me to the hospital. Early the next morning, Thanksgiving morning, lying in an ER surrounded by a team of neurologists, my blood pressure soared, and I had two strokes. My memories are sketchy and some have come back slowly over time as my brain healed. One memory that is very clear, is the first time I saw Daniel after coming to. Someone said, ‘There’s somebody here to see you,’ and when I looked towards the foot of my bed, there was Daniel. My eyes filled with tears and I wanted to reach out to him. He was my rock. He still is.” Nu-Blu’s backing musicians, Levi and Austin, are excellent musicians. But talent alone will not sustain a group. Band chemistry is a vital element in a group’s success. “Finding the right mix is something that every band struggles with. We feel that we really have something special with both Austin and Levi,” said Daniel. “As for Levi,” Daniel paused. “He helps to shape our sound in so many ways. He is an integral part of our music. His banjo playing speaks for itself, hard-driving on numbers like ‘How Do I Move On.’ He provides a smooth vocal backup on several songs. Levi joined Nu-Blu when he was only 14. Now at 19, he is a former North Carolina State Champion, as well as a first place winner in the youth bluegrass banjo competition at the 2007 Galax Old Fiddlers Convention. He also plays lead guitar on several of the slower songs we do that don’t require the banjo. He is always a vital part of vocal arranging as well as arranging new material. Many of the tracks on ‘Nights’ were engineered by him as well.” “Coming from a jazz and rock background has made Austin a perfect fit for Nu-Blu,” said Carolyn. “He really helps fill out the band’s overall sound.” Daniel agreed, “He pays attention to what else is going on instrumentation-wise and plays just what is needed—no more, no less. Koerner, at only 20, is poised to be one of the next generation’s great mandolin players.” With the untimely demise and subsequent return of Pinecastle Records, Nu-Blu found themselves on a roller coaster, label-wise. Both the band and their record, Nights, rode the waves like a buoy caught in a hurricane. “Nu-Blu has been very blessed with wonderful and supportive family, friends, and fans,” states Carolyn. “While we were devastated, me possibly the most of all, there were friends and colleagues encouraging us to pick up the pieces and go forward. We received so many calls and e-mails. It was overwhelming. “Our publicist, Penni McDaniel of Hope River Entertainment, who had already started the buzz for the Pinecastle release, told us we could do this. Since she’s one of the best in the business, we followed her advice and proceeded. Nights mailed out to radio stations and I held my breath and prayed that the DJs who received them would be kind enough to take a listen. What happened next was phenomenal. We were taping Song Of The Mountains at the Lincoln Theater (Marion, Va.) when we got the first DJ phone call. Before the day was done we had already heard from no less than five DJs via phone and e-mail. The outpouring of support has been absolutely phenomenal.” Two stellar tracks on Nights are cover versions of the Nanci Griffith song “Spin On A Red Brick Floor” and the traditional Irish instrumental “Red Haired Boy.” Says Carolyn, “Daniel and I love music, all music,” stated Carolyn. “We are constantly on the look out for new material to amp up our shows and give our listeners a taste of something different. We were browsing through some of Nanci Griffith’s back catalog when we ran across ‘Spin On A Red Brick Floor.’ We both really loved it and Daniel said it would be a great song to do. From the first time we performed it, audiences have loved it.” From a songwriting perspective, Nu-Blu managed to get a handful of the top bluegrass songsmiths in the business today to contribute. The title track Nights was written by the award-winning bluegrass singer/songwriter Donna Hughes and the songs “Lonesome Mountain” and “Try And Catch The Wind” were written by noted bluegrass and country musician/song-scribe Mark “Brink” Brinkman. “Upon review, these songs where such a perfect fit, I believed they must be included in Nights,” said Carolyn. “We were incredibly fortunate to be able to land these tunes,” Daniel interjects. “‘Nights’ was the song I sang at my grandmother’s funeral in 2007. That’s why it was important to me to record it in her memory, and why it is recorded the exact way it was played at her funeral. I feel especially lucky to have gotten ‘Lonesome Mountain.’ The first time we heard it was at the IBMA conference. Brink had already told us that we could do ‘Try And Catch The Wind’ and we didn’t want to be greedy. Some time later we needed a few more songs to round out the CD and went to his website to see if he had anything new up. There was ‘Lonesome Mountain’ We called him immediately and asked if we could record it. The moment of truth was the first time that I sent him a rough mix. Thankfully, he loved it. You always want the writer to like what you did with their song.” Nu-Blu doesn’t shy away from their Christian faith, recognized in many of their songs. As such they have found themselves on the front lines of the debate between those that believe gospel bluegrass should be considered as sub-genre of bluegrass, and those that feel that the gospel element is intrinsic to bluegrass music. “The acceptance and inclusion of gospel music on even secular bluegrass albums is part of the charm of bluegrass in general,” said Carolyn. “No other genre of music is this all inclusive. Bluegrass artists are free to record an all gospel CD, followed by an all-secular CD of traditional murder ballads if you so wish,” adds Daniel. “Gospel is at the heart of bluegrass music. The history of bluegrass music has its roots firmly ensconced in gospel music—with Celtic and British folk music mixed in as well.” Nu-Blu’s latest album, The Blu-Disc, just released on Pinecastle Records is already proving to be another success for the band, and is positively impacting the record label’s re-launch. The album includes special guests: Rob Ickes (resonator guitar), Greg Luck (fiddle), along with a guest harmony vocal performance by Christy Reid on the single “Other Woman’s Blues.” A song from little-known Nashville songwriter Kira Small, it tells the other side of the story of Dolly Parton’s famous “Jolene” from Jolene’s perspective. Since its radio release, the single and the album have already reached top ten status on numerous charts and continues to receive rave reviews. The music video for the song also adds a savory nuance to the legend. “We shot the video at the Eureka Inn in historic downtown Jonesborough, Tenn. It’s the oldest hotel in Tennessee, and we felt its historic Southern ambience was the perfect place to capture the essence of the song,” said Daniel. “There’s a haunting quality about both ‘Other Woman’s Blues’ and ‘Jolene’ and that’s the spirit we wanted to capture.” Daniel paused for a moment as if he still could sense the hotel’s hoary history and the ghosts within. “The amazing part of the whole process is that it took 12 hours of shooting over two days just to get a three and a half minute video!” Caroyn interjected, “We had no idea that it would be that exhausting.” In addition to the guest musicians, Nu-Blu also tapped the talents of some of the best songwriters in bluegrass. Tim Stafford, John Weisberger, Donna Ulisse, Larry Shell, and Becky Buller, to name just a few who appear on the album credits. The song “Family Quilt,” co-written by Jeff Walter and Deborah Berwyn, is set to be the second single released in late March. “‘Family Quilt’ has proven to be a fan favorite at our shows,” said Carolyn. “Folks are always coming up after a performance and asking, ‘What CD is that quilt song on?’” Nu-Blu have their preferred instruments for recording and performing. And like most recording artists, they signed a few endorsement deals. Carolyn plays an Eminence Bass with a Fishman Full Circle Pickup and a Fishman Pre-amp. The band also endorses D’Addario Strings, Peterson Tuners, and BlueChip Picks. Daniel plays a Martin D-28, the standard for bluegrass. “I do like a Martin D-18 in the studio sometimes. It really depends on the studio I’m at and what mics are being used. If I’m doing something for someone on a country CD, I’ll usually use my D-18. It seems to cut a little better through the drums and bass.” Austin plays a Collins mandolin, and Levi uses the old standby for the banjo, a Gibson Mastertone. Nu-Blu is prepping for a full year of touring in 2012, a trek that will take them from the Carolinas and Florida to Texas and Canada and all points across the Mid-West for good measure. Daniel and Carolyn added, “We also have a new gospel album already recorded and it will be released later this year.” That’s surely exciting news indeed. -Reprinted by permission of Bluegrass Unlimited

Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association Review


Celebrating their 10th year as a band, Nu-Blu has issued their newest release Ten. Founded in 2003 by husband and wife team Daniel and Carolyn Routh, Nu-Blu has developed a strong following while establishing their reputation as a progressive bluegrass band. While firmly versed in the traditions of bluegrass and gospel, they also bring other musical styles into their fresh, contemporary sound. This is a hard working band, their road schedule is relentless, playing many out of the way venues and bringing new audiences to bluegrass.

Daniel, guitar and Carolyn, bass are the driving force behind the band. They are joined here by longtime band members Levi Austin on banjo and Austin Koerner on mandolin with special guest appearances by Ron Stewart and Jim Van Cleve. While everyone in the band sings, the majority of the vocals on this recording are handled by Carolyn, a talented singer with a strong voice and good range.

The CD kicks off with “That Road,” their first single from the album. This Honi Deaton composition is a traditional bluegrass tune that speaks of a musician’s life on the road and why it keeps calling them back. The tune has a nice medium groove, tasteful instrumental breaks, strong backing harmonies and sets a good tone for the rest of the 10 tunes on the album.

“Without A Kiss” is up next with Carolyn on lead vocals. She delivers a strong performance on this sad tale of a wife that loses her husband to a coal mine accident. I really enjoyed her voice on this tune and found that it was at times ever so slightly reminiscent of Rosanne Cash.

“Caught in the Middle” brings us back to a medium tempo bluegrass tune the theme of which is being caught in the middle of giving up or giving in to life's day to day challenges. This is one of several songs that offer commentary on life in America today.

“Eddie’s Garage” is a “homegrown slice of Americana,” telling a story of smalltown America, Anytown USA if you will, where you have a local garage run by an honest guy that you trust to do a good job. It’s about pride in America, the heart and sole of the USA. Not a bad sentiment when you think about it and a style of life worth preserving in this age of chains and mega-stores.

Interestingly and somewhat along these same lines is “All Americans,” a tune that directly questions the divided state of our nation and people, and the fact that our elected officials can’t seem to agree on anything. “Aren’t we all on the same side? Aren’t we all Americans.” Good for them for putting it out there.

“Giant Squid” a contemporary tune composed by Austin Koerner is the only instrumental on the compilation and features nice solos by each instrumentalist.

Overall, discovering this recording was a nice surprise. Ten is my first exposure to Nu-Blu and I have to say there is a lot to like here. These are really good musicians and singers that deliver tasteful performances throughout the CD. Rural Rhythm Records.   -Review by Jaques DiCroce

Bluegrass Today Review

Bands often mark milestone anniversaries with new collections of their music – greatest hits albums, or in the case of the Lonesome River Band this past year, fresh recordings of their greatest hits. Nu-Blu, which is celebrating ten years as a band in 2013, has recently released a disc which commemorates this tenth anniversary. However, instead of digging through past releases to find songs for this new album, the fittingly named Ten consists of (you guessed it) ten tracks of all-new music.

The band states that while in the past they may have chosen their material based on what others expected to hear, with this album they have allowed their own emotions and experiences to guide the selection of songs. This has led to an album which moves back and forth between straightforward contemporary bluegrass and emotion-filled acoustic country. Overall, Ten has a country singer-songwriter feel, particularly due to bassist Carolyn Routh’s heartfelt lead vocals on a majority of the tracks.

The songs on the bluegrass side of things are, in general, the most enjoyable on the album, largely because they have a nice energy running through them. The opening track, That Road, is an upbeat musician’s lament which finds the singer trying to work through the familiar conflict between her love of making music on the road and her love for home and the one she left there. With a few exceptions, songs with this theme are usually written and sung from a male point of view, so it’s nice to hear a female lead and have a female writer (Honi Deaton) this time.

Another grassy track, Caught in the Middle, offers another standard bluegrass theme, this time that of someone who has left home and realizes it was the wrong decision. Trains I Didn’t Take is a variation on the idea behind Balsam Range’s hit Trains I Missed, with the singer stopped at a railroad crossing behind an old love and realizing that “there are no mistakes, only choices that I made.”

On the more country-leaning side of things are the tearjerker Without a Kiss (the story of a coal miner’s widow who rests in the knowledge she’ll see him again someday) and the patriotic All Americans (which finds several band members sharing lead vocals, and urges listeners to put their differences aside and remember that even if we disagree, we all live in the same country). Eddie’s Garage is a laidback slice-of-life tune about a small-town working man who represents “the soul of the USA.” These numbers are all enjoyable, but both the subject matter and sound are much more similar to late 90’s/early 2000’s country radio than the contemporary bluegrass found elsewhere on the album.

The Pat Benatar cover Shadows of the Night has a mellow country feel, as well (with a bit of soft rock mixed in), and closes out the album on a high note. Routh seems quite comfortable and convincing singing here, and this stripped-down, acoustic version is a nice, modern update from the over-the-top 80’s production of Benatar’s cut of the song.

Nu-Blu, which consists of Routh (bass), her husband Daniel (guitar), Levi Austin (banjo), and Austin Koerner (mandolin) is a talented group, and while this album falls more in the country category than bluegrass, their fans will still likely enjoy the stories and music to be found on Ten.

For more information on Nu-Blu, visit their website at Their new album can be purchased from several online music retailers.

iDitty Announces Nu-Blu As Their First Totally Digital Client



 iDitty is proud to announce Nu-Blu as their first totally digital client with their new album TEN. “The idea behind iDitty is to offer the touring musician a physical product they can sell at shows, said Dan Huff, CEO of iDitty. “With CD sales continuing to decline, and the number of music downloads continuing to increase, the market requires a product that meets the needs of the musician and the music consumer. “

“There is no other product on the market that works the way iDitty does,” continued Dan. “My wife Kim deserves credit for the idea to make our product easy to use with a smartphone and tablet and suggested using an app that would support both iPhone and Android operating systems. iDitty allows the musician and record labels to control the content of their card. Its design offers their fans more for their money by way of adding video and pictures that are not generally available on a CD. iDitty is ideal for the musician signed to a label or the independent musician. iDitty offers more content and costs much less to produce than a CD.”

“It’s really exciting to be the first band to use this new technology. The iDitty card allows us to still offer our fans a memento of the show, and capture the sales on the merchandise, all while using a digital format. The coolest part is that they allow us to go back and add videos and extras to the card at no extra cost to our fans! It’s the perfect bridge to the digital word,” said Nu-Blu.

Not only is Nu-Blu celebrating their 10th anniversary with the new album TEN on Rural Rhythm Records, but they are now on THE TEN TOUR performing across the country. With their heavy tour schedule and exposure to music buyers, they are a perfect fit for iDitty.

“When Dan Huff and I first started to discuss approaching record labels, I immediately thought of Rural Rhythm Records. I’ve known Sam Passamano and his son Sammy 3 for several years. I know they are visionaries and forward thinkers. They understand the music business is changing and in order to stay on top you have to adapt. Dan has been working with Daniel Routh of Nu-Blu to get their project ready for their fans. I consider it an honor to have Nu-Blu as our first totally digital client,” said Keith Roberts, Executive VP Marketing iDitty. Music fans can get more information on Nu-Blu at, and follow them on Twitter (@nu-blu, #thetentour, #followlola) and like them on Facebook. For label and indie artists interested in iDitty, please visit iditty.NET.

Nu-Blu Kicks Off 10th Anniversary Tour With A New Website And Chart Single.

NuBlu Website Home Page   



                        “Martha and Mary” Appearing On Singing News Magazine and Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine Charts

Nashville, TN (March 20, 2013) – Nu-Blu kicks off their 10th Anniversary year with the launch of a brand new website and a national tour that will take them across the country performing at major festivals, concert halls, and more. The band will soon announce details of an upcoming album, but they are continuing the celebration of their latest album, NAIL BY NAIL.

“Martha and Mary,” written by Becky Buller and Nancy Cardwell, is the first single release from NAIL BY NAIL. The song appears at #2 on this month’s Singing News Magazine Top Song Chart for the second month in a row, climbs higher on Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine’s Top 30 Bluegrass Song Chart and previously debuted at #8 on Bluegrass Today’s Weekly Top 20.

Nu-Blu is also proud to announce their lead vocalist and bassist, Carolyn Routh, graduated from the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Leadership Bluegrass 2013. Leadership Bluegrass is an intensive, three-day program focused on interactive learning and networking experiences that invite participants to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the bluegrass music industry, along with leadership development issues. Leadership Bluegrass 2013 was hosted at BMI, and Bone McAllester Norton PLLC in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this month. 

For more information on Nu-Blu including tour dates, music and band members, Daniel Routh, Carolyn, Routh, Levi Austin and Austin Koerner, please visit their new website at  

Pinecastle Records:  Matt Hood, Email:, 828-376-0065
Media: Hope River, Penni McDaniel, 678-377-3298