Sam Bush

       Sam Bush has been a premier mandolinist for many years.  My guess is if you were to survey serious students of the instrument most would have Sam near the top of their hero list.

        I can’t say Sam is a personal friend, but I know him and have followed his career for years.  His old band, New Grass Revival, had a deal with Capitol Records years ago.  They toured around with Leon Russell as I recall.  All of us who followed the music felt New Grass was so progressive a lot of folks didn’t get it.  They mixed everything from bluegrass to reggae to rock ‘n roll, and were a house a fire every time I heard ’em.   For my money Sam has the best right hand rhythm of anyone on the business, and I think much of it was developed in all those years on the road with the Revival. 

         After the band split, all of them went on to front touring bands.  Sam played with the Emmy Lou Harris Hot Band and was the session mandolinist of choice for a host of recordings.  When you are the mandolin man of choice for Doc Watson, you are THE mandolin man.

         Sam came back to center stage with the Sam Bush band.  His line-up has been strong for years.  It is anchored by his old Bowling Green Kentucky high school buddy, Byron House on the bass.  I admire Sam’s loyalty, but the fact House is one of the best bass players in the country doesn’t hurt, either.  If you have never seen them catch their show.  MerleFest is his biggest venue, but don’t expect him to be able to do a lengthy meet and greet there.  At MerleFest, Sam has reached rock star status, and his autograph line is often a two hour wait.

        Visit Sam at his website or myspace as below.  He has tour dates, sound clips, pictures and more, and it is worth the visit.  As any mandolinist will tell you, Sam Bush rocks!    

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: Mandolin Players I Know


You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

8 Comments on “Sam Bush”

  1. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Dr. B – I’ve never known you to engage in understatement before, but Sam surely is “THE MAN.” While many pure, traditional bluegrassers lament his move toward the dark (electric) side, he has never lost sight of his roots or stopped developing his music. He’s a true son of Bill Monroe while always locating himself close to the edge of the new. Byron House is indeed, one of the very best. But never forget that Scott Vestal on banjo is one the people exploring the outer edges of where the banjo can go with taste and thoughtfulness. Stephen Mougin, in my mind underestimated, plays a rip roaring guitar while always solid on rhythm. Sam’s drummer Chris Brown (this is where it really becomes controversial for bluegrassers) manages to add significant sound and drive to the music while always in good taste. One of the qualities that makes bluegrass bluegrass is the melding of separate instruments into a single sound, never losing the sense of ensemble while always empahsizing the individual virtuosity of each musician. Sam Bush’s band excells at this. (Why did I throw away this review in a response to your piece?) – Ted

  2. drtombibey Says:


    Heck I believe I’d post it on Mandolin Cafe. This is great info. I just asked the Cafe to send me any info they could, as I want my story to be as accurate as possible.

    My post is under General Mandolin discussion.

    I guess you wrote the comment because you are an all around good guy- Northern Hospitality!

    Dr. B

  3. Billy Says:

    One time several years ago I took the Mrs with me on a trip to Louisville. I don’t always take her, but this time she wanted to go because Lyle Lovett who was to play at the Brown Theater on the very night I was to hit town.

    We dropped the trailer and then parked our cab about three blocks from the Brown.
    She got to see Lyle but the highlight surprise of the night was this guy Sam Bush who played with him. When he finished everyone was standing and applauding and stomping like I have never seen before. Lyle just stood by strumming with a big smile and blushed. Great preformers always have someone fantastic on the stage with him and that night it was Sam Bush.

    I cannot tell you how many players we have worn out playing Sam Bush’s CD’s

  4. drtombibey Says:


    I’ve seen Sam many a time, and his show rocked every time.

    He is one of the most energetic mandolinists in the history of the world. Sam is a fine fiddle man, too.

    Dr. B

  5. Smitty Pres. of Neuse River Fan Club Mississippi Says:

    Doc seen Sam at the Ryman. If you keep up with bluegrass, we all know that the Ryman on Thursday nights in the summer has wondeful bluegrass shows. Cindy and I went to see the Nashville Bluegrass Band and Sam Bush. She was impressed with the fact that so many people had so many different styles of clothes in the audience. We were in the second level and close to us was a man in new overall. The person beside him was in a suit and a girl later moved to the rail in a tshirt and jeans. The one characteristic that all the people had in common was the famous chin bob to the beat of the music. The effect was orchestrated to say the least. Sam played forever that night. You have seen where they have to take a musician off the stage because he will not leave and he is so tired that he cannot leave under his own power. That night in the Ryman, they had to do that. A wonderful mando player with his signature leg keepin beat to the music.

  6. drtombibey Says:


    I dig Sam too- one of the best. I think the man still loves to play.

    One time someone asked him a question about royalties, and he said, “I don’t know, I’m a music guy not a money guy.”

    I loved the quote. I like to think I’m sorta the same- ‘a doctor guy not a money guy’- maybe that’s why I was a “low end provider” as the business folks call it, but I sure have enjoyed the ride and took good care of my patients.

    Dr. B

  7. Gail L. martin Says:

    Do any of you come to Kansas for The Bluegrass Festival?

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Martin,

    I have spent my whole life as a Doc and played music in the Southeast, but I plan to cut back my schedule in a couple of years and get out there.

    I assume you refer to Winfield. I have read about it for years and always wanted to go.

    Dr. B

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: