Deeper Shade of Blue birthed 21 years ago somewhere between North Carolina and a high lonesome Bill Monroe song.
Two original members remain, blue as ever.
Witness the latest chapter in the bluegrass saga of Deeper Shade of Blue on April 3 at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion. They’re headlining Song of the Mountains, a syndicated television program that broadcasts nationally via PBS.
“We were on Song of the Mountains about 10 years ago,” said Troy Pope, singer and guitarist for Deeper Shade of Blue. “It’ll be good to be back. We’re going to debut a lot of new songs on Song of the Mountains.”
Based east of Charlotte, for most of its existence Deeper Shade of Blue maintained an indie status. As such, they self-produced and released six albums, including its critically hailed “Bluegrass to the Bone.”
“We’ve come a long way since then,” Pope said by phone from his home in Monroe, North Carolina.
Their independent status changed when they signed with Mountain Fever Records. The label issued the band’s critically hailed album, “Steam,” in 2018.
“We were looking to put music out through a bigger airway,” Pope said. “We were looking for a bigger push to get music out worldwide.”
An enormous leap, the band had previously concentrated on the East Coast and Southeast. Until recent years, they had never ventured even into the Midwest. Last year was to have changed that.
“We were going to go to Ireland before COVID hit,” Pope said. “We were going to go to Canada.”
Instead, the fellas got to work. By day, they work regular jobs. Otherwise, they’ve been crafting and recording new songs for an upcoming album. Pope said that other than mixing and mastering, the album is ready for release on an undisclosed label.
“We’re really happy with how this record has turned out,” he said. “They’re all good songs. If we don’t like it, we don’t cut it. It’ll probably be out in the summer.”
As yet, the band hasn’t decided on a title for the album. However, new songs include a Pope original called “Radio Tears.”
“When you’re young, you can get your heart broke,” he said. “Nobody’s going to see you cry, but there’s radio tears. He’s a big man, as far as everybody can see, but there’s radio tears when he cries. It’s a play on words.”
As referenced, Pope said he foresees the public debut of such new songs as “Radio Tears” during Song of the Mountains. In doing so, they’ll reach households in states including California and Washington, outposts in which they’ve yet to perform for a live audience.
Know this: As they’ve done for two decades back home, Deeper Shade of Blue embrace bluegrass traditionalism. Hungry and hard driving of sound, tight harmonies of voice — they perform like a band on the breadline.
“We concentrate on our harmonies,” Pope said. “If you can grab them with your singing, you can hold onto them.”
Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.