It’s hard to imagine Bryan Sutton – easily the hottest bluegrass guitar player in the game today – feeling the need to come into his own.Sutton has toured with the likes of Bela Fleck and Chris Thile, been named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s guitar player of the year six times, produced a Grammy nominated record this year for Della Mae, has won three Grammys of his own – two during his time with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and one for a rendition of “Whiskey Before Breakfast” (with the iconic guitar player who happens to be the answer to the trivia question below) – and is one of the most in-demand sessions players in Nashville.What else did Sutton have to prove? Nothing really, except to make the record that only he could make. That record is Into My Own, which releases on Sugar Hill Records on April 29. Sutton has stepped up his game both as a songwriter and a vocalist, and his new record is his most well-rounded to date.As always, Sutton is joined by some of the hottest pickers in bluegrass. Sam Bush, Noam Pikelny, Stuart Duncan, Ronnie McCoury, Luke Bulla, and many others all lend their talents to this tight collection of bluegrass tunes.Trail Mix recently caught up with Bryan Sutton to chat guitars, bluegrass pickers, and that one guy he couldn’t believe he found himself on stage with.BRO – What’s your guitar of choice these days?BS – I’m fortunate to have some good options with guitars. I tend to let the gig or general need define what guitar I’ll use. I’ve been using a 1948 Martin D-28 for the last few years for most of the shows and sessions I’ve done. This guitar feels extremely natural to me. For Hot Rize shows, I enjoy playing Charles Sawtelle’s old 1937 D-28. For most recording sessions, I take a pile of guitars.BRO – You are spending more and more time in front of a microphone these days. Can you describe the challenge in growing your confidence as a singer?BS – The challenge for me as a singer has been trying to improve while doing. Lots of times, my best opportunities for real “practice” are in front of hundreds of people. Sort of trial by fire, I guess. I’m also surrounded by great singers who are supportive and have made me feel a little more competent and confident.BRO – We are featuring “Log Jam” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?BS – I experienced a pretty cool and short period of time where I wrote most of the instrumentals for this new record. “Log Jam” came out of this time. I came up with this little pattern at the top that I liked and I could recognize a groove, but the sense of a down beat was vague. It built from there and revealed itself as a kind of blues jam turned on its head.BRO – Who is your favorite bluegrass picker?BS – Don’t make me answer that. Without being an over-generalizer, I really recognize and honor certain individual strengths and contributions my favorite players have made and continue to make. That being said, it’s hard to overlook Tony Rice for his personal influence on me as a player and the kind of mark he’s made in bluegrass guitar playing in general. I don’t have a favorite ice cream flavor, ether.BRO – Have you ever met a bluegrass lick that’s gotten the best of you?BS – There’s this Kenny Baker phrase that most notably comes from his interpretation of “Muleskinner Blues.” I can do it, but it seems to not flow the way I should when I try it in context.BRO – Finish and elaborate, please: “Holy shit. I can’t believe I am on stage with . . .”BS – Jack Black. I worked on this record with this jazz bassist, Charlie Haden. Jack is his son-in-law, and we did the Opry a few years ago. We played a fast tune with a bunch of solos and Jack would fly around the stage like a wild man, dancing and carrying on. It was a hoot.Our North Carolina friends can catch Bryan Sutton on the road with David Holt and T. Michael Coleman at Merlefest on April 24th, at the Tryon Fine Arts Center in Tryon on May 9th, and at the High Point Theater in High Point on May 10th. Sutton returns to the stage with Hot Rize at Del Fest in Cumberland, Maryland, on May 23rd. For all of our Elevation Outdoors readers in Colorado, Bryan will be part of the Telluride House Band in June and will be in Lyons for both the Rockygrass Academy and a Hot Rize concert in July.For more information on Bryan Sutton, when he might be heading to a stage near you, or how to get a copy of Into My Own, surf over to www.bryansutton.com.In the meantime, Trail Mix would like to give you a shot at getting your hands on Bryan’s new record a few days early! Take a shot at the trivia question below. Email your answers to email@example.com. A winner will be chosen from all of the correct answers received by noon on Thursday, April 17.Question . . . . Bryan won a Grammy award in 2007 for his performance with what legendary acoustic bluegrass/mountain blues guitar player and patriarch of Merlefest?
Although many of the faces from last year haven’t changed, the UW women’s soccer team’s position in the Big Ten standings certainly did. The team is only one point out of first place heading into its final three games.According to senior defender Whitney Owusu, this drastic improvement from last year’s team that finished the year in 10th place can be attributed to the Badgers’ resiliency.“The difference from last year’s team is we’re more confident and more together as a team. We know that we can and should win,” she said. “When we get scored on we don’t get down, and we know we can get back into the game.”“The change has to do with our attitude and mentality,” goalkeeper Michele Dalton added. “I don’t think it has much to do with skill, that has always been there but I think the mentality of the team has really turned around. Not just from last year, it’s been a progressive change. We’re more confident stepping out onto the field, and we know we can compete with these teams.”The Badgers had an impressive weekend and came from behind twice, finishing the weekend with two draws against Big Ten co-leaders Penn State and Ohio State. Last year, the team lost games against the same teams by a combined score of 7-0.Head coach Paula Wilkins has also been impressed by the success accomplished by her young team this year. According to Wilkins, another year of growth, both mentally and physically, has contributed to the team’s strong play this year.“As a team we focused a little more on fitness, but the change was more due to mentality,” Wilkins said. “We made sure we were more consistent and didn’t give into the little things that went wrong during games. Our results show the maturity of the players.”A big part of the team’s success is the outstanding play from forward Laurie Nosbusch. The sophomore has seven goals and 12 total points so far this season. She was also responsible for the game-tying goal against Penn State, which earned her Big Ten Player of the Week honors, while teammate Monica Lam-Feist took home Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. That marked the fourth time this year she had scored the game equalizing or winning goal.“I’m a forward and it’s my job to score goals,” Nosbusch said. “I know that if my teammates give me a good pass I can finish it.”Although Wilkins gives credit to the superb play of Nosbusch, she also points out the great play of the players setting her up.“It’s always nice to have a player like that on your team,” Wilkins said. “As a coach you get your paycheck based on those players. It’s really exciting seeing her play, and I think it’s great how the players around her are creating opportunities for her. Laurie’s finishing off what she’s supposed to be doing, and players like Paige Adams, Erin Jacobsen and Leigh Williams are getting her the ball.”The Penn State game also marked the last home game for the seniors of the team. These players include Owusu, Stephanie Krombach, Ashley Hedges and Krista Liskevych, all of whom have greatly contributed to the Badgers’ success this year.“It was really emotional playing our last game at home, especially when they were calling out all the seniors at the beginning of the game, but it was a really fun game,” Owusu said. “I’m glad we got to end with Penn State on our home field. This year has been amazing, but my best memory has to be our two comebacks this weekend.”Although the Badgers are in a good position for the Big Ten title hunt right now, they know there is a lot of work left to be done. With the next three games against Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern — all of whom are ranked in the lower half of the Big Ten — Wilkins knows the team needs to step it up down the stretch.“The key is being the most consistent game after game. Every game matters and every moment matters and the teams that grasp that are the ones that are successful,” Wilkins said. “We look one game at a time and one play at a time — hopefully we’ll do well.”“It’s exciting,” Owusu added. “I mean last year we were fighting to make it to the Big Ten Tournament, and this year we’re fighting for a championship.”