Bluegrass Sensation NewTown releases “Harlan Road”





If you love Bluegrass then you’ll love NewTown. Formed in 2009 and becoming one of the  hottest groups in the industry, NewTown has once again released a huge collection of some of the best in bluegrass music.

Kati Penn of NewTown shared a few special moments with us about the album and how the band believes in holding solid to the true roots of what bluegrass really is.

Fronted by Kati Penn and Jr. Williams, her husband, NewTown will take you back in time through a haunting journey of mesmerizing tales of the hills, the hollers, and the hard times.

Based in Lexington KY the group tours regularly throughout the US and are currently promoting their newest release “Harlan Road”. The album was released in July of this year and has received outstanding reviews.

Kati’s love of music has been with her since she was a child. Her love of Bluegrass is felt and heard in every note she sings. Speaking of singing. Kati has her own style, her own sound, and her voice is etched with those deep bluegrass roots. The sound is silver. She grew up in a family where day to day life was filled with music. At the age of 10 she picked up the fiddle and at age 12 joined the Young Acoustic All-Stars. The group of young and gifted Bluegrass artists toured throughout the US. She has worked with artists Dale Ann Bradley, five time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, she has worked with Jim Hurst, acclaimed guitarist, and with Grammy winning country songwriter and musician Pam Gadd.

NewTown courtesy of Kim Brantley
NewTown courtesy of Kim Brantley

As we talked about the many changes in the country music genre, Kati was right on target that there is one thing about Bluegrass that will not change. The roots are deep and it will always be Bluegrass. There may be small variations but it will never be broken down like other genres of music.

This new album expresses the struggles we experience in life and how each one touches us. How loosing faith and hope and sometimes making the decision to leave this world is still empowered with love….”As I bid this world goodbye”,,,, it touches home for so many.

Bluegrass may not have the most happy and fun filled lyrical compositions but it’s foundation is built on real life and real truth. That’s what makes it so rich with emotion.

The title track “Harlan Road” is a beautiful song filled with high energy fiddles and howling banjo’s. The vocals are rich and passionate. It speaks of a desire for deep love and how it comes and goes through our lives.

Modern bluegrass as opposed to new grass, this bunch brings one of the strongest breaths of fresh air we’ve heard in bluegrass in quite some time and they do it without really turning anything on its head. With solid work from every quadrant—singing, writing, picking, etc. Tasty, solid stuff that gives you another view of “Justified”‘s Harlan. Hot stuff throughout. ~Midwest Record Recap~

NewTown courtesy of Kim Brantley
NewTown courtesy of Kim Brantley

The members of the band are close. Not just “a band” but friends who are family, Kati and Jr. are married, they all have a respect and a family bond that that brings it all together.

Jr. Williams, who shares lead vocals with Kati, plays banjo and began singing and playing when he was a small boy in Irvine Kentucky. His father was a Baptist preacher and eventually Jr. would begin a decades long career of touring with The Bishops, a Southern Gospel family group. Finally he decided after spending several more years touring with other bands that he would team up with Kati and the rest is history. They formed NewTown.

Band members Travis Anderson – Bass, Mitchell Cannon – Mandolin, Hayes Griffin – Guitar/Vocals all have decades of experience and exceptional talent. Mitchell was originally a fiddle player but during his grade school days was deeply inspired by Ricky Skaggs and his smoking mandolin. He picked it up and never looked back.

Travis Anderson holds a degree in Studio Music and Jazz and is a native of Pikeville TN. He has played bass professionally for over a decade and has worked with Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain, whom he also recorded three albums with. Hayes Griffin is originally from Columbus Ohio. He grew up with a love of Bluegrass music. After graduating with a Masters in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory in Boston he toured heavily for almost four years with April Verch.


NewTown is a dynamite group filled with some of the most exceptional talent in the industry. “Harlan Road” was recorded at Mountain Home Records. Tyler Childers, Sarah Siskind, and Randy Weeks each wrote songs that appear on this album. The album was produced by Grammy winner Barry Bales.

Kati will remind you of iconic Bluegrass artists such as Alison Krauss and possibly Lee Ann Womack. But her voice is unique in it’s own right and filled with a powerfully distinctive rich texture.

Harlan Road hits the top ten on Billboard Bluegrass Albums at #8 and is moving up quickly. Kati shared a little advice with all those looking to come in to the industry.

Don’t ever give up, Do your own thing, Develop your own style and have patience. Just be yourself.” ~Kati Penn~

*The material included in this article is the sole property of the writer, (Sherryl Craig,) and the photographer, (Cilene Bosch.) All elements may be used in other publications as determined by the owners. Permission must be obtained for reproduction.

About Sherryl Craig 410 Articles
Sherryl is a Senior Writer and Assistant Editor with Nashville Music Guide and her blog, Lyrics N Legends has been featured since 2012. Her articles has graced the cover and have appeared as feature stories in the NMG print edition. She is also a member of WMMW, Women of Music Music of Women, a non-profit organization in support of women in the music industry. WMMW also appears here in Nashville Music Guide.

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