Thursday, July 25, 2019


Representing the Best in Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Folk, Roots, and Beyond… 

Bonfire Music Group is excited to announce its newest endeavor, Bonfire Management. Led by industry veteran Steve Johnson, the firm will represent some of North American Music’s biggest and rising acts. Johnson will join the team consisting of Bonfire Music Group's owner Lonnie Lassiter, CEO Ethan Burkhardt and marketing director Kyle Watson.

“I’m looking forward to all the great things ahead with Bonfire. I’ve known Lonnie and Ethan for over 10 years, we have worked closely, and they have turned in to family, just like the artists I’m privileged to be working with on the roster,” says Steve Johnson. “I can’t wait to get things going. I’m beyond excited to be leading their Management Division. We have assembled a strong roster of artists and will be supporting a few festivals. It’s a fun mix of working with artists and events, really all the fun things I enjoy about the music community. Now, let’s make some wonderful noise and get things going!”

The artists on the Bonfire Management roster are Chatham County Line, The Barefoot Movement, The Slocan Ramblers, Jason Lee McKinney Band, Mike & Amy Aiken, and Anna Lynch. Bonfire Management will also oversee the operations of The Earl Scruggs Music Festival slated for its inaugural event Labor Day weekend of 2020 in Mill Spring, NC at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.

The new Bonfire Management division, which begins operation August 1st based out of East Nashville, Tennessee, will be led by a well-respected music industry personality, Steve Johnson, who most recently held down 6-plus years as the Artist Relations Manager at MerleFest. Johnson has a diverse background including stints in hospital administration, air medical/aviation services, leading non-profit organizations both in and out of the arts/music communities, and in government affairs having spent time on Capitol Hill. To his music industry credit Johnson started Mountain Music Entertainment and HoosierDevil, both focused on artist and event management and booking, he has worked with many artists providing management and/or booking support, including Junior Sisk, Lorraine Jordan, Mark Newton, Danny Burns, Nu-Blu, Songs From The Road Band, and Rodney Dillard (just to name a few) additionally his companies have produced or supported several music events including the Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series, Jam in the Trees, and Johnson has directly served as Artist Relations Staff to Red Ants Pants Music Festival, Mountain Song, and Graves Mountain Festival of Music.

Johnson’s last role in the music community was serving as Tour Manager to the Steep Canyon Rangers which included time on the road with Steve Martin, Martin Short, Jeff Babko, and the Steep Canyon Rangers tours. His musical roots started early with his Aunt who was Bill Monroe’s Fan Club President and his mother, father, and other family members worked and helped promote many festivals for Monroe when Johnson was a child. He was fortunate to have solid underpinnings spending time with Mr. Monroe and many of the first generation of bluegrass and roots music artists like Kenny Baker, Don Reno, Jimmy Martin, John Hartford, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and many, many more. To listeners of North Carolina based WNCW Radio you may have heard his baritone tinged interviews on the MerleFest Radio hour where served as a co-host to the show for 3 years.

“We are excited for this new direction and to have Steve on board with the team,” said Ethan Burkhardt, CEO of both Bonfire Music Group and Pinecastle Records. “Steve is known for being a hard worker in the music community and is well connected to many facets of the industry. We look forward to great things ahead.”

About Bonfire Management Artists:

Chatham County Line (CCL) has never been shy about crossing borders. Birthed from country rockers Stillhouse in 1999, the Raleigh, NC-based quartet initially referred to its sound as new traditional, “We were in love with bluegrass, so we wanted to play bluegrass without really being trained in it,” Chatham County Line’s vocalist/guitarist Dave Wilson says. The group used the term “guerrilla bluegrass” to describe themselves in those early years, mainly because they had such a mobile form of playing. The band’s name comes from one of their very first practices when the then—unnamed group—Wilson on guitar, vocals, and harp; John Teer on mandolin and fiddle; Chandler Holt on banjo; and Greg Readling covering bass, pedal steel, and piano duties, were trying to find Holt’s place in Chapel Hill and got lost. “We crossed the Chatham County line, and we never looked back,” Wilson says. “Just saw the sign, and said that’d be a good idea for a name, and the next thing you know….”

Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line had this to say about the partnership: “Steve Johnson has been a great friend to CCL through the years and always has a smile and a kind word to share. When we heard he was dipping his toe back into the management scene we were really excited for him and knew he would be a good fit for where we see ourselves in the music world. We look forward to some handshaking good times and hopefully a little bit of sweat on our behalf. Stoked to be aboard with Bonfire Management!”

The Barefoot Movement took off their shoes and took to the stage a little over 7 years ago. Hard work and talent have taken them from east coast to west, from north to south, and even across the Atlantic Ocean. They have appeared in Country Weekly Magazine, RollingStone, CMT Edge, Music City Roots, and Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Their original music was featured on the Outdoor Channel's program "Huntin' the World: Southern Style" and their music video for their popular song "Second Time Around" has been seen nationally on the Zuus Country Network. They have been selected as showcase artists at both the International Bluegrass Music Association and the AmericanaFest events. With crowds teeming with enthusiasm at every performance, and new fans joining the fold across the nation, word is spreading and the message is clear: barefoot is better.

“We are so excited to be collaborating with Bonfire as we prepare to release our forthcoming album. At a certain point in an artist's career, it's essential to expand their team to allow them more freedom to focus on the music itself. We're confident that Steve and his Bonfire colleagues are the team for us and we so look forward to embarking on this partnership,” said Noah Wall, lead singer and fiddle player with The Barefoot Movement.

The Slocan Ramblers (2019 Juno Award Nominees) are Canada’s bluegrass band to watch. Rooted in tradition, fearlessly creative and possessing a bold, dynamic sound, The Slocans have become a leading light of today’s acoustic music scene. With a reputation for energetic live shows, impeccable musicianship and an uncanny ability to convert anyone within earshot into a lifelong fan, The Slocans have been winning over audiences from Merlefest to RockyGrass and everywhere in between. The Bluegrass Situation recently said, “This fearless, fleet-fingered string band is adventurously advancing the high lonesome sound of bluegrass to great acclaim.”

Jason Lee McKinney (Band) features iInternational award-winning songwriter, Jason Lee McKinney who continues to partner with keyboard/guitarist Barry Strauser and bassist Billy Wright as he has for the better part of a decade as well as the adding of slide guitar virtuoso Sam Berce over the last couple of years. In addition to their radio success from Sacred Southern Soul their dynamic partnership has earned the band a top 10 hit in Texas with 2015’s Lisha’s Leaving off of Play Something You Believe Vol. 1, 4 Independent Country Music Awards (Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Americana Song of the Year, Americana Album of the Year) from 2013’s Troubadours Vagabonds and Thieves; and a 2018 Josie Music Awards nomination for Americana Song of The Year from Sacred Southern Soul. This band is fresh but has history; the Jason Lee McKinney Band has 6 albums, over 75 originals, not to mention the band knows 80 covers songs as diverse as their originals. The band songs narrate a cannon of Sweet Southern Soul that is drenched deep in Americana soil, blending elements of Memphis Blues, Gospel, and Soul with Appalachian Folk, Traditional Country and good old Heartland Rock and Roll. 2018 also saw the band locked away at North Mississippi All Stars studio Zebra Ranch in Coldwater, MS with producer Kevin Houston (Robert Plant, North Mississippi All Stars, Lucero, Buddy Guy, Southern Avenue, Ghost Town Blues Band, Samantha Fish, Patty Griffin, and Jim Lauderdale) working on the album Pieces (not yet released). The band feels it is their best yet and takes things to another level.

Mike & Amy Aiken’s music definitely has an ocean view. Mike Aiken’s vast treasure chest of experiences and mastery of varied stringed instruments have contributed to a catalogue of music that cannot be defined by one genre or style. This well-traveled Virginia songwriter and sea captain may have been born in the wrong century. Aiken has drawn tales - and hope - from trail riders, aging rodeo champs, sea captains, Rastafarians and outlaws, to craft tunes that draw the threads of these independent spirits together. Amy Aiken, Mike’s musical and adventuring partner from stage to sea, brings her own sincerity and personality to the duo, delivering sweet harmony vocals and tasty percussion. Each is a licensed US Coast Guard Captain, has sailed over 30,000 blue-water miles, and logged countless miles on the road performing in North America and Europe. Together they have also logged seven studio albums, one first-round Grammy nomination, No. 1 and No. 13 in Europe, five songs Top 25 US charts, in addition to founding the Aiken & Friends Fest, a music festival benefiting youth music education, now in its 14th year.

“We are very excited and pleased that partnering with Steve and Bonfire has become a reality, said Mike Aiken. “Hot Damn, we are going to kick some ass together!”

Anna Lynch is a native Californian, born and raised in the small wine country town of Sebastopol, California, and now residing in a small town on the outskirts of the Pacific Northwest musical-rich community of Portland, Oregon. Her musical underpinnings were formed by her parents in the California bay area folk scene and honed throughout the backcountry of Alaska where she earned her first accolades as a band leader and songwriter. Lynch is an in- demand vocalist, songwriter, and with her unique “right hand strum” on the guitar is finding success across many genres and with fans of all musical tastes. One minute you find yourself with tears in the corner of your eye and the next with a smile on your face. It’s all delivered with a sincerity that is authentic and genuine.
Her self-titled debut album, released in 2013 to critical acclaim, was heralded as “one of my favorite albums,” “something real that you can endlessly fall into love with “a compelling honesty to the writing and a clear truth to the delivery of every single line,” “a true recording artist,” and Country Music Television (CMT Edge) profiled her song Railroad Man from the release. The Bluegrass Situation described her music as “top-tier American sounds, percussive mandolins and unforgettable hooks.”

The inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival will be held in Mill Spring, North Carolina Labor Day Weekend of 2020. The festival will be a two-day (Friday night/Saturday) event taking place at the Tryon World Equestrian Center. The festival is a collaborative effort between The Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, North Carolina and WNCW Radio on the campus of Isothermal Community College in Spindale, NC. The musical lineup will feature top tier bluegrass, Americana, Folk, Roots, and beyond appearing on two stages. The first lineup announcement, and limited early bird ticket options, will be made available at the International Bluegrass Music Association World of Bluegrass festivities in Raleigh, NC in late September. Additional details will be coming via the Bonfire Management website.

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