While stopped at a red light, John Fonvielle, guitarist and vocalist for bluegrass-Americana band End of the Line, was thumbing through the pages of encore when he came across an ad that read: “Trio Needs Bass Player for Bluegrass Band.”
Fonvielle admits he hadn’t played bluegrass since college, but the musician inside him influenced his decision to pick up the phone and make the call. Almost eight years later, he continues to play bluegrass, alongside band members Paul Slovik (mandolin/vocals), Mike Adams (bass/vocals), Perry Hewlett (dobro/banjo/vocals), and Woody Dobson (drums/vocals).
For years End of the Line has taken the stage at the Brooklyn Arts Center, entertaining guests dressed head-to-toe in either elegant evening gowns or spiffy tuxedos. There are usually tears shed, floral bouquets tossed into the crowd, and wedding cake served. That will not be the case for the band’s upcoming performance, where they invite long-time pal Big Al Hall and Nashville-based band The Carmonas to share the stage.
“End of the line has played here several times, and I thought they were fabulous,” says Rich Leder, executive director for the Brooklyn Arts Center. “I suggested to John that he put together a show for the venue, and that I would support him in any way I could.”
Leder approached Fonvielle in December 2012, and the first Wilmington Bluegrass and Old Time Music Show was up and running by January. The first one went off without a hitch, showcasing performances by End of the Line, Big Al Hall, Masonboro Sound, and Possum Creek.
“My paramount goal was that everyone had fun, regardless of what happened,” Fonvielle says. “We ended up having a blast. It was on the coldest day of the year, and it was freezing in the [Brooklyn Arts Center], but we still had a couple hundred people. So, we said let’s do another one.”
The second show took place last May with performances by End of the Line, Big Al Hall, Possum Creek, The South Hammock Bluegrass Band, and Stray Local. At the time, bluegrass-folk group The Carmonas, were performing a show in Raleigh and got wind of the event—eager to become a part of the set list. Aaron Carmona, one of the band’s vocalists, reached out to Fonvielle about the band performing in the show. “The last show was all booked up,” Carmona says, “but [Fonvielle] said maybe next year we could get on, and when he started booking for it, he was true to his word and didn’t forget us.”
Fonvielle’s promise is one of the main reasons behind Friday’s show at the Brooklyn Arts Center. “We’re excited to have them here in town,” Fonvielle says, “and I think they’re music is going to blend well with ours.”
Playing alongside Carmona are his, sister Alison Carmona (vocals), his brother, Chad Carmona (guitar), Willie Huston (banjo), and Chris Hancock (upright bass). The band first got its start during the 2000s, playing shows around downtown Nashville in bars like the Tootsie’s World Famous Orchard Lounge and renowned venue The Bluebird Café, which has been featured on the ABC, hit television series, “Nashville.”
Long before the band evolved, the Carmona siblings—having grown up in a military family—traveled the world and plays shows for troops and their families. “Personally,” Carmona says, “when you can play for people who are sacrificing so much, it’s great to be able to bring joy or to play a song that gives a soldier peace of heart in a time of war. Some of the soldiers we played for in Italy, for instance, were leaving for Afghanistan the very next day. They pulled us aside later and told us how grateful they were that we played this song or that. For them to be so gracious, at a time where so much was at stake, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Since traversing the globe, the siblings have joined together to establish a name for themselves in Nashville. The Carmonas released their first EP, “Oh, Alice,” in 2012, and are now promoting their first self-titled LP, released in August.
The production process for the album was one large collaboration. Recorded in Alex the Great Studios in Nashville, Carmona explains its completion with Justin Tam as the producer, Stephen Turney as the engineer, and Vinni Alibrandi as the master engineer.
“We recorded every song live and in-house over a three-day period in March,” he explains, “adding solos and specialty instruments such as the hammer tack piano in ‘Human Hurricane,’ after the live foundation was set. We added some percussion later as well, which is pretty uncommon because normally that’s done first—with tracking to set the tempo. We realized we wanted to put a little more oomph into it after the initial edits. All in all we’re totally happy and proud of the finished album, and we’ve gotten very good feedback.”
Guests can expect to hear songs from both albums, and if the show’s turnout proves just as successful as the previous two, Fonvielle says End of the Line might reciprocate the visit and join The Carmonas in Nashville for a show.
The Wilmington Bluegrass and Old Time Music Show continues to evolve in its success. Fonvielle jokes about his organizational skills being a bit better than when he first started putting it together. No matter what, the key to each show’s success is that everyone has fun.
Presented by Step Up Productions, Fonvielle’s unofficial record label, End of the Line will be showcasing a set list that includes some of the band’s hit songs, such as “Favorite Song,” “Tupelo Nights,” “Will I See You Again,” and “White Freight Liner.”
Their debut album release, “End of the Line” (2011), consists of a compilation of songs written by each of the members. Each member contributed two songs. “Favorite Song” was written by Slovik, and “Tupelo Nights” was written by Fonvielle. The album was self-produced under Step Up Productions with the help of Jeff Reid from Reid Recording.
“I’ve been working with him for years on other people’s projects, so we’ve got a good working relationship,” Fonvielle says. “He’s got great instincts and a really good ear, so he keeps us in line.”
The band also will play covers by some of their personal favorites, such as The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” and Ricky Skagg’s “Carolina Mountain Home.” Guests can expect the walls of the Brooklyn Arts Center to reverberate with bluegrass and Americana. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs inside for ultimate relaxation.
“The Brooklyn Arts Center is one of the premier concert locations in the Southeast,” Leder says. “It’s a great room for bluegrass. Throw in the lawn chairs and you’ll have a truly great concert night.”
Doors for the show open at 6:30 p.m. and admission costs $10.
Wilmington Bluegrass Old-Time Music Show
Fri., Nov. 21, 6:30 p.m.
Featuring End of the Line, The Carmonas, with special guest Big Al Hall
Tickets: $10 at the door
Brooklyn Arts Center
516 N 4th Street