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Alumna Amy Reitnouer building a bluegrass career in L.A.

A passion for bluegrass and an unexpected contact from a Hollywood star is helping an Elon grad find success in the music industry.

Amy Reitnouer '09 at the Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood.

Amy Reitnouer ’09 grabbed an opportunity and is running with it in the competitive entertainment industry of Los Angeles. Reitnouer moved to L.A. after working at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, taking a position assisting Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her office is at the Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood.

But in her spare time, Reitnouer has been feeding her passion for bluegrass music, developed during her college years at Elon. On a whim, she started a blog called BluegrassLA in 2011, and it caught on with the rise in popularity of old-time music in California.

Unexpectedly, she got an email from actor Ed Helms, best known for his role as Andy Bernard in "The Office" and Dr. Stu Price in "The Hangover" films. Helms is an avid banjo player and has a bluegrass band, The Lonesome Trio.

“He said he was a huge fan of my blog and would like to work with me,” Reitnouer says. “At first, I thought it was a joke.”

After talking further with Helms, Reitnouer merged her blog with Helms’ music festival to form a joint venture and a website, www.thebluegrasssituation.com. The site calls itself “Los Angeles’ best resource for fans, musicians and venues to be in the know for what’s happening in the old-time music scene.” It showcases local artists, venues, and upcoming shows, and seeks to demonstrate to the world the amazing talent and local fan base in LA.

“He did a video for our launch and we produced our first concert together on August 19,” Reitnouer says.

A native of Pennsylvania, Reitnouer never expected to become a bluegrass crusader or an online guru for the music. “I never expected to do a blog or get into social media,” she says. “But I love it.”

Reitnouer likes to tell her story to Elon students who are interning in the California entertainment industry and studying in the Elon in L.A. program. She encourages program director J. McMerty to send the students her way. It’s her way of paying back the help she received from fellow alumni when she made the move to the West Coast.

“I’m always more than happy to host them - to go to lunch with them and take part in the alumni sessions with Elon students,” Reitnouer says. “I crashed on Elon alum’s couches the first two months I was here. It’s kind of a rite of passage. You have to crash on an Elon alum’s couch. You just have to.”

Dan Anderson,
8/3/2012 8:42 AM