Canadian banjo explorer Jayme Stone is a musician straddling bluegrass, jazz, old time and African music.
Jayme Stone picked up a passion for music from an eccentric uncle who listened to records endlessly, placing his ashtray on the speaker so Stone could join him in watching how the cigarette smoke swirled to the music.
An unlikely set of circumstances has lent Stone a broader set of reference points than most banjoists and those early beginnings have influenced his sound, choice of material, and collaborations. It started with the architecture of the banjo, led to a mysterious librarian who stocked his local public library with a vast trove of banjo recordings, and landed him long-lasting lessons with a series of maestros, from Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka, to Dave Douglas and Bill Frisell.
His CD titled The Utmost (2007), was co-produced by David Travers-Smith, was made possible through assistance from the Music Section of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Jayme spent several weeks in Mali in 2007, where he sought out the roots of the banjo. His exploits included sitting in at Toumani Diabate’s Hogon nightclub with Toumani’s twenty piece Symmetric Orchestra.
Jayme Stone now leads 2 quartets – the eponymous JSQ and the Africa to Appalachia project.
JSQ’s repertoire is diverse, ranging from a twelve-part composition in eleven, a dirge for Ray Charles, and a medley of Appalachian fiddle tunes all in the same set. They travel from bluegrass hoedowns to jazz festivals.
The Africa to Appalachia project evolved from Jayme’s travels to West Africa to learn the history of his instrument, the banjo. Although Stone’s mission was to uncover common musical ground between Africa and Appalachia – like the shared affinity for sustaining culture and the similar open-string styles – he found the differences between two continents just as intriguing. This is the sound of traditional music re-imagined.
In 2015, Stone released Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project, a collaboration with several acclaimed musicians, including Tim O’Brien, Bruce Molsky, Margaret Glaspy, Moira Smiley, Brittany Haas, Julian Lage and others.
The album Coming Home (Rounder Records) by O’Connor Band With Mark O’Connor is the winner of Best Bluegrass Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
The other finalists were:
Original Traditional – Blue Highway (Rounder Records)
Burden Bearer – Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (Mountain Home Music Company)
The Hazel And Alice Sessions – Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands (Spruce And Maple Music)
North By South – Claire Lynch (Compass Records)
David Grisman was born March 23, 1945 in Hackensack, New Jersey. For more than 40 years, the mandolinist and has been busy creating ‘dawg’ music, a blend of many stylistic influences (including swing, bluegrass, Latin, jazz and gypsy) so unique he gave it its own name. In doing so, David has inspired a whole new genre of acoustic string instrumental music with style and virtuosity while creating a unique niche for himself in the world of contemporary music.
Grisman was already playing the piano, saxophone and mandolin by the time he was a teenager, taking up the latter at age 16. In 1963 Grisman made his first recordings as an artist (the Even Dozen Jug Band-Elektra) and producer (Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and the Kentuckians – Folkways). David’s interests spread to jazz in 1967, while playing in the folk-rock ensemble, Earth Opera.
A failed attempt at learning to play the alto saxophone turned him into a student of jazz musicianship and theory. In the meantime, his burgeoning career as a session musician gave him experience playing other types of music and opportunities to stretch the boundaries of the mandolin. Today, his extensive discography includes recordings with Bela Fleck , the Grateful Dead, Stephane Grappelli, Emmylou Harris, Chris Isaak, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt , Earl Scruggs, Dan Fogelberg, Maria Muldaur, and James Taylor.
Bluegrass masters The Infamous Stringdusters have released their new album Laws of Gravity (Compass Records) this week, featuring new original music.
The Infamous Stringdusters includes Andy Hall on dobro; Andy Falco on guitar; Chris Pandolfi on banjo; Jeremy Garrett on fiddle; and Travis Book on upright bass. The album was recorded in Nashville.
Hall says, “This is the record I’ve been looking forward to making since the band started. As pure of a Stringdusters sound as there is. All original, all us, recorded live for you. From bluegrass to jams, to songs relevant to the times, the music here is a true representation of what makes us tick.”
The Laws Of Gravity Tour Dates 2017:
1/13 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
1/14 Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
1/15 Abingdon, VA – Historic Barter Theatre
1/18 Pawling, NY – Daryl’s House
1/19 Plymouth, NH – Flying Monkey
1/20 Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
1/21 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
1/22 Hartford, CT – Infinity Hall
1/24 Columbus, OH – Park Street Saloon
1/25 Rocky Mount, VA – Harvester Performance Center
1/26 Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theatre
1/27 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
1/28 Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
2/3-2/5 Tucson, AZ – Gem & Jam Festival
2/16 Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
2/17 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
2/18 Los Angeles, CA – The Troubadour
2/19 Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern
2/20 Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl
2/22-2/23 Telluride, CO – Sheridan Opera House
2/24 Aspen, CO Belly Up
2/25-2/26 Steamboat Springs, CO Winter WonderGrass
3/15 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
3/16 Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
3/17 Chicago, IL – Park West
3/18 St. Joseph, MN – College of St. Benedict
3/19 Omaha, NE – Waiting Room
3/21 Jackson Hole, WY – Pink Garter
3/22 Laramie, WY – University of Wyoming
3/23 Park City, UT – Park City Live
3/25 Missoula, MT – The Wilma
3/26 Whitefish, MT – The Great Northern
4/2 Arcata, CA – Humbrew’s
4/4 Bend, OR – Domino Room
4/5 Eugene, OR – HiFi Music Hall
4/6-4/7 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
4/8 Seattle, WA – Neumos
Bruce Molsky is one of the most influential old time fiddlers in the United States. Molsky is also an outstanding guitarist, banjoist and singer. His music incorporates the mountain sounds of Appalachia, the energy of blues and the rhythms of traditional African music.
Bruce has performed and recorded with acclaimed musicians such as Martin Hayes, Darol Anger, Alasdair Fraser, the Waverly Consort and Mike Seeger.
His acclaimed solo recording Poor Man’s Troubles (Rounder) has become a standard for old time music enthusiasts everywhere.
Bruce has been featured on the popular A Prairie Home Companion public radio show and as a guest artist on recordings with Darol Anger and the early music ensemble Hesperus, among many others. He toured the U.K. with internationally renowned fiddler Kevin Burke and others on the Fiddles of Fire tour. Bruce is also an accompanist with the percussive dance ensemble Footworks.
Influential old time musicians Tommy Jarrell and Albert Hash were two of Bruce’s mentors in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he first learned to play. Thanks in part to time spent with these old masters, Bruce has earned numerous awards at fiddle and banjo contests around the southern United States.
Bruce is a highly in demand fiddle and banjo teacher, and teaches his own intensive fiddle workshop program throughout the United States. He is a regular instructor at Augusta Heritage Center, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason’s Ashokan Music Camp, Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle Camp and others.
Blue Highway fuses tradition with progress to create their own unique and timeless style. Having played roles in bluegrass music’s most influential acts such as Alison Krauss and Union Station, Larry Sparks, Doyle Lawson and Ricky Skaggs, the members of Blue Highway — Tim Stafford (guitar, vocals), Wayne Taylor (lead vocals, bass), Shawn Lane (tenor vocals, guitar, mandolin, fiddle), Rob Ickes (Dobro, Scheerhorn acoustic slide guitar), and Jason Burleson (banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass vocals) — refuse to rest on their past accomplishments. Instead, they forge forward, carefully balancing tradition with innovation, continually contributing to the depth and breadth of a flowing bluegrass river. Skaggs himself provided the accolade, “//Blue Highway is writing their own history in bluegrass: fresh, but as old as the hills//.”
Blue Highway’s eighth album, Through The Window Of A Train was self-produced by the band and recorded at Maggard Sound Studios in Big Stone Gap,Virginia, and features 12 songs, all written or co-written by Blue Highway’s five accomplished songwriters – composers whose songs have been recorded by bluegrass staples Ronnie Bowman, Mountain Heart, the aforementioned Skaggs, and others.
The recording showcases Blue Highway at their songwriting, instrumental, and vocal peak. With a nod to family, tradition and travel on the album’s title track, the account of a fading cowboy on “My Ropin’ Days Are Done,” the characterizations of wars past and current on “Homeless Man” and “Two Soldiers,” and through the virtuosic picking on the instrumental “The North Cove,” Blue Highway simultaneously deliver the past, present, and future of bluegrass.
In January of 2010 Rounder Records released Some Day: The Fifteenth Anniversary Collection. The CD is a collection of the best of their Rounder recordings, one cut from a Rob Ickes solo album, and 3 new selections including “Bleeding for a Little Piece of Mind,” which was co-written by Tim Stafford and Darrell Scott and also features Scott on lead vocals.
Barbara Lamb, featured soloist with The Laura Love Band, former member of The John Cowan Band, Asleep At The Wheel and founding member of Ranch Romance, is off on a new tear. Babs released a CD in the fall of 2000 and her new sound was a departure from her bluegrass and western swing roots.
Backed by a rockin’ rhythm combo, Ms. Lamb takes the violin to a new rhythmic realm that weaves together funk, world beat, blues and jazz. Babs has a legion of fans across North America from her many years of touring with top national artists. She is a consummate performer and a skilled workshop presenter.
Bela Fleck is often considered the leading banjo player in the world. He was born on July 10, 1958, and raised in New York City. Named after composer Bela Bartok, Bela picked up the banjo at age 15 after being fascinated by the bluegrass playing of Flatt & Scruggs. He began experimenting with playing bebop on the banjo in high school.
In 1982, he joined the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, where he made a name for himself in the country-bluegrass world. At the same time he was releasing a series of solo albums for Rounder Records.
He collaborated with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor in an acoustic super-group called Strength in Numbers. The group released an iconic album titled The Telluride Session (MCA) in 1989.
In 1989 Bela formed the Flecktones. The group made its self-titled debut recording in 1990 by playing a “blu-bop” mix of jazz and bluegrass and soon became a commercially successful, critically-acclaimed and award-winning band. Fleck, the only musician to be nominated for Grammys in jazz, bluegrass, pop, country, spoken word, Christian, composition and world music categories, also recorded solo releases.
Bela Fleck began the decade of 2000 by signing a deal with Sony Music. The first release was Outbound, that featured the band performing with an all-star group of guest artists including vocalists Shawn Colvin and Jon Anderson (of the group Yes), guitarist Adrian Belew, oboe player Paul McCandless, and keyboardist John Medeski (of the jazz jam-band Medeski, Martin & Wood). Like previous Flecktones albums, the music on Outbound is a mix of styles-from bluegrass to jazz to world music-that is often built around Fleck’s concept of “the banjo being weird.”
In 2003, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones released Little Worlds, the first new studio album from the group since 2000’s Grammy-winning Outbound. Produced by Bela Fleck, the new album is a monumental work on 3 CDs and includes many special guests, including Sam Bush, The Chieftains, Jerry Douglas, Branford Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Nickel Creek, Derek Trucks, and Bernie Williams. The album is a collaborative effort showcasing the ever-evolving group dynamics of the band.
The ambitious Little Worlds is an eclectic, yet cohesive, collection of 27 musical pieces. The limited-edition 3 disc set includes liner notes by Bela Fleck and a 24 page booklet filled with photos taken by the Flecktones and their crew. The group began work on the album in October 2001, with the original intention of creating a “lean and mean” “no rules” record with just the four band members: Bela Fleck (banjo), Victor Wooten (bass), Future Man (synth-axe drumitar), and Jeff Coffin (tenor and alto sax). As the recording process progressed, it became apparent that these were no ordinary sessions and the floodgates of musical inspiration and diversity had opened. Ranging from jazz to Gaelic airs and bluegrass to classical and world music Little Worlds is the band’s most adventurous album.
Throw Down Your Heart, Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3: Africa Sessions (2009) chronicles Fleck’s musical journey to Africa to explore the little known African roots of the banjo. Bela’s boundary-breaking musical adventure took him to Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Mali, and provided a glimpse of the beauty and complexity of African music.
In 2006, jazz keyboardist Chick Corea and Béla Fleck joined together to explore the interactions between the piano and banjo. Corea was an admirer of Fleck’s bluegrass-meets-jazz band the Flecktones and Fleck had been inspired by Corea’s pioneering jazz-rock fusion band, Return to Forever. The two musicians recorded The Enchantment, released in 2007. This collaboration also led to multiyear international live tours.
Béla Fleck and his wife (also an acclaimed banjo player) Abigail Washburn released Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn (Rounder Records) in 2014. The recording featured new music, Appalachian murder ballads, gospel, chamber pieces and blues. Both musicians are generally credited for revitalizing and revolutionizing the banjo and decided it was time to collaborate. “We didn’t want any other instruments on there, because we’re into this idea that we’re banjo players, and that should be enough,” said Béla. “Sometimes when you add other instruments, you take away from the ability of the banjo to show all its colors, which are actually quite beautiful.”
Béla Fleck and Chick Corea followed up in 2015 with a recording titled Two (Concord Jazz), a live double album with material from The Enchantment, along with Corea and Fleck classic pieces and a few additional new compositions.
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (Warner Bros. Records, 1990) Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (Warner Bros. Records, 1991) UFO Tofu (Warner Bros. Records, 1992)
Three Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Warner Bros. Records, 1993) Live Art (Warner Bros. Records, 1996)
Left of Cool (Warner Bros. Records, 1998)
Greatest Hits of the 20th Century (Warner Bros. Records, 1999) Outbound (Columbia, 2000)
Live at the Quick (Columbia, 2002)
Little Worlds (Columbia, 2003)
Ten From Little Worlds (Columbia, 2003)
The Hidden Land (Sony, 2006)
Jingle All the Way (Rounder, 2008) Rocket Science (eOne, 2011)
Fiddler’s Dream is a great opportunity to discover one of the finest fiddlers in the current bluegrass music scene. On this solo recordings, the award-winning musician and composer Michael Cleveland showcases his talent as an acclaimed fiddler and also a mandolinist and guitarist.
On the new album, Cleveland presents a superb mix of self-penned instrumental contemporary bluegrass musical pieces, country songs, and fascinating improvisations.
Michael Cleveland is joined by his band and an impressive list of guest musicians from the American roots music scene. This obviously adds and enrichment to the tunes and songs but Cleveland is definitely the highlight of this album.
Michael Cleveland attracted a lot of attention at the age of 13 when he performed in the influential venue known as the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Since then, Cleveland has won 10 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Fiddle Player of the Year awards and 4 Instrumental Group of the Year awards.
The lineup on Fiddler’s Dream includes Michael Cleveland on fiddle, mandolin and lead guitar; Jeff White on guitar and vocals; Jeff Guernsey on lead guitar; Sam Bush on mandolin and vocals; Lloyd Douglas on banjo; Barry Bales on bass; Jason Carter on fiddle; Jerry Douglas on dobro; Paul Franklin on steel guitar; Vince Gill on vocals; and Andy Stattman on mandolin.
Fiddler’s Dream is an extraordinary album by the sensational fiddler Michael Cleveland.
Bluegrass act Darrell Webb Band will be releasing a new album titled “Lover’s Leap” (Mountain Fever Records) on February 10, 2017. A single, “If You’re Thinking You Want A Stranger”, from the upcoming album was released this week. This song became a country classic in 1981, recorded by George Strait.
Darrell Webb is regarded as one of the finest modern day vocalists in bluegrass. He’s been performing professionally for over 20 years, as a member of acclaimed bands such as Lonesome River Band, Wildfire, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, and Rhonda Vincent & the Rage.
In 2014, Darrell Webb released Dream Big (Mountain Fever Records). Webb’s current band includes Tyler Collins on dobro, Jacob Shelton on bass, Jared Hensley on guitar, and Collins Miller on banjo.