Tag Archives: United States of America

Southern Rock Icon Gregg Allman Dies at 69

Gregg Allman – Photo by Danny Clinch

Legendary Southern rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Gregg Allman passed away on May 27, 2017.

Gregory LeNoir Allman was one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. Based in Macon, Georgia, the Allman Brothers Band was a pioneer of Southern rock, a remarkable mix of rock, blues, jazz and soul.

Some of the best known songs he performed include “Midnight Rider” and “Whipping Post.” The Allman Brothers Band won a GRAMMY Award in 1995 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “Jessica.”

We have lost a pioneering force in American music, and our condolences go out to Gregg’s family, friends, colleagues, and music fans everywhere,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy.

The family recommends that tributes to Gregg can be made to the Gregg Allman Scholarship Fund at The University of Georgia or the Allman/Lehman Endowed Scholarship at Syracuse University.

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Artist Profiles: Bad Haggis

Bad Haggis – Photo by Wayde Carroll

 

Virtuoso bagpipe player Eric Rigler and his Celtic-infused, world music fusion band Bad Haggis combine the traditional sounds of Scottish and Irish bagpipes and tin whistles with Latin American music, Jazz, rock, and African influences. Based in Los Angeles, the band was formed in formed in 1998 and has toured the United States, Scotland and Spain.

Rigler fell in love with the sound of bagpipes at age two. He learned the traditional forms of bagpipe music, but as he got older he was interested in other genres and decided to combine them.

Rigler ‘s bagpipes and whistles are heard on several movie soundtracks, from Hollywood hits Braveheart and Titanic to the 2005 Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby. Eric Rigler also is heard on Troy, Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World, Ladder 49, Road to Perdition, Death to Smoochy, Austin Powers – The Spy Who Shagged Me, Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius and many others.

Bad Haggis is led by Rigler on Scottish and Irish bagpipes and various whistles. The lineup has varied throughout the years.

 

Eric Rigler – Photo courtesy of Aix Records

 

Rigler has recorded with various artists such as Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban and Tracy Chapman.

He’s also heard and sometimes seen on A&E television’s Crossing Jordan as well as other TV series like JAG, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and others. Rigler was the piper who led former President Ronald Reagan’s burial, televised worldwide.

 

Discography:

Ark (2000)

Trip (2001)

Span (2004) Live-concert, double-sided DVD

Wine Dark Sea (2005)

website: www.badhaggis.com

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Artist Profiles: Crooked Still

Crooked Still, original lineup

Crooked Still is an alternative bluegrass band that combined banjo, cello and double bass.

In the spring of 2001, vocalist Aoife O’Donovan and bassist Corey DiMario were classmates at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In the meantime,  just across the river in the laboratories of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, a young cellist named Rushad Eggleston from the Berklee College of Music met every night to jam with Greg Liszt, then a graduate student and aspiring four-finger banjo player. A random meeting at a late-night party brought all four of these musicians together for the first time and Crooked Still was born in the summer of that year.

Their acoustic fusion transformed traditional American tunes  without losing authenticity. “It’s almost like we’re going back and making imaginary history ” said Eggleston.

As its members finished school, Crooked Still regularly performed around Boston, gaining a great reputation and growing its fan base.

Hop High (Signature Sounds Recordings 2005) the debut album from Crooked Still was released at the prestigious Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in July 2004 and was the top-selling CD at the festival that year. Following the success of this first festival appearance Crooked Still appeared at concert halls nightclubs coffeehouses and festivals in many American states and three different countries.

In 2007, Rushad Eggleston left the band and one year later two new musicians joined the band, Tristan Clarridge (cello) and Brittany Haas (fiddle).

 

Crooked Still

 

The ensemble took a 3-year sabbatical in 2011.

 

Discography:

Hop High (Signature Sounds Recordings, 2005)

Shaken by a Low Sound (Signature Sounds Recordings, 2006)

Still Crooked (Signature Sounds Recordings, 2008)

Crooked Still Live (Signature Sounds Recordings, 2009)

Some Strange Country (Signature Sounds Recordings, 2010)

Friends of Fall (Signature Sounds Recordings, 2011)

www.crookedstill.com

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Artist Profiles: Courtney Granger

Courtney Granger

Courtney Granger is a virtuoso fiddler, guitarist and outstanding singer. He was born in Eunice, Louisiana. Granger is Christine Balfa’s cousin and was the youngest member of Balfa Toujours. He recorded his debut CD for Rounder Records at the age of 15. He quickly became a reputable musician in the Cajun music scene and received several Cajun French Music association (CFMA) awards.

In 1999 Courtney joined Balfa Toujours on bass and fiddle playing together with the great Kevin Wimmer. Courtney also recorded with the legendary bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien.

Courtney’s repertoire includes Cajun and classic country tunes. His masterful fiddling and soulful singing has made him one of the most sought-after Cajun fiddlers, playing with renowned artists Jason Frey Dirk Powell and Horace Trahan. He joined the famous Cajun band The Pine Leaf Boys in summer 2008.

In 2016 he released Beneath Still Waters, his first solo country album.

Discography:

Un Bal Chez Balfa (Rounder, 1999)

Live at Whiskey River Landing, with Balfa Toujours (Rounder CD 696 2000)

Live at 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2009)

Back Home, with The Pine Leaf Boys (Valcour Records, 2010)

Live at Jazzfest 2012, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2012)

Danser, with The Pine Leaf Boys (2013)

Beneath Still Waters (Valcour Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Cornel Pewewardy

Cornel Pewewardy – Photo by Mike Habermann

Cornel Pewewardy (flute and vocals) is the lead singer of the Alliance West Singers.

Dr. Pewewardy was born in Lawton Oklahoma of Comanche and Kiowa parents is a member of the Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma and is known as an accomplished singer among the Comanche Kiowa and Ponca people.

His ability to compose songs and play the flute was nurtured by his Comanche uncle the late George “Woogie” Watchetaker, a direct descendant of Chief Wild Horse. Woody Bigbow (Kiowa) presented Cornel his first Indian flute in 1975 in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Cornel is also a recognized educator and has received several prestigious awards.

Discography:

Spirit Journey (Soar Records 1993)

Dancing Buffalo: Dances and Flute Songs (Music of the World, 1994)

Between Father Sky and Mother Earth, with other artists (Narada, 1995)

Comanche Hymns from the Prairie (SOAR/Natural Visions, 1996)

Arctic Refuge – A Gathering of Tribes (Soundings Of The Planet)

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Artist Profiles: Connie Dover

Connie Dover – Photo by Gherig Fry

Connie Dover is an acclaimed singer specialized in the traditional music of Great Britain and Ireland. Her remarkable voice and inspired arrangements have earned her a  place among the world’s finest Celtic singers.

Connie’s best-selling albums: Somebody (1991) The Wishing Well (1994) and If Ever I Return (1997) and The Border of Heaven (2000) were produced by former Silly Wizard multi-instrumentalist Phil Cunningham. They feature instrumentation by excellent traditional musicians from both side of the Atlantic.

Connie began her Celtic music career as a lead singer for the Kansas City-based Irish band Scartaglen. She also performed in a duo with former Scartaglen member Roger Landes. She has toured extensively throughout the USA and Canada appearing on radio television in concert and at nearly every major folk festival in North America.

In addition to her solo recordings Connie contributed songs to seven recordings on the Narada Record label and has been a guest on numerous collections of folk and Celtic music. In 1991 she founded the Taylor Park Music record label to release her own albums which are now distributed worldwide. Her voice can also be heard in film and television soundtracks and she was a music consultant for the Ang Lee Civil War epic film Ride with the Devil.

Born in Arkansas and raised in Missouri, Connie Dover is of English, Cherokee, Mexican, and Scots/Irish descent. She discovered the wealth of the Celtic music tradition as a teenager and began a search that continues to this day devoting her life to the research collection preservation and recording of traditional songs and ballads. Her history degree earned from William Jewell College and her undergraduate work at Oxford University have further enriched her unique perspective of the historical context of folk music and her insightful interpretations bring ancient ballads to life.

When Connie is not touring or recording she spends time working on Wyoming cattle ranches where she is a trail cook during ranch cattle drives (and where she can often be heard singing old-time songs around a roaring campfire to the accompaniment of hoarse cowboys and lowing cattle).

The theme that runs through her work is the exploration of the common ground between British Isles and American folk music and she offers the modern listener a musical experience that transcends both centuries and cultural boundaries and affirms our connection with the past.

Discography:

Somebody (Taylor Park Music TPMCD 11, 1991)

The Wishing Well (Taylor Park Music TPMD 21, 1994)

If Ever I Return (Taylor Park Music, 1997)

The Border of Heaven (Taylor Park Music, 2000)

The Holly & The Ivy (Taylor Park Music, 2009)

Restless Angel – Ranch Girl Love Lyrics (Taylor Park Music, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Christine Balfa

Christine Balfa

 

Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Christine Balfa is the daughter of the legendary Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa. She is also the leader of Balfa Toujours.

She was born on June 28, 1968 and grew up playing triangle with her father Dewey. Christine learned music and language from the flourishing culture around Basile, Louisiana.

Balfa Toujours has become a well-established Cajun music band, recording several albums and performing throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

 

 

Christine Balfa appeared in the movie The Big Easy. She is also the founder and director of Louisiana Folk Roots, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Louisiana traditions.

In 2005, Christine Balfa was one of the founders of Bonsoir Catin, a roots music band based in southern Louisiana.

 

Discography:

Pop tu me parles toujours, with Balfa Toujours (Swallow 611, 1993)
A vieille Terre Haute, with Balfa Toujours (Swallow 3121, 1995)
Deux Voyages, with Balfa Toujours (Rounder CD 671, 1996)
Allons danser, with Bois Sec Ardoin (Rounder CD 681, 1998)
La Pointe, with Balfa Toujours (Rounder CD 686, 1998)
Live at Whiskey River Landing, with Balfa Toujours (Rounder CD 696, 2000)
Plays the Triangle (Valcour Records, 2009)
Blues à Catin, with BonSoir Catin (Bridgetown Records, 2006)
Vive L’Amour, with BonSoir Catin (Valcour Records, 2009)
Light the Stars, with BonSoir Catin (Valcour Records, 2014)
L’Aurore, with BonSoir Catin (Valcour Records, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Chris Thile

Chris Thile

 

Chris Thile was born in Santa Mónica (California) on February 2, 1981. He’s a renowned mandolin virtuoso who has performed since a very young age with some of the biggest names in contemporary bluegrass. Chris was a founding member of The Grass is Greener with Richard Greene and David Grier and also a member of Nickel Creek together with Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins.

 

 

Thile began playing the mandolin at the age of 5 and started performing at California bluegrass festivals. At the age of 12 he won the prestigious national mandolin championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas in 1993. That same year Thile began recording his first solo album with mostly self-penned songs.

His third solo album Not All Who Wander Are Lost featured guest appearances by Dolly Parton, The Dixie Chicks and Edgar Meyer. Later, Thile teamed with mandolin master Mike Marshall for an album of duets called Into the Cauldron that included jazz, world music and the music of Bach.

 

Chris Thile in 2013 – Photo by Brantley Gutiérrez

 

When you grow up with something you can become so familiar with it that you start to take it for granted ” Chris Thile said about his 2006 album How to Grow a Woman from the Ground. “And especially when you grow up playing it at a time when quite frankly you have nothing to express it’s easy to ignore as a more mature musician the expressive possibilities of that particular musical aesthetic—and they are great they are many. So I came to see that bluegrass was something that I was unfairly dismissing about my musicianship.

“Part of it was getting divorced and realizing that I was singing bluegrass heartbreak songs. That’s what would really resonate with me; those were the songs I was singing—’Bury Me Beneath The Willow ‘ ‘More Pretty Girls Than One.’ And another part of it was living in New York because for me at least New York demands that you find what it is about you that’s unique. There are so many talented people—exceptional people—that to stand out you either have to be completely average or really really different. And having been trained in the ways of bluegrass as a kid I realized how much that meant to me. I felt you can’t fight yourself—any time you’re fighting yourself you might not lose but you just can’t win. And I realized I do that well because that’s what I grew up with. So it signifies a return of sorts; I’m realizing what a meaningful part of my life that music is.”

How to Grow a Woman from the Ground included young musicians with a great reputation in bluegrass music, including fiddler Gabe Witcher whom Thile had met at the Follows Camp festival; banjo virtuoso Noam Pikelny; guitarist and singer Chris “Critter” Eldridge; and bassist Greg Garrison.

 

Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer

 

In the following years, Chris Thile collaborated with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, guitarist Michael Daves, Stuart Duncan and many other musicians. He also started a new band called The Punch Brothers.

 

 

 

In late 2016, Chris Thile became the new host of A Prairie Home Companion, a popular radio theater show featuring music, humor and storytelling that is broadcast by public radio stations across the United States.

 

Discography:

Little Cowpoke, with Nickel Creek (1993)

Leading Off… (Sugar Hill Records, 1994)

Here to There, with Nickel Creek (1997)

Stealing Second (Sugar Hill Records, 1997)

Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill Records, 2000)

Not All Who Wander Are Lost (Sugar Hill Records, 2001)

This Side, with Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill, 2002)

Into the Cauldron, with Mike Marshall (Sugar Hill Records, 2003)

Deceiver (Sugar Hill Records, 2004)

Why Should the Fire Die?, with Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill, 2005)

How to Grow a Woman from the Ground (Sugar Hill Records, 2006)

Live: Duets, with Mike Marshall (Sugar Hill Records, 2006)

Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile (Nonesuch Records, 2008)

Punch, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2008)

Antifogmatic, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2010)

Sleep with One Eye Open, with Michael Daves (Nonesuch Records, 2011)

The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan (Sony Masterworks, 2011)

Who’s Feeling Young Now?, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2012)

Ahoy!, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2012)

Bach: Sonatas & Partitas 1 (Nonesuch, 2013)

A Dotted Line, with Nickel Creek (Nonesuch Records, 2014)

Bass & Mandolin, with Edgar Meyer (Nonesuch Records, 2014)

The Wireless, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2015)

The Phosphorescent Blues, with Punch Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2015)

Bach Trios, with Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma (Nonesuch Records, 2017)

Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau (Nonesuch Records, 2017)

Videos:

Essential Techniques for Mandolin (Hal Leonard 2005) 85 Minute DVD or VHS plus music and tab booklet
Bluegrass Journey documentary (Blue Stores, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Chicago Afrobeat Project

Chicago Afrobeat Project
Chicago Afrobeat Project (CAbP) is a dynamic musical collective rooted in 1970s funk and jazz-infused afrobeat. CAbP mixes traditional afrobeat with other dance-invoking musical motifs such as Chicago’s electronic house music complex West African percussion rhythms and upbeat funk.

At each performance the polyrhythmic groove and sharp horn lines of CAbP stir up energetic momentum sweeping listeners directly to the dance floor time and time again.

The group began in late 2002 in a third-story loft on Lake Street in downtown Chicago. What began as a simple experiment turned into sifting through unique and colorful musicians literally from around the world.

One by one at a series of loft rehearsals in downtown Chicago like-minded musicians joined the project until members of the current band felt an undeniable chemistry.

Today the ever-morphing 7- to 14-piece CAbP consists of a full percussion section a full horn section keys guitar bass and African dancers (at select shows) — and is still growing.

The band’s live set consists of originals as well as carefully chosen classic and obscure afrobeat covers — each embedded with the unique CAbP footprint. In CAbP each member is a leader an ensemble player a percussionist and a soloist.

Discography:

Chicago Afrobeat Project (CAbP Music 1, 2005)

(A) Move to Silent Unrest (CAbP Music 2, 2007)

Off The Grid (CAbP Music, 2009)

Nyash Up! (Chicago Afrobeat Project, 2013)

website: www.chicagoafrobeatproject.com

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Artist Profiles: Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains. He was a disciple of the legendary guitarist Merle Travis (Chet named his daughter Merle). Together with Merle Travis and Doc Watson he made up the trinity of country guitar. Chet was able to record with his hero before his death.

Chester Burton Atkins was born June 2, 1924 on a farm near Luttrell eastern Tennessee about 2 miles northeast of Knoxville. Chet Atkins’ origins were humble. Suffering with asthma throughout his youth he was a sickly child who nonetheless had to face working his family’s farm when his parents separated. He was only 1 at that time. But his father was a music teacher and song-leader with a number of traveling evangelists and his brother Jimmy -13 years older than Chet- was himself an accomplished guitar player.

Chet’s first instrument was a ukulele strung with wire from a screen door which he was able to get music out of for only short periods of time before the soft steel strands broke. Chet moved to Georgia when he was 1 to live with his father hoping the climate would be easier on his asthma. By this time he was playing a Sears Silvertone guitar which inexpensive as it was at least did not rely upon scrap metal for strings.

He left high school at age 17 knowing he wanted to pursue a career in music. In fact he admits that his childhood adversity was a significant motivator in driving him to be “the greatest at what he did.”

A series of performance slots on a number of radio stations as well as the popular Old Dominion Barn Dance often ended in Chet’s dismissal largely because he was already a sophisticated well-versed musician working for employers who wanted nothing but simple twangy “hillbilly” guitar.

His big break came when a gig with the legendary Carter Family led him to the Grand Ole Opry where his talents were finally appreciated. Chet became a sought-after session player working on records by some of the great pioneers of both country and rock’n’roll including the Everly Brothers and a kid from Tupelo Mississippi named Presley.

When he became RCA Records’ Manager of Operations Chet convinced the label to build an office and studio on Music Row in Nashville spearheading the music industry’s migration to Music City.

He was the main architect of the “Nashville Sound “which saved commercial country by marrying the music to pop sensibilities. His legacy to the industry he helped found and the culture he defined is undeniable. Upon leaving RCA Chet continued his highly successful career as a recording artist when he signed with Columbia Records where he remained till his death.

Chet Atkins is country music. He has played with Maybelle Carter Homer &Jethro Hank Snow Elvis Presley Eddy Arnold Jerry Reed Les Paul Ray Charles Hank Williams Sr. Kitty Wells Faron Young Lester Flatt &Earl Scruggs the Louvin Brothers Ernest Tubb Marty Robbins Webb Pierce Johnnie &Jack George Morgan Wanda Jackson George Jones etc. He has produced albums by Patsy Cline the Everly Brothers Floyd Cramer Waylon Jennings Skeeter Davis Skeets McDonald Porter Wagoner Charlie Pride Charlie Rich Hank Locklin Roger Miller Roy Orbison Don Gibson Bobby Bare etc. As a talent scout Chet helped sign Willie Nelson Dolly Parton Guy Clark Steve Wariner Tom T. Hall Connie Smith Dottie West and countless others.

A historical meeting between Chet Atkins and Doc Watson two of the 20th century’s most influential American guitarists was documented in 1980. Released for the first time on CD Reflections was an artifact for the ages and should be inspiration for guitarists for generations to come.

Chet while humble about his place in the world of music and obviously at peace with both himself and his plans for the future made it clear that he and his guitar had a lasting romance that shows no signs of abating. “There may come a day when I can’t play anymore ” Chet said “but otherwise I’ll be playing as long as I live. I could never put the guitar down ” he concluded laughing. “It might forget who I was.”

Atkins recorded more than 75 albums. In the years before his death he collaborated with many artists representing diverse genres such as Mark Knopfler Paul McCartney Eric Johnson George Benson and Earl Klugh.

Chet Atkins died of cancer on Saturday June 3, 2001 at this home in Nashville. He was 77 years old.

There were rumors started just a few months after Chet’s passing about a collection of unreleased solo guitar recordings Chet had made in his home studio. Chet’s Grandson Jonathan his engineer Mike Poston and longtime friend and sideman Paul Yandell all went down into Chet’s home studio. What they found were 28 cuts of Chet playing solo guitar arrangements some newly arranged solo performances of some of Chet’s favorite songs some songs that had never been recorded in any form. It was a special solo project Chet had undertaken himself over a 10 year period beginning in 1982. The recordings became available in 2003 under the title: Chet Atkins: Solo Sessions.

Selected discography:

A Master and his Music (Sony Legacy)
Essential Chet Atkins (Sony Legacy)
Guitar Legend: The RCA Years (Sony Legacy)
19 Original Albums, 10 CD boxed set
8 Classic Albums (Real Gone Music)

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