Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Maeve MacKinnon

Maeve MacKinnon

Maeve Mackinnon is one of Scotland’s foremost young Gaelic and Scots singers. A versatile singer, she studied Gaelic song at RSAMD and maintained a deep interest in Scots and Irish folk song and bluegrass.

Her dynamic vocals and warm stage presence have led to her being invited to broadcast numerous times on national radio and in several Gaelic music TV series; most recently Bob Kenyon’s current Gaelic music series, Guthan nan Gaidheal (STV, 2006).

Maeve is currently finishing off her debut solo album, produced by Duncan Lyall (Croft No.5) and Ali Hutton (Back of the Moon). Comprised of Gaelic and folk songs from different areas and with a distinctive groove throughout, Maeve’s debut album was released on Footstompin Records.

Discography:

Don’t Sing Lovesongs (Footstompin Records, 2007)
Once Upon an Olive Branch (2012)

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Artist Profiles: John Carty

John Carty

Born in London, England and now residing in Co. Roscommon, Ireland, John plays in the Roscommon and Sligo styles of his family roots. He was named Traditional Musician of the Year for 2003 by Irish Television TG4. He has released a number of well-regarded albums and also plays with his band At the Racket.

Discography:

The Cat That Ate The Candle (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1994)
Last Night’s Fun (Shanachie, 1996)
Yeh That’s All It Is (Shanachie, 2001)
At It Again (Shanachie, 2003)
I Will If I Can (Racket Records, 2005)
Upon My Soul (2006)
Pathway To the Well (Racket Records, 2007)
On the Fly, with Patrick Street (2007)
It’s Not Racket Science – At the Racket (2008)
Meadbh (The Crimson Path), with Ann Joyce (Racket Records, 2010)
At Complete Ease, with Brian Rooney (Racket Records, 2011)
The Good Mixer (Racket Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Dick Gaughan

Dick Gaughan – Photo by Genia Ainsworth

Dick Gaughan Dick Gaughan has been a professional musician and singer since 1970 and made his first solo album in 1971. Working mainly in the areas now known as Folk or Celtic music, he has recorded quite extensively since then in many countries and in various combinations. Has also worked extensively as a session musician in a wide variety of musical styles.

Having very eclectic tastes, he also plays everything from free jazz and rock to country music and has studied orchestration to develop his compositional and midi programming skills. He plays most fretted stringed instruments but his natural instrument is acoustic guitar. With 28 recordings to his credit, including the seminal Handful of Earth (1981), A Different Kind Of Love Song (1983) and Redwood Cathedral (1998) Gaughan remains a powerful force in the world of contemporary and traditional music and song.

Dick Gaughan was born in Glasgow in 1948 – he was an accidental Glaswegian, because his father was temporarily working as an engine driver at Colville’s Steelworks there. Dick really belonged to Leith, the one-time thriving port on the Firth of Forth now absorbed by Edinburgh, where his parents returned after a short while.

His mother, Frances MacDonald, was from Lochaber, and her first language was Gaelic. With the language came the Gaelic songs – as a child she had won a silver medal at the National Mod of An Comunn Gaidhealach, the annual Gaelic festival in Scotland. Dick’s father – also Dick – was born in Leith of an Irish father who spoke the Irish version version of Gaelic and played the fiddle. Dick’s grandmother, Bridget, born in Glasgow of Irish parents, played accordion and also sang.

It’s not surprising that Dick Gaughan picked up a guitar at the age of seven. As a teenager, growing up with guitar skills in an urban environment in the Sixties, he dabbled with rock, country and blues. It was a fabulous time for music-making, when no holds were barred. But for him, increasingly the music and the politics began to come together. Rock may have been an angry outpouring of sound, but it was on the quieter folk scene, with the great Hamish Henderson, Ewan MacColl, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger all leading the protest march, that the most penetrating and persuasive statements were being made about war and peace, about the state of society. Dick was soon in the thick of the burgeoning folk revival, and at the age of 22 decided to hit the road as a solo singer and guitarist.

By 1972, he had replaced Mike Whellans in the outstanding all-acoustic, Scots-Irish band the Boys of the Lough, that included the great Aly Bain on fiddle, and appeared on their first album. He left the Boys in the following year.

His own first album, No More Forever, issued in 1972, was well received. Few could have expected his next move – joining fiddler Chuck Fleming and others in a wild and often wonderful electric band called Five Hand Reel, whose rocking rhythms and great songs – including Dick’s irresistible stab at the Gaelic lines of Bratach Bana – exasperated the purists and found a newer, younger audience. He was out of it by 1978 and returned to solo work.

In 1981 he laid down his marker as one of the great voices of contemporary Scotland with Handful of Earth. With Ed Pickford’s Workers’ Song and Leon Rosselson’s World Turned Upside Down – about the Diggers’ revolt that reminded Dick that “the first colony of the British Empire was England” – Dick Gaughan became a fully-fledged troublemaker of song. But alongside these polemical eruptions were softer, ruminative pieces such as Phil Colclough’s achingly wistful Song for Ireland, Robert Burns’ Westlin’ Winds, and a reworked version of Both Sides the Tweed, which served to express Dick’s abhorrence of anti-English sentiment in pursuit of the rightful cause of Scottish self-belief. A poll conducted by the magazine Folk Roots voted Handful of Earth the top album of the 1980s.

In 2004, Dick was voted Scots Singer of the Year in the Scottish Traditional Music Awards.

In 2016, Dick Gaughan had a stroke and stopped performing.

Discography:

No More Forever (Trailer, 1972)
Kist o’ Gold (Trailer, 1976)
Coppers and Brass (Topic, 1977)
Gaughan (Topic, 1978)
Handful of Earth (Topic, 1981)
A Different Kind of Love Song (Celtic Music, 1983)
Live in Edinburgh (Celtic Music, 1985)
True and Bold: Songs of the Scottish Miners (STUC, 1986)
Call It Freedom (Celtic Music, 1988)
Sail On (Greentrax, 1996)
Redwood Cathedral (Greentrax, 1998)
Outlaws and Dreamers (Greentrax, 2001)
Prentice Piece (Greentrax, 2002)
The Definitive Collection (High Point, 2006)
Lucky for Some (Greentrax, 2006)
Gaughan Live! at the Trades Club (Greentrax, 2008)

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Artist profiles: Pretinho da Serrinha

Pretinho da Serrinha

Ângelo Vitor Simplício da Silva, better known as Pretinho da Serrinha, was born August 30, 1977 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Pretinho da Serrinha has become the most requested musician of the new samba generation because of his unique, talented way of playing percussion and cavaco (cavaquinho). Many of the greatest Brazilian artists have invited Pretinho to tour and record with them – names like Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Marisa Monte, Seu Jorge, Sergio Mendes.

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Artist profiles: Rogê

Rogê

Brazilian guitarist Rogê was born April 25, 1975 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was inspired by masters like Baden Powell, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Dorival Caymmi, and Noel Rosa.

Rogê represents the new generation of artists of the Brazilian Popular Music movement. He plays a captivating kind of samba and moves effortlessly from bossa nova to samba and reggae with the ease of a prolific composer.

Rogê’s shows also present the roots of the Brazilian music and its connection to Africa through a combination of jongo, samba, afoxe and maculele.

He has released six albums (‘Rogê’ in 2003, ‘Brasil em Brasa‘ in 2008, ‘Fala Geral‘ in 2010, ‘Brenguele‘, 2012, ‘Baile do Brenguele‘ in 2014 and ‘Nomade’ in 2018) and 2 side projects (‘4 Cabeça’, that got a Brazilian Music Award as best album; and ‘NA VEIA’, along with Arlindo Cruz, leading them to a Latin Grammy nomination as best samba album).

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Artist Profiles: Marta Pereira da Costa

Marta Pereira da Costa

Marta Pereira da Costa started playing the piano at the age of 4, later at 8 learned the classical guitar and at 18 began to study the Portuguese Guitar under the tutelage of Carlos Gonçalves, one of Amália Rodrigues’ most important guitar players.

Marta has performed with some of the true giants of Portuguese music, including Camané, Mário Pacheco, Dulce Pontes, and Mariza, as well as Afro-Atlantic legends such as Cameroon’s Richard Bona and Cape Verde’s Tito Paris.

Marta’s self-titled debut album was released by Warner Music in 2016, containing 13 tracks that mixed original compositions with interpretations showcasing contemporary Portuguese composers; instrumental tracks with guest vocalists such as Dulce Pontes, and Rui Veloso, and fado tradition with jazz improvisation and instruments and influences from around the world. One of Marta’s key collaborators on this album was GRAMMY Award-winning Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona, who helped bring Lisbon’s simmering Afro-Atlantic vibes to the fore on “Encontro”.

Discography:

Marta Pereira da Costa (Warner Brothers, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss was born July 23, 1971 in Decatur, Illinois, but was raised in Champaign, Illinois. She began studying classical violin at five years old but soon switched to bluegrass. For Alison Krauss, musical collaboration has been a way of life. Her own story has been nothing short of amazing: signed to Rounder Records as a precocious 13-year-old fiddler from Champaign, Illinois, she has become the most recognized face in contemporary bluegrass, a critically acclaimed artist -who has brought modern sophistication to the genre while respecting its traditions.

She has also managed to sell upwards of 8 million records and garner 20 Grammy Awards, the most for any female artist in Grammy history. Yet Krauss has consistently worked to honor her influences, like contemporary bluegrass pioneer Tony Rice, to promote discoveries like the Cox Family, and to offer her skills as producer, most recently to country star Alan Jackson.

Alison Krauss

Krauss is apparently not one for taking time off. While Union Station took a hiatus after the 18-month tour to support the 2004 Alison Krauss and Union Station release Lonely Runs Both Ways, Krauss took full advantage of the down time to explore new musical horizons. Krauss reached that extraordinary 20 Grammy milestone when Lonely Runs Both Ways was named 2005’s Best Country Album. It wasn’t the only award she and her band-mates took home from the 48th Annual Grammys; “Unionhouse Branch” garnered Best Country Instrumental Performance and “Restless” received the Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group Award. She also received several Country Music Association Awards, including Musical Event of the Year for “Whiskey Lullaby” with Brad Paisley, originally released on Paisley’s Mud on the Tires and reprised on A Hundred Miles or More.

She produced Alan Jackson’s 2006 release, Like Red on a Rose, which the Chicago Sun-Times declared “a masterpiece,” taking the best-selling artist out of his familiar surroundings to create a moody, intimate song cycle that has been favorably compared to Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours.

She also produced and recorded five new tracks with long time engineer Gary Paczosa to complete her twelfth release, A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection, gathering on one elegantly understated disc previously released collaborations with such artists and friends as Brad Paisley, John Waite, James Taylor, Natalie MacMaster, and The Chieftains, along with songs she cut for the films Cold Mountain, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and an “inspired by” album for the animated The Prince Of Egypt. She also recorded and produced five new tracks, including a soulful slow-dance tempo of Don Williams’ “Lay Down Beside Me” with Rounder Records label-mate Waite, to create something far more than just a compilation.

With the new tracks (among them the current country single “Simple Love”) she created something far more than just a compilation. Across 16 songs, A Hundred Miles or More gracefully balances the new with the familiar to form a vivid portrait of this adventurous artist. In the same “year off, she began the then-undefined project with Plant and Burnett, recording initially in Nashville, then moving to Los Angeles to complete the project.

Krauss’ musical collaboration, Raising Sand, is a superb album recorded in tandem with rock vocalist and songwriter Plant. Scheduled for release on Rounder on October 23, 2007, ‘ Raising Sand is their first recorded endeavor, and will prove revelatory to fans and the media on two counts: first that it happened at all, and, more importantly, that it is as successful and illuminating as it is.

Under the careful sonic stewardship of producer T Bone Burnett, rising Sand’s pitched three steps beyond some cosmic collision of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the unrealized potential of the folk-rock revolution. Shockingly evocative, it is an album that uncovers popular music’s elemental roots while sounding effortlessly, breath-takingly modern. Despite hailing from distinctly different backgrounds. Plant and Krauss share a maverick spirit and willingness to extend the boundaries of their respective genres.

Raising Sand finds Plant and Krauss functioning as sympathetic equals: creating a powerful new sound from both their common musical ground and their unrivaled sense of empathy.

While finishing touches were being done on Raising Sand, Krauss and her equally celebrated band Union Station were busy fulfilling one of their long-time dreams@a special tour with their friend, mentor and inspiration Tony Rice, performing material from his storied career. Alison and Union Station moved directly from the dates with Tony Rice to a national summer tour in support of A Hundred Miles or More. Billed as “An Evening with Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas,” it showcases material from the new disc, along with fan favorites.

I never had any big dreams about doing something on a huge scale,” Krauss reflects. “But I have dreamt about liking my records. That’s the kind of stuff I dreamt about.”

Alison Krauss and Union Station in 2011

In May 2012, Alison Krauss was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.

Discography:

Different Strokes (Fiddle Tunes, 1985)
Too Late to Cry (Rounder Records, 1987)
Two Highways (Rounder Records, 1989)
I’ve Got That Old Feeling (Rounder Records, 1990)
Every Time You Say Goodbye (Rounder Records, 1992)
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, with The Cox Family (Rounder Records, 1994)
So Long So Wrong (Rounder Records, 1997)
Forget About It (Rounder Records, 1999)
New Favorite (Rounder Records, 2001)
Live (Rounder Records, 2002)
Lonely Runs Both Ways (Rounder Records, 2004)
Raising Sand, with Robert Plant (Rounder Records, 2007)
Paper Airplane (Rounder Records, 2011)
Windy City (Capitol Records, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Alison Brown

Alison Brown

Alison Brown was born August 7, 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut. She began her music career at a young age, playing banjo in several Southern California bands alongside fiddler Stuart Duncan as a teenager. After graduating from high school, bluegrass took a back seat while Brown attended Harvard University, earned an MBA, and worked as an investment banker.

Following successful tours with both Alison Krauss and Michelle Shocked, a Grammy-nomination for her first solo effort Simple Pleasures and the Banjo Player of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, Brown put her business skills to work, founding Compass Records in 1995 with her husband Garry West. Brown?s discography includes five releases on Vanguard Records as well as four on Compass Records.

In the late 1990s Brown founded NewGrange, together with Philip Aaberg, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Tim O’Brien and Todd Phillips. New Grange combines traditional American elements (folk, bluegrass, even gospel and classical) with contemporary instrumentation (strings and piano).

Alison Brown

Brown’s first record on Compass was Out of the Blue. On her next album, Fair Weather, Brown is joined by special guests like Tim O’Brien, Claire Lynch, Vince Gill, Stuart Duncan, David Grier, and others, returning to her bluegrass roots with stunning results. The 2000 release includes the Grammy Award-winning track “Leaving Cottondale,” featuring Bela Fleck.

In 2002, during two days between performances at the Grand Ole Opry and a trip to the Shetland Folk Festival, the Alison Brown Quartet recorded Replay, a collection of 15 tracks recorded live in the studio. More than anything, this album is the sound of the Alison Brown Quartet relaxed and having a jamming good time in the studio. The album consists of a collection of “fans” favorites in the energetic, updated arrangements that have evolved onstage in the years since Alison Brown formed the Quartet. Produced by Garry West, Replay showcases Brown’s penchant for melodic flair. Her sound is both innovative and accessible and in Brown’s hands, her Appalachian instrument takes bluegrass, bebop and Hot Club swing into the stratosphere.

Alison Brown said about her 2005 album Stolen Moments: “For the first time, I feel like I’ve created a true hybrid sound that suggests its influences bluegrass, jazz, Celtic music but when taken as a whole isn’t any one of these things.” Among those playing on the album are bluegrass greats Sam Bush (mandolin) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle) as well as Irish maestros John Doyle (guitar) and Seamus Egan (flute), ex-Pretenders and Paul McCartney Band guitarist Robbie McIntosh and long time bandmate John R. Burr (piano). Also featured on the album are guest vocalists the Indigo Girls, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Andrea Zonn.

Brown tours internationally with the Alison Brown Quartet, has been a guest speaker at Harvard Business School, Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School and the University of Colorado Boulder, and served as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.

She is also a reputable record producer. She worked with Dale Ann Bradley, Peter Rowan, Quiles & Cloud, and Claire Lynch.

Discography:

Simple Pleasures (Vanguard Records, 1990)
Twilight Motel (Vanguard Records, 1992)
Look Left (Vanguard Records, 1994)
Quartet (Vanguard Records, 1996)
Out of the Blue (Compass Records, 1998)
Fair Weather (Compass Records, 2000)
Best of the Vanguard Years (Vanguard Records, 2002)
Replay (Compass Records, 2002)
Stolen Moments (Compass Records, 2005)
Vanguard Visionaries, compilation (Vanguard Records, 2007)
Evergreen (Compass Records, 2008)
The Company You Keep (Compass Records, 2009)
The Song Of The Banjo (Compass Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Alex de Grassi

Alex de Grassi in 2012

Alex de Grassi was born February 13, 1952 in Yokosuka, Japan but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He started music on the trumpet, but at age 13, discovered the guitar and hasn’t looked back.

He studied guitar with noted teacher Bill Thrasher, jazz piano with Mark Levine and composition with William Mathieu. A Grammy Award nominee and Indie Award nominee for The Water Garden, his first recording was Turning: Turning Back, in 1978, for the fledgling Windham Hill Records, and he became one of the most popular artists on the contemporary acoustic label that would become a recording industry phenomenon.

De Grassi has played at such notable venues as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Belfast International Festival, Telluride, and Wolftrap. In addition to his own workshop series, Alex has taught at the National Summer Guitar Workshop, the Milwaukee Conservatory of Music, and the Omega Institute. He was the subject of a PBS concert/interview television show, and collaborated with Chilean multi-instrumentalist Quique Cruz in the band Tatamonk and with experimental guitarist G.E. Stinson.

Discography:

Turning: Turning Back (Windham Hill, 1978)
Slow Circle (Windham Hill, 1979)
Clockwork (Windham Hill, 1981)
Southern Exposure (Windham Hill, 1983)
Altiplano (RCA/Novus, 1987)
Deep at Night (Windham Hill, 1991)
A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill, 1992)
The World’s Getting Loud (Windham Hill, 1993)
Beyond the Night Sky: Lullabies for Guitar (EarthBeat, 1996)
Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel (Northsound, 1997)
Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of James Taylor (NorthSound, 1998)
The Water Garden (Tropo, 1998)
Bolivian Blues Bar (Narada, 1999)
Tatamonk with Quique Cruz (Tropo, 2000)
Shortwave Postcard, with G.E. Stinson (Auditorium, 2001)
Now & Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (33rd Street, 2003)
Pure Alex de Grassi (Windham Hill, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Robert Tree Cody

Robert Cody

Robert “Tree” Cody (also known in the Maricopa language as Oou-Kas Mah Quet or “Thunder Bear”) was born April 20, 1951 in Los Angeles, California. He is a Native American flutist, dancer, artist, educator and actor who has performed throughout the United States, continental Europe, Canada, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, East Asia, Central & South America and Mexico

As an enrolled member of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Community and of Dakota heritage, Cody shares his knowledge of Native American culture, song, dance and music as a performer and invited lecturer at concert halls, universities, museums, schools, and colleges throughout the world.

A versatile flute player and a gifted singer, Cody has eight albums on the Canyon Records label. His most recent album, Crossroads, brings together for the first time, the music of the native people of the Great Plains and Mexico. This recording teams him with Mayan flutist Xavier Quijas Yxayotl (Huichol). Native Flamenco, fuses the Native American cedar flute with flamenco guitar and ethnic percussion into a hot lively sound. Guitarist, Ruben Romero, and percussionist, Tony Redhouse, perform with him on this groundbreaking recording.

Maze, travels a musical journey through the Southwest. Set prior to European arrival to Turtle Island, a wanderer of the North travels and meets the nations of the Southwest. Maze was a Native American Music Awards winner as Best New Age Album of 1999, and it’s track “The Bird Song” was a finalist as Best Song of the Year.

In 1999, Cody appeared as a featured guest artist on a Windham Hill modern jazz release by Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons.

Cody has a remarkable ability to communicate with people of all cultures. His knowledge of six Native American languages, in addition to English, Spanish and a bit of French and Japanese is useful when he travels abroad. Cody holds a special place in his heart for young people of all cultures, and generously gives with his time and many talents for people in need.

Discography:

Traditional Flute Music Of The Native American ‎(Canyon Records, 1988)
Young Eagle’s Flight (Canyon Records, 1991)
White Buffalo (Canyon Records, 1996)
Dreams From The Grandfather (Canyon Records, 1996)
Native Brotherhood, with Ruben Romero ‎(New Earth Records, 2001)
Maze (Canyon Records, 2002)
Reflections ‎(Canyon Records, 2003)
Heart of the Wind – Music for Native American Flute and Drums, with Will Clipman (Canyon Records, 2006)

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