Tag Archives: mandolin

Artist Profiles: Hamilton de Holanda

Hamilton de Holanda – Photo by Michel Petit

Hamilton de Holanda was born in 1976. He is a gifted virtuoso mandolinist who has revolutionized the mandolin. He developed his own music thorough a polyphonic playing technique, as well as an enriched timbral and percussive palette on his extended range mandolin as he added a low C string for a total of 10 vs. 8. He always speaks of “my instrument, as the name says, is only an instrument to express my gratitude to life, to this moment in time we call now“.

Having won many national and international prizes and often acclaimed as the Jimmy Hendrix of the mandolin, his talent went rapidly beyond the borders of Brazil. In December 2001, Hamilton vied with the cream of Brazilian performers of both academic music and improvised music, and won a Brazilian Award the Icatu Music Prize in both popular and erudite disciplines. This earned him a fellowship at the Cite des Arts in Paris until February 2003. Thus, he has built a bridge with the Old Continent, which he has been regularly touring since he returned to Brazil again.

On stage, Hamilton’s charismatic and communicative enthusiasm, his flawless playing and his sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic sense make him one of the most remarkable musicians of the new Brazilian generation of performers and composers. He has played with Hermeto Pascoal, John Paul Jones, Cesaria Evora, Seu Jorge, Joao Bosco, Maria Bethania, Ivan Lins, Buena Vista Social Club, Richard Galliano, Richard Bona, Bella Fleck, Gilberto Gil, Michel Legrand, Djavan….to name but a few.

Hamilton de Holanda leads the Hamilton de Holanda Quintet featuring Daniel Santiago on acoustic guitar, Andre Vasconcellos on electric bass, Marcio Bahia on drums, and Gabriel Grossi on the chromatic harmonica. Their producer is Marcos Portinari. The Quintet has just been awarded the most prestigious 2007 Brazilian music award equivalent to Grammy for the best instrumental group while Hamilton de Holanda received the best performer award.

The concept that underpins the Quintet’s music making is that diversity in music ought to know no boundaries. Speaking about M?sica Popular Brasileira (MPB), Hamilton de Holanda states “this concert is a homage to the Brazilian people and Brazil’s young musicians, that intuitively have been creating a novel way to express their art – the Modern Instrumental Brazilian Music – underpinned by Brazilian inherent features and tradition without loosing sight of current universal themes.”

Hamilton de Holanda explains that the young musicians are indeed citizens of the world that bring Brazilian flavor to the universal pot. The concert Brasilianos 2 is homonymous with the CD released recently based on the most notable names in Brazilian instrumental music, as for example, Hermeto Pascoal, Pixinguinha, Baden Powell, Egberto Gismonti, Toninho Horta, Raphael Rabelo among others and with inspiration drawn from world music such as Jazz, Flamenco, Cuban and African. He adds that “most of the songs lend themselves to be executed with the same fluency either by whistling or orchestra, eloquent melodies with rhythm, harmony and improvisation, singularities of sophisticated Brazilian music.”

Discography:

Destroçando a Macaxeira, with Dois de Ouro (1997)
A Nova Cara do Velho Choro, with Dois de Ouro (1998)
Luz das Cordas, with Marco Pereira (2000)
Dois de Ouro, with with Fernando César (2000)
Abre Alas (2001)
Brasilianos (Biscoito Fino, 2006)
New Words / Novas palavras, with Mike Marshall (Adventure Music, 2006)
Íntimo (Deckdisk/Adventure Music, 2007)
Contínua Amizade, with with André Mehmari (Deckdisk, 2007)
Brasilianos 2 (Adventure Music, 2008)
De Bandolim a Bandolim, with Joel Nascimento (2009)
Luz da Aurora, with Yamandú Costa (2009)
Sessões com Hamilton de Holanda, with Ensamble Gurrufío (2010)
Esperança – Live in Europe (2010)
Sinfonia Monumental (2010)
Gravações Inéditas (2011)
Delírios e Devaneios(2011)
Gismontipascoal, with André Mehmari (Adventure Music, 2011)
Brasilianos 3 ((Adventure Music, 2011)
O Que Será, with Stefano Bollani (ECM, 2013)
World of Pixinguinha (Adventure Music, 2015)
Trio (2016)
Casa de Bituca – The Music Of Milton Nascimento (Adventure Music, 2017)

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Artist profiles: Sierra Hull

Sierra Hull

Sierra Dawn Hull was born September 27, 1991 in Byrdstown, Tennessee. She began playing mandolin at age eight and quickly became noted on the national festival scene for her fluid inventive picking, winning several mandolin and guitar championships in the process.

She self-released an instrumental CD, Angel Mountain in 2002. She recorded Secrets (Rounder) at 15 and released it in 2008 at 16. Among the musicians and vocalists joining her on Secrets are Ron Block, Barry Bales, Dennis Crouch, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Clay Hess, Rob Ickes, Chris Jones, Jason Moore, Tony Rice, Dan Tyminski, Jim VanCleve, and the banjo phenom Cory Walker who was seventeen years old at the time and had already played alongside Sierra for several years.

“What I’ve seen in Sierra over the months of working on Secrets is a passion for music in general, and specifically for bluegrass,” said Secrets co-producer Ron Block. “She has an intense desire for excellence a love of good songs and an attention to detail that is not often found in someone so young; she’s only going to get better and better as time goes on. It’ll be intriguing to watch how her vision and creativity affect the future of bluegrass in the coming years.

Sierra was a featured performer on the Great High Mountain Tour which included an all-star bluegrass lineup performing songs from the soundtracks of the hit movies O Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain. A seasoned performer, she has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry radio and television shows and shared the stage with various bluegrass legends such as Alison Krauss, IIIrd Tyme Out, Sam Bush, Mountain Heart, and Ricky Skaggs.

An active member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Sierra has been performing in that organization’s annual convention showcases of young bluegrass talent since she was ten. As co-host (with Ryan Holladay) of IBMA’s educational DVD release Discover Bluegrass: Exploring American Roots Music, Sierra played an integral part in their effort to introduce young audiences to this uniquely American genre.

Her third album Daybreak was produced by Union Station’s Barry Bales and features some of the best singers and pickers in the bluegrass scene.

Discography:

Angel Mountain (independent release, 2002)
Secrets (Rounder Records, 2008)
Daybreak (Rounder Records, 2011)
Weighted Mind (Rounder Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Mike Marshall

Mike Marshall at WOMEX 2008 – Photo by Angel Romero

Mike Marshall grew up in Central Florida, where he developed his career playing traditional American music. His interest in many musicals styles however eventually led him to the San Francisco Bay Area to join the original David Grisman Quintet in 1978 at age 19. This band toured and recorded with the legendary jazz violinist Stephan Grappelli, Mark O’Connor and guitarist Tony Rice. They performed on the popular American TV program Johnny Carson Show that same year and toured Europe and Japan and helped set a new standard for American stringband music.

Since then Mike has continued pushing the boundaries of acoustic music and can be heard on hundreds of recordings as a composer featured artist sideman and producer.

Mike is one of the most accomplished and versatile string instrumentalists in American music today. A master on mandolin, guitar, mandocello and violin he has created adventurous instrumental music for over 30 years.

As a teacher, Mike founded a one week mandolin camp for in 2002 with his colleague David Grisman. The Mandolin Symposium takes place the last week of June at U.C. Santa Cruz with over 15 mandolinists and some of of the greatest players/teachers in the world.

Discography:

Gator Strut (Rounder 1987)
Chiaroscuro with Darol Anger (Windham Hill 1990)
Brasil: Duets (Rhino 1996)
Midnight Clear (Acorn 1998)
Short Trip Home with Joshua Bell (Sony 1999)
Wine Country (Menus and Music 2001)
At Home and On the Range (Compass 2002)
Into the Cauldron with Chris Thile (Sugar Hill 2003)
Serenata (Adventure Music 2003)
Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso (Adventure Music 2004)
The Duo with Darol Anger (Rounder Select 2005)
Brazil Duets (Adventure Music 2005)
Live: Duets with Chris Thile (Sugar Hill 2006)
New Words [Novas Palavras] (Adventure Music 2006)
Mike Marshall and Darol Anger with Vasen (Adventure Music 2007)
Woodshop with Darol Anger (Adventure Music 2007)
Mike Marshall’s Big Trio with Alex Hargreaves and Paul Kowert (Adventure Music 2009)
Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall (Adventure Music 2010)
An Adventure 1999-2009 (Adventure Music 2010)
Mike Marshall & The Turtle Island Quartet (Adventure Music 2014)

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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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Unfolding The Flemish Roots

MANdolinMAN – Unfolding The Roots (ARC Music EUCD2705, 2017)

This is a wholly contemporary release. While material predates familiar Belgian musical influences like Jacques Brel, Django Reinhardt and Toots Thielmans, MANdolinMan’s approach certainly shares those legends’ “what the hell, let’s try this different thing and see what happens” approach. This is a Belgian quartet, after all, and Belgians have that attitude.

Belgium is, after all the nation that once tried to get cats to deliver mail. For a few months, in and around Liège, in 1879, mailmen attached waterproof message bags to peoples’ pet felines, expecting them to go home, much as carrier pigeons had been used for centuries. “Unless the criminal class of dogs undertakes to waylay and rob the mail-cats, the messages will be delivered with rapidity and safety,” The New York Times reported. The work ethic of cats made the service unreliable, and the experiment was called off after a few months, but the experiment did take place. In Belgium.

What the hell, let’s try this different thing and see what happens. What happens with “Unfolding the Roots” is an experiment that works. As with “Fertile Paradoxes,” another new ARC Music release by MANdolinMAN’s labelmates, Amine & Hamza, The Band Beyond Borders, this CD takes world music to a different level, giving listeners something at least as much FOR the world as FROM a specific spot on the globe.

This is musicians’ music, accessible to all and particularly rewarding to those seeking fusion and harmony, but most welcome to other players interested in seeing what will and can work. The listener is not pushed by the band’s delivery to categorize these 12 cuts as polkas, waltzes, mazurkas and contra dances, but to turn the volume up and invite friends over for a drink. They are the Flemish, mandolin instrumental equivalent of England’s famous folk rock act, Steeleye Span.

Buy Unfolding The Roots in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Unfolding The Roots in Europe

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Artist Profiles: Matt Flinner

Matt Flinner

Multi-instrumentalist Matt Flinner was born March 14, 1969 in Pueblo, Colorado. He started out as a banjo prodigy who performed at bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens. Flinner later learned mandolin, won the banjo contest at Winfield, Kansas, in 1990, and received the mandolin award there the following year.

Flinner’s decision to focus on eight-stringed instruments, especially the mandolin, was fundamentaly a result of opportunity. He explains, “I was getting more work on the mandolin.” Sugarbeat, an eclectic quartet that also featured banjoist Tony Furtado, lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Demerath, and bassist Sally Truitt allowed him the opportunity to master the mandolin in a contemporary folk and bluegrass context.

Flinner is now generally considered one of the finest mandolin players on the American acoustic music scene. He tours regularly with the Matt Flinner Trio, as a member of the ‘new acoustic’ trio Phillips, Grier & Flinner, as a member of Darrell Scott’s band, and with guitarist Frank Vignola (David Grisman Quintet). Flinner also special guests on banjo with Leftover Salmon and in the fall of 2008 was a featured soloist with Trey Anastasio and Carlo Aonzo during Orchestra Nashville’s performance of “Concertino” (Don Hart). He also appeared on comedian Steve Martin’s recording The Crow and the Vignola Collectives’ March 2009 release, Gypsy Grass.

Discography

* The View from Here (Compass Records, 1998)

* Phillips, Grier & Flinner, by Todd Phillips, David Grier & Matt Flinner (Compass Records, 1999)

* Latitude (Compass Records, 2001)

* Walking on the Moon (Compass Records, 2003)

* All Star Bluegrass Jam-Along for Mandolin, book + CD (Homespun, 2007)

* Music du Jour (Compass Records, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: David Grisman

David Grisman

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.

Discography

* The Even Dozen Jug Band (1964)
* Early Dawg (1966)
* Earth Opera (1968)
* The Great American Eagle Tragedy (1969)
* American Beauty (1970)
* A Potpourri of Bluegrass Jam (1972)
* Old and in the Way (1975)
* Eat My Dust (1976)
* The David Grisman Rounder Record – 1976)
* The David Grisman Quintet (Kaleidoscope, 1977)
* Hot Dawg (A&M, 1978)
* Quintet ’80 (Warner Brothers SK-3469, 1980)
* Mondo Mando (Zebra Records ZEAD-42248, 1981)
* Stephane Grappelli and David Grisman Live (1981)
* Here Today (Rounder CD-0169, 1982)
* David Grisman’s Acoustic Christmas (Rounder CD-0190, 1983)
* Dawg Jazz/Dawg Grass (Warner Brothers 9238041, 1983)
* David Grisman (Warner Brothers 1-23804, 1983)
* Mandolin Abstractions (Rounder 11540, 1983)
* Acousticity (MCA Records 6153, 1984)
* Svingin’ with Svend (Zebra Records ZEA-42108, 1987)
* Home Is Where the Heart Is (Rounder CD-0251/252, 1988)
* Dawg ’90 (1990)
* Garcia/Grisman (1991)
* Bluegrass Reunion (1992)
* Common Chord (1993)
* Not for Kids Only (Acoustic Disc, 1993)
* Dawgwood (Acoustic Disc 7, 1993)
* Muleskinner Live: Original Television Soundtrack (1994, recorded 1973)
* Tone Poems (Acoustic Disc 10, 1994)
* Dawganova (Acoustic Disc 17, 1995)
* Tone Poems II (Acoustic Disc 18, 1995)
* Songs of Our Fathers (1995)
* DGQ-20 (1996)
* Shady Grove (Acoustic Disc, 1996)
* That High Lonesome Sound 1996)
* Breakdown (1997)
* Doc & Dawg (1997)
* So What (1998)
* Retrograss (Acoustic Disc 37, 1999)
* Dawg Duos (Acoustic Disc 38, 1999)
* I’m Beginning To See The Light (Acoustic Disc, 1999)
* Tone Poems III: The Sounds of the Great Slide & Resophonic Instruments (Acoustic Disc 42, 2000)
* The Pizza Tapes (Acoustic Disc, 2000)
* Grateful Dawg (Acoustic Disc, 2001)
* New River (Acoustic Disc 45, 2001)
* Traversata (Acoustic Disc 47, 2001)
* Old and in the Gray (Acoustic Disc, 2002)
* Dawgnation (Acoustic Disc 49, 2002)
* Life of Sorrow (Acoustic Disc 53, 2003)
* Hold On, We’re Strummin’ (Acoustic Disc, 2003)
* Been All Around This World (Acoustic Disc, 2004)
* New Shabbos Waltz (Acoustic Disc 64, 2006)
* DGBX (Acoustic Disc 65, 2006)
* Dawg’s Groove (Acoustic Disc 66, 2006)
* The Living Room Sessions (Acoustic Disc, 2007)
* Satisfied (Acoustic Disc, 2007)

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The Beautiful Strings of Murcia

Juan José Robles – “Tiempo de espera” (self-release, 2016)

Juan José Robles is a Spanish composer and multi-instrumentalist who specializes in Spanish string instruments. He hails from Alhama de Murcia, a town in southeastern Spain, in a region called Murcia. While other Spanish regions export a considerable amount of music, there’s relatively little production coming out of Murcia and specifically the Alhama area.

“Tiempo de espera” is Roble’s first solo album and features a mix of original contemporary folk music pieces composed by Juan José Robles and traditional tunes re-arranged by Robles. His main inspiration is the folk music of his region, although he also incorporates elements from flamenco and other traditions.

For guitar and string players interested in less common Spanish string instruments, “Tiempo de espera” will be a great opportunity to “discover” some of them. On “Tiempo de espera”, Robles uses the familiar mandolin and Spanish guitar, but he also uses the less frequent bandurria, a 12-string lute that’s normally used to accompany other instruments although Robles uses it as a solo instrument. Another instrument used by Robles is the guitarro, a small guitar that is normally used to accompany Murcian cuadrillas (traditional folk groups). Robles also elevates this instrument to soloist status. And then there’s also the octavilla, another small guitar with 12 strings that has a great potential as a solo instrument.

Juan José Robles enriches his instrumentals and songs with instruments from other regions and traditions, such as the pandero cuadrado (square frame drum from western Spain), flamenco palmas (handclap percussion), flamenco guitar, flamenco cajón, zanfona (hurdy gurdy), kalimba and electric bass.

The álbum lineup includes Juan José Robles on mandolin, Spanish guitar, laúd (Spanish lute), octavilla, bandurria and guitarro; Óscar Esteban on panderetas (tambourines); Pablo Orenes on acoustic and electric bass; Constantino López on acoustic guitar and mandola; Jero Galián on Spanish guitar; Pepe Ludeña on fiddle; José Antonio Aarnoutse on flamenco guitar; Dani Valera on palmas; Carlos Beceiro on zanfona; Roberto Cubero on mandolin; Carmen María Martínez Salazar and Jaime Lafuente vocals.

Juan José Robles has played with a wide range of traditional groups, contemporary folk music bands and singer-songwriters, including Malvariche, Mujeres con Raíz, Villa de Alhama, Orquesta Camerata Aguilar, Manuel Luna’s cuadrilla Maquilera, La banda del Pepo, and la Ronda de Motilleja.

“Tiempo de espera” was worth the wait. It’s a beautifully-crafted album rooted in Murcian tradition by the talented Juan José Robles.

Buy the digital version of Tiempo de espera. There is also a CD version available directly from the artist.

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The Passionate Music of Alentejo, the Focus of EXIB 2016 Opening Concert

The 2016 edition of the Iberoamerican Music Expo (EXIB) opened May 4th in Evora, Portugal. Evora is a beautiful walled city, a UNESCO world heritage site that includes numerous monuments spanning centuries. Evora is located in the Alentejo region of Portugal. It’s part of Portugal’s heartland and is defined by its rural nature. For the EXIB opening, organizers treated the audience to a mix of southern Portuguese traditional and contemporary folk music.

 

Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora - Photo by Angel Romero
Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora – Photo by Angel Romero

 

The concert at the Teatro Garcia de Resende started with the Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora, marching through the center aisle towards the stage. This group of talented male and female singers, perform dressed in various costumes reflecting various social strata and professions from the mid-20th century, including traditional farmer, cowboy, and shepherd attire.

They perform traditional cante alentejano, an a cappella style that celebrates rural life. Grupo Coral e Etnográfico Cantares de Évora perform “old style”, without any modern arrangements to the traditional music poems.

A series of short videos were screened, in between performances, highlighting Evora, farm life, the enthralling sheep bell makers and other aspects of the local culture.

 

Celina Da Piedade - Photo by Angel Romero
Celina Da Piedade – Photo by Angel Romero

 

One of the great artists from the region, accordionist and vocalist Celina Da Piedade appeared next, accompanying herself on accordion. She was later joined by Há Lobos sem ser na Serra musicians, who accompanied Celina on guitar, drums and vocals.

Celina is a conservatory-trained musician and specializes in music from the Alentejo region. In addition to her talent as a passionate singer, she is also a virtuoso accordionist, playing beautiful melodies inspired by the Alentejo region. She participates and leads numerous workshops and has performed abroad. She leads weekly gatherings of Cante Alentejano in Casa do Alentejo, Lisbon. Celina has participated in over 50 recordings as well as soundtracks for film, theater and dance. She is currently part of the celebrated collective TaisQuais that includes some of the biggest names in Portuguese music: Vitorino, Tim, Sebastião, Serafim, Jorge Palma, Paulo Ribeiro and João Gil. They released a critically acclaimed album titled “Os fabulosos Tais Quais”.

 

Há Lobos sem ser na Serra - Photo by Angel Romero
Há Lobos sem ser na Serra – Photo by Angel Romero

 

Há Lobos sem ser na Serra played next. They represent a new generation of cante alentejano musicians. Their sound is rooted in tradition although the arrangements take the music into exciting new directions. While the band plays, a graphic artists paints desings on a video screen.

Há Lobos sem ser na Serra use the 8-shaped guitar called viola campaniça. It’s a rare guitar from Alentejo with a peculiar mouth that nearly disappeared in the 1960s. It has unusual tunings and the band extracts unexpected sounds and some jazz elements. Band members include António Bexiga on viola campaniça; Bernardo ‘Buba’ Espinho on vocals and drum; and David Pereira on viola campaniça and vocals.

 

João Afonso -- Photo by Angel Romero
João Afonso – Photo by Angel Romero

 

One of Portugal’s most cherished singer-songwriters, João Afonso, performed accompanied by various guitars. João Afonso plays contemporary folk music and pop inspired by various Portuguese traditions. We have a João Afonso artist profile that you can read for additional information.

 

Luis Peixoto - Photo by Angel Romero
Luis Peixoto – Photo by Angel Romero

 

Two string masters participated in the event, accompanying João Afonso, playing solos and mesmerizing interplay. Luis Peixoto is a multi-instrumentalist who plays various string instruments and also mixes folk music with electronics. For this occasion he used the tiny cavaquinho, which is one of the ancestors of the ukulele.

 

Juan José Robles - Photo by Angel Romero
Juan José Robles – Photo by Angel Romero

 

Juan José Robles, from southeastern Spain, was one of the two international guests. He’s also multi-instrumentalist specialized in string instruments and the folk music from the Murcia region. He used the mandolina (mandolin), octavilla (a guitar from La Mancha) and a guitarro valenciano.

 

Carlos Malta - Photo courtesy of EXIB
Carlos Malta – Photo courtesy of EXIB

 

Carlos Malta’s flute sounds entered the theater down the center aisle. The Brazilian wind instrument master brought the sounds of South America and joined the rest of the musicians for several beautiful songs that were very familiar to the Portuguese members of the audience, who sang along.

 

Ovation at EXIB 2016 - Photo by Angel Romero
Ovation at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero

The EXIB 2016 opening concert was a superb introduction to the music of Alentejo.

Videos:

 

 

 

 

 

Related links:

Iberoamerican Music Expo (EXIB)
Celina Da Piedade
João Afonso
Luis Peixoto
Carlos Malta

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Chris Thile Revealed As New Host of “A Prairie Home Companion”

Chris Thile - Photo by Brantley Gutierrez
Chris Thile – Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

American mandolinist Chris Thile will replace author and storyteller Garrison Keillor as the new host of A Prairie Home Companion. Starting October 15, 2016, Thile will host a new 30-week season with 13 new, live broadcasts, produced shows and repeats on public radio stations throughout the United States.

The only live music and variety show currently aired in the United States, A Prairie Home Companion is a popular Saturday night radio presentation. The show includes musical performances and comedy.

A Prairie Home Companion will continue to be broadcast live on Saturday nights from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as from theaters across the United States. Each of the new live shows will contain a mix of well-known and up-and-coming musicians, humor with sketch comedy and spoken word, plus an original “Song of the Week” composed by Thile.

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