Wintergrass 2018 Performers – The T Sisters

The T Sisters, born and raised in California and now based in the creative hub of Oakland, embody harmony. It’s in their blood, bones, and history. Erika , Rachel and Chloe Tietjen, have been singing and writing music together since childhood, and the lifetime of practice shows.

The three sisters’ inventive songwriting is supported by their own acoustic instrumentation as well as upright bass (Steve Height), mandolin/guitar (Andrew Allen Fahlander), and drums (Marlon Aldana). Their sound represents a continuum of music, from traditional to pop influences, moments of breathtaking a cappella to swells of energetic indie Americana.937A0777-700x700

In the last two years, they’ve been honored to support such acts as Amos Lee, The Wood Brothers, Todd Rundgren, The Waybacks, Laurie Lewis, ALO, Elephant Revival, The California Honeydrops, and more. Notable performances include Merlefest, Kate Wolf Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (support role), Sisters Folk Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, Americana Music Association Festival, Music City Roots, and Garrison Keillor’s ‘A Prairie Home Companion’.

Following their 2014 debut album Kindred Lines (produced by folk/bluegrass legend Laurie Lewis), the T Sisters released their self-titled full-length album in October of 2016. T Sisters has already received extensive airplay leading to a top position in the Roots Music Reports and continues to climb in the Americana Charts.

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Wintergrass 2018 Performers-The Mammals

mammalsMike + Ruthy, touring American folk act and founders of The Mammals are bringing back the band name that energized crowds in the 00’s and gave them their start. “We’ve always been Mammals at heart,” laughs Ruth Ungar, the band’s soulful singer and fiddler. “The music we’re making has the same old-time and Americana roots, and our lyrics have gotten more political again.” It’s true, The Mammals were known for their rabble-rousing musical statements which sometimes caused a stir with politically divided audiences from Louisiana to Michigan. “If you tell the whole truth you won’t please everyone,” smiles Mike Merenda. He’s the songwriter and guitar/banjo player whose 2004 Mammals anthem “The Bush Boys” made the Dixie Chicks seem downright polite.

This time around their goals remain two-fold: raise positive social awareness & have a good party! In their recent tenure as “Mike + Ruthy” they began a home-town festival near Woodstock, NY called The Hoot which exemplifies these ideals. Pete Seeger, who performed at the inaugural Summer Hoot wrote “Dear Mike + Ruthy, your Hoot was one of the best song gatherings I’ve seen in all my 94 years.” Perhaps it was the multi-generational celebration, the hand-built wooden stage, or the re-usable pint cups – either way, these musicians take pride in the small details that make a big difference.

“Our lives are about building community and growing together everywhere we go,” says Ungar. In addition to organizing festivals, Mike + Ruthy have spent the past 9 years raising their two young children and recording and touring behind 5 albums that say “Wherever the good energy is, that’s where I wanna raise my kids,” “Some people wanna tell you that you shouldn’t even try / but I wanna tell you that’s a lie,” and “You’ve got to be as bright as you can.”

Back in 2001, The Mammals originated as a partnership between Ungar, Merenda and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (Pete’s grandson) and later grew to include other players. The 2017 lineup includes some former Mammal members including Jacob Silver and Ken Maiuri when they are not touring with Lee Fields and the B-52’s respectively. “It’s a blessing to have a connection to the past and such great new players too,” says Mike. “The alchemy of fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and drums is magic… and when keys, pedal steel, and horns are in the mix we leap to the next level.”

The Mammals have released a rowdy live-in-the-living-room video of the song “On My Way Home” and are digitally releasing a pair of topical tunes, “Culture War” and “My Baby Drinks Water” Spring 2017.

The Mammals are a high-octane Americana quintet from New York’s storied Hudson Valley carrying on the work of Pete Seeger & Woody Guthrie with a deep original repertoire and signature “trad is rad” souMikeHootJackBarannd.

“Some of the best songwriting of their generation.” (LA Weekly) “A string band at the core, The Mammals augment their sound with drums and electric guitar to create a collectively harmonized howl as thrilling and rocking as any band currently subverting folk traditions.” (No Depression)

Founded in 2001 by Seeger’s grandson, Tao, second generation fiddler/singer, Ruth Ungar, and banjo/guitar songsmith, Mike Merenda, The Mammals reemerged in 2017 “stronger than ever” (Folk Alley) fronted by Mike + Ruthy along with drums, bass and pedal steel. Known for their jubilant, high-energy shows, The Mammals deftly move from older-than-dirt banjo duets to sound-the-alarm topical fare that’s right in line with the times, bouncing from roof raising hoe-downs to hear-a-pin-drop a cappella balladry.

“The Mammals don’t suffer from multiple genre syndrome, they celebrate it as if gleefully aware that the sound barriers separating old-timey music, vintage pop and contemporary folk are as permeable as cotton.” (Washington Post) Their dynamic shows regularly bring a tear to the eye and hope to the hearts of listeners of all generations. In an era of disconnect, The Mammals work to re-connect thru their truth-telling lyrics, off-the-cuff storytelling and euphoric insstatic1.squarespace.comtrumentals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2018 The Mammals will be touring internationally in support of their their new full-length release including the singles My Baby Drinks Water, a mother’s lullaby plea to protect clean water, and Culture War, a song that “gets right to the heart of the fight for the American soul.” (No Depression)

Stay tuned for more news on the next full record, slated for release in early 2018. They’re in the studio capturing road-tested songs that like “Maple Leaf” and “When My Story Ends,” experimental journeys like “I Dreamed” and “Open the Door” and some brand new beauties and foot-stompers to boot.

Wintergrass 2018 Performers-The Jake Jolliff Band

Jacob Jolliff was born into a musical family in Newberg, OR. His dad started him on the mandolin at age seven and required him to practice ten minutes a day. But after six months of practicing this minimal amount, something clicked, and almost overnight he started putting in several hours of intense practice daily. And this hasn’t really changed in the last 20 years.

Throughout middle school and high school, Jacob picked in a bluegrass gospel band with his father. They played festivals and churches throughout the northwestern United States, and became a staple at the Sunday morning gospel sJacob+Jolliff+Bandhows. During this time he had the opportunity to meet and play with many of his heroes, including Ronnie McCoury, David Grisman, and Chris Thile. Though Jacob was mostly self-taught at this point, lessons with great players such as these kept him inspired and moving forward.

When he was 18, Jacob was awarded a full scholarship to The Berklee College of Music in Boston. He moved to Massachusetts to start schoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAol in 2007, along with a lot of the other young musicians he had grown up with. There he studied under the late mandolin great John McGann, who was a huge influence. Under John’s supervision, he spent many six-hour practice days working on a variety of styles from bluegrass to jazz to celtic music. In 2008, during his sophomore year of college, he joined the New England based roots music band, Joy Kills Sorrow. Over the next few years the group toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, playing hundreds of clubs, theaters, and festivals. Because of the group’s rigorous schedule, it was a challenge for him to stay in school, but he still managed to graduate in 2011. Shortly after, in 2012, he won the National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, Kansas.

In 2014, after three records, hundreds of shows, and thousands of miles in a 15 passenger van, Joy Kills Sorrow went on an indefinite hiatus. Fortuitously, as this chapter of Jacob’s musical journey ended, another important one began. Within a couple weeks of the band’s last show, the young mandolinist got a call from the progressive bluegrass jam group, Yonder Mountain String Band. They had parted ways with their original mandolin player and were looking to try out someone new. Jacob went on his first tour with YMSB in June of that year. He immediately connected musically and personally with the band, and they asked him to play the rest of 2014 with them. In May 2015, they announced him as an official member. Thus far they’ve released one album, Black Sheep, featuring Jacob and are currently working on another.

The up-and-coming mandolinist continues to tour with YMSB and has recently started a new project. He called on a handful of his favorite jamming buddies–some of the most virtuosic young pickers in the northeast–and started a progressive bluegrass ensemble, The Jacob Jolliff Band. The group features a lot of Jacob’s original instrumentals, as well as showcasing his singing, which has been a big part of what he does in recent years.

Over the years, Jacob has had pleasure of sharing the stage with many legendary musicians spanning many genres including Darol Anger, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Bryan Bowers, John Popper, The David Grisman Quintet, Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident, Michael Daves, and many more. Currently, he lives in New York City, and can be heard around town playing with his own projects as well as sitting in with his friends’ groups in a wide range of styles.

 

Jacob started his own band in the Fall of 2015.  While instrumentation-wise it’s a traditional bluegrass ensemble, they call on a huge number of outside influences to create a unique take on roots music.

The group features Jacob’s long-time partner-in-crime, Alex Hargreaves, on fiddle.  The two of them have been playing together since middle school, both growing up in the Oregon bluegrass scene. Alex is widely considered one of best improvising violinists in the world and has won several national fiddle competitions, including The Grand Masters Fiddle Championship and The National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest. Hargreaves is also a member of the Turtle Island String Quartet.

For the guitar slot, Jacob called one of his all-time favorite picking buddies, Stash Wyslouch. Stash cut his teeth touring with The Deadly Gentleman, a contemporary of Joy Kills Sorrow in the Boston bluegrass scene. In addition to being an incredibly distinctive and shredding guitar player, Stash is also a powerful and versatile singer.  He tours with his own project, The Stash! Band, in addition to playing with Molsky’s Mountain Drifters.

Ironically, bassist Jeff Picker grew up right down the street from Alex and Jacob in Oregon, but they didn’t meet until they were all living in NYC–ten years after leaving the northwest. Jeff created a name for himself tearing up the Portland jazz scene and won multiple national jazz competitions. Though he’s quite capable of slaying bebop in thumb position, he also has a true appreciation for the nuances of bluegrass, and is an accomplished guitarist and singer as well. He currently tours with Sarah Jarosz.

Wintergrass 2018 Performers-The O’ Connor Band -Featuring Mark O’Connor

The O’Connor Band is the product of Mark O’Connor’s imagination – one that has served him well over the course of his four-decade professional career. A former child prodigy and national champion on the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, Mark has won numerous GRAMMYs and CMA Awards, appeared on hundreds of commercial country albums, collaborated with the likes of Johnny Cash, Wynton Marsalis, Dolly Parton, and Yo-Yo Ma, and performed everything from original violin concertos to swing and jazz. But until recently, he had not worked on a project quite like this.

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At Music City Roots in Franklin, TN.

“It’s been one of the most surprising and rewarding experiences to perform with my family members on stage,” says Mark. “It’s really exciting to bend these American genres in new ways, combining accessibility with a real depth of musicianship and writing.”

In addition to Mark, the band features his son Forrest, (Harvard graduate and former Tennessee State Mandolin Champion), daughter-in-law Kate (frequent performer on the CMA Awards and CMA Country Christmas shows), and wife Maggie (graduate of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University). The four of them play together as though they have been sharing the stage for many years – and in some ways, they have.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We all grew up listening to my dad’s music,” says Forrest, “so in a sense, we’ve been preparing for this band for a majority of our lives.”

The band is rounded out by Joe Smart (national flatpick champion on guitar) and Geoff Saunders (bassist/banjoist extraordinaire and recent graduate of the University of Miami’s DMA program).

All six band members possess charisma that, when combined onstage,


audiences from start to finish. All are masters of their instruments, all improvise as readily as they play parts in counterpoint, all can sing, and all move about the stage in a free but gripping choreography. Kate’s beautiful and powerful voice belies her age. Forrest’s songwriting is at once poetic and accessible. Maggie’s violin playing blends effortlessly with her husband’s, so much so that, at times, the two sound like one player. Joe rips solos on the acoustic guitar as though he were playing electric. Geoff arcos high as commandingly as he grooves low. And Mark, of cOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAourse, does things on the fiddle that has Paganini turning in his grave.

If the band’s first year was a flash flood, their second will be a calculated, steady rise. They are touring throughout summer and fall 2017 in support of O’Connor Band Live!, performing an array of original songs, classics, and barnburners that require versatility and a depth of musical knowledge that most bands on the scene today – on any scene, for that matter – simply don’t have.

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Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival 2017

This weekend is the 2017 Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival August 11-13th. Featuring Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Lonely Heart String Band, The Harmonic Tone Revealers,Jackstraw,Kaia Kater,Fireball Mail,a Stanley Brothers Tribute, Jenny Anne & Caleb Mannan and Bust it Like a Mule,The River City Ramblers, The Panhandle Polecats,Brett & Janet Dodd

blue waters

Nestled in the pines on the shores of Medical Lake, Washington, the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival is quite possibly the best summertime bluegrass experience in the Northwest. With it’s pristine location, warm Eastern Washington summer weather, stellar lineup of world-class and regional bands, and bargain-basement price, it’s no wonder folks all over the Northwest Bluegrass scene are buzzing about us.
http://www.bluewatersbluegrass.org/

The O’Connor Band Featuring Mark O’Connor Returns to Jazz Alley

O’Connor Band featuring Award-Winning Fiddler/Violinist Mark O’Connor

August 17 – 20, 2017

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The Pacific Jazz Institute at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley welcomes the debut of Grammy-winning bluegrass folk fiddler Mark O’Connor and the O’Connor Band touring in support of their 2017 Grammy-winning album Coming Home (8/2016). Band members are Mark O’Connor (fiddle), Maggie O’Connor (fiddle/vocals), Forrest O’Connor (mandolin/vocals) Kate Lee (fiddle/vocals), Joe Smart (guitar/vocals) and Geoff Saunders (bass/banjo/vocals). Show times Thursday and Sunday at 7:30pm. Show times Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Doors open at 6:00pm Thursday and 5:30pm Friday – Sunday.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Grammy Award-winning O’Connor Band, featuring iconic fiddler and composer Mark O’Connor, puts on an engaging, dynamic show showcasing compelling arrangements, virtuosic solos, and tight vocal harmonies. Their debut album, Coming Home, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums chart in 2016 and won Best Bluegrass Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017.

After exploring their bluegrass roots, the band is spending much of 2017 honing a sound that coheres even more than before, one that leverages the band’s songwriting talent and background in acoustic, country, jazz, and classical music in a way that is geared toward wider audiences yet still true to themselves and their roots.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The O’Connor Band is a family band in the great bluegrass and country traditions, but one that happens to have one of the greatest instrumentalists of his generation in the lineup. The O’Connor Band was founded by Mark O’Connor, the virtuoso violinist whose career has encompassed country, bluegrass, jazz, and classical as he’s worked with Stéphane Grappelli, David Grisman, Béla Fleck, Emmylou Harris, Itzhak Perlman, Chet Atkins, Yo-Yo Ma, and many more. In 2014, Mark married Maggie O’Connor (formerly Maggie Dixon), herself a gifted violinist who began playing at the age of 7 and studied with Herbert Greenberg at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, receiving a Masters of Music degree in violin performance. Maggie soon began collaborating with Mark, performing with him on the road, and they recorded an album together, 2015’s Duo. Meanwhile, Mark’s son from his first marriage, Forrest O’Connor, had dabbled in music, playing mandolin and guitar, before enrolling at Harvard to study business. But Forrest continued playing mandolin as a hobby during time off from his studies. After working with a tech startup for a while, he decided to return to Nashville in 2014 and take a shot at a career in music. He proved his mettle by winning the Tennessee State Mandolin Championship a few months after leaving Massachusetts. When Forrest relocated to Nashville, he brought along his fiancée, Kate Lee, another talented musician who had been performing vocals and on fiddle since the age of 12. Lee’s résumé included backing such country stars as Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, and Lady Antebellum, and writing songs with Pat Alger. Forrest and Kate had been playing shows together as a duo, and when Forrest was invited to play alongside his father and step-mother, Kate tagged along. Guitarist Joe Smart and bassist Geoff Saunders joined in to fill out their sound, and the O’Connor Band was born. The group, whose sound is a canny mixture of bluegrass, folk, country, and pop, began playing out at major bluegrass festivals in 2015, and the following year, they released their debut, and ultimately Grammy-winning album, through Rounder Records, Coming Home.

http://www.markoconnor.com http://www.oconnorband.com

 

Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons with Phil Wiggins -Album Release

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The Seattle folklorists & legendary bluesman release their album this Friday, July 28th.

As we gear up for the official release of A Black & Tan Ball we are excited to have the full album streaming over on The Bluegrass Situation today! American Songwriter premiered “Longin’ For My Sugar” calling it “a soulful, melancholy tune originally recorded by Leroy Carr that meditates on the pain of a failed romance” while Glide Magazine featured the track “Shanghai Rooster” saying “played in the “greasy” style, “Shanghai Rooster” is the kind of tune you can picture being played at a rowdy gathering in the deep South at the turn of the century.” American Blues Scene premiered “Do You Call That A Buddy” lauding it as “just one of the outstanding performances on A Black & Tan Ball.”

You can stream and download the album below and if you need anything else from me please do let me know!

Private Stream of A Black & Tan Ball / Private Download

There’s a duality to the music of Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons; the same duality that lies at the heart of the blues. It’s the dichotomy between the weight of history that hangs over black America and the lightness of these old folk songs, which are meant to uplift and charm, to trick away danger, to fool authority, to squeeze a person out of harm’s way, but also to assert a subtle sense of worth and dignity. These songs brought black Americans through the darkest years of our country’s history, and they have an unsettling amount of currency in today’s world, where saying that the blues is black music or even saying that the life of a black person matters are both controversial statements.

The music that renowned Seattle roots duo Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons are making on their new album, A Black & Tan Ball, is not just blues music. The better term is a new and important one: Black Americana. To make this music, they’ve recruited good friend and touring partner Phil Wiggins, an eclectic legend of American blues harmonica (who received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship this year). By pulling together the many threads of black American roots music, and demonstrating the underlying meanings behind the black experience in folk music, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons are showing another side to Americana that can help expand the genre’s boundaries.