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.

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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 2017 Performers-Jeremy Kittel

Jeremy Kittel is an American fiddler, violinist, and composer. Fluent in multiple musical genres, his original music draws from traditional roots, jazz, Celtic, Classical, electronic, and more.  Kittel performs with his own band or trio, as a duo, and as a soloist with orchestras.  In addition to his own projects, he has composed and arranged for such artists as Abigail Washburn, Aoife O’Donovan, My Morning Jacket, Camera Obscura, Jars of Clay, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Laura Veirs, and the Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet (of which he was a member for five years). He has also recorded with artists such as Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Mark O’Connor and Mike Marshall.

His most recent solo recording, Chasing Sparks (Compass), features original compositions with a stellar cast of musicians, including special guests Meyer, Thile, and Marshall.  He is currently working on his fifth solo album. Kittel previewed some of his new compositions on the Oct 10, 2015 broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion,” (guest-hosted by I’m With Her).

In 2015, Kittel co-composed “Bull Frogs Croon,” a new orchestral work featuring himself and Aoife O’Donovan as soloists. This adds to a growing body of original compositions and arrangements for orchestra, which can be heard in concerts presented around North America.  He has performed as soloist with the Detroit Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Britt Orchestra, Vanjkcouver Symphony, and more.

Committed to the belief that music and the arts are central to the human experience, he is a passionate clinician and educator. He has taught at such programs as Berklee College of Music, Belmont University, The New School, International Music Academy of Pilsen, Zurich University of the Arts, Mark O’Connor Strings Camps, the Swannanoa Gathering, and Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School.

Kittel has a master’s degree in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and received the 2010 Emerging Artist Award from his alma mater, the University of Michigan.  He has received numerous other awards over the years, including the US National Scottish Fiddle Championship, six Detroit Music Awards and two ASTA Alternative Style awards.  He was also the first recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin.

Wintergrass 2017 Performers-The Talbott Brothers

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The Talbott Brothers are an Alternative Folk/Rock band based in Portland, Oregon. Nick and Tyler form an alternative sound that balances sibling-blood-harmonies with their instrumental ensemble of guitars, mandolin, harmonicas and percussion. Their entertaining effect on stage is embraced by multiple generations, as they are known for charming and energetic performances that blend singer-songwriter styles with folk, rock and pop.

In a cold, snow-covered winter back in 2012, The Talbott Brothers found themselves half a country away from home with nothing but a couple guitars, an old beat-up kick drum and an electric piano with some broken keys. Playing to rooms of 5 people and living out of a 4-door Chevy Impala hadn’t been their idea of a successful first tour. But hearing the inspiring stories of those they met each night and watching the sunrise over the vehicle dashboard each morning was just what the small town Nebraska boys needed to press on and be reminded of a bigger purpose. Amidst the Leaving Home tour, a 27 show run from Omaha to New York City, The Talbott Brothers found inspiration for what would become their debut album the following year; The Road.

After a successful crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign funded their studio time to create The Road, Nick and Tyler took their new music across America both as the duo and with their band, spending over 150 days per year traveling city to city. Only this time, they’d graduated from an Impala to a van they found on Craigslist in St. Louis named Goldie. With over 400 shows under their belts and enough songs for a new record, The Talbott Brothers headed to Omaha, NE in 2015 to record their sophomore album, Places.

2017 marks the release of The Talbott Brothers’ third full-length studio album – Gray (February 10, 2017). Honest, organic and vulnerable, the album is driven by warm, melodic vocals, diverse instrumentation and authentic storytelling. With the album’s release, the brothers experienced more deeply what it means to submerse themselves in their songwriting, spending four months off the road in their new home base of Portland, Oregon.

“We weren’t just road dogs anymore,” Tyler said. “For the last 3 years we’ve been out playing music for new friends and listeners across the country. But, while we were writing Gray, we were learning how to take it slow again. Maybe we just needed a lesson in being human.”

“I think most times we wish our circumstances were more black and white, or that the answers seemed easy and clear. It’s often in the gray area where we face the greatest trials, and come out refined on the other side. There’s so much you can miss out on when you get caught up in the grind and routine of things.” Nick stated.

 

Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Whiskey Deaf

whiskey-deafWhiskey Deaf is a band made of members that we are sure you have seen in a variety of bands that have performed at many of the West Coast festivals including Wintergrass through the years.

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Annie Staninec has been playing fiddle since the age of four, and can rattle your teeth with a bluegrass breakdown, tug at your soul on a lonesome ballad, or kick you out of your seat with a cajun two-step. She’s toured the world and recorded with renowned artists such as Kathy Kallick, Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, John Reischman, David Grisman, Darol Anger, Mary Gauthier, and Town Mountain, and she’s taught at some of the most prestigious music camps in the country. Most recently, she is a full time member of the Rod Stewart Band.

John Kael has been teaching and performing bluegrass guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass for over 20 years, and is also an established songwriter – his award-winning song Handmade Cross can be heard on the Grammy-nominated album “Hard Game of Love” by Doyle Lawson.

Ethan Lawton is a gifted singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, and has performed on countless stages throughout the US and internationally with Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers, Cahalen Morrison and Country Hammer and others, and he is also a founding member of the acclaimed band Western Centuries.

Jamie Blair is a lightning-fingered and innovative banjo player, who began performing as just a youngun in Ohio with the Bluegrass Freightliners, and has performed and recorded with numerous bands since including the Ohop Valley Boys, Cascade Mountain Boys, Grapevine, Faast and Blair, and Blue Hill.

Dee Johnson is a staple in the northwest bluegrass scene, and is the rhythmic rock at the center of several bands including Mountain Honey, the Loafers, Grapevine, and Whiskey Deaf (of course!).

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Wintergrass 2017 Performers-The Paperboys

 

 

paperboysWrapping up their 20th anniversary year, Vancouver Canadian musician Tom Landa, is looking back on the legacy of his much-loved folk rock band The Paperboys. For two decades, The Paperboys have been touring the world and lighting up stages with their free-wheeling blend of influences from Celtic and bluegrass, to Mexican son jarocho, brass bands, and Canadian roots. They’ve been called everything from Cajun slamgrass to worldbeat, they’ve received a Juno award (Canadian Grammy), plus two Juno nominations, released nine albums, and regularly play two-night bills in the Pacific Northwest. But that’s not what matters to Landa now. “What means more to me than anything else is to receive letters, emails, or hear stories from people who tell me that our songs helped them through a tough time, or that they used one of our songs for their wedding, or that an album of ours was the soundtrack of their summer. At the end of the day, accolades are nice, but they are nothing compared to connecting with people.” It’s a remarkably grounded perspective from a bandleader who’s been through it all, but Landa’s an open-book kind of songwriter, a Canadian grassroots poet who loves to infuse his songs with dance hooks. Even the title of their new album, At Peace With One’s Ghosts – the first new Paperboys album in six years – speaks to Landa’s approach. It’s full of The Paperboys’ signature sounds: Spanish-language songs that reflect Landa’s Mexican heritage, explosive brass lines from their extended 8-piece ensemble, Celtic fiddle and pennywhistle blazing through an old reel, English rock songs with strong pop influences, and a kind of melting pot sound that reflects not only the diversity of the band’s home city, Vancouver, BC, but also a larger vision of what modern Canadian roots music should sound like.

 

The Paperboys were formed in 1995 when Landa first moved to Vancouver. “As a teen living in Ontario,” he explains, “I was really influenced by the music coming out of Vancouver in the late eighties/early nineties. Seminal Celtic rock band Spirit of the West was by far my biggest influence. I packed my bags and came to Vancouver solely based on the music scene.” Over time, The Paperboys were a key part of multiple waves of popular Canadian folk rock bands that included The Duhks, Ashley MacIsaac, The Bills, and Great Big Sea.  “One big difference between Canadian Celtic artists and Celtic bands in other parts of the world,” says Landa, ‘is that records made here are being produced by producers who come from a rock and pop world, and bring something very unique to the table.” For At Peace With One’s Ghosts, Landa tapped Canadian pop music producer Bill Buckingham, who brought a cohesiveness to the project by helping the band seamlessly blend their many influences.

 

At Peace With One’s Ghosts features the current lineup of The Paperboys: Tom Landa on vocals, guitar and multiple instruments, original member Geoffrey Kelly on flute/whistles, Tom’s wife Kalissa Landa on fiddle/vocals, Brad Gillard on bass/banjo, drummer Sam Esecson, and saxophonist Kareem Kandi. The songs on the album draw from Landa’s journeys over the past six years, like “Back To You,” a love song for Landa’s son written while on tour, or “Mismo Latido,” that speaks to the truth that as you travel, you find out there are more things that unite us than divide us. “City of Chains” speaks to Landa’s disillusionment with his home city of Vancouver, where artists struggled for years under Harper’s government. With a new prime minister, the arts in Canada have a new lease on life, and there’s great change over the horizon. Once again, The Paperboys are poised to bring their adventurous vision of Canadian roots music to dancehalls everywhere, spreading good cheer and great music.

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Mexican Son Jarocho mixed in with Irish Jigs and Reels and a good dose of Country and Bluegrass. It has healthy servings of Ska, Soca and African Highlife and we’ve been known to throw in a little White Boy Reggae. Of course it also has strains of Soul, Pop and Funk although we are by no means a funk band. It is mostly Acoustic although we also like Electric guitars. It is Singer-Songwriter based but not the coffee house variety. It is definitely FOLK music, but not in the Kumbaya style. It has a deep respect and appreciation for tradition (Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Son) but it’s by no means Traditional. It Rocks incredibly hard and is extremely danceable, but that is not to say it can’t be mellow and slow and beautiful. It can be heart breaking, but also joyous. It is never dark or angst ridden, and always full of hope – but not in the ‘Up With People’ kind of way. It’s not Jazz, although we like Jazz a lot. It’s not heavy metal or punk or grunge, although we love Rush and AC/DC. It is World Roots Music. It’s POP music. It is GOOD music. It has a tendency to connect people and means a lot to many folks the world over, and for that we are very grateful. It is the only multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-lingual, multi-instrumental, genre bending, co-ed band you will hear today!!

Wintergrass 2017 Performer-Orville Johnson

Orville Johnson was born and raised in the southern Illinois heartland. He acquired his love of singing as a youth in the fundamentalist Pentecostal church he attended and, when he later began playing guitar and dobro, responded to the roots music that surrounded him by learning to play the blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, and country oj_reso1_col_72dpi_4_6x4music that are all part of the mosaic that characterizes his own mongrel music.

He is a singer, instrumentalist, record producer, songwriter, session player, teacher, the top dobro player on the West Coast of America and, above all, an instinctive and sensitive musician. As his entry in the Encyclopedia of Northwest Music (Sasquatch Press 1999) states, he has become a vital figure on the NW music scene in the thirty-some years he’s lived there, appearing on over 400 CDs, movie and video soundtracks, commercials, producing 22 CDs for other artists, hosting a roots music radio show, and appearing in the 1997 film Georgia with Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Mare Winningham, on the Prairie Home Companion radio show and on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.orville-1

Orville is also known as a patient and insightful teacher of music and has taught often at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop as well as the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Blues Workshop, Euro-Blues Workshop, B.C. Bluegrass Workshop and others. He has several teaching videos and DVDs and CDs of his own music available.