The Debutones play a tasteful, eclectic blend of country, folk, and bluegrass music, featuring tight harmony singing and stellar instrumental accompaniment. The ‘Tones
are a group of veteran Northwest musicians who discovered they have great time making beautiful music together, and we’re excited to bring this music
Debby Nagusky and Don Share have been singing duets since the mid-1990s, and this band features the repertoire they have built, along with new gems they keep digging up. Adding to Debby and Don’s vocals and guitar work are Greg Glassman, vocals and bass, Julian Smedley, vocal and violin,
and Bob Knetzger, Dobro and banjo.
Don brings his accomplished musical career in the Pacific Northwest bluegrass
scene to the Debutones. He was a founding member of Who’s Driving? and
Rainy Pass, and he also currently performs with the Seattle-based
Downtown Mountain Boys, and Old Growth. Don’s powerful rhythm guitar
playing drives the Debutones and his lead and harmony singing is central to
the band’s vocal sound.
Debby’s beautiful, soulful singing is the centerpiece of the
Debutones. She has been an important fixture of the Puget Sound music scene since the
late 1970s, when she was a member of the ‘Round Town Girls and The Prairie Crooners.
As a vocalist and a songwriter, Debby is drawn to songs with compelling lyrics and evocative melodies.
Greg brings over 35 years of experience as a professional musician to the Debutones. He
played bass in The Skyline Drifters and Metro Luna, two highly regarded bluegrass and country swing bands. He is also an accomplished guitarist and performs in numerous jazz combos in the Seattle area.
Bob’s virtuosity, versatility, and tasteful musicianship make him a highly respected and much- cherished instrumentalist. His melodic fills and stunning breaks punctuate the Debutones repertoire. Bob has played with bluegrass, country, folk and rock acts in the Pacific Northwest for over 35 years. Currently he also performs with Lisa Theo and Kim
Fields in the Titans of Twang, where he plays pedal steel.
Julian has enjoyed a long and highly accomplished career as a professional musician
starting with singing as a choirboy in his native England. As a violinist he performed
regularly on the BBC, and he co-founded the Bowles Brothers Band, which recorded
on Decca Records. Since moving to the West Coast of the US he has performed with such artists as Art Lande, Ralph Towner, Gary Peacock and Gil Evans and he was a member of the Bay Area’s Hot Club of San Francisco. The Debutones are honored to draw on Julian’s experience as a distinguished performer, producer, and recording artist. Since his 2011 return to the Pacific Northwest, Julian has been performing with The Greg Ruby Quartet, and Julian and Alison, a jazz duo with his wife.
The Slocan Ramblers are Canada’s young bluegrass band to watch. Rooted in the tradition, fearlessly creative, and possessing a bold, dynamic sound, The Slocans (2015 Edmonton Folk Fest Emerging Artist Award recipients), have quickly become a leading light of Canada’s roots music scene, built on their reputation for energetic live shows, impeccable musicianship and their uncanny ability to convert anyone within earshot into a lifelong fan.
On their new album, Coffee Creek (2015) The Slocan Ramblers blend lightning fast and devilishly intricate instrumentals with the sawdust-thick vocals of singer Frank Evans, who takes lead on songs ranging from rowdy old-time numbers like “Groundhog,” to a Dustbowl classic like Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty.” “Toronto audiences don’t respond to a clean, polished Nashville sound,” tune composer and mandolinist Adrian Gross explains. “They dig a lot of energy in their music, a rowdy bar vibe. They’re hard to win over.” But The Slocan Ramblers have won them over, moving from a young ensemble of bluegrass pickers to one of the best known Canadian roots bands. They’ve done this by staying true to the roots of the music, not seeking to revive anything but rather to tap the rough and rowdy heart of the music.
Coffee Creek was produced by the band’s friend and mentor Chris Coole (The Foggy Hogtown Boys), a well-known banjo player and community leader in Toronto’s bluegrass and old-time scenes. Like Coole, The Slocan Ramblers bring the live, collaboratory aspects of the music to the fore, and they understand that if you polish up the music too much, you lose the raw excitement that makes it so vibrant. In the liner notes, Coole breaks it down: “What really impressed me while we were working on this album, was that, while they can pull off the precision and virtuosity that is at the backbone of bluegrass, they understand the power of the fragile moment in music. The fragile moment used to be a big part of what made an album cool–Monroe singing just beyond the edge of his voice, the moment right before you realize Vassar isn’t lost–the moment on and beyond the edge.” Listen to Evans’ worn vocals and you’ll hear some of the edge that great singers like Keith Whitley brought to the music. Or try Gross’ powerfully discordant and innovative mandolin solo on “Groundhog,” or Darryl Poulsen’s counterpoint Lester-Flatt-runs towards the end of the title track, or the rumbling beats of Alastair Whitehead’s acoustic bass on “Call Me Long Gone” (or Whitehead’s beautiful, world-weary original songs like “Elk River” or “Angeline”) to get a feel for how The Slocan Ramblers are pushing the envelope.
This is roots music without pretension, music intended to make you feel something, music to get you moving in a crowded bar. The Slocan Ramblers recorded Coffee Creek the same way they perform on stage: standing up, leaning into the music, and pushing harder and harder for that edge just beyond.
The Slocans are:
Frank Evans: Banjo
Adrian Gross: Mandolin
Darryl Poulsen: Guitar
Alastair Whitehead: Bass
When guitarist Clay Ross and accordionist Rob Curto stepped out on stage in front of ten thousand party-ready Brazilians in the northeastern city of Recife, they weren’t quite sure what to expect. It was their first ever show as Matuto.
“A defining moment,” Ross recalls, thinking back to that fateful show in 2009 when he had received a Fullbright grant to perform in Brazil, and had invited the Portuguese-speaking, forró expert Curto to join the project. They had played together in various configurations around Brooklyn’s wildly cross-cultural music scene, but had never worked together so closely.
“There, on that massive stage, during the apex of Carnaval, through our jazz-influenced originals and bluegrass barnburners our ‘little project’ became the new center of our musical worlds,” recounts Ross. “Feeling that crowd stomp along, with their Brazilian dosey-doe and joyful abandon, was truly special. Since then, we’ve toured the world recreating that moment.” It was that moment when Matuto (Brazilian slang for “country boy”) knew they were onto something.
That serendipitous, dance floor-friendly something remains delightfully open ended, a question the band poses about culture’s mutability and migratory habits, about what it means to embrace and treasure sounds from outside the musical world you were born into. It’s a question that’s unfolded throughout many centuries of African and European co-mingling in the Americas, from Brazil to the American South.
“The tension of cultural intersection is an exciting place to exist. It’s what makes our musical choices feel relevant and exciting,” Ross reflects. “With the music we can ask: What does it mean to be human? Why create imaginary borders? Music offers a safe place to live with these questions.”
Matuto’s songs can sway hips just as easily as spark insights. On stage, instruments (accordion, guitar, bass, drums, cavaquinho, zabumba, and triangle) whirl around the core of Matuto’s sound: the syncopations of Brazilian music and the folk traditions of the American South. It’s Bluegrass meets Brazil. It’s an unlikely combination on paper, but on the dance floor, it just feels right.
You’ll hear Brazil in the rich tones of Rob Curto’s forró accordion playing, in the rural rhythms of maracatu (from the Pernambuco region), in the urban beats of Rio’s samba, and in the intricate, chorinho-inspired melodies. All of this balanced with clear connections to American jazz, blues, bluegrass, and folk.
The band’s core members share a combined obsession with connecting the dots between Brazil, rural America, and creative reinterpretation of long-standing party-hardy forms. In 2002, South Carolina native Clay Ross moved to New York to pursue a jazz career, but just a few years later found himself in Recife, Brazil, immersed in the region’s folkloric music. Returning to New York, he began looking for like-minded conspirators, finding the perfect match for his love of Brazilian music in renowned accordionist Rob Curto (Forró for All). Born in New York, Curto is widely regarded as forró’s (NE Brazil’s accordion-driven country roots music) foremost ambassador in the States. He spent years living and playing in Brazil, completely absorbing and interpreting the country’s musical traditions.
Since that Carnival coup in Recife, the U.S.-based group has toured North America and Brazil, playing hundreds of shows each year, from popular American world music and folk festivals to major Brazilian celebrations. They have been featured showcase artists at the prestigious annual world music gathering WOMEX and have toured as U.S. State Department musical ambassadors in Africa, Europe, and The Middle East.
Tapping NYC’s diverse jazz, roots, and world music scenes, they have recorded three highly regarded albums including most recently The Africa Suite, a series of original pieces based on the band’s engagement with the people, sounds, and traditions on the road as ambassadors. The Africa Suite focuses the band’s fascination with the cultural push and pull between Africa and the Americas, creating a musical snapshot of the five countries on its 2013 State Department-sponsored tour.
Matuto revels in cultures colliding and in the ongoing exchange of ideas. They know its history is not without tension, but those very tensions can fire creative expression and good times. “We’re questioning the boundaries and borders of the present and past” muses Ross. “We can’t always answer these questions, but we can let them guide us towards new possibilities through music.”
An acoustic band born in the land of tech innovation, Front Country was never going to be accepted as an authentic American roots band out of the gate. Cutting their teeth in progressive bluegrass jams in San Francisco’s Mission District and rehearsing in the East Bay, they learned to play roots music their own way, with the tools they had on hand. A mandolinist with a degree in composition and classical guitar. A guitarist trained in rock and world music. A bassist equally versed in jazz and bluegrass. A violinist with technique that could seamlessly hop between honky tonk and electropop. A female lead singer with grit and soul that was also a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. In a wood-paneled country dive bar in the shadow of the San Francisco skyline, Front Country forged a sound hell bent on merging the musical past with the future.
This West Coast outfit was a loose collection of musical misfits until 2012 and 2013 when Front Country gathered around a single microphone at the RockyGrass and Telluride festivals, and won first prize in those prestigious band contests that once launched the careers of the Dixie Chicks, Greensky Bluegrass and the Steep Canyon Rangers. The contest wins bolstered their confidence in their unique mix of original songwriting, vocal harmonies and instrumental virtuosity, steeling their resolve to take a leap of faith and become a full time touring band.
With the release of their debut full-length album Sake of the Sound in 2014, Front Country began the nose-grinding work of making their name as a national touring act. Still based in the San Francisco Bay Area, they would trek the 6,000+ mile circle around the U.S. for months at a time, introducing themselves for the first time to every room that would have them. Thanks to the glow of their contest wins, festivals around the U.S. caught wind and invited them to play for their large audiences, giving Front Country a crucial first break. Old Settlers in Austin, MerleFest in North Carolina, Wintergrass in Seattle, Strawberry in California and Grey Fox in New York, all took a chance on the promising new band and solidified Front Country’s hold on the imagination of progressive-leaning acoustic music fans.
ADAM ROSZKIEWICZ mandolin, banjo, vocals
JACOB GROOPMAN guitar, rezo guitar, mandolin, vocals
JEREMY DARROW bass
LEIF KARLSTROM five string violin
MELODY WALKER vocals, guitar, percussion
Joe Craven has found a couple of hot young pickers worthy of his chops: wild man bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff and Bruce MacMillan dazzling with crafty dobro, acoustic guitar pickin’ and angelic voice. With Joe’s wildly eclectic musicality, the sonic possibilities are unlimited. I just saw this new trio and… WoW!
Multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven is an award-winning creativity educator, former museum curator, actor, music festival emcee, Director of RiverTunes Music Camp, a Co-Director for the Wintergrass Youth Academy. Joe Craven’s love of performing music has put him in many musical genres and alongside many musicians, from Jerry Garcia, David Lindley, Howard Levy and Jason Marsalis, to fusion banjoist Alison Brown and groups such as Psychograss and The Horseflies. For 17 years, he was percussionist and violinist for mandolinist David Grisman. Joe’s unique education programs have inspired; communities in Costa Rica, corporate heads in Contra Costa, CA, a dozen different music camps, thousands of school kids from Stockton to Scotland and college students from Alaska to Alabama. Whether jamming with musicians from Morocco or Mendocino, performing solo, with his daughter Hattie, The Joe Craven Trio, Mamajowali, The Sometimers or playing Carnegie Hall to busking on Cannery Row – Joe’s at home and loving every minute!
Jonathan Stoyanoff is a much in demand bassist who is a fan of, trained in and very proficient at, a wide variety of vernacular music. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA on a performance scholarship and, since then, Jonathan has helped form and perform in a variety of musical projects. He has played and/or shared bills with Larry Coryell, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Huey Lewis, Dave Mason, Jackie Greene, Ozomatli, Spearhead, Maceo Parker and many more. Jonathan has also played at some of the nation’s most prestigious festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the High Sierra Music Festival. He brings a high level of skill and enthusiasm to Joe Craven & The Sometimers.
Bruce MacMillan is a wonderfully intuitive musician dedicated to the holy temple of American Roots Music. His passion for the history and variety of America’s musical heritage has resulted in a versatility across many musical genres. From Blues to Bluegrass, Country to Jazz and Rock & Roll, Bruce plays with wonderful energy and artistry. He has performed upon many stages and at many music festivals, including the Strawberry Music Festival, High Sierra, and California Worldfest. With his wife Sally, they have two fine music stores in Chico and Redding, CA, known as The Music Connection where Bruce displays his chops as an educator, repairman and salesman. Bruce’s impressive skills on vocals plus all manner of guitars, Dobro and lap steel, bring a broad palette of sound to Joe Craven & The Sometimers.
Joe Craven and the Sometimers kicked off our Peacetown Summer Concert Series with a big bang. Folks danced, sang, and cheered the music of these incredible musicians.
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.