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Greensky Bluegrass is Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin).
The five members of Greensky Bluegrass have forged a defiant, powerful sound that, while rooted in classic stringband Americana, extends outwards with a fearless, exploratory zeal. The tension and release between these components – tradition and innovation, prearranged songs and improvisation, acoustic tones and electric volume – is what makes them so thrillingly dynamic, in concert and on record. “In theory,” Hoffman explains, “greensky is the complete opposite of bluegrass. So, by definition, we are contrasting everything that isn’t bluegrass with everything that is.”
Mississippi-born, Nashville-bred Cary Ann Hearst and Texas-born, Colorado-raised Michael Trent forged singular paths as solo artists before connecting – both musically and personally – in Charleston, South Carolina. While they’d both had burgeoning solo careers (Cary Ann earned kudos for her 2006 album Dust and Bones, Michael with his band, The Films, as well as his own solo outings), they quickly found that both their voices – which entwine with eerie beauty in their haunting harmonies – and philosophies matched up perfectly, and a beautiful partnership was born.
John McCauley and Deer Tick have long walked a tightwire between total despair and fractured resilience, but Negativity represents a heroic leap forward on virtually all fronts for the Providence, Rhode Island-based band. Recorded earlier this year in Portland, Oregon with legendary producer/musician Steve Berlin (The Blasters, Los Lobos, and last year’s McCauley side project, Diamond Rugs), the album –Deer Tick’s fifth full-length studio release, and follow-up to 2011’s acclaimed Divine Providence – is McCauley’s most personal work thus far as well as the band’s most undeniable and universal, their famously freewheeling musical approach refined here into a gloriously cohesive whole.
As side projects go, Dragon Smoke is one of the more intriguing bands, not just for its endurance, but for the potent music force brought forth by each member of the group. Dragon Smoke consists of Eric Lindell on guitar and vocals, Ivan Neville on keyboards and vocals, and has been fronted since its inception by the rhythm section from Galactic—Robert Mercurio on bass and Stanton Moore on drums.
Tab Benoit is Louisiana’s No. 1 roots export. More than just an acclaimed bluesman, he is an indefatigable conservation advocate. Benoit is a driving force behind Voice of the Wetlands, an organization working to save Louisiana’s wetlands. In 2010, he received the Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. Benoit also starred in the iMax motion picture Hurricane on the Bayou, a documentary of Hurricane Katrina’s effects and a call to restore the wetlands.
In 2007, Benoit won the dual awards of B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Best Contemporary Male Performer at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards). In 2006, he received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album for Brother to the Blues, a collaboration with Louisiana’s LeRoux. LeRoux joined Benoit on Power of the Pontchartrain in 2007 and the live Night Train to Nashville in 2008.
Twiddle, a Vermont based quartet, spins tall tales over an intricate soundscape of hi-def shred. Their fresh multi-genre approach conjures up jazz, classical, and bluegrass, but above all, masterfully blends reggae and funk. Obliterating laws of improvisation, their complex arrangements never fail to leave crowds lusting for more. With sage songwriting and unmatched variety, Twiddle’s thrilling infancy continues to exceed all expectation.
For nearly a decade, American Aquarium have spent the majority of their days on the road, burning through a sprawl of highways during the day and playing hours of raw, rootsy rock & roll at night. Sometimes, the job is a grind. Most times, it’s a blessing. American Aquarium’s songs, filled with biographical lyrics about last calls, lost love and long horizons, have always explored both sides of that divide. For every drunken night at the bar, there’s a hangover in the morning. For every new relationship, there’s the chance of a broken heart. It’s that kind of honesty — that sort of balance — that makes the band’s newest album, Wolves, their strongest release to date.
The Deslondes are a New Orleans-based country-soul, swamp-boogie band. In their writing and performing, they combine elements of early Stax, Sun and Atlantic records with the influence of a more raw, stripped-down sound gleaned off field recordings from Alan Lomax and Mississippi Records catalogue.
In their writing as well as their lives, The Deslondes three principle songwriters—Sam Doores, Riley Downing and Cameron Snyder—endeavor to carry on the traveling country-troubadour tradition of their heroes Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley and John Prine. With the help of bassist Dan Cutler and pedal steel-fiddle player John James, the band’s musical production and vocal arrangements are inspired by the rhythmic, high energy, and harmony-driven sounds of their other heroes, The Band and Allen Toussaint.
Kristin Diable has been exploring freedom and choice in her music ever since she picked up an open mic at a lounge in Baton Rouge and stunned the audience into silence. She rode that vibe, away to New York and then back to her native Louisiana like a storm front, one that shook New Orleans and cooled the air. And her newest album, Create Your Own Mythology, invokes her Louisiana and Americana roots, while firing a rock-and-roll shot across the bow of borrowed myths.
Phil Cook is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and interpreter based in Durham, North Carolina. Cook has gained notoriety over the years releasing albums and touring the world with his own bands, Megafaun and The Shouting Matches, as well as collaborating on stage and in the studio with the likes of The Blind Boys of Alabama, Amy Ray (The Indigo Girls), Kathleen Edwards, The Mountain Goats, Hiss Golden Messenger, William Tyler, Glenn Kotche, Matthew E White, Charlie Parr, and more.
Having garnered praise and adoration from fans, critics and peers alike, Phil is ready to step into the spotlight and make his statement – having completed work on his debut solo album, Southland Mission – out now on Thirty Tigers.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation is a driving force of urban funk. Ryan White, of the Oregonian, says the band is “tight enough (and hot enough) to turn coal into a diamond!” The band is led by trombone powerhouse, Big Sam Williams, formerly the trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who the San Francisco Chronicle calls “the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of jazz.” Big Sam refuses to let the audience sit still. Between the band’s solos, Big Sam’s signature dance moves and his distinctive trombone riffs, the energy level is high voltage when this band takes the stage!
You can call Great Peacock a folk band… but don’t expect them to make music for campfires or square dances. Raised in the Deep South and headquartered in Nashville, they’re a group of red-blooded country boys who aren’t afraid of the big city. Case in point: Making Ghosts — the duo’s harmony-heavy, guitar-driven debut album whose 11 songs find the middle ground between rootsy, down-home Americana and super-sized arena pop/rock.
Sweet Crude premiered in Spring 2013. The band, boasting surnames like Marceaux, Arceneaux, and Chachere, seeks to reconnect with their lineage in the context of 4-part harmonies, tribal rhythms, and pop hooks. “We’re making the pop music that we’d otherwise come up with given our influences. We’re just singing a lot of the time in Louisiana French. We want to show that the language is still alive and kicking, and that it sounds great in any genre,” says primary lyricist Sam Craft, “Our grandparents learned French, but our parents never really communicated with it, so now I feel it’s on the youth to preserve the tradition. It’s wonderful that there are so many Cajun bands singing in Louisiana, and we wanted to do the same thing but with our original music.”.
Luke Winslow-King is a New Orleans-based guitarist, singer, composer, and lyricist whose work is an eclectic mix that combines Mississippi Delta folk music, classical composition, ragtime, and rock and roll, juxtaposing original work with songs from a bygone –but fondly remembered –era. His sound is both rustic and elegant, and he’s well versed in the musical language of pre-war blues and traditional jazz. When you add his supple voice and versatile guitar playing to this mix, you can understand why he’s earned a reputation as a musician who can deliver soulfully energetic and dynamic performances.
Originally from Cadillac, Michigan, Winslow-King began studying music at a young age and first came to Louisiana at age 19 with Earthwork Music founders Seth Bernard and Daniel Kahn presenting “From California to the New York Island: The songs and stories of Woody Guthrie.” In 2002, a year after receiving his diploma from Interlochen Arts Academy, he made a pilgrimage back to New Orleans and ending up staying there almost by chance; after only a few days in town, Winslow-King’s car –filled to the brim with a band’s worth of instruments – was stolen while parked overnight on Ursulines Street in the Treme – he hit the streets like an amateur detective, and during the weeks that he bummed around town trying to recover his vehicle and instruments he fell in love with the city that he now calls home. He enrolled in the music theory and composition program at the University of New Orleans in the spring of 2003 and was awarded an ambassador scholarship to study Czech classical music at St. Charles University in Prague that summer.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Winslow-King lived in New York City and was employed as a music therapist by the Institutes of Applied Human Dynamics in the Bronx. He also held a music teacher’s position at the La Velle School for the Blind. While in New York, Luke studied composition privately and recorded with Grammy nominated avant-garde composer “Blue” Gene Tyranny, and attended Jack Hardy’s legendary songwriter’s circle.
In 2007 he headed back home to New Orleans and continued paying his dues, busking on Royal Street during the day and working in the clubs on Frenchman Street at night. He learned gospel and jazz standards accompanying John Boutté, studied bottleneck guitar with blues maestro Roberto Luti (formerly of The Washboard Chaz Blues Trio), and immersed himself in the trad jazz songbook while playing with the Loose Marbles Jazz Band. During this time he was also a member Meschiya Lake’s Little Big Horns and is featured on her album ‘Lucky Devil.’
This non-stop woodshedding helped Winslow-King hone his sound, earn respect as a leader among the young traditionalists in New Orleans, and become known as one of the hardest working, authentic, and original acts in Americana music. After performing years of weekly gigs on Frenchmen Street, he now consistently tours the United States, Europe, and Australia. He’s also landed in front of larger audiences over the last few years while sharing the stage with the likes of Jack White, Roseanne Cash,Taj Mahal, Robert Earl Keen, Tower of Power, Pokey Lafarge, Chris Thile, and the Rebirth Brass Band, and was signed to Bloodshot Records in 2013.
Members: Ian Wellman – Guitar, Vocals Winston Triolo – Guitar, Vocals Eric Guidry – Drums, Vocals Andrew Pancamo – Lead Bassist, Vocals