Mando & Banjo Week Staff - August 4-10, 2013
Tony Trischka is perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. In his 40 plus years as a consummate banjo artist, his stylings have inspired generations of bluegrass and acoustic musicians. His technical and conceptual advances opened the way for such players as Bela Fleck and Alison Brown and his recordings with them and others from Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and Pete Seeger are part of every banjo-lovers musical reference. A native of Syracuse, NY, Trischka’s interest in banjo was sparked in 1963 by the Kingston Trio’s hit, “Charlie and the MTA.” Over the next decade and a half, he was a member of a number of influential groups including the Down City Ramblers, Country Cooking, Country Granola, and Breakfast Special. These last three comprised his “food band” period. After his second solo album, Banjoland, was released in 1976, he became the musical leader for the Broadway show, The Robber Bridegroom. In the early 1980s, he formed a new group, Skyline, with whom he recorded four albums, and in 1984, he performed in his first feature film, Foxfire. Three years later, he worked on the soundtrack for Driving Miss Daisy. He has also appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other radio shows, and recently produced Steve Martin’s Grammy-nominated Rare Bird Alert (Rounder), which features performances by Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks. His 2007 release, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featured appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Alison Brown and more, was nominated for a Grammy and won three IBMA awards including Banjo Player of the Year for Tony. His recent recording, Territory, was named Best Americana Album at the Independent Music Awards. Tony is the musical director and associate producer of the documentary, Give Me the Banjo, which aired on PBS and has been released on DVD. He has created numerous instructional books, DVDs, CDs and the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo, that is the online banjo home for students from around the world. Tony was also recently one of 50 recipients to receive a fellowship from United States Artists, a privately endowed organization that annually awards grants to participants in all of the arts, including music, dance, visual artists, and literature.
Mike Marshall is one of the world’s most accomplished and versatile string instrumentalists whose musical tastes are as wide-ranging as music itself. A master of mandolin, guitar, mandocello and violin, he has created some of the most adventurous and interesting instrumental music imaginable on recordings and in concerts around the globe. Whether playing bluegrass or jazz with Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck or Chris Thile, Brazilian choro music with Hamilton de Holanda or Baroque classical music with German mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg, Mike is able to swing gracefully between all of these musical styles with a unique blend of virtuosity, depth and musical integrity that is rare in the cross-cultural musical world of today. He grew up in central Florida, cutting his teeth on traditional American music, and at age 19, made his way to the San Francisco Bay Area to join the ground-breaking David Grisman Quintet, which set a new standard for American stringband music. He’s been pushing the boundaries of acoustic music ever since on hundreds of recordings as a composer, featured artist, sideman and producer. He founded Windham Hill’s Montreux Band, and the classical ensemble, The Modern Mandolin Quartet, which redefined the mandolin family in a classical music setting with many newly-created works for this format. His love affair with the choro music of Brazil has led to recordings and concerts with some of Brazil’s finest musicians, and his group, Choro Famoso, has helped spearhead a wave of popularity in the U.S. for this infectious style. His own label, Adventure Music, has released over thirty CDs to date of the music of Brazil. You can find him on concert tours with everyone from the Swedish group Väsen, Grammy-winning jazz ensemble, The Turtle Island String Quartet, or with his progressive bluegrass group, Psychograss, with Darol Anger, Tony Trischka, Todd Phillips and David Grier. He’s also a dedicated teacher and founded the famous Mandolin Symposium with his old pal David Grisman. Already known as one of the best chefs amongst his musical buddies, he often trades guitar lessons for cooking lessons with Michael Peternell, head chef at Berkeley’s famed Chez Panise Restaurant.
Noam Pikelny has emerged as the pre-eminent banjoist among a new generation of acoustic musicians. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the “pros’ top banjo picker,” Noam is a founding member of Punch Brothers, a string ensemble which the Boston Globe calls “a virtuosic revelation” and The New Yorker describes as “wide-ranging and restlessly imaginative.” In September of 2010, Pikelny was awarded the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music. Pikelny has shared the stage with The Decemberists, Marcus Mumford, Béla Fleck, Dave Douglas, Steve Martin, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and members of the Lincoln Center Chamber Orchestra. Noam continues to broaden the awareness of the banjo in the mainstream through recent collaborations with Wilco, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Lindsey Buckingham & Jon Brion for the soundtrack to This is 40 and Punch Brothers’ feature song on The Hunger Games soundtrack. In December 2012, Noam’s sophomore recording, Beat the Devil and Carry A Rail, was nominated for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy Award.
Emory Lester is one of this day’s foremost exponents of the acoustic mandolin. His landmark recording projects, Pale Rider, The Emory Lester Set, and Cruisin’ the 8 have inspired and influenced many of today’s current wave of mandolinists, and his latest solo recording, Reminiscing Today, showcases his skill as a multi-instrumentalist. Emory performs with Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa, doing shows across the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K. He has also produced many recordings by other prominent artists, and his ten-year partnership with noted ‘clawgrass’ banjoist Mark Johnson has yielded three creative recording projects, with another nearing completion. Mark and Emory have toured all across the U.S., and have been featured on several performances with Steve Martin, most notably on the Late Night with David Letterman show in September 2012. Emory also performs with his own band, the Emory Lester Set, at concerts and festivals throughout the country. A Virginia native now living in Ontario, Canada, Emory has taught master series workshops at events such as the Steve Kaufman Camp, the Mandolin Symposium, Transatlantic Bluegrass School in Wales, U.K., the Alaska Guitar Camp, and many other prestigious schools and workshops far and wide. www.emorylester.com
Mark Johnson has revolutionized the art of clawhammer banjo by adapting its techniques and rhythms to the demands of playing in a bluegrass ensemble in a banjo style he calls ‘Clawgrass’. He has performed and recorded with many bluegrass and acoustic luminaries and is also a gifted teacher and songwriter. His second recording, Acoustic Rising, a duo CD with Emory Lester, released on the Crossroads/Mt. Home Record Label was nominated by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 2007 as “Instrumental Album of the Year.” Mark’s music was used in a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan television commercial, and in September of 2012, he was named as the third annual winner of the prestigious Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music, and has performed his clawgrass banjo style on The Late Show with David Letterman. Mark has conducted countless clawhammer workshops at bluegrass and acoustic music festivals across the country, and he continues to host an annual clawhammer banjo workshop as part of the IBMA Fanfest in Nashville, Tennessee.
Perhaps the best-known exponent of the “melodic” clawhammer style, Ken Perlman is known wherever banjos are played as a master of clawhammer technique and an expert teacher of clawhammer mechanics. He has been a Banjo Newsletter columnist for over 25 years, written several books on clawhammer instruction including the well-known works, Melodic Clawhammer Banjo and Clawhammer Style Banjo, and he has recorded several audio and video banjo instruction series. He directs three banjo camps of his own – American Banjo Camp, Midwest Banjo Camp, & Suwannee Banjo Camp – and he has taught at many others including Banjo Camp North, Bath Banjo Festival, Breaking Up Winter, the Celtic College, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Maryland Banjo Academy, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, Common Ground on the Hill, and the Tennessee Banjo Institute. Also an independent folklorist, Ken spent over two decades collecting tunes and oral histories from traditional fiddle players on Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada. He has published a collection called The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island and is now at work on a website devoted to PEI traditional fiddle music, sponsored by the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Ken’s most recent recordings include Southern Summits (with Alan Jabbour) and Northern Banjo, and his most recent book is Everything You Wanted to Know About Clawhammer Banjo.
While still in his teens, Don Stiernberg learned to play the mandolin from the innovative and influential virtuoso Jethro Burns. Don “graduated,” wound up as a member of The Jethro Burns Quartet, and has been a professional musician ever since. Don co-produced and played rhythm guitar on Jethro’s final recordings, Swing Low, Sweet Mandolin and Bye Bye Blues for the Acoustic Disc label. Some 30 years later he still enjoys playing, teaching, and writing about the mandolin. Don has six CDs of his own and appears on many others by a variety of artists in all styles. His current release, Swing 220, on Blue Night Records might be thought of as a seminar in swing, featuring mandolin, guitar and trio renditions of 14 jam session favorites. A concert DVD with Tony Williamson, Low Country Jazz, has also just been released. Besides freelance performing and session work around his native Chicago, Don tours with his trio or quartet from coast to coast and abroad. He writes the jazz column in Mandolin Magazine and has been an instructor at such mandolin events as Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Camp, The Mandolin Symposium, Mandolin Camp North, River of the West Mandolin Camp, Accademia Internacionale di Mandolino(Italy), The European Mandolin Academy(Germany), and many others. These days Don fronts his own jazz quartet, and recently performed in Carnegie Hall with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and at Momento Rio Bandolim in Brazil.
Caterina Lichtenberg is one of the world’s premier classical mandolinists. A graduate of the Cologne Academy of Music, she is the winner of numerous national and international music competitions and was a scholarship holder at the Richard Wagner Foundation. Apart from her solo and duo work with Mirko Schrader (Duetto Giocondo), she also performs in other chamber music settings, e.g., with Thomas Müller-Pering (guitar; Germany); John Dearman (guitar; USA), Silke Lisko (Duo Galante), Brigitte Engelhard (cembalo; Austria), Mike Marshall (mandolin; USA), the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (USA) and orchestras such as the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, the Aachen Chamber Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the members of the Ensemble Recherche, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. She has toured throughout Europe as well as the US, Canada, Mongolia and Japan, and numerous compositions have been written for her and for Duetto Giocondo. Caterina is a sought-after artist and lecturer at national and international festivals and master classes, such as the International Mandolin Festival in Kobe (Japan), the International Mandolin Convention in Washington and Minneapolis (USA), and at the Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy (Canada). She has performed in concert with the European Plucked String Orchestra, the Guitar Festival in Nürtingen, and the Savannah Music Festival, and she is regularly invited as a juror to national and international music competitions. She teaches at the Cologne University of Music, where she currently holds the sole Professorship of Mandolin in the whole of Europe.
Banjoist Bob Carlin has been offering performances, lectures and workshops for over forty years. Carlin had largely left the solo arena when he was invited in the mid-1990s to join the band of legendary songwriter John Hartford with whom he toured throughout the United States and Canada until Hartford’s death in 2001. Since then, Bob has returned to solo performing, teaching and appearances with other musicians. With five Grammy nominations and three banjo models bearing his name, Bob Carlin is truly one of the best known clawhammer banjo masters. He is the author of six method books and three instructional CDs, and has taught at many camps including the American Banjo Camp, Midwest Banjo Camp, Suwannee Banjo Camp, Banjo Camp North, Maryland Banjo Academy, Tennessee Banjo Institute, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week, Augusta Heritage Center, Sore Fingers Summer School in England.
Alan Munde needs no introduction to long-time bluegrass music fans. From his early creative work with Sam Bush in Poor Richard’s Almanac to his traditional bluegrass apprenticeship with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys to his 21- year stint anchoring the landmark Country Gazette, Alan has blazed a trail as one of the most innovative and influential banjo players of all time. Along the way, he has also recorded and contributed to numerous instrumental recordings, including the 2001 IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year, Knee Deep in Bluegrass. Alan has supplemented his recorded work with several instructional publications for the banjo, and, from 1986 - 2007, Alan taught in the Creative Arts Department at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, a program which has produced many professional musicians nationwide. In recent years, he has performed and recorded as a duo with his South Plains faculty colleague, and former Gazette-mate, Joe Carr. Alan’s extensive body of recorded work, his instructional materials, and his work at the college has solidified his status as one of the true “gurus” of the 5-string banjo. Alan currently appears in Ranch Road 12, a bluegrass trio with Elliott and Janis Rogers, and his most recent recording, Dapple Patti, is a live recording with long-time friend and picking partner Adam Granger of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Radim Zenkl is a mandolin player, composer and instructor. Originally from the Czech Republic, he began playing the mandolin at thirteen, and discovered bluegrass by listening to records that were smuggled into this communist country. The sound of a bluegrass mandolin was the spark that launched a decision at the age of seventeen to play music as a career and subsequently led Radim beyond bluegrass to an eclectic array of styles. He escaped from Czechoslovakia four months before the fall of communism and settled in the San Francisco Bay area. His style features progressive original and eastern European traditional music flavored with bluegrass, jazz, new age, flamenco, rock, classical and other influences. In 1992, he won the US National Mandolin Championship playing his own compositions. Radim is at the cutting edge of the mandolin’s future, designing new mandolin family instruments and creating new playing styles. He has invented a masterful technique, the “Zenkl style,” in which a single mandolin sounds like two. According to David Grisman: “Zenkl has re-invented the mandolin in several different ways.” Besides collaborating with the top musicians of the acoustic music scene, Radim has built up an extensive repertoire for solo mandolin, mandola and Irish bouzouki. He has recorded several solo CDs (released on Acoustic Disc, Shanachie and Ventana) and has appeared on more than sixty other recordings. Radim’s worldwide performing and teaching credentials include guest appearances at prestigious music institutions such as the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Radim has been also teaching at a number of different music camps every year since 1994, and this is his second appearance at the Swannanoa Gathering.
A San Francisco native, Marla is a long-time feature of the Bay Area Irish music scene, and an unapologetic proponent of the mandolin in Irish music. She brings a musicality and excitement to the tradition that is not often heard on the mandolin. Her dynamic playing is featured both on her CD with Three Mile Stone, and on The Morning Star, a duo CD with Jimmy Crowley, an all instrumental project which features Irish music on an array of mandolin-family instruments – mandolin, mandola, mandocello, bouzouki, and dordan. In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar and button accordion. She sings and writes music, and is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets. An experienced and sought-after teacher, Marla teaches private students, and has been a staff instructor at many music camps, including The Mandolin Symposium, California Coast Music Camp, Lark Camp and Portal Irish Music Week.
Adam grew up in northern California, and was exposed to old-time and bluegrass music in his early teens. Proficient on fiddle, mandolin and guitar, he spent countless hours slowing down records trying to pick out every detail of the traditional music he loved. Adam’s approach to playing reflects the diversity of styles heard on the early 78rpm discs and field recordings from which he draws his greatest inspiration. Over the last six years, Adam has toured in both the US and Europe as a member of both The Crooked Jades string band and The Hunger Mountain Boys. Since 2006, he has taught both mandolin and fiddle during several of the Gathering’s programs. He currently lives in Weaverville, NC, where he teaches fiddle, mandolin and guitar and performs with Mark Jackson as the The Twilite Broadcasters, a duo specializing in vintage country vocal harmonies and fiddle and mandolin tunes.
Ed Dodson | www.woodandsteelband.com
Ed is the lead guitarist and singer for Wood & Steel, a bluegrass band based in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Bluegrass Unlimited called their 2007 release, Poor Boy, “a masterpiece of hard-driving bluegrass.” Tony Rice calls their music, “Bluegrass, in one of its most pure, unfiltered forms; played by good musicians.” Wood & Steel’s music was featured nationally in Home & Garden Television’s 2002 special, Barns Revisited, and Ed has recorded two albums with mandolin player/builder Skip Kelley, including their 2010 release, Hopped That Train and… Gone. Ed is an accomplished songwriter, and a powerful rhythm and lead player with a deep abiding love of traditional music.