Greg Blake Band – Saturday June 29, 2019 at 8:00pm
You’ll hear it in his voice immediately … the original strain of Appalachian mountain music that lies at the heart of all great modern bluegrass and country. Greg Blake grew up in the mountains of southwest West Virginia, and when he sings, you can hear a voice that connects to the great old generations of mountain singers, invested with a rich twang and rumbling drawl, and the kind of eerily powerful high tenor cry that first inspired the ‘high, lonesome sound.’
These days he’s traded the low, rolling mountains of his West Virginia homeland for the sky-scraping peaks of Colorado, and he’s moved his lifelong calling as a minister to the full-time bluegrass music scene, but he still keeps his faith close and his family closer. On songs like “Dreaming of a Little Cabin” or “Turn Your Heart Toward Home”, you can hear the gentle guidance of a pastor and a devout family man reflecting on the good path. While bluegrass gospel may be one of Greg Blake’s signature talents, he’s certainly not averse to a little rough-and-tumble country singing, and his new album features a blazing bluegrass version of Johnny Cash’s “Hey Porter” that shows off Blake’s razor-sharp and lightning-fast guitar picking abilities. Drawing from a wide variety of song sources, from Cash to 80s country (Joe Diffie), to Canadian folk (Ian Tyson), to the original source himself, Big Mon, Greg Blake has a far ranging set of influences but a powerful Appalachian base to his music that resets these vocal gems in new ways.
Now after touring North America and raising a family, he’s poised to come into his own as one of the true Appalachian stars of modern bluegrass. This debut solo album, Songs of Heart and Home, measures Greg Blake spreading his wings as a vocalist and bandleader, crafting genre crossing music and following in the footsteps of his idol, Mac Wiseman, to make music that appeals to Bluegrass, Folk, Country, and Gospel fans alike.
“[Songs of Heart & Home] is a well conceived, nicely executed release with top-flight songs and excellent vocals and instrumental work. Highly recommended.” – Bluegrass Unlimited, March ’16
Jimmy Grant Ensemble – Saturday September 14 at 8:00pm
The Jimmy Grant Ensemble performs primarily in the style of Django Reinhardt, infusing swing era pieces, original work, and traditional gypsy tunes with the jazz guitar pioneer’s crunchy rhythms and hot harmonies. Jimmy Grant was recently a finalist in the John Lennon songwriting competition for his original song “Insomnia,” and also had an interview with Guitar World for his “5 in 5″ project, in which he wrote five different songs in five days. His style synthesizes a rich blend of Russian folk, bluegrass, celtic and classical music while remaining true to Django’s innovative guitar technique. The Jimmy Grant Ensemble will bring together two guitars, bass, and violin in an intimate yet energy-charged performance.
“…He is a player to watch and listen to if you want to know where gypsy jazz is headed….”Nick Lehr (Diangofest Northwest)
David Jacobs Strain and Bob Beach – Saturday October 26 at 8:00pm
David Jacobs-Strain is a fierce slide guitar player, and a song poet from Oregon. He’s known for both his virtuosity and spirit of emotional abandon; his live show moves from humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry, and then swings back to swampy rock and roll. It’s a range that ties Jacobs-Strain to his own generation and to guitar-slinger troubadours like Robert Johnson and Jackson Browne. “I try to make art that you can dance to, but I love that darker place, where in my mind, Skip James, Nick Drake, and maybe Elliot Smith blur together.”
Jacobs-Strain began playing on street corners and at farmers markets as a teenager, and bought his first steel guitar with the quarters he saved up. Before he dropped out of Stanford to play full time, he had already appeared at festivals across the country, often billed as a blues prodigy, but he had to fight to avoid being a novelty act: “I wanted to tell new stories, it just wasn’t enough to relive the feelings in other people’s music.”
Bob Beach’s career has spanned more than 45 years. With his roots in blues, rock and folk, his innate feel for the music transcends genre, and can be integrated into everything from hip hop to bluegrass to kids’ cabaret and more. “Bob Beach, you snuck into the tunes with us with the grace and sensitivity of an old school sax man, making everything better while calling attention to the music not yourself” Scott Ainslie, blues musician & educator.
David and Bob have been performing together since 2010. They currently perform between 70 and 100 shows a year on both east and west coasts. Their live show moves from humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry, and then swings back to swampy rock and roll.
David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach blew me away last summer at Swannanoa. As we say at home, they “knocked my hat in the creek.” I can’t envision the audience that could fail to take to them from the first chord and to the last. Hear them yourself as soon as you can .
McKasson and McDonald Saturday November 16 at 8:00pm
Ryan McKasson and Eric McDonald are masters of tradition who purposefully explore the dark corners floating on its edges. Their individual artistry is enhanced when together. In short, the sum creates a greater whole.
The result is an alluring complexity, full of spontaneous musicality. Pulling from parallel strands of influence, they create a swirling level of intensity that traverses darkness, light, and everywhere in between. An air of mystery pervades a sound compelling enough to transcend boundaries and appeal to music lovers of all stripes.
The music this duo creates is to share, and live performance is the forte. Their mutual attitude stretches beyond the music. The two have been good friends ever since they met, and this is present in their live performances, which are full of organic banter and good humor to go along with the music. They create an environment of their own design, drawing in listeners without pretense. Despite both living active musical lives thousands of miles apart these two musicians have committed to working together to forge a new musical path.
This duo really shows how two masterful musicians listen and play off each other.Devon Leger of Hearth Music