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Thanks For ListeningThanks for Listening is a collection of new studio recordings, produced by Thomas Bartlett, of ten songs originally written as Songs of the Week on A Prairie Home Companion. Thile manned almost all of the stringed instruments on the album and is joined by guest singers Sarah Jarosz, Gaby Moreno, and Aoife O'Donovan. Right now, with how easy it is to be the talker on social media, how hard it is to maintain focus or give something enough attention to appreciate it, we're in a place where listening is a precious commodity, says Thile. Thanks for Listening is a celebration of people who haven't switched off, despite being given every reason to do so.1. I Made This for You
2. Feedback Loop
3. Elephant in the Room
4. Douglas Fir
5. Thank You, New York
6. Stanley Ann
7. Modern Friendship
10. Thanks for Listening$20.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ADAD-NEW-0719xThe Whistles & The Bells
The Whistles & The BellsNashville-based The Whistles & The Bells is set to release their self-titled album, produced by Grammy Award winning engineer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Thile, Buddy Guy). The vehicle of singer/songwriter Bryan Simpson, former front man of Cadillac Sky, The Whistles & The Bells defy easy categorization as folk, alt-country, indie rock and gospel thread together to create a rich musical tapestry that matches the intense soul searching of Simpson's evocative and poetic lyrics.1. Mercy Please
2. Transistor Resistor
3. Ghost Town
4. Canary Cage
5. Two Elephants
7. Ghetto Gold
8. Cosmic Torpedoes
9. Last Night God Sang Me A Song
10. Bad Superheroes
11. Shadow Of Death$19.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The Goat Rodeo SessionsThe last time cellist Yo-Yo Ma teamed with bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolin player Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers fame) for a classical/bluegrass hybrid, the result was the gold-selling Songs of Joy & Peace. Here, Ma, Meyer, and Thile are joined by fiddler Stuart Duncan in a different kind of string quartet.
The slang phrase goat rodeo, according the Urban Dictionary, is about the most polite term used by aviation people (and others in higher risk situations) to describe a scenario that requires about 100 things to go right at once if you intend to walk away from it. That may be overstating the case for a group of musicians, most of whom have worked together and succeeded before, but it also carries a rural connotation that is appropriate for music that is, for the most part, closer to bluegrass than classical. The tunes were written by Duncan, Meyer, and Thile, and Ma's role is largely supportive. After the fast pieces Attaboy and Quarter Chicken Dark, Helping Hand is the first slower number, with Thile switching to guitar and Duncan taking over the mandolin for a musical conversation between the two instruments.
Where's My Bow? is a violin/cello/bass trio with Thile sitting out, and it is one of the few tracks that leans more toward the classical side, boasting a big, dramatic finish. The more exotic Here and Heaven finds both Thile and Meyer at times playing the Renaissance instrument the gamba, as Duncan picks up a fretless banjo, all of them backing a vocal duet between Thile and Aoife O'Donovan of Crooked Still. Meyer moves to piano for the slow, thoughtful Franz and the Eagle, another piece that has more of a classical bent.
The rest of the album is in a progressive bluegrass mode, Less Is Moi mixing several short themes and allowing room for improvisation, and 13:8 taken quickly, with Duncan and Thile interacting briskly. It doesn't really seem as if 100 things had to go right for The Goat Rodeo Sessions to work; it only required four or five talented musicians to play and sing in sympathetic unity, and that they did, making this a satisfying experience for more adventurous classical and bluegrass fans.LP1
2. Quarter Chicken Dark
3. Helping Hand
4. Where's My Bow?
5. Here and Heaven
6. Franzand the Eagle
1. Less is Moi
2. Hill Justice
3. No One But You
5. Goat Rodeo$29.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Bach Trios (Awaiting Repress)Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, mandolinist Chris Thile, and bassist Edgar Meyer perform works by J.S. Bach originally written for keyboard instruments plus a sonata for viola da gamba. Ma, Thile, and Meyer last recorded together, with Stuart Duncan, on the Grammy Award-winning album Goat Rodeo Sessions, which the Los Angeles Times called haunting, invigorating, often breathtaking. The vinyl edition of Bach Trios will be pressed on two 140-gram vinyl discs.1. Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530: I. Vivace
2. Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530: II. Lento
3. Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530: III. Allegro
4. Prelude No. 19 in A Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 864
5. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
6. Fugue No. 20 in A Minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 889
7. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
8. Prelude No. 18 in E Minor, BWV 548
9. Fugue No. 18 in E Minor, BWV 548
10. Passepied from Keyboard Partita No. 5 in G Major, BWV 829
11. Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Kimmel herunter, BWV 650
12. Contrapunctus XIII: Rectus from The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080
13. Contrapunctus XIII: Inversus from The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080
14. Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV 721
15. Sonata for Viola da Gamba No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 1029: I. Vivace
16. Sonata for Viola da Gamba No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 1029: II. Adagio
17. Sonata for Viola da Gamba No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 1029: III. Allegro$26.99140 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Chris Thile & Brad MehldauNonesuch Records labelmates mandolinist/singer Chris Thile and pianist Brad Mehldau, longtime admirers of each other's work, first toured as a duo in 2013. At the end of 2015, they played a two-night stand at New York City's Bowery Ballroom before going into the studio to record Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, a mix of covers and original songs.
Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau come from different worlds but the same species, says the New York Times. Mr. Thile is a progressive-bluegrass pacesetter; Mr. Mehldau is the most influential jazz pianist of the last 20 years. Both are team players ... Both love Bach and the Beatles, and both have developed fan bases bigger and broader (and younger) than their genre silos can accommodate.
The two musicians first performed together in September 2011 as part of Mehldau's residency at London's Wigmore Hall. The Guardian said of that performance, Mehldau struck up his signature rocking chord vamp over which lightly struck motifs swell to sensuous extended melodies. Thile kept cajoling him with percussive snaps, flying runs, and chords strummed fast enough to sound as seamless as a purring strings section, inducing Mehldau to bat back the playful provocation with stinging rejoinders.
MacArthur Fellow and A Prairie Home Companion host Chris Thile is the founding member of Punch Brothers, which a Boston Globe reviewer called the tightest, most impressive live band I have ever seen. The band has released four albums on Nonesuch beginning in 2008: Punch, Antifogmatic, Who's Feeling Young Now?, and The Phosphorescent Blues. Thile's other releases on the label include Sleep with One Eye Open with Michael Daves; Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile and Bass & Mandolin-the latter of which won a Grammy Award; a solo record of Bach violin sonatas and partitas; and A Dotted Line with his longtime band Nickel Creek. He also recently collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer on the double Grammy Award-winning album The Goat Rodeo Sessions.
Brad Mehldau's Nonesuch debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo and includes six records with his trio: House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads. His collaborative records on the label include Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, and Mehliana: Taming the Dragon. Mehldau's additional solo albums on Nonesuch include Live in Marciac and last year's 8-LP/4-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record. Earlier this year, he released a duo album with Joshua Redman, Nearness, of which the Wall Street Journal said: Few records released this year better define what jazz sounds like today, even if there isn't a hip noun to describe it.1. The Old Shade Tree (Brad Mehldau & Chris Thile)
2.Tallahassee Junction (Brad Mehldau)
3. Scarlet Town (David Rawlings & Gillian Welch)
4. I Cover the Waterfront (Johnny Green & Edward Heyman)
5. Independence Day (Elliott Smith)
6. Noise Machine (Chris Thile)
7. The Watcher (Brad Mehldau)
8. Daughter of Eve (Chris Thile)
9. Fast As You Can (Fiona Apple)*
10. Marcie (Joni Mitchell)
11. Don't Think Twice It's Alright (Bob Dylan)
12. Tabhair dom do Lámh (Ruaidri Dáll Ó Catháin)
*Vinyl-only bonus track$27.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
LanternsEqual parts producer and composer, Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott) bridges an unusual
gap between old-world music theory and next-level experimentation. Meditative
but heaving with energy, "Lanterns" nds a peculiar congruency between
futuristic soul and ancient sentiment. Driving orchestral electronica (Lost It To
Trying, No Crimes) is placed alongside creepy minimalism (Pyre), often starkly
juxtaposing densely layered arrangements with Lott's fragile voice.
In recent past Son Lux has gained notoriety both for his s/s/s project (with
Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti), and from being named NPR's "Best New Artist of
the Year". His third full-length album, and his rst for Joyful Noise (Kishi Bashi,
Sebadoh, etc.), positions Son Lux at the helm of an impressive ensemble of
instrumentalists and singers, including Chris Thile (The Punch Brothers), Peter
Silberman (The Antlers), DM Stith, Lily & Madeleine, Darren King (Mutemath),
Ieva Berberian (Gem Club) and yMusic (Dirty Projectors, Bon Iver).1. Alternate World
2. Lost It To Trying
5. No Crimes
7. Enough of Our Machines
8. Plan The Escape
9. Lanterns Lit$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
A Dotted LineThe Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum selling trio Nickel Creek-Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals), Sara Watkins (fiddle/vocals), and Sean Watkins (guitar/vocals)-officially reunites for the first time since its 2007 self-described indefinite hiatus with a new album, A Dotted Line, in 2014. The band then tours the US in support of the Eric Valentine-produced album this spring and summer, with shows in New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, Nashville, and Los Angeles, as well as at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Newport Folk Festival.
As Nickel Creek's 25th anniversary approached, the band members decided they ought to mark it in some way, so they got together to write music in Chris Thile's apartment last year. They ended up with six new co-written songs, which they eventually took to a Los Angeles studio, along with one tune by Thile, one by Sean Watkins, and two covers: Sam Phillips' Where Is Love Now and Mother Mother's Hayloft. There they worked with Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Smash Mouth), who had produced Nickel Creek's previous album, Why Should the Fire Die?.
We were excited every day to be there, Sara Watkins says. Having grown up singing together, there is something natural about our voices and it's really fun to harmonize. Our voices have come to match each other's really well. Sean and I are siblings, and Chris is about as close to a sibling as you could get. Sean Watkins continues: It feels more natural and easy than it ever did, by far. Getting to spend time alone with our own musical personalities has helped us mature. There's a joyful aspect to Nickel Creek no matter what we're doing. Things just steer themselves into that sort of place, concurs Thile. We will go poke around in the dark corners but always with a heavy dose of optimism.1. Rest of My Life
4. Christmas Eve
6. 21st of May
7. Love of Mine
8. Elephant in the Corn
9. You Don't Know What's Going On
10. Where is Love Now$22.99Vinyl LP + CD - Sealed Buy Now
The Phosphorescent Blues\After working with Burnett numerous times-most recently on the soundtrack for the Joel and Ethan Coen film Inside Llewyn Davis and the related Town Hall/Showtime concert Another Day, Another Time-Punch Brothers decided to join forces with the multiple Grammy Award-winning producer for their new record. Last summer, the band and Burnett spent a month at Hollywood's Ocean Way Recording laying down the songs that guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, banjo player Noam Pikelny, mandolinist and lead singer Chris Thile, and fiddler Gabe Witcher had written during several writing "retreats" last winter and spring.
Thile explains one of the ways the music on The Phosphorescent Blues reflects the band's view of modern life: "We often go to bars after shows or writing sessions, to be around other people for a little while. And I'd see people just like me on their phones, telling people they wish they were there, texting people who really are there. Then a song would come on that somebody likes and then they see that someone else does too and maybe they both sing it together and that moment is spiritual, some shared experience, and they are interacting in the flesh, with their fellow man. And that's communion. Many of the songs on this record dive into that: how do we cultivate beautiful, three-dimensional experiences with our fellow man in this day and age?"
Shortly before the sessions began, Thile and Witcher met with Burnett and discovered the producer had the very same things on his mind. In fact, he'd just given a commencement address at the University of Southern California on the subject of technology and human interaction. Witcher remembers, "Thile and I looked at each and said, 'This is unbelievable. It's exactly what we are writing about.' So this was a perfect, serendipitous union."LP 1
3. Passepied (Debussy)
4. I Blew It Off
6. My Oh My
1. Boll Weevil
2. PrÉlude (Scriabin)
4. Between 1st and A
5. Little Lights
6. Sleek White Baby
8. The Hops of Guldenberg
9. The Wireless$39.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Who's Feeling Young Now?Punch Brothers release their new album, Whos Feeling Young Now?, on vinyl March 20. Completed over three weeks at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, the record was produced by Grammy Award winner Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, Modest Mouse). Whos Feeling Young Now? is the follow-up to 2010s Grammy-nominated Antifogmatic, about which the New York Times said: Punch Brothers have the unplugged lineup of an old-fashioned string band But their music is as radical as new acoustic music can be.
Ten songs from Whos Feeling Young Now? were written by Punch Brothers, with the bands friend Josh Ritter co-writing lyrics on two tunes (Hundred Dollars and New York City). Additionally, the album contains the bands interpretations of Radioheads Kid A and the Swedish group VÄsens Flippen. The vinyl album was pressed on two discs of 140-gram, audiophile-quality vinyl and includes four additional Punch Brotherspenned tunes. Pre-orders include an instant download of the album track Movement and Location and an exclusive set of five custom Punch Brothers paper coasters illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Matthew Diffee, signed by the band.
Punch Brothers was formed in 2006 by mandolinist/singer Chris Thile with four other virtuosic musicians: fiddler Gabe Witcher, banjo player Noam Pikelny, bassist Paul Kowert, and guitarist Chris Critter Eldridge. Their first Nonesuch record, Punch, was released in 2008 and combined elements of the bands many musical interests, including indie rock, folk, jazz, bluegrass, and classical music. In 2009 they all moved to New York City and began a regular, standing-room-only, residency at the Living Room, trying out new songs as well as inspired covers; these shows ultimately spawned Antifogmatic.
Whos Feeling Young Now? is less evasive than Antifogmatic and Punch, said Thile. And I feel like part of that is us becoming more comfortable with who we are as a band, and me becoming more comfortable with who I am as a singer.LP1
1. Movement and Location
2. This Girl
3. No Concern of Yours
4. Who's Feeling Young Now?
6. Flippen (The Flip)
7. Patchwork Girlfriend
8. Hundred Dollars
1. Soon or Never
2. New York City
3. Kid A
4. Don't Get Married Without Me
5. Roses Blooming in the Dark
7. Knock Me Down
8. Shh, Just Let Me Do This$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Sara WatkinsSara Watkins self-titled debut, eagerly anticipated by the significant fan base shes built after nearly two decades as fiddle player and vocalist for Grammy Award-winning trio Nickel Creek, boasts an easygoing virtuosity. The youthful Watkins, who joined Nickel Creek when she was barely in her teens, displays formidable skill as a multi- instrumentalist, playing the guitar and ukelele as well as the fiddle, and is just as versatile, and breathtakingly mature, as a singer. Watkins incorporates folk, country, gospel, and pop into her 14-song set, produced by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville. Shes joined by a wide range of old friends and longtime heroes, including alt-country duo Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, and Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas; colleagues from the bluegrass world like Tim OBrien, Punch Brothers Chris Eldridge, Ronnie McCoury, and Rayna Gellert; and Nickel Creek band-mates Chris Thile and Sean Watkins.
Watkins mixes eight of her own songs with tunes by such artists as John Hartford, Tom Waits, and Davíd Garza. Her self-penned fiddle numbers are exuberant, foot-stomping instrumentals, while the songs for which she wrote both music and lyrics have a heart-meltingly lovelorn quality. Watkins knows how to channel in her own work the plaintive emotions of classic country and timeless pop. Theres honesty and empathy on tracks like the sweetly soulful My Friend, the brooding Bygones, and rueful album closer, Where Will You Be. She proves to be as astute as Emmylou Harris or Linda Ronstadt in her choice of covers, segueing gracefully from the aforementioned Waits, Garza and Hartford to the lighthearted country-and-western swing of Jimmie Rodgerss Any Old Time, to the world-weariness and spiritual yearning of Norman Blakes Lord Wont You Help Me, to the romantic wistfulness of Jon Brions Same Mistakes.1. All This Time
2. Long Hot Summer Days
3. My Friend
5. Same Mistakes
6. Any Old Time
8. Lord Wont You Help Me
10. Give Me Jesus
12. Too Much
13. Will We Go
14. Where Will You Be$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
In The Magic HourAoife (pronounced EEE-fah) O'Donovan's debut solo album, Fossils, was released to critical acclaim and ended up on many "Best of 2013" lists from outlets like NPR Music, American Songwriter, New York Magazine and No Depression, among others. Aoife appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, NPR's Weekend Edition, SiriusXM The Coffee House and The Village. President Obama even exposed himself as a fan by including the track "Red and White and Blue and Gold" on his first official Spotify playlist in the summer of 2015. Since it's release, Fossils has sold more than 22,000 copies worldwide, and Aoife is poised to break through with her new album, In The Magic Hour.The songwriting process for In The Magic Hour coincided with the death of Aoife's grandfather, at age 93. She remembers him as a "gentle soul" in the small Irish village of Clonakilty where he lived. The lyrics on In the Magic Hour are infused with a sense of loss and mortality's dark certainty.
But the album is just as much an ode to Aoife's joyful childhood visits to Ireland. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and flocks of cousins would gather at the Clonakilty seaside to swim in the chilly ocean and sing together in the lingering Irish summer twilight. Aoife had not yet performed many of the songs live before arranging and recording them over the course of three sessions in Tucker Martine's (The Decemberists, Neko Case), studio in Portland, OR. "The whole recording process was really Tucker [Martine] and me taking these songs and building them from the ground up," Aoife says. The result is deliberate but not over-done, the freshness of the material intact. While In The Magic Hour rekindles the creative partnership with Grammy-nominated producer Martine, the album also highlights the fruits of Aoife's various career collaborations. Composer Gabriel Kahane, New York's string quartet Brooklyn Rider and musician Chris Thile all lend musical and vocal support, as well as I'm With Her band members Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz, plus many more.1. Stanley Park
2. Magic Hour
3. Porch Light
6. Donal Óg
7. The King of All Birds
8. Not The Leaving
9. Detour Sign
10. Jupiter$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Young In All The Wrong WaysYoung in All the Wrong Ways is Sara Watkins'
most cohesive and fully realized solo album.
The new collection finds her embracing the role
of frontwoman following the collaborations of
Watkins Family Hour (featuring Sean Watkins,
Fiona Apple and Benmont Tench) and Nickel
Creek, the hugely successful group she first
formed with her brother Sean and Chris Thile.
The album is also her most powerful. Personal
and revealing, she wrote or co-wrote each of the
10 songs-a first for her. It was produced in Los
Angeles by Gabe Witcher who arranged a stellar
band including two of his fellow Punch Brothers,
guitarist Chris Eldridge and bass player Paul
Kowert, and additional musicians Jon Brion and
Jay Bellerose. Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan,
Watkins' bandmates in I'm With Her, provide
harmonies on the title track while Jim James of
My Morning Jacket guests on "One Last Time."
Benmont Tench is again featured on keys.
Sara calls the record "a breakup album with
myself..." Writing and recording these ten
intensely soul-baring songs was a mechanism
to process and mark the last few transformative
years. The record is about Sara turning the
page and taking the reins of her own life, in
both a career and personal sense.
around and realized that in many ways I wasn't
who or where I wanted to be," Sara says. "It's
been a process of letting go and leaving behind
patterns and relationships and in some cases
how I've considered myself. What these songs
are documenting is the turmoil you feel when
you know something has to change and you're
grappling with what that means. It means you're
losing something and moving forward into
The songs contain some of the
heaviest moments of her career, with eruptions
of thrumming B3 organ and jagged electric guitar.
But it's also quiet, vulnerable, tenderhearted.
Bold in all the right ways.
Young in All the Wrong Ways reveals an artist
who has managed to transform her own turmoil
into music that is beautiful and deeply moving:
"God bless the tenderhearted," she sings, "who let
life overflow."1. Young In All The Wrong Ways
2. The Love That Got Away
3. One Last Time
4. Move Me
5. Like New Year's Day
6. Say So
7. Without A Word
8. The Truth Won't Set Us Free
10. Tenderhearted$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
AntifogmaticAntifogmatic, the follow-up to the Punch Brothers' 2008 debut, Punch, is a collaboratively written collection of songs from these five wily, omnivorous bluegrass titans, as the Village Voice has called them, a quintet that the Washington Post, in turn, has described as some of the best string pickers of the new generation.
Antifogmatic is seamlessly sequenced to display the collective imagination, the instrumental and vocal power, of the band: Thile, guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, banjo player Noam Pikelny, and fiddler Gabe Witcher. Though the quintet is now based in New York City, where they have an informal residency at Manhattan's The Living Room, they recorded and mixed the album at Hollywood's historic Ocean Way studio with iconoclastic producer Jon Brion (Brad Mehldau, Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, Kanye West) and engineer Greg Koller. Says Witcher, We knew we needed a producer equally as well-versed in pop and rock as in instrumental music, and I don't think there is anyone more able to capture and communicate the essence of this material than Jon Brion.
The arrangements on Antifogmatic range from intimate to boisterous and back; genre-wise, the band once again ventures where no string band has ever gone before. The spare opening track You Are contrasts percussive guitar riffs with lyrical string parts that dance around Thile's sweet upper register as he spins a tale of romantic emancipation; occasionally, the other instruments give way to reveal the throb of the bass. The band also engages in some unexpectedly beautiful harmony singing, smoothing out the compelling melodic twists and turns of Welcome Home. Me and Us and Woman and the Bell both have a dream-like quality; the former, in fact, was inspired by those jumbled, thought-filled moments before sleep sets in, and the instrumentation keeps pace with the ever-shifting imagery. In contrast, Don't Need No and Rye Whiskey are foot-stomping barroom boasts and Next to the Trash is the closest the band gets to traditional bluegrass, even as the lyrics tug the piece in a more surreal direction.1. You Are
2. Don't Need No
4. Rye Whiskey
5. Me and Us
7. The Woman and the Bell
8. Next to the Trash
9. Welcome Home
10. This Is The Song [Good Luck]$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
UNIM-ROU-6147xBela Fleck / Abigail Washburn
Echo In The ValleyWith one eye on using the banjo to showcase America's rich heritage and the other pulling the noble instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn's second album Echo in the Valley is simultaneously familiar and wildly innovative.
"Some of the most interesting things in the world come together in strange and unique ways and show our diversity," reflects Bela, a fifteen-time Grammy award winner who is often considered the world's premier banjo player. "The banjo is just one of those things. It's a great example of how the world can combine things and create surprising hybrids," a reference to the ancestral African roots of the banjo combining with Scotch-Irish music in Appalachia.
Echo in the Valley is the follow up to Bela and Abigail's acclaimed, self-titled debut that earned the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album. This time around, the mission was to take their double banjo combination of three finger and clawhammer styles "to the next level and find things to do together that we had not done before," says Bela. "We're expressing different emotions through past techniques and going to deeper places." The results are fascinating, especially considering their strict rules for recording: all sounds must be created by the two of them, the only instruments used are banjos (they have seven between them, ranging from a ukulele to an upright bass banjo), and they must be able to perform every recorded song live.
Fleck and Washburn met at a square dance and began playing music together a dozen years ago, beginning with the Sparrow Quartet. They married shortly thereafter and became parents to a cute little tot. They've been touring the globe as a duo for years, almost nonstop but for each other's performances with various other musical iterations: Bela with the likes of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Chick Corea and Chris Thile, among many others, and Abigail with Wu Fei (a master of the ancient 21-string Chinese zither), The Wu-Force and Uncle Earl.
With the exception of a few restyled traditional tunes, all tracks on Echo in the Valley are originals, and are largely co-written - a different creative approach from their first album, where songs were mostly his or hers.
"This time, we really wanted to truly write together," Bela adds. "We spent a lot of our time on the lyrics, deciding what we want the songs to communicate, both literally and under the surface."
Echo in the Valley reflects relevant issues while simultaneously connecting us to our past through wild re-imaginings of traditional pieces. New original tunes range from "Over the Divide," a song inspired by Hans Breuer, who worked to ferry Syrian refugees to safety, to "Blooming Rose," inspired by Native American voices and lamenting a continual distancing from nature, and "Don't Let It Bring You is an emphatic mantra for hard times.
With I don't wanna cry, cry, cry, oh, "Let it Go" is ultimately about release from the pain of transition, surrendering to growth. The song acknowledges that we must let our children grow up; the concession that youthful innocence will one day give way to adult cares and worries.
Clarence Ashley's "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains" has been turned into a rural blues, and Bela's well-known piece "Big Country" is framed by the traditional Appalachian tunes "Sally in the Garden" and "Molly Put the Kettle On," a medley Bela and Abigail performed hundreds of times on stage before recording. "'Big Country' is one of the most beauty melodies I have ever heard played on the banjo," says Abigail, who takes the lead on this version.
"Come All You Coal Miners" is the point-of-view of coal-miner advocate Sarah Ogan Gunning, whose passages remain poignant and powerful today. "This song came from a very emotional, mother-driven, daughter-driven, wife-driven place, and there are not many songs throughout history from that perspective, so I am incredibly moved by her," says Washburn.
As the story goes, Bela was struck by the sound of Mr. Earl Scruggs' banjo when hearing the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. He got hold of a banjo, took his musical namesakes (Bela for Bartok, Anton for Weburn, Leos for Yanecek) to heart, and has since continuously broken new musical ground with his instrument. Fleck has the distinction of being nominated in more categories than any other instrumentalist in Grammy history, and has brought his banjo through scorching hot newgrass, traditional bluegrass, otherworldly funk, modern jazz, African originals, transatlantic Celtic, and classical realms, with two self-composed banjo concertos to his name (The Impostor and Juno Concerto), with a third one in the works.
Abigail was similarly jolted into life as a banjoist, but for her it was hearing Doc Watson.
"I was proud to discover that I came from a country where you can hear that ancient sound - from Africa, from Scotland, from Ireland - all mixed up in this beautiful new sound, with those ancient tones in it," Abigail reflects. "The ancient sounds of our culture remind us who we are, and in them, we see a constellation of who we are becoming."
Washburn has imbued this philosophy in all aspects of her work, from the string band Uncle Earl to her acclaimed solo albums, Song of the Traveling Daughter and City of Refuge, and her semi-autobiographical theatrical work, Post-American Girl, as well as in her musical ambassadorship with China, a country with which she has a long, profound history. Abigail is deftly following in the footsteps of the founding mothers of folk, and has become a prominent voice of old-time in our time while bringing to light those ancient sounds of American and Far East cultures in new and exciting ways.
Bela and Abigail's creative process on Echo in the Valley is sonically made manifest in the record's major themes of harmony, empathy and surrender. As Abigail explains, the intense, intimate collaboration that Fleck and Washburn put forward on this project required "a spirit of staying strong, but also a willingness to release into the other's ideas to create something new," possibly something bigger and more beautiful than one could do on one's own.1. Over The Divide
2. Take Me To Harlan
3. Let It Go
4. Don't Let It Bring You Down
5. Sally In The Garden / Big Country / Molly Put The Kettle On
6. My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains
7. Hello Friend
8. If I Could Talk To A Younger Me
9. On This Winding Road
10. Come All You Coal Miners
11. Bloomin' Rose$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Bach: Sonata and Partitas, Vol. 1 (Out Of Stock)Nonesuch Records releases an album of three Bach works recorded by mandolin virtuoso and MacArthur Fellow Chris Thile in 2013. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1 comprises three works written for solo violin: Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001; Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002; and Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003. The album was produced by Thile's friend, mentor, and frequent collaborator, the double bassist and composer Edgar Meyer.
Thile explains his connection to the composer: "Bach was my first meaningful experience with-for lack of a better word-classical music. It was the second recording of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations. Gould plays with the kind of rhythmic integrity that I had previously only associated with non-classical music: music with a groove, with a pocket, that made you move. Gould was playing that music like my heroes play fiddle tunes. It humanized the whole thing for me and the heavens opened up and Bach came down. I started devouring all the Bach I could get my hands on."
He continues, "This record to me is not about this iconic violin music played on the mandolin-like, 'Oh boy, what fun, he's playing a weird instrument!' It's about Bach being one of the greatest musicians of all time, the solo violin music being some of his best work, and the mandolin having the potential to cast it in a new and hopefully interesting light.
Chris Thile, whom London's Independent calls "the most remarkable mandolinist in the world," is the founding member and lead vocalist of Punch Brothers. With broad influences including progressive bluegrass, classical, rock, and jazz, Thile transcends the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres, creating a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic. Thile will be touring this summer with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer, with whom he released last year's The Goat Rodeo Sessions, which won two Grammys in 2013.
As a soloist, Thile has released five previous albums. In 2011, Nonesuch Records released the Grammy-nominated Sleep with One Eye Open, an album of duets with guitarist Michael Daves. Thile has also collaborated with a pantheon of musical innovators from multiple genres including BÉla Fleck, Brad Mehldau, and Hilary Hahn. For more than 15 years, Thile played in the wildly popular band Nickel Creek, with which he released three albums, sold two million records, and was awarded a Grammy.
The New Yorker's Alec Wilkinson said of Punch Brothers: "each musician has a deep command of his instrument their technique and specific sensibilities have given Punch Brothers a sound that is strikingly coherent and singular, even if they haven't yet settled on a genre Each of the musicians plays with grace, thoughtfulness, and force to a degree that is not duplicated by any band I am aware of." Their latest album, the critically acclaimed Who's Feeling Young Now?, was released in 2012 on Nonesuch Records.
Chris Thile, mandolin
Produced by Edgar Meyer
Recorded and Mixed by Richard King
Recorded January 12-17, 2013, at The Barn, Washington, MA
Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland ME
Illustration by Oliver Jeffers
Design by Rory Jeffers
Photography by Ryan Mastro
Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz1. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: I. Adagio
2. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: II. Fuga: Allegro
3. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: III. Siciliana
4. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: IV. Presto
5. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: I. Allemanda
6. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: II. Double
7. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: III. Corrente
8. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: IV. Double: Presto
9. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: V. Sarabande
10. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: VI. Double
11. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: VII. Tempo di Borea
12. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: VIII. Double
13. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: I. Grave
14. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: II. Fuga
15. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: III. Andante
16. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: IV. Allegro$20.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Temporarily out of stock