Tickets: $20 advance, $24 at the door.
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Grant Dermody (DER-muh-dee) is a harmonica player, singer, songwriter, and teacher from Seattle, Washington. Described as “an understated harmonica virtuoso and a vocalist of subtlety and warmth” by Don McLeese of No Depression magazine, Grant is a highly versatile musician. A lifelong student of the harmonica and acoustic blues, Grant’s latest release is the masterful Lay Down My Burden. Grant’s musical travels have seen him playing with many of America’s most beloved acoustic musicians. In 2010, he embarked on a successful international tour with guitarist Eric Bibb. Previous explorations saw him performing in a trio with Orville Johnson and John Miller, live and on their 2006 release Deceiving Blues. In addition, Dermody has performed with blues legends Leon Bib, Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Lowery, Big Joe Duskin, John Dee Holeman, and Cephas & Wiggins. Beyond the blues, Grant is passionate about old-time music. As a member of The Improbabillies, whose 1998 self-titled CD made a serious splash in the old-time world, Grant brought a unique blues sensibility and an innovative harmonica style to that genre.
An excellent accompanist, Grant uses his instrument to add just the right shade, feel or energy to a player, piece or project. He has played on several of Seattle based singer/songwriter Jim Page’s recordings, and was a guest artist on Dan Crary’s, Rennaissance of the Steel String Guitar. Dan described Grant’s playing on “Reedy’s Blues,” as “powerful and beautiful,” and referred to him as, “One of the best studio musicians I have ever worked with.” Ask other harmonica players about Grant’s style, and they all point to his big, warm, wide-open tone, his ability to bring his own voice to a wide variety of musical styles, and his subtle, un-hurried approach. Though Grant spends most of his musical time playing acoustic music, he never hesitates to plug in and lay down some Chicago Blues. In performances, recordings, and teaching engagements, Grant’s soulful sound shines through, inspiring listeners and fellow musicians.
Orville Johnson was born and raised in the southern Illinois heartland. He acquired his love of singing as a youth in the fundamentalist Pentecostal church he attended and, when he later began playing guitar and dobro, responded to the roots music that surrounded him by learning to play the blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, and country music that are all part of the mosaic that characterizes his own mongrel music.
He is a singer, instrumentalist, record producer, songwriter, session player, teacher, the top dobro player on the West Coast of America and, above all, an instinctive and sensitive musician. As his entry in the Encyclopedia of Northwest Music (Sasquatch Press 1999) states, he has become a vital figure on the NW music scene in the thirty-some years he’s lived there, appearing on over 400 CDs, movie and video soundtracks, commercials, producing 22 CDs for other artists, hosting a roots music radio show, and appearing in the 1997 film Georgia with Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Mare Winningham, on the Prairie Home Companion radio show and on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
Orville is also known as a patient and insightful teacher of music and has taught often at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop as well as the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Blues Workshop, Euro-Blues Workshop, B.C. Bluegrass Workshop and others. He has several teaching videos and DVDs and CDs of his own music available.
Join Chris Coole and Ivan Rosenberg for the Seattle stop on their “Farewell Trion” CD Release tour, part of the NextGen Folk Series.
Coole and Rosenberg may have lots of geographical territory between them, but the Clawhammer banjo/Dobro duo are from the same town, musically speaking, where old time, bluegrass, and country blues are played on Dobro, clawhammer banjo, and guitar. Coole – from Toronto, Ontario – and Rosenberg – from Portland, Oregon – first took to the road as an acoustic duo in 2008. They have since toured several times throughout Canada. Their March 2011 tour—from Portland, Oregon to Chicago, Illinois—will be their first time bringing this unique act to audiences in the United States.
Rosenberg is known as one of the top Dobro players on the scene today. His original music has appeared in over 200 TV shows and films including The Daily Show, Oprah, and Deadwood; he recently recorded on “Southern Filibuster: A Tribute to Tut Taylor” at the invitation of producer Jerry Douglas; and he won an IBMA award for co-writing the 2009 Song of the Year, “Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away.” Coole is well-known for his virtuosic clawhammer banjo music as well as his guitar playing and singing with the award-winning bluegrass band The Foggy Hogtown Boys. Coole’s recent solo album “Old Dog” received rave reviews, he was a finalist at the Clifftop banjo contest in 2004 and 2006, and his CDs with fellow Toronto banjoist Arnie Naiman are treasured by fans of old time banjo.
2010 marked the release of their first CD, “Farewell Trion,” which showcases their unique clawhammer banjo and Dobro instrumentation and Coole’s compelling vocals.
“Strong material, rich vocals, and highly accomplished musicianship place this project at the top of the list. The careful juxtaposition of the old and new brings a depth to the performances that only comes with a true knowledge of the genre.”
—Bluegrass Unlimited Highlight Review
“For a ‘two-man’ folk festival, you could look to Doc Watson and David Holt, or on the strength of their first album together, Chris Coole and Ivan Rosenberg…. While Coole hammers out a rock-steady groove, Rosenberg’s Dobro in effect assumes the fiddle’s ‘voice’ in the arrangements. The result is a unique sonic mélange of old time and bluegrass—sort of ‘Josh Graves meets Kyle Creed.’ …This is a well-chosen collection of old-time music expertly performed by a pair of very talented musicians.”
- The Next Gen Folk Series is jointly presented by Hearth Music, Victory Music and Empty Sea Studios.
Tickets $12 advance, $16 at the door
Mark Graham and Orville Johnson love the magic when they play together as much as their audiences do. “People comment on that all the time,” says Orville. “They can tell we’re having a good time up there. We play on a lot of different emotions.”
Wry humor, virtuoso harmonica, soulful blues, hot pickin’ and sweet country vocals – that’s what you get when Orville and Mark combine forces as the Kings of Mongrel Folk.
Graham’s harmonica virtuosity on Irish and American fiddle tunes and his rich, woody sound on clarinet are well-known to fans of Kevin Burke’s Open House. Graham’s sardonic skewering of contemporary life, in such songs as “I Can See Your Aura and It’s Ugly” and “Zen Gospel Singing” have been cult classics for years. His songs have been recorded by many, including the Austin Lounge Lizards, Bryan Bowers, and the Limelighters.
Orville Johnson, an instrumental gunslinger whom the Seattle Times describes as “player’s player,” has a gift of finding the “secret ingredient” that makes a song sound letter-perfect, whether it’s an R & B tune from New Orleans, a country blues or a jazzy ballad. Orville’s guitar, dobro, and quavering, honeyed vocals have seasoned more than two hundred recordings, soundtracks and countless TV and radio commercials. He also produces records and teaches at events like the International Guitar Seminar and Pt. Townsend Country Blues Workshop. He has shared the stage with artists such as Doc Watson, Bonnie Raitt and John Lee Hooker.
Between the two of them, they have played many of the most coveted gigs in North America and Europe: the Newport Folk Festival and Caffe Lena, out East; South by Southwest, in Texas; the Bay area’s Freight and Salvage and Kuumbwa; London’s Festival Hall and Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival, in Europe;and on their home turf, Bumbershoot and the NW Folklife Festival. Though they were longtime acquaintances on the Northwest folk scene, it was at a Folklife Festival jam session in 1991 that they hatched their plan to expand their kingdom of mongrel folk nationwide and, yes, even worldwide. Wherever they go, their performances and recordings have inspired raves:
“Performed with taste and skill and boosted by the nuttiness of Graham’s songs” - Sing Out
“Great songwriting, singing and playing” - Dirty Linen
Tickets: $13 advance, $15 at the door.
Based out of Vancouver, BC, Viper Central is a six-piece acoustic string-band that takes that “high lonesome sound” to new places. All six band members contribute original songs, but won’t hesitate to deliver up their take on an ages-old mournful waltz or bring the house down with a barn-burning bluegrass standard. The band first came together through a love for the old timey sounds of such artists as Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe, Hazel Dickens, and the New Lost City Ramblers along with the more contemporary styles of acoustic innovators David Grisman, Béla Fleck, and David Lindley. Everyone brings a colourful resume and a unique sense of creativity to this collaboration. While the members of the band play significant roles in many other roots music projects (The Mountain Bluebirds, The Fugitives, The Blue Island Trio, Whiskey Jar, Headwater, Redgrass, Badgentina), the chemistry of the six members gives Viper Central a one-of-a-kind sound that will stick with you long after the show is over.
In the summer of 2008, Viper Central released their debut album, The Devil Sure is Hard to Please. Blending instrumental prowess with innovative arrangements and creative vocal harmonies, the album showcases the diverse songwriting talents of every member in the band and is quickly earning them a place among the bands to watch for in Canada’s thriving roots music scene. The band was also featured on the Whiskey Hollow Bound compilation album, which showcases six Vancouver bluegrass and old time bands and has been receiving rave reviews across the country since its release in 2007.
Appearing with Viper Central is Squirrel Butter, the duo of Charlie Beck and Charmaine Li-Lei Slaven. Charlie and Charmaine began performing together in 2005 after meeting at the Portland Old Time Gathering and discovering that they lived merely blocks away from each other in Seattle. The pair began busking, and soon realized that their individual styles, sense of rhythm, and tendency towards the quirky and obscure blended well together. It wasn’t long before they began performing at venues off the street.
Charlie Beck, hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, is a highly accomplished musician. His mastery of guitar and banjo come from years of consistent study. He is well versed in jazz and swing, is an avid enthusiast of old American blues and string band music. His repertoire includes a bushel of traditional folk tunes along with many jazz numbers. A talented songwriter, Charlie’s original compositions combine modern approaches with traditional styles, giving his songs a unique sound. Charlie is an outstanding vocalist, and also plays brilliantly on fiddle.
Charmaine “Lady Li-Lei” Slaven, from Stevensville, Montana, is a gifted dancer, and her skill at traditional percussive buckdancing is phenomenal. She is also an adept rhythm guitarist, ukulele player, and vocalist. Her clear, strong singing style is reminiscent of the Carter family. She brings a fine repertoire of traditional ballads to the duet, along with several of her original works.