All posts tagged: Mark O’Connor

Observations From the Road (The “Jeez, Montana is a Big State” Edition)

On Friday morning, as we began our second week on the Not All Who Wander Are Lost tour, Claire and I drove the 20 miles up from Fort Peck to Glasgow, Montana where we reconnected with U.S. Route 2.  Now mind you, we had driven two-and-one-half hours in Montana the day before just to get to Fort Peck – which is in the eastern part of the state.  So imagine our surprise when we clicked on the Google maps direction finder to head west to Glacier National Park from Glasgow and the young lady on the smart phone who has become our traveling companion says: Go west on U.S. Route 2 forever. Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. It was actually something like 259 miles. But after a long day of driving through Montana’s plains along the original Hi-Line (New York City’s High Line is late to the party), it seems like forever. This Hi-Line refers to the northernmost route of the Great Northern Railroad and U.S. 2, near the Canadian border. But, as …

The Sound of Genius

I opened the paper this morning to the wondrous news that Chris Thile – celebrated l’enfant terrible of the mandolin – was one of the 2012 recipients of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship grants. You gotta love it when a kid who starts off in bluegrass ends up being recognized as a MacArthur “genius” – the popular term for the winners of the $500,000, no strings attached annual award. Here’s the description from the MacArthur Foundation website: Chris Thile is a young mandolin virtuoso and composer whose lyrical fusion of traditional bluegrass with elements from a range of other musical traditions is giving rise to a new genre of contemporary music. With a broad outlook that encompasses progressive bluegrass, classical, rock, and jazz, Thile is transcending the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres in compositions for his own ensembles and frequent cross-genre collaborations. Although rooted in the rhythmic structure of bluegrass, his early pieces for his long-time trio, Nickel Creek, have the improvisatory feel of jazz; his current ensemble, Punch Brothers, evokes the ethos of classical chamber …

Fiddle Heroes

I’ve always enjoyed Mark O’Connor’s 1992 album Heroes – a series of fiddle duets that O’Connor plays with his musical idols and mentors.  There’s great music on the album – from jazz to bluegrass, western swing to world music – and listeners can easily see the range of O’Connor’s interest and his amazing ability to play comfortably in any idiom. The players are – to put it simply – amazing.  Ponty, Grappelli, Clements, Zukerman, Gimble and more. So I was thrilled to stumble across this clip on YouTube of behind the scenes footage of the recording of this album. Take ten minutes, sit back, and soak up the amazing musicianship of a dozen top fiddlers of their day.  Then if you don’t know the album, find it on iTunes and download it.  You won’t be disappointed. More to come… DJB

Five Albums for a Desert Island

Facebook is full of lists – 25 Random Things About Me just being the best known of a recent flurry.  When I was on Facebook tonight, I saw a friend’s posting of Five Favorite Albums and thought, “Now that’s a list I could enjoy compiling. It took me less than 3 minutes to come up with five albums that I’d want on my iPod if I were stuck on a desert island.  But the Facebook application doesn’t let you say much about the choices.  So I’ll turn to More to Come… and over the next few nights will tell you about: The David Grisman Quintet Will the Circle Be Unbroken Time Out Sgt. Peppers Aereo-Plain The David Grisman Quintet’s self-titled debut album blew me away the first time I put needle to vinyl back in the mid-70s and I still love to listen to the amazing musicianship of Grisman, Tony Rice, Darol Anger, Todd Phillips, and Bill Amatneek.  The cover of the album (see above) told you this record was all about the instruments and their players.  …

O’Connor, Fleck to Play Inauguration Event

Thanks to the Bluegrass Blog for passing along the news that Mark O’Connor and Bela Fleck will be playing next Monday at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower’s Theatre as part of the Let Freedom Swing concert.  The evening’s program of jazz music is in honor of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in anticipation of the inauguration the next day of President-elect Barack Obama.  While O’Connor and Fleck made their name in bluegrass, they routinely cross musical genres and have the musical chops to join host Wynton Marsalis. While tickets are by invitation only, the event is to be televised, so be on the lookout for this mix of terrific musicians. More to come… DJB

I Believe Thanksgiving is my New Favorite Holiday

I’m not sure what has been my favorite holiday, but I think Thanksgiving has now taken over the top rung on the ladder.  I think it may be the fact that big business hasn’t yet figured out a way to commercialize it.  Or perhaps it is the fact that food plays a big role.  I like the focus on the act of being thankful for all we have in a country that’s been abundantly blessed. Then again, maybe it is just that we’ve figured out how to get together with people we really enjoy and have a very relaxing time.  Whatever the reason, it is my new favorite holiday. Candice and I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving.  For many years we traveled over the mountain from Staunton to a wonderful inn, Prospect Hill, for a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner.  It was especially meaningful to us because we honeymooned at Prospect Hill while we were very poor graduate students.  Little did we realize that just a year after our wedding we’d move to Virginia and be an hour away.  With …