Celebrating the 22nd Annual
RBA Concert Season
Another great selection of performers in a comfortable setting at reasonable prices -- this year with a fabulous season ticket deal ... that includes pie!
Your Season Ticket includes all six concerts, with priority admission, priority seating, and a piece of pie. All this for just $99! (Tickets for individual shows: $120/advance, $150/door)
Must be purchased by 10/26/13; ticket information
Individual show tickets: $20/advance, $25/door
As always: Half-price for teens and all students, free for under-13 and music students.
At the First Presbyterian Church 1667
Miramonte Avenue (at Cuesta Drive) Mountain View
Jamming starts at 5:00, Doors Open at 7:00, Showtime
Travers Chandler and Avery County
Keith Little & the LittleBand:
A Tribute To the Stanley Brothers
With special guest Blaine Sprouse
Dry Branch Fire Squad
and the Right Hands
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band
Individual show tickets:
* Half-price for teens and all students; free for under-13 and music students.
**Peter Rowan is $22/advance, $25/door
November 16, 2013
& Avery County
"Bluegrass needs Travers Chandler. As more of the music devolves into a formula, Travers is the bitters in the beer, the rhubarb in the strawberry pie, the element of counterpoint that draws forth the desperate emotion that begs to be released from the form. He's not the first -- greats like Carter Stanley, Charlie Moore, and Buzz Busby were there before him -- but Travers is for our time. Savor his music."
- Jim Beaver, Bluegrass Cafe
(WHUS, Univ. of Connecticut)
Travers Chandler grew up in a musical family in Richmond, VA, and became a professional bluegrass musician at a relatively young age. He's played and sung with such bands as The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show, The James King Band, The Bluegrass Brothers, Gary Brewer & The Kentucky Ramblers, and The Gillis Brothers, and spent three years with Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, culminating in an IBMA award for Song of The Year.
“I feel Travers Chandler is one of the last of the old timey traditional mandolin players, and definitely one of less than a handful in his generation. He FEELS the music within him. He seems to really live for great material too. Travers has gone from being a student of the music to a first rate interpreter. This is pure honky tonk from Baltimore; the music I grew up playing and Travers Chandler & Avery County have mastered."
- Danny Paisley, Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass
Travers sings -- powerfully -- all parts with the band, is known for being one of the few young mandolinists in bluegrass who plays in the traditional style, and is a witty, genial emcee. While the Stanley Brothers and Charlie Moore are two of his most obvious influences, his music at times fuses the old honky tonk country of his country music heroes like George Jones with the hard-driving in-your-face style of Galax Bluegrass best known via the Paisleys and Lundys. Travers has also taken top honors in Mandolin Contests at the Mt. Airy Fiddler's Convention, Allegheny Fiddlers Convention (Sparta NC), and The Old Fiddler's Convention (Galax, VA).
Travers Chandler is currently working on his fourth album while writing a biography on one of his heroes, the late Charlie Moore. He resides in Taylorsville, NC, at the foot of the Brushy Mountains, and has assembled a crackerjack band for his first RBA show:
John Bryan (guitar), Merl Johnson (fiddle), Tom Isaacs (banjo, second fiddle), and Blake Johnson (acoustic bass).
"Travers Chandler and Avery County play straight-ahead 'grits' bluegrass music, and they apply their treatment to a nice mix of old, new, and original songs that fit comfortably in their groove. This is music that’s made for the 'bark-left-on' bluegrass lover. The faint-of-heart need not waste their time. Travers does not sound like anyone else."
- Ron Thomason, Dry Branch Fire Squad
TC & AC @ 2011 ROMP:
"Bluegrass Stomp" in 2012:
TICKETS: $20/advance, $25/door
January 25, 2014
and the Little Band
Tribute to the Stanley Brothers
Keith Little & the Little Band is an exciting new collaborative ensemble performing a diverse range of bluegrass-based music. In addition to Keith, its members include Michael Witcher (dobro), Josh Tharp (banjo), Luke Abbott (fiddle), and Steve Swan (acoustic bass), familiar names to those who've followed the best in NorCal bluegrass.
Keith is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and one of the finest singers of his generation who first came to prominence with the Vern Williams Band, along with that band's backing of Rose Maddox, and then with High Country. Born and raised in the Gold Country, Keith left California to play in, first, the Country Gentlemen and then (for many years) Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. He joined Larry Cordle, Glen Duncan, and the late Butch Baldassari in Lonesome Standard Time, and became one of Nashville's in-demand session musicians. Keith has played on Grammy-winning albums by Dolly Parton and the Chieftains, toured with Dolly and Claire Lynch, and had his songs recorded by Tim O’Brien and the Whites. Keith is an honorary Lifetime Member of the California Bluegrass Association, and a beloved instructor at music camps.
As well as playing in a duo with Jim Nunally, Keith Little is currently a featured member of the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience and the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band. You've seen him at RBA concerts with both bands, as well as a member of Mac Martin's California Travelers and a Bill Monroe Tribute Band. For this show, Keith & Co. will emphasize their Stanley Brothers roots, and present a number of Carter's and Ralph's classic songs.
Keith with the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band: Little Maggie
Keith with the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience: Are You Afraid To Die
TICKETS: $20/advance, $25/door
February 15, 2014
Dry Branch Fire Squad
"Resonating throughout, of course, is Ron Thomason's passionate, moaning, cracking voice, old-time and authentic yet unfailingly musical. The man's a national treasure, for his brilliant on-stage humor, his abiding commitment to taking his intelligence ever deeper into the sources and meaning of the music, and the intensity of his singing. He has an unerring sensibility for what brought many of us to country and bluegrass music." - Bluegrass Unlimited
Dry Branch Fire Squad is one of most entertaining and emotionally moving performance groups in American music today. Inspired by an fierce and uncompromising loyalty to the most traditional aspects of bluegrass, old time, and southern gospel music, the band is fueled by the musical vision of Ron Thomason. Unlike most bluegrass groups, Dry Branch Fire Squad sells neither itself, its members, nor even particular bluegrass songs. What it markets are the emotions which stimulated the creation of bluegrass and mountain music as well as a taste of the culture in which this music evolved. They combine traditional bluegrass and old-time music better than anyone else on the planet, and spice their shows with wry humor and cultural commentary.
Ron Thomason (mandolin, guitar, vocals) is a native of southwestern Virginia who started Dry Branch Fire Squad (DBFS) in 1976 and is known to enjoy music-making now more than ever. His professional music career began at the age of 13, and he has played and/or recorded with Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Hazel Dickens, Ricky Skaggs & Keith Whitley, Bill Lowe, and a host of others. He has also taught both math and English at almost every secondary level; farmed, trained, and competed with horses; and been instrumental in the production of bluegrass music festivals, including Grey Fox and High Mountain Hay Fever, both of which DBFS proudly host.
Ron is considered one of the best showmen in bluegrass music, and his monologues, song introductions, and commentary on whatever strikes his fancy are an integral part of the DBFS experience. The late Warren Hellman once noted, "His stories are way more than just funny stories; there’s great depth. I will say that one of my life’s dreams is to open for Dry Branch in a band called the the Damp Twig Arsonists.”
The current lineup of Dry Branch has been together for nearly a decade, although all four have known each other well over thirty years, and are all veteran Ohio bluegrass musicians. The latest DBFS album, "Echoes Of The Mountains" (Rounder), features this lineup, one of the strongest among the many strong bands that Thomason has put together.
Brian Aldridge (guitar, mandolin, vocals) grew up listening to his father, the great banjoist Howard Aldridge and the many friends who came to pick with him, including Bill Monroe, Big Sid Campbell, and Frank Wakefield. He says, “Playing in DBFS is definitely not like a job for me. I feel like I am a part of something pretty special. The music we play is authentic and maybe organic in the sense it doesn’t have harmful additives. If you like music that is a bit raw and more like the original mountain music, give us a listen.”
Tom Boyd (banjo, dobro, vocals) has been playing bluegrass music for over 50 years. He was part of Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers for 6 landmark albums (including "John Deere Tractor" and "It's Never Too Late"), and has also toured and recorded with Frank Wakefield, Roy Lee Centers, Earl Taylor, Benny Martin, Hylo Brown, Red Allen, Mac Wiseman, Chubby Wise, and the Goins Brothers. Tom played on Ron's first solo album, released in 1972.
Dan Russell (acoustic bass, vocals) plays both kinds of music -- bluegrass and country -- and is also accomplished on the banjo and pedal steel guitar. He played in a previous DBFS iteration with Suzanne Thomas and Bill Evans, and with country artists like John Anderson. He's also cut tobacco, done yard work, cut, split and delivered cord wood, and welded enough tanks on International Trucks that you can see his work everywhere.
In addition to Ron's "solo" releases and numerous recordings by band members, the Dry Branch Fire Squad have released 19 albums, 15 for Rounder Records:
Echoes Of the Mountains (Rounder/2009)
30th Anniversary Special (Rounder/2007)
Live At the Newburyport Firehouse (Rounder/2005)
Hand Hewn (Rounder/2001)
Memories That Bless and Burn (Rounder/1999)
Live, At Last (Rounder/1996)
Just For the Record (Rounder/1993)
Long Journey (Rounder/1991)
Fertile Ground (Rounder/1989)
Tried & True (Rounder/1988)
On Tour - Recorded Live at Granite Hill Park, Gettysburg, Pa. (Gordo/1985)
Good Neighbors & Friends (Rounder/1985)
Fannin' the Flames (Rounder/1982)
Antiques and Inventions (Rounder/1981)
Born To Be Lonesome (Rounder/1979)
Live at the Crying Cowboy Concert Saloon (R.T./1977)
Spiritual Songs From Dry Branch (Rite/1977)
Dry Branch Fire Squad (Rite/1977)
"Unlike bands who rely on hackneyed patter and impressive, but sometimes shallow, musicianship, Dry Branch takes the audience on a journey, pointing out along the way those things that should be appreciated and those things that make us all human. Ron and his music are inseparable, but he’s proven that he could have been successful in almost anything. Lucky for us, he picked up a mandolin." - Chris Stuart, Bluegrass Unlimited
"Orphan Train" -Grey Fox/2011
"Aragon Mill" - Gettysburg/2012
"Goin' Up On the Mountain" - Niles/2013
TICKETS: $20/advance, $25/door
March 15, 2014
Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands
"It's possible to be a strong female presence in the Bluegrass music world, but you have to be really strong. Laurie is one of the greatest Bluegrass artists, woman or man, because of her consistency over decades, the depth and width of her subject matter, her commitment to the Bluegrass form, and her technical command. Oh yes, and her strength. Laurie's strength manifests in many ways: her commanding presence on stage combined with an emotional vulnerability, the truths in her lyrics, her physical voice which transcends gender, her strong commitment to causes and issues in which she deeply believes, which all resonate with a respect for the land, the natural world, and human mercy and justice."
- Darol Anger
Laurie Lewis has won the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award twice, the California's Women's Fiddle Championship twice, and a Grammy and two IBMA Awards for her part on "True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe." She has released 18 albums; appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, A Prairie Home Companion, and the country's top festivals; plays great guitar and bass as well as fiddle; and leads a fabulous band, The Right Hands:
Tom Rozum: mandolin, vocals.
Since joining forces with Laurie in 1986, Tom’s versatility and diverse musical influences come to the fore every night on stage with the band and in the 15 albums they've made together.
Patrick Sauber: banjo, vocals.
Loafer's Glory, Bladrunners, Brombies, A Mighty Wind.
Chad Manning: fiddle.
David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Bangers & Grass, fiddle championships, solo albums.
Sharon Gilchrist: acoustic bass, vocals.
Tony Rice-Peter Rowan Quartet, Uncle Earl, Mike Marshall's Mandolin Orchestra.
Berkeley's own Laurie Lewis fell in love with American folk music as a teenager, at the sunset of the 1960s folk revival. She says of the Berkeley Folk Festivals where she first caught the folk bug, "Oh, it was so exciting. Every night there were concerts, and during the day you'd be in a eucalyptus grove listening to someone making music with nothing between you and them. Every day I'd hear something new, Doc Watson or the Greenbriar Boys. Something about it just invited me to start playing it."
In her early 20s, she discovered the Bay Area bluegrass scene. To her, it was "like opening that door all over again. Here were all these people making music together, and I could immediately see myself as part of it. It woke up all that excitement I felt as a teenager, and I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life."
In the mid-1970s, she co-founded the Good Ol' Persons, an all-female bluegrass band with Kathy Kallick. In 1979 she founded the Grant Street String Band, in which her own songwriting came to the forefront. In the 1980s, she formed Laurie Lewis & Grant Street, and later called her bands Laurie Lewis & her Bluegrass Pals and then the Guest House Band before renaming, in 2006, her group Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands.
"She is newgrass in the truest sense of the word, in that she uses bluegrass instruments to create new original music: it's music for now. As a fiddler, she could be from the 1940s or from 2010; it's timeless. As asinger, she knows the rules of bluegrass and how to sing in her own voice. She's probably one of the few female singers who really knows the nuances of the Ralph Stanley vocal style."
- Sam Bush
Restless Rambling Heart (1986)
Love Chooses You (1989)
True Stories (1993)
Earth & Sky (1997)
Seeing Things (1998)
Skippin' and Flyin' (2011)
With Tom Rozum:
The Oak and the Laurel (1995)
Winter's Grace (1999)
Guest House (2004)
With the Right Hands:
The Golden West (2006)
With Grant Street String Band:
Grant Street String Band (1983)
Singin' My Troubles Away (1991)
With Her Bluegrass Pals:
Laurie Lewis & Her Bluegrass Pals (1999)
With Kathy Kallick:
With Good Ol' Persons:
Good Ol' Persons (1977)
With Blue Rose:
Blue Rose (1989)
"Laurie Lewis wears many hats. Champion fiddler, bluegrass artist, chanteuse supreme, bandleader, songwriter, whitewater adventurer, teacher. A long-time favorite in the San Francisco Bay Area, this Berkeley resident reflects the many changes that have colored her life through her music, including the old Missouri fiddlers and the Tex-Mex music of California's Central Valley. When not making music of her own, she listens to a wide variety of artists including Walter Hyatt, Los Lobos, Bill Monroe, and the thirties and forties stylings of Billie Holiday. As a performer Lewis is versatile, joyful, and shares an easy rapport with her band and with her audience. As a person she is articulate, well-read, aware, and quick to laugh."
- Jana Pendragon, Twangin'
Old Ten Broeck:
Lark In the Morning:
O My Melissa:
Hula Hoop Tricks:
photo by mike melnyk
TICKETS: $20/advance, $25/door
May 3rd, 2014
Peter Rowen Bluegrass Band
“I have always followed Bill Monroe’s advice — if you can play bluegrass you can play anything. I’ve never worried too much about which category I fit in. At some point, I realized the songs I write take me in that bluegrass direction.”
- Peter Rowan, The Knoxville Journal
Peter Rowan: guitar, (most) lead vocals
Keith Little: banjo, vocals
Michael Witcher: dobro, vocals
Chris Henry: mandolin, vocals
Paul Knight: acoustic bass
"Like the sight of a well-groomed baseball field, the styling of a Fender Stratocaster, or the strength of a 1965 Ford Mustang, the sound of Peter Rowan’s voice to me represents freedom, and a particularly American brand at that. Half-controlled, half-wild, that voice can convey the high lonesomeness of bluegrass (Rowan was indeed once a lead singer/guitarist for Bill Monroe himself) as well as the liberation of the sort of rock that has influenced bluegrass."
- Aaron Keith Harris, Lonesome Road Review
Peter Rowan has long been a force in contemporary music, making the old homestead ring with surprising new sounds through his brilliant songwriting, soulful singing, and commanding shows. He is internationally-known for his music on more than 50 albums and decades of memorable performances in a variety of stylistic settings -- impressionistic folk, Tex-Mex, "Reggae-billy," Afro-Cuban-Caribbean, fusion rock, Celtic -- but it is with bluegrass that he has made some of his most enduring music. Peter was a member of Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys, Old & In the Way, and Muleskinner, and has collaborated extensively with a number of notable bluegrassers, including the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, Jerry Douglas, Vassar Clements, Richard Greene, Tex Logan, Bill Keith, Druha Trava, and, now, a truly great bluegrass band.
Keith Little began playing bluegrass as a teenager — first with the mighty Vern Williams Band, then with High Country. Keith moved to Nashville, where he was a member of The Country Gentlemen and Lonesome Standard Time, as well as the bands of Ricky Skaggs and Dolly Parton. Keith has been awarded a Lifetime Membership by the California Bluegrass Association, is a member of the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience as well as co-leading a duo with Jim Nunally, and is in-demand at west coast music camps.
Michael Witcher began playing professionally as a teenager with brother Gabe and father Dennis in their Southern California bluegrass band, The Witcher Brothers. Known for his rich tone and lyrical phrasing, he has also recorded or toured with Dwight Yoakam, Laurie Lewis, John Paul Jones, Dolly Parton, The Gibson Brothers, Chris Jones, Sara Watkins, and Joan Osborn, among others.
Chris Henry is the newest member of the band, even as he continues to lead his own group, Hardcore Grass. He was born into bluegrass, the son of Murphy Hicks Henry & Red Henry, younger brother of Casey Henry, and played in the family band for years -- and both his adventurous classic sides fit perfectly in this group. David Grisman has opined that Chris "sounds like Frank Wakefield from 100 years in the future!"
Paul Knight is not only a highly-regarded sound engineer (who provides the aural delights at most RBA shows), but also is a veteran bass player who has performed and recorded with Laurie Lewis, Sandy Rothman, Papermill Creek Rounders, Perfect Strangers, David Thom Band, Coyote Ridge, Judith Edelman, and the Mike Stadler-Mary Gibbons Band, among others. He also leads a monthly series of performances with the area’s top acoustic musicians.
"Peter Rowan has taken the energy, freshness, and synthesis of rock and roll, and brought it to hillbilly music."
- Jon Weisberger, Country Standard Time
Peter Rowan Leads the Master Class With Old School
“In the end, bluegrass is about the old school. It’s raw, acoustic sound from instruments that have to be coaxed and loved to bring the sound out.” - Peter Rowan
"Walls Of Time"
"Land Of the Navajo"
TICKETS: $22/advance, $25/door