Friday, February 28, 2014

Musician Profile: Nicolae Feraru, Gypsy / Roma Traditional Music

by Nicolae Feraru
http://nicolaeferaru.com/

            Sometimes when I talk to Americans or others about my music, it’s hard to know where to begin.  So let’s start from scratch.

            I am from Bucharest, the largest city in Romania, where I was born in 1950.  Like my father and his father before him, I am a Gypsy and a musician.  I play the cimbalom, a dulcimer in the Romanian tradition, called ţambal in Romanian.  But I need to explain more.

            For centuries, Gypsies in this part of Romania distinguish themselves from others by the occupations they follow.  Some are nomadic, but most live in villages and cities, traditionally in their own neighborhoods.  The many occupations they traditionally follow include those of coppersmith, flower seller, silversmith, spoon maker, and many others.  I am a lǎutar, a musician.

            My grandfather, Marin Feraru, played the clarinet and also the small cimbalom (ţambal mic).  He lived in Caracal, west of Bucharest.  Around 1930 he moved to the city of Galaţi, on the Black Sea.  My father, Ion Feraru, who played the ţambal mic and the cobza (a lute), settled at that time in Domneşti and later Chiajna, on the outskirts of Bucharest.  He married my mother, who came from a lǎutar family from Baneasǎ, where the airport is now.  Her father died in World War I, but members of her family played the violin and traveled long distances to play at weddings.  My father and mother raised a family of seven children, and I am the second youngest.

            In those years, my father played mostly in small taverns on the outskirts of Bucharest.  Weddings and funerals, of course, were the main events where lǎutari played.  Before Communism, village weddings lasted four or five days, sometimes involving two groups of musicians.  Work for musicians was relatively good.  However, once the land was collectivized, around 1962, peasants were obligated to work in the fields and animals were no longer private property.  They now had to work on the weekdays and had less meat to share, so weddings now lasted only two days, Saturday and Sunday.  Lǎutari were now less in demand. The wedding party now took place at the house of the godparents on Saturday, and the music began at 8 or 9 a.m. on Sunday at the bride’s family's house.  It carried over into Monday at the groom’s family’s house or at the house of anyone in the village.  However, lǎutari weddings take place on Tuesdays or Thursdays (so that they can be available on weekends) and flower-seller weddings on Mondays.

            In the late 1950s, my father played and sang in a tǎraf led by Costicǎ Cobzaru.  This group consisted of two violins, accordion, ţambal mic, and bass.  They performed cîntece batrîneşte (ballads, “old folks’ songs“), maybe as many as twenty, while the wedding party ate dinner.  Then dancing began, followed by more food and listening music, and then dancing again.  I remember lots of family dinners on Mondays where my father simply fell asleep—he had been up all night at the wedding and then had to go to work on Monday as a chimney sweep.  He told me again and again not to become a lǎutar.

            But I liked to play his ţambal mic and by the time I was eleven I was playing it in wedding processions with him.  We had little money and I would have to wear my mother's shoes on those occasions.  At that time (the early 1960s) the cimbalom had been somewhat in decline.  Apart from Ciuciu, in Bucharest there were only a few players, like Nicolae Vişan and Nicolae Bob Stǎnescu.  But Toni Iordache, then in his teens, was starting to play at weddings, and after hearing his playing at one, I idolized him.  My father arranged for me to get lessons on the big cimbalom with Toni’s teacher, Miticǎ Marinescu-Ciuciu.

            Ciuciu was from a family of cimbalom players, born in 1913 in the village of Ileana, outside Bucharest.  He played the concert (Hungarian) cimbalom, not the small “Romanian” instrument that my father and I played.  Before World War II, he had played with the famous violinist Grigoraş Dinicu and others.  He played regularly with all the traditional orchestra leaders of the day, like Ionel Budişteanu, Nicu Stǎnescu, Nicuşor and Victor Predescu, as well as singers like Maria Tǎnase and Maria Lǎtareţu.  He could read music and toured as far as Japan and Canada.  He was generous and soon took a fatherly interest in me.  My father bought a large cimbalom and, because the tuning was different from the small one I had played on up to that time, I had to start from scratch.  Mainly he taught by ear, although I also learned to read music as well as the elements of theory and harmony from him.  He would play part of a tune, then I would copy him, and he would continue with more of it, until I had it down.  But, after a couple of months of lessons for which my father paid, Ciuciu made me part of the family.  I lived at his house much of the time, went with him to concerts and weddings where he played, and I absorbed everything I could at those places.  During my school years, I also played in the orchestra at the local “house of culture” and played the harmonica in school.

            In the Communist system, if you were going to make a living with music, you had to be tested every four or five years and, based on your training, you were placed in one of three (later five) categories, corresponding to how Romanians thought of musicians: muzician, muzicant, and lǎutar.  The highest rank was muzician.  If you knew theory, could sight read something the jury placed before you, and could play a variety of music, they might award you this rank.  The lowest rank might be given to someone who was a traditional musician, unable to read music, and knowledgeable only in the traditions of his village.  Each rank determined your pay and where you could play.  I received the top rank and became a “free professional,” meaning that I could seek work in restaurants or anywhere else that might want to hire me and also could tour abroad.

            In 1969, I auditioned for a spot as a musician at the Teatrul “Ion Vasilescu” in Bucharest.  This was my first professional job.  Then I went into the Army for a year and a half and was part of an ensemble.  Sometimes I played for official receptions with Toni Iordache (who at the time played in an ensemble sponsored by the Ministry of the Interior) during this period.

            After I got out of the Army, I played with the panflutist Radu Simion in his ensemble at the Carul cu Bere restaurant for about a year.  In 1972, I married Lelia Scarlat, the daughter of a lǎutar from Urziceni.  That year I went on tour to the United States and Canada, playing before Romanian communities, as part of an ensemble accompanying the famous singer Gica Petrescu.  In 1973, I played for four months at a restaurant on the Île d’Orleans near Montreal, with Tudor Dobre and a Hungarian violinist, Lajos Molnar.  Those were great opportunities and I was tempted to leave Romania for the West then, but I returned.

Publicity photograph (about 1973)

            I played at the Carul cu Bere with the violinist Nicu Pǎtraşcu, and then had a job in 1974 for about a year with a song-and-dance ensemble, “Doina Ilfovului.”  I then began an association with Radu Simion that lasted until I left Romania.  We played regularly at various Bucharest restaurants, including the Crama Domneasca, the Hora, the Hunedoara, and the Olimp.  Gheorghe Zamfir had created a craze for the panpipes in Western Europe, especially Switzerland, France, and Holland, and Radu’s group traveled to those countries several times in the late ’70s and early ’80s.  In Holland, we played for the royal family and we stayed there long enough for me to give lessons to several students.  In Bern, Switzerland, we played at a United Nations-sponsored concert that featured the Bolshoi Ballet.  We earned very good money, and I was able to buy a Hungarian-made Bohak cimbalom in Switzerland, something that was virtually impossible to get in Romania.

            I made a couple of solo records for the Electrecord label (in 1975 and 1984) and appeared on others.  The company, of course, produced the records, but some of the crazier aspects of Communist-era record production need to be told.  We first we would go into the studio and record around twenty pieces.  Then a committee, which would likely consist of Tiberiu Alexandru (Romania’s leading ethnomusicologist), a director of a radio station, a party bureaucrat, and a representative of the composers' union, would audition the tape and decide what would make the final cut.  I suppose they would base their decisions partly on what they thought sounded the best, but some of their decisions were grounded in political ideology.  When it came to muzica lǎutareasca (Gypsy music), they became critical.  For example, the committee rejected the recording we made of Nici nu ninge, apparently because in its traditional style, using the triple rhythm, it sounded too “Gypsy.”  So we recorded it again, this time changing it to a free-rhythm doina, and it satisfied the committee.

            In the 1980s things got worse and worse in Romania, both politically and economically.  Personally I never had problems getting food, since I worked at restaurants and had enough money anyway.  But politics were getting out of control.  It was bad enough that every orchestra had to provide a program list to an inspector, to show that they would only play appropriate music (meaning that muzica lǎutareasca especially had to be very limited).  After all, if the inspector happened to hear you play something he didn't like, you could buy him off with a bottle of wine.  What was worse was the presence of miniature microphones placed in ashtrays on the tables.  And forget about talking to foreigners.  Add to this the need to stop nightlife at nine o’clock, in order to save electricity, and you had a very grim place.

            One of the most bizarre indignities I had to suffer was when I was edited out of a television performance.  The official policy was never to identify the traditional music we played as “Gypsy” music, even though all cimbalom players in Romania were Gypsies.  My features are such that I can't be mistaken for anything else, so the television editors taped an actor playing a cimbalom.  They kept the sound, but spliced in the actor when they wanted to show me.

On tour in Detroit (1988)

          So, when an opportunity presented itself in 1988 to go on a tour to the United States and Canada, I made plans to leave for good.  Things had been getting worse for several years, without hope of ever improving, and opportunities to tour were becoming scarce.  Under the name “Rapsodia Carpaţilor,” Ion Lǎceanu, a singer and player of the fluer, caval, bagpipes, and fish scale, hired me and four other musicians.  We were to accompany dance ensemble and singers.  I paid the expensive transportation fee on my cimbalom and we flew to Detroit, which was to be our base for the North American tour.

            After playing for Romanian communities all over the United States and Canada, we returned to Detroit.  But when it was time to fly back, I stayed, along with one other musician and nearly all the dancers!  Nobody mentioned the topic while we were together, although Lǎceanu said later that he suspected all along that I didn't plan to return.  In fact, in Romania I told only my mother-in-law of my plans.  If my children were to know, they would pose a big risk that word would get out.  We just couldn't talk freely in those days.

            The Romanian immigrants and Romanian-Americans that we met made the transition to a new life easier.  In fact, many had left by swimming across the Danube and now were in comfortable circumstances, employed in industrial jobs.  They were sympathetic and helpful.  I applied for political asylum, learned to drive a car, and started to learn English all at the same time.  I got an apartment in Detroit and got a job working for Bill Webster making dulcimers.

Accompanying Benone Sinulescu, Detroit (1989)

          I met Pavel Cebzan, a great clarinetist from Timişoara who had toured with Zamfir and, after coming to the U.S. to tour with singer Nicoletǎ Voica, also stayed in Detroit and applied for asylum.  For the next year I played with them regularly at Descent of the Holy Ghost church in Warren, Michigan, to large crowds of enthusiastic immigrant Romanians.  I also played at the old Hungarian Village Restaurant.  Those were exciting years, as we witnessed big political changes.  I was fortunate to have taken part at some events that would have been unthinkable a few years earlier.  For example, in 1991 I played as part of a tour which featured a performance of an ensemble from the independent republic of Moldova, “Lǎutarii,” led by Nicolae Botgros, and in Chicago I played with them with former King Michael in the audience.

            But my wife and five children were still in Bucharest.  I moved to Chicago in 1993 and in addition to playing for various affairs, got a job in a factory.  I brought over my wife Lelia and sons Laurenţiu, Jan, and Bogdan, in 1994.  My daughters Janina and Fǎnica had to stay behind.  I continued to play for various affairs, mostly in the Romanian community, but also many others.

            I play solo, in the virtuosic Romanian style popularized by the late Toni Iordache, as well as accompaniment on the cimbalom.  I specialize in a Romanian repertoire, including Gypsy music (muzica lǎutareasca), regional styles, as well as café concert and international pieces.  I learned all this music from the people I described above.  Let me know if you would like me to be a part of your celebration.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What is Gypsy Music?

Gypsy music is music of the Roma (Romani or Gypsy) people.  It should be noted that the word ‘gypsy' often has a negative connotation, and the Romani people would never use this term to refer to themselves.  Therefore it is preferable to refer to them as they refer to themselves, as ‘Roma'.  (Please see this website, The Voice of Roma, for a much more thorough discussion of this topic)

The Roma are a diverse ethnic group originating from the Indian plateau and spreading throughout the Near-East, Europe and North Africa on a journey that has lasted at least 1500 years maybe much longer.   They have been known by many names in the various lands they have inhabited such as Tsigane, Zigeuner, Gitano, Bohemian, Egyptian, Gypsie, gipsy and of course, gypsy.

Along their long journey, they have come to embody a certain mystique of wandering people, adept as entertainers and tradesman, but most famously trained as musicians.  Along the thousands of years they have journeyed since leaving the Indian plateau, they have learned and assimilated the musical styles of every culture they have come in contact with.  Because the Romani people have lived and played in such diverse lands as India, Spain, Turkey, North Africa, the Middle East and all over Europe, it is difficult to come to a singular definition of what gypsy music is.

In many ways the Roma people have acted as repositories of endangered music, preserving art and traditions that would otherwise have been lost.  Even more amazing is the fact that they have been extremely successful at preserving their own unique culture and legacy while absorbing the influences of those around them.

Here is a list of some of the most important Roma musicians and bands:

• Django Reinhardt
• Taraf de Haidouks
• Camaron de la Isla
• Paco de Lucia
• Ivo Papazov
• Gypsy Kings
• Boban Markovic
• Yuri Yunakov
• The Rosenberg Trio
• Jimmy Rosenberg
• Birelli Lagrene
• Esma Redzepova
• Fanfare Ciocarlia

Here is a good article on Romani music from wikipedia.com:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_music

Here is a great, in depth article on Romani music from rootsworld.com:  
http://www.rootsworld.com/rw/feature/gypsy1.html

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Romani Culture and Music / Taraf De Haidouks

The lăutari who perform at traditional Romanian weddings are virtually all Roma, although their music draws from a vast variety of ethnic traditions — for example Romanian, Turkish, Jewish, and Slavic — as well as Romani traditions. 

Probably the most internationally prominent contemporary performer in the lăutari tradition is Taraful Haiducilor. Zdob şi Zdub, one of the most prominent rock bands in Moldova, although not Romani themselves, draw heavily on Roman music, as do Spitalul de Urgenţă in Romania.

Flamenco music and dance came from the Romani in Spain; the distinctive sound of Romani music has also strongly influenced bolero, jazz, klezmer and Cante Jondo in Europe. European-style Gypsy jazz is still widely practised among the original creators (the Romani People); one who acknowledged this artistic debt was Django Reinhardt.


Classical music: Romani music is very important in Eastern European cultures such as Hungary, Russia, and Romania, and the style and performance practices of Romani musicians have influenced European classical composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms.  Many famous classical musicians, such as the Hungarian pianist Georges Cziffra, are Romani.

Taraf de Haïdouks (Romanian: Taraful Haiducilor, "Taraf of Haiduks") are a taraf, i.e., a troupe of Romani-Romanian lăutari from the town of Clejani, the most prominent such group in Romania in the post-Communist Era. In the Western world it has become known by way of French-speaking areas, where they are known as "Taraf de Haïdouks".

The lăutari of Clejani were long known for their musical skills. The first recordings by ethnomusicologists in the village were made in the interwar period. Speranţa Radulescu also made recordings in Clejani in 1983 for the archive of "The Institute for Ethnography and Folklore". The recordings were made in various configurations. During the Communist era, many lăutari from Clejani were also employed in the national ensembles that played Romanian popular music.

Early contacts in the West included Swiss ethnomusicologist Laurent Aubert and Belgian musicians Stéphane Karo and Michel Winter, two fans who were so taken by the band's music that they turned into managers, brought the newly named "Taraf de Haïdouks" to Western Europe and helped launch their international career.
Since the release of its first album back in 1991, Taraf de Haïdouks has been considered the epitome of Romany music's vitality. The group has toured worldwide, released acclaimed albums and a DVD (see below), and counts among its fans the late Yehudi Menuhin, the Kronos Quartet (with whom it has recorded and performed), actor Johnny Depp (alongside whom the group appeared in the film The Man Who Cried), fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (who invited the band to be models-cum-musicians for his Paris and Tokyo shows), and many more. Meanwhile, the band members seem to have been relatively unaffected by all this, maintaining their way of life (they still reside in Clejani, in the Valachian countryside).


The band's latest release is the Maskarada album, in which they reinterpret and "re-gypsify" pieces by 20th-century classical composers (such as Bartók, Khachaturian and others) who drew inspiration from national folklore and often borrowed from Roma styles.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Mandolin's Heyday

Frets, March 1979

Early Gibson mandolin family instruments consisted of mandolin, mandola, mandocello, and mandobass. Varied in size and tuned one fifth apart, these instruments were the fretted equivalents of the violin viola, cello, and string bass and could be played in much the same manner, using music composed for their bowed counterparts.

In my view, the evolution of instruments occurs in three basic ways: a new instrument is developed, an existing one is improved in response to public demand, or a maker first produces an instrument and then attempts to create a demand for it. Sometimes this entails writing or arranging music spedfically for the new instrument and promoting the music along with the instrument. The Gibson Company used this approach with considerable success to create a demand for the mandolin family instruments. When they introduced the mandola, mandocello, and mandobass around 1910, they also introduced the concept of a mandolin orchestra that could play regular orchestral string music using these instruments. They promoted this idea vigorously, using a carefully planned program to show music teachers how to sell a considerable number of Gibson instruments at one time (on commission) by organizing mandolin orchestras. As a result, countless mandolin groups of various sizes were formed all over the country. Most of them used Gibsons exclusively, and sales of the company's mandolin family line flounshed. The mandolin orchestras became so popular with both professional and amateur musicians that they dominated the fretted instrument scene in America for nearly a decade.

The history of the Gibson mandolin family begins in the late 1890s with Orville Gibson's design of a mandolin that was radically different from the instruments that had originated in Italy several hundred years before. The typical Italian-style mandolin was the so-called "bowl back," "gourd," or "tater bug" with a deep bowl-shaped back, a flat angled top, and a scale length about the same as a violin's. This design became the accepted standard for a mandolin and was copied widely by other makers throughout Europe, particularly in Germany. Mandolins weren't produced in the United States in any significant quantity until the 1890s, and before that almost all the mandolins seen here were German or Italian imports of bowl-back construction.
The first American company to produce mandolins (bowl-back) on a large scale was Lyon & Healy in Chicago, whose better quality instruments bore the Washburn brand. They turned out mandolins in very large quantities during the 1890s and offered them in many different models. However, they were all basically the typical 8-string bowlbacks and they didn't represent any particular evolution of the mandolin design over what had already been achieved in Europe. In 1898, Orville Gibson patented a mandolin that was to revolutionize the design of the instrument. A radical departure from the Italian-style mandolins, his design featured a relatively flat carved back, a carved top, and a longer fretboard. Early Gibson catalogs carefully explain that on a violin fingerboard, the fingers are placed where the frets would be if there were any. Therefore, a fretted fingerboard must be longer to allow the player to use violin fingering while still keeping his fingers behind the frets. The two body shapes Orville used for his mandolins, the teardrop-shaped A style and the Florentine style with points and scroll, were also different from other fretted instruments made at the time. In almost every conceivable aspect of design and appearance, Orville Gibson's mandolins were something new, and they seem to have emerged straight from his own creativity and workshop.
Gibson sold the patent on his mandolin and the rights to use his name and manufacturing methods in producing a line of Gibson instruments to five businessmen from Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1902. Although Orville was certainly a true innovator who came up with highly original mandolins and guitars, the instruments he himself made were often rather crude. The Gibson instruments produced after he left the company, however, were quite different. Even those made as early as 1910 were better sounding and playing instruments -- and far more sophisticated -- than any of Orville's.

The mandolin family instruments appeared shortly before 1910 and evolved very quickly. Since the company was already geared up to produce mandolins, it was no problem to produce them in vanous sizes. The mandolin was tuned like a violin, and it was a logical step to develop fretted instruments tuned one fifth apart that corresponded exactly to the bowed instruments of the classical orchestra. This was a significant contrast to the banjos,which came in many sizes that weren't particularly useful in conventional musical arrangements. Tuned like a string quartet, the mandolin family instruments developed by Gibson were ideal for playing in groups and were capable of playing sheet music for bowed instruments,which already existed in abundance.
The only instruments of this type to come out before Gibson's innovation were octave mandolas tuned one octave below a mandolin. Since these didn't fit into the tuning scheme of the string quartet they weren't particularly useful for playing standard orchestral music. Some early Gibson ads for the mandola carefully called it a tenor mandola and stressed the advantages of its C-G-D-A tuning over that of an octave mandola.
It was a logical step to go from the idea of the mandolin family to the concept of the mandolin orchestra, and here Gibson could look to the example of the band instrument companies that for some time had been setting up bands and supplying everything from instruments to sheet music. Gibson soon developed a similar program to organize mandolin orchestras as a means of selling instruments, and was the first fretted instrument company to use this approach. Its marketing scheme was very well thought out, complete in every detail, and was very successful. Strangely enough, nobody else cashed in on the mandolin boom to the extent that Gibson did. Lyon & Healy and Martin both failed to bring out a mandolin with a carved top and back until it was too late for them to benefit greatly from the interest in mandolin orchestras. Lyon & Healy eventually did copy the mandolin family idea. Their 1913 catalog featured "The Lealand Family of Mando lnstruments," which not only included the four that Gibson had but also a piccolo or soprano mandolin. These instruments weren't as successful as the Gibsons, however, probably because they didn't sound as good and weren't promoted as effectively.

Gibson's development of the mandolin family and mandolin orchestra show that it was a very creative company for its day, but its success with the mandolin family instruments was as much a product of good timing as creativity. The mandolin orchestras filled the void left by the decline of the 5-string banjo and provided an excellent way for people to entertain themselves in the days before radio, TV, and movies. The most important factor in the growth of the mandolin orchestra movement, however, was undoubtedly Gibson's remarkably effective promotion.

Gibson Mandolin "Orchestra"

by Gregg Miner

Disclaimer to Internet readers:

The following text is a humorous essay written for the layperson. It originally appeared in a companion booklet to my 1995 Christmas Collection CDs. The information, while factual, is presented in a personal, unorthodox manner. No offense is intended toward my fellow musicians or fellow musicologists.

I must confess that I'm among the many who are infatuated with old Gibson instruments, particularly those made between 1900 and 1930, heyday of the mandolin and banjo. The Gibson story began with Orville Gibson, who, among other things, revolutionized the mandolin in the year 1898. Dissatisfied with the sound of the traditional Italian-style bowl-back mandolin (not to mention how to hold the slippery thing!), he completely redesigned it -- giving it a relatively flat, shallow profile, and applying such violin principals as an arched, carved top and back. His basic design was refined by the Gibson Company over the years and reached its zenith in 1922 with the immortal F-5 mandolin. Unfortunately, the mandolin craze had just ended and comparatively few of these were sold. But then in the mid-forties, Bill Monroe discovered an old F-5, single-handedly invented bluegrass music, and the rest, as they say, is history. The mandolin is now as popular as ever, and to this day, Gibsons remain the standard by which all others are judged.

Now, no one knows exactly who came up with the idea of a mandolin "orchestra" (or when), but it was ingenious. Apparently, someone finally noticed that a mandolin (with eight strings in four double-courses) was tuned exactly like a violin and could therefore play violin music. It was even possible to play sustained notes with a tremolo technique. Then, around the turn of the century somebody further reasoned that if larger mandolins were built to correspond to the viola, cello, and even bass, an entire string orchestra could be duplicated with mandolinists. Reasonable enough, but where does one find mandolinists? Gibson's answer was brilliantly simple and diabolical. It initiated a systematic nation-wide marketing scheme wherein a network of music teacher-dealers was cajoled into organizing local mandolin "clubs" whose eager participants would just happen to require (A) lessons and (B) instruments -- both happily provided by the teacher. Between 1910 and 1920 there were literally hundreds of these "All-Gibson orchestras" across the country -- a phenomenon not unnoticed by several other companies who were scurrying to produce their own versions of this new family of instruments. But even though Gibson mandolins were the most expensive, their craftsmanship, sound, aesthetic beauty, and grandiose hype captured the majority of hearts and pocketbooks than as now. And this was just the beginning of Gibson's tremendous success story. Ironically, Orville Gibson himself missed out on all the fun since he had sold the rights to his name and inventions in 1902 for $2500.

Gibson made all but the bass in two body styles: a round, teardrop shape and the "florentine" with scroll and points. Florentine mandolas and mandocellos are now especially rare, and surprisingly popular and costly collector's items. Some, like this 1924 mandocello, have the short-lived "Virzi tone-producer," a wooden disc suspended inside the body to supposedly improve the sound.

Despite what I've written, a mandolin orchestra can't be fully explained -- it must be experienced. So I personally did my time with the Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra for several years, one of the few such clubs still in existence. Let me try to recall the scene: First of all, trying to get a couple of hundred strings in tune for each rehearsal (with all but the bass double-strung) was a disastrous free-for-all with no one the lucky winner, and in the end, it didn't much matter anyway. Sheet music arranged for string orchestra was then passed out, though some of the more senior members had trouble just focusing on the notes on our photocopies. There was a professional conductor, but he was largely ignored, as it seemed more important to find one's own rhythm and stick with it, impressing it upon one's neighbors if possible. And, yet, given enough rehearsal and any amount of luck, the "miracle of the mandolin orchestra" would occur -- wherein a couple dozen madly tremoloed mandolins blended together to give the illusion of a bowed string orchestra. Alas, my "quartet" just begins to hint at this.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra (SHMO) is a non-profit musical organization established in 2013

The South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra (SHMO) is a non-profit musical organization established in 2013 by Adam R Sweet, in an effort to revive the beauty and popularity of the traditional mandolin orchestra, which was mainstream in the United States around the turn of the 20th Century.  The Orchestra will consist of volunteer musicians, and will feature composers from around New England and beyond.

To get the orchestra off to a good solid start, it needs to purchase instruments for use by the orchestra, to purchase sheet music for the orchestra library, purchase or lease recording and amplification equipment for the publishing of videos, CDs and other promotional material, pay for the design and publishing of a website, to purchase advertising and marketing for concerts and open rehearsals, and to pay the Director and Manager reasonable salaries.  

Although the SHMO is not currently a registered non-profit organization, we are working towards that goal so that we may accept donations from the community.  

See attached spreadsheet (SHMO - Operating Budget)

Qualifications and Role of Personally Directly Involved With The Project

Adam R Sweet, Music Director
Adam R Sweet has certifications in violin and performance from the New England Conservatory of Music at Rivers, and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music.  He has a BA in Ethnomusicology from Hampshire College.  He opened the Sweet Music Studio in 1986 and has been providing music lessons, sales and service to the community since.  Mr Sweet is a mandolin teacher, plays mandolin in several ensembles and leads a Mandolin Group Class at the Studio.  Sweet is a volunteer member of the South Hadley Cultural Council and the Historical Commission.  He lives in South Hadley with his wife Emily and sons.

Qualifications, Certificates and Associations:
  • Certification: Violin; New England Conservatory of Music
  • Certification: Ensembles; Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music
  • BA, Ethnomusicology, Hampshire College
  • Music Teacher Certification: American Federation of Music Teachers
  • Music Teacher Certification: American String Teacher Association
  • Member: American Federation of Musicians
  • Member: Boston Bluegrass Union

Mary Jennings, Manager
Mary Jennings is, by profession, an administrative assistant with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with 28 years in Federal service.  Outside of her Federal service, she has provided administrative support for Eastern Entertainment (Roger Salloom’s booking agency), and has hosted and promoted her own open stage poetry venue at the Black Sheep Deli in Amherst, MA.  Mary is also a performance poet, stage actress, and musician currently studying mandolin with Adam Sweet.  Mary has a B.A. in English from Salem State College, with a minor in music.  She is a resident of South Hadley, MA.

The SHMO will hold open rehearsals at the South Hadley Town Hall on Main St in the auditorium third Fridays of every month, and concerts each year at the same location.  The concerts will be open to the community for a reasonable fee.

The SHMO currently consists of Eight Orchestra Members: four mandolinists, one mandola, one mandocello and one page-turner/assistant (Cynthia’s Mom).  We are actively recruiting new members.  We have received confirmation of interest from an additional mandolon (mando bass) player, and two additional mandolin players that were not able to attend the first rehearsal in February.  The next rehearsal will be the third Friday in March (21).

The members who currently do not have instruments (mando cello, mandola, mandolin) will be able to use an orchestra instrument while an active member of the orchestra.    Members will benefit from playing and learning from published copies of sheet music instead of copies downloaded from the internet as part of an Orchestra Library that will be housed at the Sweet Music Studio.  Members will benefit from the production of high quality video and recordings of concerts and rehearsals that they can share with family and friends and online through social media.

The SHMO currently consists of two administrators: the Director and the Manager who will benefit from a small salary stipend for a specific number of hours worked during each month including rehearsals, concerts, and travel.

The SHMO will need capital funding to get the project started.  Maintenance funding will be needed to keep it running.  See spreadsheet for needs.

Other organizations collaborating directly with this project

  • Town of South Hadley has volunteered use of the Town Hall Auditorium for rehearsals and concerts
  • The Providence Mandolin Orchestra has consulted with the Director and provided access to sheet music and other helpful online resources
  • The Red Barn Music in Amherst has been helpful consulting about community engagement

Names of other organizations carrying out similar projects.

  • Atlanta Mandolin Orchestra
  • Austin Mandolin Orchestra
  • Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra
  • Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra
  • Dayton Mandolin Orchestra
  • Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra
  • Louisville Mandolin Orchestra
  • Mandolin Society of Peterborough
  • Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra
  • Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra
  • New Expressions Mandolin Orchestra
  • New York Mandolin Orchestra
  • Oregon Mandolin Orchestra
  • Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra
  • Pittsburg Mandolin Orchestra
  • Providence Mandolin Orchestra
  • Seattle Mandolin Orchestra
  • Takoma Mandoleers


Sunday, February 16, 2014

"The Zone" aka "Flow"

The Psychology of Flow
by Jeremy Dean*

What is it like to be fully alive, right now, engaged with what you are doing? That’s the psychology of flow.
When the happiness and creativity expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was studying how painters work, he noticed an odd thing. When their painting was going well they didn’t care about getting tired, hungry or uncomfortable, they just carried on.

But when the painting was finished, they rapidly lost interest in it.

What was this special state of mind that seemed to absorb the whole of your being? Csikszentmihalyi called it a ‘flow state’. It’s the experience of being fully engaged with what you’re currently doing.

When you’re in a flow state:

  • an hour can pass in the blink of an eye,
  • you feel what you are doing is important,
  • you’re not self-conscious,
  • action and awareness merges,
  • you feel in full control,
  • and the experience is intrinsically rewarding.

To create a flow experience, you need:

  • to be internally motivated, i.e. you are doing the activity mainly for its own sake,
  • the task should stretch your skills almost to the limits, but not so much that it makes you too anxious,
  • there should be clear short-term goals for what you are trying to achieve,
  • and you should get immediate feedback on how you are doing, i.e. you can see how the painting, photo, blog post etc. is turning out.

The experience of flow has been studied amongst surgeons, writers, artists, scientists, athletes and people just socializing and playing games. The experience of peak performance is very similar, whatever the activity.

Flow states require a balance, though, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says in his book on the subject, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience:

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.”

It’s not always easy to achieve but being in a state of flow is a beautiful thing.

*Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Difference between Bluegrass, Old Time and Celtic bands, now finally explained! (humor)

Old Time and Celtic songs are about whiskey, food and struggle. Bluegrass songs are about God, mother and the girl who did me wrong. If the girl isn’t dead by the third verse, it ain’t Bluegrass. If everyone dies, it’s Celtic. The Bluegrass fiddler paid $10,000 for his fiddle at the Violin Shop in Nashville. The Celtic fiddler inherited his from his mothers 2nd cousin in County Clare. The Old Time fiddler got theirs for $15 at a yard sale.” ~ The National Folk Festival of Australia

The Music

Old Time and Celtic songs are about whiskey, food and struggle. Bluegrass songs are about God, mother and the girl who did me wrong. If the girl isn’t dead by the third verse, it ain’t Bluegrass. If everyone dies, it’s Celtic.

Old Time and Celtic bands have nonsense names like “Flogging Molly’, “Fruit Jar Drinkers’ and “Skillet Lickers” while Bluegrass bands have serious gender-specific name like “Bluegrass Boys,’ “Clinch Mountain Boys’ and ”Backwoods Babes.”

The most common Old Time keys are major and minor with only 5 notes (modal). Bluegrass uses these, plus Mixolydian and Dorian modes, and a Celtic band adds Lydian and Phrygian modes.
A Bluegrass band has between 1 and 3 singers who are all singing about an octave above their natural vocal range. Some Old Time and Celtic bands have no singers at all. If a Celtic band has a singer, it is usually either a bewhiskered ex-sailor, or a petite soprano. A Bluegrass band has a vocal arranger who arranges three-part harmonies. In an Old Time band, anyone who feels like it can sing or make comments during the performance.

In a Celtic band, anyone who speaks during a performance gets “the look’, and songs are preceded by a call for silence and a detailed explanation of their cultural significance. Bluegrass tunes & songs last 3 minutes. Old Time and Celtic tunes & songs can be any length, and sometimes last all night.

The Instruments

Banjo
A Celtic banjo is small and quiet. An Old Time banjo is open-backed, with an old towel (probably never washed) stuffed in the back to dampen sound. A Bluegrass banjo has bell bronze mastertone tone ring and a resonator to make it louder.

A Celtic banjo weighs 4 pounds, an Old Time banjo weighs 5 pounds, towel included and a Bluegrass banjo weighs 40 pounds. A Celtic banjo has only 4 strings. A Bluegrass banjo has five strings and needs 24 frets. An Old Time banjo needs no more than 5 frets, and some don’t need any. A Bluegrass banjo player has had spinal fusion surgery on all his vertebrae, and therefore stands very straight. If an Old Time banjo player stands, he slouches. A Celtic banjo player has a brace to relieve his carpal tunnel syndrome and remains seated to maintain stability while cross-picking as fast as possible after several pints. An Old Time banjo player can lose 3 right-hand fingers and 2 left-hand fingers in an industrial accident without affecting his performance. A Celtic banjo player flat picks everything. A Bluegrass banjo player puts jewelry on his fingertips to play. An Old Time banjo player puts super glue on his fingernails to strengthen them. Never shake hands with an Old Time banjo player while he’s fussing with his nails.

Fiddle
The Bluegrass fiddler paid $10,000 for his fiddle at the Violin Shop in Nashville. The Celtic fiddler inherited his fiddle from his mothers 2nd cousin in County Clare. The Old Time fiddler got theirs for $15 at a yard sale. Celtic and Bluegrass fiddles are tuned GDAE. An Old Time fiddle can be in a hundred different tunings. Old Time fiddlers seldom use more than two fingers of their left hand, and use tunings that maximize the number of open strings played. Celtic and Bluegrass fiddlers study 7th position fingering patterns with Isaac Stern, and take pride in never playing an open string. An Old Time fiddle player can make dogs howl & incapacitate people suffering from sciatic nerve damage. An Old Time fiddle player only uses 1/8 of his bow. The rest is just there for show.

Guitar
An Old Time guitarist knows the major chords in G and C, and owns a capo for A and D. A Bluegrass guitarist can play in E-flat without a capo. The fanciest chord an Old Time guitarist needs is an A to insert between the G and the D7 chord. A Bluegrass or Celtic guitarist needs to know C#aug+7-4. A Celtic guitarist keeps his picks in his pocket. Old Time guitarists stash extra picks under a rubber band around the top of the peg head. Bluegrass guitarists would never cover any part of the peg head that might obscure the gilded label of their $3,000 guitar.

Mandolin
It’s possible to have an Old Time or Celtic band without a mandolin. However, it is impossible to have a true Bluegrass band without one. Mandolin players spend half their time tuning their mandolin and the other half of their time playing their mandolin out of tune. Old Time and Celtic mandolin players use ”A’ model instruments (pear-shaped) by obscure makers. Bluegrass mandolin players use “F’ model Gibsons that cost $100 per decibel.

Bass
A Celtic band never has a bass, while a Bluegrass band always has a bass. An old, Old Time band doesn’t have a bass, but new time Old Time bands seem to need one for reasons that are unclear. A Bluegrass bass starts playing with the band on the first note. An Old Time bass, if present, starts sometime after the rest of the band has run through the tune once depending on the player’s blood alcohol content. A Bluegrass bass is polished and shiny. An Old Time bass is often used as yard furniture.

Other Instruments
It is not possible to have a Celtic band without a tin whistle or Bodhran(hand drum) if not several, usually too many of each. Old Time and Bluegrass bands never have either. A Bluegrass band might have a Dobro. An Old Time band might have anything that makes noise including: a tambourine, jaw harp, didgeridoo, harmonica, conga, wash tub bass, miscellaneous rattles &shakers, a 1-gallon jug (empty), or a lap (mountain) dulcimer or a hammered dulcimer. In a Celtic band, it’s the musicians that are hammered.

Instrumentation
Except for the guitar, all the instruments in a Celtic band play the melody all the time. In an Old Time band, anyone can play either melody or accompaniment at any time. In Bluegrass bands, one instrument at a time solos, and every else plays accompaniment. Bluegrass bands have carefully mapped-out choreography due to the need for solo breaks. If Old Time and Celtic band members move around, they tend to run into each other. Because of this problem (and whiskey) Old Time and Celtic often sit down when performing, while a Bluegrass band always stands. Because they’re sitting, Old Time and Celtic bands have the stamina to play the same tune for 20 minutes for a square or contra dance. The audience claps after each Bluegrass solo break. If anyone talks or claps near an Old Time or Celtic band, it confuses them, even after the tune is over.
Personalities and Stage Presence

Bluegrass band members wear uniforms, such as blue polyester suits with gray Stetson hats. Old Time bands wear jeans, sandals, work shirts and caps from seed companies. Celtic bands wear tour tee-shirts with plaid touring caps. All this head wear covers bald spots. Women in Bluegrass bands have big hair and Kevlar undergarments. Women in Old Time bands jiggle nicely under their overalls. There are no Women in Celtic bands, only Lassies with long skirts and lacy, high collars and Wenches in apple-dumplings-on-a-shelf bodices and leather mini-skirts. A Bluegrass band tells terrible jokes while tuning. An Old Time band tells terrible jokes without bothering to tune. Bluegrass band members never smile. Old Time band members will smile if you give them a drink. A Celtic band is too busy drinking to smile, tune or tell jokes. Celtic musicians eat fish and chips, Bluegrass musicians eat barbecue ribs, and Old Time musicians eat tofu and miso soup. Bluegrass musicians have mild high frequency hearing loss from standing near the banjo player. Old Time musicians have moderate high frequency hearing loss from sitting near the fiddler. Celtic musicians have advanced hearing loss from playing in small pubs with all those fiddles, banjos, tin whistles and bodhrans.

Festivals and Transportation
A Celtic band travels in an actual Greyhound bus with marginal air conditioning and then catches a ride from the bus stop to the festival any way they can. A Bluegrass band travels in an old converted Greyhound bus that idles in the parking lot all weekend with the air conditioner running full blast, fumigating the county with diesel exhaust. An Old Time band travels in a rusted-out 1965 VW microbus that blows an engine in North Nowhere, Nebraska. They don’t have an Easy-Up, and it’s pretty evident that their vehicles don’t have air conditioning. Bluegrass players stay on the bus and Celtic musicians stay at the nearest Motel 6, while Old Time musicians camp in the parking lot. The Celtic Band has their name on their instrument cases and a banner for their Easy- Up. The bluegrass band’s name and Inspirational Statement are painted on both the side and front of the bus in script lettering. Bluegrass bumper stickers are in red, white and blue and have stars and/or stripes on them. Celtic bumper stickers display fancy knotwork borders, banners, and slogans from the old country. Old Time bumper stickers don’t make any sense (e.g. “Gid is My Co-Pilot’ )

SOURCES
The National Folk Festival of Australia
www.education.folkfestival.org.au

Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association
www.hvbluegrass.org

Pete’s Place
www.bluegrasswest.com

Peter Feldmann
www.bluegrasswest.com/author

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fiddler On The Slopes


by ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS

Violinist-turned-Olympian Vanessa-Mae checks out her fellow skiers in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 10.

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Classical music has managed to take center stage at sports events in the last few weeks. Soprano Renée Fleming sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl two weekends ago. And the Russian-born Anna Netrebko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, appeared at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony to perform the Olympic Anthem.

However, no one asked either of those opera stars to perform athletic feats. Leave those to 35-year-old British violinist Vanessa-Mae, who is scheduled to ski for Thailand in the women's giant slalom Tuesday, Feb. 18.

First marketed as a child prodigy in the late 1980s, Vanessa-Mae later found huge success as a crossover musician with an overtly sexy image. In 2006, London's Sunday Times put her at the very top of its list of the U.K.'s wealthiest young entertainers. Her fortune, then estimated at £32 million, beat out the likes of Coldplay's Chris Martin and actors Orlando Bloom and Daniel Radcliffe.

Yet Vanessa-Mae has long dreamed of a second life as an Olympic alpine skier. And she's found an interesting way to fulfill that desire.

In the latest international rankings for women's giant slalom, Vanessa-Mae comes in only at No. 2,253. "I am British, but realistically there is no way I could represent my own country," the violinist told The Telegraph in 2010. "But because my natural father is Thai, they have accepted me."

Now racing under the name Vanessa Vanakorn, she was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother and a Thai father. She was raised in England by her mother and her British stepfather, Gavin Nicholson, whom her mother later divorced.

According to her official Olympics bio, Vanessa-Mae has been looking for a way to realize her Winter Games aspirations for more than a decade. A previous attempt to ski for Thailand at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City was deflated when the Thai government asked her to forgo her British citizenship.

However, the Thai authorities were eventually placated, and in January 2013, the violinist announced she would be taking a hiatus from her music career to train more seriously in the Swiss ski town of Zermatt, where she moved in 2009.

Qualifying this time around did not come easily, though. Vanessa-Mae only met the Olympic criteria — "by a whisker," according to her manager — after racing in Slovenia last month in a last-ditch bid for eligibility in Sochi.

As she told Reuters at the time she took her hiatus last year, "I have no delusions about a podium or even being in the top 100 in the world ... Just to qualify for the Olympics in my hobby would be a dream come true for me." She is one of two athletes representing Thailand in Sochi; the other, Kanes Sucharitakul, will be in the men's slalom and giant slalom competitions.

Vanessa-Mae's press over the last couple of years hasn't been all sunshine and roses. In October 2011, she was one of the entertainers castigated by international human rights organizations for performing, reportedly for $500,000, at Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's 35th birthday bash, along with actress Hilary Swank, action star Jean-Claude Van Damme and singer Seal. (The Chechen strongman has been accused of kidnapping and torturing his political opponents as well as carrying out extrajudicial executions.) Unlike Swank, who famously apologized and said she donated her fee for appearing at the same event to charity, Seal remained defiant and Vanessa-Mae never publicly responded to the outcry.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Your Brain on Practice

by Jenna Bauer

In order to attain a high level of mastery on the violin, it is crucial to understand the mechanics of our brains, as many great pedagogues have demonstrated. With this in mind, I wasn’t surprised when I uncovered a commonality between Ivan Galamian’s Principles of Violin Playing & Teaching and neuroscientist David Eagleman’s latest book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.
Both texts bring out an explicit fact: the brain is jam-packed with antics and we are completely unaware that we are the subject of its pranks. Why is it that when you hear a recording of your own voice, or the “voice” you’ve developed through the violin, you’re taken aback that the sound is not what you expected...or wanted?

Galamian coins this as subjective listening. You believe you are hearing the sound correctly, but your desires and expectations mask the actual sound being produced. Our brains persistently conceal the reality of our interactions with the world to make everything more rewarding. While this may help combat self-hate, for a violinist it can be incredibly detrimental. The squishy organ in your head will gladly tell you that you’re in tune and in time even when you’re not. Eagleman illustrates this phenomenon in hearing, sight and time perception.

So how can you possibly defeat something so innate? Well the good news is, as Galamian writes, you can train your brain to hear more objectively. This is why violin teachers have always stressed the importance of using a tuner and a metronome in daily practice. Recording yourself regularly and singing are also effective ways to catch mental mishaps. But these devices alone will not save you from the toils of your brain.

There are three key areas Galamian points to, which need to be addressed every time you practice: building time (technicality), interpreting time (musicality) and performance time (complete run through of a work). But this is just the start. How can you use your brain most effectively during these stages of practice?

If your unconscious is allowed to take the reigns during building and interpreting time, then your conscious (the area you converse with regularly) becomes free to wander to beaches and meadows. Typically musicians refer to this as auto-pilot mode. In this instance, your mistakes go unnoticed and your practice becomes futile; the music becomes stored in the unconscious area of your brain, as is.

By this point you must be wondering: do great soloists tune out their conscious mind when they perform? Eagleman makes the point that in athletics, fastball hitters and world cup tennis players don’t have time to consciously think about the moves they make. All of their motions and reactions have been stored in the unconscious during practice time. When it’s game time their conscious awareness is better left on the sidelines. Similarly, the pro golfer is at a disadvantage if he becomes overly analytical: the unconscious area of his brain has stored the information necessary to execute the perfect swing, leaving his conscious clueless as to how he actually does it. What this tells me is that once you decide to run the piece all the way through (performance time) you should relax and allow your unconscious to take control (after all, you trust it to get you home from work everyday!). At this point there is no need for your conscious to be making corrections.

With repeated scrutiny, your conscious awareness will learn to listen objectively and overcome the urge to relay false information to the unconscious storage systems that make up the majority of your brain. By making performance time an integral part of your daily practice routine, you can train yourself to tune out the conscious babble when need be, in order to convey the music with finesse. Remember, the first step to improving your brain (and ultimately, your practice) is acknowledging its shortcomings.

Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss set for Spring/Summer Tour


published by BMNN

Beginning this spring, Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas will tour 35 cities with Willie Nelson and Family. The opening dates of the three-month tour will feature Kacey Musgraves when the tour begins in Murray, Kentucky at the CFSB Center on May 1, 2014. All Grammy Award Winning artists performing in this collaboration tour will certainly provide an over-the-top outstanding concert event..

The tour will mark the first time that Willie Nelson and Family & Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas have shared the stage together. The two groups’ unique personalities combined with impeccable musicianship and decades of award-winning songs are sure to create a show full of unforgettable moments.

Joining them for separate portions of the tour will be folk trio The Devil Makes Three, two-time Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves, and celebrated songwriter Jason Isbell.

With a six-decade career and 200 plus albums, Willie Nelson is the creative genius behind the historic recordings of “Crazy”, “Red Headed Stranger” and “Stardust.” He has earned every conceivable award as a musician and amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor and activist. Heroes, his 2012 release and first album for Legacy Recordings, spent five weeks at #1 on the Americana Radio Chart. His book, Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die, landed in the Top 10 on The New York Times' best-seller list. In 2013, Willie's albums included April's Let's Face The Music And Dance, an album of deep pop country repertoire classics performed with transformative patented ease by Nelson and Family, his long-time touring and recording ensemble; and October's To All The Girls… which features 18 duets with music's top female singers including Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, and Shelby Lynne.

Alison Krauss is a virtuoso who effortlessly bridges the gap between roots music and country, rock and pop. Since signing with Rounder Records at the age of 14, Krauss has sold over 12 million albums and won 27 Grammy Awards, the most for any female and the second most of any recording artist in Grammy history. Paper Airplane is the latest masterpiece in Krauss’ illustrious career. Recorded in partnership with her remarkably skillful and renowned band, Union Station, the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country, Bluegrass and Folk Album Charts upon its release.

Union Station – Jerry Douglas (dobro, lap steel, vocals), Dan Tyminski (guitar, mandolin, lead vocal), Ron Block (banjo, guitar) and Barry Bales (bass, vocals), with Krauss on lead vocal and fiddle – are five distinct personalities who come together to form something truly unique as a band. Each bandmate has his own bustling career, but when these singular musicians come together, they’re an airtight unit devoted to the process of making music together. Indeed, their connection is so close and deep that they’ve come to think of each other as family.

Joining them for separate portions of the tour will be folk trio The Devil Makes Three, two-time Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves, and celebrated songwriter Jason Isbell.

The Devil Makes Three’s travels and travails serve as inspiration for their fourth album and their New West Records debut, I’m a Stranger Here, produced by Buddy Miller and recorded at Dan Auerbach’s (Black Keys) Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville. With a slightly punky perspective on vintage American blues, The Devil Makes Three is a breath of fresh musical air. Laced with elements of ragtime, country, folk and rockabilly, the critically praised trio brings forth a genuine approach to acoustic music that is deeply steeped in rhythm.

Nashville-based singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves released her Mercury Records Nashville debut album Same Trailer Different Park this past spring to massive critical acclaim and recognition. The album, which she co-produced with Shane McAnally and Luke Laird, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart making her the first solo female in five years to open at No. 1 with a rookie release and just seventh in the 22-year Nielson SoundScan era. In addition to being named New Artist of the Year at the 2013 CMA Awards, Kacey is fresh off of winning two Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Album.

An American singer/songwriter from Green Hill, Alabama, Jason Isbell has grown up since he showed up at a party a dozen years ago and left in the Drive-By Truckers' van, ultimately becoming a member of the band. His newest release, Southeastern, produced by David Cobb, is like nothing he has made before. Ranked American Songwriter's # 1 Best Album of 2013, as well as being listed in several other of “Album of the Year” polls, Southeastern is another leap forward in Jason Isbell's seemingly effortless solo career since leaving the Drive By Truckers in 2007.

For full, up-to-date event information, including on sale and ticket info, please visit: www.willienelson.com - www.alisonkrauss.com

2014 TOUR DATES:
May 1 - Murray, KY - CFSB Center/Murray State University*
May 2 - Atlanta, GA - Chastain Park Amphitheatre *
May 3 - Knoxville, TN - Thompson Boling Arena*
May 4 - Cary, NC - Koka Booth Amphitheatre*
May 6 - St. Augustine, FL - St. Augustine Amphitheatre*
May 8 - Daniel Island, SC - Family Circle Cup Stadium*
May 9 - Simpsonville, SC - Charter Amphitheatre*
May 10 - Greensboro, NC - White Oak Amphitheatre*
May 11 - Huntington, WV - Big Sandy Superstar Arena*
May 13 - Roanoke, VA - Roanoke Civic Center*
May 14 - Columbus, OH - Schottenstein Center*
May 16 - Nashville, TN - The Woods at Fontanel*
May 17 - Birmingham, AL - BJCC*
May 18 - Augusta, GA - James Brown Arena*
June 5 - Southaven, MS - Snowden Grove Amphitheater #
June 6 - Louisville, KY - Waterfront Park+
June 7 - Lewiston, NY - Artpark #
June 8 - Bethel, NY - Bethel Woods Center For the Arts #
June 10 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall #
June 13 - Philadelphia, PA - Mann Center #
June 14 - Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion
June 15 - Simsbury, CT - Simsbury Meadows #
June 17 - Boston, MA - Blue Hills Bank Pavilion #
June 19 - Bangor, ME - Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion #
June 20 - Gilford, NH - Bank of NH Pavillion at Meadowbrook #
June 21 - Canandaigua, NY - CMAC Performing Arts Center #
July 6 - Kansas City, MO - Starlight Theatre ~
July 7 - Rogers, AR - Arkansas Music Pavilion ~
July 9 - Oklahoma City, OK - Zoo Amphitheatre ~
July 11 - Council Bluffs, IA - Harrah’s Stir Cove~
July 12 - Chicago, IL - Ravinia Festival~
July 13 - Detroit, MI - Freedom Hill~
July 15 - Rama, ON - Casino Rama
July 17 - Interlochen, MI - Kresge Auditorium~
July 18 - Toledo, OH - Toledo Zoo

*The Devil Makes Three
# Kacey Musgraves
~ Jason Isbell -
+ The Wild Feathers
All dates are subject to change.

Tags: Alison Krauss & Union StationWillie NelsonTourEvent

Several Concerts coming up with the South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra

Sunday, May 6, 2018 - RIVER ROLL & STROLL - South Hadley/Holyoke between 11am-3pm Sunday, July 29, 2018 - PORTER PHELPS MUSEUM - ...