GRATEFUL BALL THE TRAVELIN McCOURYS & JEFF AUSTIN BAND
January 25 @ 8:00 pm
Tickets: $25.00 Advance/$30.00 Day Of Show
Tickets on sale Monday, November 5th.
THE TRAVELIN McCOURYS & JEFF AUSTIN BAND
Playing one set each and one set of Grateful Dead Tunes.
Tickets: $25.00 Advance/$30.00 Day Of Show
From a source deep, abundant, and pure the river flows. It’s there on the map, marking place and time. Yet, the river changes as it remains a constant, carving away at the edges, making new pathways, gaining strength as it progresses forward. The Travelin’ McCourys are that river.
The McCoury brothers- Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo) – were born into the bluegrass tradition. Talk about a source abundant and pure: their father, Del, is among the most influential and successful musicians in the history of the genre. Years on the road with Dad in the Del McCoury Band honed their knife-edge chops, and encouraged the duo to imagine how traditional bluegrass could cut innovative pathways into 21st century music.
“If you put your mind, your skills, and your ability to it, I think you can make just about anything work on bluegrass instruments,” says Ronnie. “That’s a really fun part of this- figuring the new stuff out and surprising the audience.”
With fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram, and latest recruit Cody Kilby on guitar, they assembled a group that could take what they had in their DNA, take what traditions they learned and heard, and push the music forward. In fact, the band became the only group to have each of its members recognized with an International Bluegrass Music Association Award for their instrument at least once. There were peers, too, that could see bluegrass as both historic and progressive. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Allman Brothers Band, improv-rock kings Phish, and jamband contemporary Keller Williams were just a few that formed a mutual admiration society with the ensemble.
The band played the Allman’s Wanee Festival, and guitarist Warren Haynes’ Christmas jam – an annual holiday homecoming of Southern music. An early-years jam with the Lee Boys was hailed by many as the highlight of the evening, and with the video catching fire online, earned a legion of new, young fans of their supercharged combination of sacred steel, R&B, and bluegrass. There were unforgettable collaborations with country smash Dierks Bentley, and onstage magic, jamming with titans String Cheese Incident and Phish, cutting an album with Keller (Pick), and creating the Grateful Ball- a tribute concert-turned-tour bridging bluegrass with the iconic music of the Grateful Dead.
“That’s something that’s part of us being who we are,” says Ronnie. “It comes, too, with us plugging in. It gets louder, for sure. We can’t be another version of our dad’s band. It wouldn’t make any sense for us to do that.”
Their concerts became can’t-miss events, whether headlining historic venues or as festival favorites, drawing the love and respect of a growing fanbase craving their eclectic repertoire. At the 2016 edition of DelFest, an annual gathering of the genre’s best aptly named for the McCoury patriarch, the band delivered the take-away highlight. Rolling Stone called it “a sublime combination of rock and bluegrass, contemporary and classic, old and young. The best set of the festival…” The river was going new places, getting stronger. It was time to re-draw the map.
“We’ve tried to pick songs we think people are going to enjoy,” says Ronnie. “Something we learned from our dad is that a good song is a good song. It can be done in any way.”
So arrives the long-awaited, self-titled debut album from the quintet. A brilliantly executed set overflowing with inventive style, stellar musicianship, and, of course, plenty of burnin’ grass, the 14-song collection is a true culmination of their decades-long journey. From the headwaters of Bill Monroe and the waves of Jerry Garcia to a sound both rooted and revolutionary, soulful and transcending that belongs only to the Travelin’ McCourys.
“The album definitely shows what we’ve evolved into as a band. And, it’s a pretty good representation of what’s happening with the whole genre,” says Rob. “The old bluegrass material is something I love but it’s been done many times. We’re forging ahead with our own sound. That’s what you have to do to make it all work.”
When I’m writing a song, it’s not about the hot licks, it’s about the voice and how it can be showcased from song to song,” says musician Jeff Austin. His focus is on transporting his audience by way of his vocal: “It’s the direct communication with the crowd — not just asking them how they’re feeling, but bringing something out of them.” For Austin, the act of speaking to people through his art really means using his voice.
The career of the Colorado-based artist has already seen him break through jam and bluegrass scenes, play stages from The Fillmore Auditorium to Red Rocks Amphitheater, and outdoor events like Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, among many others. But with the launch of his solo career in 2014, Austin is now building on the foundations of previous ventures while honing his own sound and charting new courses.
“I’ve learned a lot from the people I’ve played with,” says Austin who has shared stages with such luminaries as Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Earle Scruggs, Jon Fishman, and Phil Lesh. And it’s artists such as these who have helped crystalize Austin’s idea of what he wants to do as he moves forward with his eponymous project. “From both the rock side and the bluegrass side,” he explains, “I’ve learned a lot about song structure, solo ideas, playing with guts, and being who you are.”
Although he considers the Jeff Austin Band his primary focus, the mandolinist and singer is also known for embracing collaborations. In 2004, he released a full-length album with Chris Castino (The Big Wu) that featured guest appearances by Noam Pikelny, Darol Anger, and Sally Van Meter. Just two short years later in 2006, Austin teamed with Keller Williams and Keith Moseley to record a live album of bluegrass takes on Grateful Dead covers. The project, released under the name Grateful Grass, benefited the Rex Foundation. And most recently, Austin revived 30db – his project with Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee.
In truth, Austin only began playing the mandolin a few years before co-founding progressive bluegrass outfit Yonder Mountain String Band, a group with whom he parted ways in 2014. And, picking prowess aside, Austin has always considered his voice to be his first instrument. He was drawn to singing from a young age, pursuing musical theater in high school and college. That passion is still evident in his approach to song craft.
Austin draws from those varied roots and readily admits to still loving musicals, being fascinated by Madrigal singers, and tuning-in to a wide range of vocal powerhouses. He channels all of these influences into his solo career, while also seeking personal innovation. For his newest project, Austin sought out musicians on the cutting-edge of the acoustic and jazz music circles. Artists proficient in theory and technique, but not afraid to lend themselves to some “far-out arrangements.” The result is some of Austin’s most structured, yet exciting, compositions to date with an approach that fits within his own evolving journey and personal motto, “The work continues.”
Although there is a strong undercurrent of momentum and innovation that course through Austin’s newest project, there is also a connection to the past with the bandleader revisiting selections from his back catalog. Offerings include “Dawn’s Early Light,” “Snow in the Pines,” and others dating back to the 1990s. What matters, Austin points out, is that those songs evoke strong emotional responses both from the audience and himself. Played by this new ensemble, those songs feel revitalized and fresh.
When it comes to dynamics and structure, Austin taps the variety of sounds and styles he’s absorbed from theater, jamming, nearly twenty years of performance, and his love of experiencing live music as a fan. It’s that inner concert enthusiast that binds him to his own audience and a powerful exchange between the stage and the crowd. “I hope they take with them exactly what I hope they leave with us,” he says. “And that’s inspiration.”
For more information visit www.jeffaustin.com