Noam Pikelny & Aoife O’Donovan
Presented by WSU Cultural Affairs
Banjo player extraordinaire Noam Pikelny is joined by the lovely voice of American singer and songwriter Aoife O'Donovan
Time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Price: Adults: $20; WSU Students/Kids/Seniors: $15
Special Information: On Sale: August 26 @ 10am.
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About This Person/Group
Banjo player extraordinaire Noam Pikelny is joined by the lovely voice of American singer and songwriter Aoife O'Donovan. Pikelny has emerged as the preeminent banjoist among a new generation of acoustic musicians - notably playing with the Punch Brothers - and hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the "pros' top banjo picker" and awarded the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Blugrass in 2010. O'Donovan is the lead singer for the progressive bluegrass/string band, Crooked Still, and a member of the female folk-noir trio, Sometymes Why.
About Noam Pikelny:
NOAM PIKELNY has emerged as the preeminent banjoist among a new generation of acoustic musicians. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the “pros’ top banjo picker,” Noam is a founding member of Punch Brothers, a string ensemble which The Boston Globe calls “a virtuosic revelation” and The New Yorker describes as “wide- ranging and restlessly imaginative.” In September of 2010, Pikelny was awarded the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. In 2012, Noam’s second album, Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Bluegrass Album. Pikelny has shared the stage with The Decemberists, Marcus Mumford, Béla Fleck, Dave Douglas, Steve Martin, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and members of the Lincoln Center Chamber Orchestra. Noam continues to broaden the awareness of the banjo in the mainstream through his work with Punch Brothers, collaborating with Wilco, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, & Jon Brion for the soundtrack to “This is 40”, a feature song on “The Hunger Games” soundtrack, and a collaboration with Marcus Mumford for the upcoming Coen Brothers’ film, “Inside Llewyn Davis”.
His new release, Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe, is the first complete banjo adaptation of Kenny Baker’s 1976 seminal recording of Bill Monroe instrumentals that is poised to take the bluegrass world by storm. The concept for the album first grew out of the word-play on the original album title, but the more Pikelny explored the idea, the more he realized that it was both musically exciting and challenging. Pikelny delved into the intricacies of Kenny Baker’s fiddle playing and emerged with note for note versions of Baker’s fiddle arrangements for banjo. Joining Pikelny on this tour de force project are the finest instrumentalists in bluegrass: Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Bryan Sutton (guitar), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), and Mike Bub (bass). Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe shows Pikelny at a new pinnacle of maturation as a banjo player and musician, redefining the role of the banjo in his own way with an unprecedented approach to melodic playing and therefore setting a new standard in bluegrass for years to come. - noampikelny.com
About Aoife O'Donovan:
The thing about fossils is that they take a very long time in the making, and it’s not an entirely intentional process. The making of Aoife O’Donovan’s debut album Fossils has hardly been a glacial affair, but it has spent rather more than a decade forming about in her creative subconscious. It was time well spent, for she’s crafted a beautiful, timeless record, the natural evolution of an accomplished singer and songwriter.
The album’s roots stretch back to Aoife’s time at the New England Conservatory, where she dreamed of one day recording an album with celebrated producer Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Tift Merritt). Upon graduation, Aoife (pronounced “ee-fuh”) hit the road as the lead singer and principal songwriter/song-finder of Crooked Still, which grew into one of the world’s most acclaimed progressive string groups over the ensuing decade. The stunning versatility and appeal of her voice brought her to the attention of some of the most eminent names in music and led to collaborations across a wide variety of genres with everyone from Alison Krauss to Dave Douglas, along with a role as vocalist on the Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions alongside Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan.
O’Donovan never forgot the call of that solo record, though, and last year she headed to Portland, OR, to fulfill her dream and record with Martine. Rich in songs and unexpected textures, the resulting album bears the remarkable fruits of their creative partnership. Both joyously open and profoundly private, the album is at all times an opportunity to enjoy O’Donovan’s thoroughly modern and deeply rooted vocals.
The album opens with “Lay My Burden Down,” perhaps O’Donovan’s best-known song simply because Alison Krauss recorded it on Paper Airplane. O’Donovan acknowledges the risk in this choice, and the reward. “One of my uncles loves to say that nobody owns songs, and I think that’s true. My version is so different from hers, and it really sets a nice tone for the record,” she says.
O’Donovan and Martine have carefully placed her songs in a variety of musical settings, from the chorus of horns which opens “Thursday’s Child” to the country-rock of “Fire Engine,” from Charlie Rose’s pedal steel, running throughout Fossils, to the sometimes squalling electric guitar on “Beekeeper.” It is a rooted album, to be sure, but not precisely a roots album.
O’Donovan chuckles a little. “I guess it just feels totally natural,” she says. “It’s how a lot of these songs have just come to life over the years.”
Most of O’Donovan’s songs are character-driven, and many of them resemble portions of the folk traditions in which she was raised. The second track, “Briar Rose,” for example, is based on an Anne Sexton poem, a recontextualized fairytale. Though she will concede that a couple tracks are somewhat more personal.
And that she is quite properly proud of Fossils. “This solo album seems like it was a long time coming to me,” she says, the sounds of an airport in the background. “I’ve been thinking about it since I was 18 years old.”
Time well-spent. Fossils, after all, are among nature’s most durable, lasting creations. - aoifeodonovan.com
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