Saturday, December 9, 2006
Karan CaseyThe Los Angeles Times has called Karan Casey's voice "as pure and clear as the crystal from County Waterford, where she was born." True enough. She grew up singing with her family and with the church choir, then studied voice and piano at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. She emigrated to New York in 1993 and enrolled at Brooklyn's Long Island University as a jazz major, but she soon returned to her roots, joining the celebrated Irish-American band Solas. In 1997, she recorded her first solo CD, Songlines, and she worked on other projects, including Paul Winter's Solstice Celebrations and the PBS documentary (and album) Africans In America. Now making her home in County Cork, Casey recently took some time away from touring following the birth of her second child. On the road again, she played Germany and Holland this fall, and she'll wind up the year with a series of Christmas concerts in Boston. Casey's fourth album, Chasing the Sun (Shanachie), was released last year.
Stuart DuncanIn the Escondido, California, folk club where his father was the sound man, a very young Stuart Duncan was inspired by the music of Vassar Clements, Byron Berline, Dan Hicks and others. At age seven, he took up playing fiddle and now, more than four decades later, he has chalked up quite a career. In addition to being a two-time Grammy Award recipient and winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Fiddle Player of the Year (eight times, to date!), he was a founding member of the acclaimed Nashville Bluegrass Band. Duncan is one of Nashville's most sought-after session musicians, performing with George Jones, Vince Gill, Béla Fleck, Dolly Parton, Barbara Streisand, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, Sting and many more.
Howard Johnson and GravitySince the early 1960s, Howard Johnson has garnered acclaim as tuba soloist extraordinaire. After teaching himself to play baritone saxophone at the age of 13, he learned tuba a year later. He hit New York in 1963 and soon began working with Charles Mingus. In 1966, he started a 20-year off-and-on association with Gil Evans, and over the next four decades, he lent his talents to Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones, Taj Mahal, John Lennon, B.B. King and many others. He also did a five-year stint with NBC's Saturday Night Live. In the late '70s, Johnson formed Gravity, six tubas and a rhythm section. Their CD, Gravity!!!, is on the Verve label. The group is: Howard Johnson (tuba), Randy Andos (tuba), Dave Bargeron (tuba), Bob Stuart (tuba), Velvet Brown (tuba), Joe Daley (tuba), Melissa Slocum (bass), J.T. Lewis (drums), Yayoi Ikawa (keyboard), and Nedra Johnson Howard's daughter on vocals.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).