Grupo Fantasma - Based in Austin, the 10-piece, Latin-funk band Grupo Fantasma formed in 2000. Comprised of two guitarists, two bass players, three drummers and a three-piece horn section, the group quickly established a reputation for high-energy live shows. Drawing on cumbia and salsa as well as funk and reggae, the band’s released its self-titled debut in 2002. The follow up, “Movimiento Popular,” led to performances with acts like Los Lobos, Barbarito Torres, KRS-One, and Buena Vista Social Club. Following a pair of performances on “Austin City Limits,” the band played Prince’s 3121 Club in Las Vegas. Prince ended up sitting in and tapped the group to back him at shows in London. In 2011, the CD “Existential” won the group a Grammy for “Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album.”
Tracy Nelson - Vocal powerhouse Tracy Nelson possesses one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in the blues and R&B genre. During the late ‘60s, she fronted the group Mother Earth, which added a country flavor to its rock years before it was hip. At the time, Nelson was often compared to Janis Joplin. Now based in Nashville, she has also become known as a songwriter. Her tunes have been covered by Etta James, Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt. After releasing a series of blues discs for Rounder Records and 2007's collection of country covers “You’ll Never Be a Stranger at My Door,” her current release, “Victim of the Blues,” has a poignant story of its own. In 2010, when her 100-year-old farmhouse was in flames, firemen told Nelson they could save one room - she chose the studio where the tapes for her new record were stored. Miraculously, the tapes survived.
The Greencards - In five years, this multi-national bluegrass trio, led by Australians Kym Warner (four-time winner of the Australian National Bluegrass Mandolin Championship) and Carol Young, has racked up serious accolades: The group was voted “Best New Band” at the 2004 Austin Music Awards and nominated for “Best New Emerging Talent” at the 2004 Americana Awards. Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen said of the Greencards’ music, “It’s the best bluegrass I’ve heard in 20 years.” The Greencards won “New/Emerging Artist of the Year” at the 2006 Americana Music Association Awards and “Favorite International Artist” by popular vote in the 2006 HEMI Awards. With two new members, young fiddle phenom Tyler Andal and flatpicking champion Carl Miner, the band has released “The Brick Album,” which features cameos by Sam Bush and Vince Gill.
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings - One of Canada's leading roots rock acts, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings is a collaboration between three well-respected blues, folk and rock musicians: Colin Linden, long one of Canada’s premier blues-rockers who has collaborated with Leon Redbone, Bruce Cockburn and Robert Plant; Vancouver-born, Irish-raised singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing; and Tom Wilson, who led the celebrated blues-rock band Junkhouse before going on to a successful career as a solo artist and songwriter. The three joined forces in 1996 and, under the name of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, released an album of songs written by Canadian singer/songwriter Willie P. Bennett. In 2011, The Rodeo Kings released its seventh release, “Kings and Queens,” in which each of the 14 tracks featured duet vocals from a different female artist, including Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis, Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash, Cassandra Wilson, and Patti Scialfa.
Musikanto - Walking the line between Indie-Blues and Urban Americana, while borrowing elements of Experimental Folk and Broken-down Orchestral music, Michael Musikanto grew up listening to his father's obscure folk & roots records he was taught music through the likes of Fraser and Debolt and Jerry Hahn. With heartbreaking ballads and melodic melodrama, he’s been compared to folks like Leonard Cohen, the back road sense of Leon Russell and the driving tone of Ray Lamontagne or Amos Lee.
For more information, including hi-res jpeg photos, please contact Adam Harris at 304.556.4900.
This episode is scheduled for NPR distribution on October 14, 2011.