Leo Kottke - In the '70s, Leo Kottke set the standard for fast, intricate picking and subsequently influenced a generation of finger-picking guitarists. Combining elements of folk, blues, gospel and country into a genre he called "American Primitive," Kottke solidified his cult status with non-stop touring and a string of successful records in the mid-'70s. After sending his 1969 debut to iconic guitarist John Fahey, Kottke was signed by Fahey's manager. Recordings for Capitol, Chrysalis and later Private followed. In 1983, T-Bone Burnett produced "Time Step" while Lyle Lovett guested on 1991's Great Big Boy and Rickie Lee Jones produced 1993's "Peculiaroso." In 1990, "Ice Fields," Kottke's collaboration with composer Stephen Paulus was premiered by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Kottke has worked with mentor John Fahey, Chet Atkins and Margo Timmins, and toured with jazz guitarist Joe Pass, flamenco guitarist Paco Peña and classical guitarist Pepe Romero. After issuing 2005's "Sixty Six Steps" with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, the duo appeared on "Mountain Stage."
The Duhks - Pronounced "ducks," this group of five young musicians from Winnipeg, Manitoba, have been described as: "contemporary acoustic," "progressive soul-grass" and "kick-ass rock/folk fusion." The confusion is understandable, as the Duhks' high-energy music contains elements appropriated from Irish fiddle tunes, Canadian French and Scots/Maritime folk, and Appalachian Old Time string band. The group quickly attracted the attention of Bela Fleck and Tim O'Brien, who produced their first and second releases respectively. In 2007, the band launced "The Duhks Sustainability Project" (www.greenduhks.com). The band's goal was to "tour on as sustainable a basis as possible" which included fueling its vehicle with Biodiesel and supporting local organic farmers. The Duhks' latest release is titled "Fast Paced World."
Fiction Family - A dozen years after meeting in the parking lot of a surf shop in Carlsbad, CA, Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins and Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman have finally released their self-titled debut on ATO Records under the name of Fiction Family. In addition to co-founding the Grammy award-winning Nickel Creek, Watkins hosts "The Watkins Family Hour"at the Largo in Los Angeles which features guests such as his sister and fellow Nickel Creek bandmate Sara Watkins, Fiona Apple, John C. Reilly, Greg Leisz and Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Foreman is the guitarist and lead singer of the Grammy-nominated rock band Switchfoot which has sold more than 5 million records, and maintains a successful solo career.
Kelleigh McKenzie - Described as "darkly seductive and "eerily minimal," Kelleigh McKenzie plays her blend of folk, blues and old-time with nothing but a banjo and stomp box. After being selected as one of the five co-winners of the "Mountain Stage NewSong Contest" last October, this New York (via Oregon) based singer/songwriter returns to Charleston for her formal "Mountain Stage" debut. McKenzie was also just selected as a finalist in the 8th Independent Music Awards in three categories: Best Americana Album, Best Americana Song - "Gin" and Best Cover Song - "Eleanor Rigby."
The Refugees - Formed in 2007, this powerhouse trio combines the talent and experience of veterans Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland and Wendy Waldman. Bullens got her start touring with Elton John as a back-up singer and has since earned Grammy nominations for her work on various albums, collaborated on a Broadway show, and sang two songs on the "Grease" soundtrack. Holland's career began with the band Animal Logic, a super trio that included Stewart Copeland and Stanley Clarke. Holland has issued a number of solo albums, scored and written songs for film an TV, and become a music professor at California State University of Los Angeles. After debuting with her band Bryndle in the 1970s, Waldman embarked on a successful solo career. Her songs have been covered by Vanessa Williams ("Save the Best for Last") and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ("Fishin' in the Dark"). The Refugees' debut "Unbound" was released in January, 2009.