I have been LONG remiss to do the blue, new, trad, jam grassy side of pickin.
I got distracted from the youtubes, some local jams, my own music library, 60′s rock faves, and so much more.
Here’s perhaps one of the MOST influential fest artists coast to coast, for two or more decades, that I learnt about in the past decade . . . once and still a founding member of famed bluegrass/newgrass band Hot Rize, Tim O’Brien has gone on to do so much music with so many people and configurations it’s impossible for me to chronicle his work in one post. Yep, he’s that good.
He plays mando, sangs parts, sangs lead, fiddles, plays guitar, all par excellence, as the occasion calls for it.
His own list of home grown songs is huge, and legendary, and is and has been, covered by everyone and their mom.
His works are the legends of camp jams fest to fest across the nation, and are replicated with joy and verve long after the main stages have closed down, to echo thru the pines of every fest.
If you have not heard of Tim O’Brien, it’s because you have never heard of bluegrass, new grass, americana, jam grass, and more.
So lemme help ya with that.
Here’s the original Hot Rize, with deceased major git picker and harmony sanger Charles Sawtelle, Tim O’Brien out front on his own tune, Nick Forrester on bass/harmony and major 5 String master Dr. Peter Wernick.
Not sure when this was, but likely 70′s sometime.
There is something about Tim O’Briens music and sanging, and it’s well evidenced here in how he phrases his lyrics . . . at times he rises up hi to an almost bark like stacatto brisk phrase, n settles back into the song fast . . . Irish, I don’t know . . . range? For sure, but not like one would equate range with a 4 octave range . . . UP, n down fast.
Here’s an example of him with Jerry Douglas of all folks who is sangin harmony and pickin some fine dobro, n the other players listed (click show more) are also national and international heroes.
Look Down That Lonesome Road
Tim O’Brien is famous for telling stories, in all of his songs. He’s a master of the narrative form of song . . . the daily lives of simple folks, the epic events in history’s books.
Here’s one about an Irishman who left home for the sea, only to return home and find his loved one, Colleen Malone, passed away and buried. It’s a camp jam staple at fests and covered by every regional bluegrass band coast to coast. See the vid info for musicians and date of performance (Hot Rize sans Sawtelle). The chorous is grand and long loved by those who cover this tune. Parts sangin, people, parts sanging also called harmony. ;-)
Like I said, Tim O’Brien plays with everybody, and every body plays with Tim O’Brien.
One of the configurations I have loved for a decade or more now (n they did this for a few years before I saw them in ’04) is the Bluegrass Dukes, fronted by Steve Earle, n more about HIM some other time.
But here’s Tim on guitar and vocals and mando, on two songs, from SF’s 2008 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Fest (bless n RIP Warren Hellman) that Steve Earle sangs . . . all part of the Bluegrass Dukes show that Steve Earle fronts. N Tim always shows up, for fiddle, mando, vocals, git, and more. These two songs are back to back in the vid, cuz they tell a story of a generation of a man’s life in the coal mines of Harlan, KY.
I can never not shed tears every time I hear the second song.
There’s more, SO much more from Tim . . . his work with his sister and family, fest shows with everyone and their moms, house concerts where he just shows up and sits in, legendary sets at Rocky Grass in Colorado (Red Rock) with the Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Mark O’Connor house bands and more.
I got one more, it’s a special one for me, one of my all time fave songs and Tim’s version of it.
It’s a Dylan song, n altho a band called Steel String Session cut it a tad better, this version by Tim is made gospel by his voice and mando and nuances . . . Senor.
Ok, one more, Tim on git, solo . . . same song. The words to this song are insane . . . I love them, google up Senor, Bob FDylan, till then, dig Tim O’Brien . . .
Dang, I found another killer version of Senor, Tim out front, Stuart Dunan on fiddle (three decades of hero fiddlin), Byran Sutton who is just a MONSTER on git . . . . and Mike Bub, long time bass man for Del McCoury until a few years ago . . . this is fine.
N that’s why I like Senor, and Tim. End of story.
I hope all y’all get a drift of what Mr. O’Brien has, and has given to us all, in his music. N why, I think so fondly of him, as millions do.
Now go and youtube up some more of Tim O’Brien, and listen to that music, listen to it, it’s fine.
N pick and sang some of this yerself, over and over, till it makes ya happy n smile, like it does, me . . . lord.
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