Tim O'Brien & Bryan Sutton - Very Special Guest Betse Ellis - 2/8
at City Winery Chicago
- 6:00 pm
- 8:00 pm
In Tim O’Brien’s music, things come together. The uncanny intersection of traditional and contemporary elements in his songwriting, his tireless dedication to a vast and still-expanding array of instruments, and his ongoing commitment to place himself in as many unique and challenging musical scenarios as possible has made him a key figure in today’s thriving roots music scene – and well beyond it. O’Brien’s presence – be it as a bandleader, songwriter, mentor, instrumentalist, or vocalist – has been strongly felt not only in his own rich music, but in the many recordings of his songs by such artists as the Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Nickel Creek, Kathy Mattea, the New Grass Revival, and the Seldom Scene, and in his recorded collaborations with Steve Martin, the Chieftains, and innumerable others. Most recently, O’Brien has been performing before capacity crowds in the band of Mark Knopfler, who described O’Brien as “a master of American folk music, Irish music, Scottish music – it doesn't matter; a fine songwriter and one of my favorite singers.”
Bryan Sutton seemed to come out of nowhere as part of Ricky Skaggs' return to bluegrass in 1997. Bluegrass Unlimited's review of Bluegrass Rules! took special note of his "spellbinding solos...[which] establish him as a musician who bears close scrutiny," while an appearance on Tina Adair's Just You Wait And See (Sugar Hill) led another reviewer to call him "a guitarist to be reckoned with." All in all, it was a remarkable welcome for a young musician.
Born near Asheville, NC in 1973, Bryan started playing the guitar at the age of 8. By the time he graduated from high school, he was already immersed not only in bluegrass, but jazz and rock and roll, playing in an array of bands and making his first recordings.
Few artists have come so far so fast - and yet, at the beginning of 1999, Bryan followed his heart and retired from Kentucky Thunder to devote himself to the recording work he finds so fascinating and rewarding. As a leading session guitarist, he continues to appear on numerous recordings, from gospel albums to Rhonda Vincent's Back Home Again to million-sellers like the Dixie Chicks' Fly. His guitar playing anchors Dolly Parton's sensational bluegrass albums, Little Sparrow and The Grass Is Blue (Sugar Hill), and the singer returned the favor by contributing to Bryan's album, Ready To Go. Filling in for the injured Tony Rice with the Bluegrass Sessions gave Bryan continued acclaim as he continually amazed audiences with his distinctive precision guitar leads. In the fall of 2000, Bryan was honored by the International Bluegrass Music Association as "Guitar Player of the Year".
Renowned fiddler, Betse Ellis, founding member of “hillbilly riot” band, The Wilders, strikes out on her own. Adept at the difficult technique of singing while playing the fiddle, her on-stage sparkle and enthusiasm rouses the crowd. She gathers diverse music and presents it with humor, intensity, and love. Betse connects with her audience performing “old time/new time” material, drawn from traditional American (especially Ozark)fiddle tunes, old songs and spirituals, original tunes and songs, and a dose of her “personal oldtime music”, influenced by avant-garde artists like Talking Heads, punk pioneers The Clash, and 19th century art music composer Gabriel-Marie. Two fiddles – one in standard-, one in cross-tuning – and her voice is all Betse needs to entertain, but she also treats with a tenor guitar or with solo singing. Betse embraces the sounds of previous fiddlers, singers, and composers with her unique, engaging style.