ft. The O'Connor Band w/The Lonesome Days
Featured Artist #1
The O'Connor Band's very first performance took place at the legendary Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas in 2015. In 2017 - less than a year and a half later - they took home the GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album for their debut recording, Coming Home.
In a whirlwind 18 months, the band has also performed at the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, received standing ovations at the Grand Ole Opry, reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Top Bluegrass Albums chart, and partnered with powerhouse booking agency WME. They have put together a show unlike any other, one that blends country and pop sensibilities with Americana rawness, bluegrass drive, and chamber music sophistication, one that has begun winning over audiences at festivals (AmericanaFest, GreyFox, IBMA, RockyGrass), clubs (Jazz Alley, Dakota Jazz Club), and the world's premier theaters (Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Schermerhorn Symphony Center).
The O'Connor Band is the product of Mark O'Connor's imagination - one that has served him well over the course of his four-decade professional career. A former child prodigy and national champion of the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, Mark has won numerous GRAMMYs and CMA Awards, appeared on hundreds of commercial country albums, collaborated with the likes of Johnny Cash, Wynton Marsalis, Dolly Parton, and Yo-Yo Ma, and performed everything from original violin concertos to swing and jazz.
In addition to Mark, the band features his son Forrest, (Harvard graduate and former Tennessee State Mandolin Champion), daughter-in-law Kate, (frequent performer on the CMA Awards and CMA Country Christmas shows), and wife Maggie (graduate of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University). The four of them play together as though they have been sharing the stage for many years - and in some ways, they have."We all grew up listening to my dad's music," says Forrest, "so in a sense, we've been preparing for this band for a majority of our lives."
The band is rounded out by Joe Smart (national flatpick champion on guitar) and Geoff Saunders (bassist/banjoist extraordinaire and recent graduate of the University of Miami's DMA program).
All six band members possess charisma that, when combined onstage, ensnares audiences from start to finish. All are masters of their instruments, all improvise as readily as they play parts in counterpoint, all can sing, and all move about the stage in a free but gripping choreography. Kate's beautiful and powerful voice belies her age. Forrest's songwriting is at once poetic and accessible. Maggie's violin playing blends effortlessly with her husband's, so much so that, at times, the two sound like one player. Joe rips solos on the acoustic guitar as though he were playing electric. Geoff arcos high as commandingly as he grooves low. And Mark, of course, does things on the fiddle that has Paganini turning in his grave.
If the band's first year was a flash flood, their second will be a calculated, steady rise. After exploring their bluegrass roots, the band is spending much of 2017 honing a sound that coheres even more than before, one that leverages the band's songwriting talent and background in acoustic, country, jazz, and classical music in a way that is geared toward wider audiences yet still true to themselves and their roots. With the help of their new creative mentor, Tony Brown, Forrest and Kate are co-writing with some of Nashville's most adept and insightful songwriters in preparation for the band's sophomore album, which they plan to release in the near future.
Featured Artist #2
The Lonesome Days
From The Lonesome Days' beginning in 2014, the band has evolved into a tight-knit 4 piece ensemble with a common vision to create great original music mixed in with timeless classics. Their authentic song writing and musicianship brings emotion, power and soul to the music that makes it seem familiar, yet fresh and new. From intimate venues to Colorado festivals, they are having a blast playing for audiences all over. The band was awarded 2nd place at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition and are rolling full steam ahead!