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October 11, 2013

Bluegrass greats to play Oneonta Theatre

The Daily Star

---- — A group of bluegrass all-stars will perform at the Oneonta Theatre on Thursday, led by Grammy-nominated banjoist Noam Pikelny.

An Evening With Pikelny, Sutton, Bulla, Bales and Cobb will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, with doors to open at 6 p.m. A media release described the program as “a historic collaboration between five of the most celebrated acoustic instrumentalists and singers of our time,” adding that “These musical friends are gathering in concert to share with audiences a musical experience that customarily only happens behind closed doors, whether backstage at a festival or at a Nashville picking party. With each member being a front man in his own right, the band will present an evening of original and classic bluegrass music.”

Pikenly, banjo player in the acoustic group Punch Brothers, recently delivered the keynote address for the International Bluegrass Music Association World of Bluegrass Conference. The New York Times called his Oct. 1 release, “Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe,” “an absolute boon for him: at once a token of reverence, a feat of translation and a show of dominion.” He received the inaugural Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010, and his solo album “Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail” was nominated for a 2013 Grammy.  

Acoustic guitarist Bryan Sutton entered the bluegrass world in 1995 as a member of Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder band, playing on two Grammy award-winning records. After his tenure with Skaggs, Sutton went on to build a career as a top studio guitarist in Nashville. His playing can be heard alongside artists such as Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift and Harry Connick Jr. Sutton has also released four solo projects and toured with artists such as Béla Fleck and Chris Thile, and as a member of the bluegrass band Hot Rize. Sutton is a six-time winner of the IBMA’s Guitarist of the Year, and received a Grammy in 2007 for “Best Country Instrumental Performance” for his duet recording with Doc Watson.

Born and raised in East Tennessee, Barry Bales has been a member of Alison Krauss + Union Station for the past 23 years in addition to his successful career as a session musician, producer and songwriter. He has worked with artists such as Merle Haggard, the Civil Wars, Dolly Parton, Elvis Costello, the Chieftains, and Shania Twain, and is featured on the soundtrack for the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?.” Bales has received 14 Grammy awards, one Country Music Association award, one Academy of Country Music award, and 11 International Bluegrass Music Association awards, including Bass Player of the Year in 2008.

Luke Bulla began playing fiddle and singing as a child, making his mark on the fiddle contest world with seven wins at the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest. At age 16, he became the youngest person to earn a Grand Champion title. As a young man, he made his mark on the fiddle contest world with seven wins at the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest, where he set a new record as the youngest person to make the top 10 at the Grand Masters. For the last 14 years, Bulla has been working as a session player, songwriter, and live performer with artists such as Ricky Skaggs, John Cowan, Jerry Douglas, and Lyle Lovett. Bulla released his first solo EP in 2012, and he is finishing a recording slated for release in early 2014.

Jesse Cobb is a sought after mandolinist known for his strong rhythmic presence and lyrical leads. Jesse has toured extensively in the US and Europe, taught at major festivals and camps, and as a member of The Infamous Stringdusters, has won awards and accolades from the Bluegrass and Americana communities including a Grammy nomination for the band in 2011. Cobb works as a freelance musician as well as performing as The Cobb Brothers Duo with Shad Cobb.