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Jason Mellard

(b Cottonwood, AZ, June 12, 1952). American country guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Junior Brown is simultaneously one of country music’s most innovative instrumentalists and devoted traditionalists. Born in Arizona and raised in Indiana, Brown counts Ernest Tubb’s television show as his earliest influence, and his musical style reflects that debt. He began performing in roadhouse bands in New Mexico, California, and Texas during the 1960s and 70s before settling for a period at the Hank Thompson School of Country Music in Claremore, Oklahoma. There, Brown not only worked with steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe, but also instructed his longest musical collaborator, future wife Tanya Rae. In the 1980s, Brown moved to Austin, Texas, becoming involved in the scene with which he is most closely associated and playing in the bands Rank and File, Asleep at the Wheel, and Alvin Crow’s Pleasant Valley Boys. In ...

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Ronnie Pugh and Jason Mellard

(b Beauregard Parish, LA, Sept 21, 1912; d Houston, TX, Oct 6, 1996). American country-music guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Raised in Houston and encouraged to pursue a musical career by the western swing pioneer Milton Brown, he played steel guitar with Leon Selph’s Blue Ridge Playboys (...

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Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Lafayette, LA, Feb 14, 1951). American fiddler, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Doucet has become arguably the most widely recognized Cajun musician ever. His formative influences within Cajun and Creole music include acknowledged masters such as Dewey Balfa, Canray Fontenot, and especially Dennis McGee, as well as lesser-known but no less important masters such as Varise Conner, Lionel Leleux, and Hector Duhon. Other influences include the folk rock, country, and swamp pop influences of his youth. Doucet first approached Cajun music in the 1970s in a group called Bayou des Mystères. He then founded a rock-country-Cajun fusion band called Coteau, the first such band to attract the attention of the younger university crowds. After Coteau dissolved, Doucet turned to his long-running band Beausoleil, which was informed by an eclectic collection of influences that reflect the complex history of Cajun music, including traditional, classical, rock, and jazz elements. Beausoleil has played all over the world and recorded more than 30 albums for many labels, including Swallow, Arhoolie, Rounder, Rhino, and Alligator. These albums have garnered 11 Grammy nominations and two wins. Doucet has also recorded albums with other musicians, including Marc and Ann Savoy, Ed Poullard, and his brother David Doucet. He has performed with symphony orchestras and with the Fiddlers Four. Along the way, he has made ingenious use of old material, for example, turning unaccompanied ballads that John and Alan Lomax collected in Louisiana in ...

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Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Anse des Rougeau, near Basile, LA, Oct 16, 1918; d near Welsh, LA, July 29, 1995). American fiddler, vocalist, and songwriter. The son of renowned but unrecorded Creole accordionist Adam Fontenot, he picked up the fiddle to play with his father and his cousin ...

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John-Carlos Perea

(b Gum Springs, Oklahoma Territory, Jan 9, 1904; d Aug 27, 1996). Native American (Comanche) and European American singer, guitarist. Early experiences with music came while participating in cattle drives led by his uncle and later through performances at house parties and other public venues. Over the course of his life Ford worked in a diverse number of trades in addition to music, including cowboy, rodeo rider, Wild West and medicine show performer, and artisan. As a musician he went on to perform throughout the southeastern United States in venues ranging from clubs and rodeos to, later in life, the Louisiana Arts and Folk Festival in ...

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Anthony S. Lis

(b Corsicana, TX, March 31, 1928; d Nashville, TN, July 19, 1975). American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. A fan of Jimmie Rodgers from childhood, he played honky tonks in Waco and Dallas by age 16. In 1945, Frizzell married; while serving a jail-sentence in Roswell, New Mexico, in ...

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Paul Oliver

(b Wadesboro, NC, July 10, 1907; d Durham, NC, Feb 13, 1941). American blues singer and guitarist. He began to lose his sight as a teenager and was completely blind by 1928. He was the outstanding exponent, though not an innovator, of the eastern or Piedmont style of blues. Influenced by Blind Blake, Blind Gary Davis, and Buddy Moss, he formulated an eclectic style, playing fast runs and swinging rag rhythms on guitar (often against cross-rhythms on a washboard) to accompany his gritty singing. Davis played for him on the traditional “Rag Mama Rag” (...

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Jada Watson

(b Seguin, TX, July 6, 1953). American country/folksinger-songwriter. She grew up in a musical home, began playing guitar at a young age, and started writing songs at the age of six. When she was 14 she began performing in honky-tonks. After college Griffith taught kindergarten by day and performed in honky-tonks at night. It was not until ...

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Ajay Kalra

(b Los Angeles, CA, Dec 4, 1944). American country-rock singer, songwriter, bassist, mandolinist, and guitarist. He was a mainstay of Los Angeles–area folk-rock and country-rock music of the 1960s and 1970s and a successful commercial country music artist in the 1980s. Since the early 1980s he has been a purveyor of a seamless hybrid of bluegrass, country duo harmony, Bakersfield honky tonk, and West Coast country rock....

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Alessandro Bratus

(b ?Clarksdale, MS, c15 Jan 1929–30; d Chicago, IL, April 21, 1970). American blues singer and guitarist. He was raised in Chicago after his family settled there in 1930, and from the late 1940s he stood out as one of the city’s most innovative musicians for his virtuoso slide guitar playing and for his mastery of the ...

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Wendy F. Hsu

(b Taipei, Taiwan, Dec 15, 1973). Rock musician and songwriter of Taiwanese birth. Hsu moved to Houston, Texas, with his family in 1989. His brother, Kevin Hsu, was a pop star in Taiwan who signed to Golden Point/BMG. Self-taught in guitar, keyboards, voice, and drums, Hsu formed in ...

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Catherine Wojtanowski

(b Sarajevo, Yugoslavia [now Bosnia and Herzegovina], 1925). American singer and guitarist. Growing up in a Sephardic Jewish community, she learned Balkan folklore as well as traditional songs in the Ladino language with guidance from her grandmother. In 1946 she married a serviceman and immigrated to the United States, where she has become known as the Flame of Sephardic Music because of the strength of her commitment to this unique musical heritage. In addition to transcribing, performing, and teaching traditional Ladino material, Jagoda has composed and arranged new Sephardic songs. She also has performed material drawn from biblical verses, poems, and prayers. She has recorded several albums, which often recall her early experiences, including ...

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Dean Alger

(b New Orleans, LA, Feb 8, 1894; d Toronto, ON, June 16, 1970). American blues and jazz guitarist and singer. Research indicates that Johnson was born in 1894 (Alger). He was influenced by the musical activities of his family and the rich musical environment in New Orleans of the early 1900s, including the early blues, jazz, and the lyrically expressive French and Spanish music traditions. He began playing violin, developed excellent guitar skill, and by the 1920s was also recording on piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonium....

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J.W. Junker

(b Honolulu, Hawaii, March 31, 1953). Hawaiian singer, songwriter, and slack key guitarist. One of Hawaii’s most prolific songwriters, Reverend Dennis Kamakahi is responsible for Hawaiian-language standards such as “Koke‘e” and “Wahine Ilikea” and English songs like “Golden Stallion” and “Maui Mountain Morning.” He composes in a poetic style inspired by earlier masters of the Hawaiian form such as Queen Lili‘uokalani and Sam Li‘a Kalainaina. Traces of country and folk can be heard in the melodies. He is also a warm, evocative singer and a ...

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J.W. Junker

(b Koloa, Kauai, HI, Oct 2, 1925; d Honolulu, HI, Feb 27, 2008). Hawaiian slack key guitarist and singer. Kane was one of the first masters of Hawaiian slack key guitar to give solo concerts, tour extensively, and teach students from around the world. He was an effective ambassador for the style, with simple but deeply emotive material and an extroverted personality....

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Charles K. Wolfe and Michael Ann Williams

(b Point Leavell, KY, July 13, 1895; d Springfield, OH, Sept 23, 1989). American country and folk music performer. Raised in Garrard County, Kentucky, Kincaid absorbed the religious music and ballad traditions of his family. He learned to play on a guitar his father reputedly acquired from trading a dog, and his “hound dawg” guitar became his trademark throughout his career. Kincaid dropped out of school after fifth grade and later resumed his education at Berea College Academy, completing high school at age 26. At Berea, Kincaid began to systematically collect ballads and other forms of traditional music. After graduation, he married his music teacher, a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory. Kincaid relocated to Chicago to attend the YMCA College and there auditioned with a college quartet at WLS, a local radio station. Kincaid, “the Kentucky Mountain Boy,” soon became a hit with his clear tenor and his rendition of traditional ballads such as “Barbara Allen.” By the early 1930s, Kincaid was one of the most popular radio performers nationally, and he augmented his radio salary with songbook sales and live performances. He also he recorded prolifically for Gennett, Brunswick, ARC, Decca, RCA, and others. He worked at radio stations in Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, and Wheeling with his partner ...

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Wendy F. Hsu

(b New York, NY, Oct 9, 1975). American rock songwriter, singer, guitarist, and musician; son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Sean Lennon was born in New York City on his father’s 35th birthday. He attended a boarding school in Switzerland and, briefly, Columbia University. His earliest musical endeavors were associated with his mother Yoko Ono. On ...

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Lisa MacKinney

(b Rochester, NY, June 2, 1959). American singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, poet, and performance artist. Lydia Lunch arrived in New York City as a teenage runaway in 1976, after a childhood of chaos, abuse, and extreme neglect. Motivated by the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, and the incendiary writing of Lester Bangs in ...

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Kate Dunlay

(b Antigonish, NS, Feb 24, 1975). Canadian fiddler, pianist, composer, and singer. During his early years, he was immersed in the Scottish-derived traditional music of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He took up the fiddle (which he plays left-handed) at age eight. MacIsaac studied under Stan Chapman along with sister Lisa, cousin Wendy MacIsaac, and neighbor Natalie MacMaster, all of whom are now well-known fiddlers....

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Dick Spottswood

(b Weaverville, NC, July 20, 1898; d Concord, NC, June 12, 1971). American singer, fiddler, and bandleader. A breakdown fiddler who played in an early country style similar to that of Fiddlin’ John Carson, J.E. and his younger brother Wade formed Mainers’ Mountaineers while both were full-time employees at a cotton mill in Concord, North Carolina. They performed informally until they appeared with the Lay Brothers on WSOC in nearby Gastonia. In ...