1-20 of 23 results  for:

  • Musical Concepts, Genres, and Terms x
  • Chordophones (Stringed Instruments) x
  • Composer or Arranger x
Clear all

Article

Ronnie Pugh

revised by Jason Mellard

[Theron Eugene ]

(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 (1934–5), a group that also included Floyd Tillman and Moon Mullican, and the Bar X Cowboys (1936–40). His song “Truck Driver’s Blues” (Decca, 1939), reputedly the first trucking song in country music, became a hit for Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers. In 1940 Daffan formed his own band, the Texans, with whom he recorded several popular songs, including the classic “Born to Lose” (OK, 1943), and published several compositions under the pseudonym Frankie Brown. Amid changes in his band’s lineup, Daffan followed the western swing migration to California in the 1940s before returning to Texas after World War II. In this period Daffan worked with former bandmates Bruner, Mullican, and Tillman to create the style which became known as ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 Amédé Ardoin, another Creole accordionist. His Creole style influenced just about all contemporary Creole fiddlers, such as Ed Poulard and Cedric Watson, as well as many Cajun fiddlers, including Dewey Balfa and Michael Doucet. He eventually joined Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin as the core of first the Duralde Ramblers and later the Ardoin Family Band. In 1964, they were recorded by Ralph Rinzler, who was doing fieldwork for the Newport Folk Festival. They performed at Newport in 1966 and recorded their first album, Les blues du bayou, on the way home. With the Ardoin Family Band, Fontenot took his pre-zydeco Creole music to many parts of the country, becoming a fixture on the folk festival circuit. Fontenot was a virtuoso musician and a gifted composer, with influences ranging from early Creole styles to jazz, swing, country, and blues. He and Ardoin were awarded National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships in ...

Article

Anthony S. Lis

[William] (Orville)

(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 1947, he wrote a number of songs dedicated to his wife, including “I love you a thousand ways.” In April 1950 Frizzell recorded a demo of his song “If you’ve got the money I’ve got the time” at the studio of Dallas promoter Jim Beck; his voice caught the attention of producer Don Law, who signed him to Columbia. In fall 1950 Columbia released “If you’ve got the money I’ve got the time” backed with “I love you a thousand ways;” both sides reached number one on Billboard’s country singles charts. At one point in the early 1950s, Frizzell placed four songs in the top ten of ...

Article

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 1977 that she decided to pursue a career in music. She self-promoted her first two albums at folk festivals and formed her own backing band, the Blue Moon Orchestra. In 1987 she landed a recording contract with MCA Nashville and made her major-label debut with the critically acclaimed album Lone Star State of Mind, charting a single with the title track. The album also featured Julie Gold’s song “From a Distance,” which has become Griffith’s signature tune. After several unsuccessful albums Griffith transferred to MCA’s pop division in 1989 and recorded her first pop-oriented album, ...

Article

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.

Hillman took up the guitar and the mandolin during the urban folk revival. Focusing on the latter, he played traditional bluegrass with the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers (1962–3) and the Golden State Boys, which became The Hillmen (1963–4). In 1964 he joined the Byrds. At first the group’s reticent bassist, he increasingly contributed as songwriter and vocalist to albums starting with the group’s fourth, Younger Than Yesterday (Columbia, 1967). Recruiting local bluegrass and country players, especially guitarist Clarence White, Hillman helped lay the foundations of country rock. With later Byrds recruit Gram Parsons, he firmly established that genre with the Byrds’ ...

Article

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 2001 the alternative rock band Johnny Hi-Fi, which has toured extensively in the United States and Asia. As a songwriter Hsu writes songs in both English and Mandarin Chinese. He has collaborated with Taiwanese recording artists and producers and has had success overseas. His song titled “Don’t Go,” performed by Richie Ren, reached the top 10 pop music chart in Taiwan. Hsu also has toured with Taiwanese rock musician Chang Chen-Yue on his US tour in 2004.

In 2004 Hsu began organizing the Asian Rock Fest in recognition of Asian American Heritage Month in May. An annual festival series, Asian Rock Fest has brought together Asian American artists and showcased rock music talent including Eyes Like Knives, Kite Operations, Carol Bui, Burning Tree Project, Festizio, Vudoo Soul, Jack Tung, and Johnny Hi-Fi. The first Asian Rock Fest took place at The Pianos in New York. The festival continued to feature Asian American musicians after Hsu’s relocation to the west coast in ...

Article

J.W. Junker

(David Kahekilimamaoikalanikeha )

(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 ki ho‘alu (slack key guitar) master.

Kamakahi was raised in Honolulu, though his family has close ties to the island of Moloka‘i. He first learned slack key from his grandfather at age ten but cites popular artists such as Gabby Pahinui and others as main influences. During high school at Kamehameha Schools, Kamakahi formed a trio with Aaron Mahi and Kalena Silva. They received valuable mentoring from older artists such as Kahauanu Lake and The Sons of Hawaii. In ...

Article

Wendy F. Hsu

(Taro Ono )

(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 Season of Glass, he recited a story that his father used to tell him. He also collaborated with his mother on the albums It’s Alright (I See Rainbows) and Starpeace. In 1995, with Sam Koppelman and Timo Ellis, Sean Lennon formed his own band called IMA (Japanese for “now”). Fusing influences from contemporary indie rock music and New York City’s downtown experimental music scene, IMA performed with Yoko Ono and recorded for her 1995 album Rising. In 1996, Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori of the New York-based electro hip-hop group Cibo Matto invited Lennon to play bass with the group on a tour. Subsequently Lennon recorded for Cibo Matto’s second album ...

Article

Lisa MacKinney

[Koch, Lydia Anne ]

(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 Creem magazine, Lunch formed Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in 1977. The group (which briefly included James Chance) released only a handful of singles and EPs before breaking up in 1979, but Lunch had established herself as an uncompromising purveyor of a brutal, confronting, violently sexual, and bleak artistic vision. She is considered to be a founder of No Wave, an abrasive, untutored form of noise-based punk music that was often politically charged and musically experimental. No wave often involved conventional instruments (guitar, bass, electronic keyboards) used as extreme noise-making devices to create discomforting, visceral sounds—Lunch regularly used electric guitar with a slide in this manner to piercing, abrasive effect. Lunch released her first solo album, ...

Article

Kate Dunlay

(Dwayne )

(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.

In 1992 the teenaged MacIsaac released his first album, Close to the Floor. That same year he was invited to New York by theater director JoAnne Akalaitis to play in one of her husband Philip Glass’ works. Through this connection, MacIsaac eventually met and worked with Paul Simon and his wife Edie Brickell, as well as David Byrne. Over the years Glass has involved MacIsaac in other projects, such as Orion (recorded 2005).

The release of the innovative album HiHow Are You Today...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Eunice, LA, Jan 26, 1893; d Eunice, LA, Oct 3, 1989). American fiddler, vocalist, and songwriter. When Cajun music was first recorded commercially in 1928, Dennis and his brother-in-law Sady Courville were already firmly established musicians in their community. Their first recordings, including “Ma chère bébé créole,” in 1928, were among the earliest of Cajun music. Dennis McGee was profoundly influenced by the black Creole accordion player and singer, Amédé Ardoin, with whom he played regularly for both black and white dances. McGee recorded old-time Cajun fiddle music with Sady Courville and with Ernest Frugé into the thirties, though, like most traditional Cajun musicians, he developed a trade to support his family—he became a barber. Dennis was the last bearer of his venerable tradition, a keeper of tunes that reached back into the 19th century and beyond. Because of his longevity, he influenced several generations of the fiddlers who have been active in Cajun music, including Dewey Balfa, Michael Doucet, David Greely, Kevin Wimmer, Mitchell Reed, and Chris Segura. He shared his knowledge of the old days and his talent at festivals and traditional music workshops across America and Canada, as well as at his home in Eunice. As a participant in Dewey Balfa’s Folk Music in the Schools project, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, McGee developed a new role as teacher, bringing his venerable tradition into elementary school, high school, and university classrooms throughout his native South Louisiana. He was featured in a number of documentaries, including André Gladu’s ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Erath, LA, April 14, 1932). Cajun guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He first began performing with Elias Badeaux and the Louisiana Aces as the band’s guitarist and English-language vocalist, covering songs by country artists such as Hank Williams and Ernest Tubbs. When the band’s French singer missed a job, Menard took over. He also began composing lyrics and melodies for the band’s recording sessions, including his iconic song, “La porte d’en arrière,” as well as bevy of local hits such as “Je peux t’oublier,” “Batchelor’s Life,” “She Didn’t Know I Was Married,” “En bas du chêne vert,” and “C’est pas la pluie qu’après tomber.” Since the break up of the original Louisiana Aces, D.L. has preserved the name to use with the various groups that he has played with through the years. He performed with Marc Savoy at the legendary Veillée des Veillées concert in Montreal in the early 1970s, the concert that brought North American French folksong traditions together for the first time. He became a regular performer on the folk festival circuit, including the National Folk Festival. He also performed on two State-Department-sponsored tours, one of nine Central and South American countries with Marc Savoy and Lionel Leleux, and one of eight Asian and Near Eastern countries with Ally Young and Doc Guidry. In ...

Article

Olivia Carter Mather

[Alvis Edgar ]

(b Sherman, TX, Aug 12, 1929; d Bakersfield, CA, March 25, 2006). American country musician and businessman. He is widely considered the central figure of the Bakersfield sound, and his dominance of the country charts in the 1960s challenged Nashville’s hegemony and bolstered the West Coast country scene in Bakersfield and Los Angeles. During the 1950s he worked as a guitarist and session player for several Bakersfield artists before signing with Capitol Records in 1957. In 1963 he began a streak of 14 consecutive number-one country hits with “Act Naturally,” which was later covered by the Beatles. Other hits included “Together Again” (1964), “I’ve got a tiger by the tail” (1965), and a cover of “Johnny B. Goode” (1969).

Owens’s songs eschewed themes of hard living and rambling for a portrayal of the male subject as a lonely victim of romance. With his backing band, the Buckaroos, he developed a bright, driving sound which he described as a freight train feel: heavy bass and drums accompanying two Fender Telecaster electric guitars played by Owens and the guitarist Don Rich. The twangy Telecaster sound and high, close harmony of Owens and Rich characterized many of his recordings. The Buckaroos both toured and recorded with Owens, a contrast to country norms. Owens thus established an alternative to the popular “countrypolitan” sound produced in Nashville (he also never joined the “Grand Ole Opry”); in doing so he inspired such country-rock musicians as Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He also marketed himself as a hard-country artist free of pop influence; in ...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

(b nr West Monroe, LA, Aug 8, 1921; d Nashville, TN, Feb 24, 1991). American country-music singer, guitarist, songwriter, and publisher. He performed as a guitarist on radio station KMLB (Monroe, LA) before 1950, when he joined the “Louisiana hayride ” on KWKH (Shreveport, LA). Recording contracts with the local Pacemaker label (c1950), Four-Star, and Decca (1951) allowed him to resign his part-time job as a clerk at Sears, Roebuck and concentrate on music. After his initial hit, “Wondering” (1952), he gained national attention with “Back Street Affair” (1952), one of the first country songs to deal forthrightly with adultery. An equally important landmark was “There stands the glass” (1953), a classic drinking song and the first country hit to use the pedal steel guitar, played by Bud Isaacs. It became the favorite backup instrument in country music for the next two decades, and Pierce was the first of many country singers whose slurs, octave jumps, and use of dynamics complemented its sound. During his peak years (...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

revised by Linda J. Daniel

(b Peach, TX, Jan 12, 1926). American country music singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was born in a small Texas community where his family farmed cotton and vegetables. Later they moved to Dallas. His mother eventually remarried, Price spending the school year in the city and summers working on the farm with his father. His opera-loving stepfather encouraged him to study classical voice which he did for six years during his early teens. While in college, he began to sing at Roy’s House Café in Dallas. Price made his first record for Bullet at Jim Beck’s Dallas studio in 1950 and appeared regularly on the Big D Jamboree. Troy Martin of Peer Southern was instrumental in Price being signed to Columbia Records by Don Law in March 1951. That fall he met Hank Williams who became a good friend and invited Price to make his Grand Ole Opry debut. After Williams’s death on New Year’s Day, ...

Article

Rich Kienzle

[Hubbard, Jerry Reed ]

(b Atlanta, GA, March 20, 1937; d Nashville, TN, Sept 1, 2008). American guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and actor. He grew up in a family split by divorce and poverty. At age seven he gravitated to guitar and became enamored of the fingerstyle playing of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. As a teenager, he played country music in the Atlanta area and took the professional name Jerry Reed after signing with Capitol Records in 1954. His records did not sell many copies, but Capitol rockabilly star Gene Vincent made Reed’s composition “Crazy Legs” a staple of his repertoire. In the early 1960s, though Reed’s recordings failed to sell, stars including Brenda Lee and Porter Wagoner began recording his songs. By then, he was a Nashville session guitarist. He developed a new and unorthodox approach to Travis-Atkins fingerstyle playing involving the use of the right-hand thumb and all four fingers. Chet Atkins began recording Reed instrumentals and later adapted aspects of Reed’s unique style to his own playing. In ...

Article

Richard D. Driver

(b Dearborn, MI, May 6, 1945). American rock singer-songwriter, and guitarist. Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and James Brown were early inspirations for Seger, whose material has been defined by working-class themes sung in a shouting style. In the early 1960s Seger led or performed in various Detroit-area groups, and recorded sporadically. He enjoyed a local hit in 1966 with his version of the Underdogs’ “East Side Story,” and more hits followed on the local charts. Seger found a loyal following in the Midwest, but national success eluded him until the single “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” entered the national charts in 1969.

After briefly returning to college, Seger started performing again. In 1973 he founded his own backing band, the Silver Bullet Band, a revolving set of Detroit-area musicians with whom he recorded Beautiful Loser and the live album Live Bullet. Released in 1976, Live Bullet stayed on the national charts for three years, and went quadruple platinum. His next album, ...

Article

Joti Rockwell

(b Oceanside, CA, Feb 20, 1981). American mandolinist and singer. Learning bluegrass mandolin as a child in Southern California, he began his musical career with a victory at the Walnut Valley Mandolin Championship at age 12, an appearance as part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Youth All-Stars also in 1993, and his first solo album Leading Off (Sugar Hill) the following year. His band Nickel Creek, which included Sean Watkins (b Vista, CA, 18 Feb 1977) on guitar and Sara Watkins (b Vista, CA, 8 June 1981) on fiddle, performed throughout the 1990s and released their eponymous album on Sugar Hill in 2000. Produced by Alison Krauss, the album established a number of musical hallmarks for the band: polished vocal harmonies, contemporary songwriting, and virtuosic, progressive-bluegrass-oriented instrumental work.

During his tenure with Nickel Creek, Thile pursued a variety of solo projects, including collaborations with Mike Marshall and Béla Fleck. After achieving an unusual degree of commercial success for a bluegrass-related band, Nickel Creek ceased touring and recording in ...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

revised by Jason Mellard

(b Ryan, OK, Dec 8, 1914; d Bacliff, TX, Aug 22, 2003). American country-music singer-songwriter and guitarist. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, Tillman began his career with Adolph Hofner’s western swing band in San Antonio in 1933. In 1935, he joined Leon Selph, Ted Daffan, and Moon Mullican in the classic line-up of Houston’s Blue Ridge Playboys. Tillman made his first recordings with the Playboys, as lead guitarist, in 1936. In 1938, Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers recorded Tillman’s “It Makes No Difference Now,” and the following year he signed a recording contract with Decca. During the 1940s, Tillman wrote and recorded several distinctive honky-tonk songs that helped to define the subgenre. Although he occasionally achieved success with recordings such as “Each Night at Nine” (Decca, 1944), many of his compositions, including “I Love You So Much It Hurts” (Columbia, 1947) and “Slippin’ Around” (Columbia, ...