Tony Furtado: Cider House Sessions – Live at Reverend Nat’s
Tony Furtado, the acclaimed and award-winning singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, is an acknowledged master of many different styles and sounds. Relix Magazine put it best when writing of Tony’s music, “True talent doesn’t need categories.” From bluegrass to blues, from folk to rock, from banjo to slide guitar, the music of Tony Furtado knows no boundaries. His versatility and wide-ranging imagination are on full, vivid display on Cider House Sessions – Live at Reverend Nat’s, Tony’s highly anticipated live acoustic release that draws from all phases and periods of his career.
The idea for recording a live album has been with Tony for a while now. “For years I’ve wanted to have an album in my catalog,” he says, “that has the feel and ease of a show played in my living room with a few friends I love to share tunes and songs with, surrounded by more friends who just want to hear us play and laugh, lights dimmed, and a few 3,000 gallon tanks of cider brewing behind me!” The cuts on Cider House Sessions – Live at Reverend Nat’s are taken from a series of six performances at Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, a cider brewery and taproom in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.
“I wanted a live album for my own label, YousayFurtado Records,” Tony continues, “a CD that grabs some songs from my earlier, more bluegrass albums, so I could incorporate the banjo a little more, as well as from the newer songs, which have more of an Americana, singer-songwriter feel. I was after a more stripped-down sound.”
The follow-up to The Bell—winner of both the Album of the Year and Acoustic Rock Album of the Year awards in 2015 from the Indie Acoustic Project Awards—Cider House Sessions taps into a three-decade-deep reservoir of original and traditional songs and tunes from Tony’s extensive discography. Performed in an intimate setting before a rapt audience, the thirteen cuts on Cider House Sessions provide a rich and soulful sonic overview of Tony’s musical journey to date. It’s a superb album from a fearless musician, an Americana master hailed as “a major musical force” by David Lindley.
Tony was joined on Cider House Sessions by a stellar group of musicians and frequent collaborators, including his old friend and partner in Sugarbeat, renowned mandolinist Matt Flinner (Phillips, Grier and Flinner, the Modern Mandolin Quartet); fiddler Luke Price (a two time National Old-Time Fiddling Grand Champion); and Rob Burger (Tin Hat Trio, Iron and Wine, John Zorn, Bill Frisell Band) on accordion. Exceptional vocalist Stephanie Schneiderman (Swan Sovereign, Dirty Martini) contributes gorgeous harmonies throughout.
Very few musicians of any stripe so personify a musical genre as completely as Tony Furtado embodies Americana roots music. Tony is an evocative and soulful singer, a wide-ranging songwriter and a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist adept on banjo, cello-banjo, slide guitar and baritone ukulele who mixes and matches sounds and styles with the flair of a master chef (he’s also an accomplished sculptor, but that’s another story). All of the music of America is in Tony’s music. Relix hit the nail on the head when writing of Tony: “True talent doesn’t need categories.”
A native of Pleasanton, California, who now makes his home in Portland, Oregon, Tony Furtado took up the banjo at age 12, inspired by the Beverly Hillbillies TV show and a sixth grade music report. He first attracted national attention in 1987, when he won the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship in Winfield, Kansas. Not long after that, Tony opted for the life of a full-time professional musician, joining Laurie Lewis & Grant Street. A second victory at Winfield, in 1991, bookended his years with Grant Street.
In 1990, Tony signed a recording deal with Rounder Records, one of the country’s preeminent independent record companies. Beginning with Swamped in 1990, he recorded six critically acclaimed albums for the label, collaborating with such master musicians as Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Stuart Duncan, Kelly Joe Phelps and Mike Marshall. During this period, Tony also performed and recorded with the band SugarBeat and the Rounder Banjo Extravaganza with Tony Trischka and Tom Adams.
Beginning in the late 1990s—influenced by such musical heroes as Ry Cooder, David Lindley and Taj Mahal—Tony added slide guitar, singing and songwriting to his musical toolbox and began leading his own band. He is a tireless road musician who performs in a dizzying variety of formats: solo, in a duo or trio or with his full five-person band. He especially values the opportunities he has had to tour with such legendary musicians as Gregg Allman and with such esteemed slide guitarists as David Lindley, Derek Trucks and Sonny Landreth.
Tony has performed throughout the world at top venues and appeared at such prestigious music festivals as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Jazz Aspen, Kerrville Folk Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Sisters Folk Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival and countless others. “I love playing live,” he says. “All my energy is focused on the love of playing music and rolling with the moment. It’s a give and take from the audience to the stage, and back. And the music that is created is something that otherwise might not occur without that flow.” ( Jon Hartley Fox )
“Tony Furtado is a major musical force without a doubt. He has his black-belt in voice and bottleneck guitar and his banjo playing scares the crap out of me.” – David Lindley, musical adventurer
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