Mike Compton and Joe Newberry mine one of the more neglected segments of country music history, that period during the ’30s and ’40s when brother duet music was transforming into bluegrass. Both masters of the bedrock instruments of old-time music, they collaborate with a vision that is both modern and ageless. As virtuosos of old-time mandolin, banjo & guitar, they dig deep into early country music and blues – a limitless library of brother duets, traditional instrumentals, mother ballads and award-reaping originals. Their combined pedigree spreads over the 4+ million regular listeners of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion to the millions of devoted fans of the Grammy-winning Oh Brother, Where Art Thou and Down from the Mountain soundtracks.
Mike Compton is a Grammy-winning, IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year nominee, mandolinist for the Nashville Bluegrass Band and was longtime steady sideman for the late John Hartford. He’s entertained from Carnegie Hall to the White House — and lots of good folks’ houses in between. The NY Times calls him “a new bluegrass instrumental hero.“ He has made music with such diverse notables as the iconic Dr. Ralph Stanley, British rock legend Elvis Costello, guitar virtuoso David Grier and producer T-Bone Burnett. He has performed on 100+ CDs in a variety of genres with some of the most beloved artists of our day. At heart, Mike Compton is a preservationist, continuing the music that Bill Monroe innovated on the mandolin and which set the standard for two generations of bluegrass mandolin players.
As CyberGrass.com commented, “There are powerful people in every walk of life. Mike Compton is the General George Patton of the mandolin.”
Joe Newberry is a prizewinning guitarist, songwriter and vocalist known far and wide for his powerful banjo playing. He won the songwriting prize for ‘Gospel Recorded Performance’ at the 2012 IBMA Awards for his song Singing As We Rise, and was co-writer, with Eric Gibson, of the 2013 IBMA ‘Song of the Year’ They Called It Music. “His lyrics read like a cross between Longfellow and Johnny Cash,” writes the INDY. “The muse is sometimes gentle and other times rough. But she never strays too far from Joe Newberry’s side.”
“There are a couple of kinds of songs that you can write,” Newberry explains. “One is where you say, ‘I’m going to write a song today,’ and basically sit down and write it. The other is where she comes and visits you and says, ‘Here’s your song. Don’t blow this.’ Sometimes it’s from you but it doesn’t belong to you, you know?” To that, A Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor adds, “A musician like Joe embodies the true South. You can’t have too many of these people.”
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