This morning on Music City Roots, we feature some of the most incredible guitarists on the scene today: Jim Oblon, Guthrie Trapp, Ethan Ballinger, and David Andersen. Jim Lauderdale hosts.
About the artists:
Jim Oblon‘s version of the classic song “where did you sleep last night’ was used in HBO’s “true blood” season finale, with a vampire dressed as little red riding hood. He made a record with Paul Simon called “so beautiful or so what.” He then toured the whole world in support of that album. Jim’s latest album was recorded with legendary drummer Jim Keltner and Larry Goldings.
Guthrie Trapp, established sideman and artist, is finishing his first solo album, Pick Peace, due out this fall. The project is a showcase for Trapp’s stellar guitar playing that has long supported the careers of superstar artists and his own bands. Through a blend of six originals and four obscure covers, this exciting instrumental album explores country, blues, Latin, reggae, jazz, rock and experimental music.
The innovative guitarist worked with equally talented musicians for Pick Peace, including bassist Michael Rhodes, percussionist Dann Sherrill, drummers Pete Abbott and Doug Belote, and Reese Wynans on B-3 organ.
While this marks his solo debut, Trapp has led numerous other bands including 18 South, the Guthrie Trapp Trio, and TAR (Trapp, Abbott & Rhodes).
As a member of Dobro legend Jerry Douglas’ band for 5 years he played on two of his latest recordings including “Jerry Christmas” and the Grammy nominated album Glide, and toured extensively throughout North America and the UK, taking the stage at New York City’s Blue Note, Radio City Music Hall, Celtic Connections and the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Trapp is a versatile musician who crosses many genres with ease, taste and authenticity. Prior to joining Douglas’ crew, he spent numerous years with revered country artist Patty Loveless. He appeared on two studio albums with her, including the Grammy winning Mountain Soul 2.
Onstage or in the studio, Trapp has supported the world’s most talented and best selling artists including Garth Brooks, John Oates, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, Travis Tritt, Dolly Parton, Tim O’Brien, Delbert McClinton, Randy Travis, Jerry Douglas, George Jones, Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Tony Rice, Earl Scruggs, Lyle Lovett, Rosanne Cash, “Cowboy” Jack Clement and many others. (see resume for full list)
Trapp was surrounded by music during his youth on the Florida/Alabama coast. His family exposed him to numerous genres. By age seven Trapp had taken up harmonica, by 10 he had graduated to guitar, and later learned mandolin. Joining his first band at age 13, he was a regular performer at the clubs, festivals and events up and down the gulf coast. At ages 15 and 16 he won consecutive statewide guitar and mandolin competitions in Alabama. At 18 Guthrie went to nashville to record on Gove Scrivenor’s album, Shine On, which featured top notch musicians John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Lari White and Ray Flacke. Also a young adult, he teamed up with Nick Branch to form the popular band Filthy Rich touring throughout the US and France.
Trapp eventually settled in Nashville in 2001, paying early dues with the heralded Don Kelley Band at the famed honky-tonk Robert’s Western World. He made his way to Music Row, where one of his first master sessions was playing mandolin along side Willie Weeks, Ian Wallace and Tim Hinkley.
Trapp has come a long way since his FloraBama days, but the musical influences of his youth on the coast remain with him. He is now ready to share his talent and experiences with the world. Hope you enjoy!
t wasn’t that long ago that Butch Baldassari said, “Keep your eyes and ears peeled for him.” Now four years later, after making noise as a producer, composer, and sideman for nationally touring artists, Nashville based musician Ethan Ballinger is making his vocal debut on the music scene with his second album Don’t Lose It. The album features nine beautifully dark and personal songs all of which he wrote, recorded and produced in his own home.
Spending his childhood growing up around bluegrass royalty and a musically talented family, Ethan was picking up instruments and playing the toy banjo with Chet Atkins as a toddler.
“I picked up the fiddle when I was really young, but it didn’t quite stick. I also took piano lessons for a few years, but it wasn’t until a couple years later that I discovered the guitar and then the mandolin that I became obsessed,” he said.
As an aspiring and well-versed musician he found himself exploring different styles of music. He spent his time practicing and learning rock, jazz, bluegrass, blues, funk and even electronic.
When Ethan was 15 years old his parents bought him his first recording machine, which he immediately put to use recording his own instrumental music.
“In addition to playing in garage rock bands, I was making albums for myself and friends,” he said. “I spent a lot of time writing and exploring different sounds ranging from ambient to experimental electronic to jazz and bluegrass.”
These home recordings unexpectedly turned into more than just a hobby. Garnering the attention of local television producers, Ethan went on to write, record and produce musical compositions for several nationally aired PBS programs and videos, including the Emmy award winning “Crank: Darkness On The Edge Of Town”. He continues to compose music for videos, shows and other projects.
In 2008, Ethan released his first solo album, Wish Upon A Falling Star, which featured 16 original acoustic instrumental songs. Upon its release he received praise for his mandolin work and the album’s eclectic fusion of sounds.
Mandolin Café said, Ethan’s Wish Upon A Falling Star is the most interesting mandolin CD of the year to our ears.” While Jazzmando.com also stated it was one of their “personal favorite recordings last year.” They went on to say; “The amazing acoustic musician [Ethan] has a tremendous ear and a broad harmonic and textural vocabulary in his compositions.”
Spending the last eight years touring as a multi-instrumentalist for different artists, Ethan recently made the giant leap to record and release his first vocal album, Don’t Lose It, in the Spring of 2012. The intimate and emotionally urgent songs featured on the album are propelled by a spacious and vibey soundscape, sophisticated melodies and chord changes. These sounds combined with raw garage rock aesthetics are what make the album immediate, yet more rewarding with deeper listening.
Ethan performed every instrument on the album except for drums performed by Lee Holland, and a guest vocal appearance on “I Want You Around” by longtime collaborator Megan McCormick.
Ethan continues to tour and record with other artists, including Missy Raines and the New Hip, Megan McCormick, Alison Brown, Jill Andrews, The Ballinger Family Band, Michaela Wallace, The Danberrys, The Blow Jays, Hot Club Time Machine, and The Gypsy Cowboys, as well as work in the studio as a producer and session player.
“The magic of music is in people’s response to it.”—David Andersen
Country music fans, Norwegian businessmen, buses full of weekend tourists, rainbow chasing dreamers—every day brings an endless stream of visitors to Nashville, Tennessee, seeking an experience unlike anything other cities have to offer. They want to meet a spectacular musician or artist and shake their hand…maybe get an autograph. They long to hear the local stories about their favorite legends or what it’s like to be “in the business.” They all want to explore American music and have a personal encounter with fame. Each and every day, strolling the hallowed halls of an “unbroken circle” or amid the stars that line the Walk of Fame, ambling among the crowd at large events or anywhere in Nashville where music is a cornerstone, an immensely talented, soft-spoken man in an understated suit and sunglasses stands waiting to greet them with a warm smile and a song. He is David Andersen, the Ambassador of Music City. His mission is to give Nashville’s visitors the authentic experience they seek.
A child music prodigy reared in Long Beach, California, Andersen could play music before he could talk. An accomplished songwriter and proficient on multiple instruments, as a teen, Andersen launched his music career when he walked barefooted into Hollywood’s Criterion Music office and requested studio work. Despite this extraordinary entrance into the business, Andersen became a session player, working at United Audio, A&M Studios, Wally Heider, Sound Factory, Elektra, Eldorado and Capitol Records Studios. While still a teen, he was signed by mogul Randy Wood and released his first record on Ranwood Records. His music also led him to the top L.A. clubs, including the Golden Bear and Whiskey a Go-Go, and in the company of many elder statesmen of the blues, including Big Joe Turner, Joe Houston, Bobby Day, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. He has proudly held the audience of important music people, such as David Geffen, Clive Davis and Les Paul and has shared the stage and opened shows for acts such as Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, Doc Watson and Bruce Springsteen. His musical travels eventually led Andersen to Nashville, where he became a fixture at Slice of Life and Café 123.
While Andersen could boast success on both the West Coast and in Nashville, Andersen’s real focus is the music itself and the unique relationship he enjoys with music fans. “The magic of music is in people’s response to it. I’m fulfilled only if I can touch their hearts. Regardless of where they are from or what language they speak, music is universal, so I can always connect with them through my music. I want visitors to leave here inspired to enjoy music in whatever way works for them—learning to play, listening to new genres or exploring the stories behind the music. My job as ambassador is to help them rediscover what they love about music.
Andersen has personally greeted more than one million documented visitors while performing well over 2000 daily shows in the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum since it opened nearly a decade ago. Also a staple at Walk of Fame® Inductions and Medallion Ceremonies, CMA MusicFests and at the Union Station Hotel, Andersen seems to be everywhere tourists flock or music matters. He’s a celebrity without stardom, yet he’s been consistently recognized by the media over the past seven years for his musical representation. He’s been called a “Nashville treasure,” “the face of Music City,” “the Ambassador of pickin’ and grinin'” and even “a complement to the museum, as interactive as any pushbutton display.” “The comments that we receive from our guests and visitors only further solidify the fact that David enriches the visitor experience of thousands of people each year,” says Jesse Goldstein, president of TomKats Inc. “His gentlemanly nature and musical talent are wonderful representations of the best qualities of Nashville. We have many visitors who return to the Country Music Hall of Fame just to see David.” Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau views Andersen as a wonderful asset to tourism. “By shining a spotlight on some of Music City’s most colorful places and famous landmarks, David has conveyed to the world the unique character and creativity that makes this city so special.”
With Andersen, there are no formal “meet and greets” or autograph sessions, no production techniques or backstage passes. He simply approaches and begins his personal relationship with fans with a simple question: “What’s your favorite song?” And he can always deliver. Andersen knows thousands of songs from many nations. He knows classic country, modern country, jazz, rock and a host of national anthems.
In a style reminiscent of greats, such as Chet Atkins, Uncle Mavis and Earl Scruggs, yet completely his own, pure tradition rolls from David’s vintage Epiphone as his fingers ripple effortlessly across the fretboard. He answers requests with soft music that fills the air like an ethereal whisper from the past, while Andersen continues his query— “where you are from, what brings you Nashville and have you ever been here before?” If you have, he probably remembers you. “As the Ambassador of Music City, I consider it part of my job to remember…. I might not remember your name, but I’ll remember faces, favorite songs or hometowns.” Between songs, he poses for photos, signs autographs and collects information from visitors in his own autograph book.
Andersen ends his courtship as simply as he begins. He leaves his new friends with his signature guitar pick and a challenge…to remember why they came to Nashville and to take time to enjoy the music they came here to find. He is David Andersen, and he is the Ambassador of Music City.