“Playing music of yesterday and today like there’s no tomorrow”
“If you aren’t tapping your feet to that music, you’re dead”
Brother Mule in concert is a musical conversation between three of America’s most gifted acoustic musicians. The band mates share the spotlight in a three-ringed circus of extraordinary talent and variety. Brian Wicklund ignites the stage with his fiery fiddling, Ben Winship plays tasty mandolin as he croons one of his finely crafted songs, while Eric Thorin pushes the boundaries of bass playing as an extreme sport.
Their debut recording, Brother Mule, earned them the Indie Music Award’s Best Americana CD of 2005. It’s a showcase of original and traditional vocals and instrumentals spanning genres of swing, old time, Celtic, old country and acoustic funk.
The sophomore release, Jawbone, is a refinement of the trio sound with all three contributing to the arrangements and the writing. “Brother Mule’s Jawbone an instant hit”, said the Planet Jackson Hole. “Winship’s strongest songwriting to date…the three part vocal harmonies and fiddle-mando harmonies add a tremendous depth, making you forget momentarily that these guys are only a trio.”
Due to the fact that these guys are geographically spread (Colorado, Minnesota and Idaho), and are all involved in loads of other projects (touring, teaching, recording), their performances tend to be few and far between. But somehow they are always able to pick up where they left off, jump start the jalopy and put the hammer down. Don’t miss a chance to hear them live – or pick up a disc here today!
“The Growling Old Men aren’t really as scary as they sound” ~Missoula Independent~
“I’ve been hearing about these young men for a long time but they do not come around American centers of population to advance their careers. They have isolated themselves out here in Montana and Victor, Idaho on account of their lifelong obsession with fishing. Not so old, not so growly, a real fine bluegrass duo. They’re great.” ~Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion~
The Growling Old Men are Ben Winship (mandolins & vocals) and
John Lowell (guitar & vocals) – both veterans of the Northern Rockies acoustic music world. Together the duo presents a tight yet relaxed set of original and traditional bluegrass songs, ballads and tunes. Their CDs are truly a joint effort with the lead singing, songwriting and picking duties shared throughout. Influenced equally by the music of the Appalachian hills and the western plains, their music is at once simple and powerful – furthermore, it reflects the genuine sense of fun these two guys get from playing together.
The Growlers have produced three cds; the self titled, Growling Old Men, Occupational Hazards, and their most recent, (more) Growling Old Men – Shuttle Diplomacy which is an intercontinental collaboration w/ Leon Hunt and Dom Harrison from the UK. The recordings have received rave reviews from fans, djs and the press. Says Dan Miller, editor of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, “John and Ben’s first Growling Old Men project is one of my all-time favorite recordings. These masters of the guitar, mandolin, and harmony vocals have continued to hone their craft over the years – their vocals are tighter and they speak to each other through their instruments with a smoothness, fluidity, and familiarity that magically occurs when musicians come to know each other so well they can read each other’s mind.”
Of their latest collaboration, John Wirtz said, “John and Ben’s gentle, laid back approach to Bluegrass and Old Time music combined with Leon and Dom’s smooth arrangements of Irish and American tunes is a match made in Heaven.”
In concert the Growling Old Men are engaging and spontaneous and they make a big sound for two guys. Their shows include a blend of well rehearsed material and few new songs hot off the press – they like to keep it fresh with an edge of improvisational risk taking. The duo strive to contrast simplicity with complexity – all with good tone and a warm sense of humor.
For lyrics, chords and melodies, be sure to check out the Official Growling Old Men Songbook.
More info on the Growling Old Men at growlingoldmen.com
A TALL TALE
In the spring of 2002, Ben Winship was playing a gig for some friends who were celebrating the opening of their new fly shop. He played a few topical songs, but it was one of those gigs were most of the guests were yakking and drinking. No problem. Ben’s mind started to wander. “I wonder if anyone has ever made a recording of all fishing songs? There’s got to be a lot of great songs out there…”
The next day he rang David Thompson – band mate and lifelong fly fisher. Fishing Music was born.
Ben suggested that they combine passions — music and fishing — and explore the vast number of fish, fishing and river related songs found in just about every style of music. The idea was to tap friends from a broad spectrum of acoustic-based backgrounds to bring the collaborative CD to life. Fishing Music was released in 2002, with Fishing Music II following in 2009.
Ben and David live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Given their surroundings and the vast number of blue ribbon trout streams, there are ample opportunities for “research and inspiration”.
Many of the songs are nostalgic americana – such as The Fishin Blues, Louis Armstrong & Bing Crosby’s Gone Fishin’ or The Fishing Hole (theme song to the Any Griffith show). Others were literally written while fishing. Ben’s Madison Brown was hatched during a steelhead trip on the Salmon River, while Jeffrey Foucault’s Mayfly was written in a boat on a lake when the fish weren’t biting. Thompson wrote Ocean of Dreams while dreaming of a salmon run.
Both albums feature outstanding performances by a range of top-notch acoustic musicians, including Tim and Mollie O’Brien, Mike Dowling, Rob Ickes, Billy Novick, David Grier, Matt Flinner, Brian Wicklund, John Lowell, co-producers Winship and Thompson among many others.
Their main goal was to keep the tracks fun, but not frivolous, and the music evocative, without being contrived. They worked to create a collection of music that conveyed their own perspective on fishing – that it isn’t about the fish; it’s about being outdoors and having time with friends or just yourself.
The end result are two albums with an unusually wide array of musical styles, yet they manage to maintain a certain clean, clear consistency and appeal to just about everyone, fisherman or not.
There’s more than you need to know about Fishing Music and great photos, etc., at fishingmusic.com