The Duhks, Fernando Varela, Kneebody

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The Western Arts Alliance Music Showcase

Thursday / September 4, 2014

The Duhks (10:00PM)
Fernando Varela (8:45PM)
Kneebody (7:30PM)

Doors open and dinner service begins at 6:00PM {All Ages}
$20 advance
$23 day of show

After Leonard Podolak's band Scruj MacDuhk broke up, the Appalachian-style clawhammer banjoist decided that this gave him the perfect opportunity to start another group, one that would fuse eclectic modern sounds with traditional roots. In 2002, along with lead singer Jessica Havey (who brought blues influences with her), fiddler Tania Elizabeth (who played in the French-Canadian style, among others), and guitarist Jordan McConnell (who had studied Celtic guitar), the Duhks self-released their debut, Your Daughters and Your Sons, in Canada in 2002 (it was then re-released in the States the following year). The album did well enough to bring the band a contract with North-Carolina-based Sugar Hill Records, which issued the Duhks' -- who had since added Latin-influenced percussionist Scott Senior -- self-titled Béla Fleck-produced record in 2005. The next year Migrations, produced this time by labelmate and contemporary bluegrass stalwart Tim O'Brien, came out, followed by an extensive tour and an appearance at 2007's MerleFest. Not long after, Jessica Havey and Scott Senior left the band. Sarah Dugas and her brother Christian Dugas filled the vacant vocalist and drummer roles, and the new band settled down in Nashville to prepare songs for a new album with producer Jay Joyce. Fast Paced World was released that August and the group made immediate plans to tour. Conscious of the amount of waste accumulated on the road, the band started an environmentalism initiative called the Duhks Sustainability Project, complete with a website and mission statement that encouraged musicians to be greener by using biodiesel fuel, wearing earth-friendly cosmetics, and eating organic foods. Beyond the Blue, the group's fifth studio album, produced by Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar of the Mammals, and helped by the return of vocalist Havey and the addition of new members fiddler Rosie Newton, drummer/percussionist Kevin Garcia, and guitarist/bouzouki player Colin Savoie-Levac, appeared early in 2014.

Imagine a 3-year-old boy growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, imitating the musical acrobatics of the iconic Michael Jackson. Those melodious antics, indeed, helped the young Fernando Varela to develop a strong, tenor voice, paving the way for his discovery on YouTube by one of MJ’s producers, hit-maker and 16 time Grammy Award Winner - David Foster. Ultimately, Fernando won Foster’s “Born to Sing” contest culminating in a guest appearance with David Foster and Friends at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. Fernando’s performance was reviewed as a show stopper and has been followed by numerous appearances with Foster, singing alongside an incredible list of super stars including Barbra Streisand, Lionel Richie, Neil Diamond, Peter Cetera, Babyface, Carole Bayer Sager, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, Seal, Chris Botti, Jewel, Chaka Kahn, Ruben Studdard, Jessica Sanchez, Robi Draco Rosa, Charice, Australia’s Delta Goodrem and British superstar Katherine Jenkins.

“There isn’t a handy term or genre for the music that Kneebody creates. It’s a band thoroughly acquainted with 1960s free-bop, 1970s jazz rock, 1990s hip-hop and postmillennial indie rock; along with classical postminimalism. (I’m leaving something out, I’m sure.) Whatever the terminology, this group has an audience…” - New York Times
“Putting a finger on a band like Kneebody is a bit like raising it to the wind. At any given moment, the group’s artistic inclinations can whip in an unpredictable direction.”
– Wall Street Journal
“…the band has always had the same lineup, honing its vision into something that hovers in the worlds of jazz and rock while tossing in other genre elements, as well.” – Spinner
“It’s probably safe to assume at this point that no other band working today can offer what Kneebody delivered at the Blue Whale on Friday night.” – Los Angeles Times
Kneebody‘s sound is… explosive rock energy paralleled with high-level nuanced chamber ensemble playing, with highly wrought compositions that are balanced with adventurous no-holds-barred improvising. All “sounds-like” references can be set aside; this band has created a genre and style all its own.

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