Today on the Music Room, we talked to Russ Barenberg, described by songwriter Jon Weisberger as “perfectly blend[ing] a mastery of roots music tradition with melodic originality.” His music is exceptionally lyrical, relying primarily on composition rather than tempo to provide the energy, and incorporating various genres and instruments.
This energy and collaborative spirit carries over into his own life. Starting in 1970 on the guitar with the bluegrass group Country Cooking in Ithaca, NY, by 1977 he’d joined the electric string band Carried Away on the electric guitar, and in 1979 moved to Boston and joined the triple fiddle band Fiddle Fever, but not before recording his debut solo album Cowboy Calypso.
While he settled in Nashville by 1986, he has only continued traveling, visiting workshops throughout the United States and Europe as a teacher and educational author, and he has participated in Transatlantic Sessions, an international collaboration by artists in both the US and Europe, produced in Scotland, and producing TV episodes, live performances, and series albums.
Speaking of television, he also did extensive work in Ken Burns features, including the critically acclaimed film The Civil War, and his most recent solo album When at Last, with the single “Little Monk,” nominated for a 2008 Grammy (Best Country Instrumental Performance).
(Recorded live, September 15, 2015; host, Mandorichard)
Artist / Song / Album / Year / Notes
Russ Barenberg / Cowboy Calypso / Cowboy Calypso / 1979 / (Excerpt in podcast)
Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, & Edgar Meyer / The Travels of Mr. Hulot / Skip, Hop, and Wobble / 1993 / (Excerpt in podcast)
Russ Barenberg / Halloween Rehearsal / Halloween Rehearsal / 1987 / (Excerpt in podcast)
Russ Barenberg / Magic Foot / Moving Pictures / 1988 / (Excerpt in podcast)
Russ Barenberg / When at Last / When at Last / 2007 / (Excerpt in podcast)
(Note: Due to copyright considerations, the podcast contains excerpts of the music included in the full radio program.)