Legendary American country and bluegrass musician and singer Tim O’Brien is set to charm us at the 47th Auckland Folk Festival over Auckland Anniversary weekend in January. For Americana music lovers it is a rare treat to see one of the greats of the genre to appear at a New Zealand festival.
For his Auckland appearance O’Brien – widely praised for his song writing and acknowledged as the consummate guitarist, mandolin player, fiddler and singer – performs his partner Jan Fabricius singing harmony vocals.
O’Brien has recorded over 24 albums in a career that kicked off in 1977 and in 2005 picked up a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album, only to repeat the win in 2014 for the Best Bluegrass Album.
O’Brien could have grown up in a bluegrass or country song, as he was born in Wheeling, West Virginia and sang in a church and in school.
“I feel like I’ve been given a gift of this music and this background,” he told BGS.
Gaining attention in the 1980’s with Colorado’s Hot Rize, O’Brien scored a country hit with Kathy Mattea’s cover of his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986. Soon artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks also covered his songs. Collaborators include his sister Mollie O’Brien, old time musician Dirk Powell, and songwriters Darrell Scott, Steve Earle, and Mark Knopfler. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015.
This year’s March 2019 release, Tim O’Brien Band, features well known players Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle), and Patrick Sauber (banjo/guitar), and Jan Fabricius (vocal). Shaping Tim’s Blues, Jazz, and Celtic influences within a string band setting, they transform five originals and eight well-chosen covers into his own unique brand of bluegrass.
The Auckland Folk Festival festival-goers will see Tim O’Brien and Jan Fabricius singing together on stage, in a showcase of guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, and a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements mixed with engaging stories and Tim’s self-deprecating humour.