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Moziak show on UTube
Saturday Sept 22nd at 3pm
Seamless blend of bluegrass, Cajun, blues, old-time, jibaro, swing, Greek, etc.
The lineup: Eric Thompson, Jody Stecher, Scott Nygaard, Paul Knight, and Suzy Thompson
The following comes from a piece written by Andy Gilbert wrote for the San Jose Mercury News
Eric Thompson, the front man for Kleptograss, just can't help flaunting his far-flung musical passions. With a career stretching back to the early 1960s Palo Alto folk scene, where he played bluegrass and jug band music with Jerry Garcia, Thompson has pocketed an international array of styles over the years, and he displays many of his well-gotten gains in Kleptograss.
An intermittent project showcasing a revolving all-star cast, Kleptograss reunites for the concert at Wisteria Ways with guitarist Scott Nygaard (editor, Acoustic Guitar magazine, vetern of bands with Laurie Lewis, Tim O’Brien, Darol Anger) , fiddler Suzy Thompson (Any Old Time, Texas Sheiks) , multi –instrumentalist and multi-Grammy nominee Jody Stecher (Kate and Jody, Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band) and bassist Paul Knight (Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band).
While the Kleptos are all steeped in old-time American music and bluegrass, their fast-fingered ethos has enabled them to acquire a treasure trove of tunes, drawing on everything from Django Reinhardt's Gypsy jazz and Bob Wills' Western swing to Puerto Rican jíbaro and Greek rembetika.
"There have been a lot of different grasses over the years -- newgrass, retrograss, Darol Anger's Psychograss," says Thompson,. "I thought, well OK, all these other guys have all these names, what kind of grass am I doing here, stealing from all these different cultures? I made up Kleptograss as a joke and then realized it's a pretty good joke. "My creative impulses often work this way."
While Kleptograss's mission might sound like a formula for clutter and jarring juxtapositions, the group's eponymous 2010 album is a marvel of cohesiveness. The string band instrumentation gracefully integrates everything from the blues of Muddy Waters to Cajun waltzes and two steps.
The unexpected musical glue holding the album together is drawn from the countryside of Puerto Rico. It's the same jíbaro music that Puerto Rican alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon has translated into melodically searing jazz. The Kleptograss arrangements emphasize the music's latent nostalgia and romanticism.
While much Puerto Rican music is based on West African percussion and rhythms and influenced by American jazz and R&B horn arrangements, jíbaro music draws more from Iberian roots. For Thompson, it brought to mind the turbocharged picking of bluegrass and the proudly self-sufficient mindset of Appalachia.
"Jíbaro is old Puerto Rican mountain music," Thompson says. "It's very analogous to bluegrass, with vocals and this hot cuatro playing. When you talk to Puerto Rican people, they say it's Puerto Rican hillbilly music by people who lived up in the mountains relatively isolated. It's got a lot of rhythmic drive and this virtuosic picking. I just found that music really exciting."
Another reason Kleptograss plays with such off-the-cuff authority is that the band is knit together by relationships dating back decades. Thompson and Stecher first started playing together almost half a century ago on the Greenwich Village folk scene, and they have been making music together and sharing ideas ever since. Eric and his wife Suzy have been partners in music and life for over 35 years.
While his roving ear has taken him from the Louisiana bayou to the green hills of Ireland, he never sheds his essential musical identity as a bluegrass flatpicker. His Kleptograss crew might help unleash Thompson's larcenous propensities, but the gang's mission is to spread the riches around, turning string band music into something wondrous and worldly.
Sample Kleptograss tunes
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