That old-time music: Compton & Newberry dig into roots of bluegrass to make fresh sounds.
On Sunday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m., Ukiah Community Concert Association, in affiliation with Live On Stage, presents the award-winning bluegrass duo Compton & Newberry at the Mendocino College Center Theatre.
Virtuosos of old-time mandolin, banjo, and guitar, Joe Compton and Mike Newberry dig deep into early country music and blues. They mine the often-neglected territory of traditional American music, the period of the 1930s and 40s when the genre known today as bluegrass music was still developing. Bluegrass music developed from the vision of legendary singer, songwriter, and mandolinist Bill Monroe (1911-1996). Monroe coined the term "blue grass" after the terrain of his native Kentucky, charging traditional and self-written tunes with a driving tempo and encouraging musical virtuosity through the incorporation of stringed instrument solos--banjo, violin, mandolin, and guitar. Bluegrass singers developed soaring harmonies that captured the sorrows, stresses, and celebrations of the time, in a plainspoken manner that drew audiences close to the musicians onstage.
Compton & Newberry continue in that lineage. Having chosen a niche in country and folk music that is both traditional and timeless, they are comfortable playing popular standards such as "The Kentucky Waltz" (written in 1946 by Bill Monroe) and "Sittin' On Top of the World" (written in 1930 by Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon, two members of the African-American group The Mississippi Sheiks) as well as award-winning originals. The freshness, humor, simplicity, and sophistication of this deeply rooted and still-vital American music makes it a relevant, even healing element in our culture today.
Playing solo, as a duo, or in collaboration with other musicians, the music of Joe Compton and Mike Newberry has reached millions of people. Both have been frequent guests on the long-running Prairie Home Companion show and have contributed to the soundtracks of Grammy Award-winning movies such as "O Brother, Where Art Thou." Compton has performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the White House, has contributed to more than 100 CD recordings, and has played with everyone from bluegrass icon Dr. Ralph Stanley to punk and rock stalwart Elvis Costello. Newberry won the songwriting prize for Gospel Recorded Performance at the 2012 IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Awards) for his song "Singing As We Rise," and was co-writer (with Eric Gibson) of the 2013 IBMA Song of the Year, "They Called It Music."
The Ukiah Community Concert Association (UCCA) has been presenting a diverse and high-quality array of music to the local community since 1947. The morning after the concert (Oct. 21), UCCA will sponsor an educational visit from Compton & Newberry to Ukiah High School, with Mendocino College music students attending as well.
Tickets for Compton & Newberry are $30 in advance and $35 at the door (adult) and $10 for youth (under 18). Free tickets (space providing) are available at the door to Mendocino College students with ID; and to all high school students, courtesy of a donation from Tom Ganoung. Advance tickets are available at Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah, Mazahar in Willits, and online at www.ukiahconcerts.org. For more information, and to find out about becoming a UCCA member with additional benefits, please call 707-463-2738, or visit UCCA on Facebook and at www.ukiahconcerts.org.
UCCA thanks Schat’s Bakery, Black Oak Coffee, and Rivino Winery for donating treats to be served pre-concert and during intermission. Special thanks to the Mendocino College Foundation, the Mendocino Arts Club and Mendocino College Recording Arts & Technology, the Mendocino College Art Gallery, and the Mendocino College Culinary Arts Program for their ongoing support and collaboration.