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Tony Furtado

Idioma disponível: inglês
Tony Furtado is an American singer, songwriter, and virtuoso multi-instrumentalist based in Portland, Oregon. He is also a first-call studio musician. His primary instruments are banjo, cello-banjo, slide guitar, and the baritone ukulele. His evocative singing and playing styles are anchored firmly in the soil of American music, cutting across and combining folk, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, jazz, and all stops in between. He has performed all over the world and is a mainstay at roots music festivals. He is also an accomplished sculptor. He has made and played on dozens of albums since the early 1990s, including Roll My Blues Away (1997), These Chains (2004), Deep Water (2008), The Bell (2015), and Decembering (2021). Furtado was born in Pleasanton, California in 1967. He began studying banjo at age 12 after being inspired by the theme and serial music in the Beverly Hillbillies television show as well as a sixth-grade music report. After graduating from high school, he studied music and art at California State. His playing continued to develop. He first attracted national attention in 1987, when he won the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship in Winfield, Kansas. Shortly thereafter, Furtado embraced the life of a full-time professional music. He joined Laurie Lewis & Grant Street, toured with them, and appeared on 1990's Singin' My Troubles Away. That same year, his debut solo album Swamped was issued by Rounder Records. The critically acclaimed LP juxtaposed originals with traditional tunes, and included a fine cover of Charlie "Yardbird" Parker's bebop standard "Blues for Alice." Furtado won a second victory at Winfield in 1991, marking the end of his time with Grant Street. In all, Furtado released six albums with Rounder between 1990 and 1999. In 1992, he delivered Within Reach and joined banjo masters Tom Adams and Tony Trischka as three co-billed headliners on Rounder Banjo Extravaganza Live. Full Circle appeared in 1994 and the widely acclaimed solo guitar offering, Roll My Blues Away, arrived in 1997. This latter album in particular offered a star-studded lineup as Furtado reflected the influence of Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Taj Mahal, and others in terms of content and style. After releasing 1999's Tony Furtado & Dirk Powell, the guitarist formed his own band and left the label. The eponymous Tony Furtado Band appeared from Cojema Music in 2000. Once more a collection of originals and covers, it included vocals on three tracks by bluesman Kelly Joe Phelps. The music shifted from jazzy interludes to Celtic, bluegrass, blues and country & western styles with effortless poise. In 2002 he followed suit under his own name with the electrified American Gypsy for indie What Are Records? Furtado played banjos as a well as acoustic and electric guitars; he also sang for the first time. His core sidemen included bassist Myron Dove, alternate drummers Tom Brechtlein and Aaron Johnston, jazz percussionist Scott Amendola, accordionist Johnny Connolly, and electric guitarist Gawain Mathews. Oregon's Paul McCandless also guested on bass clarinet. He served as a full bandmember for 2003's American Gypsy Live for Dualtone. In addition to arresting readings of four traditional tunes, there's a cover of Michael Nesmith's "Some of Shelly's Blues" and six originals, among them "Hartford" and "The Ghost of Blind Willie Johnson." Furtado signed to Tucson, Arizona indie Funzalo and released his debut singer/songwriter collection These Chains, produced by Dusty Wakeman. Among its many poignant originals was a cover of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings." He also toured the country and played sessions. In 2005 he appeared with Michelle Shocked on Got No Strings and with (spouse) Stephanie Schneiderman on Live at Kung Fu Bakery. He also released the concert offering Bare Bones: Live, Solo, Acoustic. Furtado recorded and released 2006's Thirteen with Wakeman as his bassist and Schneiderman returning the favor and serving as backing vocalist. Alongside ten originals were covers of Pete Townshend's "We Won't Get Fooled Again," John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son," and Elton John's and Bernie Taupin's "Take Me to the Pilot." 2008's Deep Water was the earlier album's mirror image, a largely acoustic set that offered a low-key set of ballads, blues, and folk-rockers. In 2010, Furtado released Golden, his most polished release to date. Its bluesy, rocking opener "Toe the Line" wove acoustic fingerpicking, gnarly, distorted slide licks, Delta-inspired blues, and an infectious hook. "The Willows Cry" is a hooky country song that recalls the '80s music of Nick Lowe. "Can’t Slow Down" most directly addressed his nomadic lifestyle, melding an eerie Lindley-inspired slide guitar vamp with a warm banjo. "Devil’s Dust" offered a blues scorcher, while the yearning, lilting "Angelina" is a Latin-tinged ballad. The instrumental "Portlandia" is a fine showcase for Furtado's exquisite banjo-picking skills. 2015's The Bell was inspired by both the loss of Furtado's father and the birth of his son and featured his banjo up front on nearly each of its 13 tracks. That said, the music was about as far from bluegrass as you could get most of the time. Its title track wed banjo, tablas, acoustic slide, and layered harmony vocals inside a lush, dark, bluesy melody that recalls Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain." "Dying Language" offered a meditation on the hatred and bitterness of others, while Delta blues, pop syncopation, and American Gothic folk were wound together on "Low Road. The set also included three diverse instrumentals in "Astoria," "Iowa," and "Jo-Jo." Furtado had a long-gestating idea to record a loose, live-to-tape set in his living room with friends, offering an informal yet utterly cooperative musical vision. Reverend Nat's hard cider provided him with a similar opportunity over six nights in 2015 and 2016. His handpicked quintet -- that included both Schneiderman on vocals and Rob Burger on accordion -- delivered 13 selections from across Furtado's career and issued them as Cider House Sessions: Live at Reverend Nat's in 2017. Two years later, on November 20, 2019, he released two digitally issued live-in-studio albums simultaneously: Firecracker was composed exclusively of acoustic guitar instrumentals, and Paradise -- also played on solo acoustic guitar -- offered vocals in a set of originals, traditional tunes, and cover songs by Tom Petty, John Prine, Woody Guthrie, and Blind Willie Johnson. Furtado returned to the banjo in a big way on 2021's Decembering. Recorded in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020-September 2021. He recorded his parts in his basement home studio, then sent them chain-style to the album's other musicians who included Burger on keyboards and accordion, Solas's John Doyle bassist Todd Sickafoose, mandolinist Mike Marshall, drummer Scott Amendola, and others. Released in December 2021, fans and critics reacted with joy at his formal return to recording with the banjo as his primary instrument.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo
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