I sort of haltingly ended a rather lengthy series of columns about recording last week, which had spanned the entire new year so far, by pivoting to an out-of-the-blue album review and providing little in the way of transition.
Sorry! When good music comes along, I gotta move on it. Grant Gordy’s “Interpreter” is still heating up my stereo system, and I hope you all got a chance to check it out.
We’re not going to step back into the pro audio world again for a while, but that’s only because there is so much to talk about from the listening side of things.
And continuing with last week’s theme, I think we’ll hover over music for a hot minute.
Music, the source, is where everything begins, and is the most variable aspect of a stereo system, period. Whether you like musically good music, or music that just sounds good (there is a difference!), nothing has more say about the quality of your experience than the quality of the music.
Today we’re going to look at another young bluegrass crossover-acoustic artist living in Brooklyn but originally from Colorado, a mandolin player named Dominick Leslie.
To bluegrass fans in Colorado, he’s been a known entity for a long time. In 2004 Dominick became the youngest-ever winner of the Rockygrass mandolin competition, and before that he was composing and recording his own work.
In the following years, Dom took off and grew and grew as a player, eventually attending The Berklee School of Music and connecting with more than a few acoustic rising stars along the way.
After Berklee, he played in in several groups, and even stopped by the Colorado Daily’s Second Story Garage studios twice — once with epic young bluegrass supergroup The Deadly Gentlemen, and once with epic young bluegrass/classical string quartet named, aptly, The Brotet.
Soon, marriage to rising acoustic folk star Phoebe Hunt (of Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers) meant that Dominick had a new band to add to the list. Today he continues to tour and record with his wife’s band, who released three singles at the end of last year — “Baba Vega,” “November” and “December Again.”
Not to sit around and only be in a few bands, Leslie is also chopping, soloing and crafting magical mandolin lines for another new epic young bluegrass supergroup. This one is called Hawktail, and they released their second album, “Formations,” just a couple weeks ago.
I’ll close with a recent story about the busy mandolinist.
If you know who Ricky Skaggs is, you know he is Bluegrass Legend with a capital EGEND, and possibly the most famous mandolin player ever. He helped resurrect the genre and carried the torch for the old “Appalachian hill folk rock music,” as he calls it, or early bluegrass music.
So when he had shoulder surgery last year and couldn’t play mando, who did Ricky Skaggs call to play his mandolin parts for him as he sang, over six shows while on tour with Kentucky Thunder?
Our guy, the fastest fingers from the Foothills, Mr. Dominick Leslie himself. True story. Check out “Formations” from Hawktail if you get a chance this weekend — it’s incredible.