Astrograss | Astrograss

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Folk: Progressive Folk Country: Bluegrass Moods: Type: Acoustic
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by Astrograss

Newgrass and bluegrass and inter-galactic post-prog alt.newrage
Genre: Folk: Progressive Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Flash Flood
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4:08 album only
2. Riding With Private Malone
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5:15 album only
3. Always/Never
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7:19 album only
4. Seven Ways to Ride the Subway
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5:31 album only
5. The River in the Valley
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9:48 album only
6. The Highwayman
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4:36 album only
7. The TV Set
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4:04 album only


Album Notes
In its less-than-two-year existence, Astrograss has moved to the forefront of New York's lively acoustic music and bluegrass scene. The band's self-titled debut album, to be released in February 2005, showcases its unique sound: earthy, bluegrass-inspired yet decidedly un-twangy, and equally passionate in its vocal harmonies as in its surging improvisations. In concert, Astrograss wows audiences with an eclectic yet solidly rooted mix of original material, choice covers ranging from Jimmy Webb to Guns n' Roses, and an occasional foot-stompin', "yee-haw"-inspiring fiddle hoedown.

Astrograss has performed in New York venues such as BB King's Blues Club, The Mercury Lounge, and the Rodeo Bar, in addition to regular gigs at New York's home of bluegrass, the Parkside Lounge. In June 2004, the band undertook a tour of the Midwest, culminating with two sets at the highly esteemed Appalachian Uprising bluegrass festival in Ohio. In addition to club and festival appearances, Astrograss has become sought-after for private and corporate events and weddings. Most recently, the band has begun a highly successful series of free, bi-weekly children's performances at NY Perks in Brooklyn.

Astrograss was formed in summer 2003 when Jordan Shapiro recruited three top-shelf New York-area musicians (Tim Kiah, Alan Grubner, and Dennis Lichtman) to play music he had been writing over the last few years. Collectively, the band members' resumes include performances and collaborations with Eddie Palmieri, Phish's Mike Gordon, the Key West Symphony Orchestra, Lenny Kravitz, Henry Threadgill, and Zappa vocalists Ike Willis and Napolean Murphy Brock.


to write a review

Rob Wilcox

Expands on traditional bluegrass
The first track (instrumental) shows the musical ability of all the bandmembers and the lyrics in the next tracks add depth and wrinkles to what at first seems to be a traditional bluegrass sound. Anyone looking to see where thoughtful artisit can take bluegrass next should check out this CD.

Joe Ross

Unique sound of sophisticated, earnest music
Playing Time – 40:41 -- Astrograss, a quartet of educators from the Brooklyn, NY area, describe their acoustic music as “newgrass, bluegrass and inter-galactic post-prog alt newrage.” The band formed in 2003 when guitarist/vocalist Jordan Shapiro enlisted the assistance of Tim Kiah (bass, vocals), Alan Grubner (violin), and Dennis Lichtman (mandolin) to play original music that he had written. The fusion of their experience from rock, blues, jazz and classical backgrounds resulted in Astrograss’ unique sound of sophisticated, earnest music. While clearly not bluegrass, I was hoping for more from them that was memorable or thought-provoking. I discovered some passages with fervent instrumental presentation but wasn’t particularly moved by their messages or vocals. There was some tendency for overplaying by Grubner, but that may just be an element of this musical style. As a strength, their arrangements incorporate various rhythms, dynamics, improvised segments, and recurring riffs. Astrograss also pulls covers from the likes of Jimmy Webb and Guns n' Roses.

Jordan Shapiro moved to New York in 1999 after graduating from the University of Michigan where he studied jazz and improvisation. Alan Grubner graduated from Dartmouth College with honors in music, and continued graduate studies in jazz performance at Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory. The adjunct professor of violin and improvisation at Five Towns College also appears as a featured artist and educator at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and London’s Symphony Hall. A native of Boston, mandolinist Dennis Lichtman graduated from the Hartt School of Music where he studied clarinet. Tim Kiah, from Newton, Ma., graduated from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. All of the Astrograss members have played or currently perform in different New York ensembles that feature bluegrass, jazz-funk, 80s pop-rock, instrumental electric jazz-rock, prog-rock, rock-metal-dub-hop, avant-improv, and Frank Zappa tribute music. Given some fine tuning and maturity, the music of Astrograss may achieve an even more cohesive signature sound – one that is truly celestial, stellar or heavenly, characteristic of their moniker. In the meantime, I sense that they are still orbiting and trying to further define their sound.

Astrograss also has a set for children, presenting “folksy stuff by Pete Seeger and his ilk, plus original songs featuring the poetry of Shel Silverstein.” A 17-minute “Astrograss for Kids” extended play demo features five songs such as Homework Machine, With His Mouth Full of Food, and Dirtiest Man in the World. Their interactive performances for kids might also include dance contests, sing-alongs, and songwriting to expose children to exciting music in a fun, memorable way. Astrograss for Kids has been presented at various cafes, clubs, schools, and other venues. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)