Telluride Bluegrass: Kruger Brothers

For the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, all four-day passes and Fri/Sat single-day tickets are completely sold-out. Thursday and Sunday single-day tickets, however, are still available at shop.bluegrass.com or 800-624-2422. Discounted four-day passes and single-day tickets for San Miguel County residents may still be available at Telluride Music. If you are a local, go here.

Please scroll down to the bottom of this story to listen to a podcast with Joel Landsberg of The Kruger Brothers.

Be there if you can (if you can’t, if you didn’t score a ticket to the show, tune into KOTOfm) on Friday, June 17, 1-2:15 p.m.

Why?

The Kruger Brothers, RockyGrass regulars perform for the first time at Telluride Bluegrass.

The Kruger Brothers, RockyGrass regulars perform for the first time at Telluride Bluegrass.

You may know them if you are part of a tight-knit circle of acoustic musicians, otherwise that’s when Planet Bluegrass plans to introduce us all to a sound so sophisticated, smooth, and clear you will hear the ice clink against the glass.

That is when The Kruger Brothers perform their chamber works with the classical Kontras String Quartet (which includes violinists from Russia and South Africa) on the Telluride Bluegrass Main Stage in Town Park, again, Friday, June 17, 1 – 2:15 p.m.

“The word I keep returning to with the Kruger Brothers is ‘deep,’” said Brian Eyster, a major fan and Planet Bluegrass’s marketing whiz. “In conversation and onstage they are among the deepest musicians I’ve ever met, bringing a thoughtful understanding of hundreds of years of Western music into everything they play.  Their background runs from European classical to American old-time mountain music to the Grateful Dead, to significant time spent playing with Bill Monroe and Doc Watson. But when they perform as a trio, they perform something completely new: romantic, passionate, virtuosic, and deep. Jens (pronounced Yens) is one of my absolute favorite banjo players with a gorgeous control of tone. He won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass & Banjo in 2013.  And Uwe (pronounced OOvay) is a thrillling flatpicker with a rich emotive baritone voice. The bassist, Joel Landsberg, relocated to Switzerland and became an honorary Kruger Brother 21 years ago. We’ve presented the Kruger Brothers at RockyGrass seven times since 2004, but this will be their first performance on the Telluride Bluegrass stage. The trio has taught at our RockyGrass Academy seven times and are among our most requested and most insightful teachers.”

Born and raised in Europe, brothers Jens and Uwe Kruger started singing and playing instruments when they were still boys. Growing up in a family where music was an important part of life, their influences ran wide and deep. The brothers were performing regularly by the time they were 11- and 12-years-old; their professional career began  in 1979. Jens’ and Uwe’s first public performances was as a duo; in just a few short years, they were busking on the streets of cities throughout Eastern and Western Europe.

Jen Kruger with Steve Martin.

Jens Kruger with Steve Martin.

By their late teens, the Krugers contracted with CBS Records. Several years later, they teamed up with bass player Joel Landsberg, a New York City native whose upbringing also included classical and jazz sounds. (Joel studied with jazz great Milt Hinton.) Jens, Uwe, and Joel came together as a trio in 1995, establishing the incomparable sound The Kruger Brothers are known for today, a mesmerizing blend of European classical and American folk music.

In 2013, Jens was awarded the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music, the fourth recipient of this prestigious honor.

“Jens Kruger — who in 1982 was introduced at the Grand Ole Opry as the first known European banjo player — has long been on a mission to take the banjo outside of its stereotype and into the hands of the masses, often blurring styles between the beautiful, subtle pieces to all-out riffage that would make even the most hardened of shredders stop and take note. If guitarists have Joe Satriani to emulate, drummers have Mike Portnoy, bassists have Jaco, then banjo players have Jens Kruger. The Dropkick Murphys, The Avett Brothers, and Mumford and Sons, all have him to thank for helping to shape their sound,” raved owlandbear.com. “Among the banjo community, Jens Kruger holds a God-like status.”

Uwe shines as a direct and emotive singer and for his impeccable guitar chops. He is also the lyricist for the group’s original songs.

Kruger-Brothers-Aug-2014

With their ever-expanding body of work – Jens Kruger (banjo and vocals), Uwe Kruger (guitar and lead vocals), and Joel Landsberg (bass and vocals) – The Kruger Brothers have come to embody the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition. Their original music is crafted around their discerning taste and deep scholarship. The result is unpretentious, cultivated, and delightfully fresh.

In addition to their regular concert schedule, The Kruger Brothers regularly perform classical pieces with select symphony orchestras and string quartets throughout the country. Through numerous CD releases, radio and television performances, lectures, and collaborative efforts, The Kruger Brothers’ powerful artistic statement continues to inspire and enlighten audiences and musicians around the world.

“Throughout the show, the trio let their instruments do most of the talking, but the interaction with the crowd in between songs was just as interesting. The Kruger Brothers shared stories of life on the road, life in Europe, and life after Europe, and generally connected with the audience. Although, I hadn’t walked their exact path, I walked a very similar one of my own. You can’t explain some experiences until you have lived them; successfully immigrating to the United States is one. Seeing the Kruger Brothers live is another. Here is one music fan whose mind has been well and truly opened,” added owlandbear.com.

To learn more, listen to this podcast.

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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