Known for her ability to broaden the banjo’s sound and identity, GRAMMY-winning musician Alison Brown has created a distinct, individualist voice as an instrumentalist and composer. On her new track “Porches,” out today, she collaborates with critically acclaimed multi-cultural chamber group Kronos Quartet to deliver a melodically seductive, unexpected and innovative composition showcasing the banjo in a string quartet setting.
Watch Brown and Kronos Quartet perform “Porches,” HERE.
“Porches” was composed by Brown and pianist Chris Walters who also wrote the string arrangement. Walters’ credits include stints with JD Souther, Jeff Coffin Mu’tet and Alabama. While many have come to know the banjo in the context of country and bluegrass music, its popularity dates back to late 19th century America, when it was go-to instrument for demure, high-class young women. “Porches” harkens back to the classic banjo repertoire of the late 1800s and highlights the range of the banjo’s voice, alluding to both its past and its future.
“Collaborating with Kronos Quartet to record 'Porches' came very naturally,” says Brown. “I first met David Harrington and the other members of Kronos at the FreshGrass Festival in North Adams. They were in the midst of recording Long Time Passing, a celebration of Pete Seeger’s music, and we were all staying at a boutique hotel called Porches. I knew Kronos had a very wide-eyed musical vision but, once I discovered their affinity for Pete Seeger, I asked if they would consider collaborating and, happily, they embraced the idea right away.
David Harrington, violinist and Kronos' Artistic Director adds: "In the fall of 2020 Alison Brown’s banjo brought Kronos together after months of isolation and helped propel us through the pandemic. Although we were not able to record together in the same room, her playing generated so much happiness that it felt as though she was right there with us."
Brown continues, “I have a great love for Stephen Foster’s melodies and my goal with the piece was to channel some of his melodic sensibility to evoke the imagined ease and rustic elegance of a late 19th century American soirée.”
“Porches” follows Brown’s recently released tracks “Sun And Water" ("Here Comes The Sun"/"Aguas de Março”) and “Foggy Morning Breaking” (feat. Steve Martin), which she spoke about with PEOPLE Magazine. With On Banjo, due May 5th via Compass Records, Brown offers additional notable collaborations including tracks with virtuoso mandolinist Sierra Hull, Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen, GRAMMY-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, and fiddle stalwart Stuart Duncan.
Whether it’s classical or jazz, bluegrass or Brazilian choro, Brown’s elegant take on an instrument that is often pigeonholed in bluegrass music can draw in even the most skeptical listener.
Brown will tour across the US with shows in Nashville, her hometown of San Diego, Phoenix, Cleveland and more, including appearances at MerleFest, Mountain Stage, the Grand Ole Opry, FreshGrass, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion and Grey Fox. For more information on Alison Brown, visit alisonbrown.com.
ALISON BROWN ON TOUR:
28-Apr Merlefest – Wilkesboro NC
5-May Grand Ole Opry – Nashville TN
6-May Bluegrass Hall of Fame – Owensboro KY
7-May Mountain Stage – Marietta OH
19-May Analog at The Hutton – Nashville TN
20-May FreshGrass Festival – Bentonville AR
22-Jun Park and Market Series – San Diego CA
23-Jun Musical Instrument Museum – Phoenix AZ
14-Jul Grey Fox Festival – Hillsdale NY
11-Aug The Ark – Ann Arbor MI
12-Aug Cain Park – Cleveland Heights OH
13-Aug Homer Center for the Arts – Homer NY
14-Aug Chattaqua – Chattaqua NY
8-Sep Bristol Rhythm and Roots Festival – Bristol VA
23-Sep FreshGrass Festival – North Adams MA