The Gina Furtado Project brings unique sound to classic instrumental

Article Contributed by Mountain Home … | Published on Sunday, April 11, 2021

After a steady stream of original songs by its namesake, the Mountain Home Music Company’s Gina Furtado Project takes a nifty side trip with an energetic version of a classic old-time-by-way-of-bluegrass instrumental, the “Kansas City Railroad Blues,” their first single produced by award-winning banjo player Kristin Scott Benson. The latest release places the spotlight squarely on the group’s impeccable virtuosity, while offering an introduction to new contributors to the Project’s authentically unique sound.

The newest member of the Gina Furtado Project is bassist Lu Furtado, joining sisters Gina (banjo) and Malia (fiddle) in what’s both a personal and, given their past performances as teens in a family band, a musical reunion, too. “Kansas City Railroad Blues” is tailor made for a muscular rhythm section, and after Lu’s brief, punchy introduction, she’s joined by guitarist Drew Matulich in a convincing demonstration of driving train rhythms — cast first in bluegrass mode and then, mid-way through the track, shifting to a more swing-flavored feel. The foundation serves as an irresistible platform for deft solos in both styles by Matulich, Gina — twice nominated for the IBMA’s Banjo Player of the Year award — Malia and guest mandolinist Wayne Benson (Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out), and the result is a performance that shows off the distinctive, multi-dimensional playing of each.  

"How in the world I made it all these years as a banjo player and not heard of ‘Kansas City Railroad Blues,’ I have no idea,” confesses Gina. “Nonetheless, I heard this tune for the very first time last year, and it quickly became my new favorite. This tune has the magic fire that drew me to the banjo as a kid and hasn't let me put it down since. I chose it knowing it would be a great way to show off the hot pickers in the band. It provides a perfect template for Drew and Malia to exhibit their pristine swing style chops. 

“This is also the first single of ours that includes our newest band member, Lu Furtado,” she adds. “And boy, does she make a grand entrance with her stellar bass playing! Lastly, Wayne Benson and Kristin Scott Benson, joining us on mandolin and from the producer's chair, respectively, made this a super special recording. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it!"

Listen to "Kansas City Railroad Blues" HERE.

About The Gina Furtado Project

Formed by innovative artist Gina Furtado, The Gina Furtado Project brings unique musicianship and songwriting that breaks free from the assumed constructs of traditional music modalities and makes a new musical statement influenced by emotion, played with the highest skill, and expressing an enormous verve and vitality.

Furtado, known for her work as the banjo player for Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, has a long history with her banjo. Born and raised in Front Royal, Virginia, Gina began touring up and down the east coast in her tween years with her siblings, earning countless ribbons from fiddlers conventions, a strong reputation in the regional bluegrass scene, and a stamp from Bluegrass Today as “absurdly talented.” She later played in a number of regional acts before making her international touring debut with Chris Jones and the Night Drivers soon after joining the group in 2016.

While touring, she is joined by Drew Matulich on guitar and her sisters Malia Furtado, on violin and Lu Furtado on bass, and each brings experience and energy to the band.

Now based in Asheville, NC, Matulich grew up in Georgia and began playing guitar at 8.  While studying music in college he performed with several bands of various styles in and around Georgia and Florida before immersing himself in the Bluegrass scene of Western North Carolina. He has toured and recorded with Billy Strings, made a guest appearance on Roland White's album and shared the stage with the likes of David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Sam Bush, Cody Kilby, and Sierra Hull. 

Malia’s musical journey began at the age of 3 with classical violin lessons and took a turn, when she attended her first festival, Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, a few years later. Since then, she has performed with a number of different groups, taken home a range of prizes, graced the stage of numerous venues up and down the East Coast and given private lessons in both bluegrass and classical playing. Malia is the Director of Education at the Front Porch Music School in Charlottesville, VA, and currently teaches adult continued education courses in bluegrass fiddle at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA.

Lu Furtado has been attending bluegrass and old time music festivals since she was born. She began playing multiple instruments at the age of ten, and has been a winner at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention playing the Clawhammer banjo, as well as flat foot dancing. She has toured and recorded with multiple bands of varying styles, including Banana Express and the Hi Flyers. She taught banjo for several years at the Galax Elementary School and private music lessons for many years. She brings double trouble to the Gina Furatdo Project with her silky, low harmony vocals as well as her stylish, groovy bass playing.