Out Today: Grammy-winner TIM O'BRIEN's new album CUP OF SUGAR, his first of all original music

Article Contributed by Propeller Publicity | Published on Friday, June 16, 2023

With a career spanning more than four decades, there are not a lot of "firsts" for Grammy-winner Tim O’Brien, until now. O'Brien's new album, Cup of Sugar, finds the renowned songwriter and multi-instrumentalist delivering 13 original new tracks which he's either written or co-written. The cover art says a lot about the album, with its black and white hands extended in a neighborly fashion. The title track features the lyrics, "I try to pick my battles, don't want to start a war. If I need a cup of sugar, I'll knock on my neighbor's door." You can hear Tim and the band performing the song on a recent NPR Mountain Stage episode HERE. O'Brien and his band kick off the album release this weekend at Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, followed by a summer full of festival dates, an appearance on Woodsongs Old Time Hour, and shows at Nashville's famed Station Inn in July. (Scroll down for a complete schedule.)

Cup of Sugar includes songs about a bear, a fish, lambs, horses and some people too — a grave digger, a neighbor, and even venerable '60s and '70s CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite. May of the songs deal with aging with humor and poignancy. Bluegrass Today notes O'Brien's "terrific" sense of humor and droll wit, both in evidence in throughout the album, but also points out that there's "cleverness behind the japes, some wisdom in the jokes."




In "Bear," a whimsical song inspired by the book The Bear Goes Home, “Bear,” a bear wakes up from hibernation to a world that’s changed so drastically that it looks uninhabitable. O’Brien says of the song, “I can identify with the bear because I’m getting old. I can relate to a lot of new stuff and while I do fairly well in spite of all the changes, sometimes I’ll swear at them. The bear represents anyone struggling with a changing world.”

"Llittle Lamb Little Lamb" find O'Brien commenting on the cycle of life, contrasting springtime and the frolicking new lambs with own advancing age. He observes, "It’s just like magic how the seasons come and go/Reassures me in a way you’ll never know/Living and dying walk along hand in hand/ You wouldn’t understand little lamb little lamb."

O'Brien is backed by his loyal bandmates Mike Bub, Shad Cobb and wife Jan Fabricius, supplemented by Jamie Dick on drums, Mike Rojas on keyboards, Russ Pahl on steel guitar, and Cory Walker on banjo. Bluegrass icon Del McCoury lends his signature guitar and tenor vocal on “Let the Horses Run.” Co-writers include Ronnie Bowman, Jonathon Byrd, Shawn Camp, Jan Fabricius, and Thomm Jutz.

Sounding more and more like himself, O’Brien will debut the new material from Cup of Sugar at the 50th annual Telluride Bluegrass festival on June 17. Please go to www.timobrien.net for updates.


# Tim O’Brien Band

^ Tim O’Brien with Jan Fabricius

06-17-2023 Telluride, CO - Telluride Bluegrass Festival #

07-08-2023 Frankfort, IL - Frankfort Bluegrass Fest #

07-09-2023 Frankfort, IL - Frankfort Bluegrass Fest #

07-26-2023 Berwyn, IL - FitzGeralds #

07-27-2323 Minneapolis, MN - The Dakota #

07-28-2023 Manitowish Waters, WI - Midsummer Bluegrass Festival #

07-29-2023 Manitowish Waters, WI - Midsummer Bluegrass Festival #

08-18-2023 Manchester Center, VT - Green Mountain Bluegrass ^

08-19-2023 Manchester Center, VT - Green Mountain Bluegrass ^

08-20-2023 Red Hook, NY - Hardeman Orchards ^

09-13-2023 Austin, TX - The 04 Center ^

09-14-2023 Houston, TX - Mucky Duck ^

09-15-2023 Ft. Worth, TX - Grand Ballroom at Southside Preservation Hall ^

09-28-2023 Easton, MD - Historic Avalon Theatre ^

09-29-2023 White Hall, MD - Star Bright Farm ^

09-30-2023 Mamaroneck, NY - Emelin Theatre ^

10-01-2023 Berwick, ME - Hackmatack Playhouse ^

10-02-2023 Cambridge, MA - Club Passim ^

10-07-2023 Chattanooga, TN - 3 Sisters Music Festival #

10-14-2023 Big Stone Gap, VA Blue Highway Fest #

11-03-2023 Moab, UT - Moab Folk Fest ^

11-04-2023 Moab, UT - Moab Folk Fest ^

11-15-2023 Richmond, VA - Tin Pan ^

11-17-2023 Berryville, VA - Barns at Rose Hill

11-18-2023 Parkersburg, WV - Parkersburg Arts Center

12-08-2023 Oak Ridge, TN - Secret City Radio Show ^