Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers

Boarding House Park
40 French Street
Lowell, MA Venue Information
Buy Tickets Friday August 14, 2015 7:30 PM
$40 in advance / $140 premium / $45 day of concert
No ticket fees!

Special Guest: Chris Plante

Almost three decades after winning a Grammy for Best New Artist and launching one of contemporary music's most diverse careers, Bruce Hornsby still makes joyful noise as he discovers clever and expansive ways to chronicle dynamic musical snapshots of his often generously collaborative journey.

Nothing better illustrates this than Hornsby's communion with his longtime band, The Noisemakers. And nothing catches that connection with more daring fluency than a couple of live collections released eleven years apart; 2011's Bride of the Noisemakers, a set of concert recordings from 2007 to 2009, and 2000's Here Come the Noisemakers, which initially unveiled Hornsby and his band's free-wheeling live approaches to the Virginia-born pianist and composer's memorable songs.

Tapping into many of the genres that have influenced Hornsby's music over the years - pop, jazz, bluegrass, country and modern classical - these collections feature songs from previous releases such as Big Swing Face (2002), Halcyon Days (2004), and Levitate (2009) -- as well as from Camp Meeting (2007), which featured bassist Christian McBride and drummer Jack DeJohnette, plus Hornsby's acclaimed early releases such as Scenes From The Southside (1988), Hothouse (1995), and Spirit Trail (1998).

The Noisemakers are bassist J.V. Collier, a twenty-year veteran of the band, as well as keyboardist/organist John "JT" Thomas and drummer Sonny Emory, who have played with Hornsby twenty-four and twelve years respectively. Summer 2014 marks the arrival of two new Noisemakers -- fiddle/mandolin player Ross Holmes and guitarist Gibb Droll -- as well as the departures of longtime members Bobby Read and Doug Derryberry. Holmes currently fiddles for Mumford and Sons, has played with hosts of Nashville titans as diverse as Ricky Skaggs and the Dixie Chicks, and has performed with symphonies in the United States and Europe. Droll has played guitar on various projects involving Keller Williams, Kevin Kinney, and Brandi Carlile; he is also a composer, and painter.

"I think the guys in The Noisemakers like the gig because there's never a dull moment and we attempt to keep the spontaneity factor high," Hornsby says. "The idea always is, 'Watch Bruce.' I'm a fairly loose leader and I don't like to rehearse. We mostly just ride around the country on a bus and laugh a lot. Hopefully you can hear that loose spirit in our shows."

For all his talents as a singer, bandleader and pianist with an instantly identifiable sound, Hornsby is a songwriter at heart committed to portraying his songs in changing ways that allow them to expand organically. This approach was further developed by Hornsby's time with The Grateful Dead when he joined the legendary band between 1990 and 1995 for over a hundred shows. In the Dead's vibrant tradition of loosely blending improvised folk and blues Hornsby found a shared musical aesthetic.

In recent years, he has pushed his artistic limits, working with bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs, The Bruce Hornsby Trio, and jazz legend Charlie Haden. Hornsby has also scored a number of projects for filmmaker Spike Lee including the documentary Kobe Doin' Work (2009), Red Hook Summer (2012), and the upcoming Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Hornsby has contributed to all-star collections that pay tributes to Fats Domino, The Band and in 2014, Jackson Browne. A music graduate of University of Miami, Hornsby also has partnered with its Frost School of Music to establish the Creative American Music Program, a curriculum designed to develop the creative skills of talented young artist/songwriters by immersing them in the many traditions that form the foundations of modern American songwriting.

"In the spirit of musical evolution, I'm always trying to keep my band on their toes," Hornsby says. "I was a sideman once and I know only too well how playing the same thing the same way night after night can become a dismal prison." That recognition lay behind the 2006 release of Hornsby's box set Intersections (1985-2005), which groups his long career into three different categories: "Top 90 Time;" "Solo Piano, Tribute Records, Country-Bluegrass, Movie Scores;" and "By Request (Favorites and Best Songs)."

The classifications illuminate Hornsby's bedrock notions about his music: He wants to ensure that even his most familiar pop songs avoid the frozen-in-time quality of museum pieces. A third of the music on Intersections previously is unreleased, and most of the best-known tracks appear in live versions. The set also features "Song H," a composition that was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental.

Still, Intersections tells only a part of Hornsby's extraordinary musical story. His three Grammy wins typify the diversity of his first decade of recording: Best New Artist as leader of Bruce Hornsby and the Range; Best Bluegrass Recording for a version of "The Valley Road" that appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken Volume II; and a shared award with Branford Marsalis in 1993 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Barcelona Mona," a song for the 1992 Olympic Games.

The commercial successes and creative achievements of Hornsby's superstar collaborations -- including many sampled passages chosen by hip-hop artists -- verify Hornsby's fusion of wide appeal and musical adventure. Consider: His albums have sold over 11 million copies worldwide. The title cut from "The Way It Is" was the most played song on American radio in 1987, winning the ASCAP Song of the Year award. Harbor Lights won the 1994 of Downbeat Reader's Poll Beyond Album of the Year -- a citation given to music from any genre apart from jazz or blues. The late Tupac Shakur, working with Hornsby, fashioned a new song over "The Way It Is" adding new lyrics and calling the result "Changes." The track was an international hit and sold fourteen million copies.

Over the years, Hornsby has played on over a hundred records, including albums by Bob Dylan, Don Henley, the Grateful Dead, Bob Seger, Crosby Stills and Nash, Stevie Nicks, Cowboy Junkies, Squeeze, Chaka Khan, Liquid Jesus, Bonnie Raitt, Chris Whitley, Shawn Colvin, Bela Fleck, Clint Black, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Randy Scruggs, and Willie Nelson. Hornsby contributed end-title songs for the Spike Lee films Clockers and Bamboozled.

Hornsby has participated in memorable events: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1995 opening concert, Farm Aid IV and VI, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival, Bonnaroo, and Woodstock II and III. An avid sports fan, Hornsby -- solo and with Branford Marsalis -- has performed the National Anthem for many major events including the NBA All-Star game, four NBA finals, and the 1997 World Series Game 5. His work appears on the soundtrack to Ken Burns Baseball.

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Special Guest:Chris Plante

Born into a musical family, songwriter and producer Chris Plante was encouraged early on by his father Bill (an experienced musician in his own right) to fully explore the many paths that a musical life can offer. Starting piano at age five, Chris studied classical music and won National Piano Guild honors until his teens, when a skateboarding accident left him with a broken leg and a painful blessing-in-disguise.

Hobbled by a cast that summer before high school, Chris was introduced by his grandfather to Berklee Professor and legendary jazz musician Les Harris Sr. Professor Harris, who had taught the likes of Levon Helm and Stevie Smith, immersed Chris in the Berklee curriculum from age 13 until he enrolled in the fall of 2003. The two remain close, Les mentoring and jamming jazz standards with Chris to this day.

Chris entered Berklee as a film scoring major in 2003, simultaneously joining The Brew as lead singer and writer. The Brew went on to become a highly respected band in the Northeast, recording and releasing eight albums, charting a Top 100 AAA Radio hit with "When Darkness Comes" and playing more than 1000 shows regionally and nationally until 2013. Highlights have included opening slots for Bruce Hornsby and Michael McDonald, touring with Bill Kreutzmann and Scars on 45, and sharing the stage at major festivals with The Allman Brothers, The Levon Helm Band, Little Feat, moe., Mat Kearney, and many others.

Since stepping away from The Brew in 2013, Chris continues to grow musically, developing a body of up-tempo and groove-oriented songs that extend his indie pop sensibilities into fresh lyrical and melodic terrain. Partnering with Co-Producer Alex Sandman, he is currently in the studio working towards the release of a new full-length album.

Chris Plante is an officially endorsed Yamaha contemporary pianist.

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