* 4 bios below.
Bio | Tim O'Brien Band (short version)
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize, who last year marked 40 years as a band. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986, and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has collaborated with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell, as well as with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin.
This year’s March release, Tim O’Brien Band, features his regular touring band of well known players Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle), and Patrick Sauber (banjo/guitar), and Jan Fabricius (vocal). Shaping O’Brien’s Blues, Jazz, and Celtic influences within a string band setting, they transform five originals and some well- chosen covers into his own unique brand of bluegrass.
Other notable O’Brien recordings include the bluegrass Dylan covers of Red On Blonde, the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of The Crossing, and the Grammy winning folk of Fiddler’s Green. His 2017 release Where the River Meets the Road paid tribute to the music of his native West Virginia. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015.
Bio | Tim O’Brien with Jan Fabricius
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school. Gaining attention in the 1980’s with Colorado’s Hot Rize, O’Brien scored a country hit with Kathy Mattea’s cover of his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986. Soon artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks also covered his songs. Collaborators include his sister Mollie O’Brien, old time musician Dirk Powell, and songwriters Darrell Scott, Steve Earle, and Mark Knopfler. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015.
Notable O’Brien recordings like the bluegrass Dylan covers of Red On Blonde and the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of The Crossing led to Grammy winning CD’s Fiddler’s Green (2005) and The Earls of Leicester (2014). 2017’s Where the River Meets the Road paid tribute to the music of his native West Virginia. This year’s March 2019 release, Tim O’Brien Band, features well known players Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle), and Patrick Sauber (banjo/guitar), and Jan Fabricius (vocal). Shaping Tim’s Blues, Jazz, and Celtic influences within a string band setting, they transform five originals and eight well-chosen covers into his own unique brand of bluegrass.
Tim O’Brien performs in a duet setting with his partner Jan Fabricius on harmony vocals. Featuring his solid guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, the shows cover a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements mixed with stories and Tim’s self-deprecating humor.
Bio | Tim O'Brien Band (long version)
After many years navigating the outskirts of bluegrass and acoustic music, Tim O’Brien’s dusky, unmistakable vocal timbre and instrumental stylings have this time landed with two feet squarely back in bluegrass.
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim first toured nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986, and soon more artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has released 15 solo CD’s, as well as collaborations with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell. He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin, and produced records for Yonder Mountain String Band, Kathy Mattea, and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke.
His latest release ‘Tim O’Brien Band’ is the coming together of a group of musicians perfectly aligned in intention and ability. Purposefully hack, the title is a nod to the nuts and bolts of trad bluegrass, and the singular energy a band such as this can conjure. Well known instrumentalists Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle) and Patrick Sauber (banjo/guitar) bring the same team effort to the studio that O’Brien fans know from recent live performances, forging Tim’s song choice and delivery into something fluid and breathing. ‘This crew has the potential to make ten more records together and never reach the limit of the possibilities’. Particularly noteworthy are the harmony vocals of Jan Fabricius. ‘We've sung together informally since she became my partner seven years ago, and she's always had a real natural way with the harmony, kinda pasting her sound onto mine’. Her distinctly folky voice is serendipitously matched with Tim’s, and consonant with his arrival at the bluegrass world from the side of a folk musician. She sings lead on The Other Woman.
Tim O’Brien Band is also a return to where it all started for Tim - as a guitarist. As audiences can attest, Tim’s elastic yet menacingly groovy guitar playing is as pivotal to his sound as his mandolin playing. ‘Something about lead singer and guitar player makes so much sense’ says Tim. With his 1937 Martin OO-18, Tim O’Brien Band marks a return to the place that Jimmy Martin, Lester Flatt and Carter Stanley held at the helm of their bands. Tim’s mandolin and fiddle cravings are satisfied on select tracks, through occasional overdubbing, and with the help of special guest guitarist and Hot Rize cohort Bryan Sutton on two numbers.
At its core Tim O’Brien Band is a bluegrass record, yet still manages to tap into the roving folklorist nature that Tim is known for. His ability to gather and interpret song is not exempt here. Of the five originals on the record, Dan Auerbach, Shawn Camp, and Jan Fabricius get co-write credits, crafting an assemblage of songs broad in their scope, refined yet playful in their execution. O’Brien also mines songs by old friends and heroes J.D. Hutchison (Drunkard’s Walk), Norman Blake (Last Train From Poor Valley), Dirk Powell (My Love Lies In the Ground), and Utah folklorist Hal Cannon (Wind) who also pointed O’Brien to the cowboy ballad Doney Gal. Reels from Irish fiddlers Kevin Burke and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh become American hoedowns (Hop Down Reel/ Johnny Doherty's Reel) in this group’s hands.
The opener Diggin My Potatoes is a buoyant blues turned bluegrass learned from Big Bill Broonzy, a Chicago musician from the 1940’s and a favorite of Tim’s. It’s a telling jump-off for the album, establishing the fusion at its core as the band lays heavy on the blue 3rd while Bub’s dog-house bass digs the groove deep in the ground.
As real then as it is now, Pastures of Plenty is Woody Guthrie ‘standing up for the migrant workers in the 1940's’. Tim’s minor key version has an darker urgency to it, with driving breaks from the guitar and fiddle. ‘Singing his [Woody’s] words can't hurt in these times, as the same story continues in the USA’.
The instrumental La Gringa Renee, a mandolin led homage to Jan (Renee her middle name) ‘emerged from the wind under the palm trees on Soliman Bay, in the Yucatán Peninsula’. It’s Bolero meets Klezmer, the melody quickening then settling, opening then folding. Wind, written by Salt Lake City musician and folklorist Hal Cannon, is a rumination on the capricious, yet compelling force that shadows us through life. Harmonically varied and rhythmically crooked, it’s reminiscent of The High Road, an O’Brien classic that’s become a staple in contemporary bluegrass circles.
Beyond, co-written with Shawn Camp, is ‘about the unknown and its potential; a gospel version of the Western music classic ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’. While tapping into the Bluegrass tradition of sacred music, it adheres to the Hot Rize maxim of "guilt free gospel" (all of the message and none of the mess).
Tim O’Brien Band is a return to bluegrass, but also a continuation of the Crooked Road that Tim sings about on the final track. It’s new, but familiar in the same way that we have watched his career wind from port to port. ‘I walk a crooked road, it leads me to tomorrow / through all my joy and sorrow I walk a crooked road’.
Bio | Jan Fabricius
Jan Fabricius grew up in western Kansas. Her father was a wheat farmer and US Postal worker and her mother was a nurse. Her older sister Diane taught her piano and later mandolin. She played clarinet in her high school band and was in choir in school and church. She has attended the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield KS since 1976 and also enjoyed attending various bluegrass festivals over the years singing and jamming around the campgrounds. She is a Registered Nurse. She raised 2 sons and has 3 granddaughters. She started dating Tim O’Brien in 2011 and in 2013 moved to Nashville. The two play fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs around home, and when Tim made his recording, Pompadour, in 2015, Jan sang background vocals on several songs and was soon singing on stage with Tim. Her early influences include Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hot Rize, New Grass Revival, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Norman Blake amongst many others. Her vocals and mandolin are also featured on Tim’s recording “Where the River Meets the Road” (2017) and this years “Tim O’Brien Band”.