Darol Anger and The Furies on the bricks
In what promises to be a resounding and memorable hour on the bricks, legendary violinist Darol Anger and The Furies will unleash their wild, eclectic world-Celt-bluegrass and rock sound Wednesday at Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show.
It might seem unusual for a "name" act like this one to be offered gratis, but Anger says he and his troupe have lots of friends in Ashland, and it's a good stopover between the Northwest String Summit near Portland and other shows in the Bay Area.
Anger will perform at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15.
Anger won fame starting in 1977 at age 21 as a fiddler for the David Grisman Quintet and as co-founder, composer and performer for the Turtle Island String Quartet with David Balakrishnan, and for his 1982 Windham Hill Records album "Tideline," with Barbara Higbie.
Anger says his music has always been hard to define, but it includes traditional and original pieces that draw from blues, rock, soul and other genres.
"It's just music music," he says during a telephone interview. "It's music we all need to listen to. It's what America is all about."
The Green Show performance might include songs from his Windham Hill days, which he describes as "a strange thing. Every musician at Windham was original and kind of quirky and made good music that sold itself.
"Windham told us to make our music, not the music they wanted, and they paid us and publicized it, and that's kind of amazing. I was really happy with those folks. The recording industry is now pretty much done. It seems it really exists to make music unavailable."
Anger has 40 albums behind him. His favorite, he says, is his latest one, "Look Up, Look Down," with longtime Ashlander and singer-songwriter Emy Phelps, who also moved to the East Coast.
"We have probably the world's best Celtic harp player, Maeve Gilchrist, and the world's most exciting cellist, Rushad Eggleston, a founder of the group Crooked Still," which is described as an "alternative bluegrass" group. Sharon Gilchrist plays mandolin and Phelps is on guitar and vocals. One band member, percussionist Nic Gareiss, is "probably the best step dancer I've ever seen, comparable to Fred Astaire — and I hope he inspires everyone to get up and dance."
For years, Anger lived in San Francisco. But because of traffic, crowding and a "downhill-trending" urban environment, he moved to Portland and later to Boston, where he teaches at Berklee College of Music and picked up a new project, building violins.
Anger says his group is named after the Furies, avenging female angels of Gaelic mythology, but instead of bringing destruction, he hopes the band encourages folk- and step-dancing among the audience.