During the past two decades, Berkeley, California based bandleader / singer / songwriter / fiddler / guitarist / bass player Laurie Lewis has quietly established herself as one of the finest, most diversely talented artists in traditional music.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, she learned to play the violin as a child. Then as a teen in the 60's she was exposed to the era's best folk music at the Berkeley Folk Festivals, hearing many of the greats such as Doc Watson, Jean Ritchie, Mississippi John Hurt and the Greenbriar Boys. Almost as soon as she heard it, she fell under the spell of the first great innovators of bluegrass, including Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers and bluegrass founder Bill Monroe.
She has twice won the California State Women's Fiddle Championship and in the mid '70s she was a founding member of the Grant Street String Band. In the '80s she was a member of the all-woman bluegrass group, Blue Rose. Laurie preferred the low key figure approach in bluegrass, traditional country and folk music circles. That circle has widened a bit and now has the admiration of her peers in the music business and fans around the world. She was twice voted the International Bluegrass Music Association "Female Vocalist of the year." Her album, The Oak and the Laurel, was nominated for a Grammy as "Best Traditional Folk Album" in 1996. She truly is an award-winning fiddle player and one of the best flat out breakdown fiddlers around.
Joining forces with Laurie are Tom Rozum, Todd Phillips and Craig Smith. Rozum's versatility and diverse musical influences come to the forefront as this group takes the stage. He plays primarily mandolin with the band, but is also an accomplished fiddle, mandola and guitar player. He is a fine lead vocalist and the ideal harmony partner for Laurie (their duet collaboration on the grammy nominated The Oak and the Laurel Album).
Todd Phillips has been appearing with the group since the summer of 1996. He is best known for his consummate bassmanship but is also a talented mandolinist. He is one of the few real stylists on acoustic bass and one of the very best practitioners of that instrument on the traditional music scene today. Incidentally, he was the bass player on Tom and Laurie's The Oak and the Laurel.
For the past several years, Craig Smith's impeccable banjo picking has been a secret shared by acoustic music's cognoscenti. His reputation has grown quickly, and is known as a musician's musician. His music has reached its largest audience as a featured artist on the Grammy-nominated release, Slide Rule.
As performers, this group showcases diverse talents and memorable songs that will leave an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of their audience.