Two masters of the bedrock instruments of old time music -- mandolin and banjo -- Mike Compton and Joe Newberry collaborate with a vision that's both modern and ageless. These traditional music veterans love to play together... and it shows. Although they live far apart, their music makes them seem like they are next-door neighbors. And audiences around the world agree.
Mike Compton, a musician’s musician, has rightly earned a reputation as one of the best and most influential mandolin players in acoustic music today. Grammy award winner, nominated IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year, and musical US Ambassador throughout the world, Mike has entertained at Carnegie Hall, at the White House, and been honored by the Mississippi State Senate commending his musical accomplishments.
Compton is a preservationist, continuing the music that Bill Monroe innovated on the mandolin and which set the standard for two generations of bluegrass mandolin players.
Over a span of 35 years, Compton has made a career playing on recordings adding his signature sound and flavor to many fantastic recordings over the years. Mike has made music with such diverse notables as the iconic mountain music man Ralph Stanley, British rock legend Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, guitar virtuoso David Grier, and producer T-Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou and Down From The Mountain tours), . When the Nashville Bluegrass Band was being put together, Mike was their first choice on mandolin, creating a “band like a marriage made in heaven.” In 1994, Mike became a sideman for John Hartford, whom he performed with until Hartford’s death. To date, Mike has performed on over 110 CDs in a variety of genres, with some of the most beloved artists of our day. The New York Times has called Compton a "new bluegrass instrumental hero."
Joe Newberry is a Missouri native and North Carolina transplant who has played music most of his life. In 2012, his song,”Singing As We Rise”, and performed by The Gibson Brothers, won an IBMA award for Gospel Recorded Performance Song. His powerful and innovative banjo playing has won contests around the country, including first-place at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival.
A prizewinning guitarist and singer as well, Joe plays with Big Medicine, bigmedmusic.com, which won first place Traditional Band at the 2002 Appalachian String Band Music Festival. From the stage of A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor said of Big Medicine "That's how string band music is supposed to sound... absolutely effortless. They're just a great band - I love this band."
He can be heard playing banjo and singing with Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, and Jim Watson - three former members of the Red Clay Ramblers.Joe can also be heard with the Grey Eagles - a trio with Rafe Stefanini and Jim Collier. When not working as a writer and editor, he does solo and studio work, and teaches and performs at festivals at home and abroad.
In their 2012 debut album, “LIVE”, Mike Compton and Joe Newberry mine one of the more neglected segments of country music history, that period during the '30's and '40's when brother duet music was transforming into bluegrass. These two masters of the bedrock of old time music collaborate with a vision that's both modern and ageless. Few are better equipped for the task with Newberry able to replicate the under-appreciated power of country rhythm guitar styles and exquisite open back banjo.
Mix in Mike's mastery of the Monroe style of mandolin and their simpatico duet singing and you have a two person string band that can effortlessly move from traditional songs to contemporary instrumentals to 'mother' ballads to original compositions with an ease that belies their intensity. It's not about the number of notes with Compton and Newberry. It's about telling the truth and paying homage to the song."