|Mike Barnett and Northern Lights Band
Hometown: Western Massachusetts
Web site: http://www.northernlightsband.com
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Northern Lights, the Northeast's superlative veteran string band, doesn't qualify as typical traditionalist. But over a three-decade career, the band has created its own tradition - a constant exploration of new musical territory without ever losing its acoustic and vocal bearings. From 1990's "Take You to the Sky," to 2005's "New Moon" (Fifty-Fifty Music), the band has fused an eclectic mix of traditional roots music, rock, country, soul and gospel with the high, lonesome vocal sound and instruments of bluegrass.
The group, now a quintet, has performed at festivals and concert halls from coast to coast and abroad, including the Newport Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, American Folklife Center, Barns at Wolf Trap, Strawberry Music Festival, Walnut Valley Festival, Smithsonian Institute, Festival Sur la Route de Tullins (France), Bumbershoot Festival and the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
They have recorded 10 albums, including “Three August Nights”, a live CD with the late legendary Nashville fiddler Vassar Clements, who often performed with them, and three of their CDs reached the top ten of Bluegrass Unlimited’s National Bluegrass Survey.
Northern Lights performs regularly at arts council events, including series that present a wide range of musical styles, including jazz and classical, and double bills with renowned artists such as Jonathan Edwards.
Mike Barnett (fiddle, lead/harmony vocals) a 17-year-old native of Nashville, Tennessee, has played with the Gordon Stone Band and toured nationally with the legendary Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys, including appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Mike is a real child prodigy, following in the footsteps of Mark O'Connor--he's even mentioned on Mark's website. He is the youngest instructor ever to teach at the Fiddle School at Vanderbilt University (at age 15), and he put out his own CD, “Lost Indian”, in 2004, followed by performing on the Gordon Stone album “Rhymes with Orange”, in 2005. Also in 2005, Mike placed 9th in the Grand Master Fiddler Championship in Nashville. Crystal Plohman, Mike’s mentor and Director of Vanderbilt’s Fiddling Program at Blair School of Music, describes Mike as “one of the hottest, fastest rising musicians in bluegrass music.” Mike is currently a resident of Longmeadow, MA. His website is mikebarnettfiddle.com.