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Mike Marshall and Darol Anger Debut New Album, ‘Da Capo’

Mike Marshall and Darol Anger

Legendary string duo Mike Marshall (mandolin) and Darol Anger (fiddle) are celebrating their 41st year of collaboration with a new LP, Da Capo. Performed entirely by Marshall and Anger, the album showcases the persistent creativity and musical chemistry that has inspired generations of string musicians all over the world. 
 

With Da Capo, the duo have now released eight influential recordings over their history, beginning during their tenure with the David Grisman Quintet and proceeding through their years with Windham Hill, Compass, and their own label, Adventure.
 
Below, we sit down with Marshall and Anger to discuss this brilliant new release. You can pick up the CD at Darol’s website, or digitally at the duo’s Bandcamp page
 
What was the catalyst for the new album?
 
We celebrated our 41st year of playing music together in 2019. It’s been quite an eventful ride, and even when we have pursued separate projects, they seem to have paralleled each other in uncanny ways. Our lives are linked musically and in other ways that are not explainable. That’s something worth celebrating. At the end of 2018, we decided to make a new recording to commemorate all of that.
 
Both of us had written some new music that we realized would be perfect for the duo. It had been some years since we had made a “live,” unorchestrated recording, and our ensemble skills have deepened and widened in the past decade through all our teaching and delving into the gnarly details of how to play music.
 
Tell us a bit about your musical choices and how you arrived at each tune.
 
We wanted to record music that would be complete in one live pass, playing together. We wanted a mix of tunes we’d been playing for years, and the new stuff. And we wanted it to be mostly our originals. These exemplify the vast stylistic reach of current string band music…what else can be said? We helped invent this form, working together with musicians such as David Grisman, Tony Rice, Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor, Chris Thile, David Balakrishnan, Tony Trischka, Michael Hedges, and others. Speaking of Hedges, there is actually a tribute to him on this recording.  
 
The only non-originals are our rather idiosyncratic but highly-informed versions of the great Brazilian string band style, Choro, to which Mike has dedicated so many years of his musical life. There are two of these Choro pieces, which showcase Darol’s sophisticated rhythm fiddle concept developed over 12 years of teaching violin at Berklee College and at his ArtistWorks online fiddle school, and Mike’s startling virtuosity on mandolin.
 
How is the album reflective of your history together and your playing or musical styles?
 
We chose music reflecting just about every style and era that we love. The album possesses the strong stamp of our personalities, and shows our love of the beauty of string instruments. The material all draws on the precision and rhythmic power of Bluegrass and traditional string music, but with an expanded harmonic palette that suggests jazz but is something more. It’s our original mix, reflecting the history of popular music from all over the world. The musical forms vary from highly structured sections with evolved counterpoint to open jams seesawing between two or more moods.
 
Tell us about some of the instruments you recorded with. 
 
Mike plays a brand-new mandolin developed, with his help, by the Northfield mandolin company. He also plays his unique and precious John Monteleone mando-cello, and a fine old Martin guitar borrowed for the sessions from a friend in the Boston area. Darol plays an extraordinary, radically-designed violin by Nathaniel Rowan.
 
Can you speak about some of the producers or additional instrumentalists that contributed to the project?
 
We produced and recorded it ourselves drawing on our long history and knowledge of the recording craft. We recorded it in Darol’s portable attic studio in Boston over two days using our collection of fine microphones and preamps. Darol pushed the buttons, turned the dials and set up the mics. Mike edited and mixed the performances (very little of each) with quite a bit of help from an old friend, engineer David Luke, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was masterfully mastered by another long-time collaborator, Ken Lee, also in Oakland, California.
 
We purposefully recorded the entire thing as a duet, with nothing else added, duplicating the feeling of a live show, and showcasing our mutual resources as the largest-sounding duet string ensemble that we know of.
 
We hope you’re enjoying your bluegrass lessons with ArtistWorks and will consider renewing to continue your musical journey.
 

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