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Chris Castino & Chicken Wire Empire Independently Release Fresh Pickles
A Star-Studded Bluegrass Restyling of Castino’s Music with The Big Wu

Featuring appearances by

Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Vince Herman, Nick Forster, Tim O’Brien, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Andy Hall, and Album Co-Producer Adam Greuel

~Fresh Pickles Out TODAY February 4, 2022~
www.chriscastino.com

“Chris Castino is one of those rare musicians who thrives in multiple styles. In his case, the styles are rock and bluegrass. In a conversation with Phil Nusbaum, Chris spoke of his journey becoming a pro musician.”
KBEM Jazz88.5’s Bluegrass Saturday Morning with Phil Nusbaum

“Chris Castino’s love of bluegrass started in the mid ’90s when a lot of that music was lively, fun, and irreverent – much like 1995’s ‘Kangaroo.’”
The Bluegrass Situation Premieres “Kangaroo” 

“Castino sings with the kind of laid back, campfire swagger that lends itself well to this light-hearted advisory of a tune, and one can picture it right at home in the grainy picking sessions of Heartworn Highways… Castino is naturally suited for the bluegrass life and there is plenty to be excited for on Fresh Pickles.”
Glide Magazine Premieres “Jackson County”

St. Paul, Minn. — Chris Castino, the primary songwriter for The Big Wu, recently took the opportunity, while sitting through COVID-19 lock-downs in 2020 and 2021, to arrange some of his catalog into impeccably fitting bluegrass tunes with the incredibly talented band Chicken Wire Empire from Milwaukee, WI. With many of Chris’ lifelong musical heroes collaborating, including several GRAMMY winning artists in the bluegrass and Americana: Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Andy Hall, Vince Herman, Nick Forster, Keller Williams, and Adam Greuel, this feels like a classic bluegrass album and sounds instantly familiar. 

Fresh Pickles is a light-hearted, down-home concept that plays with the idea that although some of the songs were written many years before, they now feel brand new. Fresh. The album highlights some of his most beloved tunes with a classic 70’s and 80’s alt-bluegrass sound; it features stomping rippers and sweet, harmonic ballads, as well as a taste of genre-shifting psychedelic rides.

Met with critical acclaim, including premieres in The Bluegrass Situation, Relix, and Glide, as well as significant radio airplay and on the air in over 20 states—the album is currently at #4 on the Alt Country Chart this week and on the rise on the Americana and Jamband radio charts. Fresh Pickles was independently released February 4 and is now available to stream and purchase → https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/chriscastinowithchickenwireempire/fresh-pickles.

Chris Castino
Photo by David Jackson

Chris says, “What turned out to be just something to occupy our time while we weren’t touring, became something outstanding. It brings me joy to hear how these songs in particular have been given new life. For music lovers who are unfamiliar with my songs I truly believe that this record will be a fresh experience for them. It’s not essential to understand the history of these songs to appreciate them.” 

Album co-producer Adam Greuel (Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, The High Hawks) says, “I’ve always heard and felt the influence of bluegrass music on Caz’s songwriting. Lyrically, his content and themes seem to occasionally draw from that tradition, while the music has hints of that bluegrass drive or perhaps the sweetness of a traditional waltz. When Castino gave me a ring and explained that he was interested in breathing some new life into some of his more loved Big Wu classics by way of bluegrass, my initial reaction was raw excitement.”

Fresh Pickles can be seen as a retrospective and reexamination of Castino’s music through a bluegrass lens. The album features 11 original songs penned by Castino. All of which, but one, were first released on four of The Big Wu’s five studio albums spanning from 1997-2019. The Big Wu is a longtime popular Minnesota-based rock’n’roll jamband who formed in 1992. The band’s momentum was driven by Castino’s catchy songwriting and the band’s hefty tour schedule in the late 90’s early 00’s, which launched the band into becoming a mainstay in the national roots and jamband scene as a full-time touring commodity for years. They had quickly ascended from the comforts of the local club scene to playing H.O.R.D.E Fest, Bonnaroo (being the first band to perform at the inaugural event), Gathering of the Vibes, High Sierra, and the list goes on.

Castino’s early passion for bluegrass music was cultivated by his father, a professional singer of standards, who was captivated by that plaintive, lonesome vocal style. He says, “I learned all he could from the weekly dose of bluegrass served, like some foreign cuisine to the northern city folk of Minneapolis who knew not the traditions of the southern hill folk, by host Phil Nusbaum and his 35+ years long running radio show Bluegrass Saturday Morning on local community radio: to this day.” Captivated, he began to steer his composing down this road. 

Fresh Pickles aims to satisfy your cravings and is just the beginning of Castino’s heartfelt and fulfilling voyage into bluegrass. Always true to the tradition and authentic in presentation, Fresh Pickles is packed with great music. 

What folks are saying:

“Some tunes are firecrackers & others are dynamite. ‘Red Sky,’ is a workout that smokes. Guest fiddle-player Sam Bush provides the drive on this splendid tune. What makes Castino special is his ability to keep the bluegrass recipe spiced up with genre-shifting. He adds hints of 60s psychedelia, harmonic ballads, yet keeps it true to the tradition. This isn’t a novelty record; the songs are serious & well-played… These musicians must enjoy what they do because their joy translates through their instruments. The energy, fingering techniques, are all proponents that deliver substance with a modicum of joy. There aren’t any low points, missteps, loss of heat in any of these melodies.” —Americana Highways, John Apice

“This album is a collection of eleven beautifully complex and wonderfully arranged songs that highlight the lyrics and vocal abilities of Chris Castino. As the Big Wu fans have come to expect from him, he has delivered a masterpiece, a guided tour through a rootsy tapestry of sound that will make them all feel at home, even if in a slightly different musical environment… This is definitely an album for all Bluegrass fans … a triumph of technical ability bonded perfectly with the accessibility of the songs. An excellent addition to any country or bluegrass playlist… some astonishing music.”
Alan Cackett (UK)

“…the energy from the stage was powerful…the room even had a similar festival feel as The Big Wu show… the best part was standing near fans, who would shout within seconds of the song starting the title of the new Jam turned Bluegrass song and the delight of fans of Chris and the Chicken Wire Empire. It’s fun to get a new look (or listen) at music.”
Mostly Minnesota, Ann Treacy (Live show review Hook & Ladder 1/28/22)

“The Big Wu play a fairly large role in my high school and college days. I grew up in Aberdeen, SD, which seemed to be a common tour stop for the band. We even got a shoutout on the song ‘Red Sky’ (‘from Butte to Aberdeen’) and a nickname from the band, the Aberdeen Army… Each of these songs brings me to a place of nostalgia in the best possible way. That said, they are reimagined in a way that is still familiar and at the same time totally fresh pickles.”
KAXE, Kari Hedlund

“…don’t worry if you’re not familiar with The Big Wu, for this album can certainly function as an introduction to the band’s music. As long as you like good songwriting and appreciate some fine bluegrass playing, you’ll enjoy this album.”
Michael Doherty’s Music Log

“It is so great to hear Chris playing and singing with some of the best in the ever-expanding bluegrass world. To go from one of the seminal jambands of my young adult life to a bluegrass outfit is a testament to his versatility. Always loved Chris’s voice!”  —Adam Ajala (Yonder Mountain String Band)

“Castino is one witty and wild loon. His lyrics tell a vivid story and his chord progressions are often that lovely balance between familiar and boundary-pushing.” —Adam Greuel

“It’s fun to collaborate with old bros. This direction seems to make sense for Chris. Storytelling and quick picking is right up his alley.” Keller Williams

Fresh Pickles Track Listing:
1.) Kangaroo 2:38
2.) Red Sky 4:25 (feat. Sam Bush)
3.) Bound For the South 5:26 (w/ Tim O’Brien and Nick Forster)
4.) Shanty Town 3:24 (feat. Vince Herman)
5.) Minnesota Moon 3:41 (w/ Adam Greuel)
6.) Texas Fireball 2:38 (feat. Keller Williams and Andy Hall)
7.) Young Pioneer 3:57
8.) Rhode Island Red 3:18
9.) Jackson County 5:33 (feat. Jerry Douglas and Adam Greuel)
10.) The Ballad of Dan Toe 6:32 (feat. Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas)
11.) Irregular Heartbeat 4:59

Fresh Pickles Instrumentation:

Chris Castino – vocals, guitar

Chicken Wire Empire:
Jordan Kroeger – bass
Ernest Brusbardis IV – fiddle, vocals
Jon Peik – banjo, vocals
Ryan Ogburn – mandolin

WuGrass: Chris Castino & Chicken Wire Empire Tour Dates:
2/11 Fri – Martyrs  – Chicago, IL
2/12 Sat – Cavalier Theater & Lounge – LaCross, WI
3/17 Thu – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe – Kalamazoo, MI
3/18 Fri – Woodlands Tavern w/ Del McCoury Band – Columbus, OH
3/19 Sat – Parliament Room at Otus Supply – Ferndale, MI
4/28 Thu – High Noon Saloon – Madison, WI
5/27 Fri – Revival Music Festival – Clarks Grove, MN

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The 8th Annual Festy Experience Is Kicking Off At Infinity Downs Farm
Thursday-Sunday, October 5 – October 8, 2017

Featuring:

The Infamous Stringdusters, Ani DiFranco, Drive-By Truckers, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush Band, Beats Antique, The Jerry Douglas Band, Joan Osborne, The Travelin’ McCourys, and more!

The Festy Experience Presents The eTown Stage and “Almost eTown”
Featuring Host Nick Forster and Guest Host Danny Barnes

Visit the Chiackapig Farm

Full weekend and Single Day Tickets On Sale Now www.thefesty.com

Charlottesville, VA — The Festy Experience is excited about “The eTown Stage,” a new partnership with eTown, a nationally syndicated non­profit radio broadcast/podcast focused on educating and entertaining diverse audiences through music and conversation in order to create a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable world.

For over 25 years, eTown’s Nick & Helen Forster have produced musical, social, and environmental programming to uplift and inspire listeners around the world. eTown listeners come for the music… and stay for the message.

Their social and environmental focus makes eTown a perfect fit to host The eTown Stage, a third stage premiering at The 8th Annual Festy Experience. Throughout the weekend, eTown co-­host Nick Forster and acclaimed banjo bellwether Danny Barnes will present “Almost eTown,” a series of 30 ­minute conversational performances. Danny Barnes & Nick Forster will also be featured with their full band on The Skyline Tent Stage on Thursday night.

Almost eTown will consist of shorts sets and interviews with artists already performing at The 8th Annual Festy Experience which takes place October 5-8, 2017 in the Blue Ridge Bowl at Infinity Downs Farm, a 387-acre property in Arrington, Virginia at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This year’s full festival lineup includes The Infamous Stringdusters, Ani DiFranco, Drive-By Truckers, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush Band, Beats Antique, The Jerry Douglas Band, Joan Osborne performing the songs of Bob Dylan, and lots more.

In addition to Almost eTown, The eTown Stage will be home to family yoga, local artist performances, and workshops. The Festy aims to give the ultimate laid back festival experience which is fun for the entire family: camping, outdoor activities, craft food and beer, the 22nd Annual Blue Ridge Burn (5k/10k), and stellar music on three stages!

See the full schedule for each stage →  www.thefesty.com/lineup-by-day.

Chickappig Set up 2017The Festy is also excited to host the Chickapig Farm! Chickapig is a new strategic and fun board game created in Charlottesville. Chickapig breeder and game creator (and luthier) Brian Calhoun joined forces with his farming buddy and musician, Dave Matthews, to bring this game from farm to table where players dodge opponents, hay bales, and an unruly pooping cow. There will be games to play on site as well as a life sized version!

CupKleanKanteenFEsty2017.JPGEnvironmental sustainability is important to the organizers and they are eliminating all waste from single-use plastic cups. Instead every All Weekend ticket comes with a free commemorative steel pint cup from The Festy’s Partner, Klean Kanteen, which they can use for free water from filling stations placed throughout site as well as beer purchases.

The Festy Experience ~ Full 2017 Lineup:
The Infamous Stringdusters
Ani DiFranco
Drive-By Truckers
Elephant Revival
Sam Bush Band
Beats Antique
The Jerry Douglas Band
Joan Osborne
The Travelin’ McCourys
Sierra Hull
Danny Barnes & Nick Forster
EmiSunshine
Garrettgrass Gospel Hour
Della Mae
Cabinet
Shook Twins
Billy Strings
Sarah Siskind & Sunliner
Carl Anderson
Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers
Love Canon
Maggie Koerner
Dori Freeman
Erin Lunsford
Gallatin Canyon
Tara Mills

MapToArrington9
Location: Blue Ridge Bowl at Infinity Downs Farm
1510 Diggs Mountain Road
Arrington, VA 22922

Infinity Downs Farm is conveniently located just 35 miles south of Charlottesville and 30 miles north of Lynchburg, (it is also the site of LOCKN’ Festival). The property features outdoor amphitheaters, open fields, campgrounds, hiking, and over 7 miles of biking trails. Stay tuned for more information about outdoor activities and workshops.

Tickets, more information, and updates at www.TheFesty.com,
www.twitter.com/thefesty, www.facebook.com/thefesty, and www.instagram.com/thefestyexperience.
If you have any questions please contact us at info@theartistfarm.com or 434-220-4000.

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DannyBarnes_StoveUp_frontcover.pngDanny Barnes Releases All Acoustic Homage to Don Stover, Stove Up, on March 3, 2017
Featuring Danny Barnes along with Jason Carter, Chris Henry, Mike Bub, and Nick Forster

Danny Barnes is already known as an iconic American musician, a banjo playing innovator who’s earned high praise from everybody from Bill Frisell and Dave Matthews to Steve Martin, who presented Danny with the Prize for Excellence in Banjo in 2015. From the days with his groundbreaking Austin band, the Bad Livers, to his two decade solo career experimenting with electronic music, jazz, old time string band music and more, he’s a genre bending, rule breaking original who prefers to color outside the lines.

Now, with Stove Up, out March 3, 2017, he’s showing us that it was always a choice, that he’s always had the chops to play straight ahead bluegrass banjo with the best of them. With a top-flight band backing him up, Danny turns in an amazing set of tunes that demonstrate his respect for tradition and his commitment to his own musical voice.

“Happily, with Stove Up, our five-string hero steps out of the lab and into the sunlight where his pre-war Gibson can really shine,” says Tim O’Brien. “Producer and guitarist Nick Forster wisely loosens the reins and lets his pack of thoroughbreds set a fast pace around the bluegrass track. Mandolinist Chris Henry, with his bone-dry tone and expanded traditional approach, is a particularly inspired foil to Barnes. Along with Forster, much decorated fiddler Jason Carter, and everyone’s favorite bassist, Mike Bub, they cut through some beautiful territory, including two Don Stover’s compositions—”Black Diamond” and “Rockwood Deer Chase.” Three vocal tracks peek through the instrumentals and give new listeners a look into the quirky mind of Barnes… These are live and lively performances where you can almost hear the musicians smile.”

Recorded in eTown Studios in Colorado, Stove Up was produced by Nick Forster and engineered by James Tuttle. The mixing and editing were done by the great banjo player Scott Vestal and it was mastered by David Glasser at Airshow.

DannyBarnesBW-12_byMonicaFrisell.jpg

Danny Barnes. Photo by Monica Frisell

Danny says, “After 45 years of practicing, this is the first acoustic bluegrass record I’ve ever made. Nick, Mike, Jason, and Chris are bluegrass royalty! It was a sure enough honor to be able to make Stove Up, a loving homage to the great Don Stover.”

One of his banjo heroes, Don Stover, was the inspiration for this project simply because Don knew how to play bluegrass banjo in a way that fit the style, showed respect for Earl Scruggs and others, but it still sounded like him, had his own voice. Danny delivers on all fronts here, from scorching banjo fiddle duets with Jason Carter (“Paddy on the Turnpike,” “John Hardy,” and “Bill Cheatum”) to faithful versions of Scruggs (“Flint Hill Special” and “Fireball”), or a Grandpa Jones tune (“Eight More Miles To Louisville”) to a reinterpreted Rolling Stones song (“Factory Girl”) or his own originals (“Isotope 709,” “Charlie,” and “Get It While You Can”). This generous set of music sounds like what it is – great musicians having fun playing music in real time.

Danny says, “All these tunes on here (except the ones I made up), I’ve been playing and working on since I was a young boy. I’m STILL working on this stuff. My plan = never give up.”

If you’re looking for an antidote to the world’s problems, go find Stove Up, this new Danny Barnes record, and turn it up loud. It’s a thing of joy and beauty!

Kind words about Danny and Stove Up

“My friend Danny. The truth. This is the thing that struck me most strongly when I first heard Danny Barnes and is something that continues to grow stronger and clearer. What we hear from Danny is true. It can be coming from no one else. His story. Whether it’s the songs he writes himself or those he chooses to play. He has lived it. He’s not playing ‘at’ it. He ‘is’ it… Danny’s love of, connection to, and history with this music is long and deep. What a joy now to listen to these songs transformed through his lifetime of experience. It is a wonderful thing… Thank you Danny. Sincerely.” —Bill Frisell

“Danny Barnes represents all that is good about heartfelt music. He has deep passion, exemplary technique, great abilities as a songwriter, richly burnished vocals, and the fearsome desire to break through boundaries while still staying solidly rooted in tradition. He’s as fine as they come.”  —Tony Trischka

“For years I’ve said Danny Barnes is the world’s greatest banjo player. It’s the truth, but now with fake news and all the puffery, words have lost their meaning. But that’s okay because the truth is in the music. Listen to DB’s banjo if you wanna hear the truth.” —Robert Earl Keen

“Like Superman squeezing a lump of coal, Danny Barnes can transform crumbling musical remnants into cutting edge innovations, but avid fans have long known that Barnyard Electronics’ chief engineer has some serious traditional banjo chops.” —Tim O’Brien

Danny Barnes on Tour 2017*
2/16 Thu – The Big Easy – Petaluma, CA
2/17 Fri – The Crepe Place – Santa Cruz, CA
2/18 Sat – The Back Room – Berkeley, CA
2/19 Sun – Moe’s Original BBQ – Tahoe City, CA
2/22 Wed – Applegate Lodge – Applegate, OR
2/23 Thu – HiFi Lounge – Eugene, OR
3/9 Thu – Cervante’s Other Side – Denver, CO %
3/10 Fri – Barkley Ballroom – Frisco, CO %
3/12 Sun – The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, CO %
3/16 Thu – White Eagle Saloon – Portland, OR
3/17 Fri – Rock Creek Tavern – Hillsboro, OR
3/18 Sat – McMennamins Grand Lodge – Forest Grove, OR
4/19 Thu – Club Passim – Cambridge, MA ^
4/20 Thu – Caffe Lena – Saratoga Springs, NY ^
4/21-22 Fri-Sat – Durango Bluegrass Meltdown – Durango, CO ^
4/25 Tue – Cabaret at Germano’s – Baltimore, MD ^
4/26 Wed – C-ville Coffee – Charlottesville, VA ^
4/27 Thu – Hill Country Live – Washington, DC ^
4/28 Fri – Milkboy – Philadelphia, PA ^
4/29 Sat – Hill Country Live – New York, NY ^
4/30  Sun – Elk Creek Cafe – Millheim, PA ^
5/4-6 Thu-Sat – Adrift Hotel – Long Beach, WA
5/7-13 Sun-Sat – Al’s Den at Crystal Hotel – Portland, OR
7/13-16 Thu-Sun – Northwest String Summit – North Plains, OR

* All Dates are Danny Barnes solo unless otherwise noted
% Danny with Jeremy Garrett and Andy Falco
^ Danny with Grant Gordy and Joe K Walsh
More dates TBA!

Stay up-to-date with news from Danny Barnes at www.dannybarnes.com, twitter.com/Wildknees, and Facebook.com/DannyBarnesBanjo.  

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