The Ragpicker String Band (Texas, Oregon, Massachusetts)
A trio of string virtuosos - mandolinist Rich DelGrosso, guitarist Mary Flower and multi-instrumentalist Martin Grosswendt - pick, strum, and bow up a storm as The Ragpicker String Band. Summoning the spirits, and performing classics by the likes of the Mississippi Sheiks, Sleepy John Estes and Blind Willie Johnson, this acoustic dream team's harmonies dazzle and their fingers fly through the mists of time, back to the golden prewar age of folk-blues.
These classic tunes, combined with new originals by Flower and DelGrosso, allow this musically fearsome threesome to leaven their serious instrumental and vocal chops with social satire and mischievous humour. Just as Jim Kweksin and R. Crumb filtered the songs and sounds of their prewar folk-blues heroes through their own modern sensibilities and considerable personalities, so do The Ragpicker String Band.
Combined, they've earned nine Blues Music Award nominations and enjoyed rave press reviews and top festival slots all over the world - and not only for fabulously fretted, sublimely sung trips to the past with tunes like Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning. There's also a laughing lament of modern times called Google Blues ("I thought I'd got lucky, but then she brought up my shady past, when she googled me").