(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Austin-by-way-of-Nashville progressive bluegrass outfit the Greencards, Grammy Award nominees noted for touring with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, perform at Club Helsinki on Friday, November 4, 2011, at 9 pm. The evening before, Helsinki presents Twenty Thousand Roads, a tribute to Americana pioneer Gram Parsons and celebration of what would be his 65th birthday, with vocalist/guitarist Johnny Irion, bassist Matt Downing, pedal steel player Pete Adams, and drummer Otto Hauser (Thurs, Nov 3, 8 pm).
Although they play quintessentially American music, as the name hints at, the Greencards themselves are imports. Founded by two Australians, Kym Warner on mandolin and Carol Young on bass, and an Englishman, Eamon McLoughlin on fiddle, the group is now a quartet featuring Warner, Young, Tennessee-born fiddler Tyler Andal, and Oregonian guitarist Carl Miner.
Warner and Young were both steeped in country music; she charted several No. 1 singles in her homeland as a solo artist and he won the Australian National Bluegrass Mandolin Championship for four consecutive years. While solidly steeped in bluegrass tradition, the group draws from Irish folk music, gypsy music, rock ‘n’ roll, folk balladry, and Latin American musical sources.
Johnny Irion launched his Gram Parsons tribute project at Castle Street Cafe in Great Barrington, Mass., in September. Parsons straddled multiple genres – as does Irion with his own music — on his own and with bands including the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the International Submarine Band.
Parsons was a late addition to the Byrds, and only was connected to the group for one short year in 1968, but it was for the making of the pivotal album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which saw the pioneering folk-rock group turning toward country music in a big way.
Parsons went on to record only two solo albums, GP and Grievous Angel, both of which were products of his musical alliance with a then-budding country singer Emmylou Harris, but he was dead (at the young age of 26) of a drug overdose before his sophomore effort was released.
Irion spoke to the Rogovoy Report about his relationship to Gram Parsons and his music in a previously published interview.
Club Helsinki Hudson
405 Columbia Street