After 35 years working alongside some of the biggest names in the music business as a highly respected recording engineer, producer, session player and on-stage virtuoso on guitar, mandolin, ukulele and more, Pete Brown decided to start a different kind of band. The NewGrass Cutters play in bluegrass style, but they do highly original covers of some of the best known rock and pop songs from the last 50 years. The arrangements are brilliant and their four part vocal harmonies just beautiful.

Big fans of the band already include guitar legend Albert Lee, Amen Corner's Andy Fairweather Low, Chas 'n' Dave plus Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg – who last year invited the NewGrass Cutters to play at the internationally renowned Cropredy Festival. The NewGrass Cutters' performance there was a sensation with 20,000 folk fans grinning and cheering as they danced to the band's unique banjo, lap steel, mandolin, bass and percussion version of classics like 'Too Much Too Young', 'Good Vibrations', 'Born to be Wild', 'Voodoo Chile' and 'Listen to the Music'.

The NewGrass Cutters recently finished their first album which Pete produced at the Henwood Recording Studios near Wallingford, Oxfordshire which Pete runs jointly with top jazz saxophonist, Joe Henwood. The album is called 'Mowing Down the Groove'. As Pete says, “The record features really great songs. What is unusual is that all four of us can sing in different styles – so there are some quality vocal harmonies as well as some really original arrangements which work very well. Phil Capaldi is a fantastic singer, actually. In fact our four-part vocal harmonies are one of the real strengths of the band. The arrangements are imaginative, too. We also have Joe Henwood featuring on baritone sax as well as my sister Sam plus 50 of her uke players on a couple of the tracks, 'One Day Like This' and 'Counting Stars'. I am a bit of a perfectionist, but I am really pleased with the album."

“The formation of the NewGrass Cutters was a bit of a fluke, really,” Pete continued. “Our bass player, Mike Nichols, who has a classical and jazz background - he's played with the Royal Philharmonic but has also been touring with us in my dad Joe Brown's band for some years - was asked to put together a bluegrass band for a party. The fee on offer was big and, although Mike hadn't done much bluegrass, he agreed to play and find some other musicians, too. He phoned me and said, 'We can do bluegrass, can't we?' and I hesitated a bit saying, 'Oh, I don't know'. But then Mike told me what the fee was and, as any professional musician would, I said, 'Yes, we can do bluegrass!', thinking I can play lap steel and mandolin and we'd find a way to wing it. I also knew my dad's drummer Phil Capaldi could definitely handle bluegrass – Phil's a great percussionist and he's played with his late brother Jim and Steve Winwood, Don Gibson, the Flying Burrito Brothers and lots of country music people, too. Plus he has a great voice."

“But we still needed a good banjo player. Then someone in one of my sister Sam Brown's ukulele bands suggested I talk to Richard Collins who lives not far from me, near Newbury. Well, Richard has won the UK Bluegrass Banjo Championship so many times they made him a judge - and he's had a really interesting career. He's been a musician with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he's recorded in Nashville and he plays classical mandolin as well as banjo. We couldn't have done better. Richard loved the challenge of doing something different. In fact, he's now become a regular member of my dad's band, too."

“For that first party gig we played covers of some well known rock anthems but in bluegrass style and it was a big success,” Pete recalled. “Richard said he'd never enjoyed a gig so much – and it was the first time he'd had so many people dancing as he played banjo. So that was how it began – all in a bit of a rush, really. But we had such a great time we all agreed to keep on with the band."

“We call our style of music “newgrass” - basically it is bluegrass without any rules. We make bluegrass more accessible and fun because real, traditional bluegrass is an acquired taste and can be a bit of a hard listen for some people. What we do is very easy to dance to, like quality rock or pop but with bluegrass instruments. We perform lots of favourite songs. We are not a tribute band or a covers band and we are not following other people's style. But, like any good musicians, we do perform our own interpretations of top quality songs - just as The Stones and Beatles have done! One of my own favourites is 'Much Too Young' - but that's because when I was a kid I grew up loving “two tone” and The Specials. I was lucky enough to work with them later during my days in the studios."

“Now that we have completed the album, we are working hard at touring and hope to go to Germany, Holland and France quite soon. UK dates still to come include the Crawley Food and Ale Festival, Lyme Regis and the Garlic Festival on the Isle of Wight in the Summer. Of course I'll be doing some record producing for other people in between gigs. I'm producing for Tom Firelli and his band called Third Lung who are very good plus there's also a stunning new young female singer called Ophelia who I'm producing for. She's a model who also does incredible artwork and her singing and original songs are beautiful. She was introduced to me through my niece, Sam's daughter Vicki.

“We will also be touring next winter with my dad who spends a lot of time at his new home in Nashville these days. But I thoroughly enjoy my performing with the NewGrass Cutters and we'll be working hard at keeping the gigs coming. Each time we are asked to return to a venue, the audience has really grown - through word of mouth. And that's a promising beginning. It takes years of work on the road to build a big and loyal following but it is starting to happen for us."

“I am 50 now and, looking back, there have been many peak career moments. Some of the gigs I did with my sister Sam just blew me away! She has such a stage presence. And playing with Mark Knopfler at the Albert Hall in 2008 was a great experience as was doing backing vocals for Dave Gilmour for a very special show. And I'll never forget playing with Deep Purple plus recording with George Harrison and in my early days doing recording work with Dusty Springfield, Sade and Nick Lowe, Marc Almond, The Cure and others. Plus I loved it when Dave Edmunds did a tour with my dad – he's such a great force on stage. For now, though, I am very happy with our NewGrass Cutters project - and look forward to performing around the country over the coming months."













Related Links:

http://www.newgrasscutters.com/
https://www.facebook.com/newgrasscutters/


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