May 5, 2007

King Wilkie


King Wilkie
... Bluegrass Standards & Poignant Originals ...


amed after bluegrass "founding father" Bill Monroe's favorite horse, King Wilkie digs deep for the live root of musical tradition and shoots it up with a kind of synthesizing organic sexuality and urbanity that zings through simple lonesome words. Rendering beloved standards along with Pitney's and Burgess' poignant originals, singer John McDonald and Burgess' warm duets and heartfelt phrasing convey a vital tension between the straight-up, strait-laced, god-fearing past and a soulful, conflicted contemporaneity. Think of it as if the Stanley Brothers, the Louvins, and old Monroe himself had undergone orthodontia and a Foucault seminar or two.

hey’ve been showered with accolades from peers and eminences, have made multiple appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and have the honor of being named the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist of the Year. In a short time, King Wilkie went from free shows at bars to headlining in nightclubs, theaters, and concert halls. We’re lucky to have them on Long Island!

ing Wilkie was born in 2002. The members are Ted Pitney, Reid Burgess, Abe Spear, John McDonald, Nick Reeb, and Jake Hopping - all multi-instrumentalists. Ted (guitar/vocals) and Reid (mandolin/vocals) met while schoolboys and have been making music together for almost a decade. In 2002, they moved from Ohio to a farmhouse on the outskirts of Charlottesville, Virginia with the single-minded purpose of forming an act to make Bill Monroe proud.

he entire band makes their home in Virginia and on a warm spring day you're likely to find them drinking mint juleps on the porch of their rehearsal space in the countryside outside of Charlottesville. On weekends, when they're not entertaining big crowds at a concert, they enjoy going on field trips to many of the nation's great museums in nearby Washington DC. They have a deep admiration for all the arts and a great affinity for architecture. In fact, they would like very much if a proceed of their earnings could perhaps be used to preserve wonderful historic buildings in America and Europe.

fter proving their chops on traditional Bluegrass, King Wilkie found the drive to develop a more song-based intricate style, with attention paid throughout to musical texture and mood. Their refusal to accept obvious formulas and desire to shift creatively has had them testing audience expectations, - while always appearing to be one step ahead of themselves. Recent new tracks on their EP Tierra del Fuego and their imminent new CD Low Country Suite come through with the group's new emphasis on the song as king. Some songs seem so classic they will have you wondering if you've heard the tune before, while a Rock-a-bye mournful fiddle and pedal steel create a three dimensional soundscape extending far into the horizon. They have been amalgamating their influences from youths to a more relevant present tense. In their new tracks, it's easy to say King Wilkie has achieved that goal.


  This was an exciting evening of live performance by exciting young Bluegrass talents that we won't soon forget.

  We were lucky to have them on Long Island!

Praises for their performances:

  • "The playing is superb and the harmonies are both high and lonesome, but King Wilkie's most winning trait is their ability to inject a contemporary aesthetic on par with Allison Krauss into old-time style."
      Nashville Rage

  • "All hail King Wilkie. Dressed in suits and ties and playing with the kind of passion that comes from someplace other than a paycheck, the Nashville-based band freshened up the requisite bluegrass handbook -- Bill Monroe, Ralph and Carter Stanley, etc. -- and shuffled in original compositions that stood up well. ... fiddler Nick Reeb should get more solo time -- each time he stepped up to the mike was a thrill."
      Buzz McClain, Washington Post


Link to their site:  

    Listen to music clips or see video clips:  


Opening for King Wilkie tonight were our featured open mike performers:

  • Claude Margouleff CLAUDE MARGOULEFF

  • Estelle Henrich ESTELLE HENRICH

  • Steve Henry STEVE HENRY

  • Gary Schoenberger GARY SCHOENBERGER

  • Bob Mist BOB MIST

  • Larry Moser LARRY MOSER

  • Ed Mocko ED MOCKO

  • David Bailey DAVID BAILEY

  • Dennis CorbettDENNIS CORBETT
    President, The Bluegrass Club of Long Island

  • Bob Westcott BOB WESTCOTT

    Our host this evening was Amy Tuttle. AMY TUTTLE

    If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...