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The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya

Mountain Music ProjectThe Mountain Music Project is proud to announce the new release of both their documentary film and their groundbreaking collaborative CD. The CD entitled The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya is a collaboration of the Nepali/Himalayan traditional music of the Gandharba, or musician caste, and the Bluegrass/Old Time musics of the Appalachian mountain region of the United States. Cybergrass wrote about The Mountain Music Project last November.

The Music

The 15 tracks on the CD beautifully balance the two musics. About half are from the Himalayan tradition and half are songs from the Appalachian tradition with members of each community adding their own cultural history and musicianship. While being deeply grounded in the traditions, this music has developed a unique and new sound as the musicians have woven their styles together into a wonderful tapestry of sounds.

The CD has an amazing collection of musicians. Danny Knicely and Tara Linhardt started recording the album in Nepal with the Gandharba musicians and themselves; then added an all-star line up back in the US who were each excited to volunteer to be included in this ground breaking work.

You will hear such Grammy award-winning musicians such as Tim O’Brien and Curtis Burch as well as the International Bluegrass Music’s Association’s Best Banjo Player of the Year and Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Tony Trischka.

Tim O’Brien had this to say about the album:

“The 'The Mountain Music Project' CD beautifully illuminates the parallel experiences of musicians from Virginia and Nepal. We see and hear these fiddlers and flute players, banjo pickers and drummers playing in new urban environs as well as in their native chicken yards. To so many, they represent a constant in the face of changing times and lifestyles. These honorable troubadours keep the old songs and stories alive, reminding us all where we come from.”

Also featured on the album is Riley Baugus, who has become an iconic figure in Old-Time music with achievements such as creating much of the music for the Academy Award winning film Cold Mountain. The list of accomplished musicians continues with Abigail Washburn, Mark Schatz, Paul Brown, and Aaron Olwell who also give great performances. Finally, Matthew Olwell added his percussive dance rhythms to a few of the songs for that added punch.

Mike Melia of PBS News Hour’s Art Beat had this to say when he heard this project “The world just seems smaller once you've heard Himalayan natives playing old bluegrass classics and Americans playing traditional Nepalese music.”

Film

The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya follows the journey of two traditional musicians (Tara Linhardt and Danny Knicely) from the hills of Virginia to the mountains of rural Nepal, where they explore the extraordinary similarities between the Appalachian music that is now known as Bluegrass and Old Time and the Nepali Himalayan folk music and culture, particularly focused on the traditional musicians of the Gandharba caste.

The film, directed by Jacob Penchansky and shot in both Nepal and Virginia, has great interviews, scenes, and music with influential musicians. Interviews with Mike Seeger of the iconic Seeger family of folk music and Sammy Shelor, four time International Bluegrass Association Banjo player of the year, inducted member into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, and leader of the award winning Lonesome River Band. One also hears perspectives on the history and the culture of the music from other well-respected musicians who have also grown up in the mountain music cultures, some of whom had performed and toured with such greats Bill Monroe and Charlie Monroe.

The film has already won many awards, such as Best Independent Documentary from the Carolina Film and Video Festival, Best Film Award at the International Folk Music Film Festival Nepal, and the Sierra Nevada Award at The Mountain Film Festival.

Comments on the film

"Two traditional musicians from the hills of Virginia take you to the villages of rugged Nepal, where you discover the amazing similarities between Appalachian and Himalayan folk music—and the eerily parallel heritage that gave birth to them both. This vivid portrayal of endangered music and culture celebrates remarkable instruments, foot-tapping sounds, and the people who create them." Jonathan B. Tourtellot National Geographic Fellow; Founding Director, Center for Sustainable Destinations; Geotourism Editor, National Geographic Traveler

“What they did in that film would not be possible for a lot of people. You don’t get that kind of response from people when you just go interview them. They lived with and jammed with the musicians as a musician. There is no better way to do it!”

Curtis Burch Grammy award winning musician and one of the founding members of the legendary and pioneering bluegrass band New Grass Revival.Two traditional musicians from the hills of Virginia take you to the villages of rugged Nepal, where you discover the amazing similarities between Appalachian and Himalayan folk music—and the eerily parallel heritage that gave birth to them both. This vivid portrayal of endangered music and culture celebrates remarkable instruments, foot-tapping sounds, and the people who create them.

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