Bruce Hornsby has built one of the most diverse, collaborative and adventurous careers in contemporary music.
Drawing from a vast wellspring of American musical traditions, the singer/pianist/composer/bandleader has created a large and accomplished body of work and employed a vast array of stylistic approaches. Throughout this period, Hornsby has maintained the integrity, virtuosity and artistic curiosity that have been hallmarks of his work from the start. Soon Hornsby was being approached regularly to collaborate with a broad range of musicians and writers, a demand that continues to this day.
His three Grammy wins (along with his ten Grammy losses!) typify the diversity of his career: Best New Artist (1986) as leader of Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Best Bluegrass Recording (1989) for a version of his old Range hit "The Valley Road" that appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken Volume Two, and a shared award with Branford Marsalis in 1993 for Best Pop Instrumental for "Barcelona Mona", a song written and performed for the 1992 Olympic Games.
In the mid-1990s, a decade after he showed the world and its airwaves that his soaring musical language included both Steinways and accordions, Bruce Hornsby took his family to the Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax, a town in the Appalachian southwest of Hornsby’s native Virginia that has hosted the event since 1935. The trip reconnected him with his Williamsburg youth, a time when bluegrass frequently provided an historical accent to mid-‘70s guitar rock, skittering and flowing out of high school gyms and trendy Georgetown bars, drawing halter-topped girls and suede-jacketed guys to Southeast festivals.
A couple of decades later Hornsby’s piano-free new album that features guest appearances by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon as well as the magisterial soul-gospel singer Mavis Staples. Recorded in Williamsburg with The Noisemakers, produced by Hornsby, it’s a trenchantly sung ten-song collection that spins into intricate dramatic scenes mundane things like skipping town (“M.I.A. in M.I.A.M.I.”), calculating gratuities at restaurants (“Tipping”), and airport security as sensual experience (“TSA Man”). But it also captures rarer stretches of life that seek or attain transcendence.