Dirk and Riley will first stop by WTJU for a visit that afternoon at 4 to kick off Sunset Road. You can listen around Charlottesville at 91.1 FM, 102.9 FM in the Richmond area, and streaming worldwide at wtju.net.
“Dirk Powell is a badass. To the bone. He is, in addition to being the greatest old-time banjo player alive, a graduate student of both mountain and Cajun fiddle styles and diatonic button accordion, an instrument that fights you back, take it from me, I’ve tried. He is a singer, songwriter, producer, recording engineer, and an all in all artist of unique vision and unbending integrity. As far as I can tell there is no genre of American roots music that Dirk doesn’t understand, no primordial mode he can’t master, no polyrhythmic code he can’t crack. He also cooks the best sauce piquante I have ever tasted.” – Steve Earle
Dirk Powell has expanded on the deeply rooted sounds of his Appalachian heritage to become one of the preeminent traditional American musicians of his generation. In addition to his widely influential solo recordings, he has recorded and performed with artists such as Levon Helm, Jack White, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne, and currently tours with Joan Baez. His ability to unite the essence of traditional culture with modern sensibilities has also led to work with many of today’s greatest film directors, including Ang Lee, Anthony Minghella, Spike Lee, Victor Nunez and Steve James. Dirk was a founding member of the influential Cajun group Balfa Toujours and has been a regularly featured artist in the award-winning BBC series The Transatlantic Sessions. Dirk’s soulful and emotionally fearless music has carried him to a unique place in today’s musical landscape — one where tradition, innovation, and inspiration meet without borders.
It was through his association with the Academy Award winning movie Cold Mountain, for which he acted on screen, arranged traditional material, and served as musical advisor and consultant, that Dirk was to bring his long time friend Riley Baugus to a much wider audience by recommending to the producers that Riley’s Civil War-era styled banjos be used in the film. They also just happened to use Riley’s acapella ballad singing for the voice of Pangle in the movie.
Riley Baugus is a North Carolina native who contributed to the multi-million selling, Grammy award winning Album of the Year, “Raising Sand” by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and was a featured artist on Willie Nelson’s Grammy nominated “Country Music”.
Riley began singing and playing music at an early age. Raised in a household where recordings of old-time music were often played, he developed a love and appreciation for traditional, Southern Appalachian music. He and his family attended the Regular Baptist church, where unaccompanied singing was the tradition. He began playing the fiddle at age 10, but soon after switched to playing the guitar. By the time he was 12, he and his father built a banjo from scrap wood and he once again began to learn another instrument.
Riley began honing his musical skills with close friend and neighbor, noted old-time fiddler Kirk Sutphin, by visiting elder traditional musicians in and around Grayson County, Virginia and Surry County, North Carolina. He often visited, played with, and learned from fiddlers Tommy Jarrell (a National Heritage Award recipient) and Robert Sykes, and from banjo player Dix Freeman. During these visits he also met and learned from many other traditional musicians of the area, including former Camp Creek Boys Verlin Clifton and Paul Sutphin.
Riley has played with numerous old-time stringbands, including The Red Hots, Backstep, the Old Hollow Stringband, and, in a recent visit to Charlottesville’s Prism Coffeehouse, Old Buck. He currently plays with Polecat Creek. Recently, Riley worked with the Lonesome Sisters, both as producer and performer, on their CD Going Home Shoes.