Sep 06, 2011
CenterArts presents Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 8 p.m. in the Van Duzer Theatre, HSU.
Bruce Hornsby’s work continues to display the same creative iconoclasm that’s been a constant in the artist’s two-and-a-half decade recording career. Despite his early achievements— “The Way It Is” from his debut album became the most-played song on American radio in 1987—Hornsby has chosen to pursue a more personal, idiosyncratic musical path. He has successfully ventured into jazz, classical, bluegrass, and even electronica. “I guess I’m a bit of a musical proselytizer,” says Hornsby. “ For me it’s all just beautiful music, and people seem willing to come along with me on the journey.” Tickets are $55 general, $55 Senior/Child and $25 HSU students. Tickets are available at the University Ticket Office, at the Works in Eureka, and at humboldt.edu/centerarts.
By any standard, Bruce Hornsby has built one of the most diverse 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 remarkably accomplished body of work that’s employed a vast array of stylistic approaches, while maintaining the integrity, virtuosity and artistic curiosity that have been hallmarks of his work from the start.
The 13-time Grammy nominee’s multifarious talents and far-ranging musical interests are prominent on his latest album Levitate, which marks the artist’s Verve debut. The album’s 13 songs span an expansive sonic and emotional palette, encompassing heartfelt insights and absurdist humor, while incorporating a broad assortment of influences within compact song structures.
Despite his early successes, Hornsby chose to pursue a more personal, idiosyncratic musical path, focusing on projects that sparked his creative interest and musical progress. That direction was manifested in his lengthy association with the Grateful Dead, with whom he’s performed more than 100 concerts as guest keyboardist. His work with the Dead encouraged Hornsby to incorporate his interest in musical improvisation into his own performances, while his eclectic musical interests have been reflected in a wide array of recording projects. Over the years, Hornsby has successfully ventured into jazz, classical, bluegrass and even electronica, as reflected by such acclaimed recent releases as the bluegrass project Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby and the jazz trio album Camp Meeting, with Jack deJohnette and Christian McBride. The prestigious list of Hornsby collaborators now includes such diverse figures as Ornette Coleman, Bob Dylan, Bela Fleck, Charlie Haden, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Branford Marsalis, Leon Russell, Chaka Khan, Wayne Shorter, Tupac Shakur and Sting.
Hornsby’s musical adventures have won him an extraordinarily devoted and open-minded fan base, which has enthusiastically supported his varied musical output. “For a good two or three years in the mid-‘90s, I hardly played any of my hits on stage, and people thought I was committing career suicide,” he recalls. “But for me, it was about getting people to understand that if you’re here for a stroll down memory lane, then I’m not your guy. And gradually, I was able to sort of flip my crowd, and acquire an audience that’s there to hear us be adventurous.”
Indeed, Bruce Hornsby’s restless musical spirit continues to spontaneously push him forward into exciting new musical pursuits. He’s currently working with Chicago director Kathleen Marshall on a prospective Broadway musical titled SCKBSTD. He’s composed and recorded several soundtrack projects for filmmaker Spike Lee, most recently writing and recording the score for Kobe Doin’ Work, Lee’s ESPN documentary on Kobe Bryant. Hornsby is also featured onscreen in the new Robin Williams/Bobcat Goldthwait film World’s Greatest Dad. That film features lots of Hornsby music, including the Levitate track “Invisible.”
Hornsby’s deep grounding in American roots music recently led him to return to his alma mater, the University of Miami, to launch the Creative American Music Program. The new program develops the creative skills of young songwriters by immersing them in the multiple musical traditions—including folk, old-time traditional music, blues, gospel and bluegrass—that are the foundation of modern American songwriting.
Such projects are consistent with the same lifelong pursuit of musical transcendence that helps to animate Levitate. “To me,” says Hornsby, “it’s always just been about broadening my reach and moving into new areas. So it’s a fantastic situation to be able to do that, and to continue to pursue a wide-ranging musical life.”
For more information and credit card orders call CenterArts at 826-3928 or at humboldt.edu/centerarts.