Never a dull moment… certainly not always blogged upon, but check in here for assorted stories and news of Walter’s projects, travels, and collaborations with musicians from around the world.
2016 in music was quite different than most years for me. Heavy on the studio end – composing some music for a Ken Burns / Artemis Joukowsky film, producing a record for a tribe of the Wintun Nation (native of California), creating guitar tracks (& piano & organ & …) for other artists’ projects. And now booting up an exciting new trio – Fula Brothers. With my longtime collaborator kamale ngoni player Mamadou Sidibe from Mali and ace drummer Kendrick Freeman. High energy, exceptionally happy music, cross-cultural dialogue… music to alight people’s feet into dance. We’ve just put our first video online (see my Videos page or Facebook), and we’re just digging into a CD that should be out by summer. So… more coming very soon. Looking forward to sharing this with you...read more
Walter Strauss, Alex de Grassi and Franco Morone recently played a series of stellar steel string shows in California. The three venerated guitarists served up a smorgasbord of fingerstyle guitar flavored with musical influences from around the world. They wove together solos, duos and trios, playing original material and music from West Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Lovely appreciative audiences at The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, Lagunitas Amphitheater in Petaluma, St. Joseph’s Cultural Center in Grass Valley, and High Street House Concerts in Santa Cruz. ...read more
Beacoup de miles since my last missive, as the internet has been elusive here. I arrived 2+ weeks ago in Bamako, Mali. It’s been a wonderful adventure so far. I’m staying with Toumani Diabate and his vast family – what would be extended family for us in the west is all immediate family here. All are together. It’s been amazing – pushing me to really expand and define my approach to playing the kora music on guitar. I’ve played with kora players, guitarists, ngoni players, a hunter playing traditional hunter’s music on a very rough gourd harp called called a simbi…read more
Scotland seems worlds behind me now, but not for any lack of excitement and inspiration. The rest of my journeys there were wonderful. Lovely shows in Aberdeenshire, both solo and in collaboration with two great Scottish musicians, fiddler Johnny Hardie and percussionist/guitarist Davy Cattanach. We had big fun putting together the music and joining our different styles into a burst of musical conversation and spontaneity. The photo below is of me and Paul Anderson playing in Aberdeenshire. Like Mali, Scotland is heart deep in music and warmth. Can’t wait to go back, hopefully in the...read more
In February, I will be traveling to Mali to delve deeper into West African music right in the heart of it. Grammy-winning kora player Toumani Diabate (famous in the west for his collaborations with Ali Farke Toure, Taj Mahal, Bjork) has invited me to study with him in Bamako, and to connect with Malian musicians there. It will be an honor to learn from Toumani – he is one of Africa’s most sublime and celebrated musicians…read more
Even the immigration officer at the Edinburgh airport was all bright and aboon, smiling and curious at what magic might spring from my guitar case. There’s just some kind of earth and spark and humor to people in Scotland that immediately lets you know you’re human.
I arrived on Burns Night, celebrating Scotland’s favorite son Robert Burns…read more
Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the new Walter Strauss website. I’ll do my best to keep the blog portion of the site updated in the coming months as I tour and study in Scotland and Mali… so check back from time to time. Thanks to everyone for your support and best wishes for a great new year. May 2012 be 99% better than 2011! – Walterread more