desert night music
steve smith

meet the members of Hard Road

Steve Smith & Hard Road

Steve Smith and Hard Road evolved into a full working group as a result of the success and chemistry of the musicians who came together to work on Steve's original live studio recording Hard Road (dn444) released in 2004. This chemistry in the studio has led to an excellent rapport onstage, on the road and in the song-writing and harmonies that have become the signature Hard Road sound.

At the heart of Hard Road is the song-writing team of Steve Smith, one of this generation’s mandolin masters, and Minnesota songbird Chris Sanders.

The Hard Road line-up for 2009 brings Aaron McCloskey's exciting new guitar stylings to the group and a musical sophistication beyond his years. Also appearing on selected dates are Bill Evans (www.nativeandfine.com) on 5-string banjo, Bill Amatneek on bass and national champion fiddler Megan Lynch. Evans adds his now legendary style and drive to the group while Amatneek (original bassist with the David Grisman Quintet) anchors the groove. The band is fortunate to welcome the stunning gifts of true fiddle star Megan Lynch.

 

Steve Smith

Steve Smith

Mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar, vocalist, composer

Virginia native Steve Smith holds his father Henry Smith, guitarist Herman Tomlin, banjo player Bill Gurley, and mandolinist Tom Espinola as major influences in his musical life. Along with Bill Evans on banjo and Missy Raines on bass, Steve toured the US and Europe with the band Cloud Valley that broke new ground in bluegrass music. Steve’s driving mandolin has also graced the Nothin’ Doin’ Band, Lulu’s Fate and duo shows with Jim Hurst.

Smith has been involved in a number of theatrical productions including composing the score for the Sam Sheppard play “Curse of the Starving Class”. He honed his skills with a stint in music school studying 20th century composition and theory. His music was used in the PBS film “The Bataan Death March, a New Mexico Story” and “Portraits of the Southwest”. Smith also spent seven years in public radio presenting various folk, jazz and new age recordings. He maintains a busy teaching and workshop schedule including ten years as mandolin instructor at Camp Bluegrass (www.campbluegrass.com), the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Zoukfest in Santa Fe, NM and the California Coast Music Camp.

Chris Sanders

Chris Sanders

Vocalist, composer, guitar, piano

Chris Sanders, a Minnesota transplant who now calls Las Cruces, NM home, is an award-winning songwriter and singer who currently tours with mandolinist and songwriting partner Steve Smith.  Their modern/retro string band "Hard Road" has appeared at concerts and festivals throughout the country.  She also performs in a jazz duo with guitarist Bob Hull. In the fall of 2008 she became a voice teacher in the Commercial Music program at the University of Texas at El Paso where she directs the UTEP Jazz Singers.  In her long career she has toured internationally as a choral singer, performed in recital as singer and pianist and co-founded "Actors' Training Project", a dramatic arts program in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In February of 2008 the musical "We Are Enron", which she co-wrote, premiered to packed houses at New Mexico State University where she taught on the voice faculty for ten years. She counts Neil Semer and Dede Wyland as major teaching influences.

In her work with singers at all levels, she encourages healthy production and development of each singer's unique voice.  She particularly likes working on harmony singing skills and vocal improv.

Aaron McCloskey

Aaron McCloskey

Guitar, vocalist

Lexington, MA native Aaron McCloskey picked up the guitar in college and since then has rarely put it down. He began studying jazz early in his guitar career but has fallen in love with a number of different styles, particularly bluegrass. Aaron’s playing connects those two genres, and his love of progressive acoustic music is evident in both his compositions and his solos.

Aaron recently graduated from the unique commercial music program at South Plains College in Levelland, TX. While there he focused much of his energy learning bluegrass from the banjo legend Alan Munde and guitarist/mandolinist Joe Carr, also studying jazz, western swing, Celtic, blues, rock, classical guitar styles, bluegrass banjo (both Scruggs and melodic styles), guitar pedagogy, music theory, songwriting, audio engineering, and ear training.

Aaron is currently on staff at the Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver CO teaching both guitar and banjo. His lessons emphasize technique, theory, repertoire, reading (both standard and tab), ear-training, improvisation, interactive playing, and most of all, fun!  Along with Hard Road, he currently appears with jazz singer Heather Marie Phillipp.

Bill Evans

Bill Evans

Banjo, author, composer

San Francisco Bay Area musician and Virginia native Bill Evans has been involved with bluegrass music and the banjo for over thirty years as a player, teacher, writer and historian. He occupies a unique niche in the banjo world: celebrated worldwide for his traditional and progressive bluegrass banjo styles as well as his innovative original compositions, he also enjoys a reputation as an outstanding instructor as well as being an expert player of 19th century minstrel and classic/parlor banjo styles.

Bill has toured and performed with the best musicians the acoustic music world has to offer: the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Due West, Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum, Robin and Linda Williams and their Fine Group, Peter Rowan, Suzanne Thomas, Don Rigsby and Friends, the Lynn Morris Band, and John Reischman. It the 1980s Bill was the founder/leader of the progressive bluegrass band Cloud Valley that included Steve Smith and bass player Missy Raines.  In addition to writing Banjo for Dummies, (the largest selling banjo book in the world since its release in 2007), Bill is also the co-author of Mel Bay's Parking Lot Pickers Songbook: Banjo Edition.   Each year he hosts the NashCamp Fall Banjo Retreat with Sonny Osborne west of Nashville, Tennessee.

Megan Lynch

Megan Lynch

Megan Lynch was raised in Redding, California, often considered the hotbed of fiddle music west of the Rockies. She began taking lessons at the age of four and started competing shortly thereafter. Megan won her first National Championship at age 8 and followed that with three consecutive wins at ages 10, 11, and 12. In 2003 Megan made a return to serious competition and captured two more National titles in 2003 and 2004. During the last 24 years of on-and-off competition, Megan has also won 6 California State titles, as well as the Minnesota State Championships.

Megan is in high demand as a private and group teacher. She counts dozens of State and National Champions among her students, and has recently added several prestigious bluegrass camps to her list of teaching accomplishments. Her no-holds-barred workshops have drawn rave reviews across the country.

Bill Amatneek

Bill Amatneek

Bass, storyteller, author

Bassist extraordinaire Bill Amatneek, the original bass player for the David Grisman Quartet, has performed worldwide and recorded with Grisman, Mark O’Connor, Kate Wolf, Tiny Moore and Eldin Shamblen, the Rowan Brothers and Frankie Armstrong. Along with these notable personalities, he has shared the stage with Jerry Garcia, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Frank Wakefield and Peter, Paul and Mary.

Besides Amatneek’s skills and talents as one of the country’s premier bassists, his abilities extend to writing and storytelling.  His book Acoustic Stories gives a great inside view of the acoustic music world;  he shares decades of experiences in stories in his live performances.  His stories and essays have appeared in publications including Rolling Stone, Down Beat, Bluegrass Unlimited, Pacific Sun, and the Yoga Journal.