Sat December 21, 2013
It's a "Grassical" Christmas with the DePue Brothers Band!
You read the headline correctly. "Grassical." It's a combination of bluegrass and classical music, with elements of jazz, blues and rock included. The term was coined by the DePue Brothers, now performing as the DePue Brothers Band. And they may call what they produce "grassical," but we call it serious fun!
Their latest release on the Beat The Drum label, When It's Christmas Time, is just in time for the holidays. You'll hear selections from that disc, plus conversation with two of the brothers and two other band members (we couldn't let them all in the studio as that would have exceeded the fun and musical occupancy for that room).
The core of the DePue Brothers Band is made up of four siblings - Alex, Wallace, Jason, and Zach. All are classically trained, very successful musicians in their own right. Alex is a classical violinist as well as a rocker and an award-winning fiddler who has toured with country star Chris Cagle, rock legend Steve Vai and Mexican guitarist Miguel DeHoyos. Wallace is also a classical violinist with a degree in performance from UT-Austin, was assistant principal with the Austin Lyric Opera, toured as associate concertmaster with John Williams' Star Wars National Tour Orchestra, has performed as an extra with The Philadelphia Orchestra and is presently assistant concertmaster of the Philly Pops. Jason is a member of the first violin section of The Philadelphia Orchestra, former concertmaster of the New York String Seminar and acclaimed recitalist. Zach was once a first violinist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, is currently concertmaster for the Indianapolis Symphony, and is a founding member of the garage band/classical trio - and Crossover favorite - known as Time for Three.
That's a lot of musical firepower already. Not to mention that they've been playing together for 25 years, first under the tutelage of their late father, Wallace, Sr., and on their own.
But they add to the ensemble a world-class percussionist from The Philadelphia Orchestra, Don Liuzzi, award-winning guitarist Mark Cosgrove, acclaimed touring banjoist Mike Munford, and versatile bassist Kevin MacConnell, who has worked with everyone from Mel Torme, to Billy Eckstine, to Natalie Cole, to Cy Coleman, to The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. And there's always a special guest or two, just in case they find themselves a quart shy on one tune or another.
Once a band like this starts playing, watch out! People have been known to call the authorities wondering why the house is shaking. David Letterman's house band was once known as "The World's Most Dangerous Band." Now we know the reason the Letterman band dropped that nomenclature. The DePue Brothers Band can't be beat.
Crossover airs Saturday morning at 11:30 am on WRTI-FM, with an encore the following Friday evening at 7 pm on HD-2 and the All-Classical web stream at wrti.org.