One of the great pleasures of age is the experience of having watched life unfold around you, both your own and those of younger people you have encountered along the way. I can recall Mark O’Connor when he was a gangly teenager winning fiddle contests as though they were a walk in the park, following Tony Rice into the seminal David Grisman Quintet on guitar, and then touring with rock fusion outfit The Dixie Dregs, all before most kids finish college.
We lost him for a while as he focused next on the world of modern classical music, composing and performing, and promoting his own violin method for American music. But he’s back in the world of traditional acoustic string music, performing in a new kind of family band.
The O’Connor Family Band features Mark with his youthful bride, Maggie, with whom he has performed this past few years, and his adult son, Forrest, and his lovely partner, Kate Lee. That’s three fiddlers and a mandolinist – oh, and Kate who is a terrific singer. Add in Joe Smart and Geoff Saunders on guitar and bass, and you have a formidable ensemble on stage and in the studio.
It’s a slightly different sort of family dynamic than the typical bluegrass family band, but when you see this bunch together, you can tell that they care deeply for one another, and respect and enjoy each other’s musical abilities.
Their debut album for Rounder Records, Coming Home, is due in a few weeks, and the band has dropped this music video for the opening track, Always Do, written by Jim Shirey, a good friend and writing partner of Forrest and Kate’s.
Coming Home is set for wide release on August 5.