Two of Acoustic & Bluegrass music’s most admired voices perform Christmas Classics
Josh Shilling from the acclaimed band Mountain Heart, and Tim Shelton of the equally renowned NewFound Road, will perform holiday songs from the 1940s-1960s at the historic Thrasher Opera House in Green Lake. Two remarkable and critically acclaimed voices with just piano and guitar performing your favorite Christmas classics on Saturday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m.
A Martinsville, Virginia native, the versatile singer/songwriter, Josh Shilling, began playing the piano at a mere 7 years old. As a child, his voracious musical study traversed rock, jazz and classic country. He matured into a skilled pianist and Hammond B3 player whose playing style capably relays honky-tonk, rock, funk, soul, gospel, jazz or folk grooves. Shilling also developed steadily as a guitarist, while honing his natural emotional vocal ability.
His earlier musical pursuits included traveling with nationally touring artists such as Cimmaron, country star Billy "Crash" Craddock and Chicago's Bill Champlin. Esteemed trumpet and trombone player Mic Gillette also enlisted Shilling's services. "Josh Shilling is one of the best new talents in the (music) business. He is a great singer, an incredible keyboardist, and a fine showman. Check him out, you're in for a treat. He's the real deal." —Mic Gillette, Tower of Power, The Doobie Brothers, Santana
Shilling joined acclaimed bluegrass ensemble Mountain Heart in 2007 and that same year, wrote or co-wrote all of the four new songs featured their live album, The Road That Never Ends, which reached the forth slot on Billboard's bluegrass chart.
Mountain Heart's January 2007 appearance on the Grand Ole Opry introduced Shilling to an eagerly receptive crowd. After singing one of his original songs, he earned a standing ovation and encore that evening - a rarity and intoxicating distinction for any artist on that revered stage. Since that night, Shilling has played on the Opry over 50 times, toured as part of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 2008 summer tour, toured with artists like The Marshall Tucker Band, The Avett Brothers, The Lee Boys, The Traveling McCoury’s, legendary guitarist Tony Rice and many many more.
July 31, 2012 marked the official release of Shilling’s debut solo project Letting Go. After years of writing songs for other bands, recording as a featured artist on dozens of CDs, and touring relentlessly solo and with acts like Mountain Heart, Shilling set out to produce and release a project on his own. Rave reviews poured in as listeners and supporters downloaded and ordered the project. Now based in Nashville, Shilling continues to perform with Mountain Heart while pursuing his solo career.
After sharing in the creation of NewFound Road and spending a dozen years guiding the quartet’s transformation from a purely Gospel group into one of Bluegrass music’s most distinctive and admired ensembles, acclaimed singer Tim Shelton is trading the safety of familiar ground and an established career to head for new musical territory.
"I’ve always loved and appreciated all kinds of music, and it was almost nagging at me that I wanted to do something else. But NewFound Road was busy in Bluegrass, and we’d finally gotten to the point where we were comfortable, so it seemed a little silly to change. But then [mandolinist] Joe Booher came in and said, ‘I think I’m ready for a break from traveling.’ Well, he’d been with me for seven years, so it caught me off guard. But I thought about it, and literally the next day, I decided, I’m done. I didn’t want to deal with reinventing NewFound Road, I’d been wanting to do other things musically, to go other places, and so I thought, now is the time.”
Tim’s energies and talents were invested in NewFound Road, and from its first, self-titled album, the group’s reputation—and personal appearance calendar—grew steadily. Their third album, 2005’s Somewhere Between, marked the emergence of secular Bluegrass material in NFR’s set lists, and generated their first major bluegrass hit, "Raining The Blues,” as well as their first take on what would become a signature song, Tom T. Hall’s "That’s How I Got To Memphis.”
By the time Live At The Down Home was released in 2011, Shelton was the sole founding member left in the group, presiding over a widely-acclaimed quartet that could knock out a hard-driving bluegrass original like "We Ain’t Goin’ Down Without A Fight” (co-written by the band’s Josh Miller) or a fresh take on a classic like the Stanley Brothers’ "Lonesome River,” but also deliver a compelling reading of Jackson Browne’s "These Days” or an eight minute, instrumental and vocal tour de force on the R&B staple, "Ain’t No Sunshine.”
So while there’s no doubt that Tim Shelton has the breadth of vision and talent to take a new direction, it’s equally certain that it’s the kind of move that only an artist, driven more by conviction and curiosity than by a desire for security, would make.
"I just want to make music that isn’t necessarily traditional Bluegrass. I love it, but I also love James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Rock, hard Rock, traditional Country—all of those. Just music. I think that people listen to the way I sing, and they assume I must be ‘going Country,’ but that’s not the direction I’m going. The vocals sound country because it’s me, but I’m not setting out to try to make some huge-sounding, very produced record. I want it to sound good, I want the music to be played right, but I don’t want a wall of sound—I’m not trying to make a Rascal Flatts or Jason Aldean record.”
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Sponsored by HILLSIDE DENTAL ASSOCIATES. Accommodations provided by The Heidel House Resort & Spa.
Tickets for this special event are available for $18 and can be purchased at the Thrasher Opera House Office, Horicon Bank (Green Lake), Pick N' Save, Ripon Drug (Ripon), Twister (Princeton), or by calling 920-294-4279. Tickets are also available online at www.thrasheroperahouse.com.