Combining the fiery fingers and squeaky clean harmonies of a traditional bluegrass outfit with the spontaneous energy of a jam band and the heart and soul of classic rock, the unmistakable sound of Citigrass has forged a unique niche and fervent following since bursting forth onto the New York City club scene ten years ago. Like a fine blended whiskey, Citigrass goes down smooth, featuring subtle notes of Celtic, old-time, bluegrass, rock, funk, disco, and beyond, creating a rich, complex body of work that leaves audiences from Maine to Alabama screaming for more. As rendered by an all-star lineup of musical mavericks, there is simply no previous listening experience that can adequately prepare you for the intensity, irreverence, and full-on acoustic audio assault that is Citigrass.
A well known favorite among bookers at popular venues and festivals (Greyfox, Big Apple Bluegrass, and many others) Citigrass has shared the stage with such acclaimed artists as Ricky Skaggs, Mike Gordon (Phish), and the Yonder Mountain String Band, and was recently the featured soloist with the Mobile Symphony Pops. Citigrass has performed at Gracie Mansion for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and has become a regular first call act for city-run events at parks and public spaces. The band's music was recently featured in the Billy-Bob Thornton movie, "Astronaut Farmer," and other short films. They are repeat performers on ABC TV's live New York Morning Show at Lincoln Center. The band continues to receive praise and critical acclaim in diverse publications such as The New York Times, Bluegrass Unlimited, Relix, The Village Voice, NY Press, and on Jambands.com.
The current all-star lineup was formed by banjoist/founder Sandy Israel, who pioneer the concept of Citigrass by combining the speed and virtuosity of bluegrass with the rebel yell of rock and roll. Sandy's road to banjo nirvana took him from the D.C. punk scene to performing on the crowded streets of Tokyo, and finally to Citigrass Headquarters in Brooklyn, where he leads one of the largest and most active banjo teaching studios in the New York area.
Mandolinist and lead vocalist Noah Chase is also front-man for the veteran rock band Soulfarm and has played and recorded with Perry Farrell, Bruce Hornsby, and Shawn Colvin among many others. Noah's pure gold voice and tremendous stage presence are well known on stages up and down the East Coast, and have achieved near-legendary status in Israel, where he first emerged as a musician. Noah often incorporates elements of his unique background into the band, infusing the strings with hypnotic djembe beats and Middle-Eastern inspired vocalizing.
Fiddler Kenji Bunch wears many different hats. Mild-mannered Juilliard-trained classical violist and composer by day, Kenji unleashes musical mayhem at night with his dead on Johnny Cash impersonation, love of overblown 80's pop tunes, and general inclination toward the absurd. When no one was looking, he wrote two symphonies, an opera, and a whole stack of other music that has been recorded numerous times and performed by over thirty orchestras on six continents. Also a highly sought after arranger, he's worked, performed, and recorded with the likes of Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin, The Who, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Widespread Panic, Ornette Coleman, and Bobby McFerrin, to name a few.
Versatile bassist Tim Kiah is yet another musical shape-shifter. With quite possibly the fastest fingers legally allowed on an upright bass, Tim is an active performer on the NYC jazz circuit, collaborating and touring the world with top jazz players including Ravi Coltrane, Ron Carter, and Roy Nathanson. Also a composer and dedicated music educator, Tim has received a grant from Chamber Music America. Regulars at Citigrass live shows learn early on to buckle in and hold on for dear life when Timmy gets that sparkle in his eye and unleashes the wrath of his "doghouse" bass.
James Kerr, Dobro, plays and sings the old songs the way they used to be played. Each twang of his resophonic guitar is an antique relic from a simpler time gone by. James was a top prize winner at the Roxbury Flatpicking Guitar Contest and his debut solo recording, "Atmosphere," has received extensive airplay on folk radio programs nationwide. He has become an in-demand dobro and steel player on the New York scene, and also plays and tours with progressive Newgrass outfit The Five Deadly Vemons.
Sandy Israel: Banjo, Vocals
Kenji Bunch: Fiddle, Vocals, Viola, Jaw Harp
Noah Chase: Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals, Djembe, spoons
Tim Kiah: Bass, Vocals
James Kerr: Dobro, Lap Steel, Vocals
Citigrass: Citigrass (Debut album)
Citigrass: Serpent in the Grass