Grant Dermody & Orville Johnson
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Grant Dermody (DER-muh-dee) is a harmonica player, singer, songwriter, and teacher from Seattle, Washington. Described as "an understated harmonica virtuoso and a vocalist of subtlety and warmth" by Don McLeese of No Depression magazine, Grant is a highly versatile musician. A lifelong student of the harmonica and acoustic blues, Grant's latest release is the masterful Lay Down My Burden. Grant's musical travels have seen him playing with many of America's most beloved acoustic musicians. In 2010, he embarked on a successful international tour with guitarist Eric Bibb. Previous explorations saw him performing in a trio with Orville Johnson and John Miller, live and on their 2006 release Deceiving Blues. In addition, Dermody has performed with blues legends Leon Bib, Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Lowery, Big Joe Duskin, John Dee Holeman, and Cephas & Wiggins. Beyond the blues, Grant is passionate about old-time music. As a member of The Improbabillies, whose 1998 self-titled CD made a serious splash in the old-time world, Grant brought a unique blues sensibility and an innovative harmonica style to that genre.
An excellent accompanist, Grant uses his instrument to add just the right shade, feel or energy to a player, piece or project. He has played on several of Seattle based singer/songwriter Jim Page's recordings, and was a guest artist on Dan Crary's, Rennaissance of the Steel String Guitar. Dan described Grant's playing on "Reedy's Blues," as "powerful and beautiful," and referred to him as, "One of the best studio musicians I have ever worked with." Ask other harmonica players about Grant's style, and they all point to his big, warm, wide-open tone, his ability to bring his own voice to a wide variety of musical styles, and his subtle, un-hurried approach. Though Grant spends most of his musical time playing acoustic music, he never hesitates to plug in and lay down some Chicago Blues.
In performances, recordings, and teaching engagements, Grant's soulful sound shines through, inspiring listeners and fellow musicians. As Don McLeese put it, Grant "not only renews an acoustic legacy, but extends it."
Orville Johnson was born and raised in the southern Illinois heartland. He acquired his love of singing as a youth in the fundamentalist Pentecostal church he attended and, when he later began playing guitar and dobro, responded to the roots music that surrounded him by learning to play the blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, and country music that are all part of the mosaic that characterizes his own mongrel music.
He is a singer, instrumentalist, record producer, songwriter, session player, teacher, the top dobro player on the West Coast of America and, above all, an instinctive and sensitive musician. As his entry in the Encyclopedia of Northwest Music (Sasquatch Press 1999) states, he has become a vital figure on the NW music scene in the thirty-some years he's lived there, appearing on over 400 CDs, movie and video soundtracks, commercials, producing 22 CDs for other artists, hosting a roots music radio show, and appearing in the 1997 film Georgia with Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Mare Winningham, on the Prairie Home Companion radio show and on Jay Leno's Tonight Show.
Orville is also known as a patient and insightful teacher of music and has taught often at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop as well as the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Blues Workshop, Euro-Blues Workshop, B.C. Bluegrass Workshop and others. He has several teaching videos and DVDs and CDs of his own music available.
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