Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines have been in-demand private instructors, session musicians and performers in the Midwest for over three decades with tours spanning the US and Europe. Together and separately, they are founding members of several of Wisconsins favorite musical groups, past and present: Harmonious Wail (vintage jazz), The Common Faces (original folk-soul), The Bob Westfall Band (original jazz-grass), The Moon Gypsies (original Americana / Roots-Rock), The Stellanovas (cafe jazz) and Graminy (original class-grass). Regular work with other ensembles and artists has included: Randy Sabiens Fiddlehead Band, Salt Creek (progressive Bluegrass band based in Milwaukee), The North Country Drifters (Western Swing), The Best Westerns (Western Swing), Honor Among Thieves (Original Rock) and performance and recording with singer- songwriters, Carrie Newcomer, Tret Fure, L.J. Booth, Whitney Mann, Josh Harty and Blake Thomas.|
For five years beginning in 2008, Gaines and Wagoner, along with technical producer, Andy LaValley, hosted a music and talk show called Mad Toast Live that was recorded for podcast and broadcast on WORT 89.9FM Listener Sponsored Community Radio in front of a live audience at the Brink Lounge. Special guests ranged from singer-songwriters to jazz artists, rock bands to polka bands and everything in-between. As President of the Madison Music Collective, Wagoner hosted and produced the MMCs Jazz on a Sunday series featuring regional and national jazz artists as well as Madisons own great jazz talent.
Gaines and Wagoner have been the recipients of several WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) nominations and awards over the years for their work with Harmonious Wail and The Common Faces, and several recent MAMAs (Madison Area Music Awards) for String Player of the Year (Violin and Cello), Specialty Instrument (Lapsteel), Best Male and Female Vocalist, and a Lifetime Career Achievement Award. as well as session work on numerous recordings that have received MAMAs for Album of the Year (Harmonious Wail, Graminy, Beth Kille, Mark Croft, The Moon Gypsies).
Their multi-instrumental recording credits include a whos who of local, regional, national and international artists ranging from 8 albums with Rounder Recording Artist, Carrie Newcomer, and recordings with Wisconsin favorites, Willy Porter, Peter Mulvey, Jim Schwall and Beth Kille to work with producer Butch Vig on sessions with Smashing Pumpkins (on their Multi-Platinum album, Gish), Freedy Johnston (This Perfect World, Right Between the Promises), U2 (Butch Vig remix) and British pop-rock group, EMF, and a long list of other local and regional releases too numerous to mention, as well as fourteen albums with past and present performing ensembles of their own.
From 2015-2017, Gaines and Wagoner recorded incidental music for the award-winning PBS and BBC series American Epic with producer, Duke Erikson. Distributed by BBC and PBS and released in June, 2017, the series shines a light on the evolution of roots music in America. Artists on the soundtrack include Taj Majal, Jack White, Elton John, Los Lobos, Beck, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Stephen Stills, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, American Epic won the Discovery Award and Audience Award at the Calgary Film Festival, the Foxtel Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival, Best Overall Picture in the Tryon International Film Festival and was nominated for Outstanding Music Direction at the Primetime Emmy Awards.
Graminy is an award-winning ensemble that creates a unique and engaging soundscape they call class-grass. We fuse components of grassroots and classical traditions, creating performances that are energetic and inquisitive, with quick changes and generous improvisation. Our instrumentation blends a classical string trio (violins, viola and cello) with elements of a bluegrass rhythm section (mandolin, guitar and banjo) to create something, both complex and immediate, elusive and apparent.
Graminy presents original compositions that reflect themes of environment and place. Our 2013 album, Germinations: A Bluegrass Symphony in D, won Classical Album of the Year and Classical Song of the Year at the 2014 MAMAs (Madison Area Music Association). And then in 2016, our 2015 album Dance of the Plants won us a second Classical Album of the Year MAMA award and a secondClassical Song of the Year MAMA award.
Graminys music focuses on themes of ecology and place. Our name derives from the botanical term for the grass family, Gramineae, as the music draws on the family of grassroots traditions, from all places and ecologies. We also play for dances and other non-concert events under the name Thirsty Roots.
The Jefferson (View)
137 W Jefferson St
Spring Green, WI 53588