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One of the best songwriters in the Southwest
Muskellunge creates contemporary, original American music that incorporates the traditions of the past into the topics of today. The group consists of Nolan McKelvey (vocals/guitar), Aaron Tyler (mandolin/vocals), Tim Hogan (bass/vocals), Frank Dedera (banjo), and Ron James (drums).
Nolan McKelvey formed Muskellunge in Arizona in 2004. Over the course of his twenty-year career, he has performed at the Newport Folk Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, and many more. McKelvey’s band won a Boston Music Award for “Best Folk Act,” and he has performed on nationally syndicated radio shows such as Bluegrass Breakdown (Nashville) and World Cafe (Philadelphia). He has opened for such bluegrass legends as Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Béla Fleck, and Sam Bush, as well as a broad range of artists including Greg Brown, Jack Johnson, Billy Currington, Sugarland, and Odetta. McKelvey has been called “one of the best songwriters of the Southwest” (FlagLive!) and was selected as “Best Musician” by the Arizona Daily Sun Reader’s Poll.
Aaron Tyler is renowned across the Southwest for his incredible mandolin virtuosity. He has performed in and around Arizona for over twenty years and won the title “State Champion” at the Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival mandolin competition. He is also a two-time band competition finalist at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. His playing has been referred to as “adrenaline” for his unmatched speed and dexterity.
Tim Hogan has traveled the country in several nationally renowned acts including Acoustic Semi and the In-Betweens. His “Muskellunge bass” (an Azola electric upright) always garners attention, but it is his creative and melodic bass lines that lay the foundation for the band. He is a phenomenal harmony vocalist and sings most of the harmonies in Muskellunge.
Frank Dedera is a one of the founding members of the legendary Arizona band Flying South, which included bluegrass legends Tom Rozum and Peter McLaughlin. Dedera has performed at festivals throughout the Southwest and the Four Corners region over his thirty-plus-year career. His clean, creative banjo lines provide the driving force behind the bluegrass sound of Muskellunge.
Ron James is an incredibly diverse and talented musician who has been performing for over twenty-five years in every style of music imaginable. He has toured extensively on the West Coast of the United States, in Thailand, and in Europe with bands including Limbs Akimbo, Onus B. Johnson, and the Chuck Hall Band. He is a truly deep and soulful musician whose presence in Muskellunge helps to provide the extra kick that separates them from other contemporary bluegrass bands.
Rising Sun Daughter
Opening for Nolan McKelvey and Muskellunge is Rising Sun Daughter. The band is the new solo project for Grace Rolland. In 2010, Rolland joined the traditional folk-Americana band Run Boy Run as cellist and vocalist. The band won the coveted Telluride Bluegrass Band Contest (2011), appeared on A Prairie Home Companion twice (2011, 2012), released four studio records, and toured across the United States in the short span of five years. During that time, Rising Sun Daughter emerged in the quiet reverie of nights on the road, hotel rooms between shows, and moments back at home where Rolland explored the electric guitar, experimented with lyrics and sound, and played with different musicians around the Phoenix area. The band’s debut EP, I See Jane, was released October 4, 2019.