Bruce Hornsby

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Bruce Hornsby
Hornsby in Portland, Oregon, 2006
Background information
Birth nameBruce Randall Hornsby
Born (1954-11-23) November 23, 1954 (age 64)
Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.
Genres Improvisational multi-genre, jam band, rock, gospel, heartland rock, jazz, bluegrass, blues rock
Occupation(s)Singer, multi-instrumentalist
  • Vocals
  • Piano
  • Keyboards
  • Accordion
Years active1974–present
Labels RCA, CBS/Sony, Sony BMG, Vanguard, Sire
Associated acts Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Dave Matthews Band, Sting, Ambrosia, Hornsby & the Noise Makers, Jack DeJohnette, Skaggs & Hornsby, Bruce Hornsby Trio, Hornsby and the Range, Eric Clapton, Huey Lewis, Grateful Dead, The Other Ones, Bobby Hi-Test and the Octane Kids, Bob Dylan, Don Henley, Hall & Oates, Bon Iver

Bruce Randall Hornsby (born November 23, 1954) is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. He draws frequently from classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, gospel, rock, blues, and jam band musical traditions.

Classical music broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the United States Appalachian region. The genre derives its name from the band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Bluegrass has roots in traditional English, Irish, and Scottish ballads and dance tunes, and by traditional African-American blues and jazz. Bluegrass was further developed by musicians who played with him, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."


Hornsby's recordings have been recognized on a number of occasions with industry awards, including the 1987 Grammy Award for Best New Artist with Bruce Hornsby and the Range, the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album, and the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

The Grammy Award for Best New Artist has been awarded since 1959. Years reflect the year in which the Grammy Awards were handed out, for records released in the previous year. The award was not presented in 1967. The official guidelines are as follows: "For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist." Note that this is not necessarily the first album released by an artist.

The Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album is an award presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to recording artists for quality works in the bluegrass music genre. Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".

The Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance was awarded between 1969 and 2011.

Hornsby has worked with his touring band Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers and his bluegrass project with Ricky Skaggs and has worked as a session and guest musician. He was a member of the Grateful Dead from September 1990 to March 1992, playing over 100 shows during that period.

Ricky Skaggs American singer

Rickie Lee Skaggs, known professionally as Ricky Skaggs, is an American country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. He primarily plays mandolin; however, he also plays fiddle, guitar, mandocaster and banjo.

Grateful Dead American rock jam band

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and psychedelic rock; for live performances of lengthy instrumental jams; and for its devoted fan base, known as "Deadheads". "Their music", writes Lenny Kaye, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists". These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world". The band was ranked 57th by Rolling Stone magazine in its The Greatest Artists of All Time issue. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and a recording of their May 8, 1977, performance at Cornell University's Barton Hall was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2012. The Grateful Dead have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.

His 21st album, Absolute Zero, was released in April 2019 and features collaborations with Justin Vernon and Sean Carey of Bon Iver, Jack DeJohnette, Blake Mills, yMusic, The Staves, and Brad Cook.

Early years

Bruce Randall Hornsby was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, a son of Robert Stanley Hornsby (1920–1998), an attorney, real-estate developer and former musician, and his wife, née Lois Saunier. Raised a Christian Scientist, he has two siblings: Robert Saunier "Bobby" Hornsby, a realtor with Hornsby Realty and locally known musician, and Jonathan Bigelow Hornsby, an engineer who has collaborated in songwriting. [1] [2] [3]

Williamsburg, Virginia Independent city in Virginia

Williamsburg is a city in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the population was 14,068. In 2014, the population was estimated to be 14,691. Located on the Virginia Peninsula, Williamsburg is in the northern part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. It is bordered by James City County and York County.

Christian Science Set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements

Christian Science is a set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements. It was developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy, who argued in her 1875 book Science and Health that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone. The book became Christian Science's central text, along with the Bible, and by 2001 had sold over nine million copies.

Jonathan Bigelow "John" Hornsby is an American composer, musician and actor. He is the brother of musician and composer Bruce Hornsby, and the two have collaborated often.

He graduated from James Blair High School in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1973, where he played on the basketball team. He studied music at the University of Richmond, as well as Berklee College of Music and the University of Miami, from which he graduated in 1977. [4] [5]

University of Richmond University in Richmond, VA

The University of Richmond is a private liberal arts university in Richmond, Virginia. The university is a primarily undergraduate, residential university with approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students in five schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the University of Richmond School of Law and the School of Professional & Continuing Studies.

Berklee College of Music independent college of contemporary music in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Berklee College of Music is a private music college in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known for the study of jazz and modern American music, it also offers college-level courses in a wide range of contemporary and historic styles, including rock, hip hop, reggae, salsa, heavy metal and bluegrass. Berklee alumni have won 294 Grammy Awards, more than any other colleges, and 95 Latin Grammy Awards. Other notable accolades include 19 Emmy Awards, 5 Tony Awards and 5 Academy Awards.

University of Miami private university in Coral Gables, Florida, United States

The University of Miami is a private research university in Coral Gables, Florida. As of 2018, the university enrolls 17,331 students in 12 separate colleges/schools, including the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine in Miami's Health District, a law school on the main campus, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science focused on the study of oceanography and atmospheric sciences on Virginia Key, with research facilities at the Richmond Facility in southern Miami-Dade County.

In the spring of 1974 Hornsby's older brother Bobby, who attended the University of Virginia, formed the band "Bobby Hi-Test and the Octane Kids" to play fraternity parties, featuring Bruce on Fender Rhodes and vocals. [6] The band, which is listed in Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads, performed covers of Allman Brothers Band, The Band, and predominantly Grateful Dead songs. [6] Although Hornsby's collaboration with Bobby Hornsby would be relatively short-lived, Bobby's son R.S. was a recurring guest-guitarist with Hornsby's band and periodically toured with his uncle. His performances were often looked forward to by fans. [4] [5] R.S. Hornsby died on January 15, 2009 in a car accident near Crozet, Virginia. He was 28. [7]

University of Virginia University in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

The University of Virginia is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson. It is known for its historic foundations, student-run honor code, and secret societies. UVA is the flagship university of Virginia and home to Jefferson's Academical Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Band rock band from Toronto

The Band was a Canadian-American roots rock group including Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, and Levon Helm. The members of the Band first came together as rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins's Toronto, Ontario-based backing group, The Hawks, which they joined one by one between 1958 and 1963.

Crozet, Virginia Census-designated place in Virginia, United States

Crozet is a census-designated place (CDP) in Albemarle County in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is situated along the I-64 corridor approximately 12 miles (19 km) west of Charlottesville and 21 miles (34 km) east of Staunton. Originally called "Wayland's Crossing," it was renamed in 1870 in honor of Colonel Claudius Crozet,the French-born civil engineer who directed the construction of the Blue Ridge Tunnel. The corner stone of Crozet is believe to have been Pleasant Green, a property also known as the Ficklin-Wayland Farm, located just about 100 30 yards from the actual Wayland Crossing. Claudius Crozet is said to have lodged in that property while surveying the land that today honors his name. The population of Crozet was 5,565 at the 2010 census. Crozet is part of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Following his graduation from the University of Miami, in 1977, Hornsby returned to his hometown of Williamsburg, and played in local clubs and hotel bars. In 1980, he and his younger brother (and songwriting partner) John Hornsby moved to Los Angeles, where they spent three years writing for 20th Century Fox. [8] Before moving back to his native Hampton Roads, [5] he also spent time in Los Angeles as a session musician. In 1982 Hornsby joined the band Ambrosia for their last album Road Island and can be seen in the band's video for the album's single "How Can You Love Me". After Ambrosia disbanded, he and bassist Joe Puerta performed as members of the touring band for pop star Sheena Easton. [9] Hornsby can clearly be seen in the music video for Easton's 1984 hit single "Strut".

The Range

Bruce Hornsby and the Range
Origin Los Angeles, California/Williamsburg, Virginia, United States
Genres Rock, pop rock, soft rock
Years active1984–1991
Labels RCA Records
Past membersBruce Hornsby
David Mansfield
George Marinelli
Joe Puerta
John Molo

In 1984 he formed Bruce Hornsby and the Range, who were signed to RCA Records in 1985. Besides Hornsby, Range members were David Mansfield (guitar, mandolin, violin), George Marinelli (guitars and backing vocals), former Ambrosia member Joe Puerta (bass guitar and backing vocals), and John Molo (drums).

Hornsby's recording career started with the biggest hit he has had to date, "The Way It Is". It topped the American music charts in 1986. [10] The song described aspects of homelessness, the American civil rights movement and institutional racism. [11] It has since been sampled by at least six rap artists, including Tupac Shakur, E-40, and Mase. [10]

With the success of the single, the album The Way It Is went multi-platinum [12] and produced another top five hit with "Mandolin Rain" (co-written, as many of Hornsby's early songs were, with his brother John). [10] "Every Little Kiss" also did respectably well. [10] Other tracks on the album helped establish what some labeled the "Virginia sound", a mixture of rock, jazz, and bluegrass. [13] Bruce Hornsby and the Range went on to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1987, beating out Glass Tiger, Nu Shooz, Simply Red, and Timbuk3.

Hornsby and the Range's sound was distinctive for its use of syncopation in Hornsby's piano solos, a bright piano sound and an extensive use of synthesizers as background for Hornsby's solos. John Molo's drumbeats were often looped throughout the recorded versions of songs. They are typical double-time beats, which allowed Hornsby and the rest of the band to do more with their solos.

Bruce Hornsby Timeline
1984–1991 Bruce Hornsby and the Range
1990–1992 Grateful Dead
1993–1995 Solo Albums: Harbor Lights & Hot House
1996–1998 Further Festivals & The Other Ones, Solo Album: Spirit Trail
1998–present Bruce Hornsby and the Noise Makers
2007–present Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby
2007–present The Bruce Hornsby Trio (with Christian McBride & Jack DeJohnette)

Hornsby and the Range's second album, Scenes From The Southside (on which Peter Harris replaced Mansfield) was released in 1988. It included "Look Out Any Window" and "The Valley Road" which many critics noted for their "more spacious" musical arrangements, allowing for "more expressive" piano solos from Hornsby. [14] [15] It also included "Jacob's Ladder", which the Hornsby brothers wrote for musician friend Huey Lewis; Lewis's version became a number one hit from his album Fore! . [16] Scenes offered further slices of "Americana" and "small-town nostalgia", [15] but it was the band's last album to perform well in the singles market. [14]

In 1988, Hornsby first appeared on stage with the Grateful Dead, a recurring collaboration that continued until the band's dissolution. [17] Hornsby went on to appear on stage frequently as a guest before becoming a regular fixture in the touring lineup for the Dead a few years later. During the late 1980s and early 1990s Hornsby worked extensively as a producer and sideman, notably producing a comeback album Anything Can Happen for Leon Russell. [8] In 1989 Hornsby co-wrote and played piano on Don Henley's hit "The End of the Innocence", and in 1991 played piano on Bonnie Raitt's hit "I Can't Make You Love Me". Hornsby continues to feature both of these songs in his own concerts. He also appeared on albums by Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Clannad, Crosby Stills and Nash, Stevie Nicks and Squeeze. [14]

During this era he slowly began to introduce jazz and bluegrass elements into his music, first in live performance settings and later on studio work. [10] In 1989, he first performed at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. He also reworked his hit "The Valley Road" with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for their album Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two . The song won at the 1990 Grammy Awards for Best Bluegrass Recording.

A Night On The Town was released in 1990, on which he teamed up with jazz musicians Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone) and Charlie Haden (double bass) as well as bluegrass pioneer Bela Fleck (banjo). A change in style became apparent as the album was much more rock and guitar driven, making use of Jerry Garcia's guitar work on a number of tracks, perhaps most prominently on the single "Across the River". [18] In concert, Hornsby and the Range began to stretch out their songs, incorporating more and more "freewheeling musical exchanges". [10] Critics praised the album for its production, its political relevance, and Hornsby's gestures toward expanding out of a strictly pop sound by incorporating jazz and bluegrass. [18] Ultimately, though, the core "rock band" sound of the Range limited Hornsby's aspirations, and after a final three-week tour in 1991, Hornsby disbanded the outfit to enter a new phase of his career. [10] Drummer John Molo continued to perform regularly with Hornsby for another few years, although other members pursued separate musical endeavors. Following Hornsby's and Molo's involvement with The Other Ones, Molo left Hornsby to become the primary drummer with bass guitarist Phil Lesh and Friends.

Hornsby playing accordion in New York's Central Park BruceCentralPark.jpg
Hornsby playing accordion in New York's Central Park

Grateful Dead

Hornsby played more than 100 shows with the Grateful Dead from 1988 until Jerry Garcia's death in 1995. [19] At some shows in 1988 and 1989, he joined the band as a special guest and played accordion or synthesizer. Starting in the fall of 1990, he played piano (and frequently accordion) at many gigs following the death of Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland, who died in July 1990. Mydland's place was filled in September 1990 by Vince Welnick, who became the sole keyboardist by March 1992, although Hornsby still sat in with the band on occasion.

Hornsby's own music evolved significantly during this time period. Critics have suggested that the Dead's vibrant tradition of melding folk music and the blues with psychedelic rock in "loose-knit expressions" and extended jamming "further pushed [Hornsby] outside the confines of mainstream pop". [10] Critics have also commented upon the "close musical connection" [20] formed between Hornsby and Jerry Garcia, suggesting that Hornsby's particular style of jazz-fueled improvisation added to the band's repertoire, [21] and helped to revitalize and refocus Jerry Garcia's guitar solos in the band's sound. [17] Hornsby's friendship with Garcia continued, both inside and outside the band, as the two "challenged" each other to expand their musicianship through several other album and live collaborations. [22] Above all, Hornsby's musical versatility and ability to slip in and out of extended freeform jams won over longtime Grateful Dead fans. [23]

Since his first involvement with the Grateful Dead, Hornsby's live shows have drawn Deadheads and Hornsby has commented: "I've always liked the group of fans that we've drawn from the Grateful Dead time, because those fans are often adventurous music listeners". [4] He has performed a number of their songs at his concerts [24] and as homages on studio and live albums, while [17] Hornsby originals "The Valley Road" and "Stander on the Mountain" appeared several times in the Dead's setlists. Hornsby also co-performed the improvisation "Silver Apples of the Moon" for the Grateful Dead's Infrared Roses .

Hornsby was the presenter when the Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 [25] and in 2005 he participated in "Comes a Time", a tribute concert to Jerry Garcia. He continues to work with Dead-related projects, such as Bob Weir's Ratdog, Mickey Hart's solo projects. He performed as part of The Other Ones in 1998 and 2000, and on occasion sat in with The Dead. Hornsby continues to be involved in the Grateful Dead and Furthur community, having opened All Good Music Festival in 2012 featured with Bob Weir on rhythm guitar. In mid-2013, Hornsby performed with Grateful Dead-influenced bluegrass group Railroad Earth. Hornsby reunited with surviving members of the Grateful Dead along with Trey Anastasio from Phish and Jeff Chimenti at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, and later at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, in July 2015. [26]


Hornsby released his first solo album, Harbor Lights , in 1993. The record showcased him in a more jazz-oriented setting and featured an all-star lineup, including Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis, Jerry Garcia, Phil Collins and Bonnie Raitt. Hornsby secured his third Grammy in 1993 for Best Pop Instrumental for "Barcelona Mona" (composed with Branford Marsalis for the Barcelona Olympics).

In 1995, Hot House was released with its cover art, featuring an imagined jam session between bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and jazz legend Charlie Parker. The album found Hornsby expanding into the jazz sound from Harbor Lights, this time reintroducing elements of bluegrass from A Night on the Town and his earlier collaborations. [27]

"To be creative, spontaneous in the moment and make music in the present tense, that's what we're all about live. I write the songs, we make the records and then the records become a departure point, the basic blueprint, the basic arrangement. I'm fairly restless creatively. I was never a very good Top 40 band guy because I never liked to play the same thing every time. Too often songwriters approach their songs like museum pieces. I don't subscribe to that. I think of my songs as living beings that evolve and change and grow through the years." [4]
—Bruce Hornsby

During this time period, "even his concerts conveyed a looser, more playful mood, and Hornsby began taking requests from the audience". [10] Hornsby's concerts became "departure points" for his album compositions, which would be blended with and reworked into "lengthy spontaneous medleys". [4] [10] Both in terms of audience requests and in terms of spontaneous on-stage decisions, Hornsby's performances became opportunities for him to challenge himself by trying to "find a way to seamlessly thread these seemingly disparate elements together". [10]

Hornsby next worked with several Grateful Dead reformation projects, including several Furthur Festivals and the ultimate formation of The Other Ones, which resulted in the release a live album, The Strange Remain . Hornsby's piano and vocals factor heavily into the band's performance of classic Dead tunes "Jack Straw" and "Sugaree" (which features Hornsby on lead vocal, in Jerry Garcia's absence), and Hornsby-originals "White-Wheeled Limousine" and "Rainbow's Cadillac" receive reworkings in the hands of The Other Ones. [17]

Three years after Hot House, Hornsby released a double album, Spirit Trail . Featuring a decidedly goofy picture of his uncle on the cover, the collection blended instrumental tracks with the story-telling, rock, jazz, and other musical forms Hornsby had delved into over his career. The album considered "very Southern" themes with "songs about race, religion, judgment and tolerance" and "struggles with these issues". [28] An example is "Sneaking Up on Boo Radley", which referenced the character from Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird .

Throughout the sequence of Harbor Lights , Hot House, and Spirit Trail, Hornsby's piano playing steadily gained further complexity, taking on a more varied array of musical styles and incorporating more and more difficult techniques, as evidenced by his two-hand-independence on Spirit Trail's "King of the Hill". [28] During this same span of solo album years, Hornsby made several mini-tours playing solo piano gigs for the first time in his career. [16] The shows allowed Hornsby limitless possibilities for seguing songs into other songs, often blurring lines between classical compositions, jazz standards, traditional bluegrass, folk, and fiddle tunes, Grateful Dead songs, as well as reworkings of Hornsby originals. [17] Hornsby reflected on these periods of intensive solo performances, stating that the solo tours helped him "recommit [himself] to the study of piano" and "take [his] playing to a whole new level", explorations and improvisations that would not be possible in a band setting. [28] He finally released his first entirely live solo album, simply titled Solo Concerts, in August 2014.

His 21st album, Absolute Zero, will be released in April 2019 and features collaborations with Justin Vernon and Sean Carey of Bon Iver, Jack DeJohnette, Blake Mills, yMusic, The Staves, and Brad Cook.

The Noisemakers

Hornsby's touring band lineup underwent extensive changes between 1998 and 2000 as well, with longtime drummer John Molo joining former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh in his band Phil Lesh & Friends. [17] A set of twenty consecutive shows [29] performed by Hornsby and his band at Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland, California marked a particularly innovative period of evolution for his live shows; there Hornsby and his band were "able to explore songs in a completely spontaneous fashion". Since that time Hornsby has avoided even planning set lists for his shows, preferring to choose songs on the spot based mainly on audience requests. [30] As Hornsby experimented with a different sound, ushering in frequent collaborations with such musicians as Steve Kimock on guitar and Bobby Read on heavily effects-driven electronic woodwinds, a new band, dubbed the Noisemakers, took shape. In 2000, Hornsby chronicled this journey with a compilation live album entitled Here Come The Noise Makers , and did extensive touring with his new band featuring John "J.T." Thomas (keyboards, organ), Bobby Read (saxophones, woodwinds, flute), J.V. Collier (bass), Doug Derryberry (guitar, mandolin), and several different drummers before Sonny Emory took over full-time.

Hornsby performing a solo piano show June 21, 2005 in North Bethesda, Maryland, audience requests visible across keyboard BruuuceRequests.jpg
Hornsby performing a solo piano show June 21, 2005 in North Bethesda, Maryland, audience requests visible across keyboard

His next studio album of new material was not until 2002: Big Swing Face . The album was Hornsby's most experimental effort to date; Big Swing Face, the only album on which Hornsby barely plays any piano, relied heavily on post-electronica beats, drum loops, Pro Tools editing, and dense synthesizer arrangements. [31] The album also boasts a "stream-of-consciousness wordplay" of lyrics that are in many ways more eccentric and humorous than previous work. [32] Big Swing Face received mixed reviews, ranging from "a new and improved Bruce Hornsby" [33] to being called one of the "strangest records of 2002". [31]

In 2004, after 19 successful years on RCA Records, Hornsby returned to a more acoustic, piano-driven sound on his Columbia Records debut Halcyon Days , which reviewers described as "pure Hornsby". [34] Guests included Sting, Elton John and Eric Clapton.

Throughout tours following the album's release, both with the Noisemakers and in solo performances, Hornsby continued to demonstrate his desire to "grow" as a singer and performer and to expand the instrumental possibilities of the piano in various genres. [13] He also began to offer CD sets and digital downloads of digitally-mastered soundboard recordings of live concerts via the Bruce Hornsby Live website; selected concerts have been offered since 2002.

In July 2006, Hornsby released a four-CD/DVD box set titled Intersections (1985–2005) . The discs are thematically broken into three categories: "Top 90 Time", "Solo Piano, Tribute Records, Country-Bluegrass, Movie Scores", and "By Request (Favorites and Best Songs)". A full third of the music is previously unreleased; many familiar tracks are presented as unreleased live versions rather than the original studio recordings, and the majority of the remaining tracks are from single B-sides, collaborations or tribute albums, and movie soundtracks. [35] One song, "Song H", a new composition, was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental at the 2007 Grammy Awards.

In 2007 Hornsby began more regularly playing classical music: at a concert in Saint Louis, Missouri, during Hornsby's improvisational session in "The Way It Is", he began playing J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations along with the drums. In a different city, he played five straight Goldberg Variations over the drum intro of "Gonna Be Some Changes Made".

On September 15, 2009, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers released their fourth album, Levitate , to mixed reviews; it included new solo material with several songs co-written with Chip DiMatteo for the Broadway play SCKBSTD . May 2011 saw the release of the band's latest live album, Bride of the Noisemakers.

Rehab Reunion

Rehab Reunion is the sixth album (fourth studio album) by Bruce Hornsby with his current touring band, the Noisemakers. Released on June 17, 2016, the album is notable in that Hornsby, widely recognized for his piano capabilities, does not play piano on the album at all. Rather, he plays the dulcimer. The album also marks Hornsby's first release on 429 Records. Like on many of his previous releases, Rehab Reunion features collaborations with guest artists close to Hornsby. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver sings background vocals on "Over the Rise" and Mavis Staples duets with Hornsby on "Celestial Railroad". Also noteworthy is a folk version of "The Valley Road", originally a hit in 1988 with Hornsby's first backing band, the Range. [36] [ circular reference ]

As of 2018, the lineup of the Noisemakers includes John "J.T." Thomas (Keyboards, Organ), J.V. Collier (Bass), Gibb Droll (Guitar), John Mailander (Violin, Mandolin), and Chad Wright (Drums).

Skaggs & Hornsby/The Bruce Hornsby Trio (2007–present)

In March 2007, Hornsby teamed with bluegrass player Ricky Skaggs to produce a bluegrass album, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby , and played several tour dates together. The seeds for the album had been sown in 2000 when the pair collaborated on "Darlin' Cory", a track on the Big Mon Bill Monroe bluegrass tribute album and then proposed recording an album together. [37] Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby, featuring the duo backed by Skaggs's band Kentucky Thunder, combined bluegrass, traditional country, "a tinge of Hornsby's jazzy piano and a splash of humor" on a spectrum of songs from the traditional to new compositions such as the opening track, "The Dreaded Spoon", "a humorous tale of a youthful ice cream heist". [38] The pair also reinvented Hornsby's hit "Mandolin Rain" as a minor key acoustic ballad and "give his cautionary tale of backwoods violence", "A Night On the Town", a treatment highlighting the "Appalachian storytelling tradition that was always at the song's heart". [38] The album ended with a surprise cover of Rick James's funk hit "Super Freak" in a bluegrass arrangement. Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby topped Billboard 's bluegrass charts for several weeks. [39] The album showed Hornsby carving out a place for piano within traditional bluegrass, disproving the notion that the piano is not compatible with "string-oriented" bluegrass. [40] The duo released the live album Cluck Ol' Hen in 2013, and continue to play live when schedules permit.

Concurrently with the bluegrass project, Hornsby recorded a jazz album, Camp Meeting . with Christian McBride (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums). [41] Alongside original compositions by Hornsby, the trio delivered "newly reharmonized versions" of tunes by John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, a previously unrecorded Ornette Coleman work ("Questions and Answers") and an early Keith Jarrett composition ("Death and the Flower"). [42] The trio made a series of appearances in the summer of 2007, including the Playboy Jazz Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival and at the Hollywood Bowl. [5] [43]

On January 4, 2007, former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart reunited along with Hornsby, Mike Gordon (of Phish and the Rhythm Devils) and Warren Haynes to play two sets, including Dead classics, at a post-inauguration fundraising party for Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House in the United States Congress.

Hornsby wrote songs for a Broadway Musical, titled "SCKBSTD"; one song from this project, a playful biographical tune about real-estate tycoon Donald Trump titled "The Don of Dons", made several appearances in setlists during his early-2007 solo piano performances. [5] He also composed the score for Spike Lee's ESPN documentary, Kobe Doin' Work, about NBA star Kobe Bryant and his MVP season.

Outside of music composition and performance, Hornsby has taken an ownership interest in Williamsburg area radio station "The Tide" WTYD 92.3 FM, and he has endowed the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Program at University of Miami's Frost School of Music, encouraging the study of songwriting broadly across traditional genres. [5] Hornsby played himself in a cameo role in the Robin Williams movie World's Greatest Dad , in which Williams' character is a Bruce Hornsby fan.

In 2014, Hornsby toured selected dates with Pat Metheny Unity Group.

Hornsby was part of the Grateful Dead's farewell and reunion shows in June and July 2015 alongside the original four surviving members and Trey Anastasio of Phish.

Collaborations with Justin Vernon

In 2016 [Day of the Dead], a Grateful Dead cover album benefitting the [Red Hot Organization], an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS, was released. Hornsby performed on one track, "Black Muddy River", along with indie folk band (and Vernon's former band) [DeYarmond Edison]. Hornsby performed the song alongside Vernon that same year in Eaux Claires, WI. Hornsby collaborated with Vernon on the Bon Iver track "Beth/Rest" on the album Bon Iver. Hornsby performed alongside Vernon at Coachella in 2017, performing "I Can't Make You Love Me;" the performance also featured Jenny Lewis. [44]

Work with Spike Lee

Hornsby has composed and performed for many projects with long-time collaborator, filmmaker Spike Lee [45] including end-title songs for two films, Clockers (1995) with Chaka Khan and Bamboozled (2001). He contributed music for If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise (2010), Old Boy (2013) and Chiraq (2015), and full film scores for Kobe Doin' Work (2009), Lee's Kobe Bryant documentary for ESPN, Red Hook Summer (2012), Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2015), and Lee's film for the NBA 2K16 video game (2015). He scores Lee's Netflix production She's Gotta Have It (2017, 2019). Hornsby wrote and performed new music for Lee's film Blackkklansman (2018).


Hornsby currently uses a Steinway & Sons concert grand piano. He bought the piano in Zurich, Switzerland, while on a solo show tour in Europe in 1995. With the Range and up until 1995, he used a Baldwin concert grand piano. He currently uses a Korg M1 synthesizer. With the Range, Hornsby used an Oberheim OB-X synthesizer.

He has also been honored by piano makers Steinway & Sons with their Limited Edition Signature Piano Series. Hornsby selected ten Model B Steinway Grands to be featured in this collection, each one personalized with his signature. Hornsby owns three 9-foot Model D Steinway Grands himself.

On his 2016 album "Rehab Reunion" he played mountain dulcimers made by BlueLion. [46]

Personal life

Outside the realm of music, Hornsby is a regular basketball player and an avid fan of the sport. [14] As such, he can frequently be seen at college basketball games around the state of Virginia. [5] Hornsby stated that he beat Allen Iverson in one-on-one basketball three games in a row after helping him get out of jail. Hornsby shared this story on The Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio on March 21, 2017.[ citation needed ] He is also a friend of former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and attends games in St. Louis whenever he can. Their friendship led to La Russa introducing Hornsby to jazz bassist Christian McBride, which then led to the formation of The Bruce Hornsby Trio (along with drummer Jack DeJohnette) and their first album, Camp Meeting .

Hornsby and his wife Kathy have twin sons, born 1992: Russell, who ran NCAA Division I track at the University of Oregon, and Keith, who played Division I basketball for the UNC Asheville Bulldogs [47] from 2011 to 2013, transferred to Louisiana State University and played for LSU from 2014 to 2016. [48] They were named after musicians Leon Russell and Keith Jarrett, respectively.


With: The Other Ones

The Other Ones – 1999 – Grateful Dead Records – Live 2-CD Set

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