Originally from Switzerland, brothers Uwe and Jens Kruger began playing North American folk music at an early age and were particularly inspired by recordings of Doc Watson, Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and other progenitors of country, bluegrass and folk music.
Their first public performances were as a duo, busking on the streets of cities throughout eastern and western Europe.
Originally from Switzerland, brothers Uwe and Jens Kruger began playing North American folk music at an early age and were particularly inspired by recordings of Doc Watson, Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and other progenitors of country, bluegrass and folk music. Their first public performances were as a duo, busking on the streets of cities throughout eastern and western Europe. After gaining a recording contract as well as a radio show on SRG SSR, the Swiss public broadcaster, they teamed up with bass player Joel Landsberg, inaugurating a trio that has been playing professionally together since 1995. Landsberg is an American citizen from New York, NY. The first recording project to include Landsberg was Behind the Barn, Vol. 2, released in 1997. The Kruger Brothers moved to the United States in 2002, and are based in Wilkesboro, NC.
The group is highly regarded within the world of acoustic music in North America, in particular by those within the industry. They have also gained the attention of some of the musicians, including Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Tut Taylor, and Bobby Hicks, that once served as models. Watson has said, “The Kruger Brothers are just about as fine a band as I’ve ever played with. … I love to play music with them.”
In an ever expanding body of work, Jens Kruger (banjo, vocals), Uwe Kruger (guitar, lead vocals), and Joel Landsberg (bass, vocals) personify the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition.
Although initially staying fairly close to a traditional repertoire, the Kruger Brothers later turned to song writing and composition in order to draw more closely from their personal experiences. The result is a catalog of songs and music distinguished by its rich detail and an insight into the delicacy and complexity of everyday life.
The honesty of their writing has become a hallmark of the trio’s work. Another is the banjo playing and composition of Jens Kruger. Happy Traum has described Kruger as “one of the world’s most musically sophisticated and technically accomplished five-string banjo players.” Kruger plays in a melodic style that, while it may stem from the three-finger bluegrass style popularized by Snuffy Jenkins and Earl Scruggs, is also differentiated by long melodic passages and a more complex compositional foundation, often building on jazz or classical themes and techniques.
The recording that cemented the Kruger Brothers’ sound and song writing, Up 18 North, was released in 2002 on the Double Time label. Included were a number of tracks that signalled the direction that the band was to take in future projects. The title track “Up 18 North” is an instrumental piece, with banjo clearly in the foreground, that remains a prime example of the type of close ensemble playing that characterizes the trio’s work. The vocal track “Carolina in the Fall” is an early example of the very personal, resonant, and mature song writing that they continue to this day.
Most recently their music has ventured further into the themes and forms of classical music, most obviously in their 2011 release, Appalachian Concerto. Through their numerous CD releases, radio and television performances, workshops, and collaborative efforts, the Kruger Brothers continue to provide a unique voice in the world of folk, Americana, and classical music.
Erin Morris/Morris Public Relations
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