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Brett Howland

Brett Porch 1.JPG
FIDDLER, BANJOIST, GUITAR PICKER, AND SONGSTER                                                            Most importantly he is a true entertainer. More Vaudevillian than strict preservationist, he knows, after many years of assimilating the content and sounds of old-time rural country music how to deliver it to you from across the ages and the miles in a way that is authentic, in the moment, and will lift your spirits.

Just as Uncle Dave Macon , Fiddlin John Carson and others brought American folk music from the 19th century into the 20th, Brett Howland is carrying it forward into the concert stages of the 21st century. Starting his fiddling and picking in the 1970's, Brett has been performing his solo act for audiences of all sizes since 1991.Performing in his home area of Western Pennsylvania, Northern Ohio, and Western New York, Brett plays everything from small coffeehouse venues to large outdoor festivals. He's also toured the Virginias, North Carolina, Kentucky, and has performed in Nashville, Tennessee. In a typical concert, Brett combines old-time fiddling, Clawhammer banjo picking, Guitar picking, and the blue yodeling of Jimmie Rodgers. His stories, jokes, and easy going performance style are both informative and entertaining. He also does it with a superb sense of showmanship rarely seen these days, making it seem appropriate that fellow songwriters and performers nicknamed him, " America's Gatekeeper of Traditional Music", during a show several years ago. Just as Brett invariably "wins over" his audiences with his disarming style and creativity, his peers often remark on his fresh and enduring interpretations of Americana as he performs music from an earlier time.

In his own words....

"I've loved music my whole life and I'm also a history nut", Brett says, "so I guess it's pretty natural I like to combine my two passions musically". "I get a kick out of it that people seem to have a good time at a show, but I must admit I derive the most pride from the audience connecting with their history at the same time. The songs have a strong connection with the past, obviously, but they're often surprisingly relevant to the present. Old music is not just something to listen to, I think. It's a place to go and stay for awhile.When it comes down to it, I try to take 'em there!"


"Cuzin Dave " Wilson of WRUW radio in Cleveland said of Brett's appearance on his " When the roses bloom again radio show, " some great old country tunes, a sense of history, and a gift of gab makes Brett a unique and pleasant interview".

Joe Dobbs of West Virginia public radio's " Music from the mountains" says, " Brett is a very talented and very rare performer, when I turn on the microphone it sounds like 1928 or 1929! He is so good at what he does".

Selected past appearances

Old time Bluegrass night on WWVA jamboree, 1999 and 2000.                                                                                                Several programs on West Virginia public radio's Music from the mountains.                                                        Appearances at the Stringbean memorial festival, the Carter fold, and the IBMA roots and branches stage and main stage for the old-time Opry barn dance show.                                                                                                                    Award winning performances at Uncle Dave Macon days festival and several performances over 650 AM WSM Nashville including Opry star spotlight and Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.                                                                    Appears in documentary film " GIVE ME THE BANJO"!

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"An auspicious debut for the musician as an interpreter of traditional and classic country songs.".........Bluegrass Unlimited.                                                                                                             " In fine, sweet voice with solid Guitar and Banjo work, up towards the top of the pile in musicianship"........ Old-Time Herald                                                                                                           " Fine bluesy guitar and banjo playing, strong and tuneful singing, a great selection of old time songs, and some stellar yodeling make this an enjoyable first effort from Brett Howland. A sweet debut...........Sing out! magazine.                                                                                                       


Here's a word about the new hillbilly music history workshop, a lecture concert series focusing on the time period roughly 1923 to 1933 when the earliest recordings were made of what would later become country music. 
We'll talk about the people such as Ralph Peer, Fiddlin John Carson and Uncle Dave Macon, the places, such as Bristol, TN where Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family made their first recordings, and the substance of all that was gathered into it, the British/American folkways, the minstrel showtunes, and the African rhythms and sensibilities. And what became of the output, influencing all of America's future music, besides country, bluegrass, folk, rockabilly and rock and roll itself. 
We'll talk about other forms of entertainment of the period like vaudeville and radio. I will perform songs that were key pieces in all of this, and to finish, we will learn a Carter Family song. We will have an open ended discussion and Q&A. This should be fun, informative, and hopefully entertaining. 
Coming soon to a festival near you. 


Fiddlin John Carson: A 100 year remembrance is now archived and playing on my youtube channel @bretthowland1716


02 Waiting For A Train.mp3
00:00 / 02:12
03 Old Plank Road.mp3
00:00 / 02:48
04 Mississippi River Blues.mp3
00:00 / 02:33
05 Baby-O.mp3
00:00 / 02:30
06 T.B. Blues.mp3
00:00 / 02:38
07 Lorena.mp3
00:00 / 04:27
08 Sweet Sunny South.mp3
00:00 / 04:13
09 Gwine Back To Dixie.mp3
00:00 / 02:31
10 Boll Weevil.mp3
00:00 / 02:16
11 Blue Yodel #4 (California Blues).mp3
00:00 / 02:57
12 Railroad Work Song.mp3
00:00 / 02:41
13 Hard Times.mp3
00:00 / 03:40
14 Uncloudy Day.mp3
00:00 / 02:42
01 Grandfather's Clock.mp3
00:00 / 03:04


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