If Yankee Stadium is “the house that Babe Ruth built,” Stax Records is “the house that Booker T, and the MG’s built.” Integral to that potent combination is MG rhythm guitarist extraordinaire Steve Cropper. As a guitarist, A & R man, engineer, producer, songwriting partner of Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd and a dozen others and founding member of both Booker T. and the MG’s and The Mar-Keys, Cropper was literally involved in virtually every record issued by Stax from the fall of 1961 through year end 1970.Such credits assure Cropper of an honored place in the soul music hall of fame. As co-writer of (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, Knock On Wood and In The Midnight Hour, Cropper is in line for immortality.
Born on October 21, 1941 on a farm near Dora, Missouri, Steve Cropper moved with his family to Memphis at the age of nine. In Missouri he had been exposed to a wealth of country music and little else. In his adopted home, his thirsty ears amply drank of the fountain of Gospel, R & B and nascent Rock and Roll that thundered over the airwaves of both black and white Memphis radio. Bit by the music bug, Cropper acquired his first mail order guitar at the age of 14. Personal guitar heroes included Tal Farlow, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Chet Atkins, Lowman Pauling of the Five Royales and Billy Butler of the Bill Doggett band.
For the last 20 years I've written songs for my band The Big Wu. I get to write material that is conducive to loud guitars, blues hollerin’, and dancing. The current version of the Big Wu is suited for tunes that are equal parts Meters and Floyd, which is an exciting mix for a songwriter like myself. But my latest songs are folk songs, in nature. This is my authentic self; drednaughts, fiddles, three part harmonies. It’s built on the timeless joys and lamentations of our precarious worlds.
Mary Cutrufello, 49, has been known as a Texas honky-tonk heroine, a fiery Midwestern roots-rocker, and a powerhouse acoustic performer in her almost 30 years in the music business. Connecticut-raised and Yale-educated, she's made records showcasing all of those facets of her identity as her musical journey has taken her from the East Coast to Houston and now to Minnesota. Her music mixes the themes and jangly chords of the heartland with a heapin' helping of Texas twang. Her voice, now weathered but still pitch-strong, finds new depths of meaning in her performances. Over the years, she's also refined and deepened her approach to playing guitar. She says it’s all about tone, feel, and rhythm, the right part for the song--but as anyone who’s seen her tear-it-up live shows can attest, her lead skills put her in a class with the best of the Lone Star, North Star—or any other—State.
Jeremy Ylvisaker is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer who has recorded with and/or played with John Prine, Andrew Bird, members of Prince's New Power Generation, Jenny Lewis, Justin Vernon, The Suburbs, Eyedea, Fog, Haley, Chuck Statler (maker of "The Truth About Devolution") Merce Cunningham dance company, and many others. He has performed on five continents in venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, The Cape Town Jazz Festival, The Ed Sullivan Theater (The Late Show with David Letterman), and other television programs including Austin City Limits and the Colbert Report. He composes and improvises a variety of instrumental music, some of which to accompany dance performances such as "Stripe Tease", some of which for use in films such as "Pitchfork Unsung: Dan Corrigan", "Rhythmic" (feat. Andrew Bird), and "Trophy Husband." Some just for listening while you do what you do. Jeremy also writes songs for the band Alpha Consumer.