2007 Madison Area Music Awards (MAMA) Winner for "Unique Artist of the Year" and "Jazz Album of the Year"The Bob Westfall Band calls Madison, Wisconsin home.It's rare when the word acoustic conjures thoughts of music so electrifying that it pumps the jump in your feet. Then again, Bob Westfall is a rare musician and his group an impressive collective of musical might. Energetic, contagious, and flat out fun, Bob Westfall weaves a sizzling thread through multiple genres to deliver a tapestry of award-winning music that defies one description, yet, connects with everyone from the seasoned musician to the person off the street who couldn't tell 4/4 from 13/8.
Perhaps that has a something to do with the fact that Westfall and his group are made up of veteran musicians who have toured, recorded, or shared the stage with Darol Anger, Lyle Lovett, Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, U2, Asleep at The Wheel, The String Chees Incident, The Smashing Pumpkins, Carrie NewComer,Willy Porter, and John Hartford to name a few. Or, it could simply be that Bob Westfall knows how to craft one heckuva sound. The only way to know for sure is to plug into this Artist live, and hang on. Acoustic it is. Sit in your seat it is not.
Bob Westfall (guitar, mandolin, vocals, songwriting) has studied and worked with some of the top acoustic players in the country--Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, John Hartford, and Alex DeGrassi. But, while these influences are certainly evident, Westfall's songwriting and lyrics are uniquely his own. An award-winning mandolinist, Bob grew up in Texas and Minnesota, and his style incorporates the best elements of composing with a hybrid jazz/pop/worldbeat/bluegrass feel.
The husband and wife team of Mary Gaines (bass) and Chris Wagoner (violin) provide the bottom and top of the BWB sound, and have appeared in performance and on recordings with Westfall for almost twenty five years. Gaines and Wagoner have similarly diverse backgrounds--formal classical training at the Univ of WI, jazz studies with the great bassist, Richard Davis, followed by years of performing and recording with jazz, blues, rock, and folk artists and songwriters.
Tom Ellis (latin percussion kit) rounds out the groove of the BWB with his flair for latin feels, and extensive background in jazz and rock. Ellis has been a midwest touring musician for almost three decades with The Dave Kinney Group, Little Vito and the Torpedoes, and Luck of the Draw.
Together, The Bob Westfall Band creates a style of music that defies a single description yet connects with the listener on many levels. Besides the BWB's every Tuesday night (for the last 11 years) gig at the Angelic Brewing Co. in Madison(it's always Standing Room Only) the band is also a favorite for Concerts, Colleges, and Festivals.
Bob Westfall: guitar, mandolin, vocals
Mary Gaines: acoustic bass, guitar, vocals
Chris Wagoner: violin, lap-steel, mandolin, vocals
Tom Ellis: hybrid percussion kit
Bob Westfall -- "The Third Coast" (1984)
Bob Westfall -- "Lover's Dance"(1994)
Bob Westfall -- "In a Heartbeat"(1998)
The Bob Westfall Quartet-- "Beautifully Mad" (2006)
Bob Westfall uses McIntyre Acoustic Instrument Pickups.
***You can now purchase our MP3 downloads at the Broadjam.com link below!!! Just enter "Bob Westfall"in the "search music" menu item.
Madison Area Music Awards take shine to Jazz
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"Among other jazz winners were The Bob Westfall Band, which plays a progressive blue-grass jazz styl..."Among other jazz winners were The Bob Westfall Band, which plays a progressive blue-grass jazz style with a leader who picks with dynamic verve on mandolin...Bob Westfall also snagged the Unique Artists category, again showing the strength of traditional American genres in improvisational traditions which characterize the creative and democratic spirit of this nation."
(The Rhythm Section, Thurs. May 17, 2007)
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Bob Westfall's well-rehearsed jazzgrass quartet has been a Tuesday-night fixture at the Angelic Brew...Bob Westfall's well-rehearsed jazzgrass quartet has been a Tuesday-night fixture at the Angelic Brewing Co. for many years, much to the delight of acoustic music fans who cleave to the hybrid style of mandolin player David "Dawg" Grisman. Affable leader Westfall isn't quite the personality that Jerry Garcia's old picking partner is, but his mandolin work is plenty strong. A longtime pro, he can fly through single-note runs, but he's also quite content to provide skittering, metronome-quality comping behind his bandmates.
That generosity often pays off on "Beautifully Mad". Instead of meandering jam-band style through a collection of overextended solos, the spirited quartet engages in a democratic musical converstion that both honors and expands upon the string-band tradition. The sprightly opening cover of Grisman's "Japan" could have been a flashy showcase for Westfall's digits; instead, he mostly lingers iin the background, giving violinist Chris Wagoner a chance to gussy up mountain music with his concert-hall-quality technique. On a romantic cover of "Eleanor Rigby", the two form a more equal partnership, trading piquant interpretations of the tune's bittersweet chorus, then doubling up on the final verse in a warm expression of aural simpatico that nearly brings tears.
Other tracks give bassist Mary Gaines (also Wagoner's wife and steady musical companion) room to step well beyond the basic, root-tone-plonking 'grass approach favored in more traditional outfits. Her syncopated walking on Darol Anger's Gypsy jazz gavotte "Dysentary Stomp" isn't the first thing you take note of, but it turns what could have been just another well-meaning tribute to Stephane and Django into a thrilling colllective performance.
Westfall does step out front, of course, and when he does, his work is always tasteful. But he really ups the excitement whenever he loosens his collar a little and dirties up his playing. That happens on his own "Coastin'", Grisman's wistful "Blue Midnight" and also the self-penned title track, a chiding jazzgrass answer to Hayden's "Surprise Symphony" that at one point has Gaines literally shouting with delight.
Breadth and Depth
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Bob Westfall's compositions show a breadth and depth of vision all too rare in these commercial time...Bob Westfall's compositions show a breadth and depth of vision all too rare in these commercial times.
Jazz, Folk, Newgrass
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Part jazzer, part folkie, part "newgrass" picker, Madison's Bob Westfall is anything but a typical c...Part jazzer, part folkie, part "newgrass" picker, Madison's Bob Westfall is anything but a typical cheesehead singer-songwriter. Where many of his peers fiddle about with down-on-the-farm humor and familiar folk-rock progressions, Westfall has set his sights squarely on the adult acoustic market. His tunes about love, regret and life-altering reflection are warm enough for mature romantics, and his musicianship allows him to tweak the hook-obsessed consciousness of Triple A programmers...influences of Lyle Lovett and Bruce Cockburn.
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As long as the evolution of acoustic folk music is in the hands of people like Bob Westfall, it shou...As long as the evolution of acoustic folk music is in the hands of people like Bob Westfall, it should enjoy a smooth and steady rise in popularity.
--James M. Tarbox
Itasca Arts Assoc
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Bob makes his audiences feel like they are involved in a conversation, instead of just being talked ...Bob makes his audiences feel like they are involved in a conversation, instead of just being talked to. Absolutely wonderful.
--Sally Becker, Itasca Arts Association, MN
Not difficult to appreciate
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Although Westfall may be difficult to categorize, he is not difficult to appreciate. --Mike Stupa...Although Westfall may be difficult to categorize, he is not difficult to appreciate.
--Mike Stupak, Milwaukee Shepherd Express
Heartfelt and Hooky
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Bob Westfall's folk-pop is invariably heartfelt and hooky. His "Lover's Dance" is one of the most l...Bob Westfall's folk-pop is invariably heartfelt and hooky. His "Lover's Dance" is one of the most likable local albums in recent memory, so the release of his new "In a Heartbeat" CD is an event worth celebrating.
--Stephen Thompson, The Onion
Poised and Developed
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Bob Westfall's compositions are poised and developed; his topics are love and dreams, yearning and f...Bob Westfall's compositions are poised and developed; his topics are love and dreams, yearning and freedom. There's an openness to his music, a sense of wide spaces and free expanses that make me think of driving across the eastern Oregon deserts.
The Bob Westfall Band performs original material, including both instrumentals and vocals. A few of the jazz and latin standards performed include: Well You Needn't (T. Monk), Footprints (W.Shorter), Spain (C. Corea), Blue Bossa (K. Durham), and some Brazilian choros.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.