Back in January of 1995 five friends got together in the warmer climates of Bob Rubin’s recording studio to spend the day creating music togeth-er. What began almost 17 years ago as a pickin’ session they simply wanted to record eventually developed into an album mixed and mastered by Bill Wolf and David Glaser that would go on to receive four star reviews from both the LA Times and Chicago Tribune as well as rave reviews from Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine. Due to their various commitments at the time touring internationally with such act’s as The McKrells, The Hickory Project and The David Bromberg Band, Synergy was not in a position to hit the road and promote the magic they had captured on that January day, but that’s all about to change. Allow me to introduce to you SYNERGY.
“Laz,” as he’s known, has been creating music since childhood. He began his career as a solo act opening for such noteworthy performers as Doc & Merle Watson, The Country Gentlemen and Berline, Crary and Hickman. He has performed with master guitarist Norman Blake as well as toured with Bill Keith, Frank Wakefield and the Hickory Project throughout the United States and Canada. He has shared the stage with such well-known artists as Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, The Furey Brothers, Bela Fleck, Eric Weisberg, Tony Trischka, Mike Marshall, Travis Tritt, Lonestar and many more. Craig has taken first place honors at numerous guitar picking competitions including Sugar Grove Fiddlers Convention and the Chilhowie Bluegrass Festivals to name a few. Craig is a contributing Columnist for the bi monthly Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. In 1991 Craig joined forces with the internationally acclaimed powerhouse Celtic/Bluegrass group The McKrells. Craig has also played with the internationally acclimated Hickory Project. Craig has enjoyed playing the likes of Carnegie Hall, Berkley Performing Arts Center, Lincoln Center and many other fine venues throughout the US and abroad.
“Bullets” began getting noticed taking first place honors in New York and New England banjo competitions as a young teen in the early 70's. In 1984, Chris earned First Place in the National Banjo Championship at the famous Walnut Valley Competition in Winfield, Kansas. Chris's abilities on lead guitar were featured on two European tours (1981 and 1982) with world renowned banjoist Bill Keith and Nashville producer Jim Rooney. He was accepted for a banjo seat at Opryland USA the same year, but declined- favoring the opportunity to tour France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and Sicily with his then favorite bluegrass duo. Chris appeared in NYC's Carnegie Hall in 1995, and frequently toured internationally with the McKrells.
Like everyone in this band, Fred has been creating music most of his life too. He’s played with the likes of the great Smokey Green and is an accomplished and celebrated musician from the great state of Vermont. Fred also played in the band Summit with both Bullets and Laz which went on to back bluegrass pioneer Bill Keith. Fred has spent time touring Taiwan with another pioneer Mr. Frank Wakefield. Fred has even been seen on the Today Show with The Stony Creek Band.
Born into a musically oriented family, Jeff has been creating music his entire life. He began playing fiddle at age 15 playing round/square dances in the Corning, NY area. After a stint in the US Army, Jeff began making music with the likes of the Mississippi Gamblers, Voices of Blue Grass, Eddie Addcock and the Second Generation, the Hickory Project and many others. Jeff has been seen sharing the stage with such legendary acts as Bob Dylan, Frank Wakefield, Liz Meyer and Bill Keith and spent 30 years on tour with David Bromberg. Truly accomplished, Jeff has won many fiddle contests including the New York State Championship and has received accolades the country over including from the Smithsonian Institute. Jeff has played with many well-known artists on the Grand Ole Opry stage as well as that of Carnegie Hall.
Steve began his love affair with music in the 60’s. His roots began to weave the foundation upon which he gravitated naturally to Bass especially as his love of music began to focus on the acoustic and bluegrass direction in the 70’s. Steve started the band Burnt Toast and is one of the original members of the internationally acclaimed Hickory Project. Having developed a natural gift for promoting events, Steve started the Canyon Country Bluegrass Festival and helped found the Hickory Fest. He’s played many wonderful festivals both large and small the world over and many grand venues including one of his favorites The Kennedy Center. Steve has backed the likes of Tony Rice, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Bill Keith and Frank Wakefield to name a few.
Craig Vance - Guitar
Chris Leske "Bullets" - Banjo & Mandolin
Jeff Wisor - Fiddle
Fred Lantz - Mandolin & Dobro
Steve Belcher - Bass
1995 - Synergy - The Noble Jones Project
Synergy - The Noble Jones Project
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Writes Jeff Wall of Twangin' Magazine "I hate to compare one band to another, but this time I have ...Writes Jeff Wall of Twangin' Magazine
"I hate to compare one band to another, but this time I have to. The Noble Jones Project brings lot of the same energy to bluegrass that the Courtney Johnson-era Newgrass Revival once did. But this is not just another Newgrass Clone. NJP consists of five young musicians who are all masters of their respective instruments. Synergy is a good name for this, their first album, as they all seem to derive energy from each others playing. Covering tunes from composers as diverse as David Grisman, Darol Angor, Mark O'Connor, Tony Rice, and John Hartford, they still put their personal stamp on each one and make it all sound fresh.
It's the self-penned tunes that really shine though. "Rat on a Harp," "Song for Larry Fine," and "Grand Oak" allow each musician to really show their stuff. There are two pretty traditional-sounding tunes attributed to J. Reischmann that are outstanding as well. "Big Bug" is almost too fast for my CD player to keep up with. It smokes! And "Cat's Eye" is a pretty song that demonstrates that each one of these guys can play pretty as well as fast.
I don't know if this band plans on touring or if this was a one-shot get-together. If they do tour, and happen to come around in your area, make sure you go see them. You won't be disappointed. If you like fast driving Instrumental Newgrassy Bluegrass, get yourself a copy of this disc and be prepared to smile a lot."
There are no upcoming dates at this time.