The Abrams
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The Abrams

Kingston, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | MAJOR | AFM

Kingston, Ontario, Canada | MAJOR | AFM
Established on Jan, 2001
Band Country Americana




"The Abrams Brothers - Mermaid Town"

The Abrams Brothers' may be new to you, but they're certainly not new to entertaining. They've been performing and entertaining crowds since they were in their early teens. Their latest single is called Mermaid Town. If you like this one, check out their website at for more videos and music from this talented trio. Enjoy! - Today's Best Country Music Videos

"Matt Tracks Jan 23-29."

The Abrams Brothers – Northern Redemption (2010)

More than ever the lines are blurred between what is considered straight up country music and what could crossover. Obviously artists like Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum are a distinct type of pop country that is working on different radio formats in a big bad way, but then there are Mumford and Sons, The Civil Wars, and Fleet Foxes who are more roots based but could just as easily have the same type of success. Canada’s own The Abrams Brothers, despite their young age, have performed at The Grand Ole Opry already but are also getting love on rock radio with their version of a classic Alex Chilton tune. Bluegrass is the backdrop of this group but they fit somewhere nicely in between the country and non country worlds that could potentially find them love from both. - MuchMore

"Northern Redemption for The Abrams Brothers"

In all of the old legends, it was John Hartford, Jerry Garcia and Country Gazette who rescued bluegrass music from its near-fatal collision with 60’s television. Unprecedented popular recognition had been awarded to roots music in the early sixties by TV culture with Hootenany, a short-lived showcase for all forms of folk music which instantly became first “a craze,” and then trivialized into cartoonish characterizations on The Beverley Hillbillies and The Andy Griffith Show.

It took the anti-traditionalist youth culture of the 60’s to adopt it and give it a hip replacement to bring it striding into the seventies as “Newgrass”.
The controversial style has, at length, drawn more fans than detractors, and, most importantly, persevered. Hybrid innovators as diversely talented as Bela Fleck, the Creaking Tree String Quartet and The Dixie Dregs have pushed the genre to new extremes.

Now, on to the Abrams Brothers, a young Ontario bluegrass band of authentic roots leaning, whose new cd, Northern Redemption, re-imagines that threshold moment in 1968 when bluegrass was on the verge of going prodigal. Brothers, John, 20, and James, 18 (cousin Elijah is on bass), are ten-year veterans of rural Canadian country road-shows, and heirs of four generations of musical heritage. Their cousin Elijah plays bass, while their father, John is often onstage with them, and young John plays an acoustic guitar built by his grandfather.

Successful appearances at the Grand Ole Opry and the recent Jacob’s Ladder Festival in Israel (“We played the Sea of Galilee!”, says John, slightly boggled) have made them a top draw for traditional rural audiences.

Fortunately, they are also prescient enough to see the potential of drawing an audience of young urban ears towards their music with their virtuosity, willingness to stretch the music toward electric instrumentation, and a careful selection of cover tunes that already have global audiences. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida and Rebecca Black’s Friday have already made the point, through viral videos, that the Abrams brothers can bring the kids into the tent. They have been picked up by producer Peter Casperson (Garland Jeffreys, Phoebe Snow), who will be guiding them on towards realizing a broader market for their music. Northern Redemption is the first step towards that goal.

The title track kicks off the record with a harmonic verve which demands repeated listenings. Lyrically and rhythmically tight and insistent, it segues into a low-key harmony song called Windows that recalls Merseybeat and those other brothers, The Everlys. The real kickoff comes with Nothing At All, which combines a Byrds-style electric bass with waves of electric guitar and fiddle.

All original, all cleanly produced and honestly sung, the rest of the record rotates and blends the country folk and rock streams effectively, introducing the mighty Burke Carroll of the Bebop Cowboys on pedal steel in the second half. The album builds to the Coldplay anthem, which in no way outshines the work to that point, but gives a focus to the lyrical thrust of the record. Their songwriting is pre-occupied with finding truth and abandoning the easy answers for a brighter distance. The precociously world-weary sound of them singing “and I discovered that my castles stand / upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand” evokes the same quest for authentic value that the rest of the songs struggle toward. “Standing on the holy ground” is the destination of the final tune, Planet of Seasons.

However they choose to reach that goal, whether by creating a new subgenre of bluegrass (popgrass?) or by honing their songwriting skills into a more personal artistic triumph, the lads seem to be slowly untying themselves from the tree with roots. And they will be going somewhere. - Roots Music Canada

"The Abrams Brothers: Viva la Vida"

The Abrams Brothers - "Viva la Vida" Video - CMT

"Abrams Brothers - Back And Bigger Than Ever"

Abrams Brothers — back and bigger than ever
By Martha Tanner -- Kingston This Week
Posted 1 year ago
Feet will be stomping and the fiddle bow a-flyin' when The Abrams Brothers preview their new album in a homecoming benefit concert on Friday, Jan. 21 at the Duncan McArthur Hall at Queen's University.

Proceeds from the concert will support the music program of The Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and Area and the children's unit at Kingston General Hospital.

It will feature music from the Brothers' forthcoming album, Northern Redemption, their first all-original record which includes the recently-released single, "Mermaid Town" and their new single, "Seventeen", a personal song about being on the cusp of adulthood. They may also perform their acclaimed remake of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida", which is garnering attention in music circles worldwide.

The concert will mark the first time in two years that The Abrams Brothers — brothers John, 20, and James, 17, and cousin Elijah, 20 — have performed in Kingston. The reason it has been so long, says John, is that the band has been on the road, as well as recording and making music videos.

"That being said, it is a real blessing to be able to return to Kingston to perform for family and friends. After a lot of hard work in other places, it's a real reward to come back and play in our hometown."

The Joyceville boys, who will be joined by producer Chris Brown on keyboards and Cam Giroux on drums, offered to perform the benefit concert as a way to support the community that has always supported them.

"We are very proud of this city and its people," says John, "and we always try to give back to the community that helped us get to where we are today. The Boys and Girls Club does phenomenal work in this city, and we recognize the difference it makes in the lives of children."

John says ticketholders can expect a high-energy show, with lots of entertainment value. "Growing up in bluegrass," he adds, "you really learn how to be professional and personable. A wise friend once told me, 'People don't go home humming hot guitar licks.' You have to give them something more."

The Abrams Brothers are fourth-generation musicians who grew up playing bluegrass, gospel and roots-based music and have infused that with rock, rhythm and blues and contemporary styles to make it uniquely their own.

James describes it as "an energy thing. It's a music people can get up and dance to."

"There's nothing retro or old-timey about it," says their producer, musician Chris Brown. "It's very much alive. It's a beautiful thing to watch and be part of."

John and James started playing violin at the ages of nine and six respectively and have mastered a variety of instruments since. John plays guitar, mandolin and violin; James plays violin and viola and Elijah plays guitar and upright bass.

In 2005 they became the youngest Canadians to appear on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. They have been featured on a variety of award-winning radio shows and have played at many prestigious bluegrass and gospel venues and festivals throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.

In 2009, the band released Blue on Brown, a tribute to Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan.

This year, they plan to tour across Canada and the U.S. to promote Northern Redemption and will be making a third trip to Israel in the spring.

John, who is enrolled at Queen's University, says there is no such thing as a typical day for The Abrams Brothers.

"One day we might be recording, the other we might be on the road. The one thing that remains constant is our love and playing and singing, so even between gigs and recording sessions, there is still a lot of musical creativity going on."

Their goal as a band is not simply to entertain, but to transform lives through their music.

"Our hope and continual prayer is that people will walk away from shows feeling different about their lives in the best way possible," explains John. "This is what it has always been about for us, and the more people want to listen, the more thankful we are for this God-given opportunity to play music for a living."

Tickets to the benefit concert are $25 for adults and $15 for students and can be purchased by phone from the KGH Foundation at 613-549-5452, ext. 5918, or in person at Renaissance Music, 1057 Midland Ave., Limestone Music, 162 Division St., and in Sydenham at Trousdale's General Store. - Kingston This Week

"John Hammond and The Abrams Brothers at Caffe Lena Review"

In the intimate environs of Caffè Lena, audiences were treated to a copious mélange of sounds by the youthful Abrams Brothers opening for the legendary Blues master, John Hammond on Sunday, July 10, 2011.
Originally from Ontario, Canada, The Abrams Brothers – John (guitar), James (fiddle) and their cousin Elijah (bass) – were perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, being that we knew nothing about them and had little expectations going in. An up and coming band in the bluegrass/country circuit, the three have been touring performing their blend of folksy bluegrass and country for the past ten years–this wouldn’t seem so remarkable except for the fact that all three are only in their late teens and early 20s.
Vibrantly ripping through a short set of originals and standards with a fiery energy (their set lasted about a half hour), the band played like seasoned professionals. Their rendition of “Orange Blossom Special” was definitely one of the highlights of the evening, featuring some blistering fiddle work by the youngest of the three “brothers.” James, who’s been playing the fiddle since he was seven years old, gave a sensational performance, impressive to even John Hammond himself, who remarked a couple times during his own set on the quality of the opening band. By the end of the brothers’ set, they’d earned a well-deserved standing ovation. Vocals were performed by James and John.
The Abrams Brothers set the perfect mood for John Hammond, who took the stage after a quick set change. Upon taking his seat, Hammond told the audience, “I’m gonna play what I want to play…and I don’t plug in.” He said it in a matter of fact way, and who could disagree–the man’s a legend after all. With just a guitar and at times a harmonica, Hammond held a commanding presence, performing his own high-energy set of various styles of acoustic blues.
Known for his engaging persona and his intense interpretations of the blues, which has endeared him to fans over the past 40 years, Hammond shared anecdotes of his long career and performed a mix of slow and upbeat numbers (many performed on a National Resonator guitar), including “Move on Down the Line,” Robert Johnson’s “Come on in my Kitchen” and Hammond’s own “You Know That’s Cold,” which has an engaging groove.
Hammond’s performance was made even more enjoyable by the intense facial expressions and rapid foot stomping that accompanied each song, making him as much a pleasure to watch as to hear. Hammond also earned a standing ovation and though he played two shows, we caught only the first, and given the amount of energy that went out through that one, it’s hard to imagine he could’ve kept it up for the second.
The small environment of Caffè Lena added to the intensity of the show, with Hammond seated just a few feet away. If you missed this show, take note: if Hammond should return to Caffè Lena (he seems to come back every four or five years), this is definitely a show you’ll want to catch next time. Seeing a legend like this in the intimate environment that Caffè Lena lends is truly an experience all should have. -

"The Evolution of The Abrams Brothers"

When Yehudit and Menachem Vinegrad booked the Abrams Brothers to appear as the main act at this year’s Jacob’s Ladder festival, they probably thought they were treating the audience at Israel’s (and one of the world’s) pre-eminent folk shows to the Brothers’ down home bluegrass and country stylings. Instead, they got Coldplay…with a fiddle.
This was the Abrams Brothers third time playing Jacob’s Ladder (they first appeared in 2007), and they have been consistent crowd pleasers, inspiring many of the more than 3,000 attendees to jump to their feet and boogy big time.
The Brothers (actually two brothers and their cousin, all under the age of 21) are devout Christians who say this is “their favorite folk festival” – both for the religious location at Kibbutz Nof Ginosar on the Sea of Galilee, and for the laid back vibe that brother John Abrams told me, when I met up with him on the beach collecting sea shells from the Holy Land, gives the event a “feeling of family.”
But the Abrams Brothers who took to the stage this year were barely recognizable from their debut here four years ago. Gone was the banjo player from the Grand Ole Opry. So too was their dad who provided a link to the multiple generations of bluegrass picking that runs in the family.
Instead, the Brothers have transformed themselves into a tight trio of pop rockers in the spirit of the Jonas Brothers or even –and this is hard to say in the same breath as “I really liked them” – Justin Bieber. Their new album, entitled Northern Redemption, was released for the first time at Jacob’s Ladder and was produced by Chris Brown who also produced fellow-Canadians The Barenaked Ladies.
The new Abrams Brothers tunes don’t abandon their roots entirely – brother James fiddles his way through nearly every song. But the emphasis on cousin Eli’s electric guitar and the way James leaps in the air and lands in a stadium rocker leg split are a far cry the wholesome family band that’s performed together for more than ten years, since James was only eight. Their latest video now playing on YouTube even features the trio pining for a sexy mermaid in a bikini.
I asked John what prompted the change. “We have a wide variety of music playing on our iPods,” he told me at the beach, “and we wanted to express that as well.” Indeed, the band has come into their own as they’ve gotten older, he added, and the family has been completely supportive of their new direction.
The “new” Abrams Brothers also have more of a shot of achieving teen stardom as rockers with country roots (just look at Taylor Swift). Their music has the pop sensibilities of early 1970s Eagles or Pure Prairie League (remember “Amie?”)
My own survey at the show was mixed. Many of my friends said they missed the bluegrass and were politely dismissive of the band’s transformation. I thought they were fantastic, as did the younger festival-goers who danced up a storm, but I’ve never been a particular fan of Nashville plucking.
The Abrams Brothers dropped numerous hints saying they wouldn’t mind being invited back next year. I hope Yehudit and Menachem got the message and that pop isn’t anathema to a folk music festival. - Israelity

"The Abrams Brothers Friday Cover"

Are you ready to be entertained? Here are John and James Abrams from The Abrams Brothers covering the viral YouTube sensation that is Rebecca Black’s Friday. It’s both funny and surprisingly good at the same time.
In case you don’t have a clue who Rebecca Black is, her original video for Friday, which has received over 64 million views on YouTube, is featured below John and James’ version. Enjoy! - Today's Country Music Videos

"The Abrams Brothers - Northern Redemption"

Northern Redemption by young Kingston, Ontario trio the Abrams Brothers is out tomorrow June 21st! John, James and their cousin Elijah from give their all on a great album bound to be enjoyed by many Canadians across the country in the coming months and raise the Abrams Brothers to new heights of recognition. Here are some thoughts on the listen I had to the excellent album.

The title track, a nod to disappointments and changes in life remarks “in the snow/ emptiness grows” and echoes a singing style reminiscent of a young Gordon Lightfoot.

Track ”Window” brings to mind a rather polished, folksy retro bluegrass-tinged ballad. And the more up-tempo “Nothing at All” that treads more mainstream country music territory with its sawing fiddle and earnest vocals. Clever lines like “displaced communications/ kept my head and lost my peace of mind,” show an emerging lyrical maturity on display throughout Northern Redemption. At times the atmosphere is somewhat melancholy as on “Leaving Love Behind,” a pop-music sounding mournful tune remarking on love lost and tying the immolation of the individual under materialistic pursuits with romantic heartbreak: “hiding myself behind/ this shirt and hat and tie/ I hear a voice/ say goodbye.”

The standout track for me was “Where I’m Bound,” a rollicking old-time bluegrass tune full of feel-good banjo picking, fiddle and straightforwardly youthful vocals tinged with the stresses of growing up, a kind of ‘innocence begins to reckon with the pressures and disappointments of adult life’ feel, retaining its free spirit, as it sings about “growing old is the grand price of living/ so I’m told/ and if it’s true/would you mind if I’m going there with you?”

On “While You Sleep,” a great song takes you along for an emotional drive through a relationship and its ups and downs, with a satisfying conclusion. “All our sadness/ In the rearview mirror.” The song’s steel guitar licks and solid fiddle track give it a great country music and roots feel.

The inclusion of an amped-up electric cover of the song “Thirteen” by legendary band and one of my personal top five favorite bands of all-time, Big Star, is absolutely outstanding! The original Big Star (which broke up and since re-formed without Alex) was a power pop group headed by Alex Chilton in Memphis, Tennessee whose influence even today is wide-ranging and significant in many genres of music. The fact that the Abrams Brothers chose to include this song on Northern Redemption says a lot about the variety and depth of their musical leanings, not to mention the incredibly brilliant job they did covering it, with added nostalgic strains of fiddle bringing an extra resonance to the greatness of Big Star’s “Thirteen.” Others more familiar with mainstream contemporary music will also rejoice at inclusion of the Abrams Brothers’ bluegrass version of Coldplay hit “Viva la Vida.”

“Where will you go/ when the joker’s done his part and that’s the show?” ask the Abrams Brothers on Northern Redemption, an album aiming for authenticity and layered with heartbreak and happiness that is a coming-of-age from aworld-class Canadian talent! - Country Chorus Blog

"Abrams Brothers Put Bluegrass Spin on Coldplay's Viva La Vida"

Last winter a young bluegrass group called the Abrams Brothers filed off their bus at the CMT offices after a long and snowy trip from their home in Canada.

Groups or artists stop by and perform here once in a while, but this band of two brothers and a cousin was especially memorable. They were definitely a bluegrass group and had the type of chops that would be at home on the Grand Ole Opry stage — which they played in 2005 — but being teenagers, they were also very eager to experiment with the genre.

One song in particular showed that — a well thought-out arrangement of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.” I’m glad to see that now they have a video to go along with the track, so enjoy as they walk crowded city streets singing about a once-powerful king on the verge of losing it all.

Watch the terrific new version of Viva La Vida here at the Coldplay forum. -

"The Abrams Brothers Talk Their "Northern Redemption""

Previewing a new album of bluegrass-accented roots rock by performing at an Israeli festival may not be the most conventional move, but it worked just fine for Ontario's the Abrams Brothers last month. This was in fact the third visit to Israel for the group, as they had also played the country's Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival in 2007 and 2008.

As vocalist/guitarist John Abrams tells Exclaim!, "We first toured Europe in 2006 and we saw bluegrass in parts of the world we never would have imagined. No matter where you go in the world, people are looking for real, authentic and good music. Bluegrass is just that."

The Abrams Brothers are now back touring closer to home, as they will be playing festivals and headlining their own theatre gigs from PEI to BC in the months ahead (see tour dates below). The tour is in support of their fourth album, Northern Redemption, released on United for Opportunity/Fontana North earlier this week.

The Abrams Brothers comprise siblings John, 20, and fiddle player/vocalist James Abrams, 18, plus bass-playing cousin Elijah Abrams, 20. Despite their youth, they can accurately be described as veterans, given that John and James have been touring together for over a decade. Earlier albums Carrying On (2004) and Iron Sharpens Iron (2007) were more orthodox bluegrass-based records, while 2008's Blue on Brown was a tribute to the songs of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie.

John Abrams now defines the group's sound as "bluegrass rock, our own genre we have been developing over the last two records." Assisting in this stylistic transition has been a notable figure on the Canadian indie rock scene, Chris Brown. Formerly with the much-loved Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, singer/songwriter/producer Brown has worked with the likes of Ani DiFranco, Barenaked Ladies and Kate Fenner. He produced Northern Redemption and also co-wrote much of the record with John and James Abrams, in different combinations.

Brown tells Exclaim!, "When I first met the Abrams, they were 14, 15 and 16. They had already played the Grand Ole Opry, received numerous awards and been given the nod from the likes of Charlie Louvin. They were in the midst of the Dylan and Arlo Guthrie tribute album, which I helped them finish. We began writing together, and if the process of making Northern Redemption was a prolonged one, it was because there was so much developing. They were broadening to electric instruments, playing with [legendary New York drummer] Anton Fier and devouring Neil Young and rock, which began infecting their playing. They can pick with anybody anywhere, but the original music that began coming forward was a whole other trip."

Recording sessions took place at the Post Office, Brown's studio on Wolfe Island, ON (near Kingston), with a core group comprising the Abrams Brothers, Brown on keyboards and Fier (Lounge Lizards, Golden Palominos). Abrams describes the setting as "quite rustic, and I think that's part of the magic and beauty of recording in there. It's like a cabin, with a great front porch with a stack of wood, a hatchet and hockey sticks. In between vocal takes, we'd stoke the fire and feed the cats. It is a very real and organic environment, and I think the kind of music you record in a place like that will follow suit."

Guest musicians included Teddy Kumpel, Eric Schenkman (Spin Doctors), pedal steel ace Burke Carroll and Andrew Whiteman (Broken Social Scene), with some additional recording and mixing taking place at New York City studios Green Door and the Magic Shop.

Alongside seven originals on Northern Redemption are two covers, of Big Star's "Thirteen" and a rootsified cover of Coldplay hit "Viva La Vida." To John Abrams, "Writing this record was a watershed for us. In the past, whether it was old bluegrass or contemporary rock songs, we'd do them in our own style. That was important for us to do growing up. It helped us exercise our originality but we always knew writing would be our next step."

Brown is also thrilled at the results. "Once they began seriously focusing on writing, it was an interesting balance between given'er and backing the hell off... I mean it takes passion and it takes patience. When you are used to standing ovations since you were ten years old, it can be quite a trip to surrender to the solitary and quiet demands of poetry. Aesthetically, they have kept the stomp in their boots, and amplified it."

John Abrams in now majoring in English at Queen's University in Kingston, ON, with James likely to follow suit. John cites literature as a source of inspiration, while noting that "being on the road for ten years is another. We're the fourth generation of our family to be on the road as musicians, so even at our young age we've been able to gather life experiences not many of our age have had the opportunity to have. We are very thankful for those times."

One Abrams Brothers career highlight came back in 2004, when John and James got to perform at Nashville country music shrine the Grand Ole Opry.

"I was 15 and my brother was 12," recalls James. "We were guests of the Mike Snider String Band. We were warming up with them in the dressing room, playing a fiddle medley. We were walking towards the stage, and I'm thinking, 'Okay, we'll do the soundcheck now, then do our thing later.' I'm two feet away from the stage when a guy in the band says, 'It's not a soundcheck,' and two seconds later, James and I are onstage in front of 4,500 people, not to mention millions watching on TV.

"I never had a chance to get nervous. I was situated onstage near the circle that was cut out of the old Ryman Auditorium, and I made sure I had a foot in that circle. I wanted to stand on the same place Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Bill Monroe had played. That was a cool moment. I think we still hold the title of the youngest Canadians to play the Grand Ole Opry." - Exclaim

"Hillside Shines in its Silver Year"

Hillside has built its reputation by showcasing performers on the cusp of stardom. It continued this tradition with the Abrams Brothers, an extraordinary bluegrass outfit from Kingston, Ont.

Featuring John on lead vocals and guitar and James on fiddle, along with cousin Elijah on bass, in addition to Bob Burtch on mandolin and Glen MacDonald on banjo, they showed why they are on their way to becoming the best bluegrass band ever produced in Canada.

The teens blew the roof off the Island Stage with exciting, high energy original songs, traditional bluegrass and revved-up, bluegrass renditions of a range of folk material from Gordon Lightfoot's Cold on Your Shoulder to Steve Goodman's City of New Orleans.

The Abrams Brothers are reminiscent of the Good Brothers who performed Saturday. While not strictly a bluegrass band, the trio helped make bluegrass popular in Canada in the 1970s -- when they were barely out of their teens.
- The Record - Kitchener, ON

"The Ambassadors"

John and James Abrams are known to most Kingstonians as teenage bluegrass players extraordinaire, but now they're also international ambassadors of peace.

It all started, of course, with a violin.

For the last several summers, they have been attending renowned fiddler Mark O'Connor's String Conference in San Diego, Calif.

Each year, someone at the conference is loaned a special violin in memory of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation promotes peace and cross-cultural understanding and anyone awarded the violin is supposed to promote those ideals during their year-long possession of it.

The Abrams were awarded the violin in 2006.

"We told everyone at our concerts to e-mail the foundation and say they'd heard the violin," says John Abrams, the older of the brothers at 17.

Younger brother James is 15.

"They got e-mails from around the world," John says.

The best was yet to come. During the year that followed, they brought the fiddle with them when they performed in Israel and returned the violin after their year was up in the summer of 2007. Shortly afterward, they were invited to play at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco where they were introduced backstage to Daniel Pearl's parents.

"We had a great time together and, afterward, they pronounced us the official ambassadors of the Daniel Pearl Foundation," John says.

"Anywhere we play, we spread the word and do our part for peace."

The brothers have been performing since 1999 when John was nine and James was six. Their band is a family act. Father Brian, grandfather Wayne, and cousin Elijah all play in the band. So far, the brothers' career highlight was their appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, performing three numbers with comedian-singer Mike Snider in 2005.

The Abrams Brothers spend a good part of their summers playing festivals around North America. For two years, they have played a festival in Israel and, in 2006, toured Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark.

One of their admirers is Chris Brown, a musician who maintains studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., and in nearby Wolfe Island. He produced the Abrams Brothers latest album, Blue on Brown, a tribute to the works of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Arlo Guthrie.

The Abrams recorded the CD in both of Brown's studios.

"The overwhelming comment I get from my musical friends who've played with them is that it doesn't feel like they're playing music with children," Brown says.

"They're very advanced musical thinkers and feelers. They're both very remarkable people and each are very engaging and their emotions have been developed. It shows in how they approach their music. For them, it's not about soloing and flash. It's about commitment," he says.

Brown says the Abrams aren't just bluegrass players.

"Right now, we're working on a new album of original music," he says.

Both brothers have active lives as students at La Salle Secondary School.

John, who in in Grade 12, was the co-president of this year's student council after being treasurer last year.

Queen's University awarded him one of its Chancellor's Scholarships, worth $9,000 a year for four years. The award is given to students who demonstrate "superior academic ability, creative and original thinking, and proven leadership qualities."

John is successful in school, despite missing an average of 11 days a semester touring with the family band.

"It's been really neat to get the kind of support we have had from the school," he says. "They trust me and I get the work done."

At Queen's, he will study English literature, philosophy and chemistry.

"It keeps Kingston as the hub of the wheel for me, close to my family. And both my parents are Queen's grads, who went back to school when we were younger. I remember being three years old and being with my dad in one of his tax classes," he says.

James has just finished his first year of high school. He's a sports nut and managed to play on the hockey, basketball and soccer teams.

The Abrams Brothers were the headliners and hosts at the recent Kingston Tommfest, a three-day music festival at Lake Ontario Park, a benefit for the Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston.

The event is in honour of the brothers' aunt, Tristin Osborne, who had a learning disability. She died in 2004 at the age of 24. - The Kingston Whig-Standard

"Abrams Brothers to Play Regent for QEMA Benefit"

They just got back from Indiana, just cut a new CD in New York City and brought the house down in Nashville in 2005.

The Abrams Brothers are very busy boys.

When it comes to Bluegrass music, these young musicians along with their band, are making a name for themselves all across North America.

Their European debut in May 2006 was also a huge success.

Raised in the Kingston area, these talented teens were initially classically trained on violin and then quickly expanded their musical scope to include playing fiddle mandolin, guitar, upright bass, banjo and dobro.

Their harmony vocals are exceptional and with their amazing talent were guests of well-known Hee Haw cast member and Opry member Mike Snider at The Grand Old Opry in 2005.

They performed at The Angels Among Us Concert where they received with grand reviews and also received the very prestigious Daniel Pearl Award in 2006-07.

The grass is growing and so is bluegrass music. - The Gazette

"Bluegrass Comes to Town; Abrams Bros., other acts shine at DMS"

Looking back through the history of bluegrass music, we find numerous "family bands" - the Carter Family, the Cox Family, the Del McCoury Band, Tony Rice and his brothers, to name only a few.

Perhaps it's the plethora of different instruments; with banjos, basses, fiddles, guitars, Dobros and mandolins to choose from, there's always a spare axe for a little brother to play. Perhaps it's the strong gospel element in the music that appeals to church-going families. Perhaps the social element of the traditional jam session appealed to the early mountain practitioners of bluegrass.

Whatever the reason, family ties remain strong in bluegrass music. Such ties were on display front-and-center when the Abrams Brothers took the stage at the third annual Marcellus Grassroots Fest last Saturday at the Driver Middle School auditorium.

John Abrams, 17, and his brother James, 14, hail from Gananoque, Ontario. Like most musical prodigies, they began polishing their chops at an early age, gradually expanding their repertoires in terms of both skill and number of instruments played. The hard work paid off, earning the boys a debut at the Yankee Stadium of bluegrass, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, in October 2005.

At the Marcellus show, some other family members got into the act; father Brian on guitar and vocals and cousin Eli, 17, on the upright electric bass, formed a solid rhythm section. Grandfather Wayne Abrams, who has often performed with the boys, was unfortunately unable to make this show.

But two other top-notch pickers were able to lend a hand. Brandon Green showed why he won the 2004 banjo championship of West Virginia (Where, Brian joked, "Banjo players are falling out of the trees.") Bob Burtch played both guitar and mandolin, dazzling the audience on the latter.

Highlights of the Abrams' evening set were many. Tunes as diverse as Gordon Lightfoot's "Cold on the Shoulder," Woody Guthrie's "Oklahoma Hills," Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans," and Blue Highway's "Born With a Hammer in My Hand" were all tastefully presented with vocal and instrumental skill.

On that last tune, the D-string snapped on John's guitar early in the song. Undaunted, he stepped away from the mic, pulled the broken string out of the way, and ripped out a kickin' lead, first walking up and down the high strings, then crossing the empty D-string gap to the low strings without missing a beat.

These guys also write their own stuff. The quartet of John, James, Brandon and Eli teamed up for "Far From Home," an instrumental they put together while on a bus in Nebraska. Brandon's composition, "There's Not Much Time," offered the gospel feel of mountain bluegrass coupled with fast, tight instrumentals and fills. Brian wrote the music to "The Ballad of Spring Hill," the words of which came from a Peggy Seeger poem about a 1958 mining disaster in Nova Scotia.

While he appeared most comfortable on guitar, John played mandolin and fiddle with equal skill. His crisp tone and melodic sense produced some solid lead work on all three instruments. James spent most of the evening sawing on his fiddle, smiling and dancing in place. His playing evoked sounds of Darol Anger's polished sound, with some down-home Vassar Clemens thrown in.

Both boys exuded a poise and stage presence that belied their youth. Their voices blended well with their father's for harmonies only family can produce. Neither of them hit a sour note all night, vocally or instrumentally.

With all the vacuous commercial pop and rap music "gracing" today's radio airwaves and polluting young peoples' minds, it is more than refreshing to see these youngsters embrace this traditional art form. And not only do they embrace it, they make themselves downright at home in it. Keep an eye on these guys -- they'll be big names in the bluegrass genre for years to come.

Will the Abrams Brothers return to Marcellus? Perhaps Brian already answered that when he told the evening show crowd, "This is like coming home for us. It always feels like home in Marcellus." - Skaneateles Press


"The Abrams" EP (2016)

"Northern Redemption" LP (2011)

"Blue on Brown" LP (2009)

"Iron Sharpens Iron" LP (2007)


Feeling a bit camera shy


It’s hard for John and James Abrams to recall a time in their young lives where they weren’t creating and playing music together. As fourth-generation musicians, The Abrams have taken the “family business” to a whole new level with their recent signing to Warner Music Canada and major label self-titled debut EP.

The Abrams is a departure from their earlier work, spurred by Gavin Brown – the Juno award-winning and Grammy nominated producer. Brown (Billy Talent, Metric, Three Days Grace) took it as a personal challenge to bring out the best in The Abrams and introduce them to a broader audience. The resulting EP does indeed make an indelible first impression, yet is only a taste of what The Abrams and Brown have created together. Knowing now what they can accomplish in the studio, and how to translate that to the stage, The Abrams are fully prepared to take a place alongside Canada’s best-known country music stars.

The EP slowly emerged out of an intense two-year period of writing and recording that began almost immediately after The Abrams and Brown first met in January 2014 at Brown’s Noble Street Studios in Toronto. No idea was left untested, and different approaches to the material were often still being explored right up until the final mix. The brothers knew early in the process that they had chosen the right collaborator after seeing how Brown shared their tireless work ethic and tenacity.

“Working with Gavin has really been about taking all the country, bluegrass and gospel music we grew up playing, and honing it into a sound that’s distinctly us,” notes John Abrams. “Country music is where we feel most comfortable as artists, and on this EP we’re embracing it differently than we have in the past. Although we’re still in our early twenties, we feel our music has never had so much youthful energy before. That’s why we’ve decided to call the EP simply The Abrams. It really does feel like a new beginning.”

It’s all captured on “Fine,” the lead single from The Abrams, on which the brothers brilliantly display their vision to blend their musical roots with an attitude more in tune with their generation. No one has ever questioned the pair’s prowess as musicians, and now The Abrams have found their feet as songwriters as well.

As James Abrams explains, “Over the past two years, John and I have started writing together more than we ever have. It’s been really exciting for me because, as a fiddle player, melodies are flowing through my mind all the time. The emotional qualities of those melodies will suggest a framework for a song, and in a lot of cases, John will then start to flesh it out with some lyrics and we’ll both develop it from there. It’s almost become like building a house; we’ll each bring our own materials and construct it together.”

Barely into their teens, the brothers made their mark at many high profile U.S. bluegrass festivals, and in 2005 they became the youngest Canadians to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2008, they made their first album, Blue On Brown, a collection of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie songs, followed in 2011 by Northern Redemption, their first all-original album, which nonetheless echoed the work of their bluegrass heroes such as the Louvin Brothers and Jim & Jesse.

Their lives have revolved around music since childhood. Now that they’ve, in a sense, successfully completed their apprenticeship, The Abrams are poised to step onto the larger stages that modern country music offers. Their debut EP proves that, indeed, they were born ready. 

For more information on The Abrams:

Adam Gonshor