Dean Magraw - www.deanmagraw.com
Dean Magraw is a consummate guitarist, playing with wit and soulful abandon. A performer like no other, he is part-comedian, part-philosopher and all-around musical genius. Transcending genre, he has performed with a cornucopia of collaborators from jazz organist Jack McDuff to folk icon Greg Brown, trad Irish supergroup Altan to classical violinist Nigel Kennedy.
Growing up in a musical household, Dean soaked in a smorgasbord of musical influences. His parents danced to big band swing; his sister listened to show tunes and his guitar and veena playing brother's record collection was full of folk, jazz, rock, and classical Indian albums. But it was the opening riff to the Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” that caused him to fall in love with the guitar.
In his formative years Dean quickly expanded his musical knowledge by incorporating his love of myriad musical styles into his playing and writing. With his eclectic background and musical versatility, he quickly evolved into one of the most innovative guitarists on the international scene as well as one of the most accomplished and original composers, arrangers and producers around. From playing on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion to leading up his own experimental jam band Eight Head, Dean has literally generated a new world of music.
In addition to his role as an in-demand sideman on over a hundred recording projects, Dean has proven pivotal in creating more than a dozen albums, including four for Red House Records: Wise-Magraw (1985), Broken Silence (1994), Seventh One (1998) and Duo (1991), an album he recorded with Emmy Award winning multi-instrumentalist Peter Ostroushko.
Diagnosed with MDS in 2009, a new chapter has opened in Dean’s life perspective and artistic endeavors. A bone marrow transplant prevented him from performing...but not recording. During the early stages of his medical treatment, Dean went into the studio with his longtime friend and collaborator Marcus Wise. Proving the healing power of music, they are now releasing How the Light Gets In, an engaging collection of highly original compositions nurtured in a refreshingly distinctive soundscape. As is evident on this new album, Dean continues to radiate positive energy through his music. Playing with insight, passion and joy, he shows why he is one of the most ground-breaking musicians of our time.
Marcus Wise - www.marcuswise.net
Marcus Wise is a top-tier tabla player, poetic and genre-bending. An ambassador of Eastern classical music, he makes Indian sounds accessible to American music fans, collaborating with folk, jazz, gospel and pop artists. He has performed and recorded with such artists as The Doors’ John Densmore, sitar player David Whetstone, R&B singer Alexander O’Neal, classical Indian musician Nirmala Rajasekar, jazz artist Anthony Cox, cellist David Darling, sarod player Bruce Hamm and pop producer Jimmy Jam (Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige).
One of the first profesisonal tabla players in the United States, Marcus has been playing for over 35 years. Born and raised in Minnesota, Marcus left home at 19, following the death of his brother in Vietnam and his father a year later. He hitchhiked to New York City, flew to Paris and spent some time in Spain, where he learned how to play the conga drums. From there, he traveled to North Africa, Persia and India--an experience that changed his life. Marcus returned to India in 1975 to apprentice with tabla player Ustad Diam Ali Qadri. They had met when Ustad was a visiting artist at the University of Minnesota, and Marcus was invited to study and live at his home in Jaipur.
It has been 35 years since Marcus first went to India to learn to play the tablas and 37 since he first started studying percussion with Celso Maldonado in Minneapolis. Since then, he has toured around the world, performing in front of the Dalai Lama in 1989, when he received his Nobel Peace Prize, and making notable appearances on MTV (the 2000 reunion of The Doors) and VH1’s Storyteller Series. Marcus has made recordings with world-renowned guitarists Dean Magraw and Steve Tibbetts and has accompanied Minnesota Poet Laureate Robert Bly and Coleman Barks on their spoken word projects. Although there were no musicians in his family, Marcus’ father and brother were both writers. Sharing their affinity for the spoken word, Marcus has worked extensively with poets and playwrights. Strongly connected to the Minneapolis arts community, he has composed music for the Guthrie Theater’s 1991 production of Medea and played for the opening of the Walker Art Center in 2005.
Marcus still makes Minneapolis his home and continues to perform, record and teach tablas privately from his home.