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People and performances in Arts and Entertainment. ■ September 14, 2011 A LSO Blu SECTION 2 Artscene J INSIDE CA a r ss g e By Rebecca Wallace ohnny Campbell comes from a long line of fiddlers. There’s his dad, his grandpa, his great-grandpa. So naturally, he moved from Tennessee to the Bay Area to join a bluegrass band. No, we didn’t get that backward. He fiddles here, for the local band Windy Hill. The group is named after the Portola Valley landmark and was started by a couple of Menlo-Atherton High School graduates. Though the Bay Area is known more for redwoods than bluegrass, the five musicians seem to be ambling happily along their creatively rootsy paths. They perform from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, revere the bluegrass icon Bill Monroe, and recently put out their first album, “Let’s Go To The Fair.” “There’s not many young, traditional bluegrass bands,” says banjo player Ryan Breen, who can see Windy Hill from his On the cover: Thomas Wille, left, and Ryan Breen performing on stage at Cafe Du Nord. LE N DA R 24 |R E A L E S TAT E 26 |C L AS S I F I E D S 33 y a the B s d n i f l il nit H k y e by d s ene lo in c c W s e d s h t as an n r b i g e e e c h u l a T its pl ay Area b B Photos by Michelle Le Portola Valley backyard. “We take it really seriously. We love it, and I think people recognize that.” While at Colorado State University in 2008, Mr. Breen started the band with fellow M-A graduate Henry Warde, a mandolinist. The two returned home after college in 2009 and reconnected with bass player Kyle McCabe, who had been in their class at M-A. Guitarist Thomas Wille joined later, as did Mr. Campbell. Mr. Breen met Mr. Campbell at a music festival and invited him into the band. The fiddler, who was just visiting California, decided to stay. “It’s a close-knit bluegrass community in the Bay Area,” Mr. Breen says. “It’s easy to make new friends.” The atmosphere is decidedly down-home on a recent afternoon at Mr. McCabe’s West Menlo Park family home, where he’s lived since graduating from U.C. Berkeley. Their bandmates weren’t able to make it today, but McCabe, Breen and Campbell contentedly mix bass, banjo and fiddle into a few spirited tunes full of fast picking. A dachshund and a wire-haired terrier scamper around the patio, and there’s a fresh, spicy smell of tomato plants growing in a box. Mr. Campbell takes a pull from a bottle of beer and looks satisfied. “Handsome Molly,” Mr. Breen sings, “wherever she may be.” The musicians try some harmonies, reaching for what Bill Monroe famously described as bluegrass’ “high, lonesome sound.” Some don’t quite gel yet, but the guys freely admit they’re all working See ARTSCENE, page 23 Clockwise from top: the Windy Hill musicians performing on stage at Cafe Du Nord. From left, they are: Johnny Campbell, Henry Warde, Thomas Wille, Ryan Breen and Kyle McCabe. Inset: Breen picking on the banjo; Henry Warde, left, and Ryan Breen perform at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco; Kyle McCabe plays his bass backstage. September 14, 2011 N The Almanac N21

The Almanac 09.14.2011 - Section 2

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