Strings Attached House of Wills - One of Austin's Western Swing Bands - Player Biographies
WILL TAYLOR - Musical Director
Violin, Viola, Guitar, Vocals
Will Taylor - Strings Attached "House of Wills"
I'm Will Taylor from Strings Attached "House of Wills", one of Austin's top Western Swing Bands. I arrived in Austin in 1973 and spent summers swimming at Barton Springs, played shirtless in the garden of the infamous Armadillo World Headquarters, lived two blocks from the Rome Inn where Stevie Ray Vaughan played the blues weekly.
I graduated from Austin High and studied viola performance at the UT School of Music in 1987 while playing jazz fusion in 6th street clubs on the weekend.
The music scene has drastically changed since I was a kid growing up at UT's married student housing next to Tom Miller dam.
My jazz string quartet, an early incarnation of Strings Attached, was invited to play at the keynote of the 1988 SXSW music festival. I've lived briefly in other places, but I'm still convinced that Austin is one of the coolest places to make a life. Read more here.
Karen Mal - Vocals, Mandolin, Guitar
Karen Mal - Strings Attached "House of Wills"
Karen Mal sings. From raw sensuality to shimmering bell-like clarity, her voice is both tender and powerful, and as effortless as a waterfall. There's a river that flows between Karen and her audience. It's about love. The possibility and the unbearable beauty of it. Elusive and abundant at the same time.
Based in Austin, TX, Karen has created a name for herself as a captivating singer, instrumentalist and songwriter. Ranging from charming to seductive, impressionistic to philosophical, her songs have brought her nationwide acclaim. Shes won top awards from the Wildflower Arts and Music Festival in Texas, the Tucson Folk Festival and the Portland Songwriters Association and has also been a three time New Folk Finalist at Kerrville, emerging artist at Falcon Ridge and a finalist at the Sisters Folk Festival. Karen has released three CDs on Waterbug records, starting with Mercury's Wings in 2002. Karen Mal is riding a musical high, raved Sing Out! Magazine about her debut. The title song is a beautiful tribute to her friend, mentor and collaborator, the late Fred Alley. Dark Eyed Sailor was next, a collection of traditional Celtic songs. The title cut won the Celtic Radio Music Award for best song in 2006. Her newest release, The Space Between, came out in late 2007 and has been getting extensive airplay, reaching #6 on the Folk DJ Chart in November. When she's not singing her own songs she's in high demand as a mandolinist and bassist appearing with Ronny Cox, Buddy Mondlock, Jonathan Byrd, Sam Baker, Ken Gaines and many, many others at Kerrville, Woodyfest and stages across the country. Karen has worn so many hats for so long, that on stage, there's nothing she cant do. You don't just get hot licks; you get melody, counterpoint, and a sense of rhythm that eases the whole sound deeper into the groove. Just ask Celtic superstars Cherish the Ladies who invited Karen to tour with them in 2005. She grew up in small-town Plainville, CT, which is exactly what it sounds like, rows of little houses and quiet people with cats and televisions, She found she was best off creating her own entertainment. "I always had music in my bones. I don't remember a time when I couldn't read music, or sing harmony," says Karen. Her mother wrote in the scrapbook she kept, "8 months old - Karen sings herself to sleep in her crib." It wasn't until she was ten years old that she found her grandpa's long-forgotten old Gibson guitar in the attic. Karen was off and running. After high school, she earned a degree in Music and Theater from Long Island University and moved to New York City -- a hundred miles and a galaxy away from Plainville. She started hitting the auditions, winning parts in Shakespeare plays, children's theater and regional theater productions. Then came an audition that changed Karen's life. These guys were in jeans and flannel shirts instead of New York theater chic and the audition was as much about her musical creativity as it was about her acting chops. Karen was immediately offered a contract with the American Folklore Theater in Door County, Wisconsin, a company producing original plays and musicals that tell the American story through the eyes and experiences of the immigrants, pioneers, native peoples and just plain everyday folks of Wisconsin. With a double role as actor and musician, Karen began a love affair with folk music.AFT was a perfect fit for Karen too, and that first season's contract extended to seven more. While there she developed her mandolin skills and was called on to play a raft of other instruments including, fiddle, clarinet, psaltery, bass, flute, bodhran and of course guitar. She also made her first creative forays into writing songs and became the resident composer/musical director for Door Shakespeare in Baileys Harbor, WI, a title she still carries. Most importantly, this new creative challenge gave her a sense of musical direction. The girl who could sing and play in just about any style realized that she could write, too. In late 1999 she made the move to Austin, leaving theater behind to play music full-time. She quickly became a favorite among the pickers and writers of a city that's become the hub of the American roots music scene. And now the rest of the country has discovered her too. Karen Mal has a storyteller's voice, sifting words like she is talking to you over coffee, effortlessly rising from dusky phrases to bell-pure highs. You believe every word and note and you could listen to her sing all night long. --Michael Devlin, Music Matters
Steve Zirkel - Strings Attached "House of Wills"
Steve Zirkel is a monster on bass, but started off as a trumpet player. His muted jazz trumpet sound slapped up next to say, an early Joni Mitchell song, is a really defining element of our sound. He's so fluent with his instruments and in general with the musical language, and thinks as fast as anyone I've ever played with. I've known him for 22 years and we've developed a stage chemistry between us that is really satisfying. We don't even have to speak - we just follow each other intuitively.
Steve Carter - Vocals, Guitar
Steve Carter - Strings Attached "House of Wills"
Steve Carter relocated to Austin from Baltimore in 1979. He performed with The Lotions and Pressure, both popular reggae bands. He was inspired to write country songs and sold over 400 thousand copies of his CDs in Europe, earning him gold, platinum and double platinum CDs. His western swing bands songs have been covered on 28 CDs and he is well respected among Austin and European songwriters. Steve Carter's country band, Stop The Truck, has toured Europe several times and his reggae band, the Mau Mau Chaplains, was featured on the big stage at Auditorium Shores during the 2005 SXSW music festival. Steve also plays bass with Freddy Powers, Sonny Throckmorton, Michael Ballew and Erik Moll. Through Freddy he has played with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Merle and Doug Colosio sent Steve the new song "Since I Gave Up Cigarettes" for his 1st solo CD.
Michael Stevens -Strings Attached "House of Wills"
Anyone who has experienced Michael perform live will agree that he is entertaining, funny, joyful, intent, playful, and
extremely good at what he does. A showman, performer and athlete, Michael plays bass to win. He has an uncanny
ability to make the audience “get” the music, and whether he is making the most sublte of gestures or playing with total
abandon - he is always smiling. His performances have the enthusiasm and physicality of sport and it seems impossible for a person to make such beautiful sounds on an instument while moving and bopping like that. Yet, he makes it looks easy and fun.
In 2002, Michael was given the middle name Thuso by a friend from South Africa. Thuso (Too-soh), “He Who Helps” is appropos for this bassist. After all, the bass grounds and supports the other insturments.
Michael majored in Jazz Studies at The University of Texas at Austin (1985 - 1987) and Howard University in Washington, DC (1988 - 1993). In 1996, he returned to Austin and he immediately recreated the musical success that he had achieved in Washington, DC.
Artists performed with include: Mike Malone, Jeffmajors, Geri Allen, Dr. James Polk, Mark Batson, Ephraim Owens, Pamela Hart, Dana Clark, Brannen Temple, Sunny Sumpter, Thomas Hughes, Winton Marsalis, Delfeo Marsalis, Tina
Marsh, Ralph Peterson, Hamiett Bluett, Ron Brown, Donna Menthol, Doug Hall, Alex Coke, Trent Durham, Brent Williams, Ayanna Gregory, and Dick Gregory. Bands include: Just Released, The Mo’Tet, Tapestry, Blaze, New World Percussion Ensemble, Tamasha Africana, Women In Jazz, Circle of Light, and The Austin Jazz Workshop. Venues to see Michael live include Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Ringside at Sullivan’s, Reeds Supper Club, Ms. B’s, The Elephant Room, and Club 115. Other venues in Austin where he has performed include Huston-Tillotson University, The Universtiy of Texas Performing Arts Center, The Paramount Theatre and KUT Radio. Michael gives Lectures and Clinics through The Austin Jazz Workshop. International Tours include Italy, Spain, Martinique. Recordings include Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE), Blaze, Jeffmajors, Pamela Hart, Audra Menconi, Dr. James Polk and Sunny Sumpter, Publications and media: The Austin-American Statesman.
Michael Thuso Stevens is one of Austin’s most talented and treasured jazz and r&b bassists. His artistry, versatility and experience keep him in demand with many professional musicians.
Jon Dexter - Cello
Jon Dexter - Strings Attached "House of Wills"
Jonathan Dexter has been playing the cello for 25 years. His classical training comes from the Oberlin Conservatory, the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary and the University of Texas at Austin. However, the decision ten years ago to start a band of his own has led to a diverse list of projects outside the norm for a classically trained cellist.
As a recording artist, Jon has provided cello for tv commercials, a variety of artists, and has been featured on film soundtracks such as “ Nobelity” (2006), and “ A Scanner Darkly” (2006) starring Keanu Reeves and Robert Downy Jr.. Dexter’ s own group, rock band Distant Lights, released their album, “ Simulacrum” in 2008 and by the end of the year was being played nationally on over 150 radio stations. Jon has contributed cello to albums in Rock, Indie, and Country for bands such as Okkervil River, Nothing More, Language Room, The Golden Arm Trio, and most recently Texas swing band, Will Taylor and Strings Attached.
Jon Dexter has toured with Austin’ s own Graham Reynolds and the Golden Arm Trio, the Indie band Balmorhea, and in 2010, Jon’ s work amplifying cello led to a performance of a new work by composer Arturo Rodriguez at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention as soloist with the Texas A& M Kingsville Wind Ensemble. Jon was featured again as soloist for two sold out shows in Austin, TX of new music by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead, Graham Reynolds, and Peter Stopschinski.
In 2011, the new record “ House of Wills” by Will Taylor and Strings Attached will come available featuring Jon on cello as well as another record from Jon’ s rock band Distant Lightswith busy performance schedules to follow.
For more info on Strings Attached visit our main site at: StringsAttached.org
910 Duncan Lane Austin, TX 78705 Phone or text: 512-775-2371 or 512-944-8407