Daniel Steinberg on flute, and my son Ezra Warren Steinberg on piano.
Kleptograss, so named because they “borrow” material from all kinds of genres, is Eric Thompson’s super-group and the latest iteration is the best yet! Eric’s joined by mandolinist Paul Kotapish (Wake the Dead, Hillbillies from Mars); guitarist Alan Senauke (Zen priest, author and activist); and bassist and flatfoot dancer Mark Schatz (Bela Fleck, Tim O’Brien). Together, they delve into bluegrass, Greek kalamatiano, jug band music, Caribbean string sounds of the 1930s, Puerto Rican paso doble, Irish jigs and Appalachian songs, mixing it up with material from Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead! The camaraderie, joy and creative energy that these four brilliant musicians possess draws in the listener – inviting the audience to share in a rare and special musical friendship.
Eric Thompson has been a renowned guitar phenom for nearly 60 years, harking back to his "Before the Dead” and Dawg days as a teenage bluegrass fanatic in the early ‘60s. Over the years he has delved deep into Old-timey string band styles, Blues, Irish, and Cajun traditions, and dabbled in a few tunes from Greece and Latin America. With Kleptograss, he shows off his most recent acquisition, a shiny German silver National Resonator guitar, as well as the Puerto Rican cuatro. Eric has performed with a pantheon of roots musicians including Mike Seeger, David Grisman, Jody Stecher, Jerry Garcia, Bill Evans, David Nelson, Mark Savoy, Kevin Keegan, Benton Flippen, and many more.
Alan Senauke has played guitar in numerous bands with Eric, including Bluegrass Intentions, Blue Flame Stringband and the Aux Cajunals, and the two made an album of duets, “Two Guitars”. He has also worked with Michael Doucet, High Country and the Midnite Ramblers. Alan is Abbot at the Berkeley Zen Center and was the founder of the Clear View Project, which focuses on social change and relief efforts in Asia, most recently in Burma. His solo Buddhistic albums, rooted in traditional forms, include “Everything Is Broken” and “Wooden Man.” Alan’s most recent book, “Turning Words” was issued in March 2023 by Shambhala Publishing.
Paul Kotapish has performed and recorded with Wake the Dead, Euphonia, Hillbillies from Mars, Sylvia Herold’s Euphonia, Kevin Burke’s Open House, the Rodney Miller Band, and many others. His mandolin playing adds texture and rhythmic dimension to Kleptograss’ sound. Rooted in the vintage rural music traditions of Appalachia, Ireland and beyond, it also embraces pop idioms like rock and country. Over the decades Paul has appeared on concert stages and in dance halls throughout the United States and around the globe—from remote fishing villages in Alaska to the Kremlin in Moscow.
Mark Schatz, a two-time winner of the IBMA Bass Player of the Year Award, is best known for his contributions on some of the most iconic recordings in bluegrass by artists such as Bela Fleck, John Hartford, Tony Rice, Claire Lynch, Tim O’Brien, Sara Jarosz, and Nickel Creek. Mark also brings his Southern Appalachian clogging and hambone to Kleptograss; his stagecraft was honed through a long association with the acclaimed Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, for whom he still serves as Musical Director.