For decades, singer-songwriter Greg Cornell has been listening intently to America’s heritage of roots music and storing it deep in his being. Before he could add to the canon, however, he had to live his own stories. It took decades of heartbreak, loss, and finding the kind of hopeful disposition that only comes through searching. Today, he’s a critically acclaimed roots musician with a redemptive message.
Originally from a small town in upstate New York, Cornell was living in Brooklyn six years ago when he formed the Cornell Brothers. The band is a fluid ever-changing collective that always includes a stand-up bass player, and has welcomed mandolins, banjos, dobros and accordions at different times. Obviously not related by blood, the band are all brothers (and sisters) in music. Whatever configuration they appear in, the band emphasizes strong musicianship and three-part harmonies.
Cornell’s music courses through that muddy river of bluegrass, country, old-time music, and blues. His work conjures the plaintive and unvarnished beauty of contemporary and classic roots artists such as Ralph Stanley, Blind Lemon Jefferson, John Prine, Gram Parsons, Levon Helm, Garcia and Grisman, and Neil Young. He has released two full-length albums since 2014 (Deep Ocean Blues and Come On Home), and in 2017 Beehive Productions (Saranac Lake, NY) released videos of three songs from Come On Home. Cornell’s debut, Deep Ocean Blues, is a spiritual journey of making that brave trek into an emotional and introspective abyss. It’s follow-up, Come On Home, is produced by fiddler Adam Moss (The Defibulators, Anna Egge, and the Brother Brothers), and engineered by Justin Guip who won three Grammys recording Levon Helms’ final albums.
The band, who calls the Northeast home, has played extensively throughout the region, at clubs, bars, festivals, house concerts and even an opera house, and were featured at the 2017 Connecticut Folk Festival. Cornell’s sincerity, uplifting introspection, and singular approach to making emotionally resonant music from timeless art forms has earned him praise from Americana fans and critics. The popular music discovery and critical outlet Mind Equals Blown says: “Cornell visits the deep, looming sense of longing that’s often tied to bluegrass or folksy tracks, and steers clear of any clichés.”
Todd Evans is a longtime advocate and curator of live local music and a director of The Bluegrass Club of Long Island (BCLI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The first band he performed with was The Clam Diggers in fifth grade, and many years later, he continues to learn through several music-related projects and configurations. Ask him what his musical approach is and he’ll tell you, “If you listen real closely to the song, it’ll tell you what to do.”
California native Terri Hall has studied piano, voice, and saxophone, and sings with any choir that would have her. After moving east, she got up out of the alto section and began playing and singing at local jams, where she found her musical soul mates. A natural-born storyteller, Terri holds a degree in History with an emphasis in Ethnomusicology; she has set her sights on giving a TED Talk.
Christine Kellar has been transfixed and transported by vocal harmonies for as long as she can remember. She enjoys writing songs and charting vocal arrangements, and aims one day to publish choral pieces and stage a children’s musical. Among her previous musical projects is Dance on the Planet, an album of original children’s music.