As MerleFest 2018 approaches, a highlight from one of the 100+ performing acts will be featured daily…
In an ever-expanding body of work, Jens Kruger (banjo, vocals), Uwe Kruger (guitar,
lead vocals), and Joel Landsberg (bass, vocals) personify the spirit of exploration and
innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition.
Although initially staying fairly close to a traditional repertoire, the Kruger Brothers
later turned to songwriting and composition in order to draw more closely from their
personal experiences. The result is a catalog of songs and music distinguished by its rich
detail and an insight into the delicacy and complexity of everyday life.
The honesty of their writing has become a hallmark of the trio’s work. Another is the
banjo playing and composition of Jens Kruger. Happy Traum has described Kruger as
“one of the world’s most musically sophisticated and technically accomplished fivestring
banjo players.” Steve Martin has described Jens Kruger as “one of the great
technicians” of bluegrass as well as “a very expressive player.” Kruger plays in a melodic
style that, while it may stem from the three-finger bluegrass style popularized by Snuffy
Jenkins and Earl Scruggs, is also differentiated by long melodic passages and a more
complex compositional foundation, often building on jazz or classical themes and
In recognition of his style and skill, Jens Kruger is an inductee to the Blue Ridge Music
Hall of Fame (2011) and is the fourth recipient of the coveted Steve Martin Prize for
Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass (2013).
The recording that cemented the Kruger Brothers’ sound and song writing, Up 18 North,
was released in 2002 on the Double Time label. Included were a number of tracks that
signaled the direction that the band was to take in future projects. The title track “Up
18 North” is an instrumental piece, with banjo clearly in the foreground, that remains a
prime example of the type of close ensemble playing that characterizes the trio’s work.
The vocal track “Carolina in the Fall” is an early example of the very personal, resonant,
and mature song writing that they continue to this day.
Most recently their music has ventured further into the themes and forms of classical
music, most obviously in their 2011 release, Appalachian Concerto and the 2015 release
Lucid Dreamer. Through their numerous CD releases, radio and television performances,
workshops, and collaborative efforts, the Kruger Brothers continue to provide a unique
voice in the world of folk, Americana and classical music.
Overview provided by Kruger Brothers media
You can hear the Kruger Brothers perform at one of the following times during MerleFest (April 26-29).
Thursday, 3:00pm-3:45pm (Watson Stage)
Friday, 12:15pm-1:00pm (Americana Stage)
Friday, 2:45pm-3:30pm (Hillside Stage)
Saturday, 10:00am-11:00am (Walker Center)
Saturday, 6:00pm-6:45pm (Creekside)
View the full MerleFest schedule and stage lineup here.