Audiences around the world get a chance to experience an unusual musical pairing with the release of a CD with American singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Kristina Olsen and Australian cellist Peter Grayling. They have spent the last year touring in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US to promote the release of their CD, 'Duet'. Kristina Olsen is a powerfully engaging performer with a blues raw velvet voice, brilliant guitar skills (on acoustic and steel-body slide guitar) and a fine way of crafting a song, from hilarious tales of love-gone-wrong to seriously compelling songs of rare insight and compassion. She is well know for her songwriting and her songs have been recorded by Fairport Convention among others. Cellist Peter Grayling takes an instrument rarely seen off the classical stage and weaves it through Olsen's songs, enriching the ballads with a gorgeous, mellow sound and driving along the bluesy numbers with punchy playing and recklessly passionate solos. Dr. Grayling was formerly the principal cellist with the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra and now currently does contract work for the Western Australian Symphony when he isn't on tour with Olsen. The depth, diversity and excitement of Kristina and Peter's live performances are captured in fifteen studio tracks on their new CD 'Duet', which also offers two bonus live tracks recorded on their last Australian tour. These two multi-instrumentalists create inspired musical settings, recorded live in the studio with the emphasis on the real interplay of a musical partnership honed on stage. All the songs/pieces are in duet form. On 'Heart Hill', a song Olsen wrote about the actual heart-shaped English wood which a grieving fiancee planted on the hill where lover's plane had crashed, Olsen plays concertina and sings while Grayling plays mandocello and sings harmony. On the blues classic 'Brownsville' Olsen moans out the melody on slide guitar and voice, while Grayling adds a third harmony part on the cello. All the tracks are in song form except 'Pillow Talk', an instrumental waltz with Olsen on saxophone and Grayling on cello. Their work together has left a trail of excitement in the UK, the US and Australia, and New Zealand. Now audiences around the world will get chance to catch their music on CD. KRISTINA OLSEN Kristina Olsen is one of the most entertaining and compelling performers on the international folk circuit. A fine instrumentalist (acoustic guitar, steel-body slide guitar, saxophone, concertina and piano) as well as a powerful songwriter with a big bluesy voice, Kristina has audiences around the world coming back for more. Her mix of strong songs in the troubadour tradition, some jazz-inspired sounds and powerful bottleneck blues (as well as her hilarious storytelling) makes for a diverse and satisfying musical experience, on stage and on disc. Born in San Francisco and raised in Haight-Asbury during the 1960's, Kristina's approach to music and life was formed by that environment of vital cultural expression, social activism and diverse musical influences. She now calls Venice Beach, Los Angeles home but rarely sees it from touring ten months a year. It was on one of those that she met Peter Grayling, a cellist from Western Australia and a new musical alliance was formed. In March 1998 'Duet' was released in Australia, a CD of duet's between Olsen and Grayling and in 2000 'The Truth of a Woman' was released and was #1 in surveyed folk radio airplay in the US. In the previous six years Olsen released four critically acclaimed CDs on the Philo/Rounder label. Airport Convention recorded her song 'Dangerous' on their '97 release, 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes' and Olsen performed at the Cropredy Festival and at the Sidmouth Festival in summer '97. She performed on Michelle Shocked album 'Short Sharp Shocked' on PolyGram. Olsen won the Kerrville Songwriting award her song for bettered women, 'I'm Keeping This Life of Mine'. PETER GRAYLING It's not often that a fine classical player turns out to be a great improviser with a solid grounding in folk, blues and rock 'n roll. Cellist Peter Grayling bends that classical technique to his own ends, plucking and bowing a solid bottom line and taking soaring solos to unexpected places. Peter's particular talent for weaving the cello with the voice has led to regular collaborations with some of Australia's folk scene's leading singers. In November '97 he toured nationally as a duet with US singer/songwriter/multi-instumntalist Kristina Olsen. After this tour the pair recorded a CD 'Duet' released in Australia in March 98. Peter has played at most of the major Australian festivals and his flair for picking up a tune on the spot has had Peter participate in some of the most memorable on-stage jam sessions, making great musical moments with blues greats Phil Manning, Matt Taylor, The Backsliders and Damon Davies, mandolin marvel Andrew Clermont, klezmer violinist Ernie Gruner, the Sensitive New Age Cowpersons and many more, including making beautifully meditative duets with shakuhachi master Riley Lee. He's remembered by many festival-goers for his wild solos. He's also done time in the pit for many a musical. As a classical cellist, he's worked in the West Australia Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, including a year as principal cellist in the TSO. Dr. Grayling now lives in Fremantle in Western Australia. Having completed a Ph.D. in botany, he combines his musical life with his botanical pursuits and is often seen up trees. WHAT THE PRESS IS SAYING ABOUT DUET: Grayling is that rare beast among cellists - the really exciting soloist who can improvise and really seize the moment. Most importantly the performances are really alive, and many of the songs are really moving. They move in varied ways, too: from full-on blues-mama lustiness to thought provoking and poignant. Doug Spencer ABC Radio 24 Hours ...written by Olsen in an engaging style that brings to mind the biting realism of Richard Thompson, combined the lyrical feel of Joni Mitchell and Carol King. Olsen's expressive voice and brilliant skills on the guitar.. is easily matched by classically trained Grayling's mellow and occasionally reckless cello and mandocello accompaniment...make this an album of startling contrasts an exciting performances. Ray Purvis for the CD review column in 'The West Australian'. This CD received four stars. Run don't walk to your nearest record store and get some of this music now, I did. David Sanderson 'The Hastings News & Observer'. AND ABOUT THEIR LIVE CONCERTS: Olsen's powerful, supple voice and sweetly mournful steel guitar combined perfectly with the dark undertow of the cello... Throughout the evening this duo continued to spark off each other musically and verbally. Olsen keeping everyone helpless with her frank self deprecation and ironic humour. This is a sharp lady, definitely not the norm. Wise to and in love with the cultural differences in Australia, delighting in the perfect musical partner, and in being back in Freo. Ken Ferguson for the West Australian It's a perfect coupling - one no publicity hound could ever think up. A sassy sex obsessed San Franciscan born singer slider songwriter and a silent cellist from Fremantle. Olsen's songs evoke all sorts of feeling - Thursday night's audience laughed out loud, choked back the tears and cheered the honest sentiment of songs such as 'Wish You'd Stop Doing So Well'...meanwhile Grayling's cello and mandocello made inroads into bodies and hearts while his shy demeanour emitted a different kind of star appeal. Les Everett for the Fremantle Review.
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