The Cantrells


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Concerts, Festivals, Contradances, House Concerts, Workshops, Artist Residencies...

The Cantrells have been touring and performing their original folk and bluegrass music in concerts and festivals since 1985. Their performances feature Emily Cantrell's songs, her strong rhythm guitar (especially her swing style), Al Cantrell's contest-winning fiddling in traditional, swing and Irish styles, their duet harmonies, "fiddlesticks" ("playing the straws") and a wide variety of songs from bluegrass to Broadway musicals. They are currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Al Cantrell spent several months in Ireland, England and Europe studying Irish fiddle. The Cantrells almost always include some Irish music in their concerts. 

The Cantrells have recorded four CDs of mostly original songs featuring Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Ranger Doug and Too Slim from "Riders in the Sky", Jim Hurst, Rob Ickes, Tim O'Brien and Mark Schatz of "Nickel Creek". These recordings receive radio airplay across the US and in other countries. 

The Cantrells were chosen by Robert Redford to perform in his hit movie "A River Runs Through It". 


The Cantrells have created a weekend's worth of mostly original contradance music with Emily on piano and guitar. Several of their original tunes have been recorded by other contradance bands. They also have a large repertoire of English Country dance music. 


The Cantrells enjoy presenting school performances as well as workshops in conjunction with their appearances. Their school performances inform as well as entertain and include audience participation. Workshops focus on swing guitar, songwriting, fiddle styles, vocal harmony, sing-along songs, Western songs, the history of American fiddling, contradance piano styles, fiddle skills, singing skills, and the music business from their perspective. 

For several seasons The Cantrells taught swing guitar and fiddle at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch


In Nashville The Cantrells often add a Dobro player and bassist, and for contradances a flute and pennywhistle player. This larger band appears at festivals, weddings and parties in middle Tennessee. 

Their future recording plans include a CD of standard swing songs, a fiddle CD of Al's original tunes and a CD of Emily's latest original songs. 

In recent years The Cantrells have toured in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Mid Atlantic states, and the Rocky Mountains. They often tour in the Rockies during the summer months.