photo by Darin Back
photo by Darin Back

Anthony Ihrig is a Minneapolis songwriter, banjo player, and teacher who has been active in the midwestern bluegrass and folk music scene since 1999.

In 2006, he co-founded the award-winning High 48s Bluegrass Band, with whom he continues to maintain a busy performance schedule. In 2011, Anthony released Missing Ghosts, an album of all-original “newgrass” music and in 2012 he was invited to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual conference in Nashville, TN to showcase his songwriting. His solo performances highlight his original songwriting, guitar and banjo playing and often feature some of the best acoustic string players in the region.

Anthony’s Music Timeline

In 1999, he co-founded the Twin Cities-based string band Free Range Pickin’ (1999-2009), who, alongside young acoustic bands like Trampled by Turtles and Pert Near Sandstone were at the forefront of a “newgrass” revolution in Minnesota that helped introduce modern string band music to a whole new generation of fans.

Hanging out with Bela Fleck
Hanging out w/ Bela

In 2004, after years of academic research on the history of bluegrass music and the banjo, he was asked to consult with banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck on the history of the banjo before the filming of his award winning documentary Throw Down Your Heart.

In 2006, he co-founded The High 48s Bluegrass Band, one of the premier traditional bluegrass bands in the region and winners of the prestigious RockyGrass Bluegrass Band Competition in Lyons, Colorado in 2008.

The High 48s win RockyGrass!
RockyGrass mainstage!

In 2010, he released an original banjo instrumental with the High 48s entitled Darrington, which features Grammy winners Randy Kohrs on the Dobro and Mike Compton on the Mandolin.

Play Darrington

In 2011, he released his debut solo album Missing Ghosts, an all original album of songs and instrumentals that features some of the top acoustic musicians in the upper-midwest. Performances in support of this project included a slot at the prestigious Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-time Music Association’s annual festival

Anthony is selected for IBMA Songwriter Showcase
IBMA Songwriter Showcase

In 2012 he was selected to perform his song Great Northern Railroad at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Songwriter Showcase at the World of Bluegrass convention in Nashville, TN.

Other notable accomplishments in the last decade include releasing 11 full-length albums, touring the United States playing major bluegrass festivals, performing with Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor as well as having his original music featured in the independent feature film Discouraging Words, on radio stations across the country including Nashville Public Radio and on local television shows like Almanac (PBS) and the KARE 11 Morning Show (NBC).

“Great picking and cool songs”

-Joe Bonsall, The Oak Ridge Boys

Anthony Ihrig - Missing Ghosts Album Cover. Artwork by Tim Lee.
Artwork by Tim Lee

On his debut solo album Missing Ghosts, Anthony brings together his musical past and present (rock drummer, bluegrass banjo player, modern folk singer) to create something altogether new. The 10 original songs on the album combine traditional bluegrass instruments (banjo, fiddle, mandolin and dobro) with pedal steel guitar and percussion to form a unique sound that cuts across a diverse Americana landscape of folk, bluegrass and alt-country music. His lyrics tell modern tales of love and longing that are deeply personal while artfully striking a universal chord. When words can’t capture a mood he calls on his progressive banjo skills to deliver inspired instrumentals that showcase strong melodies and creative rhythmic arrangements. Backed by his newly formed “Almost Acoustic Ensemble,” Anthony’s impassioned live performances could only be described as an amalgam of his gritty rock legacy, accomplished bluegrass pedigree, and the spirit of a natural showman whose wit and soul engage and enliven each gig that he plays.

  • Art Fargo

    Very Cool Guy with Amazing Talent!

  • Anthony, we fell in love with your sound and talent when we stumbled across FRP many years ago and throughly enjoyed attendng many of that group’s performances. We were unaware of the High 48s group and so have been missing your wonderful musical contributions for couple of years now. So happy to have found you again! Hope you’ll be doing some live performances so we can again enjoy your songs, your sound, and, of course, your banjo, in person.

    • Hi Linda, thank you for the nice note and kind words! It is always great to meet FRP fans, that was a special time for me. I recently released a solo record that is a bit more in the FRP vein (w/ Dan on Bass), you can find more info here: http://anthonyihrig.com/missing-ghosts/

      I will be updating my “shows” page soon with my late spring & summer gigs, if you ever make it out, it would be very nice to meet you!

  • Ian Ridgway

    Anthony. So cool that I can message you directly here 🙂 I Just want to tell you that your song Missississi Strut almost single-handedly inspired me to pick up the banjo. I am six months in now and will never look back. As a bass guitarist of ten years or so, I needed a new means of expression and your music helped navigate me to Bluegrass and the mighty banjo. Thanks so much and I can’t wait for more of your lyrical and incredibly melodic banjo instrumentals. More please!

    • Greeting Ian,

      Wow, thanks for sharing that, I’m truly honored to have had a hand in you picking up the banjo, that makes me extremely happy! Also, thank you for the kind words about my music. I took some time off from writing (for a new baby), but have some new material in the works, as well as some banjo instructional stuff. If you’re interested, please check back in a couple months. I’d also love to hear how you are progressing and if you’re still loving the banjo 🙂

      Take care and enjoy that “mighty banjo!”