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.
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.
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
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
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.