Anthony Ihrig is a banjo playing songwriter from Minneapolis who weaves together modern storytelling with wistful folk melodies and head-nodding grooves on traditional bluegrass instruments.
As a solo performer and member of the award-winning bluegrass band The High 48s, Anthony is known for connecting with audiences through heart-felt songwriting, high-energy performances and spontaneous stories from the stage.
An accomplished instructor, he teaches private banjo lessons as well as hosts workshops and coaches students on songwriting, performing, recording and pursuing a creative career in music.
As a session musician and recording artist, Anthony’s banjo and dobro playing has been featured on the soundtracks to TV documentaries, short films as well as national advertising campaigns and he has guested on albums by numerous artists and bands including a track on an album by Grammy-winning children’s folk-duo The Okee Dokee Brothers.
Anthony is also co-host of a weekly live music interview on show on YouTube focused on Folk and Americana songwriters and musicians called the Back Catalog Listening Party.
My Musical Highlights
In 1999, I 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, I 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, I 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 2010, I 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. It was a real honor to have the play on that track!
In 2011, I released my 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, I was selected to perform my song Great Northern Railroad at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Songwriter Showcase at the World of Bluegrass convention in Nashville, TN.
In 2016, my banjo playing was featured on the soundtracks of two wonderful independent films, the PBS documentary Kevin Kling: Lost & Found (2016) and the award-winning comedy short: You Beautiful Crazy Blind Cripple (2016)
In 2020, my banjo playing appeared on a track off of the Grammy-winning band The Okee Dokee Brothers album Songs for Singing as well on a controversial Burger King commercial centered around cow flatulence
In March of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID lockdown, I started a weekly musical happy hour on YouTube with my friend Mother Banjo called The Back Catalog Listening Party, where we get to listen to music and interview our musical friends and heroes!
In 2021 I was honored to be featured on the cover of the Minnesota Bluegrass Magazine which featured an article about my work to keep our local acoustic music community connected during lockdown via The Back Catalog Listening Party and a series of online bluegrass brunches that I hosted with members of the The High 48s.
Other notable accomplishments in the last decade include releasing 13 full-length albums, touring the United States playing major bluegrass festivals, performing with Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor as well as having my original music featured on radio stations across the country 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