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Tim O’Brien Biography

New Book On Tim O’Brien

Tim O’Brien photo LTTL

Traveler: The Musical Odyssey of Tim O’Brien

New Book Out Now

Published by The University of Oklahoma Press

Five decades as a singer, musician, songwriter and producer, Tim O’Brien has been at the forefront of the best American roots music in so many guises it’s hard to keep count.

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1954, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter (and West Virginia Music Hall of Famer) absorbed a broad range of American music growing up, from country and rockabilly icons to Jazz greats.

O’Brien took it all in, but something clicked when he first caught Doc Watson on TV as a teenager.  O’Brien found a simpatico musical community in Boulder, Colorado, where he moved in 1974 and became a leading figure in the world of contemporary or progressive bluegrass – most notably lead singer, mandolinist, fiddle player and principal songwriter in the quartet Hot Rize, which toured nationally over its 40-year tenure and earned a Grammy nomination for its 1989 album Take it Home.

In the mid-’90s, O’Brien decamped to Nashville, where he became a first-call mandolin, guitar, fiddle and banjo player on Music City sessions, and collaborated with countless artists, but to name a few Steve Earle, Sturgill Simpson and Dan Auerbach; Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks and the Chicks (formerly Dixie Chicks cut his compositions. Many solo albums and duet releases with Darrell Scott followed with a Grammy in 2005 for his album Fiddler’s Green and in 2015 he won another Grammy as a member of the bluegrass supergroup Earls of Leicester.

In Traveler: The Musical Odyssey of Tim O’Brien, award-winning biographer Bobbie Malone and premier country music historian Bill C. Malone have chronicled O’Brien’s career and trace the ascent of Hot Rize and its broadening and enrichment of musical traditions. The book also covers the relocation to Nashville which was designed to move beyond bluegrass and immerse himself in other forms such as folk and Americana and to keep embracing new directions.

Written with O’Brien’s full cooperation and the input of family, friends, colleagues and critics, the book aims to provide the first complete, behind-the-scenes picture of a thoroughly American self-made musical genius.

About the authors

Bobbie Malone is the author of Lois Lenski: Storycatcher and coauthor (with Bill C. Malone) of Nashville’s Songwriting Sweethearts: The Boudleaux and Felice Bryant Story.

Bill C. Malone is Professor Emeritus of History at Tulane University and the author of numerous books on country music history, including (with Tracey E. W. Laird) Country Music USA, 50th Anniversary Edition.

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New Book On Tim O’Brien

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