Rex McGee - Performer, Composer, Teacher - Traditional Music Innovator
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Rex McGee is the founder of Kripplekrunk. This mostly string ensemble started when multi-instrumentalist Rex convinced friends from his annual trips to the Galax Old Fiddler's Convention to do a jam session-styled studio recording featuring original instrumentals. Some of these original tunes go back to the 1980's when mandolin player Danny Knicely and guitarist John Garris pitched camp near Rex and produced a magnetic draw for the more adventurous players visiting this festival. Galax had a tradition as a nuclear core of Appalachian string band music, but a dedicated group of fans sprung up who were always ready to see what holy cow would get tipped over next. Sometimes perfectly good old-time and bluegrass tunes were transformed, other times popular music of the day was given bluegrass styled treatments.
Years passed before young Nate Leath fiddled his way into their company. As a middle schooler he was a fiddle champion of the festival, well before heading off to Berklee School of Music to develop his well rounded musical education. Dennis Lee had developed his chops for years and proved to be one of very few acoustic bass players capable of stepping outside easily labeled musical worlds. Bobby Martin sat down with the group in 2011 and brushed rhythm, ancient tone and sometimes pure energy from a cajón, a six sided, box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru. After the 2012 meeting at Galax the encouragement from fans spurred Rex to set up the recording session. The project would be a veritable sampler of stylistic sampler echoing bluegrass, old-time, new acoustic, celtic, cajon, R&B, southern rock, swing, jazz, and world music . . . sometimes all in one tune.
Though the CD could have been the end of the story, their fans wanted more. Though each of the individuals have other musical collaborations, they agreed the possibility of a few shows on the road as Kripplekrunk each year might be fun and stood a chance of finding a larger audience than expected for their genre blending, spontaneous displays of individual and group virtuosity.