I am the son of an Austrian immigrant to America and my last name, Ekstein, translates, literally, to “Cornerstone.” This tune not only symbolizes part of my heritage, but also illustrates much of what I love about bluegrass music.
- Indian Rain
I always thought this would be a good song for an old fashioned western movie. Too bad it was 60 years too late. Turned out to be a better bluegrass fiddle tune.
- All Night In Kentucky
I wrote this tune after jamming all night long at the IBMA Show in Louisville, Kentucky, with instrumental wizard and life long friend, Billy Constable. Inspired, I just couldn’t stop pickin’ that early morning and spontaneously ended up playing this tune.
- Hoot Owl Hop
When I lived in California, warm summer nights brought hoot owls to the eucalyptus trees every year. I often heard them and occasionally saw them. Seems like the name fits the tune.
- Jessy‘s Fancy
My daughter, Jessy, heard me working out this tune in my backyard one day. She said, “What’s that Dad? It’s beautiful.” First time I ever got my daughter’s attention playing mandolin, so this one is dedicated to her. She still loves to hear it played.
This is the name of the Arkansas River rapids in Colorado where my family took a fast moving whitewater rafting trip. We were barely hangin’ on. The perfect title for a wild ride of a tune.
In the late 1980’s I recorded this song playing dobro for a band project. I wrote it originally on Dobro to be a mandolin tune. Finally made it reality.
- Bacon in the Pan
This song is my version of an old time fiddle tune in a bluegrass style, named after my beloved life time friend and bandmate, Billy Constable. He often spoke endlessly on the phone about the fine points of cooking a good breakfast.
Rock ‘n’ roll and bluegrass music from the Appalachian Mountains have had a big influence in my musical life. I wrote “Rockalachia” reminiscing the boogie woogie style of bluegrass played on mandolin in the 1940’s, by the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. He was later inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for having a profound early influence in the later development of rock ‘n’ roll.
- Carolina Chimes
I’ve always loved the classic banjo tunes with the sound of arpeggio chimes created by banjo and mandolin duets. Reminds me of bells ringing at an old Carolina country church house.
- Dixie Sunset
I wanted to see how close I could write a 3/4 time tune still within the style of bluegrass, but unique in its own way. Playing music on the deck of my North Carolina mountain home overlooking the woods while watching the sunset inspired me to write this twisty waltz.
- Back Drag
I was an accomplished trick rider in my youth and tried a crazy stunt with my ankles strapped to the back of the saddle while dangling behind the back of a galloping horse. I was nervous at first as I coaxed my horse to a full gallop. I threw myself back, rocks flying, wind in my ears, my head and hands now dragging within reach of the ground. After rounding the corner of the arena at full speed, my horse abruptly stopped, throwing me off to fall flat on my face in the mud. “Back Drag” was named after, and musically depicts that insane stunt I once attempted for the first and last time.