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Basic Folk – Tim O’Brien

Jul 13, 2023

Basic Folk - Tim O'Brien

Tim O’Brien is one of bluegrass’ beloved players, from his work with the innovative Hot Rize to his yearly appearances at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. He’s just released his first album of all-original material, which is something to be said for his 50-year career. At 69 years old, it’s no surprise that the theme of aging pops up on quite a few of his new songs. He opens up about his perspective on aging and what it has looked like for his predecessors in bluegrass. He reflects on his history, from choosing Colorado over New York or LA, to being very aware of how hard it was for his sister, Mollie O’Brien, to have a solo career and be a parent.


Nicknamed “Red,” Tim O’Brien serves as hero and mentor to many of today’s finest players in the genre, including Sarah Jarosz and Chris Thile. He recognizes the importance of allowing younger generations to step into the spotlight, while still being ready to honor his own bluegrass heroes. In our conversation, Tim gets into things he’s noticed changing for the better in his scene and also talks about how technology is both a good and challenging thing. For instance, in-ear monitors are great, however, they really isolate the players instead of really feeling like they are playing together. Thanks, Tim O’Brien!

Editor’s Note: Read our interview feature with Tim O’Brien here.

Photo Credit: Scott Simontacchi

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Basic Folk - Tim O'Brien
Basic Folk - Tim O'Brien