Multiple Grammy Winner T Bone Burnett & Acclaimed Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen Form New Label DMZ Records

Columbia Records Group-DMZ Joint Venture To Launch With New Studio Album From Grammy-Winning Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley In Stores June 11


Multiple Grammy winning recording artist/producer T Bone Burnett and OscarĀ®-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen ("Fargo," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?") have formed DMZ Records, a new label which has entered into a joint venture with Columbia Records Group. DMZ's inaugural release is a new studio album from the legendary bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley, who won this year's Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy for his performance of "O Death" on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Ralph Stanley is slated for release on June 11.

John Grady (former senior vice president of sales, marketing and promotion at Lost Highway/Mercury Records Nashville) and Cameron Strang (founder, New West Records) will serve as Co-Presidents of DMZ. The new label's Board of Advisors will include musicians Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bono and filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, Callie Khouri, Sam Shepherd, and Wim Wenders.

T Bone Burnett calls DMZ " ... a musician-centric label ... " going on to promise "We're not going to concentrate solely on traditional American music. We're going to do music that is good, music that will become traditional American music." Burnett recently took home four of this year's Grammys: Producer, Album of the Year: O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Producer, Best Traditional Folk Album: Down From The Mountain; Producer, Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Producer of the Year, for Down From The Mountain, Fan Dance (Sam Phillips), and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

Ralph Stanley's "high lonesome" vocals and claw-hammer banjo picking are considered cornerstones of American bluegrass music. Born February 25, 1927, in Stratton, Virginia, Ralph and his older brother, Carter, formed the seminal bluegrass ensemble the Stanley Brothers, who made a series of watershed recordings for Columbia Records from 1949 until 1952.

T Bone Burnett, who produced Ralph Stanley, calls the artist "one of the two or three most important figures in country music today ... he's a punk rock singer or a rock & roll singer or a country singer ... he's a mountain singer is what he really is. He's way closer to Elvis Presley than the notion of 'Dueling Banjos." For the album, T Bone put together an ensemble of some of the genre's most revered musicians: Norman Blake (guitar and mandocello), Mike Compton (mandolin), Stuart Duncan (banjo and violin), and Dennis Crouch (bass). "Part of envisioning it out of the bluegrass box was to think of it as a string quartet," says Burnett, "to think of it as classical music, to take a very intimate look at Ralph Stanley, who he is and where his music comes from."

T Bone Burnett, a successful producer (Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, the Wallflowers, Roy Orbison, Sam Phillips, Gillian Welch) and critically-acclaimed recording artist (Truth Decay, Proof Through The Night, Talking Animals, The Criminal Under My Own Hat) began his association with the Coen Brothers in 1987, when after being particularly impressed by "Raising Arizona," he " ... called Tom Waits and he gave me Joel's number. It was the only time I ever just called someone out of the blue. We talked for awhile and became friends." T Bone first worked with the Coens on the soundtrack to "The Big Lebowski" and was recruited for the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" project when "they said they wanted to make a movie about the history of American Southern music." Released in December 2000, the film's soundtrack became a grassroots word-of-mouth phenomenon, going on to win the 2002 Grammy for Album of the Year and to sell more than 4 million copies in the United States alone.

"Down From The Mountain," a series of live concerts of songs from the film and other traditional American music performed by many of the artists on the soundtrack, became one of the nation's most successful touring ensembles in 2001-2002. A 30 city "Down From The Mountain" summer tour, starring Ralph Stanley, will kick off June 24 in Louisville, Kentucky. A special "Down From The Mountain -- A Tribute to Ralph Stanley" tour is planned for autumn 2002.

Burnett adds that, among DMZ's future plans, the label is "going to be doing quite a few soundtracks. If you're able to put an image with the music, it becomes very powerful. There's something that we learned from 'Buena Vista Social Club' and 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?': the movie theater is a really good radio, a great broadcast medium."


SOURCE: Columbia Records

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