"Within about eight bars of their first song, there was a stunned
silence in the room, and the audience remained captivated to their last
note," Agostino said. "I don't think I've ever witnessed that before.
... I know of few duos that have a more unique, compelling sound." -Tom Agostino,
director of Folk Sessions, Prescott, AZ
-Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet and author of "Dragonfly"
which inspired the song.
music Huebner made with banjo-player Sharon Martinson sounded as
gentle, humble and organic as you would expect from a band with such a
name. They are aptly compared to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Both
Huebner and Martinson are superb players with an instinctive command of
timing. Their voices are tuneful in that Harry Smith Anthology kind of
way; while their songs are close cousins to bluegrass music, the cello
gives Aaron Copland-esque weight to the skittering banjo sound and
envelopes it in a fluidity rare in traditional folk."
Ray, Tucson Weekly, Dec. 2011
"With a background in classical
music, the Littlest Birds offer a decidedly sophisticated brand of folk
music. But the California-based cello and banjo duo is hardly stuffy.
Think instrumental virtuosity balanced by a breezy, backwoods soul,
music that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally
soothing." -Seven Days,
Vermont's Independent Voice, Oct. 2011
lovely sound that embraces listeners simultaneously with the familiar
and the new." -Folk Alley Newsletter, August,
Littlest Birds are a
touring cello and banjo duo establishing themselves on a
national scale as roots music
artists. Coming from the small mountain town of Bishop in the Eastern
Sierra of California, they've been reaching out on long tours since 2010, and this year will find them traveling as far north as Vancouver, BC, Canada for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in July.
Highlights from 2012 included a concert at The
Fiddler's Crossing in Tehachapi that was later re-broadcast on KPFK's
Folk Scene program to thousands of listeners in San Diego, Los Angeles,
Santa Barbara, and Ridgecrest as well as syndicated stations around the
nation and the world. They followed that with a two week tour around
the Southwest including an incredible concert at the Highlands Center
in Prescott for over 100 ticketed listeners, a visit to Telluride to
perform on KOTO and at the Steaming Bean, a wonderful concert for
Global Change Multi-media in Tubac, AZ, and an opening performance for
Bri Bagwell in Las Cruces, NM.
Last fall was action packed as well, performing at Mammoth's Hop'n Sage
Festival, Mark Twains Days at Mono Inn, and the main stage and
workshop tent at Millpond
Music Festival where they had the pleasure to jam with Joe Craven
on a couple of tunes. They then headed out to the California Coast for
a quick trip that included a performance with Brynn Albanese of Cafe
Musique in San Luis Obispo, an opening slot for Brown
Chicken Brown Cow String Band at Studio 55 in Marin, and an
on-air performance on KPIG
Radio's "Please Stand By" program hosted by John Sandidge.
So far, after 100s of shows together, and some 30,000 miles of highway,
they still haven't missed a gig.
Both classically trained musicians, (Dave
on the Cello and Sharon on the French Horn before she took up the
banjo), they have been making music individually their entire lives. No
strangers to the stage, they bring an excellent
feel to the music, combined with a fantastic energy and
sound. And of course, banjo and cello together is truly the
marriage of the two best instruments ever
You'll find music to dance to, music to relax to,
to holler along with, and music that may even make you cry with it's
beauty and tenderness. The warmth and depth of sound created
the cello and banjo arrangement will surprise and delight you as it
blends with their smooth vocal harmonies.
The above video is from our set on the
stage at Millpond Music Festival, September 2012, with special guest
We also recommend watching Reuben's Train from Millpond Music Festival
2012, with Joe Craven as well. There's also some fantastic
video from Donner Summit shot on the back porch of a cabin at Lake
11/9/2011 we performed on the internet broadcasting
program 11 O'Clock Rock in Knoxville, Tennessee, and
the entire program can be viewed at the station's website
just scroll back through their programs till you get to our cute lil'
picture (they're archive by date 11/9/11) or you can view selected
clips on our Motion/Pictures page.
We tour with a small PA, and a variety of microphones, stands, and
cables to accomodate different sound reinforcement environments.
We are also very comfortable with un-amplified acoustic
performances in small spaces, house concerts, outdoor weddings
and listening rooms.
Huebner, cello - David
spent his entire childhood studying classical cello, beginning at the
age of 7. In 8th grade he was accepted to Crossroads School
Arts and Sciences on a music scholarship. Years of music
competitions, performing in and with orchestras (youngest member of The
Debut Orchestra) and chamber groups, a trip to perform at The White
House with the Crossroads Chamber Orchestra, and even being principal
cellist for two Disney Channel TV broadcasts of the Disney Young
Musicians Symphony Orchestra, one of which was at the Ambassador
Auditorium, and the other at the Hollywood Bowl.
The accolades piled up and weighed down on him until, at the
of 17, and considered one of the best cellists for his age, he gave it
up entirely to pursue a life in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada of
California. He has a rebellious spirit to say the least.
For awhile thereafter his life mostly consisted of adventure --
backpacking or ski touring for long periods of time, travels to Baja,
Mexico for months of surfing, and three winters spent caretaking a
resort completely snowed-in eight months out of the year. Think Walden
blended with a dash of The Shining. It was during
those three winters that he rediscovered music in his own way, learning
to play the guitar and beginning to write his own songs. The
songwriting inspiration exploded and he has since recorded 22 official
tracks spread over two solo CDs (Dave's Solo
Folk'n Cello Experiement, on iTunes),
and has performed and recorded several others with a variety of local
About six years ago he brought the cello back out of the closet and
discovered that he could jam and have fun playing bluegrass and rock'n
roll, and all of this has turned him into a very busy performer in his
small town of Bishop, California. In just a few years he's
helped form multiple bands, two of which (Old
Coyote Moon and Sweetwater String Band) have
performed at all the major area venues including the main stage at The
Millpond Music Festival in Bishop, CA. He has also
had the chance to "sit-in" and perform with such bands as The Trespassers,
String Slingers, The
Brothers Comatose, and City Folk.
David first met Sharon Martinson at their friend Marshall’s
cabin in the
woods, jamming with several other area musicians. Her first response
upon hearing him sing an original song was, “I want to sing
you.” It took a couple years for timing and circumstance to
provide, but they have been performing steadily now as The Littlest
Birds for over two years, building their fan base and inspiring
audiences at every show. And as Sharon noticed some two years
ago, their voices blend
Probably one of the better cellists you will ever get to see and
hear, with a pile of quality original songs in a variety of
styles, complemented by a unique and powerful voice, David is certain
to become a well known musician in the coming years. He has
performing almost exclusively in a small, remote area of California,
and is only now beginning to tour and perform around the country.
Martinson, banjo - Sharon
was born in the winter in the mountains of Wyoming and her music and
songs are ever inspired and shaped by her landscape, its history and
her various homes. Sharon is classically trained on the French horn,
playing for over 20 years, most recently with the Dartmouth Chamber
Orchestra in Hanover, NH. With a background in classical musical
performance and competitions, one would never suspect that a gift from
her grandfather would twist her musical career. The old banjo sat under
her bed in a cardboard box for the first 5 years while she was pursuing
her graduate degree in ecology. During those years she taught herself a
little bit of Scruggs-style banjo, but nothing she played or heard lit
a passion for the instrument or the music. It wasn’t until
last year of her PhD that she heard a banjo being played clawhammer
style and was inspired to pick up the instrument and to start teaching
herself a few songs.
After completing her dissertation and leaving Dartmouth in 2007, Sharon
moved to the opposite coast to work at Oregon State University on a
climate change project. Sharon became friends with many musicians,
including Seth Kimmel, in Eugene, OR, who
turned out to be not only a musical friend, but also an excellent
At one point, when Sharon’s grandpa’s banjo was in
(a late 1800’s Washburn banjo), she borrowed a fretless banjo
that Seth had made. Sharon loved it, and Sharon and Seth designed
another fretless banjo, of maple, rosewood & copper.
November 2008, ‘Fretless’ was finished; Fretless is
Sharon’s preferred banjo for double-D tuning and the whole
instrument resonates with rich overtones in both A and D. Other banjos
have now joined the ‘quiver’ including an
Nelson, and a plantation-style gourd banjo made by Bob
Thornburg in Bishop, CA.
Sharon moved to California in 2008 to continue working on the ecology
project at University of California, Santa Cruz, living part-time on
the coast, and part time at a cabin in Mammoth Lakes, CA at her field
sites.. She played in various groups for several years before a fateful
February tonsillectomy left Sharon in Santa Cruz with time to play her
banjos (no singing) and an extended visit from her mountain friend and
neighbor, David Huebner (who was staying with Sharon to enjoy some epic
surfing). Sharon and Dave played some music those weeks, and set the
foundational stones for what would become a tight musical relationship
throughout that spring. Sharon moved to the mountains in April and
formed The Littlest Birds with Dave. They now have been performing and
touring for over 2 years, recorded two full-length albums and played
hundreds of shows across the US, and in Baja Mexico.
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