fiddler + vocalist
Power-house fiddler and vocalist, Laura Orshaw, has toured throughout the United States and Canada with Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass, the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, and Jenni Lyn, mandolinist of Della Mae. Laura has also performed with Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, John Scofield, Sarah Jarosz, Tony Trischka, Darol Anger, and Alan Bibey among others. Additionally, she fronts her own band, Laura Orshaw and the New Velvet Band, based in Boston, MA. Her music has been featured on Del McCoury's SiriusXM radio broadcast, Hand Picked with Del, and in Bluegrass Today, Vintage Guitar Magazine, Sing Out!, and Dirty Linen. According to Bluegrass Unlimited, “Laura Orshaw has firmly established herself as a significant emerging artist in the arena of traditional American music... [she is] an extremely talented musician with unlimited potential." Laura is also a highly sought-after instructor who has taught numerous camps, workshops and kids academies, and started teaching weekly lessons to adults when she was just 12 years old.
Laura Orshaw and the New Velvet Band's sound is driven by Laura's powerful vocal styling and weaves in the inventive instrumental talents of Tony Watt (guitar), Catherine "BB" Bowness (banjo), Matthew Witler (mandolin), and Alex Muri (upright bass). Individually, these players have taken the Boston-area bluegrass scene by storm, but as the New Velvet Band they have fused their musical aptitudes to craft a vibrant and mature sound in the wider bluegrass world.
Award-winning flatpicking guitarist and mandolinist Tony Watt has performed throughout the United States and Europe, on the Grand Ole Opry, and beyond. He has been featured in Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Now and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine multiple times, including the recent Waltz Issue. Tony toured and recorded with Nashville-based Cages Bend, east Tennessee-based Meridian, with Rounder Recording artist Alecia Nugent, and most recently with Leigh Gibson, guitarist for the Gibson Brothers. Tony currently performs with his band, Southeast Expressway, and with Laura Orshaw and the New Velvet Band. He is a graduate of Leadership Bluegrass 2012 and currently serves on the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Education Committee, the IBMA Board Selection Committee, and is a Board Member of the Boston Bluegrass Union (BBU).
Catherine “BB” Bowness’s musical career began in her hometown, Koitiata, New Zealand. A few years later she received the Frank Winter Memorial Award at the Auckland Folk Festival to travel to the USA and study banjo with Tony Trischka, Alan Munde and Bill Evans. In 2012, BB was the first banjo player to complete a degree in Jazz Performance at the New Zealand School of Music and in 2013, she was one of the 16 young string players to be invited to the Acoustic Music Seminar in Savannah, Georgia, to work with world-class artists such as Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, David Grisman and Darol Anger for an intensive week of classes, workshops and performances. Since relocating to Boston, she has been busy teaching, recording and performing with Mile Twelve, Tony Watt and Southeast Expressway, and Laura Orshaw and the New Velvet Band.
Matt Witler - mandolin
Matt Witler grew up in Los Angeles, California. Starting on the fiddle at the age of nine, Matt fell in love with old time and bluegrass music. At the age of 14 he picked up the mandolin and began to study music in earnest. While Matt is rooted in the bluegrass tradition, he has explored and been influenced by Jazz, classical, and pop music. In 2012 Matt won first place in both the mandolin and flatpick guitar contests at Rockygrass Bluegrass Festival. Matt recently graduated from Berklee College of Music and currently performs with The Lonely Heartstring Band.
Alex Muri - bass
Alex Muri hails Sudbury, MA, and began playing bass at the age of six, studying classical music with his school orchestra. He held the position of principal bassist in the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with many notable musicians including Mark O’Connor. Alex completed his degree in Music Therapy at the Berklee College of Music and currently performs with Chasing Blue.