Duck Baker and Friends

Duck Baker and Friends

“Quite simply, Duck Baker is the premier American fingerstyle guitarist.”

– Sing Out

“He can go from the Mississippi Delta to the rings of Saturn”

– The Village Voice

Duck Baker is one of the most highly regarded fingerstyle guitarists of his generation. His repertoire ranges from traditional Irish music through old-time mountain music and bluegrass to blues, gospel, and ragtime to swing and modern jazz, to free improvisation, and while he is best known in the guitar world, he has made a reputation in several other camps, including the Celtic music world and the avant-garde scene. He explains this eclecticism by pointing out that folk musicians have always been more eclectic than folklorists want to admit, and noting that his approach to American music is similar to that of a classical musician to that tradition. Baker is also a prodigious composer, having written well over 200 pieces, mostly for guitar, and an even more prodigious arranger for the instrument. His recording career spans five decades and includes some 29 records under his own name, another 8 in duo or trio settings, and a further 32 appearances on anthologies or as a sideman. He has also authored 12 music books and a similar number of instructional videos.

Appearing with Duck for his return to the Freight are a fine group of players who represent a cross-section of the great styles played by Bay Area musicians.

Jim Nichols is best known in the guitar world as a world-class exponent of the Chet Atkins-Jerry Reed school, but he is also a fine jazz player who can cover everything from swing to bop and beyond. Jim often works with his wife, the vocalist Morning Nichols.

Tony Marcus’s name is well known to Freight audiences. His fiddle, guitar, and vocals have been featured in many familiar lineups, from the Cheap Suit Serenaders to the Cats and Jammers to his captivating duo with Patrice Haan, Leftover Dreams.

Helping Duck reach back for some down-home flavor will be banjo master Bill Evans. Bill’s credentials go far beyond his association with a plethora of noted bluegrassers; he has been a student of banjo history for over 40 years and his passion for the instrument has resulted in an impressive number of books, articles, and lively lecture/performances.

Helen Roche has experience singing a wide variety of music, from the punk bands she performed with in London in the 1980s to Balkan songs, but she is best known as an interpreter of the Irish tradition, and is familiar on the London Irish scene. Her 2004 CD “Shake the Blossom Early” received rave reviews in the British and Irish folk press.

Rounding out the stylistic mix is tenor saxophonist Phillip Greenlief, who has worked with a who’s-who of avant garde jazz and post-jazz figures including Meredith Monk, Fred Frith, Neils Cline, and dozens of others. Phillip will help salute two modern jazz greats, Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk (Duck’s solo salute to the latter, Duck Baker Plays Thelonious Monk, has just been released on Triple Point Records).

Jim Nichols

Jim Nichols’s impressive credentials include appearances on television, radio, concert halls, and clubs including Carnegie Hall and the Tonight Show. He has played and/or recorded with Kenny Rankin, Chet Atkins, Hubert Laws, Buddy Montgomery, Van Morrison, Toots Thielemans, Tom Waits, and others. Jim has taught clinics in the U.S. and in Europe including Stanford and Jamie Aebersold Jazz Workshops. He was featured at the ’97 Django Reinhardt Festival in France with the great European guitarists, Romane and Martin Taylor. Jim is featured on "World of Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar" for Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop and has a Jazz Guitar instruction video on Bransong Music. His solo CD was chosen by Guitar Player Magazine as a "Pick of the Year" for ’96 and in January of 2001, Jim was interviewed in Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine. Chet Atkins said in his autobiography Me and My Guitars: "And I know, as the torch is passed, our beloved instrument is in good hands with players like Jerry Reed, Tommy Emmanuel, Richard Smith, Jim Nichols, and Doyle Dykes".

Tony Marcus

Tony has long been a presence on the San Francisco Bay Area acoustic music scene. From a start playing traditional folk music (in his first band, both Laurie Lewis and Kate Brislin were his bandmates for a time) to the jazzier sounds of more recent years (Leftover Dreams, Cats & Jammers, etc.) Tony has played guitar, violin and other stringed instruments as well as vocalizing. He is often called on to do clinics and workshops in swing guitar and vocal harmonizing and arranging These have included the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, International Guitar Seminars, California Coast Music Camp, Augusta Heritage Workshops and more. He has also had lessons and articles published in Acoustic Guitar magazine. Tony has been a member of the Cheap Suit Serenaders since 1979, and toured Europe with them twice. He has performed theatre music on stage at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Jose Rep, Denver Center Theatre, Barter Theatre, Virginia Stage Co., Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and many others. Other performers with whom he has performed or recorded include Geoff Muldaur, Kate Wolf, The Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, The Swing Session, Frank Wakefield, The Sons of the San Joaquin, Sylvia Herold, Marley's Ghost, Rose Maddox, Patsy Montana, Lost Weekend Western Swing Band and many others. Through all this time his joy in playing music remains undiminished...a quality which is infectious to the audience as well.

San Francisco Bay Area musician Bill Evans curates the California Banjo Extravaganza each year. Bill has spent a lifetime bringing together folks who love and play the five-string banjo. His books Bluegrass Banjo For Dummies and Banjo For Dummies are among the most popular instructional books in the world. These days, you’ll find Bill performing with his solo show The Banjo in America and with flatpicking legend Dan Crary and bass player Wally Barnick. Over the last fifteen years, he has graced the stage of the Freight, appearing with David Bromberg, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Dry Branch Fire Squad, J. D. Crowe, Kathy Kallick, Claire Lynch and Jody Stecher, among many others. His Freight Bluegrass Jam Classes are the most popular ensemble classes in California and his monthly free shows in Kensington with Bangers & Grass, now in its eight year, attract audiences from all over the world. His latest release is Songs That Are Mostly Older Than Us, recorded with the late Chattanooga, Tennessee fiddler Fletcher Bright and Norman and Nancy Blake. Bill offers online lessons at and teaches popular bluegrass ensemble classes right here at the Freight.

Phillip Greenlief

Since his emergence on the west coast in the late 1970s, Evander Music founder and saxophonist Phillip Greenlief has achieved international critical acclaim for his recordings and performances with musicians and composers in the post-jazz continuum as well as new music innovators and virtuosic improvisers. He has performed and recorded with Fred Frith, Meredith Monk, Nels Cline, and They Might Be Giants; albums include THAT OVERT DESIRE OF OBJECT with Joelle Leandre, and ALL AT ONCE with FPR (Frank Gratkowski, Jon Raskin, Phillip Greenlief). Recent residencies have included Headlands Center for the Arts and from 2012 to 2014 he was the curator at Berkeley Arts, a home for progressive music. He is the recipient of a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award.

"The Bay Area's do-it-yourself ethos has produced a bevy of dazzlingly creative musicians, but few have put the philosophy to work as effectively as Phillip Greenlief." – Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Chronicle (

$18 ADV / $22 DOOR (plus fees)


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