And Now For Something Completely Different: Rushad Eggleston
Recently our former coworker, David Wong, posted a video of a live performance he saw of Rushad Eggleston and it reminded me of how excited I was the first time I saw Rushad perform in California in 2007. He is someone I think every string player should be aware of because of his unique style.
I had absolutely no idea what I was in for the first time I saw Rushad play and it was an experience I’ll never forget. At the time, I was living in Santa Cruz, California and my boyfriend had dragged me up into the mountains to see the band Crooked Still perform - the band Rushad was playing with at that time. I had never heard of Crooked Still, or Rushad Eggleston, but I fell in love with them instantly. They played a sort of alternative bluegrass/folksy type of music and they blew me away with their energy and their talent as an ensemble. It was immediately apparent, however, that Rushad was on a whole other level, as a musician and as a truly eccentric human being. What I learned with Rushad is that when you watch him perform, you just have to just go with it and let him transport you into his world.
Everything about him was original. He walked onto the stage wearing crazy colored tights and a Peter Pan shirt and hat and even had a completely original way in which he walked and talked. He made up words (something he’s famous for) and ran around the stage at times like a wild man. He played his cello like a fiddle and I was blown away at the ease with which he played bluegrass music. I didn’t know you could play fiddle music on a cello the way he did. To this day I still feel that he is one of the most talented fiddlers on the planet, and by far the most creative.
Rushad was born in Carmel, CA where he attended high school and played in the Youth Music Monterey Orchestra. Several years later he won a competition and became the first student ever to attend the Berklee College of Music on a full string scholarship. Rushad was classically trained but he felt that classical music was “too constricting” for him so he started playing bluegrass, rock and other styles of music. At this point it’s safe to say that he has pretty much transcended every musical boundary and developed his own unique style of playing. He loves playing his cello “fiddle style” and is a wizard at “chopping,” a bow technique used by fiddlers to produce a short, percussive or “chopping” sound on the strings. Rushad has been a member of several bands over the years and has taught at a number of fiddle camps including Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Camp and Mike Block’s String Camp.
When Rushad gets on the stage to perform, he doesn’t just play music. He weaves together a tapestry of stories and sends you into a completely different universe. It makes sense, naturally, that he refers to his cello as a “cello-shaped spaceship.” If you ever have a chance to see him play, you definitely should, and you won’t be disappointed. But remember, just go with it!
Check out this video interview with Rushad done as part of the Ear to the Ground Series by Beehive Productions