NS Design Artist Anna Blanton has spent years playing a wide range of musical styles from bluegrass and classic country to Celtic, folk and orchestral pieces. Blanton started her early training in music at her grade school orchestra program under the direction of Catherine Moeller-Cunanan. As a child she particularly enjoyed Irish music which led her to study Irish and Bluegrass fiddle tunes and the mandolin under Jeff Guernsey. Later, at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Anna studied classical violin and continues to perform and record with area symphony orchestras. In 2016 and 2017 she partnered with Kentucky Shakespeare on their productions of Twelfth Night and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead under the music direction of Jack Ashworth and in 2018 Anna was part of a 52 piece orchestra that recorded Bear McCreary’s The Professor and The Madman movie soundtrack.
NS Artist Anna Blanton (left) with the New Bees Band.
While dedicated to performing with acoustic instruments, after finishing a challenging tour with Canadian singer-songwriter Colter Wall and experiencing environmental issues with her acoustic violin, Blanton felt it was time to explore available electric options. Anna was introduced to the NS series of electric violins while performing with the roots-rock five piece Jericho Woods. Jory Hutchins, Jericho Woods’ former fiddle player had a CR Series Violin and their bassist, and fellow NS Artist Paul Priest, who plays CR RADIUS and NXTa RADIUS bass guitars, encouraged her to try out the NS.
Anna found it very easy to transition to the NS CR5 electric violin, only having to change her bow angle to accommodate the low C string. Now a dedicated NS player, Anna appreciates how easy it is using her CR5 violin on the road. She says, “I’ve played lots of scorching hot outdoor gigs. I’d always worry about my 200+ year old acoustic fiddles getting damaged or going out of tune. This CR5 fiddle not only sounds great and looks cool; it also handles the heat outside remarkably well! I’ve had no tuning issues and don’t have to worry about seams coming open at any of my outdoor gigs. I can just enjoy playing and not stress about my gear!”
NS Artist Anna Blanton with Jericho Woods guitarist, Aaryn Martin at Fourth Street Live! Louisville, KY.
Anna’s advice for acoustic violinists considering the transition to electric is to keep in mind that the electric violin’s sound isn’t as loud as an acoustic in a player’s ear. To that end, Anna uses a Fishman Loudbox Mini mainly for self-monitoring on stage while running a direct line out the front-of-house PA. Along with the Fishman, Anna occasionally uses a Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wah pedal, MXR Phase 90 and a boost pedal.
NS Artist Anna Blanton plays the CR5 Violin with Jericho Woods | Abbey Road on the River.
Anna’s schedule is as full as you might expect for someone playing a wide range of music. Whether touring with Jericho Woods in support of their new album One Perfect Song, releasing an album of traditional instrumentals and original folk music with her band Croghan’s Crossing, or working with students of all ages through private instruction, Blanton keeps building her fan base and her career with a dedicated passion for music.
New owners, Charlie and Anna Blanton in front of their Kentuckiana Music Center, New Albany, IN.
NS Artist Anna Blanton plays “What Happiness Looks Like” for Red Barn Radio with Jericho Woods, also featuring NS Artist Paul Priest with the CR RADIUS Bass.
From the NS Design Booth at Winter NAMM 2019, here is NS Artist Donald Waugh’s Review of the NS RADIUS Bass Guitar with NS Design’s founder and award winning designer, Ned Steinberger:
“It’s not very often I play instruments that make me not want to stop playing… the WAV Radius Bass is one of those instruments. The NS Design bass guitars are all very beautifully designed, with a lot of tone options. The thing that stuck out most to me was the piezo pickup system that Ned Steinberger designed himself. It is not only dynamic, but also very warm; a unique blend of shimmering brights and deep lows. Don’t take my word for it, listen to the sound for yourself. Enjoy the video!” – Donald Waugh
October 12 – 14, 2018, Hallowell, Maine welcomes you to celebrate the craft of lutherie at the 2nd Annual Maine Luthiers Exhibition and Music Showcase at central Maine’s “New Orleans on the Kennebec”, with a gallery exhibition of Maine made instruments, craft demonstrations, and great live performances at auditoriums, restaurants, and pubs in the most charming, and rocking, downtown north of Portland.
Friday night’s reception at City Hall includes a meet and greet with Ned Steinberger, our keynote speaker and an internationally recognized innovator in musical instrument design and construction. He is an incredible example of innovative intellectual property producer who lives and works in Maine, and is part of an international manufacturing network.
The 2nd Annual Maine Luthiers Exhibition and Music Showcase is brought to you by the City of Hallowell, in partnership with The Harlow Gallery and Maine Craft Weekend, and funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Friday Night Welcoming at Hallowell City Hall
Keynote Speaker: Ned Steinberger, internationally recognized stringed instrument design innovator, City Hall Auditorium, 6:30 PM, with VIP reception at 5:30. General seating starts at 6 PM.
Those who have been following his career know that Bakithi Kumalo joined Paul Simon’s band in 1985 and has performed with him ever since. His playing on Simon’s album Graceland became one of the iconic bass performances of all time. In February, Simon announced Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour, the final phase of his fifty-year performance career. Kumalo will accompany him on this tour, as he has for the last thirty years. He plays an array of NS instruments, including the CR5 RADIUS bass guitar and the NXT4 electric upright bass.
Last October we had the pleasure of capturing highlights of time spent between Bakithi and Ned Steinberger at Ned’s studio and workshop in Maine. In the course of their conversation, Ned shared his thoughts on instrument design and the relationship between designer and musician. Bakithi played and shared his own thoughts on Ned’s instruments, including some of his experimental creations.
This is a must-watch video for any fan of Bakithi or Ned, and fascinating for anyone who thinks deeply about music.
NS Design Bassist Noor Che’ree is embarking on the “I Believe You 2018 Tour” with Rock-Pop musician Emiko. The National Tour begins on March 21, 2018. Along with drummer Lee Piatelli, the trio will play a series of shows throughout the US. In May 2018, Emiko Asia Tour will play in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bantam Border Stage Festival, The World Youth Jazz Festival (Kuala Lumpur), and Jakarta, Indonesia.
While on their US tour this spring, Che’ree and Emiko will hold the ‘Emiko LIVE! Songwriting & Instrument Demo Clinic Series’ at select Sam Ash Music Store locations around the country. Che’ree is representing NS Design, along with Emiko and her brand partner Hammond Organ USA. They will share their experiences and process in the music creation process, from concept to writing to performance and recording.
Along with sharing his insights and tips, Noor will demonstrate the versatility of the NS Basses and various types of available bass sounds from the RADIUS Bass Guitar. Attendees are welcomed to play the instruments and take part in the process during the clinic.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn and work with Che’ree and Emiko. Visit the Sam Ash Events Calendar at for a current list of locations, dates and times.
For tour dates and locations for the “I Believe You 2018 Tour” with Emiko visit her website: www.emikomusic.com
Joining him with an NXT Electric Cello is fellow multi-instrumentalist, composer and tour mate Mark Stewart who has been recording and touring with Paul Simon since the late 1990’s. Stewart is also one of the All-Star musicians inBang on a Can, awarded Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year and heralded as “the country’s most important vehicle for contemporary music” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Mark is also a member of Steve Reich & Musicians and the comic duo Polygraph Lounge with Rob Schwimmer and in 2013 was in a year-long residency at MIT in the Glass Lab teaching students to design and create a glass orchestra.
Photos: Bakithi Kumalo and Mark Stewart in rehearsal for tour with Paul Simon.
Watch: Paul Simon‘s debut performance at Austin City Limits with “Wristband” from his album Stranger to Stranger. The album is described by Andy Greene of Rolling Stone as “an experimental album heavy on echo and rhythm that fuses electronic beats with African woodwind instruments, Peruvian drums, a gospel music quartet, horns and synthesizers.” A great showcase for Kumalo’s talents, who opens this funny song playing his NXT Upright.
Watch: Bass Musician Magazine Interviewwith Bakithi Kumalo in which he describes how he got his start on stage at just 7 years old playing a Gibson bass in his uncle’s band in South Africa; his ultimate respect for finding the tone, the most influential bassists for him and his willingness to share lessons he has learned along the way to a successful career playing his music for audiences around the world. And at 22:00 in this interview…see and hear the slap sound technique he’s having fun with these days on his CR5 RADIUS Bass Guitar, it’s a real treat and is as fun, adventurous and masterful as Kumalo himself. Enjoy!