Songs of Earth & Sky
Bruce Kurnow, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota and now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, is enjoying a long career in the music business. At age three he began piano lessons and was immediately hooked. As a teenager he discovered a special connection with the harmonica and has remained dedicated to exploring the possibilities of the instrument. He went on to become a music major at the University of Minnesota, primarily a classical school. He studied piano, stringed harp, voice, theory and composition, which have proven to be a solid foundation for his subsequent work, including twenty recordings of original compositions and eight others of non-original music. Bruce has been recognized with four Minnesota Music Awards for his harmonica, stringed harp and keyboard work. Since 1971 he has been an active studio musician, playing on hundreds of commercials, albums and film scores. As a performer, Bruce played piano with harmonica master Mojo Buford, who named him 'Creeper.' In 1971 he went to Los Angeles on vacation and was surprised by the sudden opportunity to tour the United States and Canada with popular country-rock group Mason Proffit, playing 300 cities per year and recording with the group from 1971-1974 (the group reunited in 2003). During that time he was also fortunate to have been invited to perform with Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, two of his all-time favorite heroes. When Mason Proffit disbanded Bruce decided to move back to Minneapolis. He co-founded Passage with guitarist Bobby Schnitzer, his long-time friend and band-mate since junior high school. The group disbanded in 1979 and was followed up by the Doug Maynard Band, based around the original vocalist of Passage. This group leaned more heavily toward traditional blues and R&B and released a vinyl LP titled The Lullaby. In a recent Minneapolis Star and Tribune poll, both groups were honored as two of the seven greatest live Minnesota rock acts of the '70s. Bruce left the Doug Maynard Band in 1980 to pursue a solo career, performing his unique simultaneous combination of stringed harp and harmonica. He was approached after a performance by the co-owner of a small record label, The Musical Experience, and was signed to his first recording contract. The result was an LP titled Mystery, featuring mostly original compositions for harp and harmonica. It was not until 1988, when Bruce signed with Journey Records, that he began a long string of recordings of original music: First Light, Dream Sounds, Quiet Movements, Eagle's Call and Trail of the Wolf. Soon after, Bruce's work came to the attention of Greg Linder, a former music critic for the Twin Cities Reader who became Chief Editor for NorthWord Press, a Wisconsin-based company specializing in nature books and recordings of music and nature sounds. Bruce signed a deal and recorded four records on their label, NorthSound: Earth Rhythms, Mystic Waters, Sky Passage, Nature's Noel, plus the re-release of First Light and a compilation titled Seasons on the Wind. These were Bruce's most successful recordings, with combined sales of 650,000 copies. For Lifescapes (Target Stores) he recorded Christmas Harp, Harp/Christmas Instrumental, Relaxing Harp and Peaceful Harp. For Ross Records he recorded another Christmas Harp collection and Celtic Echoes. In 1994 Bruce and his wife, Karole, formed an independent record label, Switchback Studios, and have released twelve recordings: Forest Reflections, Mountain Mysteries, Lake Impressions, The Nature of Love, Harmonicaland (his first recording to exclusively feature the harmonica was nominated for solo instrumental album of the year by Just Plain Folks in 2004), Pachelbel's Christmas, Peaceful Piano, Here and Now (original blues and folk featuring vocals, piano and harmonica), DreamSounds (a 2-disc compilation of material from Quiet Movements and Dream Sounds, Songs of Earth and Sky (a compilation of material from Trail of the Wolf and Eagle's Call) and If I Could Fly (a compilation of Sky Passage plus three preiviously unreleased tracks).