Paul Anastasio began studying the violin at age nine. Initially classically trained, he soon began exploring the worlds of American popular and folk music, performing as part of a bluegrass band and competing in fiddle contests while still in his teens. A rare opportunity to perform and study with the legendary jazz violinist Joe Venuti in the mid-1970s did much to assist Paul in his pursuit of excellence as a performer of vintage jazz. At about the same time, he began working on the road with country music legend Merle Haggard. This was to be the first of several jobs he would work with top western swing and country music bands including Asleep at the Wheel, Larry Gatlin, Ray Price and Loretta Lynn.
Today Paul is considered not only a fine performer but a respected popular music historian as well, as he has spent almost fifty years seriously studying the role of the violin in American popular music. He has had the opportunity to play and study informally with the best fiddlers on the music scene, including country and Western swing legends Cliff Bruner, Joe Holley, Johnny Gimble and Buddy Spicher. In 1996 Paul was introduced to the remarkable fiddling style of Juan Reynoso, who lived in an area called Tierra Caliente in southwestern Mexico. He was totally smitten by this fascinating blend of Spanish, African, Cuban and South and North American styles. Upon discovering that this music was in real danger of extinction, Paul devoted the next ten years to studying, recording and transcribing this music. In 1997 Paul recorded Juan at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes with his two guitarist sons, and in 1998 issued four CDs of their music on the Swing Cat label. After over twenty trips to Mexico Paul has amassed an audio and video archive of 2700 hours of this music and has prepared sheet music transcriptions of over 700 pieces. Today he is still hard at work indexing and collating the music and performing it every chance he gets. Louisiana musician Tina Pilione, who is probably best-known for the Cajun music she plays, was also smitten by this Mexican style. Tina's journey through life has led to many great adventures with many genres of tratitional music, starting with the discovery of old time country and bluegrass music while still in high school, and continuing with a passion for Cajun music that led to widely diverse musical experiences with the many traditional Cajun musicians in the area around Eunice, Louisiana, her home for over 30 years. From jams at the Savoy Music Center to the last of the Cajun dancehalls, Tina has made live recordings and played fiddle, guitar and bass with many local Cajun bands. The most recent adventure began in 2002, when Tina heard Juan Reynoso. Since then she has been studying the violin and guitar styles of Tierra Caliente. She visited Mexico and she and Paul studied together with Juan Reynoso. The duo has recorded two CDs of this music, with Tina accompanying Paul on guitar. Tina’s focus is on mastering the intricate and diverse guitar styles of Calentano music—the music of Tierra Caliente. To date, she has developed over 300 chord charts. Using notebooks of lyrics transcribed by Juan’s son, Hugo Reynoso, as dictated by Juan and other violinists of the region, Tina has learned to sing many of the gustos, boleros and other sub-styles of the region. Tina works with Paul indexing vast audio and video archives from his visits to Tierra Caliente. For more information on Tina's projects please see sterlingenterpriseslouisiana.com. Guitarist, bajo sexto player, vocalist and composer Juan Manuel Barco was born in 1944 in Coal Mine, Texas, just south of San Antonio. Working alongside the rest of his family as a migrant worker, Juan began playing the guitar at an early age, and before long taught himself to play the bajo sexto (a Mexican 12-string guitar variant) as well. A versatile player, singer and composer, Juan has performed everything from traditional Mexican music to doo-wop, rock, blues and country music. Juan is without a doubt one of the most respected Mexican-American musicians in the country, with encyclopedic knowledge of conjunto, Tex-Mex, Norteno, and many other styles. In 1974 Juan and his family moved to Seattle, where he continued to perform while working toward his master's degree. He was employed by Washington State as a social worker until 1995. Now, after his retirement, he has been playing quite a bit with violinist Paul Anastasio and guitarist Elena DeLisle-Perry. Together with Louisiana-based guitarist Tina Pilione they have been studying, performing and recording the rich regional repertoire of southwestern Mexico. Elena DeLisle-Perry loves to play music and plays any chance she gets. With guitar as her main instrument she has studied many acoustic styles, including Calentano, Old Time, Country Blues, Flamenco, Classical, Bluegrass, Cajun, Jazz/Swing, and Jugband music. Elena lives just north of Seattle, WA. She teaches music to preschoolers through adults and is a mother of two. In the summer of 2011, Elena had the opportunity to connect with Paul Anastasio, who introduced her to the folk music of Tierra Caliente, Mexico and the recordings of Juan Reynoso. This incredibly rich and fascinating music has completely captured her and has been her main focus since she first discovered it. She continues to focus on Calentano music as much as possible and she and Paul get together weekly to play Calentano music and go through Paul's charts. Elena also currently plays with the Old Time/Jugband group "WhistlePig" and the Cajun group "Toulooloo". For more information about Elena please see elenadelisle.com.