NEXT AT THE HURDY GURDY
September 10, 2016
This year marks acclaimed folk–rock duo Aztec Two-Step’s 45th
Anniversary. Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman, who met at a Boston coffeehouse open
mic in 1971, will be commemorating this amazing milestone with special shows
throughout the year.
Bursting on the scene in 1972 with their critically acclaimed self-titled debut
on Elektra Records, Aztec Two-Step’s first album and three subsequent albums
for RCA Records were staples of progressive FM and college radio, and helped
usher the music of the 1960s into the ‘70s and beyond. Since then, Rex Fowler
and Neal Shulman have spent a lifetime making music together as the folk-rock
duo that takes its name from a poem by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Richard Cuccaro, publisher of the esteemed NYC music magazine Acoustic Live!
states, “Aztec Two-Step is possibly the best acoustic duo in the world
today” while Variety stated, ‘’… the right sound at the right time …
beautiful acoustic guitar playing and questioning lyrics … songs performed
with forceful vocals and near perfect instrumental harmonies.’’
Recording and touring non-stop since the early ‘70s, Rex and Neal have
accumulated forty-five years of awards, accolades and TV and radio appearances
that include the David Letterman Show, World Café Live, and the King Biscuit
Flour Hour, and have graced countless stages including those of Carnegie Hall
and Lincoln Center. In 1987, the duo’s “Living In America” received the
New York Music Award for Best Folk Album and was named in Billboard’s year-end
critic’s poll, and in 1999 they were the subject of “No Hit Wonder,” a
documentary that aired on PBS.
In 2005, they released a career-defining “Days Of Horses” CD to rave
reviews. Up until this point Fowler had been the primary songwriter of the duo,
but here, five of the album’s eleven songs, including their baby boomer
anthemic “Better These Days,” were penned by Neal Shulman. The title track
“Days of Horses,” written by Rex Fowler, was used as the opening and closing
music in the 2012 documentary “Selling Cars in America.” Of this CD release,
the Boston Globe said, “Fans of the duo’s harmony-driven tunes and easygoing
acoustic guitar riffs will recognize their James Taylor-meets-Simon &
Garfunkel sound. What’s new is the mood. This album sits back on its haunches
as Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman look back wistfully at American pop culture and
their own ride through it.”
In 2007, the duo’s song “The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty
(On The Road),” initially released on their debut album, was included in Rhino
Records’ “Forever Changing-The Golden Age of Elektra Records 1963-1973,”
the story of this landmark record label and the music that defined an era. The
song, according to Jack Kerouac’s biographer Dennis McNally, was the first
recorded about Kerouac’s iconic novel On The Road. Also in 2007, Real Simple
magazine named the duo’s self-titled debut as one of the top five classic folk
albums, joining works by superstars Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Tom Rush and Phil
The duo’s 2008 live recording “Time It Was - The Simon & Garfunkel
Songbook” (Red Engine Records), features narration by the late legendary
Deejay and music historian Pete Fornatale, who provided commentary and insights
based on his interviews with his pals Paul & Artie. Rex and Neal’s 1972
Elektra debut often reviewed them as having the “east coast sensibility,”
“intellectual lyricism,” and “ethereal harmonies” of Simon &
Garfunkel, so to many in their field, it wasn’t surprising that they would
choose to interpret and perform the timeless songs and harmonies of their
Finally, in 2012, to commemorate their 40th Anniversary year, Rex and Neal
released their 10th studio album “Cause & Effect” (Red Engine Records).
It is a collection of 16 socially significant songs, produced by Paul Guzzone,
who also produced their “Days of Horses” CD, and features their long-time
bassist Fred Holman. The album is a combination of re-worked previously recorded
songs and newly mined material.
Defined by intelligent songwriting, dazzling acoustic lead guitar &
inspiring two-part harmonies, Aztec Two-Step continues to be one of acoustic
music’s most respected and enduring acts, forty-five years after Fowler and
Shulman serendipitously met at an open mic at a Boston coffeehouse.
Contemporary folk duo The Levins offer harmony-driven acoustic music that is
warm and uplifting without skating over the complexities of life.
Guitar and piano, along with tightly blended unison vocals, reflect the couple’s
own compatible musical and personal relationship which began with meeting at an
open mike in Berkeley, CA. They are 2014 Falcon Ridge Emerging Artists, CT Folk
Festival Songwriter winners, and South Florida Folk Festival Songwriter
Finalists. Their My Friend HafizCD, was selected by John Platt, WFUV
as a top 10 CD of 2013.
Their 2015 release, TRUST debuted in the Top 10 on Folk radio and top 20
Roots Chart. “I Am Here”, a song from the CD was an 2016 Empower Award
winner at the 2016 Posi Music Festival and the CD was awarded the Indie Acoustic
Project’s ‘Best CD of 2015’ in the Acoustic Ensemble category.
Their music continues to connect on a universal level with a lighthearted
depth and a celebration of our common humanity.