Before Tony Furtado became a highly-regarded slide guitarist/banjo player, he studied art and music at Cal State Hayward. It was during that time that he went on a whim to Kansas and entered the Grand National Banjo Championship and won. It was then that Furtado's solid musical potential soared into the bluegrass ranks and led him on the road with Laurie Lewis and Grant Street, playing bluegrass and old-time music. This musical trail led him to ink a deal with Rounder Records to record his debut solo record, Swamped, which was released in 1992.
Furtado continued recording music, playing into some of his favorite artists such as Bela Fleck and Earl Scruggs. He released Within Reach in 1992 with the help of luminaries Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Stuart Duncan, and David Grier and headed out on the road in support of both records, as well as picking up Sugarbeat, a folk-funk-acoustic-bluegrass band. Furtado and Sugarbeat have supported each other since 1993.
His eclectic approach in playing swing, jazz style, Celtic-folk, and old-timey music has shaped Furtado's musical maturations to the point that they are compared to Ry Cooder's early '70s recordings. 1994's Full Circle marked Furtado's third album and a discovery of his passion for acoustic blues and slide guitar, citing musical influences like Cooder and Blind Willie Johnson. He continued to draw upon his own musical influences while in search for his own personal sound during the recording of 1997's Roll My Blues Away, a power hungry, blues-driven record produced by Cookie Marenco (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Charlie Haden, Oregon). He jammed with country alternative rock fiddler/accordion player Dirk Powell for their self-titled collaboration two years later, as well as a rock-intensive album that offered a full band including Buckethead. But his next true solo album, American Gypsy, appeared on the What Are Records? label in 2002. ~ MacKenzie Wilson, Rovi