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Mandolin player Butch Baldassari dies

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 – Mandolin player Butch Baldassari, a member of Weary Hearts and Lonesome Standard Time, died Saturday of brain cancer.

The native of Scranton, Pa. was first introduced to the mandolin at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1972, where he saw Andy Statman with David Bromberg and Barry Mitterhoff with the Bottle Hill Boys. "He was so inspired by their playing, that he resolved to learn to play the mandolin," his web site said. "He began studying immediately, experimenting with the mandolin's unique sound and delving more deeply into the history of the instrument."

In 1985, Baldassari became a member of Weary Hearts, winners of the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) 1988 Best Bluegrass Band Award.

After attending the Classical Mandolin Society of America convention in 1990, Baldassari returned to Nashville and founded the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble in 1991.

He also was an adjunct associate professor of mandolin at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music.

Baldassari also founded a record label, Sound Art Recordings, which released many of his albums. He released 14 solo albums, including one apiece on Rebel, Pinecastle and CHM record labels.

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