Pleasanton native and nationally celebrated artist Tony Furtado returns to the Tri-Valley for a special concert appearance with his trio at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Firehouse Arts Center. Joining Furtado are current Grand National Fiddle Champion Luke Price, and Sam Howard (of Ruth Moody/Wailin' Jenny fame) on acoustic bass.
"I love playing live," Furtado said. "All my energy is focused on the love of playing music and rolling with the moment. It's a give and take from the audience to the stage and back. And the music that is created is something that otherwise might not occur without that flow."
Furtado, who was born in Pleasanton and is of Portuguese and Italian heritage, first attracted national attention in 1987 when he won the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship in Winfield, Kan. In the '90s, he recorded six critically acclaimed albums for the Rounder Records label.
He added slide guitar, singing and songwriting to his musical repertoire, and in the late '90s he began leading his own band and logged tours with several legendary musicians.
Furtado has recorded almost a dozen CDs, and he describes his latest, "The Bell," as his most personal because it represents a return to his banjo-playing roots and has weighty themes such as the loss of his father and the birth of his son.
"Tony Furtado is a major musical force without a doubt," said musician David Lindley, with whom Furtado has toured. "He has his black belt in voice and bottleneck guitar."
Tickets are $17-$27. Go to www.firehousearts.org, call 931-4848, or purchase at the center Box Office, 4444 Railroad Ave.