Born and raised in Europe, brothers Jens and Uwe Kruger started singing and playing instruments at a very young age. Growing up in a family where music was an important part of life, they were exposed to a wide diversity of musical influences. The brothers were performing regularly by the time they were eleven and twelve years old, and they began their professional career in 1979. Jens’ and Uwe’s first public performances were as a duo, and in just a few years they were busking on the streets of cities throughout eastern and western Europe.
CBS Records contracted with Jens and Use when Jens was just 17-years-old, and shortly thereafter, the Krugers hosted a radio show on SRG SSR, the Swiss Public broadcast group. Several years later, the brothers teamed up with bass player Joel Landsberg, a native of New York Cty, who also had a very extensive music upbringing in classical and jazz music (stuyding with jazz great Mlt Hinton), thus forming a trio that has been playing professionally together since 1995.
In 1997, The Kruger Brothers were introduced to American audiences at Merlefest, the North Wilkesboro festival named in honor of Doc Watson’s son. The Kruger Brothers were big fans of Doc Watson’s music, and they felt at home in the mountains of northwest North Carolina. The trio moved to the United States in 2002, and they live just a few miles from the Merlefest grounds at Wilkes County Community College.
With their live performances and ever-expanding body of recorded work – Jens (banjo and vocals), Uwe (guitar and lead vocals), and Joel (bass and vocals) – The Kruger Brothers personify the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition. Some of the Kruger Brothers’ recent recordings feature Jens’ compositions that combine the acoustic trio with classical orchestras and chamber groups, most notably the Kontras Quartet. In 2013, The Kruger Brothers released a recording dedicated to their late friend and mentor, Doc Watson. With more than 15 album releases since 1995, the Kruger Brothers have covered a wide spectrum of sounds, from traditional folk and American roots to original compositions that feature the instrumental prowess and lyrical poetry of the highest order.
The Kruger Brothers, along with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, received an award for Artistic Excellence from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007. Jens Kruger was inducted in the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame in 2011, and he received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music in 2013.
The Kruger Brothers are available for performances. The Kruger Brothers host an annual music academy at their home in Wilkes County, featuring several days of instruction, jamming, and performances. The Kruger Brothers also produce an annual festival in Wilkes County called Carolina in the Fall – named after one of Uwe Kruger’s songs.