Tim Lake is a singer-songwriter, composer, performer, and teacher who was born in Manhattan, New York and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Playing banjo and guitar, Tim has been a professional musician for over 40 years, has released eleven albums of original songs, and has performed internationally and across the United States with his group “The Little Big Band.”
Tim received a doctorate in music in 1991 from the University of Kentucky. In 1993, he performed and recorded the world premiere of his doctoral work, “An American Concerto For 5-String Banjo And Orchestra,” with the Atlanta-Emory Orchestra in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1995, his concerto was awarded Kentucky’s prestigious Al Smith Fellowship for music composition and he has also received recognition as a composer from ASCAP’s Standard and Popular Awards panel from 1994 through 2017.
Rounder Records released Tim’s first recording entitled “Same Old Roadside Inn” and in 1993, Tim started his own company, Padraig Records LLC, which has since released six compact disc/cassette recordings. His recording efforts are very diverse in scope but easily fall within an ‘eclectic folk’ and Americana category in that they are unique banjo related efforts. “Jazz With Bluegrass And Blues” has as its major focus the singer-songwriter and banjo player attributes of his music while the “banjo concerto” and selections such as his banjo arrangement of Beethoven’s “Für Elise” should intrigue classical aficionados as well. The Padraig Records/ Audio Park release entitled “Live In Tokyo, Japan” features two duets with Japanese traditional musicians on shakuhachi and shamisen while “Kentucky Home” is a two CD set that is Tim’s first recording to feature primarily traditional music. He has received acclaim from respected music critics such as Nat Hentoff, Paul E. Comeau, and John Lupton.
Tim’s trio plays an eclectic mix of American music presented in an original show on banjo, guitar, bass, fiddle, and mandolin. The recording “Jazz With Bluegrass And Blues” best demonstrates his live show. A typical performance will take the listener through original songs with thought provoking lyric content, to Classical music on the banjo, to Jazz, and finally, to Bluegrass and Blues.
As a banjo artist, songwriter, and composer of the highest order, Tim Lake has performed his brand of American music with Kentucky style in international music festivals and concerts all over the world, including Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokosuka, Japan; Ambato and Quito, Ecuador; Bø, and Oslo, Norway; Graz, Austria; and Wexford, Ireland. His form of American music, boundless and refreshing, will always be welcomed by world audiences.
D.M.A., University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 1991.
Major: Music composition.
M.M., University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 1988.
Major: Music composition.
B.A., University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 1987.
B.A., University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 1983
1973 — Present
Self-employed professional musician (performer, composer, and professor) playing the banjo and the guitar.
1975 — Present
Private instructor of banjo and guitar at Fred Moore Music Company in Lexington, Kentucky.
1984 — 1992
Instructor of guitar, banjo, Appalachian music history and music theory, University of Kentucky.
1987 — Present
Speaker for Elderhostel Programs at the University of Kentucky
1993 — Present
Started Padraig Records and Padraig Publishing for recording and distribution of his original music.
2013 – Present
Centre College Adjunct Professor of Banjo
Transylvania University Adjunct Professor of Banjo
Ten Albums of Original Material:
- Banjo Sonata, Padraig Records (PAD 35448CD)
- We All Need Heroes, Padraig Records (PAD 35445CD)
- Kentucky Home, Padraig Records (PAD 35443CD)
- Live In Tokyo, Japan, Padraig Records/ (PAD 35442CD) & Audio Park (APCD-2005)
- Jazz With Bluegrass And Blues, Padraig Records (PAD 35440CD/CT)
- An American Concerto for 5-String Banjo And Orchestra, Padraig Records (PAD 35438CD/CT)
- Only In The Movies, Padraig Records (PAD 35437CD/CT)
- I Can Play The Banjo, Padraig Records (PAD35434 Digital/CT)
- Sweet ’N’ Sour, Padraig Records (PAD35432 Digital/CT)
- It’s Got To Be Love, Padraig Records (PAD35430 Digital/CT)
- Same Old Roadside Inn, Rounder Records (RR 3028)
Five Method Books on Banjo and Guitar:
- The Tim Lake 5-String Banjo Method, Books One, Two, and Three
- The Tim Lake Guitar Method, Books One and Two
- Acoustic Musician, October 1997, “Learning Music To Make Music“
- Acoustic Musician, November 1997, “Understanding Music-A Path To Follow“
- Acoustic Musician, December 1997, “An Approach to The Study Of Music“
- Acoustic Musician, January 1998, “This Art We Call Music-An Approach To The Classics“
- Kevin Shepherd – Symphonic Music Literature (MUS 755) term paper,
“Opening the Symphonic Model: Changing Traditions in the Symphony Orchestra“
- 2008 Tour of Japan- Kentucky Arts Council, Professional Development Grant
- 2007 – Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music, Instructor Search Committee
- 2006 – Southern Arts Federation – Southern Artistry-Acclaimed Southern Artist
- 2005- Kentucky Arts Council, Professional Development Grant
- July 2005 – Sister Cities Program: Kildare, Ireland
- 2003 – Professional Assistance Award: Kentucky Arts Council
- 2002 – Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Fine Arts, University of Kentucky
- 2001 – Kentucky Arts Council, Professional Development Grant
- 1994 – 2017 – ASCAP Standard and Popular Awards Panel
- 1999-2008 – International Bluegrass Music Museum, Advisory Board
- Kentucky Arts Council – Cultural Exchange Program
- June 1998 – Sister Cities Program: Shizunai, Japan
- 1997 – Kentucky Arts Council, Professional Development Grant
- 1995 – Kentucky Al Smith Fellowship for Music Composition
- 1993 – Bryan Station High School Hall of Fame
- 1992- Who’s Who Among Rising Young Americans
- 1989 – ASCAP Scholarship – The Great Smokies Songchase
- 1989 – Phi Kappa Lambda (Music)
- 1987- Phi Alpha Theta (History)
- 1984- Music City Song Festival, Professional Category – Honors
- 1982 – Columbia Records Recording Artist Search, Honorable Mention
- AFM – American Federation of Musicians – since 1976
- BMI – Broadcast Music Incorporated – writer member since 1976
- ASCAP – American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers – writer and publisher member since 1989
- NAS – National Academy of Songwriters – (1995-2008)
- IBMA – International Bluegrass Music Association – since 1995
- NARAS – National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences – since 1996
- AFIM – Association for Independent Music – (1997-2002)
- The Folk Alliance – since 1997
Selected U.S Appearances
- April 3 2018 – Banjo presentation for the Nicholas County Historical Society at the Neal Welcome Center, Carlisle, KY
- October 12, 2018 – Performed banjo, mandolin and ukulele for “Chicago” at EKU Center For The Performing Arts, Richmond, KY
- September 2016 – Composed, Produced, Performed, and Engineered the school song entitled “Kentucky No Sora No Moto” for The Central Kentucky Japanese School
- April 22-May 1, 2016 – Performed 5-String banjo for “Golden Boy Of The Blue Ridge” at the Performing Arts Center, Lexington, KY
- March 23, 2017 – Solo performance for “What’s Brewing” Concert Series at Jessamine County Library, Nicholasville, KY
- May 7, 2014 – Concert with Japanese Shamisen player Basho at Natasha’s Bistro, Lexington, KY
- March 14, 2014 – Performed 5-String banjo for the “Bluegrass Mass” with Jay Flippin and the Lexington Singers at Central Baptist Church, Lexington, KY
- November 8-9, 2013 – Performed banjo, mandolin and ukulele for “Chicago” at the Opera House, Lexington, KY
- September 28, 2013 – Harvest Festival with Jay Flippin at Shaker Village Of Pleasant Hill, KY
- May 5, 2013 – Performed his original composition for 5-String banjo entitled “An American Concerto For 5-String Banjo & Orchestra” with the Centre College Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Jaemi Loeb in Danville, KY
- June 30, 2012 – Solo performance for Firefly Concert Series at Shaker Village Of Pleasant Hill, KY
- November 11, 2011 – Performed 5-String banjo for the “Bluegrass Mass” with Don Rigsby Band at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia
- November 12, 2011 – Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center Winter Light Concert Series Tim Lake on banjo with Jay Flippin on piano – Tim Lake on banjo with Jap Flippin on piano.
- April 11, 2007 – Best Of The Bluegrass, Opera House, Lexington, KY with John Cowan, Bobby Osborne, ETHEL, and Tim Lake – ETHEL, Tim Lake.
- April 14, 2007 – Best Of The Bluegrass Workshop and Jam Session with Tim Lake, Dean Osborne, Daniel Carwile, and ETHEL – Tim Lake, Dean Osborne, Daniel Carwile, and ETHEL.
- November 15, 2006 – Richmond Area Arts Council Concert Series with Tim Lake and The Little Big Band, “An Evening Of Original songs And Banjo Picking,” Richmond, KY
- September 2006 – J.D. Crowe Bluegrass festival – Banjo Seminar
- April 15, 2006 – Best Of the Bluegrass, Radisson Hotel, Lexington, KY with J.D. Crowe, Tim Lake & Dean Osborne – J.D. Crowe, Tim Lake & Dean Osborne
- October 1-2, 2005 – Performed banjo, mandolin, and ukulele for “Chicago” at the Opera House, Lexington, KY
- September 25, 2003 – Performed his music with his trio, The Little Big Band, for the Foust Artist Series at Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY
- April 10, 2003 – Performed his music with his trio for the Kentucky Culture Concert Series at Elizabethtown Community College, Elizabethtown, KY
- July 11, 2002 – Performed his music with his trio for the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Concert Series, Utica, NY
- June 29, 2001 – Performed his music with his trio at the Appalachian Celebration in Morehead, KY
- November 20, 2000 – Performed his original composition for banjo entitled “An American Concerto For 5-String Banjo And Orchestra” with the Dyersburg Community Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Carol Ann Feather in Dyersburg, TN
- October 20, 2000 – Performed banjo and guitar with the Lexington Philharmonic for a performance of Virgil Thompson’s “The Plow That Broke The Plains.”
- February 19, 1999 – Member of the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra performing the music of Duke Ellington (the early years) at the Singletary Center for the Arts, Lexington, Kentucky.
- August 14, 1998 – Kentucky On Stage at the Kentucky Center For The Arts in Louisville, Kentucky.
- June 13, 1998 – Performed with Vince DiMartino and the Dixie Kings at the Brass Band Festival in Danville, Kentucky.
- September 6, 1997 – Performed banjo for “Rhapsody In Blue” featuring pianist Leon Bates at the Bomhard Theater, Kentucky Center For The Arts, Louisville, Kentucky.
- October 8 & 9, 1996 – Performed banjo for the original production of “Hello Dolly” with Carol Channing at the Opera House, Lexington, Kentucky.
- June 17, 1995 – Performed with his trio, The Little Big Band, at the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset, Kentucky.
- May 27, 1995 – Performed with his trio at the Black Mountain Folk Festival in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
- April 27, 1993 – Performed his original composition for banjo entitled “An American Concerto For 5-String Banjo And Orchestra” with the Atlanta-Emory Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Jere Flint in Atlanta, Georgia.
- 1996, 1991, 1990, 1989, & 1988 – Performed on the Woodland Jubilee in Lexington, Kentucky.
- April, 1989 – A Little Three Penny Music, Transylvania University Music Faculty Recital, Lexington, Kentucky.
- May, 1985 – Al Jolson One Hundredth Birthday Festival, New York, New York.
Selected International Appearances
- December 2014 – Tour of Japan with concerts in Tokushima, Takamatsu, and Kochi including performing at the Tokushima Bluegrass Festival with the Thirty Grass Boys and Longing For The Southland
- July 2008 – Tour of Japan with concerts throughout the country including Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Tokushima, Japan.
- July 2005 – Performed his music at the “Hooves ‘N Grooves” Festival in Wexford, Ireland and for the 20th anniversary of the Lexington, Kentucky and Kildare, Ireland Sister Cities association.
- November, 1999-2008 – Tour of Japan with concerts in Shizunai, Tokyo, Osaka, and Tokushima.
- June, 1998 – Tour of Hokkaido, Japan with concerts in Shizunai, Niikappu, and Sapporo.
- October/November, 1997 – Tour of Japan with performances in Tokyo and Tokushima.
- August 12, 1995 – Performed in concert at the Bay Side Pocket Theater in Yokosuka, Japan.
- August 8, 1994 – Performed in concert at the Le Mani Theater in Nagoya, Japan.
- August, 1990 – Performed in Oslo, Norway and at the Telemark Festival in Bø, Norway.
- May, 1990 & 1988 – Performed at the Begegnung Festival in Graz, Austria.
- February, 1986 – Performed at the Festival of the Fruits and Flowers in Ambato, Ecuador and in concert at the Teatro Prometeo in Quito, Ecuador.
Radio & Television Highlights
Tim Lake ‘s recordings are receiving radio play from PBS stations across the US , Europe , and Japan.
- 2007 July – PBS Premiere on KET “Heart Of The Hills”, The Story of Mountain Music
with Dr. Tim Lake performing and hosting a 15 minute segment.
- 2007 May – NPR Music Interludes “Classics on The Banjo: The Entertainer”
- 2006, 2002, 1993, 1990, & 1988 – Performed on Homefront Performances, WFPK-FM, in , Kentucky. Performances are syndicated on National Public Radio. Louisville
- 2003 – Top 30 CIUT-FM, Toronto , Canada “Jazz With Bluegrass & Blues”
- 1999-2008 – The syndicated German radio show Alphabeat “The Quiet Zone” reported that “Live In Tokyo, Japan” rose to number 6 on their Top 20 list during the first quarter of 1999-2008.
- February 23, 1997 – Performed as a featured artist on Kentucky Educational Television’s “In Performance At The Governor’s Mansion” series aired on PBS.
- April 11, 1996 – Performed as a featured artist on Kentucky Educational Television’s “Jubilee” series aired on PBS.
- September, 1992 – Performed and composed original music for the P.B.S. documentary “Made and Bottled in Kentucky ” that examined the history of Kentucky whiskey.
- January, 1988 – Composed and performed original music entitled ” El Toro en la Selva” for the P.B.S. documentary “On The Horns Of A Dilemma” that examined the Costa Rican cattle industry.
- February, 1986 – Performed on Channel 8 National Television & Channel 4 “Christian Johnson Show,” Quito , Ecuador.
Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Bill Monroe, New Grass Revival, Josh Graves, Benny Martin, Norman Blake, John Hartford, J.D. Crowe, Vasser Clements, Doc Watson, Jerry “Flux” Douglas, Eric Weissberg, The Battlefield Band, Grupo Criolle de Venezuela, Mose Alison, John Prine, Si Kahn, Bela Fleck, Maura O’Connell, Billy Ed Wheeler, John D. Loudermilk, Tony Rice
Bookings & Recordings
To order recordings or receive booking information, direct inquires to:
PADRAIG RECORDS, LLC
P.O. Box 31
Wilmore, KY 40390
- Radio servicing all Gavin Americana
- Advertising in major publications such as Sing Out!, Acoustic Musician, Dirty Linen Magazine, Crossroads, Louisville Music News, and Banjo Newsletter
- Padraig Records is on the Muze, Inc. network and in Phonolog
- Free demos to sales reps and key account buyers
- Free in-store play copies
- One sheets
- Servicing on listening posts
- Media service to key reviewers
- Full color promotional poster available as well as point-of-purchase displays
- High-Resolution Promotional Photos of Tim Lake are available in Color and Black & White. Warning: File size(s) are large.
University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award – Commencement Address – May 5, 2002
I would like to begin by thanking Dean Robert Shay, Dr. Ron Pen, Jane Johnson, and all the great people at the College of Fine Arts .
“It’s Graduation Day, Hallelujah!”
Congratulations to you the graduates!
I would like to say that I remember my first graduation day well. But I graduated sometime during my twenties, and I don’t remember being twenty-anything.“21-22-23-24-25-26-Hike!” I wrote a song about my first graduation, so I would not forget. I’ll sing it for you.
I am an idealist. I am also a banjo and guitar player. I’ve always thought of myself as “Diogenes With A Banjo.” You remember, ‘tradition ascribes to him the famous search for an honest man conducted in broad daylight with a lighted lantern.’ I think Diogenes was an idealist, and perhaps history’s first documented ‘peeping Tom.’ I can only imagine the places you might have to search looking for an honest man. I know that I am, very possibly, in the midst of more idealists at this very moment than at any other time of my life. You must be idealistic to get a degree in Fine Arts! I know, because the only degrees that I have achieved are those inspired by idealism. We know that the arts make the world a better place, but sometimes it is hard to convince the world of that fact. Therefore, it is not easy to achieve the balance between artistic endeavors and the dollars and cents of everyday life. But the balance can be accomplished. I had no great financial plan. I only followed my heart and my dreams doing something I love. It was idealism that put me on this musical path, and I will follow it until the day I die.Please do yourself a favor, stay idealistic and never give up on your dreams. I can assure you that you can make living in the arts even though, as you grow older, the struggle will become greater as unseen forces pressure you to assimilate into the status quo.
“It’s Graduation Day, Hallelujah!”
I came to the University of Kentucky for… KNOWLEDGE. In a most idealistic way I went to school as a hobby because I wanted the knowledge. Knowledge made me better at my art. I try to make my music satisfy what I like to call the three “Es.” I hope to; Entertain, Educate, and ultimately Elevate the listener. Kentucky Perhaps it would be wiser to say “Education Pays-Knowledge Stays. For Knowledge is Education’s Destination.” welcomes its visitors with road signs that say “Education Pays.”
I would like to thank all the wonderful professors at the University of Kentucky that helped me by sharing their knowledge, and I would like to thank the few professors who gave me a hard time thus providing me with my ample supply of anger that continues to fuel my achievement to this day (they know who they are). I would also like to thank the secretaries. I doubt that I would have graduated were it not for the great secretaries who helped me distinguish between “the red form, blue form, green form, yellow” and otherwise navigate the maze of a major state university.
You have chosen to honor me even though, in my view, I have not yet achieved but a portion of my dreams for I, to quote Robert Frost, truly “have miles to go before I sleep.” Being neither dead nor a star, you must have chosen to honor me simply because you think that my achievements have value. For that I humbly thank you, and I promise you that I will daily strive to make you proud of me and your decision. We have a lot to be proud of here in the state of , and it is good to recognize the achievements of its resident citizens. Kentucky
I was not born here; I was born in New York City . I am a Kentuckian because I was raised here in Lexington . Raised in a good middle class family by two great parents who hail from America ’s “greatest generation.” I received everything I ever needed. I still have the silver spoon that I was born with although, thankfully, my parents took it out of my mouth long ago.
I will now leave with a wish for the graduates. May you strive to be extremely ambitious in pursuit of your dreams and in your charge to make this world a better place, work exceedingly hard with an honest heart, live a life filled with passion for what you love and pray for the strength and patience to accept each defeat as but a building block for your life’s foundation that will forever stand as you reach your final victory. Thank you and enjoy the music!
Now for my song “Graduation Day.” I personally hate sing-alongs, but it might be fun for us all to sing “Pomp And Circumstance.” If you do not want to sing, you don’t have to because this is your graduation day. I have to because I need the honor.
Listen to a sample of Graduation Day from the It’s Got To Be Love album