Saturday 9/16/2017 7:30 PM
Opener: Efrat Shapira
Toronto-based singer-songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist Shawna Caspi performs solo, but there’s a whole band under her fingertips. A mighty singer, a story sculptor, and a truth teller, she has toured across Canada and the eastern USA and believes in poetry and the power of one person and one instrument.
With her third album, Apartments For Lovers, Shawna Caspi taps right into those folk roots, stripping away session musicians and elaborate arrangements in favour of a simple, authentic sound – her solo guitar and voice. The result is a collection of songs that is close-up and honest, showcasing her warm vocals, classically-trained fingerstyle guitar playing, and intimate songwriting in a genuine, powerful way. Her songs are snapshots – moments that may appear small, but which subtly carry weight and offer greater depth thanks to her well-crafted lyrics.
Shawna’s Canadian folk roots are an intrinsic part of who she is. In fact, Shawna as a solo musician is exactly who she is as a person – warm, inviting, a storyteller, a traveler, an authentic artist. “And at the heart of everything”, she says, “I’m just a really big music fan”.
Efrat Shapira is a classically-trained violinist, violist, singer, arranger and composer. She learned klezmer and Israeli music from her father, dabbled in folk and rock, and learned to play bluegrass, country, and any other genre she came into contact with.
Moving to NYC, her first job was concertmaster for Olivia Newton John Orchestras, after which she re-established the Jade Quartet which had started at IU. On top of her work as a violinist, violist, and strings composer and arranger, Efrat also pursued her love of singing and jazz, culminating in her debut CD, No Strings Attached. She also toured as an onstage violinist in the Broadway show tour of Oliver, receiving rave reviews continent-wide.
At this point, Efrat became a new mother, took a break from being a leader, and joined Spuyten Duyvil for a few years, as well as working and recording as a sideman for other notable bands. Now back and feeling rejuvenated, Efrat is overjoyed to present her new CD The Silver Lining.
Saturday 5/6/2017 7:30 PM
Opener: Mike Agranoff
Joe Crookston: Songwriter, guitarist, painter, fiddler, slide player, eco-village member and believer in all things possible. Named 2016 Folk Alliance International Artist-in- Residence. He’s not afraid to walk outside trends and create his own version of magic. His recording Able Baker Charlie & Dog was awarded Album of the Year by Folk Alliance International.
He’ll surprise you and awaken the cynics. He’s a bard in the modern world plumbing for lyrical gold like a social archeologist. His songs are universal, his rhythm infectious and in concert, he is funny as hell one moment and transcendent the next. At the end of the night, you’ll leave inspired.
Whether he’s picking his 48 Gibson, weaving through lap slide songs or looping his fiddle, he will draw you in. It happens every time. With unwavering courage to be himself, he is literate, poignant and honest.
Mike Agranoff is one of those folk performers that steadfastly defies categorization, and yet amasses stalwart fans from folk aficionados of all categories. He draws his material from sources as diverse as traditional ballads and fiddle tunes, Tin Pan Alley, contemporaries in the Folk World, and his own witty pen. He delivers it with a skilled hand on guitar, piano, and concertina, an almost telepathic transmittal of the essence of the song, and occasionally sly twinkle in the eye in anticipation of some of the most horrible parodies ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting audience.
Saturday 4/8/2017 7:30 PM
The Young Novelists
Opener: Brad Yoder and Jason Rafalak
Toronto based americana husband and wife duo The Young Novelists are known for their beautiful harmonies and songs culled from their small-town roots. After the release of their 2nd full-length album made us strangers, they’ve been touring Canada and the US relentlessly, earning accolades wherever they go. They were recognized as Emerging Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, won the Grassy Hill Songwriting Competition at the Connecticut Folk Festival, and were recently named finalists at the NewSong Music Competition.
As a published author with one novel – The Mall of Small Frustrations – to his name and two others in the works, James’ words carry a weight and depth that demand repeat listens. The hope, he says, is having a listener connect with the sentiment he explores, if not the specific subjects. “As personal as the songs are,” he offers, “I hope they’re connecting to other people in a way that goes beyond the situations I was writing about.” That connection is perhaps most intense from the stage, where The Young Novelists’ show is as engaging as it is endearing.
Acknowledged by Pittsburgh Magazine as “ruling the Pittsburgh coffeehouse scene,” Brad Yoder logs over 150 performances annually, and has recorded 5 self-released CDs. Brad’s unique mix of humorous, poetic, political, funky and edgy original songs, covering a musical range from folk to indie rock has earned him a loyal following. The addition of the dynamic upright and fretless bass-playing of Jason Rafalak (plus mandolin and vocal harmonies) has added a new level of excitement and arrangement possibilities to Brad’s live performances. Jason has performed with many other musicians and appeared on many albums.
Saturday 3/11/2017 7:30 PM
Opener: Kirsten Maxwell
Matt Nakoa is an internationally touring singer/songwriter, recently appearing at The White House, throughout India, and regularly with folk icon Tom Rush. His song craft has garnered awards, including a win at Kerrville Folk Festival’s prestigious New Folk Competition. Though not easily pinned down, “In sum,” as a recent review on CoverLayDown.com put it, "Matt Nakoa is a musical adept, one of those well kept secrets you just can’t help but celebrate: intimate and genuine, soulful and bittersweet, a rich poetic songbook sung in praise to a complicated, emotionally present world."
Based on Long Island, Kirsten Maxwell is often compared to Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell, for her soaring vocals and retro-folk style. Although her self-taught guitar chops are minimal, she plays with such delicacy and taste that the guitar seems to be extension of her body. Her delivery creates a level of intimacy that welcomes new audiences in like old friends. With a quick wit and commanding stage presence, Kirsten gives the impression of being more accomplished than her 24 years.
Saturday 11/5/2016 7:30 PM
A one-time member of Joan Baez’s band, TRACY GRAMMER has traveled throughout North America, Europe, and Japan playing her own songs and those of her favorite writers, while also paying tribute to songwriter Dave Carter, with whom she performed and recorded from 1996 until his sudden death in 2002.
Renowned for her springwater-clear alto and guitar playing that is by turns percussive and delicate, Grammer is also a masterful storyteller with an ease and charisma on stage -- not to mention a riotous sense of humor -- that hardly belie her modest beginnings as Carter's reclusive accompanist. Stories about the duo's first meeting, Carter's quirks and fancies, or Grammer's own misadventures are woven thoughtfully into the set list to create a uniquely personal evening that connects audiences to performer, to the Carter/Grammer legacy, and most importantly, to one another.
Saturday 9/24/2016 7:30 PM
The Nields––sisters Nerissa and Katryna––have lit up the folk circuit since 1991. For twenty-five years now, the sisters have traveled the country as members of beloved folk rock band The Nields, and produced 17 albums. Since becoming mothers (each sister has a daughter and a son) they have gone on to broaden their repertoire with children’s CDs, a DVD and a book All Together Singing in the Kitchen: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music as a Family.
The Nields have been lauded for their gorgeous, lilting, sibling harmonies, their wise, classic, folk/pop songs, their hilarious banter on stage, and their generosity and warmth in performance and engagement with their fans. Their latest album, XVII, celebrates a lifelong career whose aims continue to be a deep faith in community, loyalty, and the power of music to bring joy. They have just released a double album greatest hits collection (on vinyl!) called Haven’t I Paid My Dues By Now and are at work on music for a soundtrack to Nerissa’s forthcoming novel, The Big Idea.
Saturday 4/23/2016 7:30 PM
The Kennedys (Pete and Maura)
Pete and Maura Kennedy, both East Coast natives, met in Austin, Texas, joined forces with Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra for a couple of years, and set out on a road that, for two decades, has led them not only west but all over the US and the UK many times. In 2015, they celebrated their twentieth anniversary both as a band and a married couple. Rather than indulge in a nostalgic look backward, they’ve taken Dylan’s dictum “don’t look back” to heart, writing and recording forty new songs.
2015 saw a Maura solo CD, a Pete solo CD, and the release of “West,” an instant classic Kennedys duo set that seamlessly weaves their influences over the last two decades: Buddy Holly style roots, the tuneful cadences of the Everly Brothers, and the ringing 12-string jangle of the early Byrds, interspersed with darker moments that recall British folk rock a la Fairport Convention.