Saturday 5/19/2018 7:30 PM
After writing more than a dozen albums of songs in styles ranging from folk/rock to Tin Pan Alley to gospel, country and chamber music, what might a woman deemed by National Public Radio as “The Empress of the Unexpected” try next? In addition to writing “Bull Durham, The Musical,” based on the beloved 1986 MGM film, Susan released a new album “An American in Havana”, chronicling her love of Cuban music refined on recent visits to Cuba.
And as audiences will testify, Werner’s been knocking it out of the park – or, concert hall – all around the US for twenty years. Renowned as a charismatic performer, she’s known above all for challenging herself to conquer new styles, almost like mountaintops, every few years. From her 1995 major label debut on BMG/Private Music, the folk/rock gem “Last of the Good Straight Girls,” to her 2004 Koch Records collection of Tin Pan Alley styled originals “I Can’t Be New,” to her 2007 “agnostic gospel” hymnal “The Gospel Truth,” to 2013’s tribute to agriculture and her Iowa farm roots “Hayseed,” Werner’s creative restlessness has become her defining characteristic.
She first arrived on the national stage when her 1995 debut earned her national concert tours with Joan Armatrading and Richard Thompson. In 1996 Werner was featured as part of the “next generation” in Peter Paul and Mary’s PBS special LifeLines. She has performed on NPR’s World Café three times, NPR’s Mountain Stage nine times, and in August 2016 Nebraska Educational Television broadcast “The Land Will Outlive Us All,” a one hour special on Werner, agriculture, and her 2015 concert tour across the state.
Saturday 4/14/2018 7:30 PM
No Fuss and Feathers
No Fuss and Feathers is the “heck-of-a-good-time” collaboration hatched by The YaYas (Catherine Miles and Jay Mafale), Karyn Oliver, and Carolann Solebello. Onstage, NFF is a dynamic, cohesive cocktail of delicious harmonies, infectious rhythm, and spontaneous hilarity — with award-winning songwriting always at center stage. Individually, the four are nationally touring performers who have charted at the top of Folk and Americana radio and appeared at some of the nation’s most respected festivals. Collectively, they are an incorrigible bunch of musical co-conspirators bent on giving their audience an unforgettable show.
Carolann, Karyn, Catherine, and Jay are four long-time friends (based in New York) who tour independently of each other but decided it would be fun to play together sometimes. What started out as an occasional songwriters-in-the-round side project quickly evolved into a full-fledged band. Sometimes referred to as a modern folk quartet, NFF is truly a mix of the styles of the three songwriting entities: pop-infused-literate folk, bluesy-country-tinged acoustic, and Brooklyn-edged-Americana.
One of the cohesive elements of a No Fuss and Feathers show is that all four members have theater backgrounds, so just as important as the songwriting is what happens between the songs. They share their friendship and camaraderie with the audience, making the audience part of the performance. No Fuss and Feathers' first CD, Traveling Circus, was released in January 2016.
Saturday 3/03/2018 7:30 PM
Jesse Terry is a singer/songwriter with an uncanny ability to weave tales of travel and homecoming, of sorrow and of redemption, into songs that are simultaneously timeless and fresh. Home is now the coastal village of Stonington, Connecticut, but Terry’s music reflects an amalgam of influences, from Nashville to Laurel Canyon. His melodic and lyrically-driven Americana fits naturally on a playlist between cuts from Josh Ritter, Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams and Neil Young.
Terry's star is on the rise, and it's no surprise. Through the course of his first four releases, The Runner (2009), Empty Seat On a Plane (2012), Stay Here With Me (2013), and The Calm & The Storm (2015), Terry draws from a wellspring of emotional depth and combines it with performance skills honed over hundreds of shows and hundreds of thousands of miles on the road. The result is a palette ranging from poetic ballads to uptempo, rootsy pieces, always beautifully crafted and displaying sweet wistfulness and heartache. This is music that explores the contrast of light and dark, with a core that is timeless and authentic. A gentle warmth runs through Terry’s voice, and his lyrics, while grounded in gritty wisdom acquired through years on the road, offer up hope for a kinder tomorrow.
Terry’s new album Stargazer (2017) is a step forward, lushly orchestrated and existentially optimistic, paying tribute musically to influences such as The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and ELO, while retaining his singer-songwriter roots.
Terry has an undeniable talent for connecting with his audience - to share stories that are personal, yet utterly relatable – to create a sense of home, even among the strangers he meets on the road. And that is the gift of Terry’s music -- in a song, he gives us a promise of a place to call our own.
Saturday 12/02/2017 7:30 PM
An Evening with Richard Shindell
Originally from New York, now dividing his time between Buenos Aires, Argentina and New York's Hudson Valley, Richard Shindell is a writer whose songs paint pictures, tell stories, juxtapose ideas and images, inhabit characters, vividly evoking entire worlds along the way and expanding our sense of just what it is a song may be. From his first record, Sparrow's Point (1992) to his current release, Careless (September 2016), Shindell has explored the possibilities offered by this most elastic and variable of cultural confections: the song.
Joining the songwriter scene in New York City led to a deal with Shanachie Records for Shindell’s first three albums: Sparrows Point (1992), Blue Divide (1994), and Reunion Hill (1997). The latter, produced by multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, won the AFIM (NAIRD) award for "Best Contemporary Folk Album" in 1998. Its title track was covered by Joan Baez on her 1997 release, Gone From Danger. In 1998, Shindell joined forces with his friends Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky to make Cry Cry Cry (Razor and Tie), a collection of covers. The group toured in support of this highly acclaimed album, leaving audiences spellbound by their gorgeous three-part harmonies.
In 1999, Shindell released a live band album, Courier (Signature Sounds) that remains a fan favorite. The year 2000 brought the release of a new collection of originals, Somewhere Near Paterson (Signature Sounds). That year also saw a major life-change: with his Argentine wife and their two small children, Shindell moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Taking a few years to get acclimated and learn the language, in 2004 he followed up with Vuelta (Koch Records), joining with Argentine band Puente Celeste. The decade's next release was a collection of covers, South of Delia (2007), Shindell's first foray into production. More than simply a cover record, the song-selections and performances of South of Delia were that of an expatriate looking back at the country and culture he moved away from. His next collection of original songs, Not Far Now, was released by Signature Sounds in 2009. For 13 Songs You May or May Not Have Heard Before, which The Telegraph (UK) called “a stunningly good record”, Shindell revisited some of his earlier material, giving fresh interpretations to old favourites.
In 2015 he joined forces again with Lucy Kaplansky to record another collection of covers, Tomorrow You’re Going (Signature Sounds). Consisting mostly of love songs, or love lost songs, it provided Shindell and Kaplansky an occasion to revel in their distinctive, two-part harmony with the backing of a top-notch band.
Shindell continues to tour nationally in the United States, with the occasional forays into Canada, the UK, and Europe. Although known primarily as songwriter, Shindell takes a more holistic view of his career. Producer, writer, singer, guitarist, interpreter: it all adds up to a life in music.
Saturday 11/18/2017 7:30 PM
Kipyn Martin and Rachael Kilgour co-bill
Kipyn Martin is an emerging Indie Folk singer-songwriter whose roots sink deep into the banks of the Shenandoah River. She currently plays festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses, and house concerts from New England to Texas.
Kipyn celebrated several milestones in January 2017 including the release of Dance Across the Sky, a new solo project following up her debut Undercover Muse, and winning the coveted Gold Award in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest for God is Love, her third MASC Gold adding to previous wins in 2013 and 2014. As good as her songwriting is, her distinctive voice is even more remarkable, one of the most beautiful I’ve encountered in the folk music field!
Additional accolades for Kipyn include being honored by the Washington Area Music Association with their WAMMIE Award for New Artist of the Year in 2015 and multiple nominations the following year for Songwriter of the Year and Folk Contemporary Vocalist.
Kipyn also tours the country with Allison Shapira in the duo show Joan & Joni, a tribute to the music of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.
Rachael Kilgour is a Minnesota-born, Boston-based songwriter and performing artist whose sincere, lyric-driven work has been called both brave and humane. The 2015 grand prize winner of the esteemed international NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition, Kilgour has been featured at NYC’s Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and at the Sundance Film Festival. She was also chosen as a winner in the 2017 Kerrville New Folk Contest. A versatile performer, Kilgour has shared stages with the likes of indie artists Haley Bonar & Jeremy Messersmith as well as folk legends Greg Brown, Cheryl Wheeler & Catie Curtis.
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.