Tracy Grammer – Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 7:30 pm
Called “a musician and singer of dazzling versatility” (No Depression), Tracy Grammer is among contemporary folk music’s most beloved artists. Renowned for her pure voice, deft guitar and violin work, and incantatory storytelling, Grammer has recorded and performed with Joan Baez and MaryChapinCarpenter, headlined several of the nation’s top folk festivals, including Philadelphia Folk Festival and Falcon Ridge, and enjoyed 12 consecutive years as one of folk radio’s 50 top-played artists, both solo and with the late Dave Carter.
Grammer is currently on tour celebrating her highly-anticipated eleventh release, LOW TIDE, which is the first of her albums to showcase her original songs. LOW TIDE was the ninth most-played album on folk radio in 2018 and was voted a Top 10 Album of the Year by Fish Records UK.
“…One of the finest singers and musicians anywhere in folkdom”
“A brilliant artist”
“One of the most enduring, irreplaceable voices in American folk music”
Ordinary Elephant – Saturday, July 22, 2023 at 7:30 pm
International Folk Music Awards 2017 Artist of the Year Ordinary Elephant captivates audiences with their emotionally powerful and vulnerable songs, letting the listener know that they are not alone in this world. The collaboration of husband and wife Pete and Crystal Damore, their connection, and their influences (such as Gillian Welch, Guy Clark, Anais Mitchell) all meet on stage. “Two become one, in song…hand-in-glove harmonies surprise the listener with focused intensity and musical mastery,” says Mary Gauthier.
In song after Honest song, the Damores take on what it means to follow your heart and eschew all the expectations, assumptions, and limitations projected upon you by others. They also use their own life experience to point out that the “safe” route can be anything but safe, as they do in “Rust Right Through.”
The choices we make are not always easy or safe, but they are important. The songs on Honest speak, again and again, to being our truest, best selves, no matter who we are or where we come from. Indeed, every of us has a heritage, a legacy, a story, of which we are a part, for better and for worse. Each moment and memory a lesson leading us to who we will be.
“…one of the best Americana albums of the year”
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
“Ordinary Elephant’s ‘Honest’ is One of the best folk duo records in Recent Memory”
The Special Consensus – Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 6:00 pm at the Curry Public Library
The Special Consensus is a bluegrass band that has achieved a contemporary sound in their four decades of performing, making their music a modern classic. The band is led by Greg Cahill (banjo player and recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and inducted into the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America Hall of Greats) and includes Dan Eubanks (bass), Greg Blake (guitar) and Michael Prewitt (mandolin). Special Consensus has received six awards from the IBMA and two Grammy nominations. They are four talented vocalists and instrumentalists who follow their creative desires without straying too far from their bluegrass roots. The 19th band recording, Rivers and Roads (Compass Records, 2018), was nominated for the 2018 Best Bluegrass Album GRAMMY award and received 2018 IBMA awards for Album of the Year and Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year (for the tune “Squirrel Hunters”). Chicago Barn Dance, released by Compass Records in 2020, is the 20th Special C recording that celebrates both the 45th band anniversary and the long-standing connection of country and bluegrass music with Chicago from the time of the WLS “National Barn Dance” that was a precursor to the Grand Ole Opry. The songs on this recording relate to Chicago and/or are written by artists who once lived in Chicago. The title song “Chicago Barn Dance” received the 2020 IBMA Song of the Year Award.
“Credit producer Alison Brown for inventive arrangements that showcase each band member, and such guests as singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks and fiddler Michael Cleveland also contribute, sounding happy to join the dance.”
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
“It’s a lively number that should find a welcome reception from bluegrass radio.”
The Lowest Pair – Saturday, April 8, 2023 at 7:30 pm
Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee are two kindred spirits who first met on the banks of the Mississippi while touring the Midwest festival circuit.
Now, as The Lowest Pair, they have recorded and released five albums together, relentlessly toured North America, and ventured to the UK twice, playing over 500 live shows over the past five years.
After each releasing solo albums via Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records in 2018, Winter and Lee began working on The Lowest Pair’s forthcoming 10-song set, The Perfect Plan. As a songwriting team, the duo tends to see artistic sparks all around them — in poems, people, ideas, and experiences – and throughout the process of writing these new songs, they felt the need to push their creative limits. Clawhammer banjo and acoustic guitar still hold the heart of The Lowest Pair, but the fleshed-out sound of The Perfect Plan leans gently into Winter’s punk past, as well as the sonic playground of her mind, to set the band down a new path on their musical journey.
Molly’s Revenge – CANCELED due to Coronavirus Precautions… Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm
Molly’s Revenge is a dynamic, acoustic Celtic band known for its unique and infectious enthusiasm. The classic combination of bagpipes, whistle, and fiddle, with a backdrop of guitar, mandola, and bodhran guarantees an enjoyable experience for all fans of Scottish and Irish music. Molly’s Revenge has performed at many of the top folk festivals and performing arts events in the USA, and prestigious events in Scotland, Australia and China. Their arrangements of traditional Celtic jigs and reels bring these dance tunes up to date with a driving, hard-edged accent that always leaves audiences shouting for more.
“Revered in California as one of its most energetic, exciting and innovative bands.”
SHAY BLACK, OF THE LEGENDARY BLACK FAMILY
“They bring to the music a vital and joyous creativity that excites even the hardest of hearts.”
JOHN DOYLE, FOUNDING MEMBER OF SOLAS
“The instruments are traditional… but the wild passion they exhibit is thoroughly modern.”
METRO SANTA CRUZ (CA)
“There is an engaging freshness and yet an impressive maturity in their playing.”
The Special Consensus – Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8:00 pm
A BLUEGRASS LEGACY Special Consensus is a superb bluegrass outfit in a classic vein but with more than enough modern sensibilities to attract every ear in this now pleasantly fractionating genre. The vocals are spotless, the playing as shiny as a newly minted penny, and music like this is the reason people come to love bluegrass… Special Consensus approaches this hallowed American musical form with boundless energy and an aesthetic reverence that tickles the ribs, tugs at the heart, and puts a restless two-step in boots and bare feet…
Formed in the Chicago area in 1975, The Special Consensus is a four-person acoustic bluegrass band with a repertoire that features traditional bluegrass standards, original compositions by band members and professional songwriters, and songs from other musical genres performed in the bluegrass format. The band has released 18 recordings and has appeared on numerous National Public Radio programs and cable television shows, including The Nashville Network and the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. International tours have brought the band to Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Special C has appeared in concert with many symphony orchestras nationwide and has brought an informative in-school presentation to schools nationally and internationally since 1984.
“Yes, Special Consensus may be Chicago’s very own veteran bluegrass band, but talent like this is the property of the world”
DAVID ROYKO; CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“Special Consensus exceeded our expectations as artists-in-residence. Your Traditional American Music program for the schools was well conceived and masterfully performed. Your community outreach mini-concerts were great fun and resulted in promoting ticket sales to the capstone concert. You earned the well-deserved standing ovation you received during the capstone concert”
The Talbott Brothers – Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 8:00 pm
Blood is thicker than water and there’s nothing like family creating music together to prove it. With contrasting blood-harmonies and left-handed/right-handed guitar playing, singer-songwriter duo The Talbott Brothers combine rock, blues and pop with honest storytelling.
Nick and Tyler were born and raised in Imperial, a small town in Southwestern Nebraska, just a stone’s throw from the Colorado border. They began writing and performing together before relocating to their mother’s birthplace of Portland, Oregon. Tyler, the youngest (lead vocals, baritone guitar, harmonica) and Nick, the oldest (backing vocals, lead guitar) discovered their love of music after digging their dad’s old dreadnaught guitar out of the basement and teaching themselves to play along to Johnny Cash, Bob Seger and the Beatles on vinyl.
Following the release of 2017’s GRAY, they found themselves in front of sold-out crowds in the US and sharing the stage with ZZ Ward, Johnnyswim and AJR. Ear to the Ground Music dubbed the record as one of the ‘Top 5 Albums of the Year’ stating it as, “equal parts optimistic and captivating, inspiring and hopeful.” Through rigorous touring and over half a million streams on Spotify, they continue to build a strong and loyal fanbase wherever they go.
McKasson, McDonald and McLane – Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 pm
Ryan McKasson, Eric McDonald and Jeremiah McLane are masters of tradition who purposefully explore the dark corners floating on its edges. Their individual artistry is enhanced when together. In short, the sum creates a greater whole. The result is an alluring complexity, full of spontaneous musicality. Pulling from parallel strands of influence, they create a swirling level of intensity that traverses darkness, light, and everywhere in between. An air of mystery pervades a sound compelling enough to transcend boundaries and appeal to music lovers of all stripes.
Devon Leger of Hearth Music says, “This trio really shows how masterful musicians listen and play off each other.” The music they create is to share, and live performance is the forte. But their mutual attitude stretches beyond the music. They have been good friends ever since they met, and this is present in their live performances, which are full of organic banter and good humor to go along with the music. They create an environment of their own design, drawing in listeners without pretense. Despite living active musical lives thousands of miles apart these musicians have committed to working together to forge a new musical path.
Ryan, Eric and Jeremiah create music together that is at once energetic, sublime, pensive, thought provoking and jubilant.
Steve Behrens, 67 Music
There’s a certain spontenaity at work as the three musicians alternately contest and duel, combine and coalesce to bring their talents together.
Tim Carroll, Folkwords.com
The narrative power of McDonald’s vocals joins the darker riffs of McKasson’s fiddle [and McLane’s soulful accordion] for an album with pluck, depth, and good reels aplenty.
David Jacobs Strain and Bob Beach – Saturday, October 26 at 8:00 pm
David Jacobs-Strain is a fierce slide guitar player and a song poet from Oregon. He’s known for both his virtuosity and spirit of emotional abandon; his live show moves from humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry, and then swings back to swampy rock and roll. It’s a range that ties Jacobs-Strain to his own generation and to guitar-slinger troubadours like Robert Johnson and Jackson Browne. “I try to make art that you can dance to, but I love that darker place, where in my mind, Skip James, Nick Drake, and maybe Elliot Smith blur together.”
Jacobs-Strain began playing on street corners and at farmer’s markets as a teenager and bought his first steel guitar with the quarters he saved up. Before he dropped out of Stanford to play full time, he had already appeared at festivals across the country, often billed as a blues prodigy, but he had to fight to avoid being a novelty act: “I wanted to tell new stories, it just wasn’t enough to relive the feelings in other people’s music.”
Bob Beach’s career has spanned more than 45 years. With his roots in blues, rock and folk, his innate feel for the music transcends genre, and can be integrated into everything from hip hop to bluegrass to kids’ cabaret and more. “Bob Beach, you snuck into the tunes with us with the grace and sensitivity of an old school sax man, making everything better while calling attention to the music not yourself” Scott Ainslie, blues musician & educator.
David and Bob have been performing together since 2010. They currently perform between 70 and 100 shows a year on both east and west coasts. Their live show moves from humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry, and then swings back to swampy rock and roll.
David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach blew me away last summer at Swannanoa. As we say at home, they “knocked my hat in the creek.” I can’t envision the audience that could fail to take to them from the first chord and to the last. Hear them yourself as soon as you can .
Jimmy Grant Ensemble – Saturday September 14 at 8:00 pm
The Jimmy Grant Ensemble performs primarily in the style of Django Reinhardt, infusing swing era pieces, original work, and traditional gypsy tunes with the jazz guitar pioneer’s crunchy rhythms and hot harmonies. Jimmy Grant was recently a finalist in the John Lennon songwriting competition for his original song “Insomnia,” and also had an interview with Guitar World for his “5 in 5″ project, in which he wrote five different songs in five days. His style synthesizes a rich blend of Russian folk, bluegrass, celtic and classical music while remaining true to Django’s innovative guitar technique. The Jimmy Grant Ensemble will bring together two guitars, bass, and violin in an intimate yet energy-charged performance.
“…He is a player to watch and listen to if you want to know where gypsy jazz is headed….”