David Jacobs-Strain with special guest Caroline Cotter

November 10, 2018

David Jacobs-Strain

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.”  His new album, “Geneseo,” speaks of open roads, longing hearts and flashbacks of Oregon– a record of emotions big and small, and lyrics that turn quickly from literal to figurative.  “I’m fascinated by the way that rural blues inscribes movement and transience.  The music that frees a singer keeps them on the run; there’s a crossroads where a thing can be enchanting but dangerous; damaging but beautiful.”

Geneseo began as an experiment.  Camped out in a converted 1820s church, Jacobs-Strain recorded guitar and vocals on a laptop, rarely using more than one microphone.    “It was winter in rural upstate New York.  We had very little daylight but endless old instruments to try: a swap-meet banjo on one song,  on another, the Conn Electric Band–an orphaned keyboard from the 60s –which seemed to sound best only on tuesdays.”  A road trip to Los Angeles brought in Scott Seiver (Pete Yorn, Flight of the Concords) on drums, and, after a chance meeting in a Hollywood bar, Jon Flaughers (Ryan Adams) on bass and David Immergluck (Counting Crows) on pedal steel.  “I had all the songs written but I didn’t have a budget or a plan.  I couldn’t stand waiting, so we just started recording ad hoc.”  Caitlin Carey of Whiskey Town sent harmonies and fiddle tracks by email, Band of Horses’ Bill Reynolds Dropboxed a track for the impressionist blues “Josephine,”  and long-time collaborator Bob Beach recorded harmonica solos in Philadelphia.  By spring, the record was an overwhelming collage of sounds and parts.  To pair the record back to its organic core, David enlisted two Oregon engineers, Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie) and Billy Barnett (Frank Black, Cherry Popping Daddies):  “Everything that would fit on twenty-three tracks was moved to analog tape, then we turned off the computer screen and mixed as if it was forty years ago.”

Jacobs-Strain began playing on street corners and at farmers 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.”

On Geneseo, old sounds become new, the blues takes an unexpected turn, and Jacobs-Strain moves further into his own territory.  The gleaming, mercurial “Golden Gate” eddies and surges with glinting guitar strings: “I needed you like you needed me/ like a prisoner needs a broken key/ I never knew the secret behind your smile/ but I heard the scream behind your sigh.”  When Dan Brantigan’s horn section–recorded in a NY city walk-up– roars in, the song leaps from confession to nightmare: “I dreamt a war with no end or retreat/ I cried out for more but there were none to defeat/ I clung to the shore as blood filled the street/ the devil tossed me an oar and cracked his canteen.”  Jacobs-Strain recalls, “Late one night, in a stream-of-consciousness, I filled page after page with seemingly unrelated couplets.  I had a lucky accident when I began to play the guitar–mistakenly in the wrong tuning– the slide riff fell right under my hand and the song came to life.”

“Raleigh” arcs gently, with the cadence of a Carolina railroad, bearing an understated pathos: “She says that love is made of diamonds/ I say it’s made of glass/ sharper than a winter morning/ tonight I have no words to get it back.”  “I had the guitar part for months, but the meaning of the song came later.  I tried to write it about somebody else– I’ve never been to Raleigh!  But when I finished the lyrics–on a park bench in Wyoming– I looked at the page and thought ‘Dang!– that’s about me, isn’t it?’”

There’s an excitement about Geneseo that comes from having the record funded by fans:  over two hundred people pitched in on Kickstarter to pay for the mixing and promotion:  “This record is intentionally under the corporate music radar;  I’ve been making music on my own since I was a kid– it’s the only thing I’ve ever fooled anyone into paying me to do!  It feels very sweet to have people stand up and say that it means something to them.”

David Jacobs-Strain has appeared at festivals from British Columbia to Australia, including Merlefest, Telluride Blues Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival,  Hardly Strictly, Bumbershoot, and Blues to Bop in Switzerland.  He’s taught at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch, and at fifteen years old was on the faculty at Centrum’s Blues and Heritage workshop.  On the road, he’s shared the stage with Lucinda Williams, Boz Scaggs (more than 60 shows), Etta James, The Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Robert Earle Keen, Todd Snider, Taj Mahal, Janis Ian, Tommy Emmanuel, Bob Weir, T-Bone Burnett, and Del McCoury.

Caroline Cotter

“I’ve got roots that go deep and grow deeper the more I leave my home,” Caroline Cotter sings in the title cut of the sparkling Home on the River, the second full-length major release from the sweetly expressive Americana artist who has found a true home on the road and on diverse musical stages throughout the world. Co-produced by Cotter and Jeff Oehler of Beehive Productions and recorded in scenic Saranac Lake, New York, as well as in Kansas City, MO, “Home on the River” emphasizes both the freedom of wanderlust and a sense of place. The album features 9 original songs plus Cotter’s hauntingly lovely a capella version of Woody Guthrie’s “My Peace”.

Opening “Home on the River” is “Peace of Mind,” a declaration of Cotter’s aspirations, both personally and professionally. “I’ve talked with many people who see the goal of a music career to be wealth and fame,” she says, “but when I thought about it and really dug deep, I realized that everything I’m doing is to move forward with peace of mind. I’m taking the focus off of material wealth and recognizing that none of it matters if you don’t have peace of mind.”

From poignant reflections about her parents (“When I Think of You” and “Hey Mama”) and grandparents (“1 4 3,” which is based on the numbers of letters in the phrase, “I love you”) to the title cut,  “Home on the River” stands on a solid ground with a view both inward at the self and outward to the world. Brought to life by vivid, thoughtful lyrics and Cotter’s honeyed soprano, the tunes are lightly tinged with raw emotion and brimming with honest, soul-searching expression. “My music is my honest expression of myself, reaching out to a world who I hope to connect with. There are a few songs that are one take, live with the band. No separations in the studio, just live in one room with bass, drums, electric guitar and me.”

“Home on the River” is the follow-up to Cotter’s acclaimed 2015 debut, “Dreaming as I Do”, which reached No. 5 on the Folk DJ chart. Since that time, Cotter has played over 200 shows per year in such prestigious venues as Boston’s Club Passim and the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland, Oregon, Florida’s 30A Songwriters Festival and New York’s legendary Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. Along the way, she has shared stages with musicians Loudon Wainwright III, David Wilcox and Dan Bern, and was selected for the Emerging Artist Showcase at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in New York.

“American folk music filled our house, and was sung as lullabies to me,” Cotter says of her earliest musical inspirations, which inform her own body of work. “I remember as young as 3 sitting in the living room by myself, working the record player while sitting on the piano stool plunking out notes from the George Winston, Beach Boys, or Beatles record I was listening to. My favorite was Magical Mystery Tour.”

Over the past 15 years, Cotter’s magical, musical tour has consisted of living in and traveling to 31 countries on five continents. While writing and recording her first album, she spent time working for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) in Portland, Maine, as well as teaching yoga throughout the city and at camps, conferences and retreats. Prior to living in Maine, Cotter worked in International Education in Portugal, Spain and Thailand, studied yoga in India, and traveled and studied in South America.

Caroline Cotter grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and attended college in Maine before setting off on what has become a global quest for adventure and education set to music and she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Since her 2015 release, Cotter has played over 600 shows in 43 states and 12 countries. In 2018 she will continue to tour throughout the United States and Europe in support of the release of “Home on the River”.

“The real thread [of ‘Home On The River’] is the peace with being on a journey and carrying my home with me, rather than finding comfort from home in the traditional sense.”

Guitar workshop and show with Scott Ainslie and special guest Carolann Solebello

September 22, 2018

Scott Ainslie

Groovin’in New Fairfield is thrilled to welcome back  SCOTT AINSLIE with special guest CAROLANN SOLEBELLO  on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 7:30pm, at the New Fairfield Senior Center, 33 Route 37, New Fairfield, CT.  Tickets are $10 and doors open at 6:45 pm.   

A guitar workshop will also be offered from 3-5:30pm for $35 on September 22 with Scott Ainslie.  In this words:  “We will focus on acoustic blues (including slide guitar technique on request). The content is always tailored to serve the players who come. Guitars in hand, a sound recording device, and a slide that fits snugly on your little finger will all be useful. We’ll look at core technique for Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Blake, and others as well as the slide basics.

Pre-registration is suggested, but don’t let that stop you. Pay at the door. Feel free to contact me in advance about what you’d like to focus on. Everyone well go away with something new to work on, guaranteed.

Advance registration for the workshop is by email: staceyc6362@gmail.com

He has received numerous awards and grants for his work documenting and presenting traditional music, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Folklife Section of the North Carolina Arts Council. .www.cattailmusic.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carolann Solebello

CAROLANN SOLEBELLO is a performing songwriter born and bred in New York City.  Best known to folk audiences as a founding member of Americana trio Red Molly, she now tours both solo and with modern folk quartet No Fuss and Feathers. Carolann’s smooth, compelling voice and warm acoustic guitar style surely nod to rural folk traditions, yet her decidedly urban sense of rhythm and sophisticated vocal phrasing bend those traditional forms into more contemporary shapes. She is a proud member of the Jack Hardy Songwriters’ Exchange and has won numerous songwriting awards. Carolann released her fifth solo album, Shiver, in February 2018.  www.carolannsolebello.com

 

Matt Nakoa with special guest Laura Bowman

April 28, 2018

Matt Nakoa

MATT NAKOA is an internationally touring singer/songwriter, recently appearing at The White House, throughout India, and regularly with folk icon Tom Rush.

Across the board, his songcraft has garnered awards, including a win at Kerrville Folk Festival’s prestigious New Folk Competition and as “Most Requested” at The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Though not easily pinned down, “In sum,” as a recent review put it, “Matt Nakoa is musically 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.”

Besides being selected to play at The White House, his awards include:

“Most Wanted” Winner – Falcon Ridge Folk Festival

New Folk Winner – Kerrville Folk Festival

Sundilla Radio Hours’ “Albums Of The Year” list

The Boston Globes writes:  “On the ivories, (think of) a hot-handed phenom who can go from Chopin to beer-drenched honkytonk in one set …On guitar, a Jack Johnson-esque singer-songwriter…between his piano chops, charismatic stage presence, and heartfelt originals on guitar…he drops jaws.”  www.mattnakoa.com

 

Laura Bowman

A talented and captivating east cost original artist with the ability to make a crowded room suddenly stand still and listen. Also an experienced solo cover musician, Laura Bowman utilizes a folk music sensibility with a touch of country and mixes it with soulful vocal performances to rejuvenate the role of the female singer-songwriter.

In 2013 and 2017, inspired by the tradition and artists of the 1960’s Folk Music Revival, Laura embarked on  “busking tours” which favored free and spontaneous public performances at street venues across the country, sometimes in conjunction with pre-scheduled shows. Through these tours, she aimed to connect with people in unexpected places and create a personal, in-the-moment experience with her audience. www.laurabowmanmusic.com

 

 

Blues guitarist Toby Walker and Pesky J. Nixon

January 27, 2018

Toby Walker

Internationally and nationally acclaimed Toby Walker has been hailed as a roots music fingerstyle guitar virtuoso who has toured the US, England, Wales, France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. Walker blends the styles of blues, ragtime, country, bluegrass, rock and old time jazz into his own unique style. Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna and the Jefferson Airplane says “Flat out… you have to hear this great musician… I’m blown away” and has employed Walker to teach at his famous Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp for 6 years. In 2010 Walker won the NY Music Award for ‘Best Instrumental CD,’ sharing the honors with Mariah Carey, Rufus Wainwright and Judy Collins among many others. Walker has recently released three instructional guitar DVD’s for the world famous musicians. Carnegie Hall acknowledged his rare talents and hired him to augment and teach in their “American Roots” program aimed at honor level middle school students. www.littletobywalker.com

Pesky J. Nixon

Bombastic yet brilliant, these boys from New England exude a genuine musical authenticity and mirth on stages up and down the East Coast. Drawing influences from contemporary urban balladeers, rowdy southern bluegrass, and the sardonic yet wry wit of New England’s localized folk scenes, Pesky J. Nixon (PJN) creates an atmosphere both inviting and challenging for audiences.

Compelling harmonies and narratives rein in disparate instrumentation including- zydeco style accordion, virtuosic mandolin, and a myriad of string instrumentation. Jay Moberg of Boston’s WUMB says of the group, “These guys represent what I love about music…great playing, thoughtful lyrics, and musicians who actually enjoy playing together!”

Similar praise for the band comes from Steve Morse, longtime Boston Globe correspondent and contributor to Billboard and Rolling Stone. “The name Pesky J. Nixon suggests a punk novelty act or the younger brother of Kinky Friedman. Fortunately for us, these guys are neither. They are a sublime group with an inspiring, eclectic approach to music topped by a folkish, living-room feel on their latest album, ‘Red Ducks.’ The album is rich in percussive acoustic guitar and a beautiful interweave of mandolin and accordion, abetted by multiple singers and songs with a spiritually uplifting focus. There are melodic covers of tracks by Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, but also gem-like treatments of tunes by Boston writers Tim Gearan and Jimmy Ryan. These songs aim for the soul and reach it.”

Steve James with Elizabeth Kemler and Dave & Emma Hart

November 11, 2017

Steve James

 

STEVE JAMES is a blues musician, a notable songwriter (Talco Girl, Farewell The Roses, Sonny Payne, Birmingham Steel to name a few), one of the best modern bottleneck slide players, a storyteller and a compendium of interesting facts. In the  world of contemporary acoustic and roots music, he’s earned his reputation with decades of tireless international touring, a stack of solo recordings, a funny, kinetic stage presence and an unmistakable style of playing and singing.

His own recordings engage with other top notch musicians- Cindy Cashdollar, the Bad Livers, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Del Rey and a host of others.  As a sideman, both on stage and on record, he’s played with Howard Armstrong, Bo Diddley, John Hammond, Maria Muldaur, Furry Lewis and James McMurtry…he often gets a shout-out to “get on up here” from the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, Hot Tuna or Chip Taylor.  Hehas appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion”,  “Austin City Limits Live”, “NPR Morning Edition” and many other syndicated broadcasts worldwide. www.stevejames.com

Elizabeth Kemler

ELIZABETH KEMLER Singer/songwriter, educator, and activist Elizabeth Erin Kemler, is an intrepid storyteller, equally passionate about affecting social change as she is about crafting engaging songs. On her recently released album,The Weight of Mortal Skin, she traverses the rocky terrain of the human heart through a luscious blend of country, folk, and roots.  With a rich, chocolaty voice, and unwavering emotional intensity, Elizabeth shares stories of anguish and aching, revelation and deliverance–the songs feeling at once deeply famiiar, and wholly new.  elizabetherinkemler.com

Dave and Emma Hart

DAVE AND EMMA HART Father/Daughter Americana duo Dave & Emma Hart released their debut record Hold On in late 2013. Reaching near the top 100 on the AMA (Americana Music Association) charts, the record received rave reviews from Bluegrass Unlimited, The Aquarian and others. Mike Greenblatt at The Aquarian wrote, “The six tracks of Hold On—the sweet self-released debut of Dave & Emma Hart—slide down like a summer salad and feels so good in doing so. I’m already looking forward to their full-length debut, as everyone I’ve played this thing for, from fans of pop to fans of folk, has loved it.” Hold On was produced by Emma’s fiddle idol Jim Van Cleve, and features a line-up of Nashville heavyweights including Bryan Sutton, Byron House, Kenny Malone and Jeff Taylor.  During the sessions Byron House commented how much it reminded of him of tracking the Nickel Creek records, with was perfectly fine with Dave and Emma, whose blend of bluegrass and Americana is heavily influenced by artists like Nickel Creek, Sarah Jarosz and Crooked Still.  Their sophomore record is on schedule to release in Spring 2018.Dave and Emma began their musical partnership early on, when Emma was 4. As an award-winning commercial composer and guitarist, Dave was naturally thrilled when his 3-year-old expressed an interest in the violin. Beginning her training with the classical Suzuki method, Emma soon discovered bluegrass, so it didn’t take long before dad and daughter were ripping fiddle tunes for enthusiastic audiences, and Emma was piling up fiddle competition ribbons.  Bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien heard Emma when she was 11 and proclaimed, “she’s one of us”. Emma was awarded the Berklee Mark O’Connor Scholarship and the Grey Fox Bill Vernon Memorial Scholarship before she went on to study jazz performance at McGill University. Now 23, Emma resides in Asheville, NC. Dave continues to record and produce records at his Stamford, CT studio www.daveandemmahart.com