Julie Corbalis and Andrea Ekizian with special guest George Mallas

January 25, 2020

Julie Corbalis

Our Westchester friend, the enthusiastic and gifted singer/songstress Julie Corbalis, will be our first featured performer.  You may recall her opening at our coffee house for bluesman Toby Walker a few shows back or you may have caught one of her memorable performances at venues up and down the Hudson Valley either fronting an ensemble of talented musicians, teaming up with long time collaborators as a duo or trio, or out holding court on her own. Whether performing her own take on covers of classics from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beyonce, Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty (you get the picture) or a rendition of one of the originals from one of her own CD releases, she can certainly capture a crowd, and has done so opening for the likes of Colin Hay (Men at Work), Amy Correia, Jeffrey Gaines, Johnny Irion and Sarah Lee Guthrie.  She’s performed at the Bitter End café (NYC), Brooklyn Bowl, The Hudson Clearwater Revival, Towne Crier and the Pleasantville Music Festival and toured Northern Europe. Add to that, a great rapport with her audience, Julie just doesn’t disappoint.


Andrea Ekizian

Closing the night will be frontwoman Andrea Ekizian of Andrea and the Armenian Rug Riders.  Known for their high-spirited performances as a rock band covering songs from groups like the Beatles, the Pretenders and Led Zeppelin, this is Andrea’s opportunity to strut her stuff in front of an audience who’ll attentively listen to her acoustic interpretations of pop/rock classics.  She will be backed by a member(s) of her band, John Scavelli and Brett Roberts. The Armenian Rug Riders have an avid following along their typical Hudson Valley circuit (including our own Ron Statler), so we are psyched to be witness to this incarnation.

George Mallas

Opening the evening with be keyboardist George Mallas, an established songwriter from just over the border in North Salem.  You may have caught George at one of the local showcase venues, or perhaps his collaborative efforts with “The Four Horsemen”, featuring four local and very talented singer-songwriters. He also co-hosts Pawling Public Radio’s “Songwriters’ Block” every Wednesday night with lyricist Melanie Berti, with whom he has teamed up to write some great tunes for his latest album (some of which you’re bound to hear).  Having been a student of the piano since age 6, he says “the instrument has become a natural extension of who I am”.  His experiences in life, love and family have profoundly inspired his songs, his style and passion for playing.  You might hear the influences of those notable songwriters he heard growing up:  Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Cat Stevens. http://www.mallasmusic.com

Suzie Vinnick with special guest Steve Kirkman

September 21, 2019

Suzie Vinnick

A Saskatoon native transplanted to the Niagara Region of Ontario, Suzie Vinnick is the proud owner of a gorgeous voice, prodigious guitar and bass chops, and an engagingly candid performance style.

Her career has seen triumph after triumph. Among her most recent successes: being nominated for a 2018 Canadian Folk Music Award for Producer of the Year with herco-producer, Mark Lalama.  Suzie achieved finalist status in the Solo/Duo Category at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN; received the 2012 CBC Saturday Night Blues Great Canadian Blues Award and the 2012 Sirius XM Canada Blues Artist of the Year. Suzie has won 10 Maple Blues Awards (she has been nominated for 22 so far!), won the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Vocalist of the Year and is a 3X Juno Nominee.

Suzie has toured nationally with Stuart McLean’s The Vinyl Café and the John McDermott Band, and performed for Canadian Peacekeepers in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf. She was also the voice of Tim Horton’s for 5 years.

Suzie has just released her latest album, a full-band roots and blues extravaganza entitled Shake The Love Around.


Steve Kirkman

The first music I recall hearing was Jailhouse Rock and the sound of my daddy’s motorcycle running in the garage.  Those mellow gospel harmonies of the Jordanaires and the loud rumble of straight pipes crashing together seemed to form a kind of personal anthem of rebellion and independence, one that I would not only find comfort in, but spend a lifetime searching for a connection to that sound and the feeling it created.

     I can’t remember the actual event that put a guitar in my hands, only my mother sitting in the car outside of Harris Music Co. waiting for me to finish my lesson. I guess I learned enough there that in my early teens I formed my first band with a cousin and played basement parties, battle of the bands, and even some churches. Though it didn’t last, it gave me a taste of something that I would always hunger for more of.  That hunger eventually grew into an unrelenting pain that began to cast a shadow of dissatisfaction over everything I did. Then one black night, on an old back road through the woods, it brought me to my knees, and to the realization that I had to try and reconnect to those early feelings.  In what now seems like a daze, I sold what I could of my old life for some traveling money and then, with just my car and a guitar, quietly rolled out of town.

    It took me over fifteen years to go from a rural North Carolina farm to New York City. One of the reasons it took so long is that I love to drive long distances.  Another reason is I took the scenic route.  A route that would take me for stints, some long, some short, to various cities and towns around the country.  My first stop would be Music City, Nashville, Tennessee.  Following the footsteps of some of my music heroes like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Emmylou Harris, I found a place to begin.  Nashville can be hard and cold or gentle and warm and I guess if you’re lucky you get to experience them both.

      I cut my teeth as a songwriter riding the fringes of Nashville’s underground music scene and playing the unlimited number of writers’ nights in and around the city. But it wasn’t long before the transparency of Nashville’s mainstream music became shamefully obvious and an appetite for something real led me to Beale Street in Memphis.  There I learned the difference between a life informed by music and music informed by life, and though I knew the latter would be harder and less certain, it was just too powerful to deny.

     So for the next ten years I set my sights on the open road and anything that might keep me on the edge of life, informing the songs I was writing.  That came to include numerous road trips cross country,  exploring parts of Utah, Nevada, California, most of Arizona, New Orleans, and after settling in New York City, several of the northeastern states.

     In New York, I embraced the city life and found very different inspirations, and a fresh new creative energy. Within the first year I had formed a band called the Mystery Train and was playing in the city at The Marquee, The Bottom Line, Town Hall, The Roadhouse, and opening for Richard Thompson, Ritchie Havens, John Kay and Steppenwolf, Jefferson Starship, Procol Harum, and Roger McGuinn. I even dove into the world of theatre and film and have been able to incorporate my music into that work as well.

I moved just north of the city  in 2000 to an area in Putnam County that reminds me a lot of the farm country in North Carolina where I grew up.

    The Hudson Valley is proving to be the richest area yet for musicians who are supportive of each other and for patrons who support independent music.  And Pete Seeger is just a few miles down the road.

     Life’s journey and the things we discover along these roads we travel seem to be the things that have kept my interest all these years. So as I begin each new chapter of my journey I find myself listening again for those sounds that first inspired me and seem to remain always as close as my memory.

Pesky J. Nixon with special guest Laura Sumner

April 27, 2019

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.”  www.peskyjnixon.com

Laura Sumner

Laura began her music career at the awkward age of 18 when she walked into a pub in Connecticut with guitar in hand and asked to perform.  That on-the-spot audition (a rendition of the Allman Brothers’ Ramblin’ Man) led to an immediate offer for additional gigs.

She writes songs, too.

After a 10-year hiatus of hiding out,  short-term tenures with cover bands, & a failed off-Broadway production, she picked up the guitar again as a solo player. Alas, performing at a bookstore in Connecticut she met bass player, Steve Barat, whose bass has become integral to her live sound. More recently, she is super excited to also play with Vito Calamito, drummer and impersonator extraordinaire,  when the space allows.

Live performances include original songs, favorite cover songs, and musical train wrecks.


Marc Von Em with special guest Robert C . Fullerton

January 26, 2019

Marc Von Em

Marc Von Em is a soulfully energized singer/songwriter whose sound flows easily between folk, blues & funk. Driven by his fluid acoustic guitar playing, rich powerful voice, and comfortable stage presence, Marc’s live shows never fail to excite audiences.

Marc began his solo career in 1999 when he self produced and released his first solo CD “Von Em”. He has since released 3 more recordings, the most recent entitled “CRASH BOOM POW”. Marc’s belief is that an artist not be limited to one genre, and his collection of original songs are a testament to that, running the gamut from solo acoustic finger-picking to full band funk.

Along with his independent music, Von Em also performs as a back up vocalist and guitarist for Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20) finishing his third world tour with Rob at the end of 2016. Marc is signed to Pure Pop Music, a music publishing company representing writers in various genres of popular music. Since joining Pure Pop, Marc has been spending time in Nashville writing songs with some of Music Cities best writers. He is also represented by VAMNation Entertainment Management as a vocalist on high-profile globally broadcast commercials, and also works with HAUS Music NYC, collaborating wish musicians, composers, producers, bands & publishing scoring soundtracks for movie and commercial use.

Constantly inspired, Marc continues to hone his brand of original music and his live shows always have something new to offer.  He s a one man band of sorts, able to create an impressive array of music with just his voice and one faithful guitar. His chops are wide-ranging from delicate finger picking to raw, rambunctious strumming. Marc’s guitar serves as more than one instrument as he uses it to create percussive beats and atmospheric sounds. His dynamic voice can go from smooth & soaring to smoky scatting. Marc’s harmonica playing is equally impressive, and he sometimes uses it to accompany his blues influenced original songs. His soulful live performances showcase his original music, influenced by folk, funk and blues, with a few choice cover songs woven in. As one reviewer wrote: “If you haven’t seen Marc Von Em perform live you’re only cheating yourself.

Robert C. Fullerton

Robert C Fullerton grew up in a home where the radio was on more than the television. With a mother who listened Elvis and the Beatles, and played piano in a little country church, music was all around him. Teaching himself to play guitar at the age of 12, was just the beginning of a  journey that would lead him through many musical styles and expressions: church musician, high school choral director, adjudicator, folk musician, jazz musician, rock cover band musician…

    Now, however, he has spent the past several years focusing on one thing: writing and performing his own songs. “In the past, I’ve helped other people with their songs, arranged choral pieces, written instrumental pieces, but lyrics never came easily. So, I seldom ever tried… until six or seven years ago. Now, I find myself surrounded by words, phrases, images and… songs!”

    Drawing lyrical inspiration from everyday settings, and musically from all of his past expressions, gives him a somewhat unique sound. You might call it “Americana”, call it “jazzy folk”, or (to use Robert’s term) “acoustic soul”. Several of his songs are featured in Elmwood Productions’ series, “The Risely Brothers”. Robert is soon to release his third studio album, “You Weren’t There”.  https://www.robertcfullerton.com


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.”