Saturday, January 7 8:00pm
$18 door / $15 advance
We start the year with a great triple bill! Dazzling guitar, scorching harmonica, soulful singing and spellbinding stories are all delivered by Doug Adamz with insight and a terrific sense of humor. The range of his writing and musical skill lends his shows an epic quality. Between bawdy blues, exquisite instrumentals or hilarious story songs, he makes the phrase “wide-ranging talent” sound woefully inadequate. Thanks to a great deal of airplay on alternative and community radio stations, three songs from his “National Steel” CD held the #1, 2 & 3 spots for eight weeks on RMR’s Acoustic Blues Chart. He has recorded nine albums of original, instrumental music and songs. His compositions have been used by The Joffrey and San Francisco Ballet, were featured in a film by Robert Altman (The Company), heard in a PBS documentary soundtrack (Jim Thorpe, World’s Greatest Athlete) and in two Spanish television series (La Frontera Herida, Sahel). The Kronos Quartet commissioned Doug to write several short pieces and Stevie Coyle (The Waybacks) and Dr. Elmo (Grandma–Reindeer) have recorded and released Doug’s songs on their albums. Vikki Lee, Bob Woods, and Russ “the Muleskinner” Whitehead are sometimes known as Sticky Vikki & the Pinecones, a northern CA rockabilly sensation. It may be a chilly January, but these three are just the band to take the evening several sizzling notches higher. “These superb musicians bring an original and witty approach to Americana and rockabilly music that guarantees a rollicking good time.” Another note of interest; these three have a knack of attracting special surprise celebrity guest sit in artists.. you just never know who may come Ramblin’ in.“Wishing and Bone” is Tom Wishing and Noam “Bone” Cohen. They have been playing together since the late ‘70s in a variety of bands and projects. The music they make is a combination of blues, folk, Americana, country, and original songs. Tom’s forte is finger style guitar, and Noam has been playing the harmonica or ‘harp’ since before he could stand on his own feet. Tom also doubles on banjo and sax, & Noam on mandolin and sax. Both have been in a variety of rock, blues, country and jam bands over the years.
DAVID JACOBS-STRAIN w/Bob Beach and MEGAN KEELY & THE KEELYS
DAVID JACOBS-STRAIN is a fierce slide guitar player, and a song poet from Oregon. He’s known for his virtuosity and spirit of emotional abandon, as well as his clear, powerful voice. His music moves from humorous, subversive blues, to delicate balladry, and then swings back to swampy rock and roll. It’s a range that ties him to his own generation and to guitar-slinger troubadours like Robert Johnson and Jackson Browne. He 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 and has toured with Boz Scaggs, Etta James & Lucinda Williams.
“David Jacobs-Strain sings and plays slide-driven country blues with a passion and authority that few artists of any age can muster. But besides firing off compelling covers of traditional tunes his original songs have served to update and evolve the idiom.” -Guitar Player
Tonight he celebrates the release of his new, live cd (much of it recorded at our venue) with harmonica virtuoso Bob Beach.
With the release of her album, Ready or Not, MEGAN KEELY is again breaking new ground with songs celebrating life and strength. Her songwriting first caught the attention of producer T Bone Burnett, who selected Megan’s song, Rules (co-written with her brother Brandon) for inclusion on The Hunger GamesSoundtrack Companion Album. “Megan Keely is a stunning young woman with a voice that will break your heart and heal it all in one sitting.” – Annie Bacon –The Folk Opera
KITKA AND MAHSA VAHDAT: Songs to the Beloved
Saturday, February 18 8:00pm
$30 door / $25 advance
This special concert will explore the many faces of love, expressed by powerful, courageous artists rooted in some of the world’s most passionate women’s vocal traditions.
Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble has earned international recognition for its distinctive sound, exploring a vast palette of ancient yet contemporary-sounding vocal effects. The ensemble’s earthy to ethereal timbres evoke an astonishing range of subtle to extreme inner states, instincts and emotions. Kitka’s commitment to presenting traditional song as a living and evolving expressive art form has led to adventurous collaborations with some of the world’s most exciting indigenous musicians and contemporary composers ranging from Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares to Meredith Monk. Kitka began as a grassroots group of amateur singers from diverse ethnic and musical backgrounds who shared a passion for the stunning dissonances, asymmetric rhythms, intricate ornamentation, and resonant strength of traditional Eastern European women’s vocal music. The ensemble’s wide-ranging performance, teaching, and recording activities have exposed millions to the haunting beauty of their unique repertoire.
Mahsa Vahdat was trained in classical Persian singing and regional folk music by master musicians in Iran. After the Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, public female singing was banned. To this day, female singers can only perform for authorized women-only audiences or alongside a male voice, and can never perform solo in public. Mahsa Vahdat’s repertoire is inspired by regional and traditional music from Iran infused with her unique and resilient artistic sensibility. Her song lyrics are mostly mystical and love poems by great Persian poets like Hafez, Rumi, Saadi, who lived several centuries ago, as well as works contemporary Iranian poetry speaking about Iranian society.
An active campaigner for human rights, Mahsa is an award-winning ambassador of Freemuse, an independent international organization advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. She has attracted considerable attention with her work on the record Lullabies from the Axis of Evil, and her new solo album The Sun Also Rises.
The Neighborhood Concert Hall
MARIA MULDAUR – Jazzabelle – with John R Burr
From February 25, 2017. Multi-Grammy nominee, Maria Muldaur, best known for her ’74 mega pop hit, Midnight at the Oasis, has recorded 40 solo albums covering all kinds of American Roots Music, including Jazz and Big Band, Blues, Gospel, R&B and “Bluesiana.” For this performance, as part of our Women in Music series, she’ll be performing her special show Jazzabelle …An evening of Vintage Classic Jazz, & Naughty Bawdy Blues, with special guest, pianist extraordinaire John R. Burr.
Despite her considerable pop music success, Maria’s 52-year career could best be described as a long and adventurous odyssey through the various forms of American Roots Music. Starting with the folk revival of the early ’60s, she began exploring and singing early Blues, Bluegrass and Appalachian “Old Timey” Music, joining the very popular Jim Kweskin Jug Band. In the early 70s, Maria collaborated, recorded and toured with legendary Jazz giant, Benny Carter, who lead an all-star Big Band of jazz greats,
Her critically acclaimed 2001 Stony Plain Records release, Richland Woman Blues, was nominated for a Grammy and received a Blues Foundation nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year; as was the follow up album, Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul.
Her timely 2008 album, Yes We Can! covered songs from some of the most socially conscious songwriters of the past half century, and featured her “Women’s Voices for Peace Choir,” which included: Bonnie Raitt, Joan, Baez, Jane Fonda, Odetta, Phoebe Snow and Holly Near.
Her recent album Steady Love features- what she calls “Bluesiana Music” – her own brand of New Orleans-flavored Blues, R&B and Swamp Funk. It reached #1 on the Living Blues Chart, and garnered her another nomination for Best Traditional Female Blues Artist from the Blues Foundation.
Her 40th album, First Came Memphis Minnie, is a loving tribute to the pioneering Blues woman who inspired and influenced so many female Blues artists who followed in her footsteps, many of whom joined Maria on this special project: Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, Ruthie Foster, Koko Taylor and Rory Block.
We’re proud to welcome Maria back to our series
“Claudia Schmidt is a true artist-she has talent AND the fire of genius.”-The Boston Globe
Claudia Schmidt has been moving and delighting audiences of all sizes and locations (from small venues to festival stages in front of 20,000 people) for over 40 years. Her soaring vocals, 12 string guitar and mountain dulcimer weave a sonic outpouring that at once soothes and excites. Stories and poetry deepen the experience, and laughter and tears coexist as she radiates love, for her craft of performing, the audience in front of her, and the whole human rigamarole. She effortlessly travels from folk to jazz to Americana to comic stories & topical songs. A Claudia Schmidt concert is a journey.
“Schmidt’s shows are a lot like falling in love. You never know what’s going to happen next, chances are it’s going to be wonderful, every moment is burned into your memory and you know you’ll never be the same again.” – Derk Richardson, SF Bay Guardian
“The group seamlessly careens from blues to bluegrass and rock in a way that really shouldn’t make sense but somehow does.” – The LA Times
Led by vivacious cross-over cellist Rebecca Roudman, Dirty Cello brings the world a high energy and unique spin on blues and bluegrass. Dirty Cello is cello like you’ve never heard before. From down home blues with a wailing cello, to virtuosic stompin’ bluegrass, and great vocals, the band gets your heart thumping and your toes tapping!
On May 20th, they’ll celebrate the release of their new album, I May Not Be Perfect. This hard working, foot-stomping, blues and bluegrass band built a recording studio from the ground up and recorded a full length album of high energy cello led music that incorporates many different genres; from China to Italy and all over the United States. Dirty Cello is led by the dynamic cellist & vocalist Rebecca Roudman, backed up by a hard rocking 4 piece band featuring Jason Eckl – guitar, Colin Williams – bass, Hannah Miller – mandolin/vocals and Anthony Petrocchi – drums.
From quirky originals to hard hitting versions of classics like Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, “Dirty Cello’s music is all over the map: funky, carnival, romantic, sexy, tangled, electric, fiercely rhythmic, and textured…..and only occasionally classical.” – Lou Fancher, Oakland Magazine.
“The band plays every style imaginable, and does some fantastic covers. (Their rendition of “Purple Haze” is incredible.) But what is most spectacular about them is hearing the depth of soul in Roudman’s playing—it goes beyond what most people would expect from the instrument. She plays it with so much heart, you’ll wonder why more bands don’t have a cellist.” Good Times Santa Cruz
An unforgettable double bill features the Earl Brothers exploring the dark recesses of bluegrass, and a one-time-only cinematic retrospective performance, with former Crooked Jades members back in the lineup, for the latest of their rare, always mysterious, moving and unpredictable shows.
The Crooked Jades, called “the finest string band in America” by The Boston Herald, continue their mission to re-imagine old-time music for a modern age, pushing boundaries and blurring categories with their fiery, soulful performances. Innovative and fearless, constantly evolving and passionate, they’ve brought their driving dance tunes and haunting ballads to rock clubs, festivals, traditional folk venues and concert halls all over the world. Known for their rare and obscure repertoire, beautiful original compositions, inspired arrangements and eclectic, often vintage instrumentation, The Crooked Jades began with band leader/founder Jeff Kazor’s vision to revive the dark and hypnotic sounds of pre-radio music. With this old-time foundation, the band has created the unique Crooked Jades sound by exploring the roots of Americana and interweaving the diverse musical influences of Europe and Africa. Filtering these old-world sounds with universal and ancient themes through a post-9/11 lens, they seek to make sense of the future, reaffirming the importance of connecting to our roots in a time of intense digital connection.
Joining founders Jeff Kazor and Lisa Berman and long-time member Erik Pearson (composer of the Crooked Jades tune featured by Sean Penn in his 2007 film Into The Wild) are former band members and collaborators, bassist Megan Adie, mandolinist Bill Foss, and banjo master Tom Lucas. In addition to their work on the Into the Wild soundtrack, the Jades have won awards for their PBS documentary soundtrack for Seven Sisters, a Kentucky Portrait and their score for choreographer Kate Weare’s piece “A Bright Land”.
“Chords in unexpected places, out-of- this- world harmonies, and some of the most powerfully-arranged material I’ve ever encountered.” –Bluegrass Unlimited
The Earl Brothers, led by banjo master Robert Earl Davis, have been delving into the dark side of bluegrass for more than a decade now, and their fifth and latest album, Outlaw Hillbilly, takes them further down that rough road. They’re not a good time bluegrass band – they’re more interested in exploring the really bad times – but their music, like the blues, has that paradoxical effect of taking you so deep into the mire that you come out feeling a little better than you did before. “These guys are very talented musicians, vocalists, and songwriters, but their sound is raw,” says the website Country Standard Time, which praises their “terrific new album”, Outlaw Hillbilly, as “jarring in its intensity” and “simply the next step in the steady progression of a band that continues to gain ground within the bluegrass community.”
Their raw and ravaged sound brings to mind Ralph Stanley at his bleakest – and that’s a good thing!
“The Earl Brothers have got the soul and the songs and the attitude that brought us all into bluegrass music in the first place,” says Chris Hillman of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. “Their songs cry of the mountains, of the people, and of the traditions down through the ages. Bluegrass music is alive and well.”
“Quirky and smart, a poet with a guitar, SONiA is a master of crafting songs that make you simultaneously want to dance, sing and change the world.” –Georgia Voice, USA
SONiA (Rutstein) disappear fear delivers powerful songs of passion and hope, that challenge injustice as she performs to a devoted and always expanding fan base in over 20 countries. SONiA has been described as the “female Dylan”, using one voice and one guitar, bending sound and light into her own songs and helping fans leap to their feet for nearly 30 years.
SONiA was awarded of the Coin of Honor from a joint coalition of United States military for her humanitarian efforts. Some of the other honors she has received include the GLAMA Award (Gay and Lesbian Music Awards) for Female Artist of the year and the GLAAD Award (Gay and Lesbian American Anti-Defamation) for Best Album.
As SONiA has toured from the Opera House in Sydney, to bomb shelters in the Middle East, to the Woody Guthrie Festival, to Phil Ochs nights and to intimate living room corners, she has had the thrill of sharing the stage with many of her heroes including Bruce Springsteen, Peter, Paul and Mary, Chris Thile, Sarah McLachlan, Emmy Lou Harris, Ferron, Sheryl Crow, Pete Seeger and many more.
“In SONiA, I found a contemporary artist with Lennon’s way with a phrase. From that night until this, she’s been my favorite singer/songwriter.” – Cliff Weimer, In the Balcony
Arwen Lawrence and Jorge Liceaga, a mariachi torch singer and Mexican flamenco guitarist founded Cascada de Flores in 1999. Adding other virtuoso musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area, they began journeying into hidden corners of Mexico. They have since spent 17 years swimming in a magical place somewhere between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, where music from México, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Colombia meet. They have recorded 5 albums, created theatrical concerts such as Radio Flor and The Tree & the Donkey, collaborated in projects with local masters of Latin cultures, and have scored music for film, shadow-theater and modern dance. Cascada de Flores draws their audience into the music, and every song, and each instrument has a story.
Tarimba is a collective comprised of local Bay Area musicians who have embraced the traditional genre of Son Jarocho music, a regional folk musical style from Veracruz, that combines African and Mexican elements. The core members of TARIMBA, Lolis García and Kyla Danysh, are master multi-instrumentalists and vocalists who actively perform and teach in the Bay Area music community.
Dolores “Lolis” García is the Co-Director of the East Bay Center’s resident arts company, Son de la Tierra and has mastered a number of string and percussion instruments in a variety of Son traditions including Huasteco, Jarocho, Tixtleco, and Mariachero. She has taught workshops and performed at festivals in Mexico and the U.S. and teaches extensively at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.
Kyla Danysh grew up studying classical and Klezmer music, and discovered her passion for improvisation through the exploration of Son Jarocho, Son Huasteco, boleros, “gypsy jazz”, and Balkan music. She has since traveled to Veracruz a number of times to study, record and perform.
‘Tarimba’ is believed to be the African root word of ‘tarima’, the wooden dance platform that serves as the heart of the Son Jarocho tradition of El Sotavento.
NOTES AGAINST TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN: A musical response from the 7 Countries
A concert by Aswat Ensemble and Guest Performers showcasing the music of the Seven Countries listed on January 27th’s Executive Order
“These artists put on a stirring performance.” -BBC
“Presenting music from Libya, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq, the concert serves dual roles as ambassadorial outreach and as a healing salve.” -Gabe Meline, KQED
Internationally renowned performers from each of the seven countries listed in the January 27 travel ban will perform music from their homeland, assisted by the Aswat Ensemble. Reverend Michael Yoshi will reflect briefly on the executive order that interned the Japanese (including his parents) during WWII and the current ban against Muslims.
This special evening will start with Basma Edrees, a Juliard graduate who will play violin and sing a Muslim prayer of Supplication and will feature: Sudanese vocalist Salma Al Assal, Michael (Mohammed) Nejad, an Iranian musician who plays 45 instruments, Jalal Takesh, performing on Qanun (Arabic autoharp), Persian singer & Setar player Abolhassan Mokhtabad, and many others. Iman Hassen, a Somali American will be reading Somali poetry about the immigrant experience. Two pieces of music from each of the seven countries that are part of the Jan 27 travel ban will be performed. The songs may be religious, secular or folk, but in every case will showcase the most-loved, most-typical music from each country the music that makes people think of home. Translations of each song will be projected on a screen for the audience.
Music is a microcosm of a culture: it is the element that accompanies most rituals and rites. Its rhythmic structures are the pulse, its tonal/melodic structures are the soul, and its poetry is the language of the heart and mind. We are convinced that once one has experienced the artistic richness of another culture, they are much less likely to dehumanize them by seeing them through media-propagated stereotypes. -Nabila Mango, Aswat Ensemble Director
The Aswat (meaning voices in Arabic) Ensemble uses bowed and stringed instruments along with percussion; such as the violin, oud, qanun, tar and other drums. The performers include Iranian, Arab and American musicians. Part of our Women in Music series
Here is a video from Sudanese singer, Salma Al Aasal