What better way to spend a late-March evening than enjoying the elegant sounds of Acoustic Eidolon’s cello-guitar duo? The husband and wife team will give a matinee performance in Fiddlers Crossing on Friday, March 30, at 7 p.m. Acoustic Eidolon combines the lush sounds of Hannah Alkire’s cello and Joe Scott’s double neck “guitjo” invention, and they captivate audiences wherever they play.
Hailing from Colorado, the two have graced stages throughout the US, Europe, Australia and Canada. On their nine CDs and a DVD, these masterful artists explore their signature “new acoustic” sound, blending Celtic, folk, world, Latin and pop musical genres into what Dirty Linen Magazine praises as “a sumptuous musical feast.” They play everything from Irish jigs to the Beatles, adding in their own compositions.
Classically-trained cellist Hannah Alkire is recognized internationally for her stunning tone and emotional, impeccable playing. She was born in Berkeley, California, but grew up in Champaign, Illinois in a musical household. Her father played the piano, and her mother was a music instructor. Hannah started playing cello at age eight. Her sister, Sabrina, played the violin, and the two played in the school orchestra alongside bluegrass great Alison Krauss.
Scott began playing guitar at age 12 in his home near Boulder, Colorado. When he was 14, he added banjo, and by 16 he was winning contests at regional Bluegrass Festivals. He toured the country with the New Christy Minstrels, a popular folk group in the 1960s based in Los Angeles.
Returning home, Scott opened a recording studio, and in 1998, was looking for a cellist to record with him. He found Hannah Alkire, who, it turned out, lived only a short distance away.
Hannah had moved to Boulder in 1992 and was performing in symphony orchestras. Eager to stretch herself, she was also playing with rock, funk, and alternative groups, performing at various local venues and national events.
After recording together and forming a musical alliance, Scott and Hannah joined their personal lives and were married in 2001. Along with touring, the two are committed to bringing joy to as many people as possible through their music, and often add in appearances in schools, hospitals, hospices, and even chemo infusion rooms to inspire and help others.
Fiddlers Crossing is an intimate “listening room” where you can meet and chat with the artists before and after the concert, and enjoy freshly brewed coffee and goodies, all included in the price of $20. The venue is located at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased online at fiddlerscrossing.com, or at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop. They may also be reserved by calling 661-823-9994. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30p.m.
Amber Ikeman’s music carries audiences across the open spaces of the American West and into the depths of their souls. She weaves together light and darkness with her powerfully clear vocals and raw, confessional lyrics.
After getting a B.A. in music, Amber took a job as a nonprofit professional in her hometown, Sarasota, FL. Feeling unfulfilled and trapped by expectations, she drove to Yellowstone National Park to work as a dishwasher. It was the first stop on a 30,000-mile solo cross-country quest to find herself.
Amber’s debut album, Free, was named one of Southwest Montana’s top local albums of 2015. An engaging performer with a comedic edge, she placed 3rd in the 2016 Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase and tours all over the U.S.
“I surrender unconditionally to these master musicians. The worn concept of tradition and innovation have rarely been used as smart as this” – LIRA
The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc is a fiddle trio from Norway, Sweden and the Shetland Islands who swiftly gained a reputation for their gripping and unique blend of fiddle music since their inception in early 2009.
Comprising Olav Luksengård Mjelva (Norway), Anders Hall (Sweden) and Kevin Henderson (Shetland Islands), each regarded as leading exponents of their respective traditions, they have found themselves in great demand throughout the world performing together as ‘The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc’
With a firm focus on the rich traditional fiddle music from where they each belong, they have developed a sound that has been described as “unique”, “meaningful”, “intense” and “invigorating”.
Their clever use of harmony, rhythm, riffs and bass lines creates a sound that leaves the listener enthralled but at the same time dumbfounded that the sound only comes from three fiddles.
“Seldom before can three fiddlers have sounded so well matched as the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. And seldom before can three fiddles have sounded so much like four and at times five instruments without using electronic trickery.” – The Herald
To date their music has taken them to the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland and across mainland Europe captivating audiences along the way.
2016 saw the release of their eagerly awaited second album, “Deliverance”, the follow up to their eponymously entitled debut album released in September 2011 to great critical acclaim.
“On the evidence to hand, pure fiddle doesn’t get much better than The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc.” Folkworld
In the 1970s, some folksingers, including Bob Dylan, began to “plug-in” and amp up like the rockers. Now, pop music is coming full circle as many rock ‘n’ rollers un-plug. For instance, the two former rockers of Ryanhood, Ryan Green and Cameron Hood, were named ‘Best Group/duo in the 2014 International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA’s). They will demonstrate this blending of musical genres when they return to the stage at Fiddlers Crossing on April 27.
Green and Hood met in high school where they had a respectful rivalry between their two rock bands. They faced off annually in a Battle of the Bands. While Hood’s band won more of the competitions, Green’s guitar chops were impressive, and earned him a scholarship to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music.
Cameron studied art at the University of Arizona, and the two musicians started what they would call “a long-distance musical relationship,” mailing each other song ideas and getting together during college breaks to rehearse and perform. After graduation, Hood moved to Boston to join Ryan. The duo became full-time street performers, developing a rapport with audiences that has become a hallmark of their shows.
They were soon discovered by a college concert recruiter and brought their high-energy, interactive street-performer approach to that market. They quickly became one of the most popular bands on the circuit, playing upwards of 130 college dates a year. Hood’s rich and folky lead vocals, Green’s explosive guitar and mandolin riffs, and their airtight vocal harmonies prompted the Idaho State Jounal to call them, “this generation’s new mix of Simon & Garfunkel, America and U2.”
They have toured with Jason Mraz, recorded an album with grammy-winning producer Ross Hogarth, shared stages with Matt Nathanson, Train, American Authors, and Lifehouse, and even got tweeted about by Ellen DeGeneres. Ryanhood has collectively performed more than 800 shows in 42 U.S. states, where their cross-generational sound has been equally at home in colleges, coffee-houses, concert halls, churches, and living rooms.
And now, twelve years after their street start, Ryanhood’s star is still on the rise. Their sixth and newest album, Yearbook, finds the band returning to the intimate storytelling and acoustic guitar interplay that was a hallmark of their early work as buskers.
They currently reside in their hometown of Tucson, AZ, where they have won more than a dozen Tucson Music Awards including “Best Folk Band” and, yes, “Best Rock Band.”
To see videos and hear samples go to ryanhood.com or fiddlerscrossing.com.
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or online through Fiddlerscrossing.com. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
“Powerfully genuine… Tracks that convey positive messages of hope, acceptance, change, growth, and a better understanding of life’s lessons. Ryanhood should be applauded for having the courage and sense of self to be so open-hearted in a hard, cruel world.”
– Zocalo Magazine
“There were touches of the magic that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel capture so flawlessly.”
– Raleigh Music
“Ryanhood took stage at 8 p.m. Consisting of two guitars and two guys in ties, this band won the crowd by 8:02. Receiving a standing ovation, I think Ryanhood will be this generation’s new mix of Simon and Garfunkel, America, and U2.”
– Idaho State Journal
Born in Yorktown, Virginia, Bryan Bowers was raised in New Bohemia near Petersburg of the Civil War’s Battle Of The Crater fame. As a child, Bowers would tag along with the field workers and gandy dancers and learned to sing old call-and-answer songs. Bowers recalls, “The music I heard while working in the fields was mesmerizing. And, I’d see the gandy dancers coming down the tracks, setting the rails and getting their ties straight. You’ve heard that song `Whup Boys, Can’t you line ’em?, Chack a lack.’ Whup Boys, can’t you line ’em? was the call the leader would sing. Chack a lack was the bounce- back of the hammer after falling on the pin. I just thought that music was something that everyone did. It was years later that I realized what I’d been raised around.”
Bowers enrolled at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, but found that college was not satisfying an emptiness he felt. Three hours short of earning a degree in Spanish, Bowers dropped out. About the same time (the late ’60s), Bowers discovered music when he took up the guitar. “The roots of the music had gone real deep in me. Music was real fulfilling, unlike anything I had ever done before.”
It wasn’t long before Bowers encountered the autoharp. “I ran into a guy that played several instruments and could get the harp in good tune. He played without any fingerpicks, just with his fingernails. He had a real sprightly style on it. It was the first time I’d heard someone play it in good tune and play it well. It opened my eyes and my ears. I went out and got one the next day.”
Bryan relocated to Seattle in 1971 and played for coins as a street singer and in bars for the right to pass the hat. Once he had polished his technique, he headed east in a 1966 Chevy panel truck he affectionately called “Old Yeller.” “The Dillards heard me in DC when I went to the Cellar Door,” recalls Bowers. “I introduced myself and played the `Battle Hymn Of The Republic’ to show them how the harp worked. Sam Bush, Curtis Burch and Courtney Johnson of the New Grass Revival were there. I didn’t realize how presumptuous I was being. The Dillards took me to a bluegrass festival at Berryville, Virginia and when they got an encore, they put me out there for their second encore, saying `Here’s a guy you ought to hear.’ The bluegrass community has been real supportive.”
Bower’s creativity and talent have won him induction into Frets Magazine’s First Gallery of the Greats, after five years of winning the stringed instrument open category of the magazine’s readers’ poll. This distinction put Bowers along side other luminaries, such as Chet Atkins, David Grisman, Stephan Grappelli, Itzhak Perlman, Tony Rice, Rob Wasserman and Mark O’Connor, recognized for their personal accomplishments. In 1993, Bryan was the first living member inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame to stand only with Maybelle Carter, Kilby Snow, and Sara Carter. In 2003, Bryan organized and co-produced Autoharp Legacy. He brought together 55 autoharp players and created the definitive three-CD set on autoharp music. In addition, Bryan Bowers’ critically acclaimed recordings on Flying Fish/Rounder Records are: The View From Home, Home, Home On the Road, By Heart, Friend For Life and For You.
From his rather unglamorous beginning as a street singer, Bryan Bowers has become a major artist on the traditional music circuit. He has redefined the autoharp and is also well known as a singer-songwriter. Bryan has a dynamic outgoing personality and an uncanny ability to enchant a crowd in practically any situation. His towering six foot four inch frame can be wild and zany on stage while playing a song like `Dixie’ and five minutes later he can have the same audience singing `Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ in quite reverence and delight.
In 2006 Bryan’s landmark recording, Bristlecone Pine, was released on Seattle Sounds with distribution assistance by Plectrafone Records. Autoharp partner and close friend, Ron Wall, directed and created the recording. Several of Bryan’s friends from through-out the years offered musical assistance, including: Tim O’Brien, Sam Bush, Mark Howard, Alan O’Bryant, Pat Enright, Dennis Crouch, Stuart Duncan and Ron Wall. A feature story on Bryan in the Feb/March 2007 issue of Dirty Linen stated, “Like the venerable pine of the title track, autoharp virtuoso Bryan Bowers’ vocal style and instrumental prowess have grown in depth and genius over the decades…to listen to this recording is to experience all the colors and emotions of a lifetime. Truly Bowers’ finest work to date…”
Crabby Old Man is released in 2011. This anti-produced and unvarnished recording offers 12 charming selections from Bryan’s vast repertoire. This CD sands editing, overdubs and compression and sounds as if Bryan is playing in your living room for just you and your friends. Bryan Bowers’ Live at Winterfolk 2015 is his most recent recording. This is Bryan’s first live album and features 12 selections that he loves. This CD was recorded at Portland’s premier folk event and 28th annual fundraiser for Sister of the Road. These recordings give the listener a wonderful musical experience from the man who re-defined the autoharp.
For over five decades, Bryan Bowers has been to the autoharp what Earl Scruggs was to the five-string banjo. He presents instrumental virtuosity combined with warmth, eloquence, expression and professionalism.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT BRYAN BOWERS….
“Bowers is widely regarded as the leading virtuoso on the autoharp… Bowers also has distinct gifts as a singer and songwriter.” -PEOPLE MAGAZINE
“A brilliant, innovative autoharpist & powerful songwriter-the festival’s single most powerful performance.” -THE BOSTON GLOBE
“Bryan Bowers is to the Autoharp what Bjorn Borg is to tennis balls or Henny Youngman is to one-liners – he is just about the best there is at it.”-THE GLOBE AND MAIL
“He is considered one of America’s foremost virtuosos on the Autoharp.” -THE WASHINGTON POST
“For all the acclaim Bryan Bowers has won as the master of the autoharp, what radiates from the instrument under his touch is not flash but warmth and brilliance.” “You get a good feeling being a member of Bryan Bowers’ audience, the good feeling that comes from watching someone doing just what he needs to do and doing it well and for all the right reasons.” -THE PHILADELPHIA FOLK SONG SOCIETY
“He plays the autoharp and when he picks up the instrument, the entire room changes…a very magical world, a music never heard before.” -THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
“Bowers is a riveting performer who stands tall at the microphone, harps in hand and gently lulls the audience into taking part in his act. He has charm and gets his musical emotions across to the crowd easily.” -THE OREGONIAN
“Bryan Bowers is the kind of performer about whom people get that glint in their eyes and say, `Hey, have you heard about Bryan Bowers?”-WASHINGTON STAR NEWS
“A more than interesting and very unique performer.”-THE VILLAGE VOICE
“…This man makes more music from an Autoharp than you can imagine from a 12 string guitar and a harpsichord combined. He has more stage presence and charisma than any stage performer in recent memory.”-THE WASHINGTON TIMES
“…Dealing strictly on a musical level, my favorite of the entire festival was autoharp virtuoso Bryan Bowers. Bowers has taken what is a very simple instrument to play and does things with it that cannot be physically done.” -FOLK MUSIC
“…Bowers is acclaimed as a master of the rare instrument, the genius of the autoharp.” -PERFORMANCE
“I want to have a good time and I want people to have a good time, no `woe is me’ trip. I want the joy of bringing people together and communicating….if I can say it like I see it, I can bring happiness.” -BRYAN BOWERS
Like many of our Americana “roots” music genres, the blues has morphed many times and in many ways from its acoustic origins in the deltas and cotton fields of the steamy south to the electric rock and roll dance halls, clubs and bars in the rest of the country. It has spawned jazz, soul, R&B, rock and country music. Blues itself has become standardized, fitting nicely into 8 bars or 12 bars in minor keys with a set pattern to the lyrics and chord structure, and most always a sense of melancholy to the message.
Guy Davis is a renowned musician/composer/writer/actor who brings the blues back home again. In his hands, the blues is a joyful, free-wheeling expression of a people’s triumph over sorrow and oppression. This is blues with its acoustic roots showing, and Davis will share it with Tehachapi in a performance. in the BeeKay Theatre. The concert is part of the regular acoustic music series sponsored by Fiddlers Crossing.
Davis is also a storyteller. Although raised in a middle-class suburb of New York City, he grew up listening to his parents tell tales about the lives of his grandparents and great-grandparents in the rural south. Davis taught himself how to play the guitar by listening to and watching other musicians, and he often weaves his music around his stories.
As an actor as well as musician and composer, Davis has appeared on Broadway, in film and on TV, and won acclaim for his many CDs. Among his numerous credits, he has been a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, A Prairie Home Companion, and Whoopi Goldberg’s series on Nickelodeon, and opened for Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. He was Dr. Josh Hall on TV’s “One Life to Live,” and his music was featured in the 1995 PBS series, “The American Promise.” Davis has also joined his parents, actors/writers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, (both deceased) in a theater piece the three wrote called, “Two Hahs Hahs and a Homeboy.” The show combined their own compositions with African American Folklore and history.
In 1994, Davis performed a one-man show off-Broadway called “In Bed with the Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters.” A few years ago, a CD version of the show was produced and recorded by Peter Cutler, co-owner of Fiddlers Crossing and engineer for the FolkScene radio program.
With all his talents and experience, Guy Davis is still, at heart, a bluesman, with influences ranging from Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton to Taj Mahal, Fats Waller and even Harry Belafonte.
Among his many honors, he has won the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive Award.” A critic for the San Francisco Chronicle has said of him: “Davis’ tough, timeless vocals blow through your brain like a Mississippi dust devil.” This is the blues as “goodtime music”, originally made for dancing, and Davis holds true to its roots.
Wonderful singer. Witty songwriter. Engaging performer. TV and film composer. Two EMMY nominations. A BMI award for music composition.
He plays piano and guitar. He has sung on many Henry Mancini movie scores. He has scored films for Roger Corman and others. He was an arranger for film composer Lalo Schifrin. He composed music for many Penn & Teller projects, as well as for television sitcoms including Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He has sung on commercials, on TV and in films.
And then there’s his infectious grin.
Gary Stockdale will live up to his resume and then some when he returns to Fiddlers Crossing on Friday, June 1, at 7 p.m. as part of our First Friday Showcase series.
Music was part of his life growing up. His mother was a jazz singer before she gave it up to raise a family, and he sang in church choirs from an early age. Stockdale started piano lessons when he was only four, but in sixth grade, when the Beatles hit the airwaves, he switched to guitar.
He studied theater and music at Los Angeles City College, writing, performing, and directing the music for their shows. “After a time,” he said, “it became obvious that music was where my greatest abilities lay.”
Stockdale ignored his father’s advice to have something “to fall back on” other than show business. “I always figured if you have something to fall back on, if times get tough, you’ll fall back,” he said. From college on, he was able to make a living in doing what he loved — either singing, playing music directing or writing music.
Stockdale’s singing credits range from being the solo singer on commercials for In-and-Out Burgers and singing a Paul McCartney sound-alike for a John Lennon miniseries on NBC, to creating “odd vocal sounds” in a chorus in the film “Avatar.” He said, “You can hear us most prominently in the scenes where the alien people are all sort of chanting and praying together.”
With a full body of work behind him, Stockdale now has the freedom to pursue his love of live performance, singing and playing piano and guitar. His songs are those of a man who sees the irony in life and is enjoying sharing it with his audience. Even his more serious songs have wit and humor in them.
Glenn Houston (nee Pomianek) has been voted Best Guitarist by the Northern California Bluegrass Society, is a past judge of the National Flatpicking Guitar Championship Competition in Winfield, Kansas, and was the founding lead guitarist of the Waybacks, co-founder and long-time lead guitarist for Bammie (Bay Area Music Award) winners Hearts on Fire, and co-founder and long-time lead guitarist for the powerhouse Americana quintet Houston Jones.
Originally from New Jersey, Glenn’s guitarist influences range from Albert King and Michael Bloomfield to Doc Watson and James Burton. These influences show in his well-balanced mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar.
Over the years, Glenn has shared billing with such luminaries as Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, the Tubes, the David Grisman Quintet, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bela Fleck, Tim O’Brien, Hank Williams Jr., Steve Earle, John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Doc and Merle Watson, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Delbert McClinton. Glenn has been the lead guitarist for country great Johnny Paycheck, and has performed and recorded with Grammy winner Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. With his strong background in electric blues, Glenn has performed with blues legends Mark Naftalin (Paul Butterfield Blues band) and Nick Gravenites (Electric Flag) in tribute to Mark and Nick’s late band mate, blues great Michael Bloomfield.
Glenn’s classical music background includes choral vocal performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Zubin Mehta conducting, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, at Carnegie Hall and the United Nations General Assembly [the U.N.’s 25th anniversary celebration]), and the Boston Symphony (Erich Leinsdorf conducting, Brahms’ Requiem, at Carnegie Hall).
Stevie Coyle (late of the whiz-bang string band The Waybacks) is one lucky bum. His dad ran a radio station in southern California and brought home all the promo LPs that didn’t fit the Spanish-language format. The Ventures’ Guitar Freakout and Alvin & The Chipmunks Play The Beatles’ Hits both came home on a single fateful day.
It didn’t hurt, either, that string-meister David Lindley played in a bluegrass band that rehearsed right next door and gave Stevie his very first lessons, or that his dear Granny was a pianist in the heyday of vaudeville, or that his sainted mother was a whiz in mandolin orchestras of the 1930s. Not even several years of playing Folk Masses on Sundays could quash his musical spirit.
After securing degrees in Theatre and Theology at Santa Clara University he hit the road for 3 years with The Royal Lichtenstein Circus. Once back home, he signed on as actor / stage manager for San Jose Rep. He announced killer whale shows. His best friend was an elephant.
He and pal Roy Zimmerman have worked closely in several collaborations over the years, including folk tribute / parody band The Foremen and comedy duo The Reagan Bros. The boys were regulars at The Comedy Strore and The Improv. Stevie appeared on Cheers, in many television commercials and had a recurring role on The Young And The Restless.
Hey, wake up!! We’re almost done.
Safely back in the Bay Area, he continued his acting career, doing commercials, voiceovers and films, and played in the folk duo The Frontmen. He co-founded The Waybacks in 1999 and fronted that band through 2007. They released 4 albums in that time, played major festivals like Merlefest, Grey Fox, Floydfest and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, toured Australia and collaborated with Lloyd Maines, Michelle Shocked and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead.
Stevie’s gone feral and solo now. He’s also released his first solo CD, Ten-In-One, produced by guitar guru Walter Strauss.
On Saturday, June 30, Fiddlers Crossing will present popular satirist Roy Zimmerman in his fourth appearance in Tehachapi. Zimmerman played to sold-out crowds at Mama Hillybeans several years ago, and a couple of times at Fiddlers Crossing.
Zimmerman finds just about everything and everyone funny in one way or another. As a satirist in the vein of Tom Lehrer, but with a decidedly more political point of view, his “funny songs about ignorance, war and greed” skewer our major politicians and celebrities, as well as highlight absurdities in the issues of the day.
Among his many credits and satirical endeavors, Zimmerman was the founder of the comedy folk quartet, The Foremen, a group that toured extensively in the 1990s, playing the nation’s major folk venues, and as he says, “a lot of fancy Progressive benefits.” They also performed at Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Festival, under an overpass in the rain. Zimmerman wrote over five hours of satire for the group. “We never did it all at once,” he reports, “but we kept it ready in case we had to filibuster.”
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or with a credit card by calling 661-823-9994. Tickets may also be purchased directly from the website, at fiddlerscrossing.org, via PayPal. And as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30p.m.
Aireene is a singer/songwriter playing mostly original songs accompanied by latin/african rhythms, folk, bluegrass pickings and inspirations from gospel music – a mix of stompin’, swayin’, and timeless Americana.
She was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States at 10 years old, growing up in the third culture: the old country, the new country and a blend of both worlds. Mainly influenced by listening to Alan Lomax’s field recordings from the South and growing up listening to her uncles’ Filipino folk guitar fingerpicking, her music is reminiscent of front porch storytelling, of ghosts and the living, times of laughter and tears. She tours solo as well as with her band as Aireene & The Itch, a mix of San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles musicians.
“This is our jaw dropping act of the season…she gathered some of the best musicians in town around her…She has taken off like a rocket ship and everyone is suddenly in love with the music and show of Aireene Espiritu…You might like to say, “Remember When” a short way up the musical road.” – Bob Stane, The Coffee Gallery Backstage
“Espiritu’s vocal range tells the story, eliciting the invincibility of a young Dolly Parton and blue-collar work ethic of Loretta Lynn.” – Adam Joseph, Monterey County Weekly
“Espiritu’s penchant for songs that sound like they came off a 78 rpm record, listeners will be swept away.” – Good Times Weekly, Santa Cruz CA
Authenticity is A difficult thing to measure in American roots music. It’s not in the hat you wear, or the twang in your voice. It’s in how well you understand that the music comes from the land, and that its roots run deep. Americana songwriter Amber cross understands this, and on her new album, Savage on the Downhill, she makes music as beholden to the landscapes of Northern and Pacific California, where she lives and travels, as to the visually-rich songwriting
she crafts around it. Her songs hang heavy with the yellow dust of dirt roads, plunge deep into the soft loam of the forest. As a hunter, a fisherman, and a woman of the backcountry,
she knows the countryside well, and has a deep respect for the honest work that makes you a steward of the land. It’s something she shares with other roots musicians, a community
she found attending her first Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Her contacts from the gathering helped her connect with Savage on the Downhill’s producer, Canadian blues and roots musician rAy bonneville. Traveling to Austin to record the album with Bonneville, Cross connected with other great American songwriters, gurf morlix and tim o’brien, who both came onboard for the album, with O’Brien complimenting her “no bullshit style of singing.” If there’s a rawness to Cross’ voice, a plainness to the words, it comes from the fact that Cross knows the roots of this music aren’t fancy. They’re built by hand and filled with honest words and hard-won truths.
The songs on Savage on the Downhill are deeply visual and inextricably tied to nature, whether the California forests that Cross roams through, or
the high deserts outside Austin, Texas, where she recorded the album. Even the title of the album paints a picture of Cross in the backcountry. “Savage” refers to a brand of hunting rifle, and the phrase “Savage on the Downhill” refers to how a tracker should hold a rifle so as not to bury the barrel into the dirt when side-hilling or climbing down an incline. Like any artist that works with their hands, Cross has a deep love and respect for tools, seeing the same artistry in a well-worn rifle butt that you would in a perfectly crafted song. “I have always been drawn to work that involves my hands,” Cross says. “It seems to me that this type of work is more creative. Or maybe it is that working with my hands pulls the creativity out of me in a way nothing else does.”
Throughout, Cross moves easily through different styles of country
and folk songwriting, from Bakersfield outlaw attitude to Woody Guthrie plain-spoken folk. She’s a songwriter able to juxtapose a simple image
with a powerful poetic emotion. On “Echoes,” she paints the picture of a humble domestic scene, then wonders what happens to a house when the people who made it a home have
left it behind. On “Pack of Lies,” she moves between hard-hitting lines like “Pretending to love is a wicked game” and vision-laden verses like “Barking dogs rule the moonless night.”
It may come as no surprise that Amber cross first came to music through singing in a small church in rural Maine, where she was born and raised. Her father was a small-town pastor and she was raised on the rough-hewn homilies of the hymnal. Now, Cross is creating her world by hand, working her songs until they shine with a worn polish, finding truth in tradition.
“Every once in a while music comes along that you just know instantly that you are going to like. Amber’s melodies are more than complimented by thoughtful, interesting and honest lyrics, along with fine, understated musicianship that proves the old adage that “less is more”. The result is a set of superbly crafted, well-rounded, addictive songs that stay with you long after the last notes have ended, and make you hungry for more.” -Duncan Warwick, Country Music People Magazine, UK
Upon first hearing Amber Cross you might think you are listening to an archival Smithsonian recording. Her old-time voice is clear and captivating, like a strong muscle, fringed in lace. She’s a singer and songwriter who writes from her own life’s struggles and experiences, delivering her stories with unforgettable power and emotion.
Originally from Maine, Amber spent her early years surrounded by gospel music in a small town church where her father preached and her mother played piano. In 2003 Amber left her studies at New Mexico State University to pursue her love for music. She moved up and down the coast of California; the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sierra Foothills, the San Joaquin River Valley, the coastal range of Sonoma County, and now San Luis Obispo County. She has opened for such artists as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Gurf Morlix, Mary Gauthier and Dave Stamey, as well as made frequent guest performances with The Wronglers, Warren Hellman’s band, founder of San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
Amber released her debut album You Can Come In in March of 2013. Country Music People Magazine/UK, discovered the album and gave it a 5 Star Review and CD Of The Month, saying “Every now and again a debut CD arrives and you know about 30 seconds in that you are experiencing something a bit special… it’s appeal is likely to be broad, from bluegrass, rootsy Appalachian, to country or honky-tonk.”
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1961, a family move to Nashville at age 3 fully immersed DavidGrier into the bluegrass music world, and at age 6, he began playing the guitar. Today, he is regarded as one of the premier acoustic guitarists in the world, along with his early influences,Doc Watson, Tony Rice, and family friend Clarence White. Recognized by Acoustic Guitar Magazine in 2000 as one of the Artists of the Decade, and named Guitar Player of the Year three times by the International Bluegrass Music Association, Grier has played on four Grammy Award-winning albums (True Life Blues: A Tribute to Bill Monroe; The Great Dobro Sessions; Alison Brown’s Fairweather; and Amazing Grace 2: A Country Salute to Gospel).
Having released four albums on Rounder, beginning in 1988 with Freewheeling, Grier launched his own label, Dreadnought Recordings, with the 1998 debut release, Hootenanny, with Dirk Powell and Tim O’Brien (“endlessly inventive and tasteful” – All Music Guide). His most recent release, Evocative (Dreadnought 2009), featuring 10 original tunes and a rich complement of collaborators (Victor Wooten, Paul Franklin, Stuart Duncan and more), has been hailed for its “deep musical introspection” as well as its “unmatchable mastery of the guitar” (Martin Mull). Other Dreadnought releases include the highly-acclaimed Live at the Linda (2007) and I’ve Got the House to Myself (2002) (“unfettered explosive invention” – Tim O’Brien).
“His unmatchable mastery of the guitar is ever present, but it’s the emotional exploration of themusic as a whole that leaves a lasting impression. There is evidence everywhere of deep musical introspection: real soul-searching, and, I would have to say, bravery.”~ Martin Mull
“David Grier is a willful, accurate instrumentalist whose every note seems to run through a bright, intelligent sieve. He maintains an unqualified standard of excellence in guitar playing, always with a knack for unorthodox surprise.”
~ Claire Lynch
“Grier sculpts fascinating forms the way air and moisture combine to create billowing cumuli.”
“I’ve had the good fortune to see David Grier live several times, and while I certainly delight in watching him play, I especially like to watch folks who have never seen him live before. There’s this denial/acceptance cycle as they try to rationalize what they “know” to be possible with the guitar versus what their eyes and ears are experiencing. . . . And he does it in this self-effacing way that almost undercuts his musical inventiveness [and] preternatural skill.”
~Chris Thiessen, Flatpick Guitar Magazine
Picture a grandmother who could cure thrush in babies by breathing into their mouths, a cousin who was struck twice by lightning and survived, a grandfather who was shot down on the road to his home, an aunt who left the life of a miner’s wife to become a movie star, and a grandmother who spoke to a mysterious man named Charlie through a plastic banana.
These are the ancestors of Appalachian singer Jeni (Smith) Hankins, who will be sharing her rich, poetic background in Fiddlers Crossing, Saturday, September 29, at 7 pm. This will be Jeni’s second visit to Fiddlers Crossing.
Jeni grew up in the birthplace of country music, a county over from the Carter Family and just across the Kentucky border from Jean Ritchie and Loretta Lynn. With a voice often compared to Hazel Dickens and a poetic wit often compared to Flannery O’Connor, Jeni brings authentic Southern Appalachian grace and grit to her music. As Kristi Higgins of the Village Reporter described it, hearing Jeni’s songs is like “listening to a photograph album,” an album full of gingerbread, birthdays, funeral processions, callused hands, dinner buckets, and crisp white shirts hung out on the line.
Come to Fiddlers Crossing September 29 for a musical evening in the mountains of the Appalachian coalfields.
For videos and samples, go to jeniandbilly.com and fiddlerscrossing.com.
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or online through Fiddlerscrossing.com. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. sharp.
“Born in the bone twang-an heiress to the Mountain Music Crown”-Sing Out Magazine
The Fiddlers Crossing poster for West My Friend reads: “Canadian eclectic acoustic ensemble.” The quartet of young and accomplished musicians from Vancouver Island has also been called an “Indie folk pop band,” or simply “Indie roots.” Other music reviewers have called the band, “Third-wave indie rock pop with four-part harmonies,” and their style, “Cascadian third-wave indie progressive chamber folk-roots music.”
Obviously, West My Friend defies being pigeon-holed into any one genre. Their blend of acoustic instruments accompanying lush four-part harmonies challenges the conventions of today’s popular music, as can be seen in concert at Fiddlers Crossing on Sunday, November 18 at 3 pm. This will be the bands second appearance at the venue. Their catchy songs and arrangements of bass, guitar, mandolin and accordion draw from jazz, classical, folk and pop influences.
Since 2010, when Eden Oliver, Alex Rempel, Jeff Poynter, and Adam Bailey came together to form West My Friend, they have become a key part of a new generation of grassroots folk music on the adventurous acoustic music scene of Canada’s west coast. The only change in the group has been bass player Nick Mintenko recently replacing Bailey.
Classical training and a wealth of diverse musical experience gives them their distinct voice, with passages of intricacy and counterpoint balanced with moments of sweet and exquisite simplicity. Innovation and humor mix easily and seamlessly with traditional genres, echoing old world Klezmer, Cape Breton dance tunes, anthems that sound like show tunes, emotional folk songs, and bluegrass vocal harmonies – with a bit of roots-twang thrown in for good measure. Think “Mumford and Sons” with a female lead singer.
Their name, West My Friend, is a play on “Go West, Young Man.” These four musicians are all westerners through-and-through, and have toured throughout Canada, as well as the US and Europe. Their favorite mode of travel and touring, weather permitting? Cycling – with bass and other instrument in tow!
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or online through Fiddlerscrossing.com. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 3 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.
Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas are making their fourth appearance in Tehachapi Saturday, January at 7:00 p.m Venue TBA.
Alasdair Fraser is a major force behind the resurgence of traditional Scottish fiddling in his homeland as well as in the U.S., inspiring legions of listeners and learners through his recordings, fiddle camps, and concerts. He is in demand as a performer and teacher all over the world. He weaves through his performances a warm and witty narrative, drawing from a deep well of stories and lore surrounding Scotland’s musical heritage.
From Boston to San Diego, when you hear American fiddlers playing Scottish tunes, odds are they have attended one of Fraser’s camps or been taught by one of his students. The Scottish Fiddlers of California, which he heads up, has several offshoots throughout the state. One of those, the Los Angeles Scottish Fiddlers, regularly performs at the Bakersfield Scottish Games. Tehachapi’s own Camp Kiya is inspired by the Scottish Fiddle camps Fraser started, with students of both Fraser and Haas providing instruction.
Cellist Natalie Haas, a California native and graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, wasn’t even born when Fraser was winning national fiddle competitions on the other side of the Atlantic. But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, which was to find a cellist who could help him return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music.
Now, he says, “cellists are coming out of the woodwork to study with Natalie, to learn how she creates a groove and a whole chunky rhythm section,” says Fraser. “It’s inspiring to hear the cello unleashed from its orchestral shackles.”
Fiddlers Crossing tries to honor its Celtic roots by offering an Irish concert on or around St. Patrick’s Day in March, a Scottish one to celebrate Robbie Burns’ birthday at the end of January, and presenting the Winterdance Celtic concert at Christmas.
This year, to honor Robbie Burns and Scotland, the venue is bringing back, Jim Malcom on Sunday, January 27, at 3 pm. Malcom is considered one of the finest voices and interpreters of Robert Burns songs in Scottish traditional music today. He was the lead singer for the world-renowned band Old Blind Dogs for eight years before returning to his solo career as a singer-songwriter.
Malcolm’s family roots are in Perthshire and Strathclyde, and he is a graduate of Edinburgh University. Like many folk musicians, he began his career by singing in pubs, clubs and hotels in his native country. Solo tours to England, Ireland, Denmark and Germany followed, and then further adventures to such far-off places as Uganda in Africa. Joining the already established and popular Celtic folk/rock band Old Blind Dogs brought him fame in the acoustic music festival scene across Europe and North America.
A Jim Malcolm concert is always an entertaining mix of his own and traditional songs, including those of Burns, peppered with funny stories and observations in the tradition of Scottish bards through the ages. An accomplished guitarist, he plays mostly in the Celtic tuning dadgad. He is also considered to be one of the top simultaneous guitar and harmonica players in the world.
Malcom has recorded ten solo CDs, and has performed his songs with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In 2004, he was voted songwriter of the year at the annual Scots Traditional Music Awards. Along with his own songs, he enjoys reworking old songs that form the kernel of Scotland’s great folk tradition.
At home in Scotland, Malcom enjoys spending time with his children and fly fishing on the rivers and lochs of Perthshire. In winter he has lately been heading for the Glenshee Ski Resort with a snowboard and, he says, “a great deal of padding.” Apparently, the ice on Scotland’s slopes make for “quite a hard landing.”
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or online through Fiddlerscrossing.com. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 3 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.