A Tehachapi Christmas tradition is returning to Fiddlers Crossing. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” read by Tehachapi’s own Alex Zonn, will be presented twice at the venue this month, on Saturday, December 16, at 7:00 pm and Sunday, December 17, at 2:00 pm.
First published in 1843, “A Christmas Carol” is the story of a bitter old miser named Ebeneezer Scrooge and his transformation resulting from a supernatural visit from the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. It has delighted audiences in theatrical and film adaptations for well over a century.
Alex Zonn is well known to Tehachapi audiences, having appeared in a number of Tehachapi Community Theater productions including “The Lion in Winter,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and the fully staged production of “A Christmas Carol.” He has also directed some of TCT’s productions. He is an accomplished actor and voiceover artist with many credits to his name.
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased online at fiddlerscrossing.org, or at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, or Lucky’s Barbershop. To reserve tickets or pay by phone, call 661-823-9994. Tickets to the readings are $12, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. There are two shows being presented,Friday, December 16, at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30pm sharp), and Sunday, December 17, at 2:00 pm (doors open at 1:30pm sharp).
“Winterdance,” a Celtic Christmas celebration, will return to Tehachapi for two performances in the BeeKay Theatre on Saturday, December 23. The concert, put on by Fiddlers Crossing, has been a sell-out the last three years. As in the past years, two performances will be presented, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students.
The core of the concert is the traditional Celtic trio, Molly’s Revenge. They will again be joined by vocalist Christa Burch, along with the Rosemary Turco Irish dancers from San Jose, in an evening of music, song and dance associated with the festive season. The performance will include Christmas songs both old and new, all played with a Celtic twist, as well as selections from the band’s holiday album.
Molly’s Revenge is a dynamic, acoustic Celtic band complete with bagpipes, whistle, fiddle, guitar, mandola, and bodhran, to guarantee a rousing afternoon for all fans of Scottish and Irish music. They have performed at many of the top folk festivals and performing arts events in the USA, as well as at prestigious events in Scotland, Australia and China.
The band is comprised of a trio of Californians in love with Celtic music. David Brewer plays whistle and four types of bagpipes. He studied in Scotland under the tutelage of some of the best pipers in the world. His unique style of playing has earned him a reputation as one of the most accomplished pipers on the West Coast.
John Weed is a classically trained violinist who switched to playing Irish fiddle about 15 years ago. He has lived in Ireland, teaching workshops in Irish fiddle — to the Irish! He studied with master fiddlers in County Donegal and hones his skills there annually.
Stuart Mason has been collecting and performing traditional music for over 30 years. He has appeared on stage from Ireland to China performing Celtic, old-time, bluegrass, and his own compositions, which have won awards from the West Coast Songwriters Association. He also leads workshops and classes in traditional music techniques at music festivals and camps. Mason and Weed previous played Fiddlers Crossing with Kenny Blackwell as old-time trio Little Black Train.
Christa Burch is no stranger to Tehachapi, having been the vocal and bodhran instructor for Camp Kiya in 2012. She has performed with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, as well as with the Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles, who often perform at the Bakersfield Scottish Games. Her band, The Syncopaths, is a favorite for California contra dances. In her travels through Scotland and Ireland, Christa has collected a wide repertoire of songs and developed her own style.
If you have seen Winterdance, you will certainly want to revisit this fantastic Celtic Christmas Celebration. If you haven’t, you won’t want to miss it this year, so be sure to get your tickets early. Because nothing says “Christmas” like bagpipes – plus fiddles, guitars, bodhrans, whistles, singers and dancers in a brilliant Celtic spirit!
The BeeKay Theatre is at 110 S. Green Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased online at fiddlerscrossing.com, at Mountain Music during Wednesday Open Mic Nights, as well as at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop. To reserve tickets or pay by phone, call 661-823-9994 and leave your name and the number of tickets requested. Tickets to the concert are $25 for adults and $15 for students. The concert times are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Doors open one-half hour ahead.
Jim Kweskin is probably best known as a singer and bandleader. He also created one of the bedrock guitar styles of the folk revival, adapting the ragtime-blues fingerpicking of artists like Blind Boy Fuller to the more complex chords of pop and jazz. He has maintained a remarkably consistent musical vision since his jug band days, continuing to explore traditional folk and blues with the sophisticated sensibility of a jazz musician and jazz with the communal simplicity of a folk artist. He has recorded solo ventures, as a member of the U and I band, and with U and I bandmate Samoa Wilson, and continues to perform widely in various formats. In recent years he and Geoff Muldaur have often appeared as a duo, revisiting and expanding on their Jug Band repertoire.
“At the peak of the American folk revival, Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band reintroduced an essential component into folk music: fun.” – Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., AllMusic.com
“The rock historian Ed Ward went so far as to place the Kweskin Band alongside the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Byrds as that period’s most influential groups.” – Alex Ward, The New York Times
“When it came to jug band music, razzmatazz jazz, and swinging spins on Piedmont blues back in the ’60s, Jim Kweskin was top dog. Jim Kweskin’s famed Jug Band hot-wired an entire movement that still has a certain impact on the folk scene today.” – Jim Macnie, The Providence Phoenix
Among the blueblood bands of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, of course, will always be the King. But the four-piece band, The Special Consensus, is certainly one of the crown princes. Tehachapi will be treated to a second royal visit by this Nashville-based band on Saturday, January 27, at 7 pm at The BeeKay Theatre in downtown Tehachapi.
The award-winning, GRAMMY-nominated group was formed in the Chicago area in 1975, and features a repertoire of traditional bluegrass standards, as well as original compositions and songs from other musical genres performed in the bluegrass format. The band has released 17 recordings and appeared on numerous National Public Radio programs, as well as TV shows such as The Nashville Network and the Grand Ole Opry.
International tours have taken Special Consensus to Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, Ireland and the United Kingdom. They have even appeared in concert with many symphony orchestras nationwide. Through their Traditional American Music Program (TAM), they bring an awareness of our musical heritage to schools, both nationally and internationally.
The 2012 recording, “Scratch Gravel Road,” was Grammy-nominated, and the 2014 recording, “Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver,” received two International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards.
Although the personnel line-up of The Special Consensus has changed over the years, the present four members are all bluegrass stars in their own right. Chicago born and bred Greg Cahill is a co-founder of the band and has been playing bluegrass banjo since the early 1970s. He has appeared on all 17 of The Special Consensus recordings, on numerous recordings by other artists and on many national television and radio commercials. Cahill teaches banjo at festival workshops and at music camps and colleges nationally and internationally and has released instructional DVDs and books. He served on the Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Board of Directors from 1998-2010 and was awarded the prestigious IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2011.
Rick Faris is known in the world of bluegrass music as an award-winning guitar player. Born and raised in the Midwest, Rick started playing with his family’s bluegrass Band in 1998. The Faris Family band toured extensively throughout the USA and Canada and was awarded numerous honors by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA). Rick was awarded the SPBGMA Midwest Guitar Performer of the Year in 2005 and 2008. An accomplished luthier, Rick plays a guitar he built himself.
Bassist Dan Eubanks grew up in Missouri and attended bluegrass festivals with his grandparents from a very young age. As a young boy, he started playing music on drums, then added banjo and guitar, and eventually bass. Dan played in country and rock bands throughout high school and attended college on a music scholarship. He holds a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from Webster University in St. Louis. In 2003, after many years of teaching at several St. Louis-area colleges and universities, Dan moved to Nashville to get back to his bluegrass roots. He joined Special Consensus in 2013.
The newest member of the band is Mandolin player Nick Dumas, who joined last year. He grew up in Brier, Washington, and was introduced to bluegrass music at a very young age by his dobro-playing grandfather who had a country gospel band. Nick learned the violin in his school orchestra and soon was playing fiddle in his family band. He has added mandolin, guitar and banjo to his skills, and was a highly respected member of several popular bluegrass bands in the Seattle region.
The consensus among bluegrass aficionados is that The Special Consensus is a royal visit not to be missed.
The BeeKay Theatre is located at 110 S. Green St. in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, Lucky’s Barbershop, or online at fiddlerscrossing.com. Tickets to the concert are $25. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30p.m.
It may be named “Fiddlers Crossing,” but the small venue in downtown Tehachapi also features some of the world’s finest acoustic guitarists in its concert schedules. On February 9, the audience will be treated to a touch of Italy when Beppe Gambetta returns to the stage for his second appearance. Gambetta is considered one of the finest flatpicking guitarists on any continent, playing, according to Acoustic Guitar magazine, a “virtual United Nations of influences: Italian, Ukrainian, Appalachian, Sardinian, Celtic.”
Born in Genoa, Italy, Gambetta fell in love with American Roots music when he first heard Doc Watson play. He began his career playing in a classical orchestra for plectrum instruments, but crossed over to American music when he founded the Italian Bluegrass band, Red Wine. In 1988 he launched his solo career. After eleven CDs, several instructional DVDs on the Homespun label, as well as teaching books, he has become known as one of the true master innovators of the acoustic guitar.
Gambetta still lives in his native Genoa, but spends part of the year in North America. He has played numerous festivals, and in prestigious halls such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He has appeared on All Things considered and other radio shows, and has collaborated with many other top-flight musicians such as Tony Trishka, Dan Crary and Tony McManus.
In his guitar technique, there are echoes of Doc Watson as well as Moravian and other folk music. Gambetta incorporates intricate cross-picking patterns, open tunings, and fluid slides up and down the neck of the guitar.
In his concerts, Gambetta alternates his flashy guitar pieces with songs in Italian or English. He brings to his playing and singing an intimate sense of emotions, along with his Italian charm and humour. He doesn’t rely solely on his high level of technical excellence, but is not afraid to show his innermost feelings in a playful way, always exploring and innovating while staying firmly rooted in musical tradition.
Oh, and he cooks, too.
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.
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 February 23.
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, ten years after their street start, Ryanhood’s star is still on the rise. Their fifth and newest album, Start Somewhere, 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.
Rooted in the traditional music of the seven Celtic nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, The Isle of Man, French Brittany and Spanish Galicia), Golden Bough has become a popular and in-demand group on both sides of the Atlantic. Since their formation in 1980, this trio of
modern day minstrels has traveled great distances to numerous countries, to bring their music to enthusiastic folk fans the world over.
Backing themselves on an array of acoustic instruments; Celtic harp, guitar, octave-mandolin, mandolin, accordion, violin, penny-whistle
and bodhran, they blend their voices in the pristine harmonies that have become a Golden Bough trademark. To date they have released
over 30 recordings. In the recording studio, as well as on stage, Golden Bough captures the essence and joy of traditional music.
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
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.
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.
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.”