This Thursday, Danny Schmidt takes the Empty Sea stage for a concert with a live webcast. Click here to learn more and to purchase advance tickets.
Named to the Chicago Tribune’s 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt has been rapidly ascending from underground cult hero to being widely recognized as an artist of generational significance. With lyrical depth drawing comparisons to Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, and Dave Carter, Danny is considered a preeminent writer, an artist whose earthy poetry manages to somehow conjure magic from the mundane.
How did you first start playing music?
I first started playing music (electric guitar) (loud!) in my room as a teenager as a way to get away from my family, and express a little bit of my teenage angst. That started my obsession with the guitar. Eventually as I matured, that obsession found more refined focal points, like the country blues pickers . . . which eventually led to a convergence with my interest in writing. I discovered the songwriters who hung out with (or idolized) the country blues guys.
Would you describe yourself as a “folk musician?” How do you define that term?
It depends who’s asking. If it’s a regular person, then yes, I say I’m a folk singer. Cause all they really want to know is if I play acoustic guitar and sing by myself. If I’m talking to a music aficionado, I’ll usually tell them I’m a “singer/songwriter” . . . just cause it’s a broader term, and more accurate. I write my own songs, and I sing them. Beyond that, the songs are really without genre. I think of songs as pretty loose frameworks, musically, and depending on what sort of instrumental fabric you hang on them, what instruments you choose to add to them, can wind up in almost any genre.
What do you think is the hardest part of this job? What is an unexpected perk?
The traveling is both the best and worst parts of this job. I love seeing the world, I love catching up with my far-flung friends, I love meeting new people . . . but I hate not having a steady rhythmic home life. It’s become more and more obvious to me how much I need a home routine to feel connected to my community and to feel rooted, personally. And in turn, it’s become clearer and clearer to me how much I need that rootedness to be a productive writer. So I’ve been actively trying to scale back the touring, and keep a healthier balance in my life. God, I sound like frickin’ Oprah.
How have the places you have lived influenced your music?
Very much so. I grew up in Austin which taught me that music is (and should be) ubiquitous and eclectic and collaborative and common. I lived communally for five years where music was a part of our daily life. It wasn’t a stage or performance affair, it was daily on the porch. Then I lived in Charlottesville, VA just as I started getting serious about songwriting, and immediately fell in with a brilliant community of upstart songwriters that to this day remain huge influences on me . . . they’re the voices in my head that help me edit my songs, and judge them when it’s judgement time.
You’ve received high praise from many, many music publications – Sing Out calls you a “force of nature, a blue moon, a hundred-year flood, an avalanche of a singer-songwriter.” Is that a lot to live up to? Does it feel strange to be described as a person by reviewers you may never have met?
Yeah, it takes awhile to get used to the idea of being “reviewed”. . . it’s kind of a polite way of saying “being judged” really . . . and that’s not a super comfortable position to find yourself in! Eventually, though, you just kinda stop paying much attention to any of the reviews, good or bad, cause you have your own internal barometer for whether what you’re doing is any good. I could argue with any glowing review and tell them all the things that are wrong with the album that they missed. And I could argue with any bad review and tell them all the brilliant themes they missed!
What are your current musical and non-musical sources of inspiration?
I love podcasts. I listen to a lot of great talks online while I drive . . . they’re really what gets my brain cranking these days.
What are you most excited about now with your music?
It’s always the writing that makes me excited. New songs are the fuel for my rockets, for sure. I’m kind of excited to be shifting back towards complexity rather than simplicity, too. For awhile there I was trying to simplify the songs, to distill the ideas and make them more accessible. And I think that was a good process to go through. I think it helped my writing. But I’m excited to be shifting back the other way now some . . . embracing the complexity and the the mystery and the code of complicated ideas . . . to allow the listener more process and unfolding. I don’t know if that’s my intent, per se . . . but that’s the result. The intent is just simply that I’m enjoying the process of writing songs that are multilayered, and heavily folded and twisted . . . and I’m indulging myself in that. Hopefully folks will enjoy the new tunes.
Formed by Nick Drummond and Tyler Carson, Impossible Bird is a duo that will shake your bones. The genre smashing duo from Seattle has been turning heads up and down the West Coast of North America with their blend of infectious songs and playful live shows.
How do you describe the music you play and how were you first drawn to this music?
Tyler Carson: I’ve been playing the violin for 24 years. I started with classical modified Suzuki lessons when I was five years old and my teacher who was of eastern European descent told me – “Tyler, you are very talented, but you are very lazy!” (I was practicing for ‘only’ 30min per day). You see, she wanted me to practice for at least an hour, 2 by age 8, 3 by age ten… I love it. But she also was very smart and said much to her personal disinclination, that maybe I should try playing ‘fiddle music’. And that was the beginning of a life time pursuit!
When I was 11years old I played in front of 60,000 people (fiddle music) at the Commonwealth games and I am told my feet didn’t touch the ground the whole performance (I tend to be… enthusiastic in my performance). When I was 13, I played as a solo guest artist with the Victoria Symphony half classical and then send half fiddle music. And that has been a blending experience I have always had in my playing which eventually incorporated jazz, rock, country, Celtic, bluegrass… all of these genres I performed in professionally until my recent work with Impossible Bird that was the first time that I brought all of these influences together under one project. I love it!
Nick Drummond: We actually have a pretty hard time describing what we do! Neither of us are quite sure we’ve ever heard anything like it before, as it is simply the alchemy of two players who share a whole lot of musical chemistry. But what we are sure of is how much we enjoy creating it! Fans will often tell us how our sound is way too big for just two players, and how they feel they’ve been taken on a journey by the end of a show. And frankly we agree, because we feel the same way a lot of the time. When we get painted into a corner and forced to describe what our music sounds like we usually say its a cross between Paul Simon, Radiohead, and Dave Matthews. But even that doesn’t quite seem to paint the whole picture.
How did you each first start playing music and how did you meet and start playing together?
Nick: I started out writing songs and playing in a band called The Senate. Tyler came through on tour with The Paperboys and we opened for them, and immediately hit it off. There has always been a spark between us when we play, and we both felt it pretty much immediately. Then my old band broke up, Tyler toured the world, and we reconnected at a great time for both of us. This band has been together for 18 months
Impossible Bird is such a wonderful name. Where did it come from?
Tyler: Nick’s sock drawer. Nick you want to take it from here… ? ;)
Nick: Ha, yes. My sock drawer.
Nick, What do you think about when writing music? What are your goals and what do you want to say with your songs?
Nick: Songs are a fascinating window into who is writing them, I find. Some songwriters leave you with the sense that they feel squeezed from all sides simply by their own existence, and others show you just how deeply one can think about the world and what one experiences in it. And some are just fun. I guess I think of myself as a combination of all three… at least on a good day. I think I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and so what I write tends to be a reflection of where I’m at as I struggle to be the best version of myself I can. Plus I love women and dancing and babies and the idea that we are better when we come together. If I had to distill that into a single message or idea, I think it would be “love wins.”
Tyler, You play the stroh violin (a violin which uses a metal horn instead of a wooden sound box) as well the violin or fiddle that most people know. Could you describe this instrument and tell us why you use it?
Tyler: It is from the late 19th century and designed to be more effective in the recording medium that was the gramophone. It has a more nasal and higher frequency sound that causes it to etch into the wax more deeply. They actually made full orchestras of these instruments – they even had stroh cellos!
When I heard it the first time, I just had a sense that it was important to me. Didn’t know why. 2 weeks later, Nick sent me the first song that we collaborated on – Sand and Stone which is absolutely marvelous. Deeply haunting and personally questioning and I knew why I had found the stroh.
What are you listening to now? Who are your musical inspirations?
Tyler: Being a musician and keeping late hours by necessity, I was disappointed that I couldn’t fall back asleep at 7:30am. I had a lot of things running around in my head and then I listened to “In Rainbows” (Radiohead). It gave me all the answers I needed and I was back to sleep.
Tom Yorke is a wonderful lyricist and possibly, no absolutely a more brilliant vocalist. He takes words and changes vowels at the most perfect time so that the word has still been spoken but it also turns it into something completely different and much more “instrumental.” He’s blurring the definition between vocals and instrument which I appreciate very much, from the opposite point of view…
Nick: Right now I’m listening to a lot of Elbow and Radiohead. Pretty standard for me in the winter. :)
What’s next for Impossible Bird? What are your goals with this group?
Tyler: I’m very much looking forward to getting into studio again this spring and bringing that record to a number of festival performance this summer!
Nick: Next up we are working on some new songs and maybe heading back into the studio before too long. Then it’s off on the road again.
Tickets: $20 advance, $25 at the door
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1961, a family move to Nashville at age 3 fully immersed David Grier 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 the music 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.” ~ Jazz Review
“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
Tickets: $15 advance, $18 at the door.
Ryan Ayers began playing guitar at the age of thirteen. He attended Loyola Marymount University and graduated with degrees in classical guitar performance and recording arts. It was there that he began his studies with classical guitarist Martha Masters.
Tickets: $20 advance, $24 at the door.
Kitchen tables, springs, loss, miners, mountains, culture clash, trailers, stray dogs, loggers, hope, forest fires—Rita Hosking‘s country-folk music is this and more, and always fierce and lovely. Her delivery is, to put it simply, intense. “From the first time I heard Rita sing, her voice gripped me and did not let go,” (Joe Craven.)
That voice, called a “soulful howl from the mountains” (California Bluegrass Association) is calling attention around the country—”What? California girls don’t sing like that!!?” But Rita will tell you about her upbringing in rural Shasta County, and the old-time band of seasoned mountain characters that took her under their wings. “This California girl comes by her mountain-music sensibility with true authenticity, with original songs deeply rooted in her family’s frontier experience,” (Dan Ruby, FestivalPreview.com.) A descendant of Cornish miners who sang in the mines, Rita grew up with deep regard for folk music and the power of the voice.
Come Sunrise, a collection of 11 original songs and Rita’s third album, was released in June of 2009. Recorded in Austin, Texas with producer and guitarist Rich Brotherton (Robert Earl Keen, Caroline Herring,) Come Sunrise launches Rita onto the international Americana scene with players such as Brotherton himself, Lloyd Maines, Warren Hood, Glenn Fukunaga, and many more. “Superb country-folk from a brilliant singer-songwriter,” (Americana UK.) In addition to her ’07 Silver Stream and ’05 Are You Ready? featuring members of her band “Cousin Jack,” Come Sunrise completes a collection of well received recordings.
“In scorching form” (UK Telegraph), Northern California’s own Rita Hosking sings of forest fires, culture clash, demolition derbies, the working class and hope. With major U.S. music festivals to Bob Harris’s BBC show, Rita is moving audiences around the globe with her stories in song and doubly sweet and sinewy voice, “a captivating performer,” (R2 Magazine.) Her new release, Burn, is a fiery follow-up to Come Sunrise, which won Best Country Album Vox Pop in the 2010 Independent Music Awards. Rita’s songs have been lauded for story and sense of place, and her performances praised for capturing the audience. Other honors include winner of the ’08 Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest at the Sisters Folk Festival, finalist in the ’09 Telluride Troubadour Contest, and others as well. “There’s a grit to her songs and sinewy toughness to her voice that weave their own spell,” (Q Magazine.) From the pages of Uncut Magazine, “Fourth album [Burn] confirms poetic Californian’s arrival into the country pantheon,” to an Oregonian reviewer’s words, “a sledgehammer to my heart” (Frank Gutch Jr.), most new listeners will agree with Rita’s fans who call her “the real deal.” Cousin Jack is Rita’s illustrious band that weaves string band accompaniment and harmonies: Sean Feder on Dobro (resophonic guitar) and melodic banjo, Andy Lentz on fiddle, and Bill Dakin on acoustic bass.
Tickets: $12 advance, $16 at the door.
When two of the best young artists from the east coast new acoustic music scene come together to play as a duo, the audience knows it’s in for a treat! Jefferson Hamer, multi-instrumentalist and clear-voiced folk singer, mixes his repertoire of new and old songs with the fiddling of one of America’s greatest young players, Tashina Clarridge, a fiddler since age two and winner of the National Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho. What results is a sparkling musical collaboration that pulls the audience into a world of astonishingly relevant original and traditional folk songs, performed with excitement, creativity, and tremendous all-around musicianship.
Jefferson Hamer started singing and playing stringed instruments around Colorado in the late 90′s, making a mark with his acoustic trio Single Malt Band and the country-rock outfit Great American Taxi. After a decade spent in the West, he took his talents to New York City. Because of his ability to cross genres and musical styles, and his versatility both as a soloist and as an accompanist, Jefferson has become a master of collaboration, cultivating partnerships with Anais Mitchell, Laura Cortese, Kristin Andreassen, Session Americana, and Irish music quartet Murphy Beds. Jefferson’s original songs reflect a wide breadth of influences and echo the distilled melodies and lyricism of British, Irish, and American traditional music. His 2004 release “Left Wing Sweetheart” earned a 4-star review from Marquee Music Magazine, who said it “sounds like a forgotten Gram Parsons release suddenly discovered.”
Tashina Clarridge was raised in the mountains of northern California. She is one of the youngest fiddlers to become Grand National Fiddle Champion, and in addition she is a 6-time Grand National finalist, 6-time California State Fiddle Champion, and 2-time Western Open grand Champion. Though her contest record speaks to her clear abilities in Texas style contest fiddling, it is her enthusiasm for many diverse styles that brings a higher level of creativity to her playing. Tashina has performed at Carnegie Hall as part of Grammy winning bassist Edger Meyer’s Young Artist Concert. She is a member of the influential new music string band, The Bee Eaters, which performs accross the United States. Tashina lends her fiddling to projects by other prominent musicians including famed banjo player Tony Trischka, and Grammy Winners Laurie Lewis and Mark O’Connor. O’Connor has said of Tashina, “…she will make a lasting impact on the people she touches with her talent in the future. She is in music for the right reasons and we as listeners will benefit from it”.
Tickets: $8 advance, $10 at the door.
Lindsay Fuller is an Alabama bred, Seattle-based songwriter who has been described as “Flannery O’Connor with a telecaster” (Twang Nation) on account of her gritty, haunting storytelling. Her most recen album The Last Light I See , a follow up to her debut Lindsay Fuller and The Cheap Dates, was released in June 2010.
Her unique voice has been described as a “burnished, soulful trill that sounds like the frame of a beautiful old church that’s about to collapse on itself” (The Examiner) and “a delicious combo platter of soulfulness and vibrato that grabs you by the shoulders and gives you a good shake” (Spectrum
Culture). She recently had the opportunity to open some shows for national acts including the Indigo Girls and The Civil Wars. She and her band (The Cheap dates) are currently working on a new record that they plan to release in the fall of 2011.
Gregory Paul spent most of his life as a musician in Upstate, NY before moving to Seattle in May, 2009. He has been touring and releasing solo albums sporadically since 1996 consisting of haunted, mesmerizing songs and compositions with folk, traditional, psych, experimental and minimalist influences. He currently earns a living as a street musician performing old time clawhammer banjo songs at the Pike Place Market.
Tickets: $8 advance, $10 at the door.
Please join us for this triple bill as three Seattle songwriters take the Empty Sea stage!
Levi Fuller has released three solo albums since moving to Seattle from Boston in 2001. His 2009 album Colossal was praised as “one of the most elegant, quietly powerful albums you’ll hear this year” by The Stranger, and “a striking collection of minimalist acoustic songs” by the Seattle Weekly. In addition, he performs as a member of Seattle bands Pufferfish, The Luna Moth, and The Dexter Street Stompers, and curates the compilation series Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly.
Tomo Nakayama is the singer, multi-instrumentalist, and chief songwriter of the Seattle ensemble Grand Hallway. Nakayama’s folk-influenced chamber pop songs feature his high tenor voice and stark, poetic lyrics sung in both English and Japanese. Grand Hallway’s albums have earned acclaim from NPR, KEXP, and Amazon.com, and they have performed all over the United States and Japan, sharing the stage with such artists as Shearwater, Damien Jurado, Robin Pecknold, and Shugo Tokumaru. Nakayama will be performing songs from Grand Hallway’s upcoming full-length album, which they are currently recording in Portland and is due out sometime in 2011.
Louis O’Callaghan has released two solo rock/folk albums as The Graze, currently plays in neo/art grunge band An Invitation to Love, and is a veteran of several Seattle bands including Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Rosyvelt, and Mississippi Painful.
Tickets: $8 advance, $12 at the door.
Shannon Stephens began her musical career in 1994 as the voice of the band Marzuki, a folk-rock ensemble assembled by Sufjan Stevens. Marzuki played a lot of shows around Michigan, and a few ill-fated shows in New York City. They released two albums in the five years that they were together.
After Marzuki disbanded, Shannon began to perform and record on her own. She recorded her self-titled debut LP in 1999, the same year she moved to Seattle and shared the stage with the likes of Denison Witmer, Rose Thomas, Jason Harrod and Damien Jurado. But by the time the new album had come back from the manufacturer, she had realized that all this music stuff was a lot of work. The boxes went into her garage and collected dust for nine years while she got married, read copious amounts of books, had a daughter, and did lots of hippy stuff like growing potatoes, canning preserves, and making kombucha.
In 2008, one of her songs (“I’ll Be Glad”) was covered by Bonnie “Prince” Billy on his album Lie Down In The Light. In 2009, Shannon released her second album, The Breadwinner, which Rachel Carson at Exclaim! described as “…a spectacularly beautiful and fiercely compelling sophomore album” and Sufjan Stevens called “…a joyful, heartful collection of quiet, gorgeous songs about family, friends, work, love, and the beauty of the world at large.”
In 2010, Asthmatic Kitty Records proudly re-released Shannon’s self-titled debut (2000). Produced by Stephens and her former Marzuki bandmates Sufjan Stevens and Matthew Haseltine, the re-press features new artwork and two previously unreleased bonus tracks. Shannon continues to play shows in the Seattle area and around the Pacific Northwest, and is busy writing songs for her next album.
Appearing with Shannon Stephens is Tony Kevin Jr, “a next generation troubadour with songs that explore both the spiritual and venal sides of life with knowing sadness and sweet choruses that will stick with you for days.” – Abbey Simmons (Sound on the Sound)
“This Western Washington native is a singer/songwriter with dynamic vocals, attention-grabbing lyrics and an easy going style. When listening to Tony or attending one of his shows you won’t feel the distance that often pops up between a musician and their audience. His music is made of stuff you can reach out and grasp, mold in your hands and make your own. Through his words and gritty vocals, Tony grabs you in your seat and turns the color in your world brighter, the shadows darker, the edges sharper. He is an everyday man who makes life into art for the ears of anyone who will listen. What he has to say will move you.” – Kimberly Loomis (The Musician’s Wife)
Tickets: $10 advance, $14 at the door.
Please join us as we celebrate the release of Brownesville Highway’s inaugural studio album, recorded here at Empty Sea.
Georgia Browne, previously with the acclaimed a cappella trio, Bella, and Americana group Chele’s Kitchen, has played a variety of festivals and such venues as the Triple Door and the Intiman Theater. While Georgia’s songwriting comes from a deeply personal space, her lyrics are easily accessible and universally understood. With her soulful, heartfelt delivery, Georgia’s songs are evocative and unforgettable.
Rob Gilbert, a cartoonist and animator by trade, has followed a long-time interest in music that began in bars and dives in New York City playing in rock/blues/funk bands. Over a decade ago, he eschewed electric instruments and has developed a passion for acoustic music. Influenced by a variety of styles including old-time county, classical, jazz, and Appalachian mountain music, he pulls from his Southern American and Eastern European ancestral roots to write diverse songs which are at once fresh and timeless.
“It’s been quite a wonderful and amazing experience to see our two styles blending and creating something new, musically.” Georgia explains, “We’ve been playing together for about a year now, and the songs we write together are reflective of our individuality, but take on a crazy life of their own.” The pair switch instruments continuously, keeping things interesting using various pairings of voice, guitar, banjos, mandolin, mandola, mountain dulcimers, and upright bass. “We’re constantly learning and reinventing ourselves, and try not to take things too seriously,” says Gilbert.
Please note: This concert has been cancelled due to a family emergency. Advance ticketholders will receive a full refund. We apologize for the inconvenience!
Gabrielle Louise’s music is anchored deeply in folk, but undeniably drawn to rich harmonies and melodic adventurism. Her sound has the earthy feel of early Joni Mitchell while also veering into the spirited delivery of fellow genre-hopping artist Martin Sexton. Unafraid to take a random musical escapade in the name of inspiration, Gabrielle is at one moment folkie and ethereal, the next moment a smoky jazz chanteuse. She has 100% independently released four records, Journey (2006), Around in Circles, the E.P. (2007), Cigarettes for Sentiments (2008), and Live in Coal Creek Canyon (2009).
Gabrielle’s music has been best appreciated in listening atmospheres with introspective, attentive crowds. She strives to communicate more through soul than special effect and gently entices her listener to release their grip on the status quo. In a music industry that tends to view its artists as either super-stars or failures, Gabrielle aims to break the trend by offering her creative personality as-is, a professional presentation of her private journaling.
As a performer and songwriter, Gabrielle has made a commitment towards the environment. In 2007, she released a single, “Save the Arkansas” that seeks to bring awareness to a dire environmental situation that is threatening the health and safety of the Arkansas River Watershed. Having both grown up and worked as a raft guide on the Arkansas, maintaining the purity of its waters is very important to her.
Recently, Gabrielle has been getting deeply involved in the world of alternative fueling. She tours in a Veggie Van, affectionately dubbed “Vita,” using what would be thrown out restaurant grease to fuel the tour vehicle! Gabrielle Louise and her tour manager, Chris Garre give workshops along the way, explaining to interested environmentalists how the technology works to convert and run a vehicle on used grease.
Please note – due to unforseen circumstances, Ian Ethan’s show for Friday, June 25th has been cancelled.
We hope to reschedule for later in the fall!
Advance ticket-holders: We apologize for the inconvenience this cancellation causes you! You will be receiving a refund on your credit card (including the service fee) through Brown Paper Tickets. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Unveiling the true musical potential of an instrument that has previously seen little serious use as more than a stage prop, the Vermont artist employs a wide variety of highly-innovative playing techniques that take full advantage of 18 strings, two fretboards, and his experience as a drummer, bassist, pianist, and composer.
The nine-part musical whole of “Into Open Land”, more than simply validating the use of the instrument, is the beginning of an epic journey through pristine worlds that present to the alert and engaged listener countless intriguing gems of fresh insight and inspiring, expansive views of a world that is tangibly deeper and more infinite than our physical surroundings.
Solo pieces such as “Appalachia By Air” and “North By Northeast / One Straight Line” simultaneously intertwine drumset-like percussive ideas and groovy bass lines with inventive melodies and counter-melodies, always supported by a rich, colorful, three-dimensional harmonic context.
Meanwhile “band” tracks such as “Fourth Corner” and “Call of the Hill” (featuring Ethan’s overdubbed self-accompaniment on drumset, electric bass, percussion, and multiple double-necks) present an even more powerful and complete view of these highly detailed, multi-layered compositions.
Tying the whole album together is an unpretentious and consistently adventurous spirit that steers clear altogether of “The Road Less Traveled” and heads straight out into open land, where one has the freedom to explore and discover without limits, and thereby realize more of what has always been.
Tickets: $13 advance, $15 at the door
“This duo is a force. The music comes from the heart, and bristles with excitement and inventiveness… Much of the country and world hasn’t tuned in yet, but they will. One listen is all it takes.”
-Aer Stephen (“Folk & Beyond” WTJU)
A sound that’s hard to describe, yet impossible to forget. With a cutting edge vibe that explodes with originality and soulful expression, Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun‘s music redefines the acoustic origins of violin and guitar. Both graduates of Berklee College of Music, the violin & guitar duo started playing together in 2004 and have continued to push the boundaries of “acoustic” music. The release of their highly anticipated 2nd CD Chioggia Beat illustrates their ability to reinvent the limits of their instruments and in the process produce a lush range of original work that is sure to move your soul and mind. A worldly mix of 12 brand new tunes, the album showcases Morwenna and Jay’s heartfelt composition skills, along with their knack for introducing unexpected musical tangents and motifs in a way that keeps you wanting more. The CD features their signature duo sound, their full band, as well as a few special guest musicians such as legendary world artist Pierre Bensusan, soul singer Ezra Hamilton, and Dave Matthews Bandtrumpeter Rashawn Ross.
Morwenna is one of the most original and creative violinists of today. After seeing Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street at age 3, she begged her mom for a violin and began lessons shortly thereafter. As a child, she studied classical music with Richard Errante and also played in a band that she and her father co-founded called Cafe Musette that focused on Gypsy Swing, Celtic, and other genres. Morwenna graduated early from high-school to attend Berklee College of Music in 2000 where she continued her studies in Jazz, Bluegrass, and other styles and graduated in 2003. At Berklee, she was honored to have shared the stage with such greats as Brian Blade, Charlie Hayden, andSteven Tyler of Aerosmith. Over time, Morwenna has developed her own unique sound and tone, that is simply unmistakable. She plays with purpose and sincerity, and has often been compared to the great jazz violinist Stuff Smith and the haunting sounds of Scottish fiddler, Johnny Cunningham.
Jay began to study classical piano at the age of 5 and soon after decided to move on to drum lessons. The guitar was picked up accidentally in some sense, when his middle school band member did not show up to rehearsal and someone needed to fill in. Jay put down his drum sticks, picked up a guitar, and soon discovered a passion for the guitar. During high-school he studied with jazz/blues guitarist Jamal Millner and became fascinated with funk music when he discovered the sound of groups like Parliament Funkadelic and The Meters. One day, his Spanish teacher told him that world renowned finger-style guitarist, Pierre Bensusan was playing a show in town and suggested that he should attend. After that concert Jay’s perception of how the guitar was played and what one could extract from the instrument changed forever. He was so taken by the performance that he later studied with Bensusan at an intensive master class held in Chateau Thierry, France. After graduating high-school, Jay moved straight to Boston, MA to enroll at Berklee College of Music where he studied songwriting, music business, and performance. Jay plays with deep emotion and clarity and his sound is often compared to the late great Michael Hedges.
Together, they have shared shows with such greats as Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Dave Matthews Band, Avett Brothers,Toubab Krewe, The Duhks, Frank Vignola Quintet, Jesse Colin Young, Ralph Stanley, Corey Harris, Ben Taylor, and more. They’ve also had the great pleasure and honor to play at some wonderful festivals and clubs such as FloydFest, Bristol’s Rhythm & Roots, The Prism Coffeehouse, Club Passim,Eddie’s Attic, Down Home, and the list goes on…
Tickets: $13 advance, $15 at the door.
Ryan McKasson, Ashley Broder & Dave Bartley are all quite well-known in their respective fields, but never before performed as an ensemble. This unprecedented collaboration on the Empty Sea stage will provide a night of music-making never before heard!
Ryan McKasson started his classical violin studies at the age of four and began his viola studies when he was fourteen. At the same time, he switched from classical violin to begin his traditional fiddle journey with the renowned fiddler and teacher, Carol Ann Wheeler. Under her instruction he explored a wide range of American and Celtic styles, but found a new passion in the music of his heritage, Scotland. In 1993 Ryan attended the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School for the first time. There he heard the fiddling of Alasdair Fraser and Buddy MacMaster, who have since been his greatest influences. In 1995, Ryan was winner of the National Junior Championship, and went on a year later to be the youngest winner of the National Scottish Fiddle Open Championship in Loon Mountain, New Hampshire. As a fiddler, Ryan has performed with artist Bobby McFerrin. He has also shared the stage with pop artists Elvis Costello, Beck, Bjork, Galvin Friday and composer Phillip Glass. In 2001 Ryan collaborated with fiddler Richard Greene and the Greene String Quartet in Los Angeles for the Harry Smith Project. An accomplished classical musician, Ryan attended the University of Southern California in Viola Performance as a student of Donald McInnes. He has been awarded fellowships to many prestigious music festivals, including the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara and the Bowdoin Music Festival in Maine.
Ashley Broder began her classical violin studies at the age of eight in Ventura County, California. Her violin teacher, Charl Ann Gastineau, also encouraged her to simultaneously learn mandolin where she became familiar with fiddle styles associated to the instrument. Ashley traveled the west coast competing in fiddle contests, winning several. In 2005, after studying classical violin and cello in college, she met fiddler Jamie Laval and the duo set off on a four year musical touring adventure that took them across the U.S. numerous times and to the U.K. Ashley has worked with renowned mandolinist Mike Marshall at the Mandolin Symposium in Santa Cruz, CA as well as helped organize his series The Mandolin Method Books. Now pursuing another passion, composition, Ashley is currently working on arranging singer-songwriter, Billy Jonas’, songs for orchestra.
Dave Bartley plays mandolin, guitar, cittern, and numerous other plucked string instruments in numerous bands. He has also written over 250 tunes, some of which are working their way into repertoires around the country. He can provide a quiet foundation, inject a fiery driving rhythm, or pull wicked licks out of thin air. His odyssey from flashy rock guitarist to classical musician to eclectic sideman to tunesmith filters through his fingers.
Dave has played mandolin onstage in the Seattle Opera in the 1999 and 2007 stagings of Don Giovanni and played steel-string acoustic guitar with the Seattle Symphony in 2004 for performances of Naive and Sentimental Music by composer John Adams, as well as mandolin for Mahler’s 7th and 8th symphonys with the same orchestra.
Tickets: $20 advance / door.
Mandolinist John Reischman and guitarist John Miller combine in an instrumental duo that specializes in Latin Jazz, with forays into boppish original numbers and Celtic-influenced originals, all played with gorgeous tone and intense listening. The duo has performed internationally, in England, Japan, and Canada, as well as the United States. Their two CDs have received international acclaim.
John Reischman and John Miller’s debut CD, The Singing Moon (Corvus Records CR004) offers a beautiful musical journey, from Reischman’s Choro For Shadow, through Jacob do Bandolim’s Noites Carioca, and Miller’s haunting title cut to it’s soulful conclusion, Damien Miley.
The Singing Moon is an increasingly rare instance of melody holding its own with harmony and rhythm. -Scott Nygaard
John Reischman and John Miller’s The Bumpy Road (Corvus Records CR009) continues in the vein established by The Singing Moon, with hits like Kenny’s Gone, Danza, The Three Lions and Snake Eyes, but with some notable differences. John Miller steps forward more often into a soloing role, and singer Koralee Tonack joins the duo for the eerie The Path Downhill. John Reischman expresses himself with the sumptuous tone and grace we’ve come to expect from his playing.