May 9th: Jonathan Byrd and Sally Barris!

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Jonathan Byrd is a North Carolina flatpicker and a Texas songwriter, a Gulf War veteran and a preacher’s son, and an award-winning songwriter whose songs you’ve probably heard, even if you haven’t heard Byrd sing them. Covered by Tim O’Brien, Steve James, Red Molly, Jack Lawrence, Melissa Greener and more, Byrd’s music will seem familiar to any Americana fan.

Byrd quit the rock bands of his youth and hit the road solo in 2000, flatpicking and singing new songs in an old style. A tip from a friend led him down to the Kerrville Folk Festival, a dusty ranch where he discovered the rich Texas songwriting culture and made it his own.

The word began to spread in 2003, when Jonathan won the festival’s ‘New Folk’ songwriting competition, a milestone for Americana’s most influential artists: Steve Earle. Lucinda Williams. Nanci Griffith. Lyle Lovett. Byrd broke the record for CD sales at the festival, and has played there nearly every year since.

Byrd’s 2008 release, “The Law and the Lonesome” is the fruit of this interstate cross-pollination, what might have happened if Townes Van Zandt had made a record with Doc Watson. Tamara Kater of Canada’s folk mag Penguin Eggs called “The Law and the Lonesome” her “album of the decade.”

“Cackalack” is the newest Jonathan Byrd release, an homage to his home state. Recorded live in a day while on the road, “Cackalack” hit #1 on Roots Music Reports folk radio chart, #22 on the Americana chart, was the #91 Americana album of 2011, and made John Platt’s “Best of 2011,” along with strong international airplay and a dozen other “best of” lists.

Most recently, Jonathan won a 2011 SESAC Americana Music Award beside Bob Dylan, Seth Avett, Hayes Carll, Jim Lauderdale, and Colin Brooks from The Band of Heathens. “One of the top 50 songwriters of the past 50 years.” -Chicago Tribune.

Jonathan will be sharing the stage with Sally Barris:

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Sally Barris is an A-list Nashville songwriter who has had songs covered by such top-level artists as Kathy Mattea, Martina McBride, and Lee Ann Womack. Her song “Let The Wind Chase You”, recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban, received a Grammy nomination for vocal collaboration in 2009.

While her writing credits mightily impress, fans and peers are most captivated by her bright spirit and expressive mountain soprano.  Dirty Linen says “Barris knows how to write lyrics that are as forthright as a stream of clear water and how to support them with melodies that share that quality”.

When Sally is not touring solo, she is known as “Sister Waymore” in the power trio; The Waymores with Tom Kimmel and Don Henry.

In the last 3 years, the Minnesota native has performed Mountain Stage,  New Bedford Summer Fest,  The Wildflower Festival and The Kerrville Folk Festival. Sally is currently touring with her new cd “Wilder Girl”.

“At first, Minnesota-native Barris appears to be a delicate meringue, an evanescent angel keening for her lost love in a voice of snowflake crystal— though a closer listen to her lyrics reveals a resolute independence, Her tunes are industry favorites, covered time and again by some of the biggest names on country radio— the latest CD “Wilder Girl” showcases her stellar skills at their best.” – Keith Harrelson founder of Moonlight on the Mountain music venue, August 2012

“Sally Barris has a voice like sparkling crystal. You could have knocked me over with a feather the first time I heard her.  Her writing is from a deep, yet innocent, place and her point of view is just a bit off center. I am excited for her, she is standing at the beginning of her journey in this town, with all of it ahead of her. It reminds me of the first time I heard Beth Nielson-Chapman or Nanci Griffith. It’s going to be fun to watch.” – Kathy Mattea

“What an amazing voice! Sally Barris has an excruciatingly beautiful voice.” – Pierce Pettis

“The singer/songwriter/guitarists sweet voice and intriguing melodies will draw you in, and then her thoughtful and emotional lyrics will make you listen over and over again with growing admiration.” – Jessica Marshall

“…progressive folk sensibility with a storyteller’s command, a strong backbone, and a confectioner’s dusting of country blues…Barris is somehow able to wield a highly individualized sense of melody and song shape into tunes you can imagine other top vocalists covering. In a sea of fair to middling singer/songwriter albums, this comes highly recommended.” – Craig Havighurst The Tennessean (review of Reluctant Daughter)

To purchase tickets, please go here.

April 11th – Modern Man with special guests: The Benefit Street Band

 

On April 11th Modern Man was on board at Voices Cafe.  “Funniest band ever,” said one festival presenter (Richard Knechtel, Summer Folk, Canada) and that pretty much sums it up. After a four year hiatus, those loveable geezers of song and story Modern Man are back.Modern Man at Philly Folk, 2005

A cross between Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Marx Brothers – David Buskin, Rob Carlson and George Wurzbach are three celebrated singers and songwriters, “terrific instrumentalists with gorgeous voices and hilarious wits.” Together they quickly redefined something-or-other and delighted audiences from Maine to Texas with “a non-stop express train of uproarious entertainment” (Talk Entertainment.com) and a vocal blend that has not been heard since Ella, F. Scott, and the Edmund Fitzgerald went their separate ways.

In 1998 Rob was performing at New York’s legendary “Bottom Line” for an album of comedy songwriters (produced by Christine Lavin) when he met songwriter David Buskin. David introduced him to George Wurzbach and the three became Modern Man. They went on to win Back Stage Magazine’s “Bistro Award” in 2002 for Best Musical Comedy and the 2008 New York Nightlife Award for best comedy group in New York. They performed in clubs and cabarets, coffee houses, concert halls and festivals from Maine to Florida plus Tennessee, Texas and Ohio and Canada. Festivals include the Philadelphia Folk, Clearwater, Kerrville, Falcon Ridge and Summerfolk (Canada). Concert venues include Lincoln Center, The Bottom Line, Town Hall, The Barns at Wolf Trap and many more. They have made three albums, “The Wide Album, Live at the Bottom Line”, “Modern Immaturity” and “Assisted Living”.

But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what Lincoln Center had to say:

Modern Man is without question the cleverest, funniest, most versatile group that I have heard in years. They were the surprise hi-lite of this year’s Roots of American Music Festival at Lincoln Center in New York. -Spike Barkin, Producer, Roots of American Music Festival.

Or as one Coffee House producer put it:

Caramba! What a show! These guys have the rare ability to combine superior musical talent with outrageous humor. We have never seen such a happy audience at the end of a performance… the most enjoyable show we have ever had. I can say-hands down- that Modern Man has been the most entertaining, funniest and most favorably commented-upon act we have ever presented. -Mac McLanahan, Rose Garden Coffee House, Mansfield, MA.

Aztec Two-Step…Again!

FOLK-ROCK DUO AZTEC TWO-STEP was here! The “Second Step” Album 40th Anniversary Show

Renowned folk-rock duo Aztec Two-Step came back to Voices Cafe to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of their ever-popular 1975 RCA album release “Second Step” by performing the album straight through, in its entirety, along with other ATS favorites. It was a thigh-slapping, clapping over-head evening!

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Bursting on the scene in 1972 with their critically acclaimed self-titled debut on Elektra Records, Aztec Two-Step’s first album and three subsequent albums for RCA Records were staples of progressive FM and college radio, and helped usher the music of the 1960s into the ’70s and beyond.  Since then, Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman have spent a lifetime making music together as the folk-rock duo that takes its name from a poem by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Richard Cuccaro, publisher of the esteemed NYC music magazine Acoustic Live! states, “AztecTwo-Step is possibly the best acoustic duo in the world today” while Variety stated, ”… the right sound at the right time … beautiful acoustic guitar playing and questioning lyrics … songs performed with forceful vocals and near perfect instrumental harmonies.”

Recording and touring non-stop since the early ‘70s, Rex and Neal have accumulated forty-plus years of awards, accolades and TV and radio appearances that include the David Letterman Show, World Café Live, and the King Biscuit Flour Hour, and have graced countless stages including those of Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In 1987, the duo’s “Living In America” received the New York Music Award for Best Folk Album and was named in Billboard’s year-end critic’s poll, and in 1999 they were the subject of  “No Hit Wonder,” a documentary that aired on PBS.

In 2005, they released a career-defining “Days Of Horses” CD to rave reviews. Up until this point Fowler had been the primary songwriter of the duo, but here, five of the album’s eleven songs, including their baby boomer anthemic “Better These Days,” were penned by Neal Shulman.  The title track “Days of Horses,” written by Rex Fowler, was used as the opening and closing music in the 2012 documentary “Selling Cars in America.” Of this CD release, the Boston Globe said, “Fans of the duo’s harmony-driven tunes and easygoing acoustic guitar riffs will recognize their James Taylor-meets-Simon & Garfunkel sound. What’s new is the mood. This album sits back on its haunches as Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman look back wistfully at American pop culture and their own ride through it.”

In 2007, the duo’s song “The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty (On The Road),” initially released on their debut album, was included in Rhino Records’ “Forever Changing-The Golden Age of Elektra Records 1963-1973,” the story of this landmark record label and the music that defined an era. The song, according to Jack Kerouac’s biographer Dennis McNally, was the first recorded about Kerouac’s iconic novel On The Road. Also in 2007, Real Simple magazine named the duo’s self-titled debut as one of the top five classic folk albums, joining works by superstars Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Tom Rush and Phil Ochs.

The duo’s 2008 live recording “Time It Was – The Simon & Garfunkel Songbook” (Red Engine Records), features narration by the late legendary Deejay and music historian Pete Fornatale, who provided commentary and insights based on his interviews with his pals Paul & Artie. Rex and Neal’s 1972 Elektra debut often reviewed them as having the “east coast sensibility,” “intellectual lyricism,” and “ethereal harmonies” of Simon & Garfunkel, so to many in their field, it wasn’t surprising that they would choose to interpret and perform the timeless songs and harmonies of their legendary predecessors.

Finally, in 2012, to commemorate their 40th Anniversary year, Rex and Neal released their 10thstudio album “Cause & Effect” (Red Engine Records). It is a collection of 16 socially significant songs, produced by Paul Guzzone, who also produced their “Days of Horses” CD, and features their long-time bassist Fred Holman. The album is a combination of re-worked previously recorded songs and newly mined material.

Defined by intelligent songwriting, dazzling acoustic lead guitar & inspiring two-part harmonies, Aztec Two-Step continues to be one of acoustic music’s most respected and enduring acts, forty-plus years after Fowler and Shulman serendipitously met at an open mic at a Boston coffeehouse.

 

What do Joni, Carly and Carol have in Common?

They’re featured singer/song writers in our next show with THE SUZANNE SHERIDAN BAND!

After a sold-out performance at The Westport Historical Society we decided that an encore performance of “THE SUZANNE SHERIDAN BAND performs The Music of Carole King, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell” would be just the thing for a Saturday night in January. What better way to warm the winter than with the outstanding music of Carole, Carly, and Joni? This concert features Suzanne Sheridan, one of the area’s favorite singer-songwriters, performing the songs of three of the most accomplished women singer-songwriters of our time.TSSB for VC_1

Suzanne will once again have her band on hand – Bob Cooper on keyboards, Ruth Ahlers on sax and backup vocals, and Marshal Rosenberg on percussion. In addition to these stellar musicians, Suzanne will be joined by backup singers Kim Manning (Voodoocarnival.com) and Denise Johnson (Tim Currie’s Motown Band).