Five years since her debut album Delivery, Mikaela Davis has moved away from her hometown of Rochester, shared the stage with the likes of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Christian McBride, Bon Iver, Lake Street Dive and Circles Around the Sun and entered a new decade. But it’s the ever-evolving relationships between her closest friends and bandmates that has propelled the Hudson Valley-based artist onto her new album And Southern Star––a truly collaborative effort that ruminates on the choices we make, and the people we always come back to.
Davis earned her degree in harp performance at the Crane School of Music, and has molded her classical music training to create an original and genre-bending catalog that weaves together 60s pop-soaked melodies, psychedelia and driving folk rock. She met her bandmates at pivotal moments in her life––drummer Alex Coté in childhood, guitarist Cian McCarthy and bassist Shane McCarthy in college, and steel guitarist Kurt Johnson in her early twenties. It’s the band’s collective step into adulthood that has informed much of And Southern Star’s thematic landscape.
Eric Johanson is a multiple Top 10 Billboard-charting guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter whose original music stretches beyond traditional genre lines of blues, rock, and progressive Americana, all while feeding off the groove and history of his home in New Orleans. His four most recent solo releases – Live at DBA: New Orleans Bootleg, Covered Tracks: Vol. 1, Covered Tracks: Vol. 2, and Below Sea Level – all reached top-ten positions on the Billboard blues charts, and Guitar Player Magazine recently listed him as one of 25 Top New Blues Guitarists (Jan 2023 issue).
As a touring performer, Johanson’s solo festival appearances include the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Las Vegas Big Blues Bender, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Crescent City Blues Fest, and others. He and his band have appeared in more than 100 cities across the United States. As a guitarist, Johanson has been a special guest to artists such as Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, the Neville Brothers, Samantha Fish, Tab Benoit, JJ Grey, Eric Lindell, and a host of other torch bearers of modern roots music.
A self-taught child prodigy, Johanson grew up in Louisiana, where he was gifted his first guitar at age five. By his pre-teen years, his love of the blues records played in his childhood home, by artists like Freddie King, Robert Johnson, and Buddy Guy, merged with his love for hard rock records by the likes of Metallica, White Zombie, Soundgarden, and Nine Inch Nails. Throughout his teenage years, he performed frequently with older blues musicians, generating for himself considerable acclaim as a budding regional star. What would prove to become a lifelong exploration of his varied musical interests began in his college years in New Orleans, where he delved into progressive rock and beat-making while simultaneously developing his blues voice. After graduating from the University of New Orleans, Johanson spent several years in New Zealand before being called back to his home, and the improvisational, extemporaneous nature of roots music in the Crescent City.
Mike Block Trio, Featuring Joe K. Walsh (mandolin) and Zachariah Hickman (bass), is a supergroup of three unique and virtuosic musicians. By fertilizing American roots music with contemporary and international influences, they bring an exciting and personal perspective to acoustic music.
Mike Block is a pioneering cello player, singer, composer, and educator, passionate about cross-cultural collaboration through music. Acclaimed by the New York Times for his “vital rich-hued solo playing”, and by Salt Lake City Desert News as “a true artist… a sight to behold”, Mike Block “is one of the bravest, most intriguing musicians on the American fusion scene.” (Gramophone). Mike’s performances offer a rich mixture of classical repertoire, folk music, original compositions, and songs. Since 2005, Mike has been a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, with which he has been featured as both cello and vocal soloist, contributed arrangements and compositions, and earned a Grammy Award in 2017 for their album Sing Me Home.
Mike is among the first wave of cellists to adopt a strap to stand and move while performing. Using his patented design, The Block Strap. Mike was the first standing cellist to perform at Carnegie Hall, which the New York Times characterized as “breathless … half dance, half dare.” In 2020, Mike founded Play For The Vote, which organizes musical performances at polling locations across the country on Election Day, with the goal of increasing voter turnout by providing a more positive voting experience. As an educator, he is the founder/Director of two summer programs: the Mike Block String Camp, as well as Silkroad’s Global Musician Workshop. Mike teaches online through his Multi-Style Cello School at ArtistWorks.com, and is on faculty of New England Conservatory.
Ellis Paul doesn’t just write songs; he’s a guitar-carrying reporter who covers the human condition and details the hopes, loves, losses of those he observes, turning their stories into luminous pieces of music that get under your skin and into your bloodstream. And much like the artists who have influenced him, everyone from Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon to the singer-songwriter who is undoubtedly his greatest inspiration, Woody Guthrie, Paul weaves deeply personal experiences with social issues and renders them as provocative works that are as timely as they are timeless. Born and raised in Maine, Paul attended Boston College on a track scholarship and in the evenings became a fixture on the city’s open
mic circuit. After winning a Boston Acoustic Underground songwriter competition, he caught the ear of folk luminary Bill Morrissey, who produced his indie album Say Something in 1993. This led to a seven album contract with Rounder Records and the 1994 album, Stories.
His songs have appeared in several blockbuster films (Me, Myself, and Irene; Shallow Hal, Hall Pass) and have been covered by award winning country artists (Sugarland, Kristian Bush, Jack Ingram). Through a steady succession of albums of his own – a remarkable 23 releases so far – and a constant touring presence around the world, Paul’s audience has grown into a loyal legion of fans. Along the way, he has picked up an impressive number of awards including the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Award, 15 Boston Music Awards, An Honorary Doctorate from the University of Maine, the 2019 International Acoustic Music Awards Artist of the Year and most recently his album, The Storyteller’s Suitcase, was named the 2019 NERFA Album of the Year.
Join two mallet percussionists for a night of songs, immersive sounds, and stories about their work using music to help others heal.
NYC-based vibraphonist and composer Chris Dingman is known for his distinctive approach to the instrument: sonically rich and conceptually expansive. In his captivating solo performances, he casts an enveloping atmosphere, creating layers of simultaneous sound.. It’s an immersive listening experience that many have described as transportive and deeply healing.
Having worked with legendary artists Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, and with next-generation visionaries such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Linda May Han Oh, and Steve Lehman, Dingman brings together his experience in modern jazz with a host of influences from around the world in service of taking listeners on a journey to a transcendent place.
On his path to becoming a solo artist, he documented his improvisations privately for many years, until his world changed. When his father entered hospice care in 2018, he created the 5-hour extended album Peace, recorded as he played it for his father, and ultimately released in 2020. This led to an ongoing exploration of his solo music and his critically acclaimed albums journeys vol. 1 and vol. 2 , which have been described as “hypnotic” (The New York Times), “spellbinding” (Bandcamp), “absolutely beautiful” (Jazz at Lincoln Center), and “solo masterpieces” (Downbeat).
Chris is actively touring, performing in concert, healing, and hybrid modalities for audiences around the world, both in person and online. Recent concert performances include Omega Institute (Rhinebeck), Timucua Arts (Orlando), The Jazz Gallery (New York), Constellation (Chicago), Lawrence University (Appleton), Redwood Jazz Alliance (Eureka), and many others including a 10-date solo tour of the US supported by a grant from South Arts.
Join us for a FREE community outdoor concert at Congress Square Park featuring The Portland Jazz Orchestra w/ vocalist Katie Oberholtzer, featuring special guest artist, Grammy Award winning trumpeter Bijon Watson!
Sponsored by Dead River Company, with support from Norway Savings Bank and Coffee By Design.
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Mark Erelli turns adversity into finely embroidered rock songs that burn with urgency on his 2023 album Lay Your Darkness Down. Following full-bodied rock forebears Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Roy Orbison, Erelli’s songwriting explores the unknown glories of this planet and love’s transformational power. Over his two decade-long career, the singer-songwriter-sideman-producer-writer has proven himself equally at home in a multitude of roles: producing albums for artists like GRAMMY-winner Lori McKenna; serving as a sideman guitarist for artists like Paula Cole, Marc Cohn, and Josh Ritter; writing and producing his own material, like 2018’s “By Degrees,” for which he was nominated for Song of the Year at the Americana Honors and Awards; and most recently, becoming an advocate for low-vision artists and working with venues to make their spaces more accessible. Written in the wake of his diagnosis with a degenerative retinal disease, Erelli’s upcoming 2023 album Lay Your Darkness Down is the next step on Erelli’s journey, following up on 2020’s Blindsided, which garnered praise from Rolling Stone Country, the Associated Press, NPR, The Boston Globe, and more.