Joe Jencks is an 20-year veteran of the international folk circuit, an award-winning songwriter, and celebrated vocalist based in Chicago. Merging conservatory training with his Irish roots and working-class upbringing, Joe delivers engaged musical narratives filled with heart, soul, groove and grit. Having penned several #1 Folksongs including the ever-relevant Lady of The Harbor, Jencks is also co-founder of the harmony trio, Brother Sun. From Festivals like Falcon Ridge, Kerrville, Mariposa, and Old Songs, to venues like Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, Jencks has enthralled diverse audiences with his approachable style. Joe is noted for his unique merging of musical beauty, social consciousness, and spiritual exploration. Blending well-crafted instrumentals and vivid songwriting, Jencks serves it all up with a lyric baritone voice that has the edgy richness of a good sea-salt caramel.
"If one can master a craft after investing 10,000 hours, Joe Jencks’ hours are showing! I am literally stunned by this new album. Poets, Philosopher, Workers & Wanders tells our stories, his story, and the untold stories, as an American folk master can &ndash with heart and unfettered perfection. Add this one to the folk canon! " – Mary Sue Twohy, The Village SIRIUS XM Radio
George Wirth is a singer/songwriter with a gift for telling human stories shaped by imagery and narrative. His unaffected, lived-in vocal style and guitar arrangements suit his songs perfectly, with images and melodies that resonate long after the music fades. Never one to grab a cheap cliche’, George’s lyrics capture moments from the lives of friends and strangers alike and make them real in their honesty. We know these people, even though we’ve never met, and while the songs are personal to George they become personal to the listener as well. Live, his songs are often interspersed with humorous stories, observations and rambles that take on a life of their own, resulting in further narrowing the gap between performer and audience.
Carolann Solebello’s smooth, compelling voice and warm acoustic guitar style surely nod to rural folk traditions, yet her decidedly urban sense of rhythm and sophisticated vocal phrasing bend those traditional forms into more contemporary shapes. Her lyrics, always sharp and incisive, delve deeper and wider than ever before on her latest release, Shiver (2018). In each of twelve well-crafted songs, Carolann digs into existential truth, revealing imperfect, uncertain, frightened, nostalgic, vulnerable, and sometimes unreliable narrators, whose stories – by design or by accident – occasionally intersect with her own.
Andy Tolins, Richard Sleigh, and Bill Stetz are not strangers to Acoustic Brew patrons. Andy has graced the Brew stage 9 times in various configurations starting back in 1995. Richard’s been here at least 5 times as a headliner, but more often as an accompanist for various acts including twice with Susan Werner. Bill has probably sat in at one time or another with every local roots, blues, celtic and bluegrass groups, many of those on the Brew stage, too.
Andy Tolins Andy Tolins is a guitarist, bassist and vocalist, who also plays dobro, mandolin and table steel. He is an accomplished songwriter, bandleader, and producer; winner of Billboard Magazine’s 1999 Best Unsigned Band award for ‘High Water’ by the Triple A Blues Band.
Richard Sleighis a harmonica player who also builds experimental harmonicas. If it’ called ‘roots’, Richard plays it. He has appeared with numerous acts over the years,
including Andy, of course, and Taj Mahal, Marshall Tucker, Bo Diddley, the Brighton Symphony Orchestra, and Susan Werner (on the Brew stage). Bill Stetz has added his expressive bass playing (both upright and electric) to a wide variety of ensembles in the central PA region for over 30 years.
Join us to hear these three virtuoso performers tickle our ears with the blues and more.
Perhaps one of the only groups blending world rhythms and Global Folk with Americana, Folk Traditions, New Orleans Influences, alt grass, music of the 1920s and bluegrass. Nick Russo plays guitar, banjo, and resonator and was a sideman with Jimmy McGriff, Teddy Charles and Sonny
Dallas, and has even had the honor to jam with Sir Paul McCartney. Betina Hershey appears as the principle dancer in Disney’s Enchanted and
Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts. Hershey performed on international and national tours of Broadway shows such as “West Side Story,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Fantasticks,” and
“Pump Boys & Dinettes,” just to name a few. Besides dancing, she sings, composes music, and plays guitar.
"It underscores, too, how sounds from another time can be renewed and re-imagined, by creative minds and right hands, in the present moment. Banjo Nickaru & Western Scooches are ridiculously fun." – Rambles
Split Bill, 7:30 pm $20. Center for Well-Being, Lemont.
Shimmering lyrics, deft finger-picking and soaring melodies—Ithaca’s Austin MacRae is a troubadour whose songwriting is characterized by poetic lyrics and poignant stories from rural upstate NY. He has performed at venues such as Club Passim, Kerrville Folk Festival (New Folk Finalist), Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (Emerging Artist), Turtle Hill Folk Festival (New Voices Showcase), Ithaca Festival, Oswego Music Hall, Homer Center for the Arts, Bill Knowlton’s Bluegrass Ramble Picnic and many other venues. His debut album, Bats in the Attic, won a Syracuse Area Music Award (SAMMY) for Best Folk Recording of 2015. His second album, Keeper, won a SAMMY for Best Americana in 2018. In 2017 he was one of three winners of the Vic Heyman Songwriting Award from the South Florida Folk Festival. He has opened for such artists as Keller Williams, Amy Speace, Cosy Sheridan and Toby Walker.
Raised in the heart of New York City by two accomplished musical parents, singer-songwriter Sophie Buskin started studying piano at age three and first set foot in the studio at four. While continuing lessons in guitar and voice, she poured herself into another lifelong passion, earning a specialized degree in visual art from New York City’s LaGuardia High School. In 2008 Sophie was accepted into the Berklee College of Music in Boston and fully embraced her musical side. She joined Berklee’s celebrated Gospel Choir and the Motown ensemble, and fell in love with collaboration. She wrote her first song in 2009 and began steadily writing and performing, often alongside her father, David Buskin. A decade later, Sophie is based in Brooklyn, appearing at venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, the Cutting Room, Passim, the Red Lion, and White Eagle Hall. She has performed with Judy Collins, Mason Jennings, Little Anthony, Livingston Taylor and Paul Schaffer and founded the songwriters’ circle at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. Her first solo CD, “Sweet Creature”, recorded and produced by Jagoda and Neale Eckstein at Fox Run Studios, is a testament to her ongoing journey of artistic self-discovery. Recent accolades include a formal showcase at NERFA and performing at the Kerrville Folk Festival.
“Oh, my God… she is amazing! [This] CD should be everywhere!” – Judy Collins
It all started with a question in 2009: "How are you getting to Chicago?"
And with that, folk musicians John Roberts and Debra Cowan decided to team up for a series of small concerts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois before arriving as separately booked artists at the Fox Valley Folklore Society’s annual festival. The combination of car–pool and mini–tour was successful enough that John and Debra continue to do more performing together both in the USA and in 2011, with a successful tour in the United Kingdom.
For over 45 years, British expatriate John Roberts has been singing and playing old songs, meaning that many of the songs and tunes in his extensive repertoire can be traced back at least one hundred years. He is also considered one of the foremost Anglo concertina players in the English-speaking world and uses the banjo for unique settings in many of the songs he sings. He can give the background of any song he performs, often telling the listener the circumstances from which it might have been written and from whom the song was collected. John and his long-time music partner, Tony Barrand (another British expatriate who appeared with John at the Brew in Nov. 1996) are often cited as influences and mentors to many listeners, singers and musicians when it comes to traditional folk music of the English speaking world.
Debra Cowan was once asked what kind of songs she writes. Her reply? “Bad ones. Besides, there are so many good songs out there written by others and they should be sung.” Her captivating warm alto carries each folk song she chooses with such emotion that you’ll forget that they were written by others. She performs a cappella and with guitar in the great tradition of folk singers like Joan Baez and Judy Collins, with a clear vocal that calls forth the ghosts of long past but can also offer a more modern urban landscape. In her newest release, a live recording entitled “Among Friends”, she demonstrates her ability to interact with her audience and have them enthusiastically sing along on choruses and refrains.
“…Debra Cowan and John Roberts reminded me of why I love folk music so much – it’s the ripping yarns, the sparse tunes, and the joy of singing along.” – Rob Weir, Off–Center Views
Hiroya is a one–of–a–kind composer, guitarist and singer–songwriter from Kyoto, Japan. He began playing the five–string banjo when he was thirteen, and took up the guitar shortly after.
In 2000, Hiroya received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and came to the United States. He formed his own group in Boston INTEROCEANICO (inter-oceanic) which consists of unique musicians from different continents including Latin Grammy Colombian singer Marta Gomez. The group released three acclaimed records ("The Other Side of the World", "Confluencia" and "Where the River Shines"). Hiroya has released three solo albums ("Solo", "Heartland" and "Places").
Hiroya has been leading concerts internationally including several appearances at Blue Note in New York City with his group and Japanese National Television(NHK). In 2018, Hiroya won 2nd place in International Finger Style Guitar Championship.
“Hiroya immediately impressed the audience with his technical prowess on the guitar. Then as the concert progressed, he also revealed himself to be a skilled songwriter, a poetic spirit, and an engaging story teller. With a stage presence that is both humble and confident, Hiroya is a generous performer who won every heart in the house.” – Gordon Peery, Monadnock Center for History and Culture, Peterborough, NH
Award Winning songwriter Dan Weber has been described as "The Classic Mid-Life Overnight Sensation" after bursting onto the festival scene in 2010 to a standing ovation at the Sisters Folk Festival for his engaging set in the Dave Carter songwriting contest. Since then he’s toured extensively across the country becoming a rare 3 time finalist in the legendary Kerrville New Folk competition, had 2 top finishes in the Woody Guthrie songwriting contest and in 2015 won the prestigious Winfield, Kansas NewSong contest for "Oh Woody", his anthemic tribute to Woody Guthrie, that rose to #2 on the Folk charts in 2015.
Weber began performing later in life at age 40 but being a gifted storyteller, he quickly won over audiences with his natural charisma, upbeat performances, authentic songwriting, and off-the-cuff hilarious stories from the many roads he’s traveled. His songs have been described as "Guthrie-esque and reminiscent of early John Prine" and &auot;A rare combination of wit, emotion and Harry Chapin–esque imagery"
“Dan is one of those rare performers that make you feel like you are the person in the room he is telling the story to.” – Suzan Lundy, McLundy’s Green Room