Maine’s Jud Caswell is a little bit like a one-man folk festival. You’ve got your banjo picking, your Irish drinking songs, a rack of acoustic instruments, and a deep catalog of award-winning originals. He‘s often compared to James Taylor and David Wilcox, but his songs draw on a long musical history and wide-ranging influences from jazz and Piedmont blues to contemporary folk and rock.
Jud is currently celebrating the release of his sixth collection, “Watch The Fall.” This is his first CD of new material since 2007. The years between have been full of music and focusing on family, friends and community. Listeners have called it “homey and groovy and uplifting and thoughtful” — a “celebration of life, love, family, and all that is wonderful about midcoast Maine.”
“Jud Caswell is much more than a great singer and guitar player, Jud’s songs take you into the storyteller’s world with clear images and characters that come to life for the listener.” – David Wilcox
We are thrilled to open our fall 2016 season with one of the area’s best new bands. Raven and the Wren performs original Americana songs drawn from influences such as Lucinda Williams and Townes Van Zandt.
Though the band has only formed in the past two years, its members — Chris Rattie, Jason “Junior” Tutweiler and Natty Lou Race — are veterans of the State College music scene. The band is rounded out by Bob Hart, a drummer who moved from Brooklyn to State College.
With the release of their debut album, “Friend of Failure” in April, Raven and the Wren are poised to take the country by storm with shows lined up throughout the northeast this fall. Catch them in the intimate, unplugged setting of the Center for Well-Being for this special performance.
The Tall Trees are Tim Grimm and Ben Bedford– two highly acclaimed Midwestern songwriters, joined by the very tall Diederik van Wassenaer on fiddle.
It’s a rare treat that The Tall Trees get to tour together as members of the band have their own successful music careers in full swing. However, when they do play together, it’s magic. The collaboration of noted folk songwriters Tim Grimm and Ben Bedford is unparalleled. With Diederik van Wassenaer on fiddle, the group creates a beautiful blend of tunes.
Tim Grimm has toured and recorded with his friend, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, appeared with Harrison Ford in the film Clear and Present Danger, and has shared the stage with writer and poet Wendell Berry. His recording, The Back Fields was named “Best Americana Album” in the 2006 Just Plain Folks Music Awards in Los Angeles (the largest and most diverse music awards in the world). Named 2000’s “BEST DISCOVERY in Roots/Americana Music” by The Chicago Sun-Times, and “2004 MALE ARTIST of The Year” by the Freeform American Roots DJs, his songs and performances have established him as a unique voice in Americana music.
Ben Bedford delivers intriguing sketches of America, its individuals, their victories and their struggles. Poignant, but never sentimental, Bedford’s portrait-like songs capture the vitality of his characters and draw the listener deep into the narratives. With three albums to his credit, Bedford’s songs tackle scenarios including homelessness, the plight of a Confederate soldier’s wife during the American Civil War, the aerial triumphs of Amelia Earhart, the life of Jack London, the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, John the Baptist, the poet Vachel Lindsay and even the 1973 standoff between members of The American Indian Movement and federal agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Often drawing upon history, Bedford’s songs have a strong sense of time and place. The songs are rich in sensory detail which allows the listener to hear, see and feel each narrative.
The Foghorn Stringband is the present day shining gold standard for American string band music, with eight albums, thousands of shows, over a decade of touring under their belts, and an entirely new generation of old-time musicians following their lead. Through all this, they’ve never let the music grow cold; instead they’ve been steadily proving that American roots music is a never-ending well of inspiration.
To Foghorn, this music is as relevant today as it was a century ago. They see themselves not as revivalists, but as curators and ardent fans, and their music is a celebration of these roots. From their origins in Portland Oregon’s underground roots music scene in the late 90s and early 00s, when members of today’s hot bands like The Decemberists and Blind Pilot were gathering to explore the roots of American folk music, The Foghorn Stringband have spread the old-time string band gospel all over the world. Along the way, they’ve brought in influences and inspirations from their many travels and late-night jam sessions. Old-time square dance tunes now rub shoulders with Cajun waltzes, vintage honky-tonk songs, and pre-bluegrass picking. This is the kind of bubbling musical brew which first intoxicated the American mainstream.
“Many are called, but few are chosen. On their new recording Devil in the Seat, Foghorn Stringband proves once again that they are still the Chosen Ones when it comes to down-home, footstomping, ass-kickin’ old time music.” – Stuart Mason, FiddleFreak
Malcolm Holcombe grew up in western North Carolina, home to some of the planet’s oldest mountains and some of America’s deepest musical traditions. Radio and TV fueled Malcolm’s musical passions as a kid, and music became even more important after he lost both his parents relatively young.
He toured with bands and landed in Nashville, where he took up an inconspicuous station at the back of the house – the very back – at Douglas Corner, one of the city’s best singer/songwriter venues. Stories began to circulate about the mysterious dishwasher with the subterranean voice and oracle-like talent. Sadly so did stories of wildly inconsistent behavior – profound sweetness crossed by bouts of stunning abrasiveness.
He flirted with an official music career. But his stunning debut album made for Geffen Records was abruptly shelved, producing melodrama that only exacerbated Malcolm’s drinking and depression. A business that once had a place for complicated genius turned its back on him, and he teetered near the edge.
Moving back to the North Carolina hills proved a powerful tonic. Holcombe let in help where before he’d pushed it away. With deep faith in God and a commitment to his art, Holcombe repaired himself and his career.
“Ranging from the delicate Down the River to the rattling Butcher in Town, swooning melodies, subtly varied rhythms and evocative lyrics abound.” – Ian Cameron, The Blues Magazine Aug 2015
Best known as one-third of the female harmony Americana trio Red Molly, Abbie has listened to the sweet sound of high lonesome harmonies since her first bluegrass festival at three years old.
Abbie has a strong throaty voice that’s reminiscent of Wesla Whitfield’s… she uses it to render evergreens from the 1920s and 1930s with a crew of guys who play like they were around when this music was the cat’s pajamas. (Cadence Magazine, June 2004)
Abbie has been recognized as an award-winning songwriter, as well, with such accolades as; 2008 Lennon Award Winner (folk) for “The Mind of a Soldier” and 2008 American Songwriter Magazine Grand Prize Lyric Winner for “I’d Rather Be”. Her song “Honey on My Grave” was also published in Sing Out! Magazine in 2008.
“With a confidence that can only be earned, Gardner bursts out with a national steel guitar and a ballsy blues on the opening cut “Break It Slow.” It’s an unprecedented romp, fully of gnarly guitar lines and lyrics reminiscent of Lucinda Williams or Bonnie Raitt..” – Eli Peterson, Twangville
Dubbed by NPR as the “Empress of the Unexpected,” singer/songwriter Susan Werner confirms her
reputation as an artist changeable as the weather with her newest recording Hayseed.
Paying tribute to American agriculture and to her Iowa farm roots, Werner again keeps her audiences guessing and laughing simultaneously, lending her wry humor and passionate voice to subjects such as farmer’s markets, agrochemicals, climate change, drought, longing for a sense of place, and the movement towards sustainable agriculture. The characters and perspectives are varied and colorful, the lyrics are sharp as thistles, the music is handmade and hoppin’, and with Hayseed Werner continues her reign as one of the most bold and creative forces on the acoustic music scene today.
“Susan Werner, a clever songwriter and an engaging performer, brings literacy and wit back to popular song.” – The New Yorker
In the summer of 2014, after a long stretch of living on the road, performing and writing across the U.S., Americana songwriters and Virginia natives Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish, collectively known as THE HONEY DEWDROPS, decided to settle down in Baltimore, MD. “Touring is like collecting images of landscapes, sounds of voices, contents of stories, moods of plac-es and environments,” says Wortman. “All of that can be useful. It tells you something about human nature, about how the world works, little by little.” And so the couple took their experiences on the road, and dug in to write and record their fourth album, TANGLED COUNTRY, in their new home. It’s a beautiful and engaging take on modern American roots music and the first album of theirs entirely written, arranged, and recorded in one place; a testament to the power of home.
“The Dewdrops have something unique and oftimes mesmerizing recommending them in their plaintive harmonies, easygoing rhythms, evocative arrangements, well-crafted original songs, and a genuine
approach…” – David McGee, The Bluegrass Special
Quite possibly the best old-timey duo on the planet. Powell and Baugus blend traditional mountain music with modern sensibility and deliver it in all a high energy yet casual setting. Powerful and engaging, this
will be a show to remember!
Learning guitar from his father and banjo and fiddle from his grandfather, Dirk Powell has expanded on the deeply rooted sounds of his Appalachian heritage to become one of the preeminent traditional American musicians of his generation. Having recorded and performed with artists such as Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Jack White, Joan Baez, Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson and Linda Ronstadt, his ability to unite the essence of traditional culture with modern sensibilities has also led to work with such film directors as Ang Lee, Anthony Minghella, Spike Lee and Victor Nunez. He was a founding member of the Cajun group Balfa Toujours and has been a regularly featured artist in the BBC series The Transatlantic Sessions. Powell’s soulful and emotionally fearless music has carried him to a unique place in today’s musical landscape – one where tradition, innovation and inspiration meet without borders.
Riley Baugus represents the best of old-time American banjo and song. Starting on the fiddle, Baugus quickly moved on to the banjo, building his first instrument from scrap wood with his father. When not teaching or building banjos, Baugus can be found out on the road performing. As solo performers, Dirk Powell and Riley Baugus are each superb. Together, they are an old-time music dream.
7:30 pm $16. WPSU Studios in Innovation Park.