For over 20 years, Slaid Cleaves has spun stories with a novelist's eye and a poet's heart. A rootsy singer and songwriter who’s made his bed in the folk world, Cleaves grew up in Maine and lives outside Austin, Texas but tours much of the year. In 1992, he won the New Folk award at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Now, twenty-five years into his storied career, Cleaves’ songwriting has never been more potent.
The characters in Slaid Cleaves’ songs live in unglamorous reality. They work dead end job, they run out of money, they grow old, they hold on to each other (or not) and they die. With an eye for the beauty in everyday life, he tells their stories, bringing empathy to their uncaring world.
Eilen Jewell laughs when told her label’s president called her a musicologist. But she confirms she and her husband and bandmate, Jason Beek, have a passion for studying American music.
“We really love to uncover the past. It’s almost like digging for buried treasure,” she says. “For me, that’s where music is at. I like all kinds of music as long as there’s the word early in front of it.”
Although her country-flavored and blues-infused version of contemporary folk has drawn comparisons to musicians like Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Jolie Holland, and the Be Good Tanyas, Eilen Jewell's strongest influences have been the classic sides recorded by Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.
Three Women and The Truth is a trio of accomplished, richly talented, multiple award winning female songwriters, Mary Gauthier, Gretchen Peters and Eliza Gilkyson, whose songs cut through the murky layers of life's complexities and bring clarity to many of the challenges we all long to make sense of. Writing from their life’s experience, these songwriters are skilled in balancing personal tales with classic underpinnings, which hint at the evocative idea that all our lives are full of events and incidents that touch on the mythic and the timeless.
Mary Gauthier is a singer songwriter who the Associated Press named one of the best songwriters of her generation. She’s been praised by both Dylan and Waits, and has had her songs recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw and Candi Staton. Her songs have been used in Film and Television, most recently on the ABC hit show Nashville, HBO’s Banshee, and Masterpiece Theater’s Case Histories.. Her record Mercy Now was named in the top 5 records of the decade by No Depression Magazine. She’s often been called a writer’s writer, and that thrills her to no end.
With four distinct voices clustered around a single microphone, Darlingside effortlessly draw audiences into their lush musical world. David Fricke of Rolling Stone describes them as “a quartet with a rich line in acoustic textures and chamber-rock dynamics.” The band’s sound, characterized by classical strings, tight vocal arrangements, bluegrass and rock instrumentation, and smart lyricism is the product of complete collaboration among the four close friends. The group has no frontman - instead, lead vocals are traded from moment to moment, and each song features a new combination of instruments and textures, pulling heavily from folk, retro-pop, barbershop and chamber music.
"Exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop" – NPR Music
For those of you lucky enough to catch the Mandolin Orange shows at Southend Grooveyard, you know their beautifully crafted songs and their straightforward yet elegant performance style.
They formed in 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina around the talents of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Martin and violinist/guitarist Emily Frantz. Martin and Emily had met the night of Obama’s first inauguration at an old-time music jam in Carrboro, North Carolina. They had each been irresistibly drawn, and drawn back, to the authenticity of bluegrass and other southern roots music. Their sound is a heady mix of bluegrass, gospel, folk, country, and pop drawn from wells both old and new. It invokes a sort of earthy timelessness, beautifully enriched by their effortless harmonies.
One of the leading contemporary folk artists of the American Midwest, Greg Brown’s music reflects a poetic spirit while also sounding thoroughly down to Earth. His deep, craggy voice expresses quirky humor and the mysteries of life and love with equal skill, and over the course of a career that's spanned more than five decades, he's earned a passionate following for his heartfelt and uncompromising music.
With roots in small town Iowa, Greg Brown’s rich folk style is heavily influenced by his origins. His mother played electric guitar, his grandfather was a banjo player and his father was a Holy Roller preacher. Brown’s songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been covered by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin. At the personal request of Jeff Bridges, Brown also contributed songs for Bridges’ Oscar-winning role in the film Crazy Heart. Ultimately, Brown is a storyteller who moves his audiences with his warmth, humor and deeply human musical vision.
Mike Farris is a musical renaissance man. He’s toured as lead singer for the Southern Rock Band Screaming Cheetah Wheelies, and following the demise of blues & rock legend Stevie Ray Vaughn, as the lead singer for the incomparable blues band, Double Trouble. In his solo career he began to rediscover and reinterpret traditional black spiritual music by adding his own mix of vintage southern soul. For his efforts, Farris won the prestigious Americana Music Award for Best New & Emerging Artist, a Dove Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album of the Year and a 2015 GRAMMY® award for Best Roots Gospel Album.
If you caught Mike Farris’ killer show last season hang onto your hats – he’s bringing a full band this time around.
AMY HELM • BIRDS OF CHICAGO • CHATHAM COUNTY LINE • DARLINGSIDE • HAYES CARLL • TRI CONTINENTAL • DUSTIN BENTALL • KENDEL CARSON • GURF MORLIX • JEFF PLANKENHORN • GREG BROWN • COWBOY JUNKIES • JONATHAN BYRD • CAHALEN MORRISON • DAVE MCGRAW AND MANDY FER • STRAY BIRDS • STEVE DAWSON • SERA CAHOONE • RUTH MOODY • MATUTO • MARTYN SIMPSON • MANDOLIN ORANGE • HONEYCUTTERS • HILLFOLK NOIR • FEARING AND WHITE • ELIZA GILKYSON • CAHALEN AND ELI • TONY FURTADO • ROSE COUSINS • PHARIS AND JASON ROMERO • PETE ANDERSON • MALCOLM HOLCOMBE • KELLY JOE PHELPS • GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV • DOUG COX AND BETTY SOO • DAVID FRANCEY • AJ CROCE • SAM BAKER • MARY GAUTIER • MARTYN JOSEPH • LINDA MCRAE