Spencertown Academy Announces Roots & Shoots Concerts Season
Spencertown, New York– Spencertown Academy Arts Center announces its second annual Roots & Shoots Concerts season. The monthly series showcases artists who reach back to earlier traditions in music (Americana, jazz, blues, rock, and world music) for inspiration, while incorporating more recent forms and influences of the present. Running from November 2019 through June 2020, the series will feature Embe Esti with special guest Rob Fisch, Rachelle Garniez, Tracy Grammer, Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur, The Kennedys, The Nields, and the Amy Ryan Band.
The 2019-2020 season will kick off with the Amy Ryan Band on Saturday, November 9 at 8:00pm. Over the past five years, the Amy Ryan Band has gained an enthusiastic following for its high-energy blend of blues, rock, and jazz. In 2015, the group won Capital Region Blues Network’s qualifying competition to represent the region at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Guitarist Richard Green saw an opportunity to join forces with a gutsy female singer with the potential to lead a great blues band. Melding Ryan’s country-blues vocals and Green’s urban blues and rock sensibilities, the band also includes bassist Dave Imbaratto, drummer Mark McKay and keyboard player Ed Stein. Their repertoire includes band adaptations of Ryan’s self-penned solo tunes, newly minted originals, and select covers.
Guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, and arranger Geoff Muldaur will perform on Saturday, December 14 at 8:00pm. He is one of the great voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, blues, and folk-rock scenes centered in Cambridge, MA and Woodstock, NY. During the 1960s and ’70s, Muldaur made a series of highly influential recordings as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Paul Butterfield’s Better Days group, as well as collaborations with then-wife Maria Muldaur and other notables (Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt, Jerry Garcia). He has composed scores for film and television, and produced off-beat albums for the likes of Lenny Pickett and the Borneo Horns and the Richard Greene String Quartet. His definitive recording of “Brazil” provided the seed for—and was featured in—Terry Gilliam’s film of the same title.
The nationally acclaimed folk-pop duo The Nields will perform on Saturday, January 18 at 8:00pm. Sisters Nerissa and Katryna are well into their third decade as musical partners. They have released 17 albums, had major and independent record and publishing deals, and performed with The Band, James Taylor, Dan Zanes, 10,000 Maniacs, and the Indigo Girls. Their most recent album, XVII, is both their most personal and their most community-minded. Its meditative lyrics express joy in the present and faith in the future. The songs are about the lessons The Nields hope to have learned by midlife: accepting the passage of time and the choices they’ve made, and being thankful for the moments of grace.
Contemporary folk artist Tracy Grammer will perform on Saturday, February 22 at 8:00pm. She is renowned for her pure voice, deft guitar and violin work, and incantatory storytelling. She has recorded and performed with Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter, headlined several of the nation’s top folk festivals, including Philadelphia Folk Festival and Falcon Ridge, and enjoyed 12 consecutive years as one of folk radio’s 50 top-played artists, both solo and with the late Dave Carter. Her eleventh release, Low Tide, showcases her original songs and was Folk Alley’s #2 album of 2018 (just after John Prine at #1).
Embe Esti, with special guest jazz trumpeter Rob Fisch, will perform on Saturday, March 21 at 8:00pm. Embe Esti is the New York Capital Region’s premier intercontinental fusion band that mixes Afrobeat, North African, and other global traditions with rock, funk, and blues. Their songs combine message-based lyrics with the raw improvisation of jazz and polished writing and performances to create original soulful dance music that will get your hands clapping and feet moving. Group members include vocalist Taunya Hannibal-Williams, guitarist Scott Collins, bassist Mike Dimin, and drummer Robert Morris—all seasoned players with diverse interests and influences.
Jim Kweskin will perform on Saturday, April 4 at 8:00pm. He is the founder of the legendary 1960s Jim Kweskin Jug Band with Fritz Richmond, Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur, Mel Lyman, Bill Keith, and Bruno Wolfe. Their imitators were legion, including a San Francisco jug band that became the Grateful Dead, a Los Angeles jug band that became the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and a New York jug band that became the Lovin’ Spoonful. These days, Kweskin is best known as a singer and bandleader. He is recognized as one of the best interpreters of the great American songbook, but he also created one of the bedrock guitar styles of the folk revival, adapting the ragtime-blues fingerpicking of artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Pink Anderson to the more complex chords of pop and jazz.
Back to the Roots and Shoots series by popular demand, singer-songwriter-pianist-guitarist-accordionist Rachelle Garniez will perform on Saturday, May 2 at 8:00pm. The native New Yorker is a certified free spirit who performs story songs that slip between pop, polka, country, ska, jazz, yodeling, and more. She is at home in many worlds, from busking on street corners to performing on stages around the globe. She has released six albums of original material; her influences range from Tin Pan Alley classics to Klezmer, Americana Roots, and Latin flavors. She composed the music for Taylor Mac’s “The Lily’s Revenge,” has written for jazz vocalist Catherine Russell, and has collaborated with many artists, including The Citizens Band, Thomas Dolby, and Jack White.
Folk-rock band The Kennedys will perform on Saturday, June 6 at 8:00pm. Husband and wife Pete and Maura Kennedy have traversed a broad musical landscape over more than two decades of travel across the US and UK. Starting out as members of Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra, the New York-based duo cites Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers as primary influences. Their original songs, spanning more than a dozen CDs, are uplifting and encouraging. They describe their music as “a tonic to inspire and empower our better angels.”
General admission tickets to the Amy Ryan Band in November are $20 public, $15 Academy members, and $10 students. General admission tickets to all of the other concerts are $25 public, $20 Academy members, and $10 students. Tickets to the winter 2019 concerts are available now; the 2020 shows will go on sale in December. Tickets may be purchased in advance via www.spencertownacademy.org and, pending availability, will be available at the door.
Founded in 1972, Spencertown Academy Arts Center is a cultural center and community resource serving Columbia County, the Berkshires, and the Capital region. Housed in a landmark 1847 Greek Revival schoolhouse, the Academy is located at 790 State Route 203 in Spencertown, New York. For more information, please see www.spencertownacademy.org or call 518-392-3693.