Category Archives: benefit

2nd Annual Acoustic Music Gathering in Oak Park Arts District October 12 & 13

The Oak Park Arts District in Oak Park, Illinois will play host to three acoustic music events on Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13, to support the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, Housing Forward and the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation.

The second annual event, FolkTober Fest, is presented by Music & Potlucks, a community organization dedicated to presenting cultural programs that directly benefit those in need.

On Friday, October 12 at 6:30 pm the FolkTober Fest Acoustic Jam takes place at District Kitchen and Tap, 220 Harrison Street. Players of all acoustic instruments, singers and listeners are invited to the free event. Donations to support the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, Housing Forward and the Oak Park Community Foundation will be accepted.

On Saturday, October 13 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, the the FolkTober Fest Showcase will take place at Val’s Halla Records, 239 Harrison Street. The free performance will feature acoustic performers and singer-songwriters including $7.34 Supper, Acoustic Neighbors, Jeff Burke’s Jam Class, the Young Stracke All-Stars and others. Donations to support the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, Housing Forward and the Oak Park Community Foundation will be accepted.

The Saturday, October 13 evening activities shift to The Buzz Cafe, 905 S. Lombard Avenue for a dinner show and a tribute to folk icon Pete Seeger. At 6:00 pm the dinner show entertainment will be provided by Oak Park’s own Dropped Notes String Band. The Buzz Cafe will create a special menu for the event and guests are welcome to bring along their own adult beverage.

At 7:00 pm, A Tribute to Pete Seeger will be presented by Chicago’s “official troubadour” Mark Dvorak and the Power of Song Singers. The one-hour presentation will feature some of Seeger’s most memorable songs. “If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” “Turn, Turn, Turn” and others have become standard in the American folk repertoire. Donations to support the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, Housing Forward and the Oak Park Community Foundation will be accepted.

“We feel the need to continue to nourish our community,” said Music and Potlucks co-director Stephanie Schrodt. “Across the board, there is a lot of fear and concern. There are needs that must be addressed. We feel that music is an important tool that can help bring our community together.”

“Music is the medicine our spirits need,” said Elizabeth Sweeney Backes, President of the Board of the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. “Learning together, singing together and enjoying music together is the basis where positive, good things can begin to grow.”

Tickets to the Saturday evening event are $20 per adult. Reservations can be made at Brown Paper Tickets, event 3578160. For more information on the event or to make a donation contact

Read more about these events and programs at

Sing Along Concert in Forest Park to benefit Community Foundation, Food Pantry and Housing Forward

The first annual Oak Park River Forest Community Sing Along is set to take place on Sunday, April 30 at Doc Ryan’s, 7432 W. Madison, Forest Park. Music begins at 6:00 pm.

The event is called “Songs for Peace and Justice” and is sponsored by the Songs for Peace and Justice Fund held at the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation. Besides the Fund at the Community Foundation, the event will benefit two local community service agencies, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry and Housing Forward.

“We feel there is hole to fill, and a real need to help nourish our community.” said Stephanie Schrodt of River Forest, who is co-chairing the event along with Betsy Backes and Liz Ziehl.

“Across the nation there is a lot of fear and concern for friends, loved ones, strangers, immigrants and for ourselves,” she said. “It is beautiful to witness the way music can transform the atmosphere.”

The concert will feature folk musicians Mark Dvorak and Jason McInnes, both from the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Dvorak, who was named Chicago’s “official troubadour” by WFMT 98.7 FM, will be accompanied by the Power of Song Singers, a ten-member chorus which began at the Old Town School after the passing of Pete Seeger in 2014. McInnes is the director of the Young Stracke All-Stars, an ensemble of youth musicians aged 8 to 14. The group is named for Old Town School founder Win Stracke, who was a singer, early television star and music education pioneer.

“We wanted to create this opportunity for neighbors to connect and to give music and singing together the chance to work its magic,” said Schrodt. “We want to support our local agencies who continue to help our neighbors navigate through challenging times.”

All ages are welcome to attend. General admission to the event is a sliding suggested donation of $10 – $20. $25 suggested for families. The sponsors regret that the event is not wheelchair accessible. Doors open at 5:00 pm. For information and for sponsorship opportunities phone 312451-5101 or email Visit the website at

Springing Ahead

Well it is quite busy here for Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts and for me personally…

WoodSongs/Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts was at Folk Alliance International Kansas City, MO
February 15-18th. Thanks to all who stopped by the trade show booth… artists, presenters, DJs. Great meeting you all!

Loretta at FAI 2017

Loretta at FAI 2017

Friday Feb 24th, Brian Ashley Jones was at Uncommon Ground/Devon-Chicago, Saturday Feb 25th brought the music of Tony Bennett at the Mercury Theater. I completed proofreading the new WoodSongs III book for Michael Johnathon, and it had me laughing and crying!

Thursday March 2nd  was my graduation class performance at the Old Town School of Folk Music… yes, I have been taking guitar lessons, now that I have the new Martin guitar I wanted to try it out. So I started again with Guitar 1 at OTS, it was a small class and we all had it going on, of course my instructor (Mark Dvorak) always has it going on. The class gave me structure and incentive and I am looking forward to the next session. I am sorry that there is not a picture or video of the event. They even had lights and microphones! I now have a deeper respect for those of you who make your life/living on the stage!

March 4th was the Annual Paul Seiwert Foundation Benefit for Children with Cancer. David Noll was at Two Way Street Coffee House in Downers Grove, Friday March 10th. Met David at the Folk Alliance Conference Region Midwest where he introduced his new CD Serenade to a Life.

Mark Dvorak filled the Acorn Coffeehouse at the Burning Bush Art Gallery in Wheaton, IL this past Saturday.  A very nice place for art and music.

Michael Johnathon returns to the Hickory Ridge Concert Series in Lewistown, IL this Saturday March 18.

Mark Dvorak will be a showcase artist at the Illinois Library Association Reaching Forward Conference in Rosemont, IL May 5th.  LSAA is doing a special promotion of this
to Illinois libraries.  You can find more information about this and Mark’s complete schedule at

There are a couple of wonderful community music events being planned as fund-raisers for non-profit organizations.  Stayed tuned for more information!

Looking forward to Spring!

Remembering Pete Seeger-A special concert

Des Moines, IA -The passion, purpose and spirit of Pete Seeger and American Folk Music are alive and well in Spook Handy’s “Remembering Pete Seeger” World Tour and concert. Spook Handy will be presenting this special concert for the Progressive Voices Concert Series on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 7:30pm. The concert is held at The First Unitarian Church, 1800 Bell Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50315. Tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door.

Spook Handy performed alongside Pete Seeger at festivals and concerts more than 50 times from 2003-2013. He learned firsthand many of Pete’s songs and the stories behind them. Now, Spook is on a three year “Remembering Pete Seeger” World Tour bringing these songs and stories and Pete’s message to all 50 U.S states, all 11 Canadian provinces, and many other countries (as well as all 21 New Jersey counties). He can be heard at theaters, arts centers, libraries, universities, churches and anywhere else people gather to celebrate Pete’s life and legacy. His new CD “Pete,Woody and Me-Volume 1 is due out by Spring 2016.

Spook was named Best Folk Artist by Upstage Magazine, Gannett New Jersey, The Courier News, The Home News and He has written for theater and film and his original songs have charted as high as #6 on the International Folk Radio Charts.

Spook says, “I’ve always felt that an individual can leave a positive mark on the world.  I also eventually came to realize that I could make a difference through music.  Pete showed me that it’s not just the content of a song that makes the difference.  It’s the humanity and the interaction you have with people through both writing and performing your music.  That’s what touches people most.  Pete knew how to make an audience feel comfortable, get involved in the conversation, and be part of the collective experience.”

Feline Friends hosts Chicago folk concert

CHICAGO IL – Feline Friends Chicago presents two consummate Old Town School of Folk Music artists, Christopher Walz and Mark Dvorak, in an intimate house concert to raise awareness and funds for the non-profit organization that has advocated for the proper treatment of companion animals since 1998.

The concert takes place on Friday, August 22 at 7:30 pm in a private home near Irving Park Road and Lincoln Avenue on Chicago’s north side. Donations can be made online at

Christopher Walz became interested in the guitar as a teenager while growing up in upstate New York. There he fell in love with the music of rural artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Wilie McTell. He then developed an interest in bluegrass music and wound up spending four years touring the world with Chicago’s preeminent bluegrass band The Special Consensus.

In 2012 Mark Dvorak was named “Chicago’s official troubadour” by WFMT 90.9 Fine Arts Radio. He has recorded sixteen albums to date and is the recipient of the 2014 Folk Alliance International FARM Lantern Bearer Award. His songwriting has been called ‘wondrous,’ and ‘profound.’

Attendance to the concert is by reservation only. Admission is $20 and all proceeds benefit Feline Friends Chicago. Contact Ria Majeske to make your reservations at RMajeske at or by phone at 773 275 0590.

Troubadour Mark Dvorak in concert to support Steel Beam Theatre

ST. CHARLES IL – The Steel Beam Theatre presents, “An Intimate Evening with Mark Dvorak” on Friday, July 11 at the Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main Street, St. Charles. Tickets are $40 per adult and include a light supper, dessert and admission to the concert. Dinner is at 6:30 pm and the concert begins at 7:30 pm. Dessert will be served during intermission. All proceeds support the theatre and its programs. Pre-show music provided by Fight with Monsters, acoustic guitars of Ryan Caldwell and Ryan Worthy, who will play background during the supper hour. Food provided by Mary Bohadlo and Mary B Cookin’ catering.

Now in its thirteenth season, the Steel Beam Theatre earned “Best of the Fox” from the Kane County Chronicle reader’s poll earlier this year. The professional theatre operates year-round with a full schedule of adult shows, children’s theatre and workshops.

“We’re proud and blessed to have flourished here in the Fox River Valley for the past fourteen years,” said theatre founder and director Donna Steele. “Music has always been a good way to fill in our schedule, and we’re so lucky that Mark is coming to our stage for our summer event.”

Dvorak was named “Chicago’s Troubadour” by WFMT 98.7 fm fine arts radio last year, and is the 2013 recipient of the FARM Lantern Bearer Award for his contribution to the field of folk music.  His songwriting has been called “wondrous,” and “profound.” His performance “an elegant balancing act of the traditional, the original and the powerful.” The Chicago Tribune calls him “masterful,” while SING OUT! Magazine says, “Dvorak shines!”

Dvorak has released sixteen albums to date and last year his first book of essays and poems, “Bowling for Christmas and Other Tales from the Road” was published and received glowing reviews. The initial printing sold out in nine days.

Tickets can be ordered by phoning the Steel Beam Theatre box office at 630 587 8521 or online at For more information on Mark Dvorak, visit his website at

From Loretta: Heading Toward Spring

January 2014 began with Loretta Sawyer Promotions sending three new CD releases to radio; Amy Dixon-Kolar’s Dancing Through the Storm, James Curley’s There Use to be a Train, and Inside out Studio (Gary Gordon) Premier Collection.  All continue to receive airplay on Folk and Americana radio stations.

Folk Alliance Trade Show

Loretta Sawyer Agency shared a trade show booth with Michael Johnathon’s WoodSongs

February was the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, MO.

Loretta Sawyer Agency shared a trade show booth with Michael Johnathon’s WoodSongs. LSA has worked with Michael Johnathon on various projects providing publicity/promotion and national booking  Thanks to all the artists, DJs and venues who stopped by the trade show booth, it was great meeting you!

MJ Folk Alliance

Michael Johnathon workshop at Folk Alliance


Michael Johnathon conducted a workshop at the conference titled Why Free Works to a full room. Other highlights of the conference was a very sincere and touching key note address by Graham Nash and a presentation about Climate Change by Al Gore. Of course… music was everywhere!



Mark Dvorak provided social hour and dinner entertainment for the Paul Seiwert Foundation’s annual dinner dance fundraising event for children with cancer in Park Ridge, IL on March 1, 2014

Mark Dvorak provided entertainment for the Paul Seiwert Foundation’s annual fundraising event for children with cancer.

Mark Dvorak provided social hour and dinner entertainment for the Paul Seiwert Foundation’s annual dinner dance fundraising event for children with cancer in Park Ridge, IL on March 1, 2014. Thanks to all for your support in making this a very successful evening.

Michael Johnathon returns to Two Way Street Coffee House in Downers Grove, IL on Friday March 7 and then rides out of town to join Michael Martin Murphy in concert in Winchester, KY the next day. Stay tuned for more press releases about Michael’s upcoming concerts.

Mark Dvorak is conducting an audience participation concert and sing along celebrating the life and songs of Pete Seeger, Saturday March 15 at 8:00 pm in Woodstock IL.


In celebration of Women’s History Month in March, local folk musicians have arranged a fundraiser for Family Shelter Service at Caribou Coffee, 5100 Main St., Downers Grove, on March 22, 7-9 p.m., featuring songs “about, by and for women.” The musical lineup includes: Comfort Food (Rich & Vicki Ingle), Robinlee Garber and Amy Dixon-Kolar.

Michael Johnathon’s WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour will be presenting a Pete Seeger celebration broadcast on Monday March 31 that will include a Chicago Old Town School of Folk Music reunion of Mark Dvorak, Chris Walz and Frank Hamilton performing songs of The Weavers.

Thanks for visiting the LSA website and stay tuned!


Folk Troubadour Mark Dvorak to make guest appearance at Park Ridge Benefit

The Sixth Annual Paul Seiwert Foundation Dinner/Dance to benefit children with cancer will be held on Saturday March 1, 2014. This years “Campfire” theme event will take place at the Park Ridge Country Club, 636 North Prospect, Park Ridge, IL 60068, 6pm-Midnight.

Enjoy songs by Folk Troubadour Mark Dvorak from 6:15-7:30pm during the social/cocktail hour.

Mark Dvorak, who was named “Chicago’s Troubadour” by WFMT 98.7fm fine arts radio, has sustained a career of performing, recording and teaching that has spanned more than twenty-five years. He has performed in thirty-six states and several countries abroad with only his guitar, 5-string banjo and his songs. His 2011 Waterbug release, Time Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me, received national airplay and rose to number 14 on the Cashbox Roots Music report. He recently published a book of essays and poems titled Bowling for Christmas & Other Tales from the Road.

After dinner dance music by Josh & The Empty Pockets.

$150 per guest (or a table of ten for $1,250) includes; dinner, cocktails, and one $10 raffle ticket per attendee.

For more information visit, email, or call 773-407-1120. Please register for the event by February 24, 2014

The Paul Seiwert Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was established in 2008 in memory of Paul Thomas Seiwert 12/20/98 – 3/21/08.  This is a continuation of Paul’s charitable spirit aiding other children afflicted with cancer, through philanthropic donor support.  Paul dreamed of becoming a doctor, desiring to provide other children and their family’s medical treatment with favorable health outcomes, while never losing hope to heal.  The Paul Seiwert Foundation supports Paul’s dream for his special friends to live cancer free.

Proceeds support Advocate Children’s Hospital, Park Ridge, IL and Paul’s special friends within the community.