Category Archives: live performances

Happy New Year!

In the New Year… Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts will be working with various artists on press releases and promotion for concerts and special events and will provide select and custom CD distribution of new releases to folk radio.

Mark Dvorak will be releasing his new CD Let Love Go On in February 2020. The new release of great new material includes original songs by Mark and the song “Parade of Fools, Downtown” written by WVPE Folk DJ Al Kniola.

Michael Johnathon will be releasing his new CD Legacy in March 2020. The title song is described as being “The American Pie of the 21st Century,” It is an epic, original, 9-minute rocking journey through the world of music from Pete Seeger to Josh White, Joni Mitchell to the Kingston Trio, Dylan to Denver and more, in the context of a collapsing record business that all artists must struggle with. Legacy is an album of “derivatives”… original songs, original lyrics, original chord patterns but written and recorded to remind you of another song.

A big step forward for me was having Michael Johnathon read my book manuscript The Interview. He describes it as “a draft of a very fine new book in a music setting; the plot is very well thought out.” My goal was to have a novel published and many years ago I started writing for music magazines and newspapers covering music artists and events. I read in one of those “how to get published” books that it was good to have some sort of published work. I wrote lots of articles throughout the years. The novel idea was put aside. It was during several interviews with performers and attending different music events that I realized there was a need for publicity and promotion.

I then started Loretta Sawyer Agency/ Acoustic Arts. Aside from doing the publicity and promotion, one of my favorite things is going to Folk Alliance Regional Conferences and presenting artists in my late-night Uncorked showcase.

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of my first published article. So it would be epic for 2020 to be the year of my first published book. Will work on it 😉

I wish you much music, love and good health in 2020!



Summer of Music Wrap-up

Mark Dvorak sings an original song, ”I Hate to See the Summer Go”

Summer certainly speeds by fast! It’s been a time of outdoor art fairs, festivals and events… and some fine indoor things too:


Michael Johnathon in performance

Michael Johnathon in performance

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts had a great time hosting the Uncorked room at SERFA (Southeast Region Folk Alliance Conference) May 16 & 17 in Chattanooga, TN. Then we took a short road trip to Atlanta for Mark Dvorak’s performance May 18 at the Atlanta Area Friends of Folk Music. At Fiddler’s Green Concert Series, Mark reconnected with Frank Hamilton, and it was a special night of music!

Michael Johnathon returned to Illinois the end of May for performances at Two Way Street Coffee House in Downers Grove, IL and Concerts on the Creek in Rockford, IL.  Michael is touting his new releases of Dazed + Confuzed, The Songs of Rural America, and his WoodSongs 4 book. 


There was a night of blues and Americana at Wishbone North in Chicago on June 21 with Mark Dvorak, Donna Herula and Jon Shain.

Mark Dvorak by concert poster

Mark Dvorak at Fiddler’s Green Concert Series

A trip to Kentucky took Mark Dvorak to Lexington on June 27 for two performances for the wonderful folks of Sayre Christian Village.  June 29, we headed to Batesville Indiana for Mark Dvorak’s afternoon workshop and evening concert for the Batesville Library.


July 11 was the annual Island in the City Festival where my favorite Chicago festival band 7th Heaven performs each year.



Loretta with Colista Ledford

Loretta with Colista Ledford in Winchester, Kentucky

July 24 was another road trip to Kentucky. I had a meeting in a castle in Versailles, Ky and enjoyed a lovely lunch with Colista Ledford in Winchester, KY, then headed to London, KY and met up with the Higher Vision Band at the Pickin for the Kids Festival! It was great to catch up with Ronnie, Rob, Dedria, Kelly, and Steve.


Mark Dvorak (with Manuel Adduci on bass) returned to Concerts on the Creek in Rockford, IL on August 10th. The duo Last Acre opened the evening of music.

Michael Johnathon returned to the Hickory Ridge concert series in Lewiston, Illinois on August 17, and that is a story for the record books that only Michael can tell you!

Higher Vision in concert

Higher Vision in concert

Mark Dvorak returned to Mather’s Café in Chicago on Friday, August 23. Thanks to Our Village and Nadig newspapers for picking up the press release. It landed in four newspaper editions!

Now that August is here, planning is being done for the FARM (Folk Alliance Region Midwest) Conference in Grand Rapids, MI October 24-27. LSAA will be hosting the Uncorked room for three nights, and the schedule is already full! Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts is also a Gold Sponsor for FARM 2019!

Meanwhile, I’ve been catching up on some movies. I especially like the ones that are music-related… Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen), Rocketman (Elton John), Yesterday (The Beatles), and Blinded by the Light (Bruce Springsteen).

So that is the update here at Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts.

Enjoy the rest of the summer days ahead.



Mark Dvorak dancing with little girl

Mark Dvorak two-stepping in Batesville

Springing Ahead…

The beginning of a New Year starts with reviewing artists’ schedules and pitching for fill-in dates. Sending out Press Releases to media to promote a concert and community event is always ongoing. Check out my Facebook page for more up to date info on shows I am promoting!

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts will be hosting the Uncorked showcase room at the SERFA (South East Region Folk Alliance) Conference in Chattanooga, TN May 16 & 17. Stay tuned for the schedule of amazing artists I will be presenting at this conference.

Mark Dvorak continues to have a full schedule which he balances between traveling to concerts, teaching, and performing for many community events. Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts provides press releases for his various performances and works on connecting him with new music venues to fill out his tour schedule.

Michael Johnathon has released two new projects, Dazed & Confuzed and Songs of Rural America. “The Statue” music video, a song about hate, violence and the symbols of racism in America, with Lesson plans available is from the Dazed & Confuzed: 21st Century Folksinger album. The Songs of Rural America album was recorded live with the Ohio Valley Symphony orchestra and debuted as a TV event on RFD-TV on February 22nd.

Keep Springing ahead!


NERFA Conference 2018 Wrap-Up

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts headed to the NERFA – Northeast Region Folk Alliance Conference in Stamford CT November 8-11. LSAA hosted the Uncorked showcase on Thursday and Friday nights, presenting an outstanding lineup of artists who “uncorked” their songs and stories during the late night guerilla sessions.

I was also pleased to present Chicago singer songwriter Mark Dvorak to the NERFA community. Mark last appeared at NERFA in 2011 and had some exciting new material to share.

It was also great meeting folks at the Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts booth in the exhibit hall at the conference.

Until next time!

mark dvorak uncorked showcase

Mark Dvorak at the Uncorked Showcase

LSAA banner

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts banner decorates the Uncorked room




Folk Alliance Region Midwest (FARM) Conference friends….WOW…what a weekend Oct 25-28!

I need to thank Smitty, Annie, the board members and volunteers who worked so hard to give us a fabulous weekend of music and friends. Thanks to all the artists who played in the Uncorked showcase hosted by Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts… you filled the room to the max each night. Special thanks to Mark Dvorak… It would not be Uncorked without him… He also brought $11 Supper to the FARM family table  What a fun trio. Thanks to those who stopped by the Uncorked room to listen…venues, DJs, friends,.. I am grateful for your support.

Mark dvorak uncorked

Mark Dvorak in a packed Uncorked Showcase room

mark dvorak listening party

Mark Dvorak listening party in Uncorked showcase room

michael johnathon uncorked

Michael Johnathon in Uncorked showcase room


LSA Hosts Uncorked Showcase at FARM Conference This Weekend

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts is hosting the Uncorked showcase room at Folk Alliance
Region Midwest (FARM) in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Oct 25-27.
We are looking forward to presenting these talented artists!
Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts is a Gold Sponsor for FARM and will be hosting the
welcoming reception on Thursday afternoon of the conference. On Friday evening
Uncorked will be hosting a Pizza/Listening Party, presenting Mark Dvorak’s new CD
Brand New Wings. 
Hope to see you there!

Uncorked Showcase 2018

Uncorked Showcase Room 115

showcase room schedule

Uncorked Showcase 2018 Schedule

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

Springing Ahead

Spring finally came to Chicago, been enjoying some very nice weather here. Planted flowers and tomatoes on the deck at LSAA Headquarters.

First adventure of the season is the SERFA (South East Region Folk Alliance) Conference May 17-20. Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts is hosting the Uncorked showcase room on Thursday and Friday Nights. Here is the schedule:

10:40  Rich Eilbert
11:00 Escaping Pavement
11:20 Wayne Greene
11:40 Amelia Sweet Bluebird
12:00 Mark Dvorak
12:40 Friction Farm
1:00  Claudia Nygaard
1: 20 Steven Pelland
1:40  Loretta’s Last Call

10:40  Special Guest
11:00 Tret Fure
11:20  Jane Godfrey
11:40 Heather Styka
12:00 Mark Dvorak
12:40 Brian Ashley Jones
1:00  Noah Zacharin
1: 20 Eric Lambert
1:40  Loretta’s Last Call

Mark Dvorak continues to balance his full schedule with concerts, teaching and working on two new projects. Visit his website for more information and performance dates.

There is always something new with Michael Johnathon. He just completed his first children’s book, Mousie HiWay : The Adventures of Banjo Mouse. The book and CD introduces bluegrass music and acoustic instruments to kids 3-12 years old.  Fully illustrated with a story based on the song “Mousie HiWay,” it takes kids on a musical journey through the Appalachian Mountains as Banjo Mouse forms the Mousie HiWay Band.

There is also The Songs of Rural American performance Saturday Oct 6, 2018 at the historic Ariel Opera House in Gallipolis, OH.  This concert will be recorded for public radio and filmed for public television. Be part of the excitement and in the theatre audience! This is a fully orchestrated concert presenting the spirit, tradition and songs of rural America. Visit Michael’s website or call (740) 446-2787  for more info.

The 2018 Gathering of SongFarmers member conference will be in historic Berea, Kentucky at the wonderful Berea Arena Theatre on Big Hill Road, right off I-75 south of Lexington. Great hotels, camping, cafes, music shoppes and hiking are all around! The conference will be full of workshops, song circles and musical fellowship. SongFarmers members get TWO FREE TICKETS to attend both days!

Happy Spring!


The New Year: Forward and Backward

Happy New Year! Here’s a look back at the recent months and a look forward at what we have planned for 2018 so far!

The WoodSongs Front Porch Association held it’s annual SongFarmer Gathering at Shaker Village outside Lexington, KY onOctober 13 and 14th. Everyone enjoyed the music and especially the workshops. I was back in Chicago for two days and then headed to Iowa City, IA for the Folk Alliance Region Midwest (FARM) Conference Oct 19-22 . Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts hosted the Uncorked showcase room for three nights. Thanks to all the artists who performed in Uncorked: Mark Dvorak, Michael Johnathon, Rain Perry, Ruth & Max Bloomquist, River Breitbach, David Noll, The Matchsellers, Small Forest, CatBird, Dan Weber, Amelia Sweet Bluebird, Central Standard Time, John Keck, Blind Hills, Curtis & Loretta, Chris Vallillo, Patty Stevenson & Craig Siemsen, Chuck Mitchell, Tim Grimm, Eric Lambert, Diane Perry, Sandy Andina, Charlie Mosbrook, Lyal Strickland, Joel Curtis, Heather Styka and Ryanhood.

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts sponsored the Folk DJ/Venue Reception on Friday afternoon at the FARM Conference. Mark Dvorak began the conference with a community sing and was an official showcase artist on Saturday evening. Michael Johnathon presented a workshop on SongFarmers. In 2018, FARM moves to Grand Rapids, MI. Thanks to FARM Board and Volunteers for another great conference.

Arriving back to Chicago, it was my final guitar class for the Sept/Oct session, which was a performance song at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Turned out to be a duet of “Hallelujah” with my instructor Mark Dvorak. Yep, I was nervous, but Mark carried me through. I have no desire to perform in public, but like learning about songs and playing. By doing this I appreciate the talent of the amazing people I get to work with. My November/December Guitar 2 class ended last Thursday with another performance. Thanks to my classmates Bonnie and Hanna who supplied great guitar work and vocals to out performance song “Snowbird” and to our instructor Mark Dvorak for leading the way!

Looking forward to 2018…

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts is planning on attending the SERFA, FARM and NERFA
music conferences in 2018.

Mark Dvorak continues to have a full schedule which he balances between traveling to concerts, teaching, and performing for library and senior events. Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts provides press releases for his various performances and works on connecting him with new music venues to fill out his tour schedule.

Mark is working on his new project “Let Love Go On.” I think the song title says so much, as does the song.

LSAA will also be working with additional artists supplying specialized CD distribution and publicity.

May the New Year bring you many blessings, adventures and music!

Let Love Go On!


Rockford Community Sing returns to Emmanuel Lutheran January 6

ROCKFORD IL – Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 920 Third Avenue will host Rockford’s second community sing on Saturday, January 6 at 7:30 pm. The event will support Emmanuel Lutheran’s Center for Arts & Spirituality. Suggested donation is $10. There will also be a free harmony singing workshop at 2:00 pm.

Rockford area musician and performer Ron Holm will be joined by the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Mark Dvorak in a program of familiar folk songs, sing along favorites and a few other surprises too.

“The idea is to get people of all ages singing together in a social setting,” said Holm, whose career in music spans four decades. “And it seems like it’s an idea whose time has come.”

Holm performs more than 100 concerts plus over 50 church services each year. He has collaborated on stage with legendary stars like Roy Orbison, Vassar Clements and others.

“Community singing is popping up all over the place,” said Dvorak, who is artist-in-residence at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. “East Lansing, Michigan, Milwaukee, Plymouth, Indiana, Mt. Morris, Wisconsin, of course Chicago, and now Rockford. We had a wonderful turnout last year, and our voices filled the beautiful sanctuary at Emmanuel. We’re really excited to be bringing people together again,” he said.

“Mark is a consummate singer, composer, instrumentalist and author,” said Holm. “We’ve been working together on a number of Rockford area projects over the last several years. He’s a fan-favorite and is part of the new enthusiasm for community music here in Rockford.”

Other surprise guests will be part of the program, which will take place in the acoustically-superb sanctuary at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

Holm and Dvorak will offer a free harmony singing workshop at 2:00 pm the afternoon of the concert. The first fifteen who attend the workshop and make an advance donation will be invited to join the cast on stage for the second half of the concert. The workshop will cover harmony singing basics, other vocal topics and serve as a loose rehearsal.

“We’re aiming to fill the room again,” said Holm. “Our hope is that this event will help bring our community together through singing, harmonizing and listening.”

For more information on the Rockford Community Sing and to make a reservation phone 815 979 1949 or 815 963 4815. Visit the Emmanuel Lutheran home page at