Seeger tribute, workshop at Old Town School April 24

CHICAGO IL – The Old Town School of Folk Music welcomes Chicago’s “official troubadour” Mark Dvorak, for a special concert and workshop honoring the legacy of American folk icon, songwriter and activist Pete Seeger. The 7:00 pm concert takes place in the Myron R. Szold Music and Dance Hall, 4545 N. Lincoln Avenue. The workshop takes place at 2:00 pm. Seeger was born on May 3, 1919.

The program features Dvorak leading the audience through some of Pete Seeger’s best-known songs, including  “If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and others that have –become standard in the American folk repertoire. Perhaps no single person of the 20th century has done more to preserve, broadcast, and redistribute folk music than Pete Seeger. His passion for politics, the environment, and humanity earned him both ardent fans and vocal enemies since he first began performing in the 1930s.

In 1948 Seeger formed the folk singing group, The Weavers, which scored massive hit records. After the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s, Seeger was a major force at the Newport Folk Festivals and became a promoter of upcoming talent.

His marathon-length concerts included Spanish songs, African-American work songs and spirituals, new protest songs and old folk songs, sometimes with rewritten lyrics. And he got everyone singing along, often in multi-part harmony.

Chicago’s Mark Dvorak has followed in the footsteps of Seeger as a musician, educator and community builder. Dvorak toured for six years with the the group WeaverMania! performing Seeger’s role as singer, storyteller and banjo player. 2016 marks his thirtieth anniversary as a faculty member at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

“He’s the real deal,” said Bau Graves, Executive Director of Chicago’s Old Town School. ”Mark has made music his life and livelihood and he’s a top faculty member at the school. His performances are elegant, rich and powerful.”

Dvorak will be joined by the Old Town School Folk Chorus, a ten-member group of Old Town School members and singers who have accompanied him for over twenty concerts since Seeger passed away in January 2014.

Members of the Chorus will also help Dvorak lead a ninety-minute workshop at 2:00 pm, “The Power of Song.” The session will present material from Seeger’s vast repertoire and rehearse participants to join Dvorak on stage for the second half of the show.

“We’ve sung a lot of songs together,” said Dvorak of his loose ensemble. “We’re ready now to include others in a sing-along tribute to Pete. We think it’s fitting. You can look up Pete’s biography and listen to his discography, but in his own words he said his goal was to, ‘Put a song on people’s lips, instead of just in their ears.’ And that’s what we’ve come back to the Old Town School to do.”

General admission tickets to the concert are $15, $13 for Old Town School members. Enrollment to the 2:00 pm workshop is $15. Participants must be available to perform with the Chorus at the 7:00 pm concert.

For ticket information or enrollment in the Power of Song Workshop visit www.oldtownschool.org or phone 773 728 6000.

Beyond the Driver: Chicago cabbie is a novelist and singer-songwriter

CHICAGO IL – Though Chicago’s Jack Clark earns his living as a cab driver, he has won awards for the books he’s written, and recently two of his original songs have been picked up by recording artist Jay Ryan, an American who’s been living in France for the past twenty-five years.

“I met Jack a couple of years ago at a gig in Montreuil,” said Ryan who fronts his own band, Jay & the Cooks. “While working on our album, I heard Jack sing some of his songs and I said to myself, ‘Why not ask him if I could use one or two on the record?’”

Ryan’s career in music began in Chicago in the late 1960s and led him first to Austin TX, then to New York’s lower East Side, and finally to France. “We added Jack’s ‘Cellblock C,’ and ‘Drinking and Thinking (About You)’ to our record. These are great songs,” Ryan said. “And Jack has plenty more waiting to be heard.”

Clark splits his time between Chicago and Paris, France. His private-eye novel, Westerfield’s Chain was a finalist for a Shamus Award in 2002. Nobody’s Angel is a mystery novel published in 2010 and features Chicago cabbie Eddie Miles. Clark landed an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, talking about that book, and his long career as a Chicago cab driver and writer.

Born and raised in the Austin neighborhood as one of seven siblings, Clark is a high school dropout who wanted to be a writer since he was sixteen, when his dad handed him a copy of Nelson Algren’s The Man With the Golden Arm. His formal training is limited to the only college course he ever took – “Story and Journalism” at Columbia, chosen he said, because all the fiction courses were full.

Clark freelanced for The Chicago Reader for over twenty-five years and has also self-published several other books  “And I’ve a couple more books sitting at home which I’m hoping to get published,” he said.

“It’s been a real kick hearing my songs professionally recorded,” said Clark. “I’ve got more than forty songs written and hope more of them can be recorded someday. I’d also like to record my own CD.”

On Tuesday, March 29 Clark will perform a set of his original music at The Grafton Pub, 4530 N. Lincoln Avenue. Old Town School of Folk Music troubadour Mark Dvorak will also perform. The show begins at 9:30 and there is no cover.

The appearance is part of The Grafton’s new “Folk Tuesday” series, featuring performances, jam sessions and podcast recording sessions in their intimate fireplace room. For more information visit The Grafton online at www.thegrafton.com, or phone 773 271 9000.

Chicago Troubadour Bound for Bluegrass State- Offering Community Music Programs

LEXINGTON KY – When folk singer-songwriter Mark Dvorak began his career in music, he knew right away he was in it for the long haul. “For me, folk music has always been a part of our  shared history,” said Dvorak, who is based in Chicago. “But it also gives us a language we can use to express ourselves, and to let others know what we are thinking and what we are feeling.”

“For years I’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring this music to more people. I’ve wanted to find the right situation where people can get into the songs, and also sustain myself as a touring musician,” he said.

Dvorak thinks he may have found a way with his latest project, the Community Concert Partnership, which debuts with civic and public performances in Somerset, Ludlow and Lexington beginning March 18.

“It’s pretty simple, really,” explains Dvorak, who is artist-in-residence at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. “This music has always thrived in small spaces. It has grown by being needed and used. It carries along with it the essence of our shared heritage and invites participation. Folk music is family music.”

On Friday, March 18, 7:00 pm, Dvorak will give a concert at the 3rd Friday Folk Coffeehouse series, Carnegie Community Arts Center, 107 Main Street, Somerset.

On Saturday, March 19, 11:00 am, Dvorak will give a free family performance at the Tates Creek Branch of the Lexington Library, 3628 Walden, Lexington.

He will then head north to Ludlow for a workshop and at 7:00 pm, an intimate evening concert at the Folk School Coffee Parlor, 322 Elm Street Ludlow. The workshop, “Acoustic Guitar Styles” takes place at 3:00 pm with a registration fee of $20. Admission to the evening concert is $5.

Dvorak returns to Lexington on Sunday, March 20 for two concerts at Sayre Friendship Village. At 1:00 pm he will perform in the Baunta Building and at 2:30 pm he will perform at Friendship Towers.

“He’s the real deal,” said Bau Graves, Old Town School of Folk Music executive director. “Mark has made music his life and his livelihood. He’s been a top faculty member at the school for more than twenty-five years. His performances are elegant, rich and powerful.”

Dvorak has released seventeen albums to date and performed in thirty-eight states, and in Canada, Ireland and Finland. His most recent CD “Back Home,” was released last summer and in 2013 he published his first book of essays and poetry, “Bowling for Christmas & Other Tales from the Road.”

Also in 2013 he was honored by Folk Alliance International with the FARM Lantern Bearer Award for his contributions to folk and community music. In 2012, WFMT 98.7 fm fine arts radio named him “Chicago’s official troubadour.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be coming back to Kentucky,” said Dvorak. “I hope to bring the Community Concert Partnership to other towns in the Midwest, and eventually involve other artists and feature different kinds of programs,” he said.

To learn more about the Community Concert Partnership, and for more information on Mark Dvorak, visit his home page at www.markdvorak.com.

The Life and Times of the Great Lead Belly in Rockford February 20

ROCKFORD IL – Rockford actor and singer David Causey and folk artist and writer Mark Dvorak of Riverside IL, will present “The Life and Times of the Great Lead Belly” on Saturday, February 20, at 7:00 pm. The performance will take place at Spring Creek UCC, 4500 Spring Creek Road, Rockford.

“David and Mark presented their Lead Belly show last year in Rockford,” said Concerts on the Creek music director Ron Holm. “It was a hit, and we thought naturally to bring them back for a Black History month presentation.”

“Lead Belly is an essential American artist,” said Steve Jones, president of the Rockford Blues Society, which is sponsoring the show as an arts-in-education presentation in four Rockford public schools. “Our ‘Blues in the Schools’ program has served thousands of students, and our goal is to help reconnect young people with our shared musical heritage.”

The show was adapted from a script developed by Dvorak in the early 1990s after he sought out and found the grave of Huddie Ledbetter, better known as “Lead Belly,” outside the small town of Mooringsport, Louisiana, in the in northwest part of the state.

Dvorak distilled his notes into a script which was produced into an audio documentary by WDCB 90.9 fm, Glen Ellyn IL. The show, “Lead Belly’s Legacy” aired in one hundred sixty cities and in 1993 earned Dvorak a Peter Lisagor for Journalism.

Along with Woody Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter is regarded as one of the great American folk song composers and performers. Born in the late 1800s, Lead Belly was a song collector, an animated entertainer and a crack musician. Although he never achieved great success as a performer and recording artist in his lifetime, his songs and legend are inherently woven into the fabric of American folklore and folk music.

The evening will conclude with a folk sing-along and hootenanny. Admission to the concert is free, but a donation of $10 is suggested. For information on Concerts at the Creek phone 815 979 1949 or visit www.springcreekucc.org.

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. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2094139

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 About.com. 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.”

Here comes 2016: A Post from Lo

Thank you to all the artists, venues, DJs, music organizations and media that I have had the honor to work with during the past year. By working together we continue to share the songs of musicians hearts to the listening audience.

Looking forward to 2016… LSA will be sending many new CDs out to radio, working with the WoodSongs Front Porch Association/WoodSongs in the Schools, booking Michael Johnathon for the SongFarmer tour, hosting showcase rooms at SERFA and FARM conferences, and supplying publicity/promotion for concerts and events. Stay tuned by visiting www.lorettasawyeragency.com.

I wish you love, peace, joy, success and good health! Happy New Year!

Love, Lo

The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show sign with Patuxent Music

Groesbeck, TX- The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show recently signed a recording contract with Patuxent Music out of Rockville, Maryland. The long established label is owned and operated by Bluegrass musician and sound engineer Tom Mindte. The band is excited about the label and the new recording. “It’s a real pleasure to record and work with a top notch professional sound engineer like Tom Mindte. He has a real interest and passion for the music and the musicians and it’s evident in every recording he produces.”

The band spent the days of December 14th thru the 17th, 2015 in the studio laying down tracks for the new recording. The new project will be titled “SHO-NUFF COUNTRY” and will take up where KSBC’s last project left off as a continued collection of tunes Karl heard and learned while growing up in Texas in the 1960’s.  The project feature’s material from unforgettable country artists like Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Don Gibson, Hank Thompson, George Jones, Bill Monroe, The Carter Family and many others. The new project will also include a previously unrecorded song written by the late and great Monroe Fields.

Karl sings seven classic country numbers on the new CD (in high fashion) proving once again how bluegrass and classic country music go hand in hand. A highlight of the new project features four vocal numbers by fiddler Billy Hurt and banjo player Brennen Ernst. Two of the numbers are duets and feature some powerful twin fiddling by Billy Hurt and special guest fiddler Casey Driscoll. One number features a trio consisting of Billy Hurt, Brennen Ernst and Tom Mindte, while the last of the four songs features a solo by Billy Hurt with vocal calls from the entire band. Four instrumentals were recorded. A 1930’s swing number featuring Billy Hurt on fiddle and Brennen Ernst on guitar. In addition an Ole-time fiddle number featuring the twin fiddling of Billy Hurt and guest fiddler Casey Driscoll. Brennen Ernst shines on a band favorite banjo number, while Justin Harrison renders a straight forward bluegrass mandolin instrumental.  All in all an impressive 15 track collection of material performed in top notch fashion.

A release date has not been set as of yet but the new project is expected to be available by mid to late spring. Karl and the band are excited as they feel it is their best recording to date. Karl sums it up like this: “This band without a doubt is the most versatile edition of the KSBC Show I have ever worked with. As a group we are playing music that is dear to our hearts for we all share a deep love, respect and passion for bluegrass and old time country music. When I listen to what we laid down, I think about our musical heroes, and the various styles that developed during the Golden Age of Country Music. Each style distinctively different yet each influencing and overlapping the other.  I take great pride in presenting and showcasing a band that has the ability, knowledge and talent to present such a broad spectrum of musical styles. If you’re a fan of bluegrass, ole-time fiddling, western swing, honky-tonk and classic country our new CD “SHO-NUFF COUNTRY” is custom made for you.”  

Chris Vallillo’s Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement being sent to radio via Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts for January 2016 release

Chris Vallillo’s new CD Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement is being sent to radio via Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts as a January 2016 release.

The story of the Civil Rights Movement has been described as one of the
greatest singing movements that this country has ever experienced. From
the Freedom Riders to the the jails of Montgomery, Alabama, to Parchman
Prison and all the way to Washington DC, both old and new “Freedom Songs”
would become the backbone of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement
lead by Dr Martin Luther King and countless others.

In 2014, award winning roots musician and folklorist Chris Vallillo
created the show Oh Freedom! featuring 11 of the pivotal songs that
inspired and sustained this landmark movement. This recording captures the
music of that show.

Vallillo’s multi-instrumentalist talents are at the heart of the
recording; a rich blend of roots based acoustic and electric guitars and
slide guitars, mandolin and bass beautifully performed on his extensive
collection of vintage instruments. He’s joined by Grammy nominated
percussionist Rocky Maffit, who also lends his distinctive R & B vocals to
Vallillo’s own resonant baritone bringing these songs to life in a way
that respects the tradition, but doesn’t feel stuck in the past.

With liner notes that tell the story of the movement and the history of
the songs, this is a timely recording perfect for Martin Luther King Day
or Black History Month.

Tracks:

Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd
Halleluia I’m Travelin’
We Shall Not Be Moved
Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody (Turn Me Around)
If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus
Oh Freedom!
Birmingham Sunday
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Wade in the Water
This Little Light of Mine
We Shall Overcome

Solar panel benefit concert to feature folk legend Mark Dvorak and Rockford songwriter Emily Hurd

Rockford IL – Chicago troubadour Mark Dvorak will headline a ten act cast of northern Illinois musicians and performers who will gather for a concert to benefit Just Goods Fair Trade Marketplace in Rockford. The event will take place at Spring Creek United Church of Christ, 4500 Spring Road on Sunday, November 8, from 3:00 PM until 6:15 PM. The concert is free and open to the public, but donations will be accepted. The Illinois Energy Council will match $2 for every $1 donated.

Just Goods is Rockford’s non-for-profit fair trade store, started by Rockford Urban Ministries in 2006. The organization promotes ecologically and socially responsible commercial trade, offering merchandise from twenty-five different countries around the globe. Just Goods’ Listening Room presents acoustic music each Friday evening.

Proceeds earned at the November 8 event will go towards the purchase of solar panels for the 201 Seventh Street building which houses Just Goods in the Midtown District. The building is owned by Lee and Char Schreiner of Rockford.

“I know of no people who have given more generously and effectively to our community than Lee and Char,” said Ron Holm, who is a local singer, musician and music director for Just Goods. “We’re thrilled with the response we’ve had so far,” he said. “I wish there was time and space to present everyone who offered to donate their performance. It will be a momentous gathering and a musical high point. The solar panels will save Just Goods a significant amount on their yearly energy bill. We’re especially thrilled to be able to give something back,” he said.

Along with Dvorak and Hurd, the concert will also feature local jazz sensation Dorothy Paige-Turner, performances by her Readers Theatre, Ron Holm & Jannie Nelson performing as Trinadora, folk artist Lee Murdock, harmonica wizard Justin Gates, guitarist Macyn Taylor, and Bruce Wallace of Truman’s Ridge. The program will conclude with a sing along hootenanny led by Dvorak.

For more information call Spring Creek Church at 815-877-2576 or organizer Ron Holm at 815-979-1949. Visit Spring Creek UCC at www.springcreekucc.org. Visit Just Goods at justgoods.info.

Vallillo Presents Songs of the Civil Rights Movement at Chicago Public Libraries

Chicago,IL -Songcatcher and songwriter Chris Vallillo presents his special program “Oh Freedom, Songs of the Civil Rights Movement”  at the following Chicago Public Libraries. The program is free.

  • West Belmont Public Library- Saturday Nov 7th- 2pm- 3104 N. Narragansett Ave. ,Chicago, IL 60634. Phone 312-746-5142.
  • Henry Legler Public Library-Monday Nov 9th-6pm-115 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL 60624. Phone 312-746-7730.
  • Chicago Lawn Public Library-Tuesday, Nov 10th-6PM-6120 S. Kedzie Ave., Chicago, IL  60629. Phone 312-747-0639.
  • Jeffrey Manor Public Library-Thursday Nov 12th-4PM-2401 E. 100th St., Chicago, IL  60617. Phone 312-747-6479.

The Civil Rights Movement has been described as one of the greatest singing movements that this country has experienced.  From “We Shall Overcome” to “This Little Light of Mine,” music played a vital role in that historic struggle both as an inspirational rallying point and as a way to spread the message of equality and justice.

From the Freedom Riders, to the the jails of Montgomery Alabama, and Parchman Prison, all the way to Washington DC,  both old and new songs of the era spoke of the yearning for equal rights, the struggle and the determination to win freedom.  They engaged and energized the movement and became the backbone of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement led by Dr. King and others.   Music was a huge part of the process both locally and nationally.

In a show created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, award winning Illinois folksinger Chris Vallillo performs pivotal songs from the music that inspired and sustained this landmark movement.  Intermixed with the music, Vallillo presents first hand accounts of the historic struggle and discusses the impact of music to our nation’s most important social cause.

Vallillo, a former archaeologist turned self taught folk musician, documented the last of the pre-radio generation of Western Illinois in the 1980s for the Library of Congress, drawing both material and inspiration for his own songs from their music.   Along with fingerstyle and flatpicked guitar, Vallillo is best known for his unique bottleneck slide guitar playing.  His 2008 CD Abraham Lincoln in Song charted at #10 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Charts.