Summer Update from Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts

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 returned to the Chicago area twice in one week. Lillie Kuzma hosted Michael for a concert at WDCB radio on July 10, prior to his on-air spot during her Folk Festival radio show. Michael returned to Concerts on the Creek in Rockford, IL July 14 for a night of stories and songs shared with a wonderful and generous audience.

Michael has been writing, composing, and rehearsing for his “Songs of Rural America” concert. Michael will perform songs with a symphony orchestra. This will be recorded for public radio and filmed for public television.  Be part of the WORLD PREMIER Performance Saturday Oct 6, 2018 at the historic Ariel Opera House in Gallipolis, OH.  For more info visit

Mark Dvorak’s schedule is always full. Check it out at Mark was involved in three Oak Park Illinois Thursday Night Out Folk music events held monthly in  June, July and August, showcasing some great Chicago area talent to the Oak Park community audience. Mark is also working with a new trio out of Old Town School called $11 Supper and has done several co-bills with them. They have been called “Chicago’s new vibrant acoustic trio.” You can check out their Facebook page for more info.

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts will be going on road trips this fall and will be hosting the Uncorked late night showcase at two upcoming music conferences: FARM in Grand Rapids, MI and NERFA in Stamford, CT. LSAA is also a sponsor at FARM.

Uncorked flier

See the Uncorked FARM banner here and on the FARM website. Watch this site for the Uncorked schedules for FARM and NERFA as soon as both are completed!

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of the summer days that we have left…



SERFA Weekend Update

Montreat NC, is where the 11th Annual South East Region Folk Alliance (SERFA) Music Conference was held May 17-20.

We set out early Wednesday Morning from Chicago and made a stop in Knoxville TN for the night, after driving through three bouts of very heavy rain. Thursday Morning was an easy two hour drive to Montreat.

Loretta with the official SERFA T-shirt.

Loretta Sawyer Acoustic Arts was a SERFA Sponsor; very cool having the LSAA logo on the back of the SERFA T-shirt. LSAA hosted the Uncorked private showcase room for Thursday and Friday nights. Thanks to all the artists who shared their songs and stories in the Uncorked room.

Mark Dvorak jams with conference attendees in the hotel lobby.

Saturday was a vacation day and chance to get away for a bit. 45 minutes away in Flat Rock, NC is the home where Illinois born poet, writer, and editor Carl Sandburg lived his final very productive years. The Farm is called Connemara. Sunday was the 700 mile drive home in 11 hours.

A visit to the Carl Sandburg Home, Flat Rock, NC.

Thanks to Art Menius, the SERFA Board members/officers and volunteers for the wonderful conference.

Mark Dvorak: On The Road Again

It promises to be a busy summer for Mark Dvorak. MD hits the road Thursday June 9 for a series of shows in Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky.

  • In concert: On Friday, June 15, MD makes a return visit to The 3rd Friday Coffeehouse in Somerset KY, and will make his second appearance at Charles and Myrtles Coffeehouse in Chattanooga TN on Saturday June 16.
  • On the air: On Saturday, June 16 at 12:00 noon, MD makes his debut appearance on  The Blue Plate Special hosted by Red Hickey. It’s a LIVE radio performance show before a LIVE audience in the WDVX Studios in the newly renovated Knoxville Visitors Center, Knoxville TN.
  • At the fest: On June 9 and 10, MD makes his twentieth appearance at the Homeplace Pickin’ Party. Located on an historic 1840s working farm in the heart of Land Between the Lakes, the festival features music, demonstrations, food and jamming. MD joins the Dixie Volunteers, Common Thread and a host of other acoustic performers.
  • Community Concert Partnership: Other appearances on the tour include Evergreen Place Assisted Living in Normal IL, Sayre Christian Village in Lexington KY and a private House Concert in Cincinnati OH along with other engagements still in the works.

Get in touch to see how easy it is to bring Mark Dvorak to your performance series, venue or event. Learn more at Book Mark.

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

Oak Park School of Folk Music set to present classes and concert on September 30

OAK PARK IL – Sixty years ago this autumn Chicago’s venerable Old Town School of Folk Music was born in a living room in Oak Park, Illinois. On September 30 five teaching artists from the School will celebrate the milestone anniversary by launching The Oak Park School of Folk Music as part of a full day of musical activities.

“Folktober Fest” will consist of morning classes, afternoon classes, a “Second Half,” the signature activity at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and an evening home concert in River Forest.

The event is sponsored by Music and Potlucks, a community organization dedicated to presenting cultural arts programs to support the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, Housing Forward and the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry.

Music and Potlucks presented the highly successful fundraising concert “Songs For Peace and Justice” in April.

“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, and music education are important tools 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. We are absolutely thrilled to be presenting these very gifted Old Town School of Folk Music teaching artists for our second event of the year.”

Jason McInnes, an Old Town School Distinguished Teaching Artist, Peggy Browning, Maura Lally and Mark Mitchell members of the all acoustic Americana trio, The Pickin’ Bubs, and Chicago’s “official troubadour” Mark Dvorak will comprise the teaching faculty for the morning and afternoon classes, and provide the entertainment for the evening home concert.

“Oak Park is the perfect community for a program like the Old Town School of Folk Music,” said Schrodt. “We love the idea of a ‘pop-up’ school paired with a wonderful evening event. It’s our way of tipping our hats to a venerable Chicago institution in an important anniversary year, while also bringing some of that great energy out to the Oak Park-River Forest area.”

The classes will take place at the First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake Street. Morning classes include Youth Guitar (ages 7+), Guitar Basics, 5-String Banjo Basics, Fiddle Repertoire, and Finger Picking Guitar Basics. Afternoon classes include Improvise and Solo, Celebrating Tradition, Irish Fiddle and Singing Together: Melody and Harmony.

Registration for each class is $25. Those interested in attending should be prepared to bring their own playable instrument. Enroll through Brown Paper Tickets

Admission to the evening home concert is $20 suggested and by invitation.

For more information email Information can also be found at and

Troubadour Mark Dvorak at Concerts On The Creek

ROCKFORD IL – In the turbulent 1960’s folk songs were sung on campuses and heard on the radio. Artists like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger recorded and performed to packed houses across the country.

For modern day troubadour Mark Dvorak the times haven’t really changed.

“People are looking for each other,” said the singer who performs in Rockford at Spring Creek UCC on Saturday, August 12 at 7:00 pm.

“Folk music and the people who make it have always responded in times of struggle and unrest. Our country and our communities are divided in many ways, but we gather to sing and to affirm all we share in common, and all we hope to achieve.”

Dvorak is busy at work on his eighteenth recording release due out later this year, “Let Love Go On.”

“I’ve been on the road all summer,” he said. “These songs say things that each of us is feeling, but can’t always express at work or the dinner table. And people are responding.”

Dvorak has performed in thirty-eight states and in parts of Europe and Canada. He has won awards for journalism and children’s music. In 2008 he received the Woodstock Folk Festival, Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lantern Bearer Award from Folk Alliance International in 2013. Last November he celebrated his 30th anniversary on faculty at Chicago’s venerable Old Town School of Folk Music, where he is artist-in-residence.

Spring Creek UCC is located at 4500 Spring Creek Road in Rockford. A free will donation will be suggested. Pizza and light refreshments will be available for purchase. For more information phone 815 979 1949 or visit

For more information on Mark Dvorak go to


Steel Beam Theatre benefits from Old Town School of Folk Music connection August 11

(ST. CHARLES, IL) Since 2001 the Steel Beam Theatre has been St. Charles’ home for passionate, engaging, provoking and always entertaining professional theatre. But for an evening each summer, the intimate eighty-seat black box space has been transformed into a folk club featuring Chicago’s “official troubadour” Mark Dvorak.

On Friday, August 11 at 7:30pm  Dvorak returns to Steel Beam for a special concert, “Let Love Go On,” to benefit the award-winning non-profit organization.

St. Charles residents Mike and Phyliss Alberts made the connection four years ago. The Alberts are Steel Beam volunteers and also volunteer at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago where Dvorak has been on faculty for some thirty years.

“I met Mark years ago when I was taking classes at the Old Town School,” said Mike Alberts who is the sound engineer for the August 11 show. “Those classes changed our lives and when we were discussing summer event to benefit the theatre, Mark seemed like the perfect fit. His shows are engaging, entertaining, rich and powerful.”

“Mike and Phyliss are my friends and have been faithful supporters of the Old Town School of Folk Music,” said Dvorak. “I have always been a big believer in grass roots community arts and the incredible work that takes place at the Steel Beam is very, very special. I’m absolutely thrilled to be returning this summer and to sharing some of my new songs.”

The fourth anniversary benefit concert will feature material from his upcoming CD release, “Let Love Go On” due out later this year. Dvorak who has called folk artist Pete Seeger, “an eternal inspiration,” used the opening lines of Seeger’s 1972 book The Incompleat Folksinger as the roadmap for his latest recording project.

“Seeger wrote: ‘I call them all love songs,’” said Dvorak. “‘They tell of love of man and woman, and parents and children, love of country, freedom, beauty, mankind, the world, love of searching for truth and other unknowns.’ I’ve had those words in the back of my mind for a long time. Even though our country and our communities seemed divided, people all over  are rediscovering how music and art can show us all the things, or at least some of the things we share in common. And I think that’s an important starting place.”

Tickets are $20 and can be reserved by phoning 630 587 8521 or visiting online at For more information on Mark Dvorak visit

Flying Cat Concert Celebrates Woody Guthrie’s birthday July 14

INDIANAPOLIS IN – Flying Cat Concerts welcomes Chicago’s “official troubadour” Mark Dvorak to the Propylaeum Carriage House, 1410 Delaware Street, on Friday, July 14 The concert begins at 7:30 pm.

When the singer-songwriter began his career in music, he knew right away he was in it for the long haul. Thirty-four years later he is still on the road and recording.

“At this stage of the game,” said Dvorak, “I feel like I’m doing my best work. I’m hoping to get a new CD out by autumn. I’m very excited about it. I’ve got some new material coming along, and I’m including a bunch of different things I like to do before a live audience.

“Mark has been on the road for a lot of years it seems,” said Joanne Smiddie-Brush, who is the music director for Flying Cat Concerts. “He’s has gained attention across the country following in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly and Pete Seeger.”

Since 2009, Flying Cat Concerts has presented acoustic music in a variety of venues in the greater Indianapolis area, including concerts in private homes, the Music Room near Butler University and the Carriage House at the Indianapolis Propylaeum.

“Mark has been on our radar for a few years now,” said Smiddie-Brush. We’re thrilled that he’ll be joining us for a concert on Woody’s birthday.”

“He’s the real deal,” said Bau Graves, Executive Director of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, where Dvorak has been on faculty for thirty years. ”Mark has made music his life and livelihood. His performances are elegant, rich and powerful. He is one of the Old Town School’s Distinguished Teaching Artists.”

Dvorak has performed in thirty-eight states and in parts of Europe and Canada. He has released seventeen albums and has won awards for journalism and children’s music. In 2008 he received the Woodstock Folk Festival Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lantern Bearer Award from Folk Alliance International in 2013.

General admission seating is $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Brown Paper Tickets are available at 1 800 838 3006. Online at