NEXT! Sat, 12/20: Rock for the Run Benefit for Midnight Run, w. The Lords of Leichtenstien, Alpha Whale, and more…

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
at The First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson NY


Rock for the Run Benefit for Midnight Run,

w/ The Lords of Leichtenstien, Nate Flaks, Zachary Unger, Alpha Whale, Jessi Mason and the Main Lines and Keith Mon

On Saturday, 12/20, join us at Common Ground in Hastings for our annual holiday “Rock for the Run” to benefit Midnight Run, the Dobbs Ferry organization that provides dignity and connection to our homeless brothers and sisters on the streets of New York. This year, our featured artists are The Lords of Liechtenstein,  Nate Flaks, Zachary Unger, Alpha Whale, Jessi Mason and the Main Lines and Keith Mon.

Eventbrite - Rock for the Run Benefit for Midnight Run, w. The Lords of Leichtenstien, Alpha Whale, and more

About Common Ground

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Common Ground Community Concerts is the producer the long-standing Common Ground Coffeehouse  at the First Unitarian Society of Westchester at 25 Old Jackson Avenue, outside of Hastings-on-Hudson NY. 
On occasion, we also present concerts at historic Irvington Town Hall Theater at 85 Main Street in Irvington NY and partner with community groups and non-profits to produce concerts in other locations as well.

All Common Ground locations are wheelchair accessible.

Common Ground was founded as an effort to build community and to support regional and national musicians and other artists. Since 2005, Common Ground has used its profits to operate the Common Ground Microcredit Fund. The fund raised has raised over $25,000 for local, regional and global community groups and organizations that provide either much needed social services or work toward progressive, nonviolent social change. For more information on Common Ground’s social justice mission, and to learn more about the Common Ground Microcredit Fund, please click here.

Now preparing for our 11th year, Common Ground has hosted such beloved national and regional artists as Richard Shindell, John Hammond, Eliza GilkysonEllis Paul, Red Molly,  Chris Smither, Andy Statman, Susan Werner, and many more. For many years, Common Ground was a regular stop on the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s Annual Most Wanted Preview Tour. In addition to traditional and modern folk artists and singer-songwriters, we frequently feature other musical genres, such as jazz, blues, cajun-zydeco, popular song, and even the occasional evening of avant garde gamelan music!

Our 2014-15 Season at a Glance

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photo by John Kramer

Saturday, December 20, 7:30 pm:
Rock for the Run Benefit for Midnight Run, w/ The Lords of Leichtenstien, Nate Flaks, Alpha Whale, The Jessi Mason Experience, and Keith Mon
Saturday, January 17, 7:30 pm:: Orange Julius and the Big Beat
Saturday, January 24, 7:30 pm:Joe Crookston with special guests, The Levins
Saturday, February 28, 7:30: The Murphy Beds and Anna & Elizabeth
Saturday, March 7, 7:30 pm: Driftwood
Saturday, March 28, 7:30:The Kennedys
Saturday, April 11, 7:30 pm: Dance Party w/Bumper Jacksons
Saturday, April 18, 8 pm: TBA
Saturday, April 25, 7:30:Eliza Gilkyson
Saturday, May 16, 7:30: 
Jon Brooks with Fred Gillen, Jr.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 7:30 pm: Orange Julius and the Big Beat

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
at The First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson NY


Orange Julius and the Big Beat

Drummer, Pianist, Composer, Arranger, Transcriber, Writer, and Bandleader Julius Rodriguez, 16, has accomplished a lot in his musical career so far. Showing a sense of rhythm at a young age, he began teaching himself drums, started piano lessons at the age of 4. Being exposed to jazz music being played in the house, Julius was first exposed to jazz under the tutelage of private teacher John Senakwami. After studying with Senakwami from the age of 7-10, and a brief few months of private study with Professor Ubaldo Díaz-Acosta, Julius was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Program for Classical Piano. While studying at the Manhattan School under Prof. Díaz-Acosta, Julius began teaching himself jazz. In 2010, he joined the Jazz Elite Big Band, a conglomerate high school jazz band led by Iantheia Calhoun. With Jazz Elite, Julius participated in the 2011 Charles Mingus Competition, the 2011 Next Generation Jazz Festival, and the 2012 Greenwich High School Regional Essentially Ellington Festival where he was given an award for outstanding soloist. Also, with Jazz Elite, Julius performed/worked with artists such as Reginald Thomas, Terell Stafford, Kuumba Frank Lacy, Professor Ronald Carter, and Wycliffe Gordon. In 2011, Julius was admitted to the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Jazz Program under Jeremy Manasia in addition to his classical studies. With his Manhattan School Combo, Julius competed in the 2013 Charles Mingus Festival where he was given an award for best soloist and was invited to sit in with the Mingus Big Band at Jazz Standard. In 2013, he was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Jazz program again for Jazz Drums. Julius was awarded outstanding soloist in the 2013 Downbeat Student Music Awards, and was a gold medalist in the 2013 national ACT-SO Competition in the instrumental contemporary category. Julius plays at Union Baptist Church in White Plains, and occasionally visits jam sessions in NYC and Westchester County.

Tickets: Adults – $18 in advance, $20 at the door/Students (12+) -$10 in advance, $10 at the door, Kids under 12 are free

Eventbrite - Orange Julius and the Big Beat

Saturday, January 24, 7:30 pm: Joe Crookston with special guests, The Levins

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
@ The First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Avenue
Hastings-on-Hudson NY


Joe Crookston

with special guests, The Levins

Joe Crookston of Ithaca, New York, is an artist, writer, singer, guitar picker, painter, clawhammer banjo player, eco-village member and believer in all things possible. You’ll be pulled in by the magic and musical world he creates, and you’ll end up in the moment, humming and buzzing with the rest of the crowd. He’ll sing to you—you’ll sing with him. He’s plumbing for lyrical gold, like some kind of social archaeologist. Joe’s story songs are universal, masterful and his concerts are a grand celebration of all of us. Come to a show … you’ll ride along mystical, historical, and humorous roads, and twist through personal stories along the way—stories of amber eyes, Oklahoma towns, rattlesnake tails, Grandmother Moons, Galway heather, meter maids and silver crowns. At the end of the night, you’ll leave inspired, with a renewed sense of what’s possible. Joe appears tonight in a duet performance with Peter Glanville. Together as the BlueBird Jubilee, Joe and Peter have played to full houses at Festivals and Performing Arts Centers across the U.S.

Opening the evening is The Levins. ( pronounced The L’Vins ) Ira and Julia Levin combine harmony-driven acoustic folk rock with wistful overtones of the 1930s and the intention of putting a smile on your face. Original tunes, guitar, piano and voices provide a full sound with unexpected harmonies and unique arrangements. It’s Happy-Folk, Smile Pop….sounds like The Mamas and The Papas having coffee with Cole Porter. 2011 Winners of the Connecticut Folk Festival Songwriting Competition.

Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door

Eventbrite - Joe Crookston, with special guests The Levins

Saturday, Feb. 7, 7:30 pm: Howard Fishman presents Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
First Unitarian Society of Westchester, 25 Old Jackson Avenue, Hastings

Howard Fishman


Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes

“Fishman, much like Dylan himself, is loath to tarry very long in any one particular neck of the musical woods. Something of a sonic Zelig, Fishman  works backward to get to the root of Dylan’s source material, rather than attempting to drag the rustic songs into the 21st century.” – David Sprague, VARIETY

“Not a tribute… it presents an important critical lesson about Dylan’s past-into-present musical relationship with The Band while using the songs themselves more as suggestions than scripts.” – Grayson Currin, INDY WEEK

Following up on his sold-out performance at the First Unitarian Society in 2013, composer, guitarist and bandleader Howard Fishman returns to the Rivertowns for a musical exploration of Bob Dylan and the Band’s  “Basement Tapes” sessions. Using Greil Marcus’ book THE OLD, WEIRD AMERICA as a touchstone, THE BASEMENT TAPES PROJECT explores the legendary and mysterious underground recordings made in 1967.  The project has been programmed to wide acclaim at a major national venues, including Lincoln Center’s “American Songbook” series, the Steppenwolf Theatre’s “Traffic Jam”; and at “Duke Performances” at Duke University. The evening will feature classics like “Tears of Rage” and “This Wheel’s On Fire” alongside less well-known numbers.

Howard Fishman began his musical career on the streets of New Orleans and in the subways of New York before landing his first major engagement at the Algonquin Oak Room in 1999. Since then, he has headlined in some of the most prestigious venues in the US and abroad, including: Lincoln Center, The Steppenwolf Theatre, The Blue Note, The Pasadena Playhouse, Joe’s Pub, The Great American Music Hall, and Le Petit Journal in Paris. A testament to his wide-ranging appeal, Fishman has appeared on bills with such diverse artists as: Odetta, Yo Yo Ma, Maceo Parker, Califone, Robyn Hitchcock, Madeleine Peyroux, Allen Holdsworth and Nellie McKay.

Fishman is a frequent NPR guest, and has made feature-length appearances on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, “World Cafe” with David Dye, “The Leonard Lopate Show” and “Soundcheck” with John Schaefer, among many others.

Although primarily known as a songwriter, Fishman began his career immersed in early jazz, folk, blues, and country music, creating a bedrock of knowledge of American roots forms that, when applied to his pop, classical and experimental leanings, helped forge the style for which he is known today (and which critics are, universally, at a loss to describe).

Fishman’s most recent recording (his tenth), is “The Howard Fishman Quartet Vol. III: Moon Country.” His next album, “Uncollected Stories” awaits release in fall 2013.  His original oratorio “we are destroyed,” featuring his band plus four singer/actors, continues to be programmed, most recently at the Abrons Arts Center in NYC. “The Frozen North,” Fishman’s original score for the Buster Keaton silent film of the same name, was programmed and performed as part of the 2012 New York Guitar Festival at Merkin Hall in NYC. He is currently at work on a new project entitled “A Star Has Burnt My Eye,” an examination of the life and music of Connie Converse, as well as a commissioned score for “Manna-Hata,” a site-specific theater project to be performed in the Penn Station Post Office, produced by Peculiar Works in NYC.

Howard Fishman maintains a full-time touring schedule and has garnered a devoted following worldwide.

Saturday, February 28, 7:30 pm: The Murphy Beds and Anna & Elizabeth

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
at the First Unitarian Society of Westchester,
25 Old Jackson Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson


The Murphy Beds

Anna & Elizabeth

“Their great feat turns out to be taking what’s best of the classic Irish folk revival without falling into any of its clichés. The resulting album bears repeated listening from start to finish, with ten beautiful, crystalline songs.” -Huffington Post

The Murphy Beds (Jefferson Hamer and Eamon O’Leary) present traditional and original folk songs with close harmonies and deft instrumental arrangements on bouzouki, guitar, and mandolin. They have performed and collaborated with artists across the folk spectrum including Beth Orton, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Anais Mitchell, and Sam Amidon.

Eamon started playing Irish music while growing up in Dublin through his friendship with the Mayock family, traditional musicians from County Mayo. When he moved to New York City in the early 90′s, he immersed himself in the city’s traditional music scene and travelled widely, performing with many of the great players in Irish music. In 2004 he and fiddler Patrick Ourceau released the album Live at Mona’s. Eamon has taught at many traditional music programs in the US and also records and performs original music. His last solo record, Old Clump, was released in 2012.

Jefferson is a guitarist and singer based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2013, in addition to The Murphy Beds, he and songwriter Anais Mitchell released Child Ballads, a collection of new adaptations of English and Scottish folk songs which won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award. In the Oct. 2013 issue, Acoustic Guitar magazine wrote, “A gifted guitarist and singer, Hamer is able to hit close harmonies… and weave gorgeous instrumental lines.”

Sharing the evening with be Anna & Elizabeth — Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt, who, on the night they met  shared songs and harmonized; they talked about a shared desire to inspire people with the beautiful soul of Appalachian roots music.  And then came Anna’s crankies: cloth and cut-paper scrolls depicting scenes from ballads. A friendship was formed. The possibilities were seen. A unique sound was created: Elizabeth with her powerful, breath-taking voice; Anna with her sweet harmonies and mesmerizing instrumentals on fiddle, banjo and guitar. Their show is a captivating mix of ballads, foot-stomping dance tunes, stories and visual art. It’s a throwback, honoring the cultural and musical heritage from the hollows and old-time musicians gone but not forgotten. Their performance is unique, unforgettable. They’ve performed in house parlors and art museums, theaters in Lexington and Brooklyn and Asheville, shows in New Orleans and Boston, always with a startling professionalism and intimacy.

Their music comes from a heartfelt commitment to the mountain music tradition. Anna and Elizabeth have immersed themselves with old (and young) masters and folklorists, playing on porches and in kitchens, staying up all night to learn just one more song. Each used college to dive deep into history and archives, reading folklore and stories, listening to scratchy records of haunting voices, learning from relatives of long-gone greats. Their music has evolved; raw, sparse ballads, sweet lullabies, driving fiddle tunes and banjo songs, home music where less is more. Elizabeth’s remarkable deep mountain voice and Anna’s modern one, an uncanny blend create a unique combination.

Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door

Eventbrite - The Murphy Beds and FADA