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 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!

Saturday, September 27, 7:30 pm: The No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow

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

The No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow

An Evening with Carolann SolebelloKaryn Oliver, and The YaYas

No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow is the “heck-of-a-good-time” collaboration hatched by award winning songwriters Carolann Solebello, Karyn Oliver, and The YaYas (Catherine Miles and Jay Mafale). It’s like getting three bands for the price of one when these friends share the stage: a dynamic, cohesive cocktail of delicious harmonies, infectious rhythm, and spontaneous hilarity. Individually, the four are nationally touring performers that have charted at the top of Folk and Americana radio and appeared on stage at some of the most respected festivals. Collectively, they are an incorrigible bunch of musical co-conspirators bent on giving their audience an unforgettable show.

All of this comes packaged with songwriting that has been recognized by such highly regarded competitions as Kerrville New Folk, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Songwriter’s Serenade, Susquehanna Music & Arts Songwriting Competition, South Florida/Vic Heyman, and Mid-Atlantic Song Contest.

Most familiar to folk audiences as a founding member of the celebrated female trio Red Molly, Carolann Solebello returned to solo performance in August 2010 after six years of steady touring with the band. Her fourth solo CD, Steel and Salt, was released in August 2013. Carolann is the winner of the 2011 Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival Songwriting Competition, and was an Official Showcase Artist at Folk Alliance International and the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance in 2012.

In 2009, Karyn Oliver moved to a town called Boring with a broken heart and a cheap guitar. It was from this place that she created the album that made her both a Kerrville New Folk Finalist and a Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist in 2011, as well as a 2010 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest winner. In 2011, Oliver moved to a town called New York City, with a much renewed heart and a much better guitar named “Roxann”. It is from this place that she created her best album to date, “Magdalene”. Karyn is part Joan Osborne, a touch of Janis Joplin and a bit of EmmyLou Harris – effortlessly oscillating from bluesy to country and back. Her musical inspiration comes primarily from the eclectic mix of music to which she was exposed while growing up in the musically diverse culture of Washington, D.C.

Two-time Kerrville New Folk Finalists and Falcon Ridge Most Wanted Emerging Artists, The YaYas are an engaging and uplifting nationally touring duo hailing from New York’s Hudson Valley region. Are they folk? Yes. Pop? Perhaps… But undeniably, they are personal. “They report on life observed, with great insight, not just centering on relationships but ranging widely — reminiscent of ‘literary’ songwriters like Richard Shindell, Dar Williams, Josh Ritter.” Through subtle yet skillful arrangements, the powerful and expressive voice of Catherine Miles and Jay Mafale’s percussive guitar blend to create their distinctive sound.

Tickets:$18 in advance (plus $1.44 ticketing fee), $20 at the door

Eventbrite - The No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow: An Evening with Carolann Solebello,  Karyn Oliver, and The YaYas

Saturday, October 25: Dan Bern, with special guest Honor Finnegan

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

Dan Bern

with special guest Honor Finnegan

Dan Bern is best known for his prolific songwriting and electric live persona. He has released eighteen albums since 1997 and built a loyal following based on prodigious touring and output of songs in all forms. Since 2007, Bern has also focused his talent and sharp wit on writing songs for movies and other projects. He composed over a dozen songs for the Jake Kasdan/Judd Apatow spoof-biopic Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and composed songs included in Apatow’s Get Him to the Greek, starring Russell Brand. Bern’s song One Dance was also included in Kasdan’s first film Zero Effect starring Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller, and Ryan O’Neal.  Bern wrote a number of the songs in Walk Hard and Get Him to the Greek with fellow songsmith Mike Viola.  He has also written with Marshall Crenshaw, Peter Himmelman, Greg Prestopino and many others.

Bern wrote Swing Set, a duet with Emmylou Harris, for the off-Broadway production of Family Week directed by Jonathan Demme and wrote the title song for Demme’s documentary Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains.

In 2007, his album Breathe won Best Folk/Singer-Songwriter at the Sixth Annual Independent Music Awards. He has toured with Marshall Crenshaw, Ani DiFranco, and John C. Reilly’s country-infused band and in 2011 he contributed original songs for the television series Hellcats.  In 2012 Dan Bern released three records: the critically acclaimed Drifter; an 18-song celebration of baseball entitled Doubleheader; and Wilderness Song, a cycle of songs adapted from the journals and letters of the legendary western wanderer Everett Ruess.

In addition to his own touring, Bern leads songwriting workshops, does shows for kids, and writes books, including the forthcoming detective series, “Ten Thousand Crappy Songs & Other Stories.

Opening the evening is Honor Finnegan. Honor’s songs are humorous then heartbreaking with melodies that soar. Based in New York City, she has been making a splash in the northeastern regional folk scene with her original songs and ukulele playing. Combining elements of musical theatre, comedy, traditional folk, and poetry, Honor is cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Honor Finnegan was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and learned to appreciate a variety of people and music living in a mostly African American neighborhood and sitting in the back seat of her single mothers car listening to the radio for long periods of time. When Honor was 11 her dream of being an actress came true when she was cast in the 1st National Tour of “Annie”.

Honor eventually outgrew the Annie thing and went back to Chicago, spending her early adult life studying Improv with Del Close who created “Honor Finnegan vs. the Brain of the Galaxy” to try and help the poor waif get somewhere in life. In 1991 Honor moved to Ireland. While living in Ireland, Honor sang with jazz bands, blues bands, big bands and traditional Irish bands including DeDannan for about a day. She released a cassette, “Learning to Fly”, in 1996 and was a finalist in the Paddy Music Expo in Limerick. Her song “Better Love Water” was sung on the Gay Byrne Radio Hour twice with the all-female a Capella group, “The Cappuccinos”. Honor moved to New York in 1998. Honor is a regular attendee at the late great Jack Hardy’s songwriter’s exchange, which has nurtured the talents of Suzanne Vega, and Shawn Colvin to name but a few. She is also a proud member of Tribes Hill, a folk music collective based in the Hudson Valley. She was a finalist in the 2011 Connecticut Folk Festival Songwriting Competition, and she has shared the stage with John Gorka, Buskin & Batteau, Sloan Wainwright, and David Massengill, among others.

Advance Tickets: $20, At the door: $25

Eventbrite - Dan Bern, with special guest Honor Finnegan

Saturday, November 22, 7:30: Matt Turk & Friends – The Acoustic Music of Jerry Garcia and Old and in the Way

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

Matt Turk & Friends

The Acoustic Music of Jerry Garcia and Old and in the Way

with Matt Turk, mandolin/vocals, Deni Bonet, fiddle/vocals,
Adam Roberts, bass,  Ayodele Maakheru, banjo and Boo Reiners, guitar

Matt Turk can’t remember the circumstances of horse trading that landed him a cassette copy of Old and in the Way, the seminal record by Jerry Garcia (banjo), David Grisman (mandolin), Vassar Clements (violin), Peter Rowan (guitar), and John Kahn (bass) in his hands. It’s fitting somehow that soon after the legendary Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY reopened, with its bar auspiciously named, “Garcia’s,” that Matt would gather a group of fellow virtuoso musician friends for to celebrate the legacy of Old and in the Way and other acoustic music by Garcia with a residency at Garcia’s in August 2013. The core band is Turk mandolin/vocals, Deni Bonet on fiddle/vocals, Adam Roberts on bass, and Ayodele Maakheru on banjo. Turk, whose mandolin teacher, Hot Tuna’s Barry Mitterhoff also played with Peter Rowan. writes: “We did our best to get enough tunes together with everyone to fill a couple of long sets each night. We changed up the set lists a bit every week, covering a lot of bluegrass, pulling out some traditional stuff like Bill Monroe as well as a few classics. Add to that several tracks from the Pizza Tapes, a handful of Grateful Dead songs and it was a real fun mix. We threw in some Dylan, The Band, JJ Cale and anything we could that we knew Jerry had covered… and he did more than a lot! We honored the high lonesome sound and his love of it as best we could. The audiences were very enthusiastic and kept coming back for more.”

It is with great pleasure that Common Ground welcomes this stellar group, joined by the great Boo Reiners on guitar, to our stage for their first Rivertowns performace. Tickets are expected to go fast, so we recommend that you reserve in advance!

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

Eventbrite - Matt Turk & Friends: The Acoustic Music of Jerry Garcia and Old and in the Way

Saturday, December 6, 8 pm: The Andy Statman Trio

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Common Ground Community Concerts
and
Irvington Town Hall Theater
85 Main St, Irvington, NY

present

The Andy Statman Trio

“Andy Statman, clarinet and mandolin virtuoso, is an American visionary” — The New Yorker

” … One of the most important Jewish creative artists of the postwar era.” — The Jerusalem Post

Bill Monroe and John Coltrane poured into one person… He plays all those just great crazy jazz kind of licks, but with the heart and fire of Bill Monroe … I don’t know anyone else that approaches the mandolin the way he does.” —Ricky Skaggs, NPR

Had there been a planetarium in 19th century Galicia, or a kosher deli in Depression-era Kentucky, Andy Statman’s music might have been playing in the background. Meandering through time, geography and culture, the man and his inimitable hybrid sound move freely among the before, the after, and the present.

Andy Statman, one of his generation’s premier mandolinists and clarinetists, thinks of his compositions and performances as “spontaneous American-roots music and personal, prayerful hasidic music, by way of avant-garde jazz.” This modest man takes for granted that a performer might embody several worlds in his art, and seems humbled by the fact that his music, like his story, is extraordinary.

It’s a story Andy Statman rewrites with his trio every time they perform: “We’re creating an experience between the audience and us,” with their unconstrained meditations on hasidic music and groove-driven explorations of American-roots music. Statman’s long-time collaborators are bassist Jim Whitney and percussionist Larry Eagle. “At a certain point,”says Statman, “we’re just talking, just having a three-way conversation.” This “conversation” changes each time they take the stage, with no melody sounding quite the same as it did before. A totally un-self conscious performer, Andy Statman leaves audiences elated and at times mystified, having experienced a musical performance unlike any other.

In addition to the Andy Statman Trio, Jim Whitney appears in many musical worlds as a bassist. He is an original member of the jazz-bluegrass fusion group The Wayfaring Strangers, and has performed with such acting stars as Meryl Streep, John Goodman and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a member of the group Parabola, under the direction of composer/conductor Carter Burwell. He has appeared with jazz notables Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell and Alan Dawson, and has worked with bluegrass luminaries Richard Greene, Tim O’Brien, David Grisman and Darol Anger. Also a proficient electric bass player, he appears in the country-rock group Miller’s Farm, and is a member of singer/pianist Debbie Deane’s soul and groove trio. Jim has toured extensively, having performed in Europe, Japan, Singapore, Israel, Central America, New Zealand, Canada, and much of the U.S.

Drummer and percussionist Larry Eagle keeps his musical portfolio diversified.  He’s a founding member of Bruce Springsteen’s Sessions Band (which won a Grammy for traditional folk music), and played on R&B/Soul artist John Legend’s Grammy-winning second album.  He’s played on a Blues Grammy nominee (with Odetta), a Country & Western Grammy nominee (with Andy) and recorded albums with bluegrass superstar Ricky Skaggs and powerful jazz/soul singer Lizz Wright.  Larry has performed on The Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Good Morning America, PBS, the BBC and an ice-breaking Baltic Sea ferry out of Naantali, Finland.

ADVANCE TICKETS THROUGH IRVINGTON TOWN HALL THEATER AVAILABLE SHORTLY

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
presents

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