Author: Carter

Saturday, Dec. 5, 8 PM: DAR WILLIAMS, with special guests The Nields

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Common Ground Community Concerts
at Irvington Town Hall Theater
85 Main Street, Irvington NY


with special guests The Nields

“I don’t really have the vocabulary to do her work justice, so I’ll just say that her songs are beautiful. Some are like finely crafted short stories. They are, variously, devastatingly moving, tenderly funny, subtle without being in any way inaccessible, and utterly fresh—not a cliché or a clunker in her entire songbook, which now numbers around a hundred recorded original compositions. – Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker, on Dar Williams

“Imagine if Natalie Merchant had a sister with an equally good voice singing perfect harmony with her…intimate and electric.”
– Sing Out! Magazine on The Nields

DAR WILLIAMS’ growth as an individual over her two-decade career has gone hand in hand with her evolution as an artist. This is perhaps best typified by the release of “Emerald,” a timely and brilliant album of new songs and collaborations with friends such as Jill Sobule, Richard Thompson, the Hooters, Jim Lauderdale, Lucy Wainwright Roche and her mother Suzzy Roche. Raised in Chappaqua, N.Y., Williams spent 10 years living in the thriving artistic community of Northampton, Mass., where she began to make the rounds on the coffeehouse circuit. Joan Baez, an early fan of her music, took Williams out on the road and recorded several of her songs. The rest is history. Along with her numerous studio albums, she has released the onstage document Out There Live (2001) and the DVD Live at Bearsville Theater (2007). She has also released a live recording celebrating the 20th Anniversary of her legendary album The Honesty Room. In addition to being a touring artist, Williams is an author, teaches at Wesleyan University, and conducts annual songwriting seminars. Williams devotes much of her time to environmental issues and causes, and has created “Give Bees A Camp” which combines concerts and the planting of bee-friendly gardens for young campers.

Opening the evening are The NIELDS, whose albums are often an eclectic mix of ideas and music styles, but clear themes emerge. Love and China (2002) was  about the fragility of love and relationships. The Full Catastrophe (2012) exploredthe messy experience of raising a family. XVII (2015) has the Nields looking out from midlife, focusing on themes of time, love and community. The primary inspiration behind XVII was Nerissa and Katryna’s hero, Pete Seeger, who died in January of 2014. His love of sharing music and his passion for justice had been a part of their lives since before they were born (their parents fell in love at a Pete Seeger concert). His death affected them profoundly. Pete is clearly on the album in songs like “Joe Hill” and “Wasn’t That a Time,” but the entire album is infused with his spirit. It’s there in the Nields’ delight in sharing music and in using it to build a community. And it’s there in the title XVII: when compared to a career and life like that of Pete Seeger, they’re not even out of their teens.

TICKETS: $40/$35/$25

All Irvington Town Hall Theater events are charged a per ticket fee which is used to cover the cost of running the box office. The per-ticket fee at ITHT is $1.70 for online sales and $3 at the door


Saturday, Jan. 9, 7:30 pm: The Julius Rodriguez Trio Plays The Beatles

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


The Julius Rodriguez Trio Plays The Beatles

Vocalist Maya Carney and bassist Daryl Johns join pianist/drummer Julius Rodriguez as The Julius Rodriguez Trio play music of the Beatles like you’ve never heard it before.

Julius Rodriguez began piano lessons when his parents noticed his interest in music at the age of 3. He studied privately with teachers including John Senakwami, Martin Soderberg, and Ubaldo Díaz-Acosta. In 2009, Julius was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music Precollege for classical piano, studying with Professor Acosta. In 2011 he was accepted to the jazz program at MSM for piano where he studies with Jeremy Manasia, and in 2013 he started jazz drums with Richard Huntley. He has also taken private lessons from Bill Cunliffe, Dennis Mackrel, Craig Weinrib, and Kenny Washington.

In 2013, Julius was given soloist awards from the Charles Mingus Festival and the Downbeat Student Music awards. In 2014, Julius was awarded YoungArts Jazz Finalist for piano and drums, led his sextet to the 3rd place spot at the Next Generation Jazz Festival, and was awarded a gold medal from the NCAAP ACT-SO for contemporary (piano) performance. In 2015, he led the first student-led group to win first place at the Charles Mingus Competition. Julius is currently the church organist for Union Baptist Church, and a musician for the Senakwami Institute performing at Jazz At Lincoln Center, where he gave his debut performance as a leader in October of 2014. Julius has worked/played with Wycliffe Gordon, Ted Nash, Marcus Printup, Terrell Stafford, Sean Nowell, Dayna Stephens, Jay Azzolina, Frank Lacy, Don Sickler, the Mingus Big Band, Rudy Van Gelder, Javon Jackson, Benny Green, and many more.

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

Eventbrite - The Julius Rodriguez Trio Plays The Beatles

Saturday, January 30, 7:30 pm: Joseph Arthur

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


When I first heard Jo’s music, his lyrics jumped out at me. I love his words, love his music. It’s great to see some of his best written work assembled. His words rattle and rumble and prise open the cage. —Peter Gabriel

To riff off a riff; to update Ginsberg’s holy HOWL; to stand this naked; to wrestle an attention deficit world into a moment’s shivering standstill, just for a spiked breath of reflection: Wow. Joseph Arthur writes, builds, paints, draws, and creates because he has no choice. It is our luck that he does so. —Michael Stipe of REM

Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s in Akron, Joseph Arthur’s musical life started off like many others, with mandatory piano lessons. But once he realized he could use the piano to conjure up his own musical worlds, he took to the instrument and began writing songs, eventually playing in bands while in high school. Days after graduation, he moved to Atlanta with a band, playing bass and supporting himself with day jobs at a music store and tattoo shop.

At the time, Arthur aspired to be a world-class jazz or fusion bass player in the vein of the late Jaco Pastorius. But when a demo tape of Arthur’s songs somehow made its way to Peter Gabriel and his Real World Records label, “I came to find out that Peter thought the bass playing was weak on my stuff, but what he liked was the lyrics.”
Next thing Arthur knew, he was playing at Gabriel’s WOMAD festival (despite having played solo acoustic “maybe one time before”), jamming with Gabriel and Joe Strummer in Real World studios in Bath, England, and was subsequently signed to Real World Records. “It was crazy,” Arthur says. “I think I like repeating the story more the older I get.”

And while Arthur’s 1997 debut, Big City Secrets, attracted a substantial following abroad, the artist didn’t connect with Stateside listeners until Come To Where I’m From, which features his signature song, In the Sun. That track was covered by R.E.M.’s Stipe and Coldplay’s Chris Martin in 2006 on a charity single to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina, having previously been recorded a decade earlier by Gabriel for a Princess Diana tribute album.

Previously nominated for a best recording package Grammy for his 1999 EP Vacancy, Arthur is an accomplished painter, having displayed his works in galleries around the world. His online-only “Museum of Modern Arthur” serves as a repository for his creations.


Front Row $25 in advance, plus $2.37 processing fee; $30 at the door
All other sections: $22 in advance, , plus $2.20 processing fee; $25 at the door

Eventbrite - Joseph Arthur


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Common Ground Community Concerts
In Association with Irvington Town Hall Theater
85 Main Street, Irvington NY

and The Handsome Strangers

Although the personally charged, organically soulful Didn’t It Rain is her first release under her own name, Amy Helm has been making music for most of her life. She’s already won widespread praise as a singer, songwriter and live performer, first as a member of the celebrated alt-country collective Ollabelle and subsequently for her extensive work with her father, musical icon Levon Helm, who passed away in 2012.

Amy Helm began connecting with audiences early in life, playing her first gig in her early teens in a Manhattan bar and drifting informally through a series of combos before her father recruited her to join his live band. She also absorbed musical and personal inspiration from her mother, noted singer/songwriter Libby Titus; and her stepfather, Steely Dan co-mastermind Donald Fagen, who offered Amy additional opportunities to find herself as a performer.

“I always did gigs through high school and college,” she explains, “but my fears and insecurities kept me from committing to it. That’s when my dad became a huge influence; he scooped me up when I was in my mid-20s and put me in this blues band. I was very, very green, but I got my road-dog status with him. It was like walking through fire every time I got on stage, but it forced me to decide if I wanted to do this. And I decided that I absolutely wanted to do it.”

Amy’s vocal and songwriting talents soon found a home in the New York-based Ollabelle, whose three acclaimed albums and countless live gigs saw her evolve into a confident, charismatic performer. She also resumed her musical collaboration with her father, singing and playing in his band, playing on and co-producing his Grammy-winning 2007 comeback album Dirt Farmer, and helping to organize the now-legendary Midnight Ramble concerts at Levon’s home studio in Woodstock, NY.

“He was the best teacher, in so many ways,” Amy says of her father. “He wasn’t interested in overthinking anything; all he cared about was playing music. He saw himself as a working musician, and it was serious business and it had to be right. Playing side by side with him in the Ramble band for ten years, and building those shows with him, really changed the way I approached things, and his humility influenced and shaped me as a musician, as it did everyone who played with him.”

With Didn’t It Rain reintroducing her to the world as a solo artist, Helm says that her immediate plan is “to just get out and play as many gigs as possible. I think that the job of a musician is to try and shake people out of their own heads for an hour or two, and bring some joy into the world. So I want to get out there and do the job the best I can.”

Saturday, February 27, 7:30 pm: AMY SPEACE, with MaryLeigh Roohan

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at The First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson



with special guest MaryLeigh Roohan

“There are voices that serve as a bridge from the past to the future and act as soul connectors,and as a people we need them to keep singing. These voices open hearts with this rare, one in a million quality. Amy Speace has such a voice. Just ask the legendarily discerning Judy Collins; she’ll tell you. Amy’s got it, and then some. She is a timeless artist, a time traveler. Part past, part future. And that’s a good thing, a really good thing.” – Mary Gauthier

“Amy Speace channels the classics,” writes Billboard Magazine of  her latest release “That Kind Of Girl”. Jon Pareles of The New York Times described the record as “grace over drama” and No Depression wrote “The next time someone tells you they don’t make good music anymore, tell them they must not have heard of Amy Speace. She is a timeless singer/songwriter who has captured this writer’s attention with a record which should be a topic of debate on several year-end award lists.“  Recorded in East Nashville with producer Neilson Hubbard and a small ensemble of musicians, the record is spare and direct, honest and focused.  Holly George-Warren, celebrated author and music critic, calls it “breathtaking.” And just as critics were raving about her new album, she was hired by The New York Times’ Financial Section to write an original song and an accompanying essay about the financial challenges of being an artist.  The song, “Spent” was featured on NPR’s “Marketplace.”  She has also written pieces for The Nashville Scene, Blue Rock Review, Performing Songwriter Magazine, among others.

Baltimore–born singer- songwriter Speace started her creative career out in the theater. She studied classical acting in NYC after graduating with high honors from Amherst College and spent a few years carving out a life spent rushing from lower east side theater rehearsals to film and commercial auditions to many support jobs which ranged from legal secretary to personal assistant for actress/singer Lainie Kazan. After a spectacular breakup with a boy in a rock band, she bought a cheap guitar and started putting her poetry to music and began appearing at local folk clubs like The Sidewalk Cafe, The Bitter End and The Living Room. She was discovered by Judy Collins in 2005, releasing her debut in 2006 on Collins’ Wildflower Records, “Songs For Bright Street” to rave reviews.  “The Killer In Me” was released in 2009 with NPR comparing her to a young Lucinda Williams.  She moved to Nashville from NYC in 2009, releasing “Land Like A Bird” on Thirty Tigers. Her song “The Weight of the World”, which Judy Collins has called “one of the best political folk songs I’ve ever heard” was named as the #4 Folk Song of the Decade by NYC’s premiere AAA radio station WFUV.  In 2013, she received the best reviews of her career with”How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat,” a song cycle inspired by Shakespearean characters, winning 4 stars from Mojo Magazine and a feature on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.   Her songs have been recorded by Judy Collins, Red Molly, Memphis Hall of Fame blues artist Sid Selvidge and others.

Opening the evening will be MaryLeigh Roohan, who was nurtured as a writer and performer at the celebrated Caffe Lena before shipping off to play pubs in Scotland for a year. Since moving back to the States, she has played everywhere from intimate cafes to wild festivals and has had the pleasure to open for acts like Milo Greene, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, and Sean Rowe, and tour alongside Erin McKeown, Chris Pureka, and Melissa Ferrick.


Front Row: $20 in advance, $22 at the door
All other sections: $18 in advance; $20 at the door

Eventbrite - Amy Speace

Saturday, March 26, 7:30 pm: HARPETH RISING

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at The First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson



Harpeth Rising chose to name themselves after a river because water is both dynamic and powerful. These words also describe the music created by the three women – Jordana Greenberg (violin, vocals), Rebecca Reed-Lunn (banjo, vocals) and Maria Di Meglio (cello, vocals). Unapologetic genre-benders, they fuse Folk, Newgrass, Rock and Classical into a sound that is organically unique.

Hallmarks of their music include expansive three-part harmonies, consummate musicianship and a deft yet soulful lyrical perspective. Harpeth Rising’s roots run deep – from their varied ancestry across Eastern Europe to the musical hotbed of the Mid-South they now call home, they weave together ancient and modern ideas, expressing themselves through the common thread of all peoples: Folk Music.

Born from the desire to write and create original music, Harpeth Rising began on a cross-country road trip. After spending a summer jamming at campsites and attending bluegrass festivals, Jordana Greenberg (violin) and Rebecca Reed-Lunn (banjo) decided to keep the adventure alive. They started writing songs and playing out 4 to 5 nights a week, developing their sound and honing their chops. But it was with the addition of Maria Di Meglio (cello) that Harpeth Rising truly found its sound. Despite the presence of only three string instruments on stage, the three women produce a profusion of sound generally created by a much larger ensemble. Di Meglio transitions fluidly between providing the bass line and taking the melodic lead, while Reed-Lunn’s highly original style of claw hammer banjo–learned mainly by watching YouTube–is both surprisingly lyrical and intensely driving. Greenberg takes on the role of concert violinist and accompanist with equal facility, and ensures that a lead guitar is never missed.

Their live performances are high-energy kinetic events in which both their abilities and their passion for performance are obvious. Harpeth Rising can create a listening room from a rowdy bar crowd, and can inspire even the weariest of audiences. After only a few months as a band, they embarked on a self-booked tour of England, which included a performance with The Bath Philharmonia. They were invited to perform at The Cambridge Folk Festival the following summer, and have since played folk festivals across England and the United States. Building their fan base in the tradition of all wandering minstrels – passionately and by word-of-mouth – they now perform to sold-out audiences internationally.  They have released four albums in as many years – Harpeth Rising (2010), Dead Man’s Hand (2011), The End of the World (2012), a collaboration with master wordsmith David Greenberg, father of Jordana, and their brand new project, Tales From Jackson Bridge, which released October 1, 2013.


Front Row: $20 in advance,  $22 at the door
All Other Seats: $18 in advance, $20 at the door

Note: There is also a $2.09 fee for advance orders of Front Row seats, and a $1.98 fee for all other seats.

Eventbrite - Harpeth Rising


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Common Ground Community Concerts

Andrus On Hudson
185 Old Broadway, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY


Abbie has a strong throaty voice that’s reminiscent of Wesla Whitfield’s… she uses it to render evergreens from the 1920s and 1930s with a crew of guys who play like they were around when this music was the cat’s pajamas.  – Cadence Magazine

Join us as we transform Andrus-on-Hudson  into a swing dance ballroom, featuring Abbie Gardner and The Craziest Dream Band! Best known as one-third of the female harmony Americana trio Red Molly, Abbie also has a not-so-secret Jazz background. Her father, Herb Gardner, who will accompany his daughter this evening, is a legendary jazz pianist and dixieland trombonist. He introduced Abbie to one of her favorite vocalists, Billie Holiday, and continues to be a big influence on the musician she is and strives to be.

Abbie’s first full-length recording, My Craziest Dream is an album of jazz standards featuring her father on piano. It earned her an entry in the 2009 Hal Leonard book The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide.

The Craziest Dream Band features Herb Gardner (piano, trombone), Abbie Gardner (vocals), Craig Akin (upright bass), Joel Arnow (drums), and Barry Bryson (trumpet).  They’ll play selections from the CD, as well as other standards and a few original compositions sure to get your toes tapping!

General Admission: $20