Common Ground @ South Church
343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry NY
Marika Hughes & Bottom Heavy
“Marika Hughes makes a joyful noise at the intersection of classical, jazz and experimental avenues on her solo outing . . . In her hands the sound melts with the warm tones and disciplined approach . . . her varied arsenal of sound, textures and approach is on display here, as is her voice . . . she croons an infectious blues” – Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
“Afterlife Music Radio – includes short, graceful, boiled-down pieces . . . through Ms. Hughes’s hands, it all holds together; it’s an amazingly unified record.” – Ben Ratliff, NYTimes
Marika knew she had to play the cello when after 9 years of playing the violin, she held a cello for the first time and played the C-string; the lowest string. She was 12 and in the NYC shop of Mosa Havivi, a former student of her grandfather, the great cellist Emanuel Feuermann. That low end seduced Marika, she switched to the cello and ended her violin studies.
Growing up in NYC, Marika was exposed to a varied creative life. Her parents owned a jazz club on the Upper West Side, she was a regular on Sesame Street, was a member of New York Youth Symphony, spent summers at the chamber music camp, Greenwood, was a student at festivals in Europe and busked in NYC with her high-school string quartet. After completing her studies at Barnard College in political science and cello performance at the Juilliard School, Marika moved to San Francisco, CA.
Marika spent her early twenties serving coffee and exploring the northern coast of California, all the while playing in local symphonies. Eventually she was able to leave the service of coffee and fine dining behind and began to teach private lessons at private and public schools in the Bay Area. She also enjoyed three years as the cellist for the grammy nominated, Quartet San Francisco.
Realizing that the symphony life was not for her, Marika sought out new musicians, some from the classical tradition, some not, to expand her repertoire and ears. Marika joined Carla Kihlstedt and Shahzad Ismaily in 2 Foot Yard. The band released two CDs; 2 Foot Yard (Tzadik, 2005) and Borrowed Arms (Yard Work, 2008). She founded the band Red Pocket with Jewlia Eisenberg and they released their CD, Thick, on Tzadik’s Oracle Series. She also joined Jewlia’s a cappella trio, Charming Hostess. She is a featured singer on that band’s release, “Sarajevo Blues” (Tzadik 2005). She toured regularly throughout the United States and Europe with 2 Foot Yard and Charming Hostess. And she toured extensively with singer/songwriter Vienna Teng. Marika recorded for many artists in the Bay Area including Honeycut, Etienne de Rocher, Mr. Bungle, Xiu Xiu and Santana. She also recorded commercials and film scores.
In 2006, Marika decided it was time to come home. Since moving back to NYC, she has enjoyed playing with many local musicians she has long admired. In addition to joining NYC based bands the Neel Murgai Ensemble, Imani Uzuri and Charlie Burnham’s Hidden City she has performed with Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige and Sean Lennon and has recorded for many artists in NY including Lou Reed, Ani DiFranco, Iron and Wine, Dar Williams, Eric McPherson and Jolie Holland.
Marika has two solo CDs released in early 2011. Highlighting her stylistic versatility and virtuosity, Afterlife Music Radio – 11 New Pieces for Solo Cello (DD Records), features new works written for her by her friends/colleagues including Nasheet Waits, Trevor Dunn and Carla Kihlstedt. The Simplest Thing (DD Records) celebrates Marika’s debut leading her own band and singing her own songs. Produced by Kyle Sanna, the CD features special guests Charlie Burnham, Jenny Scheinman and Vienna Teng.
In 2008 Marika visited the Nkomazi region of South Africa for the first time. Over the next two years she visited a few more times. She has been working with a group of young artists/activists in South Africa. Through the non-profit organization TRIAD Trust (www.triadtrust.org), each member of the 7 member troupe is employed to create and present programs using music and drama to teach life saving HIV/AIDS prevention/education to orphans and vulnerable children in the Nkomazi – a region with a documented 41.3% HIV Positive Rate. On January 1, 2012 Marika successfully completed a fund-raising campaign to complete the album by the ImprovEd singers and songwriters. The recording project began in South Africa in 2010. The Triad album will be released in late 2012.
Marika lives in the countryside of Brooklyn, NY.
Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door
Common Ground Coffeehouse @ The First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson NY
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
Following his sold-out show last season, Andy Statman returns to Common Ground for another not-to-be-missed appearance. Had there been a planetarium in 19th century Galicia, or a kosher deli in Depression-era Kentucky, 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.
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door
Common Ground @ South Church
South Presbyterian Church, 343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry NY
Basement Tapes Project
“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…Aside from offering public performances of music that Dylan refuses to release, 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.
Jules Shear and Pal Shazar
“Acoustic bedrock layered with woodsy tones and touches of tasteful amplification, country twang, almost classical-like strings, warm earthy vocals, harmonies that don’t sound like harmonies, lyrics of intelligence and humor, music for grown ups and for those who sometimes wish they were.” — No Depression
In 1975 L.A. native Pal Shazar was illustrating by day and working at the Troubadour club by night as the box office girl. Pittsburgh native Jules Shear was performing regularly at the Troubadour when not on the road with his band ‘The Funky Kings.’
Soon Pal would join musical forces with Andrew Chinich, becoming the lead singer/lyricist with their duo ‘Slow Children’ which Jules would co-produce. Jules and his band ‘Jules & The Polar Bears’ recorded three albums for Columbia Records and ‘Slow Children’ recorded two remarkable records for RCA produced by Jules and fellow Polar Bear Stephen Hague.
Recording took Jules and Pal to London, the Bahamas, and eventually to Woodstock where the couple made their home. After the demise of ‘Jules & The Polar Bears’, Jules went on to write and record 13 solo records plus had his songs recorded by many including Cyndi Lauper (All Through The Night) and The Bangles (If She Knew What She Wants). After seven great years in ‘Slow Children’ Pal began to write on her own, releasing 8 solo records. They adopted dogs. They tried other cool towns, moving across the states with dogs in tow. No place felt as good as Woodstock. Never in all their years of writing and recording did they consider making a record together. Till now.
Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door
An expatriate New Yorker now living in Argentina, Richard Shindell is a meticulous craftsman of songs. His latest release, 13 Songs You May or May Not Have Heard Before (released by Amalgamated Balladry), came out in 2011.
Widely acclaimed as one of today’s finest narrative songwriters, Shindell has a rare gift for using detail to illuminate his characters’ motivations and actions without ever getting mired in minutiae. Not Far Now’s nine new compositions (complimented by a pair of outside songs) are haunting vignettes that exist vividly beyond the song that documents them: Shindell gives the listener a window into these lives, but their story continues long after the window is shut. “Time deposits me, the character I’m writing about, and a listener there at the first line,” he observes. “Then, at the end of the song, at the end of the last line, life and time go on. The song happens in between those two moments.”
Nine years ago, New Jersey native and longtime New York resident Richard Shindell himself left home, relocating his family to Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Argentina feels like home now. Despite its many dysfunctions, the place and its people really get under your skin,” he explains. “Some of the subject matter of the songs on Not Far Now is rooted in my experience of the local context. For example, ‘Mariana’s Table ‘is about a woman who sells empanadas to the truckers in a town called Brandsen, in the Province of Buenos Aires. ‘Balloon Man’ deals with a guy in our neighborhood here in Buenos Aires.”Before he moved, Shindell firmly established himself as a leading light on the American folk circuit, via a compelling series of four albums of original songs (beginning with 1992’s Sparrow Point), the live Courier (2002), and 2007’s collection of outside songs Vuelta. The Wall Street Journal proclaimed him “a master of subtle narrative,” while Jon Pareles wrote in the New York Times that, in Shindell’s songs, “The tone is reflective, but the dilemmas and disappointments couldn’t be more vivid.” Shindell toured tireless behind each of his albums, building a dedicated following among both listeners and his fellow artists, leading to an offer to tour with Joan Baez and the formation of Cry Cry Cry, the all-star trio of Shindell, Dar Williams, and Lucy Kaplansky, who released an eponymous album in 1998 and toured regularly through 2000.
Common Ground @ South Church
South Presbyterian Church, 343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry NY
Sam Baker and Carrie Elkin
“Baker captivated me. His songs are closely observed narratives of eccentric and marginalized people finding meaning in seemingly defeated lives–almost like Leonard Cohen’s, if Cohen had been a Baptist raised in West Texas” – Marc Eisen, The Daily Page
“I have never seen a performer so in love with the act of singing. That’s the gospel truth, and from what I’ve subsequently learned I’m not the only one to believe or state that. Onstage Elkin was simply a force of nature….” – Maverick Magazine
Sam Baker is a man of few words. Always beautifully chosen, and fully wrought. Words placed like plants and objects in a Zen Garden. His website is stark: white, black, sepia, and shades of gray. Baker turned inward, to relearn the use of his body and brain after a Peruvian train bombing almost killed him in 1986. It’s taken years to heal. Time to reconnect. The road back was arduous, but it opened up new vistas in art, poetry, and music.
mercy, released in 2004, was the first in a trilogy of compelling albums with sparse instrumentation and poetic delivery. It was followed by pretty world in 2007 and cotton in 2009. Each piece is imprinted with a theme: everyone is at the mercy of another one’s dreams, how beautiful are these days, and talk about forgiveness.
Baker approaches life with a positive attitude – “Life is a gift. I went through a lot of bitterness- a lot of anger. But those things are toxic. Gratitude for what remains is more helpful than resentment for what was lost. Ultimately, I came to understand that these days are wicked short and terribly beautiful. All I’ve got—no matter what I hold in my hands, drive around in, or put in the bank,- all I’ve got is this one breath, and if I’m lucky, I get another.”
With her Red House Records debut release, Call It My Garden, Carrie Elkin has emerged as one of the defining new voices in the world of Texas singer-songwriters, being celebrated by Texas Music Magazine as one of their artists of the year. The voice, the stories, the images, the grace and infectious enthusiasm, it’s a complete package. But it’s the power of her live performances that really have been creating an incredible buzz around this young artist. Maverick Magazine said it best, after a recent festival performance: “I have never seen a performer so in love with the act of singing. That’s the gospel truth. Onstage Elkin was simply a force of nature.”
Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door