Saturday, November 19, 7:30 pm: Mouths of Babes

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
at The First Unitarian Society of Westchester

Mouths of Babes

with special guests Old Dogs New Tricks

“Hands down the best new music I’ve heard in years. It’s damn near perfect. The instrumental performances, the arrangements, the production, the songwriting and singing… this is the kind of music that makes you glad to be alive. ” – Michael Mullane, Cafe Veritas

“If I was forced to categorize it, I’d call it modern folk. It’s powerful, romantic, and giddy. And the two are insanely infectious together onstage, like a musical and a personal love fest all at once.” – Huffington Post

With more than a dozen albums and over a thousand shows between them, Ty Greenstein and Ingrid Elizabeth of Mouths of Babes are no strangers to the contemporary folk music scene. For years, their respective bands Girlyman and Coyote Grace captivated thousands of loyal fans as they criss-crossed the country, rocked festival main stages, and toured with the likes of the Indigo Girls and Dar Williams. Now, as Mouths of Babes, Ty and Ingrid have distilled the very best of the songwriting, humor, and musicianship of their previous groups into a new power duo that brings more style and depth than ever before.

The key to the Mouths of Babes magic is in the contrast; the differences in both their songwriting and personal styles makes for an unusually satisfying yin and yang. The Chicago Tribune writes, “They offer unique counterpoints to one another… the laidback Ty, nattily dressed in a tie and crisp suit jacket, has a rich, lovely alto. Ingrid, clad in a sultry pink satin mini-dress, is a sassy chanteuse with a lilting soprano. Trading jokes and sharing elegant harmonies, the two women display an intuitive professional bond.”

They easily switch off lead vocals and play a wide array of instruments, with Ty on acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, and foot percussion, and Ingrid playing upright bass, ukulele, and cajon. Ty makes a quiet impression as a gifted lyricist, talented multi-instrumentalist, and magnetic presence onstage.

Relix Magazine writes, “The poignant honesty that Ty brings to [her] tunes gives them an emotional intensity that’s as bracing as it is moving,” while the Americana Gazette says, “Ty’s practice of extending metaphors out toward a precipice keeps an unpredictable edge to her songs. Most writers would stop at the easy close. Ty jumps, leaving much to the imagination, to a powerful effect.”

Ingrid, a natural performer, easily commands audiences with her larger-than-life sassiness and professional dancer’s grace. Curve Magazine writes, “The fiery redheaded bassist is the unabashed, unapologetic woman who isn’t afraid to yell it all from the rooftops,” and the Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray once marveled that she found herself “enraptured and taken by [her] timelessness of song.”

Fans have quickly fallen in love with Mouths of Babes’ realness and humor as much as with their music. At live shows, audience members snort with laughter, cry into their date’s shoulder, and make confessions at the merch table. Ty and Ingrid are quick-witted and accessible on social media, sharing photos of their daily life and posting videos of new songs live from the dashboard of their Jetta TDI Sportwagen. They’re also dedicated activists who donate 5% of their ticket sales to worthy social justice and environmental causes.

Husband-and-husband singer-songwriter duo Mark Davis and Jim Howe have been singing together for years and have recently ventured into writing and performing their own songs. With Mark on acoustic guitar and Jim on cello, the two trade off lead and harmony vocals. Their songs ask what it means to be human and how, in the words of the poet Mary Oliver, we can make the most of our “one wild and precious life.” Forming Old Dogs New Tricks is one answer they came up with for themselves.

FRONT ROW: $22 in advance, $25 at the door
GENERAL ADMISSION: $18 in advance, $20 at the door

Eventbrite - Mouths of Babes, with special guests, Old Dogs New Tricks

Saturday, December 3, 8 pm: Chris Smither, with Jonah Tolchin

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Common Ground Concerts presents

at Irvington Town Hall Theater
85 Main Street, Irvington NY

Chris Smither

In Concert

with Jonah Tolchin

“Smither is an American original – a product of the musical melting pot and one of the absolute best singer-songwriters in the world.”
— Associated Press

“… A promising new artist who artfully occupies the gulf between old-school tradition and contemporary appropriation.”

– Kim Ruehl, NPR Heavy Rotation

For 50 years, Chris Smither has been drawing deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets,and philosophers. Reviewers continue to praise his dazzling guitar work, gravelly voice and songwriting. Smither grew up in New Orleans where he first started playing music as a child. The son of a Tulane University professor, he was taught the rudiments of instrumentation by his uncle on his mother’s ukulele. “Uncle Howard,” Smither says, “showed me that if you knew three chords, you could play a lot of the songs you heard on the radio. And if you knew four chords, you could pretty much rule the world.”
With that bit of knowledge under his belt, he was hooked. “I’d loved acoustic music – specifically the blues – ever since I first heard Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Blues In My Bottle album. I couldn’t believe the sound Hopkins got. At first I thought it was two guys playing guitar. My style, to a degree, came out of trying to imitate that sound I heard.”
What quickly evolved from his New Orleans and Cambridge musical experiences is his enduring, singular guitar sound – a beat-driven finger-picking, strongly influenced by the playing of Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins, layered over the ever-present backbeat of his rhythmic, tapping feet (always mic’d in performance).
Since releasing his first record, I’m A Stranger, Too! in 1971, he has released 16 more, the latest being Still On the Levee (2014) – a double-CD retrospective. Recorded in New Orleans at the Music Shed, this career-spanning project features fresh new takes on 24 iconic songs from his vast career – including Devil Got Your Man, the first song he penned, on up to several of his most recent originals.
Over the years, Smither records have featured guest appearances from a who’s who of musical luminaries, including Lowell George, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Tim O’Brien, and Ollabelle, and he has toured with B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Nanci Griffith, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dave Alvin and Tom Russell, among others.
Coming out at the same time as Still On the Levee, the book Chris Smither Lyrics 1966-2012 features his complete set of lyrics complemented by select images of Chris and performance memorabilia from his decades-long career. To commemorate his career to-date, Signature Sounds is releasing an all-star tribute record including a stellar list of artists offering their takes on some Smither favorites including Josh Ritter, Bonnie Raitt, Loudon Wainwright III, Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Tim O’Brien, Patty Larkin, and many others.
Honing a synthesis of folk and blues for 50 years, Chris Smither is truly an American original. As Acoustic Guitar magazine wrote, Smither sings about “the big things – life, love, loss – in a penetrating and poetic yet unpretentious way.”
Singer-songwriter Jonah Tolchin opens the evening. Tolchin’s Americana album Clover Lane was released in 2014 by Yep Roc Records to stunning reviews in both the US an Europe and was charted in the top fifteen folk albums on the Roots Music Report for three months.   In August the song “Mockingbird” from Clover Lane was chosen by NPR’s “Heavy Rotation:  Ten Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing,” and Spotify named “Diamond Mind” on its list of “2014 Best Songs of the Year.”

RED MOLLY ORDER BAR Please note: all ticket sales are through Irvington Town Hall Theater Box Office (on sale now!)

Saturday, January 28, 7:30 pm: Antje Duvekot and Meg Hutchinson

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

Antje Duvekot and Meg Hutchinson

“What a blessing to have worked with someone as talented as Antje. With a voice like hers, and songs as good as these, a producer just tries to get out of the way, to do no harm, and to let the artist speak for herself.” – Richard Shindell, on Antje Duvekot

“Beautifully descriptive, introspective tunes. Her music also calls to mind her early influences, like Greg Brown and Joni Mitchell.”
– Kim Ruehl, Folk Music About.com, on Meg Hutchinson

Antje Duvekot has solidified her reputation as one of Boston’s top singer songwriters with “Big Dream Boulevard” her debut studio release and “the Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer” and “New Siberia” her follow-up albums. The debut CD was produced by Seamus Egan, founder of the Irish super group, SOLAS and the project was released on songwriter Ellis Paul’s label and quickly attracted international attention for Antje. It was voted “#1 Folk Release of 2006” by the Boston Globe and was named to the “Top10 Releases of the Year” by National Public Radio’s, Folk Alley. Her follow up albums “the Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer” and “New Siberia” were produced by Richard Shindell and along side with Richard feature other “folk royalty” such as John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky and Mark Erelli.

Meg Hutchinson is a nationally touring songwriter, poet and recording artist on Red House Records. She has released eight albums and won numerous songwriting awards in the US, Ireland and the UK, including recognition from the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Billboard Song Contest and prestigious competitions at Merlefest, NewSong, Kerrville, Telluride and Rocky Mountain. She has been described as delivering “Music as powerful as it is gentle.” Performer Magazine writes, “With a poet’s eye, Hutchinson captures so beautifully that human journey toward peace, toward forgiveness, toward acceptance. In recent years, as a result of the messages in her songwriting and her dedication to mental health literacy, Meg has increasingly been asked to be a keynote speaker at universities, conferences and teaching hospitals around the country. Meg has just finished filming PACK UP YOUR SORROWS – a feature length documentary with Ezzie films that explores many of the topics nearest and dearest to her heart: creativity, healing, mindfulness in education, mental health advocacy, wellness, and how these elements converge in making the world a better place.

FRONT ROW: $22 in advance, $25 at the door
GENERAL ADMISSION: $18 in advance, $20 at the door


Saturday, February 4, 8pm: Joe Crookston and Imagine Nation

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

Joe Crookston

Imagine Nation

 A Night of Orchestral Folk Songs, Stories, and Visual Art

With Support from Valued Arts Partner Acoustic Cafe

 “At every Festival, I hope to find the gift of one artist whose songwriting and performance really stands out. Joe Crookston was that gift for me this year at the Philadelphia Folk Festival … Stunning performance, great songs … and not a word wasted. I love that!” — David Francey, multi-Juno Award Winner

“With all the performers out there, an artist has to go beyond good…and Joe does.”
Sing Out Magazine

Internationally touring artist, songwriter, painter and believer in all things possible, Joe Ccookston, is bringing Imagine Nation to Irvington Town Hall Theater. Lush sonic landscapes, slide guitar, fiddle, projected art, original paintings, harmonies, hilarious stories, transcendent moments and pure music magic.

Joe, from Ithaca, NY, was named 2016 Folk Alliance International Artist-in- Residence, and his 2008 recording Able Baker Charlie & Dog was awarded Folk Alliance’s Album of the Year. He’s not afraid to walk outside trends and create his own version of magic. He will surprise you and he’ll awaken the cynics.   His songs are being made into films and are being printed in songbooks. Joe’s live performances are multi-media celebrations of art and possibility with looped fiddle, video, slide guitar and SONGS. He’s a bard in the modern world plumbing for lyrical gold like a social archeologist.  His story songs are universal, his slide playing infectious, and on stage he’s funny as hell one moment and transcendent the next.

Come to the show. Travel mystical, historical, and humorous roads, and twist through lush sonic landscapes along the way.  Oklahoma towns, rattlesnake tails, Taoist parables and drunk roosters. At the end of the night, you’ll leave inspired. The Long Note in Irish culture is that place of resonance and transcendence where the music, the voices, the instruments, and the community ALL come together and unite. There IS a “Long Note” and Joe is courting it fiercely.

Joe Crookston & Imagine Nation will begin at 6:30 PM with an Art Reception in the Lobby. The reception will include wine, beer and light fare, plus some surprises! The concert will begin at 8:00 PM. Advance tickets are $25 Early Bird, $28 after January 1.


Saturday, February 25, 7:30 pm: Cheryl Wheeler

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
At the First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Ave., Hastings-on-Hudson, New York


Cheryl Wheeler

It has always seemed as if there were two Cheryl Wheelers, with fans of the New England songwriter relishing watching the two tussle for control of the mic. There is poet-Cheryl, writer of some of the prettiest, most alluring and intelligent ballads on the modern folk scene. And there is her evil twin, comic-Cheryl, a militant trend defier and savagely funny social critic. The result is a delightful contrast between poet and comic.

Poet-Cheryl writes achingly honest songs of love and loss. Contrasting the prosaic landscapes of her native small-town America with the hopelessly rootless life of the traveling performer, she touches the common chords with any who feel the tug between our busy, noisome times and the timeless longing for simplicity and silence. Her deceptively plain-spun songs have been hits for such mainstream stars as Suzy Bogguss (Aces) and Dan Seals (Addicted), and have been recorded by everyone from Bette Midler, Maura O’Connell, Peter Paul and Mary, Juice Newton, and Garth Brooks. Comic-Cheryl comes on like Groucho-in-a-housecoat; a fiercely everyday woman with a barbed-wire tongue. Shredding the mores of our gossipy, greedy, trend-obsessed culture, Wheeler always aims enough darts at herself to never seem sanctimonious.

Wheeler was born in the small town of Timonium, Maryland. The wistful rural vistas she glimpses so poignantly through her fleeting windshield really do represent the deep pull of place she feels in her wandering life. With the possible exception of Greg Brown, no modern songwriter comes to mind who can write as convincingly about the sheer, simple-hearted joy of a nice day; whether a warm spring one spent driving down southern back roads, or a chilly gray one spent thinking properly dark thoughts at a bayside hotel. Where others seek the startling image, the “Big Event,” Wheeler wraps her songs around the familiar image, the shared event. When it is comic-Cheryl’s turn, the poet simply turns over the mic and allows the comic to be displayed in her native habitat: the stage.

As the two forces smooth their conflict, taking their separate turns and melding into the same artistic vision, Wheeler emerges as a gifted and openhearted songwriter approaching the sure summit of her craft. Her abiding faith in her audience’s ability to find their own life reflected in the sweet spaces of her songs reveals an artist comfortably wearing the austere genius that defines folk music’s best traditions. More confidently and beautifully than ever before, she proves that the poet and the comic are one and the same.


General Admission: $30 in advance, $35 at the door


Saturday, March 25, 7:30 pm: The Mike + Ruthy Band

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
At the First Unitarian Society of Westchester
25 Old Jackson Ave., Hastings-on-Hudson NY


The Mike + Ruthy Band

“Everything is masterfully performed as Mike Merenda and Ruthy Ungar sing about the charms of hard work, homemade wine and free parking. Amid the barn dance reverie created by fiddle, pedal steel, horns and more, Ruthy’s versatile alto is the most glorious instrument of all.” – ABCnews

“This is a record about what it is to be human. It’s a record about what it is to have an inextricable allegiance to tradition, while feeling compelled to speak for oneself. It’s a record that will grab you, that won’t let you go.” – No Depression, about “Bright As You Can”

Americana stand-outs Mike + Ruthy have assembled a new band and, as was the case with their last one, The Mammals, fans and critics alike are showing a lot of love. Their debut album, Bright as You Can, was released in June 2015 and top critics had this to say: “One of the year’s standout Americana albums” (Boston Globe), “In the vanguard of today’s vibrant folk revival” (PopMatters), “honoring the great musical traditions of the past while at the same time welcoming, with open arms, the future of what music can be” (Folk Alley), and much, much more.

He’s a songwriting guitar-slinger with a knack for clawhammer banjo. She’s a fiddler and uke-chanteuse who grew up in the American roots underground, the daughter of GRAMMY-winning fiddler, Jay Ungar. These two believe in the transformative power of a great live show. They write top-tier songs (“Some of the best songwriting of their generation” (LA Weekly), tour with their kids and peerless five-piece band (a sound they’ve taken to calling rural rock), and perform for audiences worldwide with a charm and on-stage ease that might make you think they’re your new best friends. Of their own roots music festival the two founded in 2013, their late friend and mentor Pete Seeger wrote, “Dear Mike + Ruthy, Your Hoot was one of the best song-gatherings I’ve seen in all my 94 years. I hope next year I can be there for more than one day.”

Woody Guthrie’s guitar killed fascists. This family carries the torch.


FRONT ROW: $25 in advance, $28 at the door
GENERAL ADMISSION: $20 in advance, $25 at the door

Eventbrite - THE MIKE + RUTHY BAND

Saturday, April 8, 8 pm: John Gorka and Susan Werner

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Common Ground Community Concerts
At Irvington Town Hall Theater
85 Main St., Irvington New York

John Gorka and Susan Werner

The leading singer/songwriter of the New Folk movement – Rolling Stone, on John Gorka

“When it comes to crafting a song, Ms. Werner’s only peers are Jimmy Webb and Paul Simon.” – No Depression

Common Ground Concerts is thrilled present two of the leading singer songwriters of this generation, or any generation — together on one night.

Dubbed by NPR as the Empress of the Unexpected”, Werner’s album projects cover the genres of folk, rock, pop, gospel, blues and Americana, all delivered with sassy wit and classic Midwestern charm. Throughout her expansive career, boundless versatility has emerged as a hallmark of Werner’s talent, and has proven to be a quintessential ingredient of her engrossing musical persona. Known for her engaging and energetic live shows, Werner continues her reign as one of the most bold and creative forces on the acoustic music scene today.

Rising from a milieu of lovelorn singer-songwriters, John Gorka illuminates instead with his trademark wordplay, twisting, turning, and tying words and phrases in the way a balloon artist creates complex creatures from simple balloons. Few contemporary songwriters can coax language as deftly as Gorka. For over two decades, Gorka’s keen ear has picked up the stories of those along his path, folding them into poetry and song. His keen perceptiveness inspires people from all over the world to share their stories. By involving those tales in his music, he escapes the trap of introspection that hobbles less gifted singer-songwriters. With his uncanny ability to work every nuance of language, capturing a wide array of topics and experiences woven into memorable melodies, John Gorka’s career continues to prosper and to gain ever-increasing attention.

Orchestra: $40
Box Seats: $40
Balcony: $35
Partially Obstructed View: $25
Tickets on sale soon through Irvington Town Hall Theater box office ONLY