Saturday, October 28, 7:30 PM: Matt Nakoa, with Heather Aubrey Lloyd

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


Matt Nakoa

with Heather Aubrey Lloyd

MATT NAKOA is an internationally touring singer/songwriter, recently appearing at The White House, throughout India, and regularly with folk icon Tom Rush. Growing up on a small goat farm in rural NY State, Matt discovered music as a means of teenage escape and trained to be a concert pianist. Matt was ultimately accepted as a vocalist to Berklee College of Music where he studied alongside soon-to-be Grammy winners St. Vincent and Esperanza Spalding among others. After school, Matt landed in NYC’s vibrant piano bar scene. There he quickly became a star performer at Manhattan’s famous Brandy’s Piano Bar, with lines waiting outside the door each Saturday night.
As if illustrating two sides of himself, Matt’s first album, Light In The Dark (2012), is a sweeping pop opus, while A Dozen Other Loves (2014) explores an intimate acoustic palette. Across the board his song craft has garnered awards, including a win at Kerrville Folk Festival’s prestigious New Folk Competition. Though not easily pinned down, “In sum,” as a recent review on CoverLayDown.com put it, “Matt Nakoa is a musical adept, one of those well kept secrets you just can’t help but celebrate: intimate and genuine, soulful and bittersweet, a rich poetic songbook sung in praise to a complicated, emotionally present world.”

Opening the evening is Heather Harvey Lloyd. More than a decade touring the U.S., Heather Aubrey Lloyd has brought her lush, passionate voice to every type of venue, from folk festivals and bars to bait shops and clothing-optional resorts. A recovering reporter, her songs drift from journalistic to deeply personal, each narrative offered up in her distinctive alto and layered over finger-picked guitar. Her sets are rounded out with a few pieces on ukulele and djembe, the instrument that has earned her primal reputation as co-front for the Baltimore-based band ilyAIMY. Solo and with the band, Heather wields her wit and warmth from the stage to build a relationship with every audience. She’s backed and supported Dar Williams, Ellis Paul, John Gorka, Cheryl Wheeler, Shawn Mullins and more. She performed as a 2012 Most-Wanted Artist at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, was a Lilith Fair Talent Search finalist, and has formally showcased at both the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance and the National Association for Campus Activities conferences. She has released 7 cds with ilyAIMY, and two solo discs, “Samples,” in 2010, and “A Message in the Mess” in 2017.

Eventbrite - Matt Nakoa, w/special guest Heather Aubrey Lloyd

Saturday, November 4, 8 PM: Asaran Earth Trio

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Common Ground Concerts Presents
In Association with RiverArts
At South Presbyterian Church, 343 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry

Asaran Earth Trio

So a Croatian, a Brazilian and a Hungarian walk into a bar…A collective of vocalists from different corners of the globe (as well as the set up to a great punchline), Asaran Earth Trio is a group dedicated to singing beautiful music from around the world. With New York City as their figurative ‘bar’, Asaran came together out of the desire to take different traditions in new directions, combining folk elements together with the adventure of group improvisation and each member’s musical ‘history’. Together they sing, clap, play percussion and are known to cause groups of strangers to break out in song, laugh, cry, dance and shake some groovy shakers.

Asaran Earth Trio features Astrid Kuljanic from Croatia, Artemisz Polonyi from Hungary and Anne Boccato from Brazil. They love to share their music and stories all around the Earth – in living rooms, theaters, houses of worship, festivals, on the street — and even in actual bars.

In association with RiverArts, Common Ground is honored to a special celebration of the release the group’s debut record. Some places, in their verdant abundance, in their stark beauty, speak, as if they had a voice and words all their own. They defy language barriers, coalesce into song, and beg the question: Why Should Your Heart Not Dance?

Asaran Earth Trio poses this query to listeners, sharing their own answers and drawing on perfected harmonies, serious grooves, and a spirit that honors the earth and its profusion of voices. The multinational vocalists intermingle beats and melodies, passing along the best of their homelands to each other and to their listeners with an easy grace.

Why Should Your Heart Not Dance (release date: November 3, 2017) leaps between wild improvisation and crafted counterpoint, between salty flirtation and slow laments, between jazz standards and folk pieces. Judiciously experimental, the music aims to draw listeners in, an intention reflected in the group’s concerts, when they pass around handmade instruments crocheted from plastic bags and invite the audience to sing with them.

“My goal in life is to write things that groove, even when those things are very complex. It has to feel good,” laughs Brazilian-born singer and percussionist Boccato. The New York-based group sprang from an idea Boccato had, that she could unite a few women to sing and play the kind of music she loved. Boccato invited two vocalists she knew and respected to give it a whirl, one with an earthy resonant alto and the other with crystal-clear high notes. They came from different parts of the world, from different sides of the scene: Astrid Kuljanic hailed from the western edge of Croatia, the heavily Italian-influenced region of Kvarner, and Artemisz Polonyi came to New York from Budapest, Hungary. Though their roots were farflung, the chemistry was instant.

They didn’t have a name for their group, but they knew they had stumbled on the right sound, a blend of playful percussion and resonant vocal expressions. The melding of their very individual timbres became as seamless as the name they eventually chose, borrowing the first syllable from each singer’s first name to create something new and intriguing. They taught each other what they knew and loved: Boccato brought the groove, Polonyi the devotion to vocal blend, and Kuljanic a passion for folk vocal styles.

 Tickets ($20 for RiverArts members, $25 for non-members) are available through RiverArts.org


Saturday, November 18, 7:30 PM: Anaïs Mitchell, with special guest Robert Sarazin Blake

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
At the First Unitarian Society of Westchester

25 Old Jackson Ave., Hastings on Hudson New York


Anaïs Mitchell

with special guest Robert Sarazin Blake

“Ms. Mitchell’s songs address contemporary angst with uncanny vision… a formidable songwriting talent” THE NEW YORK TIMES

“The most engaging, and in some ways, most original artist currently working in the field of new American ‘folk ’music” INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

“Blake, being a master of stage presence and completely at ease, he was capable of bringing the crowd to a complete silence. His ability to make a story out of a moment, a moment every audience member is a part of no less, is one of the best forms of concert entertainment I’ve ever experienced.”  

Anaïs Mitchell is a Vermont and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who comes from the world of narrative folk song, poetry and balladry. She recorded for Ani Difranco’s Righteous Babe Records for several years before starting her own Wilderland label in 2012. Among her recorded works are six full-length albums, including 2010’s sensationally-reviewed Hadestown, a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth; 2012’s Young Man in America, which was described by the UK’s Independent as ‘an epic tale of American becoming’; and 2013’s Child Ballads, a collaboration with Jefferson Hamer, which won a BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Traditional Track.

Mitchell has headlined shows worldwide as well as supporting tours for Bon Iver, Ani Difranco, The Low Anthem (all of whom appear as guest singers on Hadestown) Josh Ritter and Punch Brothers. Her stage production of Hadestown, which was ten years in the making, opened Off-Broadway in May 2016 to rave reviews. The New York Times called it “inventive, beguiling and spellbinding” while Vogue announced that “Hadestown will be your new theater obsession.”  The show was extended twice as a result of critical success and sell-out performances. If there’s a common thread in Mitchell’s work – from her earliest acoustic records to the Hadestown show – it’s that she’s as interested in the world around her as the one inside her. She has a way of tackling big themes with the same emotional intimacy most artists use to describe their inner lives. That’s perhaps why the New York Times noted that her songs “address contemporary angst with uncanny vision…. a formidable songwriting talent.”

Opening the evening is Robert Sarazin Blake. In 1997, Blake dropped out of college and hit the road. He hasn’t stopped. Eleven full-length albums into his career, he’s continued to write pulling from folk roots, his travels, his contemporaries, and the quiet spot in the back of his mind. The writing has evolved, mellowing with experience and expanding with reference, but the essence of the work has remained the same –- strong narratives solidly built on the folk foundation and fully in the immediacy of the now.

Eventbrite - Anais Mitchell, with special guest Robert Sarazin Blake

Saturday, December 2, 7:30 PM: The Rock & Soul Revue

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Common Ground Coffeehouse
At the First Unitarian Society Westchester


Dance Party!

The Rock & Soul Revue

While some music makes you feel, other music makes you feel like dancing! With that mind, we will be clearing the chairs at Common Ground for a good old, hip shaking dance party with The Rock & Soul Revue, Led by keyboardist Ray Castoldi since its founding in 2005, the band strives to promote community, fun and self-expression through music. With a repertoire of Motown, Stax/Volt soul, New Orleans funk, and other classics sure to make you want to get on down, a Rock & Soul Revue dance party is not to be missed! Check it out:

Eventbrite - Dance Party with The Rock & Soul Revue

Saturday, December 9, 2017, 8 pm: Darlingside

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Common Ground Concerts
At Irvington Town Hall theater
85 Main St., Irvington NY


“Darlingside are doing something new in pop music…ground The Beach Boys, Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Prince, Phish and Radiohead didn’t cover” – Boston Herald

“exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop” – NPR Music

“locomotive folk-pop confections so richly executed it’s hard to tell if it’s one voice or 12” – Rolling Stone

Named Artist of the Year in 2015 by Folk Alliance international, Darlingside delivers a truly moving blend of subtlety, power, outstanding vocal quality and contemporary songwriting. With four distinct voices clustered around a single microphone, Darlingside effortlessly draws audiences into their lush musical world. The band’s sound, characterized by classical strings, tight vocal arrangements, bluegrass and rock instrumentation, and smart lyricism, is the product of complete collaboration among a group of like minds. Accompanied by an arsenal of classical strings, guitars, mandolin, and percussion, these four close friends swap instruments from song to song and offer a sound that defies standard genre classifications. With no frontman, the lead vocals are traded from moment to moment, and each song features a new combination of instruments and textures, pulling heavily from folk, retro-pop and chamber music.

On Birds Say, the Massachusetts-based quartet’s wide-open arrangements are marked by the skillful vocal interplay of the four singers. When bassist Dave Senft, guitarist and banjo player Don Mitchell, classical violinist and folk mandolinist Auyon Mukharji, and cellist and guitar picker Harris Paseltiner their richly-textured voices loose, they splash their melodies with a sunny melancholy that brings their lyrics to vibrant life. Subtle musical shadings take cues from 60s folk, chamber pop, bluegrass, classical music, and modern indie rock while aching harmonies are complemented by tones from the harmonium, frailing banjo, 12-string electric guitar, Wurlitzer, auto-chord organ, and grand piano. The result is a collection of quietly passionate songs that defy easy categorization.

Note: Tickets for this concert are only available through Irvington Town Hall’s box office. For more information please click below.

Saturday, January 20, 7:30 PM: The Brother Brothers and The Sea The Sea

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


A Very Special Double Bill

The Brother Brothers and The Sea The Sea

Based out of Brooklyn New York, twin brothers Adam and David Moss are a musical duo unlike most others. As their friend Sarah Jarosz explained,“While they’re technically a new band, The Brother Brothers have been in this together for life, and their familial connection comes through in the music, harkening back to some of the greatest family harmonies ever made. They approach their poignant and often charming songs with an almost startling sense of ease, and the tight harmonies are enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. Their ability to pull the listener into their quietly energetic musical journey is a joy to behold. I can’t wait to be out on the road with Adam and David and hear their heart-wrenching songs and spot on harmonies night after night!” Rich harmonies and thoughtful songs accompanied by guitar, cello, violin and banjo as only a group like the Brother Brothers can offer. Already established players and composers in a wide spectrum of genres throughout the NY musical circuit, they are finally teaming up to bring their individual experiences together.

Sharing the bill is The Sea The Sea, an Upstate New York-based indie folk-pop duo-band featuring what Huffington Post calls, “Two of the loveliest male-female voices you might ever hear this or any other year.” Their 2014 debut release, Love We Are We Love, received praise from NPR, American Songwriter, and No Depression, among others, gathering nearly 10 million streams on Spotify. The animated video for their song “Waiting” sparked viral interest including Buzzfeed, Pitchfork, and inclusion at the international TED 2015 conference. Mountain Stage host Larry Groce called Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley “ready to take their place among the best young male/female duos now performing.” Their 2016 release, the six-song EP In the Altogether, recently earned features by Apple Music including Best of the Week and A-List Singer/Songwriter.

Eventbrite - The Brother Brothers and The Sea The Sea

Saturday, February 3, 7:30 pm: Birds of Chicago

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Common Ground Concerts
At Irvington Town Hall Theater

Birds of Chicago

“Real Midnight…finds Russell and Nero memorializing the intense, freewheeling, all-too-fleeting attachments of youth, eulogizing fellow dreamers and meditating on mortality…They show us a way to fully live with the awareness that nothing’s forever and everything’s at stake.” – NPR First Listen

“With Echoes of deep gospel in Russell’s voice as she sings over a mix of electric guitar, resonant piano, and percussion… at once uplifting and a little melancholy.” – Wall Street Journal

In so many ways, we are a word weary culture, ever searching for ways to communicate in fewer and fewer words, letters, syllables…Our online, blogged out, you-tubed attention spans are truncated and fragmented like never before. Birds of Chicago, the collective centered around Allison Russell and JT Nero, reassert the simple notion – radical in these times – that beautiful words and music can still tap deep veins of emotion.

real midnight’s gonna come / real midnight’s gonna come
real wolves at your door / with blood on their tongues
now what you gonna do / with your days left in the sun?
ha da la ha

Stark, elemental imagery that feels like scripture, or a lost folk song recovered; the Birds draw heavily on the gospel tradition and the music feels like a new, secular gospel of sorts. For Birds of Chicago, every word counts. Every note counts. No gold-dusting, no filler. Music is the good news and Real Midnight, the band’s poignant new Joe Henry produced album, throbs with an urgency that feels quietly seismic.

Birds of Chicago was born in 2012 when Nero began writing for his vocal star muse, Russell. Both were accomplished singer/songwriters with projects of their own, Nero with JT and the Clouds and Russell with the acclaimed Canadian roots outfit Po’ Girl, but together there was an unmistakable chemistry. Nero had found the perfect voice for his rock and roll psalms. Russell moved from being a primary songwriter to an interpreter, and her simmering restraint is deeply refreshing to a landscape scorched by post-Voice/American Idol vocal gymnastics and over-emoting. On Real Midnight, Birds of Chicago alternate moody rock swagger with the ghostliest of soundscapes. Produced by Joe Henry, a man whose expert blending of light and shadow is well known, the album is a melancholy-but never shoe gazing suite, full of wayward, joyful, lonesome voices raised up against the night.
All tickets for this concert are available exclusively through Irvington Town Hall Theater’s box office. Please click below to for more information and to reserve your seats today.