If you like Americana, bluegrass and traditional country and folk music, this weekend's musical entertainment is tailor-made for you. Enjoy!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9: Diana Jones and The Lowlands at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 8:00 p.m., $12 advance, $15 day of show. For more information: 610-933-4043; steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
Diana Jones (dianajonesmusic.com) is an original artist whose heart and soul are based in country, country blues and traditional Tennessee mountain music. And her honest songs have earned her the comparison to Emily Dickinson.
Jones' album My Remembrance of You (2006) is the first album released on the NewSong Records label. Gar Ragland, director of the syndicated radio show "Mountain Stage," says of Jones, "(she is) one of the most talented Americana artists (that) I've heard in years."
The album has been collecting accolades, including being chosen best country album of the year by the Chicago Tribune, and was named one of the best albums by Nashville Scene.
Opening for Jones is The Lowlands (thelowlandsband.com). This Philadelphia-based folky, rootsy, bluegrass band has gained a following for their upbeat renditions of Americana music. And even if you don't think you like bluegrass, give them a try. It is presented in a modern, engaging way that will get you tapping your feet in no time.
The band members and instrumentation are Chris Kasper on guitar and vocals, Adrien Reju on guitar and vocals, Todd Barneson on mandolin and vocals, Adam Davis on dobro and Jeff Hiatt on double bass. The three vocalists harmonize well together, and write the group's original material. Their 5-song eponymous EP (2006) has received good reviews and has gotten airplay on WXPN.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16: Jeff Umbehauer and Blackjack with Brave the Day at Chaplin's The Music Cafe, 66 N. Main St., Spring City, 8:00 p.m., $10 advance, $12 day of show. For more information: 610-792-4110; chaplinsthemusiccafe.com.
Jeff Umbehauer (umbehauergoldenfieldsmusic.com) is an experienced singer-songwriter and he will perform with his band Blackjack. The band describes their music as "progressive bluegrass," combining elements of traditional bluegrass with elements of rock and roll, country, folk, reggae and jazz. Their harmonies are sometimes reminiscent of gospel. The band has released one album, and Umbehauer has released two on his own.
When I first heard Harrisburg's Brave the Day (myspace.com/bravetheday), I was truly mesmerized. The combination of Rebecca Marie's vocals and Josh Kesler's guitar textures quite literally blew me away. I couldn't stop listening to their debut eponymous CD. I predicted that this band was about to hit the big time. But then they had some setbacks.
I went to a few live shows and Marie was having trouble with her voice. What was initially hoped to be a cold proved to be much more serious: polyps. This required surgery and no singing for awhile. There was a change in management, several changes in personnel (including the departure of Marie's songwriting partner and guitarist, Kesler) and apparently a change in direction. The "alternative" (for lack of a better word) quartet, with only Marie remaining from the original group, is now a country band. Hopefully this configuration will give Marie the success that she truly deserves.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17: Blue Roots and Jim Moore-Paul Girard Trio at Chaplin's The Music Cafe, 66 N. Main St., Spring City, 8:00 p.m., $10 advance, $12 day of show. For more information: 610-792-4110; chaplinsthemusiccafe.com.
Yes, more bluegrass this weekend! The Blue Roots (blueroots.info) are a Philadelphia area quintet dedicated to the tradition of bluegrass, yet they create music that is accessible to listeners who are not necessarily bluegrass fans. The band is comprised of Geoff Gay on resonator guitar, Richie Kalikow on mandolin, Dave Lucas on guitar, Ed Lick on banjo and Owen O'Malley on bass.
Don't ask me why the Jim Moore-Paul Girard Trio (myspace.com/jmoorepgirard) only lists 2 of the band's 3 members in the band's name. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Jim Moore and singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Paul Girard are joined by bassist Gene Crawford. They describe their music as "alt country."
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17: Matt & Shannon Heaton and Patrick Fitzsimmons at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 8:00 p.m., $10 advance, $12 day of show. For more information: 610-933-4043; steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
Matt & Shannon Heaton (mattandshannonheaton.com) are a Boston-based husband and wife duo who are making a name for themselves in the Boston acoustic music scene. Their style is modern Celtic music, featuring Shannon's "timeless, evocative lyrics and... stunning Irish flute playing" against the backdrop of Matt's "highly textured guitar playing" (Acoustic Guitar Magazine). The duo's second CD Blue Skies Above is getting good reviews.
Patrick Fitzsimmons (patrickfitzsimmonss.net) has enjoyed success in the music business as a member of the folk-rock band From Good Homes. They recorded 3 albums for RCA Records in the '90s. The band broke up in '99 and since then Fitzsimmons has focused on a solo career. His fourth CD is LIVE 2005 The Birthday Shows. It is his first live CD.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18: Chamber Music at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 12:30 p.m. FREE! For more information: 610-933-4043; steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19: Presidents' Day Jam at Chaplin's The Music Cafe. Features 5 high school bands; 66 N. Main St., Spring City, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., $6 at the door. For more information: 610-792-4110; chaplinsthemusiccafe.com.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21: Steel City Sessions at Steel City Coffee House. 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. FREE! For more information: 610-933-4043; steelcitycoffeehouse.com. This week: Danan Healy (dananhealy.com) and Grove.
For show information, feedback, etc. please contact Fern at firstname.lastname@example.org and put Sounds Around Town in the subject line. To access the Sounds Around Town archives, see my blog at: http://blog.myspace.com/purplefurnace. Thank you.