After my sabbatical, I find that there is almost too much folk music to talk about! But I’ll try to get a handle on it and share the coolest bits of May’s abundance of riches with you.
As always, shows at the Ark begin at 8pm unless otherwise noted; the doors open at 7:30. Tickets can usually be bought in advance.
May opens with a “Take a Chance Tuesday” at The Ark, featuring the duo of Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer. Admission is provided in exchange for a nonperishable food donation for Food Gatherers. McGraw and Fer remind me, with their western origins (Arizona) and folksy Americana style, of the late Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. I believe that it’s the stories embedded in the evocative lyrics more than any other element. Since Fer plays electric guitar and McGraw plays acoustic, they rock out on some of the songs from their debut album, Seed of a Pine. I’d definitely recommend taking a chance on them – they are really entertaining and the price is definitely right.
On Thursday, May 3, The Ark is hosting For Pete’s Sake: Celebration of Pete Seeger’s 93rd birthday – and, man, some fine celebrating will be going on. A gaggle of local folk musicians will be taking the stage to share the love of music with the audience and each other. Let’s see – the inimitable Gemini (twins San and Laz Slomovitz with San’s daughter Emily), Chris Buhalis, Sally Potter, Dick Siegel, Paul Tinkerhess, Erin Zindel, and my favorite local band of all, Mustard’s Retreat. What a lineup! Tickets are a wildly inexpensive: $10, and all profits go to The Ark.
On Sunday, May 6, Garnet Rogers appears at The Ark. The show starts at 7:30 pm; tickets are $15. Long-time Canadian singer-songwriter Rogers is always a wonderful performer, whether he’s singing his own creations in his amazing baritone or telling often-bawdy stories that make his audiences double over with laughter (it’s true – I have seen people collapse in their chairs after some of his tales!). I have followed his career ever since he first began touring on his own following the death of his brother and former performance partner,Stan, and the man just gets better and better. I can’t recommend his shows highly enough.
The month boasts other delights at the Ark, but there are some gems at the Green Wood Coffee House Series as well.
On Friday, May 11, local folk-radio legend and singer-songwriter Matt Watroba will be giving his usual fine performance of his own compositions and covers mixed with his story-telling (more restrained than that of Garnet Rogers, but mellow and informative) at the Green Wood. This would be a fantastic performance for children to attend, as Matt tends to compassionate, humorous and just plain fun songs. $15. 8pm.
Don White returns after his last sold-out show for a two-night stand, featuring his signature brand of mixing serious lyrics with poignant humor, on Friday May, 4 and Saturday May 5. $17. 8pm.