Bluegrass and folk music in Calaveras County
The Calaveras County Arts Council presents Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands
Sunday, February 9
3 to 5 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults/$10 under 18.
Or call 209/754-1774 Monday through Thursday.
Or call 209/754-1774 Monday through Thursday.
Last year attendees at the Calaveras County Arts Council’s performing-arts series Ovations had a chance to weigh in on the kinds of music they would like to hear at 2020’s winter concerts. According to the Arts Council Executive Director Kathy Mazzaferro, “bluegrass was one of the top genres requested. It’s what our audience wanted.”
Choosing Laurie Lewis to scratch that itch was a no-brainer. “She’s one of the top bluegrass artists,” Mazzaferro said. “By all accounts, she’s amazing. We’re very grateful she was available.”
Fiddler, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and Grammy-winner Laurie Lewis has long been a staple of the Northern California (and beyond) bluegrass scene. “When I was in my early 20s I discovered the vibrant bluegrass community in the Bay Area and I just stayed,” she said. She’s built a career performing this traditional art form, helping found two West Coast legends, the Good Ol’ Persons Band and the Grant Street String Band, has twice been voted female vocalist of the year by the International Bluegrass Association. Her classic rendition of Kate Long’s song, "Who Will Watch the Home Place?" won International Bluegrass Song of the Year, and her latest album with her band the Right Hands, The Hazel and Alice Sessions, was nominated for the Best Bluegrass Recording Grammy in 2017. Lewis was an influencer in the bluegrass world before “influencer” was an Instagram path to fame.
Bluegrass is the quintessential melting-pot American music, hailing from Appalachia and built on a framework of influences from Africa, the British Isles and mainland Europe. Old time string music, blues, sacred music, gospel, and jazz intertwined to create the high lonesome sound and rollicking stringed instrumentals that burst into life the early 20th century with performers like Bill Monroe, the Carter Family, and Ralph Stanley.
“It is a very communal sort of music,” Lewis said. “You want to be in a band to play it. It’s so much about communication with the other band members.” With her silvery voice, Lewis weaves intricate and skin-tingling harmonies with members of The Rights Hands: Singer and mandolin player Tom Rozum, Banjo player Patrick Sauber, fiddle player Brandon Godman, and stand-up bass player Andrew Conklin.
Lewis says she and the band gravitate towards the older traditional style, as opposed to the modern smoother style of bluegrass. Although she admits that “I also write a lot of songs, and I’m not necessarily bound to the tradition when I write. It’s impossible to be true to yourself and be a complete dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist.”
Traditional doesn’t equal stuffiness. “I would argue that blue grass started out as a pretty cutting edge music,” Lewis said. “It was music that combined the interest of Bill Monroe. He loved the church singing and old time fiddle tunes, and he was a singer songwriter. You could sort of define it as a singer song writer with a string band. If you look at it that way, we are perfectly in the tradition.”
Art exhibition at Calaveras County Arts Council
Join us for an artist party and meeting and to celebrate our current show
"Love Makes the World Go 'Round"
IN THE GALLERY
January 10 to February 17
RECEPTION AND ARTIST PARTY/MEETING
February 12, 5 to 7 p.m.
the Calaveras County Arts Council Gallery Store,
250 North Main Street in San Andreas
This is a small but heart-filled show. We've posted just a few of the works we have in our gallery for you to enjoy.
A Floating Heart
By Amanda Sedgwick-Maule
Romance on the Seus Marie
Alcohol ink on tile
By Deborah Marlene
Paintings by George Dillon
by Ken Winebrenner
White Rabbit Lantern
By Larisa Stevenson
Love to My Mother in Heaven
By Nedra Russ
By Sue Carracedo
By Victoria Fout
Local band Cantamos opens Winter Concert Season in Angels Camp
Sunday, January 12 2020
3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
The first concert of the Ovations winter concert season at the Bret Hart Performing Arts Center will be the band Cantamos, a popular local band that refuses to be put in a genre box with their mix of big band, rock, rhythm and blues, folk, pop, and even classical music.
“We’re so hard to describe,” said Macfarlane. “We have an eclectic mix of our favorite songs. In the past we’ve moved from arias to Latin favorites, to contemporary pop songs.” Indeed, Michela leads the band seamlessly across the world music landscape with a cheerful whirlwind of songs like the Brazilian bosso nova hit “Corcovado” and the German/Yiddish big band romp “Bei Mire Bist Du Shön,” as well as rollicking Aretha Franklin covers and the novelty song “Mambo Italiano.”
Cantamos isn’t restricted to English. Macfarlane is a musical polyglot; their concerts can feel like a world tour. “My favorite thing is to sing in a bunch of different languages. Italian, French Spanish, Portuguese,” she said. Chestnut kitschy pop songs like “These Boots are Made for Walking” shine when Macfarlane sings them in French. And Cantamos covers a variety of unusual material, like their rendition of Pink Martini’s “Je ne Veux Pas Travailler (Sympatique).”
The eight piece group is blessed with a line up of talent to back Macfarlane: Fred Treece on guitars and vocals, Tonja Peterson on vocals and percussion, Ray Price on drums and percussion, and Ron Schaner on bass and vocals mix it up with the horn section—Ras Beeken Dan on sax, flute, and clarinet, Gunther Hsue on trumpet (he also plays keyboard), and Matt Albright on Trombone.
“It can be tricky to play with a horn section,” Macfarlane admitted. “Especially with my vocal range, which is pretty high. A lot of times the vocals can get lost. That’s been one of the challenges.” But she said that the horns, led by Beeken, make it work. “It’s so awesome to have that full section that a horn section brings. There are so many possibilities.”
Macfarlane said that each musician contributes to the band’s material by bringing in their favorite pieces. “Each of our songs has a special meaning to at least someone in our group, for example Ray brought in Corcovado, Ron brought in Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” and Gunther brought in Sting’s “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets.” Whatever memory or desire they have connected to it we then make it our own collective effort and polish it into a rendition that speaks to all of us.”
“We are presenting our usual eclectic repertoire mix,” Macfarlane said, “but we’re breathing new life into it. Gunther Hsue and I will do a Mozart aria from Le Nozze di Figaro, new to our show. Tonja, Fred, and I will also be doing a couple new songs with gorgeous harmonies, pieces that you just don’t hear every day.”
“I think one of the most important things we are doing for this show is coming up with fresh arrangements for our songs that harness the talent of all of us on stage in such a way that features as many moments of brilliance as possible.”
Cantamos music video from James Freeman on Vimeo.
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