Concert Preview: Voice Works July 2, 2011

On Saturday, July 2, 2011, Centrum will present a day-long concert and dance celebration of traditional singing styles – Vocal Roots and Honky Tonkin’: A Day-Long Concert and Dance Event. Beginning with a concert in McCurdy Pavilion, and then finishing with a dance on Littlefield Green, your ticket includes a full day of music and fun.

Reserved seats are $35/$20, and if you are 18 and under, you can attend for free! With your reserved seat, you can also venture out onto the lawn of Littlefield Green during the Pavilion shows to soak up some sun – and of course we’ll all be at Littlefield Green for the final evening dance.


Jenny Lester (Canadian bluegrass)

Jenny Lester is blessed with a voice with sweetness, clarity and power and is a dynamic bluegrass performer and recording artist who has established herself as an important singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Jenny’s talent is superbly displayed on her shining debut CD, “Friends Like You,” of critical and popular acclaim. Her original songs, carefully crafted in the bluegrass convention, display a contemporary freshness and vitality that breathes new life into the fabled “high lonesome” sound.


Mary Sherhart (traditional Balkan)
Mary Sherhart is one of America’s leading artists in Balkan singing and one of the few non-native artists to be recognized and loved by ethnic audiences.  A recipient of the 2006 Artist Trust / Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship, she’s also the first president of the Sevdah North America, a nonprofit educational organization formed to promote and preserve the traditional urban music of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mary has toured with legendary artist Omer Pobric and singers from the “Sevdah Institute Omer Pobric” to major diaspora communities throughout the United States. She’s had the honor of opening the 2005 Festival of Sevdalinke at the Bascarsija Nights Festival in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Cliff Perry and Laurel Bliss (timeless country duets)
Cliff and Laurel began as a singing duo in the late 80’s and are now recognized veterans in the bluegrass and old-time music communities. Respected by their peers and beloved by their fans, Cliff and Laurel always deliver a wonderful collection of old-time country duets. Laurel and Cliff both played and sang in the much loved band, Southfork.

When listening to Cliff and Laurel, you can tell they are greatly influenced by the Carter Family, however, they’ve also internalized and taken their own approach to the material. Old-time country music encompasses a myriad of styles and Perry and Bliss opt for a composed, straightforward approach that, like the Carters’ music, suggests an earlier era.



World Harmony Chorus (the harmony of Africa, Europe, and the Americas)
Daniel Steinberg
will lead a rousing celebration of traditional music from around the world. Over the course of thirty years, Daniel developed a unique approach to piano accompaniment for fiddle music, co-founded the popular contradance band, Hillbillies from Mars, and  has appeared in concert with many luminaries of the traditional music scene. A trip to Zimbabwe in 1990 fueled his interest in African music and he played synthesizer with Bay Area afro-pop bands Bole Bantu and Wazobia over the next several years. More recently, Daniel has been performing the music of Venezuela and Brazil on flute with Tierra Vieja, and with El Tren, a quartet that plays Cuban charanga and danzón.

Drawing on vocal repertoire from all over the world, The World Harmony Chorus creates music that is exhilarating both to sing and to hear.

Pharis Romero (old time songs from the North)
Pharis Romero
is an outstanding singer, songwriter, rhythm guitar player, and teacher, and a respected figure in West Coast acoustic music circles. She has performed and instructed at many of the major North American festivals and venues, from Wintergrass to the Winnipeg and Calgary Folk Festivals. But more than anything, she loves playing with other people.

Pharis is a prolific songwriter, influenced by early traditional music, but looking to British Columbia and Canada incidents, accidents and issues. Songs about daily living – work, divorce, drug addiction, love and death – flow from her upbringing in a small resource-based community. She currently plays with old time trio The Haints, and directs vocal and band workshops and the Old Time Vocal Choir in her home of Cobble Hill, BC.

Alice Gerrard (Southern mountain)
Alice Gerrard’s 
nuanced southern vocal style and songwriting first gained her notoriety through her pioneering work with Hazel Dickens. The four albums Alice and Hazel recorded between 1965 and 1975, plus their many performances provided inspiration for other women who were drawn to the high lonesome sound of bluegrass.  Alice plays old time fiddle, banjo and rhythm guitar.

 Alice spent many years living in Galax, Virginia, learning regional music from the local old-time luminaries.  Several recordings with her Galax friends, stints with the Strange Creek Singers, the Harmony Sisters, the group Tom, Brad & Alice, and a duet album with Mike Seeger, further define her legacy and provide a source of repertoire for others to learn.  From 1987 until 2003, Alice edited and published the Old-Time Herald before stepping down to pursue her current musical interests as performer, songwriter, and recording artist.  Alice is currently working on a new album.


The evening continues after a brief intermission with a dance on the lawn at Littlefield Green.


Lisa Mann and her Really Good Band (Northwest blues)
Portland, OR based Lisa Mann is the 2009 recipient of the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Waters Award for Vocalist of the Year, and was recently elevated to the CBA Hall of Fame with her third win in a row for Bass Player of the Year.  In 2010, she was selected to represent the Cascade Blues Assn. at the International Blues Challenge in Memphi in February 2011.

Her influences run the gamut, from low down blues sisters Etta James and Koko Taylor, to singer-songwriters like Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow, to R&B belters like the late Little Milton. Lisa has shared the stage with many Northwest greats such as Paul DeLay, Duffy Bishop, Ellen Whyte and Sonny “Smokin'” Hess.  She has often lent her bass grooves and musical direction to Sonny Hess’ NW Women’s Rhythm and Blues Revue, a very popular showcase at festivals such as Waterfront Blues Festival.

Meschiya Lake with Casey MacGill and the Blue Four Trio (Vintage swing)
 Meschiya Lake began her singing career at the age of nine, garnering $500 upon winning an adults only singing contest in a South Dakota Steakhouse. In 2000 as a young woman, she met and began traveling with the Know Nothing Family Zirkus Zideshow and End of the World Circus – a troupe blending traditional circus arts with modern sideshow varieties.  It was while touring with this troupe that she fell in love with and felt immediately embraced by the culturally rich and one of a kind city of New Orleans, her home base for the last decade and counting. Meschiya sings with The Little Big Horns Jazz Band and with The Magnolia Beacon.  Both bands often use the streets of New Orleans as their stage.

Dan Baum of the New Yorker writes, “Meschiya Lake rocks back on her heels, lifts her chest, and opens her throat like an air raid siren to croon in a thrilling pre-microphone style that…can make you feel by turns as though you were shivering around a campfire in a railroad (yard) or drinking in a Budapest nightclub in 1938.”

Reeb Willms (old time country)
Reeb grew up in Douglas County near the wheat farming town of Waterville, WA. Her parents still inhabit the farm that has been in the family for four generations. Reeb grew up hearing old country music played and sung by her father and uncles, The Willms Brothers, and is still influenced by them today. The brothers sing and pick regularly at family gatherings. At age twenty she started playing the guitar and quickly realized her love for music by learning to play and sing in traditional old time & country styles.Reeb moved to Bellingham, WA in 2004 to finish college, and currently plays in a local old time band, The Shadies, as well as a country band, The Country Messengers.  She works for Uprising Seeds, a small open-pollinated seed company, where she contributes in the office, as well as in the field during the growing season. 


Courtney Granger with the Caleb Klauder Band (Honky Tonk/Cajun)
Courtney Granger is the next generation of the Balfa Family and his inspired fiddling and singing are testament to the power of that bloodline. He recorded his debut CD for Rounder Records at the age of 15. Now in his late twenties, he has matured into one of the most passionate singe rs and fiddlers in Louisiana.  Courtney sheds new light on the ancient traditions left to him by his family and stakes his own claim as a vibrant young master musician. He sings with soulful abandon, fiddles with a seemingly impossible combination of ancient wisdom a nd youthful vigor, and possesses an endless repertoire of both Cajun and classic country tunes.  Courtney plays in the Balfa Toujours and with The Pine Leaf Boys.