Tucked into the beautiful historic gold rush town of Grass Valley, The Center for the Arts is a haven for world famous musicians of all kinds. Big names and emerging artists alike love to make the Center a stop on their tours since it’s often on their way from one big city gig in the Bay Area or Sacramento to another, and they love the warm, welcoming atmosphere they find here. There are some wonderful acts coming up in March that you won’t want to miss:
Saturday, March 4, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
After touring the world non-stop with Nahko and Medicine for the People, Tim Snider and Justin Chittams are taking advantage of a break in the band’s schedule for a duo tour and will be featured at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley on Saturday, March 4.
Chittams plays drums, guitar and provides vocals on original songs that will “melt you down and songs that will lift up.” Violinist Snider adds guitar loops, percussion, and vocals into a sound that has been described as a “world-folk hybrid, aimed at the heart the head and the feet.” Their individual styles have been described as R&B, World-folk and Conscience Rock. Tim has recorded and produced three of his own albums as well as worked with many other artists such as Talib Quali, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Dave Eggar, Amber Rubarth, House of Waters, Saeeda Wright, Capela (Brazil), and many others.
Snider wanted to play violin from a very early age. An Itzhak Perlman performance on Sesame Street when he was just three-and-a-half years old was his earliest musical inspiration, and it was classical music that first provided the impetus to learn his instrument. Over the years other influences came into play, from exposure to rock music (he dropped the violin and picked up a guitar), a Ben Harper gig turned him on to songwriting, and sojourns in Spain and Cuba introduced flamenco, salsa and Afro-Cuban rhythms into his repertoire. Returning to college, he spent a year studying jazz and rediscovering his love of classical music – and went back to the violin.
A resident of Hilo Hawaii, multi-instrumentalist Justin Chittams grew up making music in Washington, DC. After moving to Hawaii to study marine biology he joined in with the regional music scene and has recently been featured on drums, guitar and vocals with Nahko & Medicine for the People.
To learn more about this dynamic duo and their music, visit: www.timsnidermusic.com/info/
Birds of Chicago
with Matt the Electrician opening
Sunday, March 5, 7:30 p.m.
Husband/wife duo Birds of Chicago will return to The Center for the Arts on Sunday, March 5 for a concert featuring an opening set by Matt the Electrician.
Birds of Chicago have developed a fervent following, touring 200 nights a year since their formation. 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. With stark, elemental imagery the Birds draw heavily on the gospel tradition.
Since its 2016 release, their recording “Real Midnight,” produced by Joe Henry (Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Solomon Burke, Carolina Chocolate Drops), has received press from NPR (First Listen, Weekend Edition and World Café), Wall Street Journal, Paste, No Depression, Afropunk and more.
Nero and Russell like to describe the music they make as “secular gospel.”
Their second release, “Mountains/Forests,” received critical raves and won them new fans on both side of the Atlantic, and created a great deal of excitement for the self titled debut which was released in October of 2012.
Opening the show will be perennial folk singer/songwriter Matt the Electrician. Despite the name, Matt the Electrician is no longer an electrician, focusing instead on a music career that has spanned the course of two decades, a dozen records, and literally thousands of shows. It’s folk music for a modern age, rooted in lyrics that focus on the realities and challenges of the 21st century as opposed to, say, the old-school thrill of hopping trains.
“I don’t generally write mining disaster songs,” he explains. “I tend to write about things that have happened to me and my family. Songs about the small things in life, which, to me, are really the big things.”
Years before moving to Texas and launching his career as a boundary-breaking, working-class folk musician, Matt Sever grew up on the West Coast. His parents, a union carpenter and a seamstress, played John Denver and Pete Seeger songs on the family record player, and Matt spent his earliest years surrounded by the things that would later fill his own music: acoustic guitars, timeless melodies, lyrics that celebrated the joys and heartaches of everyday life, and above all else a strong work ethic.
The Good Ol’ Persons Reunion
Sunday, March 12, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
The Center for the Arts brings bluegrass veterans the Good Ol’ Persons to their Main Stage Theatre in historic Grass Valley for a concert on Sunday, March 12.
The Good Ol’ Persons were formed in 1975 as a result of the success of five women performing at a Freight & Salvage open mic. The name filled a spur-of-the-moment need and provided a wry
comment on the dominant bluegrass culture of the era. It didn’t take long for a band to form, for men to infiltrate — and for the music to become more important than a gimmicky name.
The Good Ol’ Persons were among the first bluegrass bands to feature the songwriting, lead playing, and vocal harmonies of women, and went on to be trendsetters in the incorporation of Latin, swing, folk, Cajun, and other musical genres into their bluegrass. The band released five albums, toured throughout the US (including Bill Monroe’s Beanblossom Festival) and Europe, and had a profound influence on several generations of bluegrassers.
“The core sound centered on Kathy’s strong, crystal-clear vocals; the front-and-center all-female trio (jokingly called the Personettes); and Kathy’s original songs. Bluegrass Unlimited acknowledged the impact of the band, saying, ‘Their quiet revolution brought acceptance to the idea that women could do more in the bluegrass world than play bass.’” – Murphy Hicks Henry, Pretty Good For A Girl: Women In Bluegrass (Univ. Of Illinois Press)
Expect performances that go far beyond nostalgia, as these musicians have continued to evolve; their music is filled with dazzling playing, passionate singing, inclusive humor, and some really good ol’ songs.
Since 1995, members of the band have continued to enjoy successful musical careers (as well as occasional GOP reunions). Kathy, Sally, and John are Grammy and IBMA award winners, Kathy, Paul, and John were awarded Lifetime Memberships by the California Bluegrass Association, and all are outstanding performers, composers, producers, bandleaders, and teachers.
• Kathy Kallick (guitar, vocals) leads The Kathy Kallick Band, has released numerous albums (always placing highly in the national bluegrass charts) filled with her extraordinary compositions (now approaching 150), and continues to tour widely.
• John Reischman (mandolin, vocals) also leads a band (The Jaybirds), has released numerous recordings featuring his remarkable tunes, and tours widely.
• Sally Van Meter (dobro, vocals) has been a member of the bands of Hillman & Pedersen, Led Kaapana, and Jorma Kaukonen, is a respected producer, and has performed with everyone from Jerry Garcia to Mary Chapin-Carpenter to NBB.
• Paul Shelasky (fiddle, vocals) played for many years with Lost Highway, is currently a member of two Bay Area bands, Blue & Lonesome and The David Thom Band, and is rumored to be releasing his second album of fiddle tunes.
• Bethany Raine (acoustic bass, vocals) has played a wide variety of music while living in Texas and Louisiana, and was in the GOP for reunion shows at the 2015 Fathers Day Festival (Grass Valley, CA).
See what this reunion is all about at www.goodolpersons.com.
For more information about these shows and more, or to purchase tickets, visit www.thecenterforthearts.org.