Meredith Axelrod

Jim Kweskin and Meredith Axelrod

The Center for the Arts OnTheGo Presents Jim Kweskin and Meredith Axelrod at The Foothills Event Center in Grass Valley on Thursday, September 19th. The pair joined forces in 2014 for a collection of vintage American music on the album “Come On In.” They are coming together again to perform classics and favorites that pull from their Jug Band and Americana roots. Local troubadours Paul Emery and Peter Wilson open the evening.

Jim Kweskin and Meredith Axelrod

Because of his vast repertoire and love of the music, Jim Kweskin is recognized as one of the best interpreters of the great American songbook. He is the founder of the legendary 1960s Jim Kweskin Jug Band. They successfully transformed the sounds of pre-World War II rural music into a springboard for their good-humored performances. Their imitators were legion, including a San Francisco jug band that became the Grateful Dead, a Los Angeles jug band that became the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and a New York jug band that became the Lovin’ Spoonful. No other group attained their unique blend of youthful energy and antiquarian expertise, tight musicianship, loose camaraderie, and infectious swing. 

These days Jim is best known as a singer and bandleader, but he also created one of the bedrock guitar styles of the folk revival, adapting the ragtime-blues fingerpicking of artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Pink Anderson to the more complex chords of pop and jazz. He continues to explore traditional folk and blues with the sophisticated sensibility of a jazz musician, and jazz with the communal simplicity of a folk artist. He is performing and recording with a wide variety of well-known musicians including Meredith Axelrod.

Meredith Axelrod

Meredith Axelrod envisions the limitless potential of early twentieth-century music, whether it be ragtime, music hall, pop standard, boogie woogie, Tin Pan Alley, string band, jazz, country, blues. or even jug band music, and embodies the spirit that brought the music into existence in the first place. Her vocal style is unusual, probably because she learned to sing by listening to how folks did it a century ago—through the medium of cylinders and 78-rpm records. Whatever the genre, these are songs she learns from the original sources (records and/or sheet music), which were released  between the 1890s and the1930s.

“It takes more than passion to do what Meredith does. It takes guts; conviction. She is unflinchingly committed to authentic recreation of the tunes in her repertoire–swampy blues and early American roots music.” – Gary Rametta

Opening the show is local duo Paul Emery and Peter Wilson. Peter and Paul have performed together since the early 1980s as the Fun Train Minstrels and in various combinations.  

Paul Emery and Peter Wilson
Paul Emery and Peter Wilson

Paul Emery is a member of Backwoods Jazz with Anni McCann and Tom Schmidt. He is creator of A Thousand Kisses Deep – The Songs of Leonard Cohen, which has performed around Northern California to sell-out crowds. Paul is also a founding member of the Foothills Flyers duo with Ray Mann and the ground-breaking Greater Carmichael String Band. His production company, Paul Emery Presents, has been an essential part of Nevada County’s vibrant music scene for decades.Peter Wilson is a singer/songwriter/guitarist with several recordings to his credit. He’s a member of the Deadbeats playing the music of the Grateful Dead. Peter has written, recorded and toured with Mountain John Hilligoss and Moe Dixon in the trio Troubadour Camp. His production company, Strings Concerts, presents curated folk music concerts by international touring artists. 

Jim Kweskin shows radiate charm, humor, sophistication, and talent. Jim sings a collection of familiar songs by Benny Goodman, Johnny Mercer, the Sons of the Pioneers, Fats Waller, and Somethin’ Smith and the Redheads. There’s an endearing sense of good humor to Kweskin’s interpretations that makes his performances a delight. Combine that with Meredith Axelrod’s authentic voice and ernest devotion to vintage eras and you get an evening of cultural folklore and storytelling.

This Center OnTheGo production of Jim Dweskin and Meredith Axelrod will be held at The Foothills Event Center in Grass Valley on Thursday, September 19th. Doors open at 7:00 pm. The show starts at 8:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now at The Center for the Arts box office located at 995 Plaza Drive, at BriarPatch Food Co-op, and online at thecenterforthearts.org.