Common Fence music has announced its 25th anniversary fall season!
Only the second season to be arranged under the programmatic direction of new Artistic Director, Erin Young, the Fall 2017 season promises to be one of the organization’s most exciting to date. In addition to presenting eight performances at its original venue – Common Fence Point Hall in Portsmouth, RI – Common Fence Music is also celebrating 25 years by inaugurating a second concert series in Warren, RI.
Common Fence Music was started in 1993 by Common Fence Point resident Ed Nary with the mission to make quality folk, roots and world music performances accessible to the local Aquidneck Island community. Twenty-four seasons later, Common Fence Music continues to provide high caliber performances, presenting GRAMMY winners, veteran artists and rising stars that draw audiences from all over New England. The homey atmosphere of the 200-seat quiet listening room at Common Fence Point Hall – and the open invite to concert attendees to bring food and drink to performances – makes for a fun and unique concert-going experience that is enjoyed by audiences and artists alike.
In expanding its reach to Warren, CFM carefully chose a venue that could provide a similar warmth and personality . The 100-seat West Room at Hope & Main – a renovated school building that provides incubator kitchens to small food business entrepreneurs – is just the space. With holiday lights strung across the ceiling and chalkboard walls, the venue offers a school-ish charm as the backdrop to this exciting new series. The Warren Sessions will feature up-and-coming national, regional and local folk artists on the third Friday of each month, with four performances this Fall 2017 season. Much like CFM’s Portsmouth shows, the Warren Sessions will be BYOB, but will have Hope & Main vendors on hand to sell other refreshments and snacks. All tickets to the Warren Sessions are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Hope & Main is located at 691 Main Street, Warren, RI. The hall is fully accessible.
The first show of CFM’s 2017-18 season will be at Hope & Main, with a CD release event on Friday, September 15, 2017 at 7:30pm for The Huntress and Holder of Hands, the new band from Warren resident MorganEve Swain of Americana duo Brown Bird. Only a few months after losing her band mate and husband, David Lamb, to leukemia in 2014, Swain began writing her own original music, transforming her grief into song. This work has developed into a new project and five-piece band. Displaying heavy, genre-defying arrangements for 5-string viola, guitar, bass, cello, upright string bass, drums, and even ukelele, the group’s first full-length album, Avalon, (which will be released the day of the performance) honors the legacy of Brown Bird while establishing its own beautifully complex personality and perspective. EDT, cellist and vocalist for The Huntress and Holder of Hands, will open the show with her own alluring indie folk songs.
The Warren Sessions will continue throughout the fall with an impressive lineup of young folk and roots talent. Touring in support of their new album, California Calling, the all-female string group Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards will play on Friday, October 20th at 7:30pm. Led by fiddler/vocalist Cortese, the Dance Cards’ sound is bold and elegant, schooled in the lyrical rituals of folk music and backed by grooves that alternately inspire Cajun two-stepping and rock-n-roll hip swagger. An opening act for this show will be announced shortly.
Olympia, WA-based banjo/guitar duo The Lowest Pair will play the Warren Sessions on Friday, November 17th at 7:30pm. Displaying technical mastery and undeniable chemistry, the Lowest Pair’s Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee put their own twist on old American styles while pairing timeless songwriting with haunting, yet touching vocals, in a manner that is both powerful and unique. Aquidneck Island native and multi-instrumentalist Greg Forever will open the show with his own “garage country meets funky folk” sound.
Roots-rock one-man band phenomenon The Suitcase Junket is expected to blow the roof off the hall at Hope & Main on Friday, December 15th at 7:30pm. Performing on a tube amped dumpster guitar and instruments built of broken bottles, twisted forks, dried bones, gas cans, shoes, saw blades, a toy keyboard, and an overhead compartment’s worth of luggage – his is the road worn voice rising over original rock anthems, mountain ballads, blues manifestos and dance hall festivity. Warren’s own indie country and folk-rock balladeer Jodie Treloar Sampson will open the show.
Despite all the excitement that the Warren Sessions may bring, CFM has even more packed into their Fall 2017 Portsmouth lineup. Irish fiddle master Kevin Burke will open the series at Common Fence Point Hall on Saturday, September 16th at 8pm. After establishing his career through work with such renowned artists as Arlo Guthrie, Christy Moore and the Bothy Band, Burke went on to form the group Patrick Street, and trio Celtic Fiddle Festival with Johnny Cunningham and Christian Lemaitre, while also building a reputation as a solo artist. He is also one of three artists presented by CFM this season to have been awarded (to Burke, in 2002) an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the USA’s highest honor for excellence in the folk and traditional arts.
On Saturday, November 18th at 8pm, virtuoso oud player and Iraqi composer Rahim AlHaj will perform with percussion and santur (hammered dulcimer) accompaniment, deftly combining traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary stylings and influences. AlHaj seeks to translate into music the suffering, joy, anxiety, and determination that he has experienced and witnessed in his lifelong struggle against injustice as an Iraqi, a political refugee, and today as an American citizen. In addition to being named an NEA National Heritage Fellow in 2015, AlHaj has received many other accolades for his work as a soloist, including GRAMMY nominations in 2008 and 2010, and a 2009 US Artist Ford Fellowship grant.
AlHaj’s performance will be followed on Sunday, December 3rd at 7pm by the extraordinary Andy Statman Trio. Statman, 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellow and one of his generation’s premier mandolinists and clarinetists, thinks of his compositions and performances as “spontaneous American-roots music and personal, prayerful hasidic music, by way of avant-garde jazz.” Having studied mandolin with master David Grisman, and klezmer clarinet under the incredible David Tarras, Andy’s musicianship runs almost as deep as his spirituality. The trio, which includes bassist Jim Whitney and percussionist Larry Eagle, creates a dialogue between themselves and the audience with their unconstrained meditations on hasidic music and groove-driven explorations of American-roots music.
While these shows make it clear that CFM intends to expand their world music offerings, there is no mistake that the organization holds strong to their folk and Americana roots. Taking the stage on Saturday, September 30th at 8pm is contemporary bluesman Corey Harris. Although well-versed in the early history of blues guitar, Harris is no well-mannered preservationist, mixing a considerable variety of influences from New Orleans to the Caribbean to Africa into his richly expressive music. Harris is also the recipient of his own well-deserved acclaim, being awarded a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Award” in 2007.
Rising folk duo, The Honey Dewdrops, will play their first concert at CFM on Saturday, October 21st at 8pm. The closeness of sound and the musical compatibility that Virginia-natives Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish possess are unmistakable. Each share vocals and guitars, augmented by Parrish’s mandolin and Wortman’s work on banjo and harmonica. Married in life and music, they create a beautiful harmony that is amplified by the strength of their mature songwriting.
Another first for CFM this season is the CFM Full Moon Fest, a fun mini-festival dedicated to songs and songwriters, taking place on Saturday, November 4th at 8pm. Headlining the show is Americana dobro player and singer-songwriterABBIE GARDNER of the band Red Molly, in her first solo performance at Common Fence Music. Consisting of guitarist Susan Levine and multi-instrumentalist Doug Kwartler, Massachusetts folk duo THE LIED TO’S will also take the stage. Talented Providence-based singer-songwriter and guitarist CHRIS CAPALDI will be featured, as will the award-winning singer-songwriter MOLLY PINTO MADIGAN, who is hailed for her angelic voice and haunting compositions.
Bringing a festive end to the Fall 2017 Season on Saturday, December 16th at 8pm is The Sweetback Sisters’ Country Christmas Swing-Along Spectacular. Sweetback Sisters Emily Miller and Zara Bode may not be blood relations, but their precise, family-style harmonies recall the golden era of country music with a heavy dose of rockabilly edge. For eight years running, they have been selling out theaters across the Northeast with their signature take on the holiday sing-along. This wildly popular show is a hoot for the audience, featuring trivia, prizes, and of course, a sing-along!
Another show will be added to Common Fence Music’s Fall 2017 Season soon, so please stay tuned!
The Common Fence Point Hall is located at 933 Anthony Road, Portsmouth, RI. Per tradition, all shows at CFM’s Portsmouth venue are BYOB & Picnic. Concert-goers are invited to bring food and beverages to enjoy during the performances. Seasonal soups, homemade refreshments and soft-drinks will also be available for purchase. The hall is fully accessible. Ticket prices vary. Please visit CommonFenceMusic.org for more information.
For more information about Common Fence Music, please visit CommonFenceMusic.org, or call (401)683-5085.