Dori Freeman plays the Jamestown Arts Center November 5 (Photo provided by Newport Live)

A unique concert series is coming to the Jamestown Arts Center this Fall. “Women’s Voices” is a program curated by Dick Lynn, Executive Director of Newport Live (formerly Common Fence Music).

The series begins with singer-songwriter Dori Freeman who will be playing Saturday, November 5 at 6:30PM. (Tickets are available here.) Shows run every other Saturday beginning at 7PM at the Jamestown Arts Center, 18 Valley St. in Jamestown.

I spoke to Lynn recently to learn more about the series. Lynn is a veteran in the music industry and has worked for Twin Cities Public Television, Blue Light Productions, and High Road Touring. He knows the music business inside out and can identify up-and-coming artists.

 “I don’t usually put shows together with a theme idea beforehand, as I am at the mercy of agents and artists and who is available or on tour,” explained Lynn. “With that said, I do naturally book with a love of diversity and previously unheard voices. That’s how I found Alisa Amador a year before she won the (NPR Music) Tiny Desk Concert in 2022.”

“I keep a board with venues across the top, dates down the side, and a LOT of post-its with the names of artists that I’m interested in, and the names of artists that agents are interested in my bringing. I value some opinions based on history, like a recommendation from Steve Berlin of Los Lobos or the head of High Road Touring. Pretty soon, the venues take shape, and then the artists take shape,” he added. “The Jamestown Arts Center expressed an interest in having us produce shows there. When I mentioned a series of women artists, each with a unique perspective, they were excited about it.”

The current lineup includes headliners Dori Freeman on November 5, Erin McKeown on November 19 and Alisa Amador who played the Norman Bird Sanctuary in the summer of 2021. Each artist brings a different sensibility to the Arts Center.

Dori Freeman opens the series on Saturday, November 5. Lynn shared a little more about Freeman whose first album was produced by English musician Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson.

“Freeman is about as ‘bonafide’ an Appalachian artist as one can be: she was raised among a family of musicians in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. She brings that voice of displaced women from a slightly depressed rural area. Her songs are wonderful, well-crafted pieces. She reminds me of a young Kitty Wells, and I look forward to having her play,” said Lynn. Two-time Canadian Folk Music Awards winner Abigail Lapell opens the show.

Erin McKeown first made headlines as a singer-songwriter while still a student at Brown University. “My old friend Steve Berlin of Los Lobos was producing Erin McKeown,” said Lynn. “They are a strong voice in the LGBTQ community and have had hit songs, songs that we hear on shows like The Gilmore Girls (“Slung Lo”), The L Word and so many others. They’ve also written plays/musicals that have won Drama Desk Awards.”

Boston-based Alisa Amador, who closes out the series on December 4, returns to the area after winning the prestigious NPR Tiny Desk Concert Award. “I knew I wanted to have Alisa Amador back,” said Lynn. “She expresses a Latinx viewpoint, sings in both Spanish and English, and, after debuting her (at the Norman Bird Sanctuary) last summer, she won NPR’s 2022 Tiny Desk Concert. It was validating for her and for us. She reminds me of a young Joni Mitchell in her songwriting.”

Looking ahead, Lynn has ambitious plans for the Spring season. “We are planning an indigenous music festival for Spring 2023, and also bringing in two South African jazz artists thanks to friends at The Lincoln Center. We also have two iconic folk and roots rock groups penciled in for early spring/ late winter. That line-up includes John Gorka and then Chris Spedding (of Roxy Music fame) with Anton Fig, drummer for the Letterman show, and the possibility of Tony Garnier of Bob Dylan’s band rounding out the trio.”

Click here for tickets and further information on the Women’s Voices series.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music, the arts and more for What'sUpNewp. He is also a contributor to Providence Monthly, SO RI, Hey Rhody and The Bay magazines.
Ken DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse," a roots/folk/rock radio show every Tuesday, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM. He is a former educator in the Scituate, RI school system where he taught Social Studies for over 30 years.
Ken is presently on the board of the Rhode Island Folk Festival and Newport Live (formerly Common Fence Music), a non-profit that brings diverse musical acts to the Newport area.