Music at the Museum is a monthly concert series I began producing for the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, IL in mid 2017. The series will feature the best in contemporary and traditional folk and acoustic music of all styles. In particular, I'm looking to present artists that have content (educational information) as well as a mastery of their craft and great performances.
Concerts are held the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 PM in the Museum auditorium. Tickets are available at the door and are $10.00 per person, $8.00 for museum members and kids under 12.
I am happy to acknowledge our sponsor, Carpenter St. Hotel in
Springfield. They are partnering with us to provide
accommodations to performers while in Springfield. We
greatly appreciate their support and hope you will support t
hem in return. I’ve personally stayed there many times and it's always a pleasant and comfortable place to lay my head.
Autoharp Legend Bryan Bowers
For over five decades, Bryan Bowers has been to the autoharp what Earl
Scruggs was to the five string banjo. He presents instrumental virtuosity combined with warmth, eloquence, expression and professionalism.
He’s in the Autoharp Hall of fame, and Frets magazine named him autoharp player of the year 5 times in a row, until they wouldn’t let him compete anymore, and he became a member of their gallery of greats. Alongside legends, Chet Atkins, Mark O’Connor, David Grislam and others, Bowers was shocked that he had made it to such a pinnacle of great stringed artists.
Bowers picked up the “bug” at the age of 28, though he had been encouraged by his Aunt Iola to play the guitar for some tim. At a traditional folk festival in Chicago years ago, Mike Seger questioned him on who had taught him to play. But Bowers was wholly self-taught. In 1993, Bryan Bowers was honored with an induction into the Autoharp Hall of Fame, alongside greats such as Maybelle Carter, Kilby Snow, and Sara Carter.
February 14th, The Deep Hollow
Described as "Stripped down harmony laden ode to Americana" this Springfield band makes it's Music at the Museum Debut for a Valentines Day concert. Micah Walk Liz Eckert and Dave Littrell combine great harmonies with excellent writing. They had a big win in the American Songwriter magazine songwriting contest in 2014. They then launched an album that reached number three on the Folk DJ charts in early 2016, This terrific threesome continues to move forward into the realm of getting there.
March 14th, Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin
Mother Jones in Heaven has had to cancel due to an injury to the lead actress. I'm delighted to announce that I was able to book Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin in their place. Award-winning singer-songwriter Wil Maring and virtuoso guitarist/fiddler Robert Bowlin combine their talents, smoothly blending elements from all roots music genres to create an original acoustic music all their own- old time and bluegrass, jazz and blues, celtic and country.
Wil’s clear, airy vocal style and heartfelt lyrics, with her proficiency on upright bass, and guitar, provide a perfect complement to Bowlin’s instrumental fireworks. Wil was a Merlefest songwriting contest winner, a Kerrville NewFolk finalist, and has toured Japan and Europe. Together they have performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and NPR’s Whaddya Know program.
April 11th, Suzie Vinnick
Suzie Vinnick is a 3 time Juno Nominee, CFMA Award winner, and a 10-time winner of the Maple Blues Award for songwriting. She's a female blues vocalist with a voice you’ll never forget once you've heard it! It soars, it growls, it whispers and it shouts from a deep, deep well of emotion. The pure joy she exudes when she picks up that guitar is so worth the show.
Suzie just released her latest album, a full band roots and blues extravaganza entitled Shake The Love Around.
May 9th, Joel Mabus
Called the "dean of singer-songwriters” by the Midnight Special 's Rich Warren, Joel Mabus is a free-ranging fretboard genius on guitar mandolin and banjo and a funny, deep songwriter whose warm voice, sly humor, and musicianship sweep audiences along for the ride. Joel was born in Southern Illinois and raised in a family of traditional musicians. His parents were barnstorming performers in the 1930’s doing road shows for the WLS National Barn Dance. “Very few songwriters can poke you in the ribs and stick to your ribs at the same time. Mr. Mabus has this double ability and he always has.”
June 13th, Cari Ray and the Shaky Legs
Cari Ray is an award-winning songwriter and storyteller whose songs manifest in a way that can transport you a back alley juke joint around the early part of the last century. Cari’s influences as a writer and performer are clear and present in her original material, spanning a wide range of early American music… a helping of acoustic blues, a little folk, a rasher of ragtime, and a slight flavor of old-time country.. Her live show serves it up handily with quick wit, tasty fingerstyle guitar, and a huge voice. Add the powerful harmony vocals of percussionist and long-time collaborator, Dionne Ward, and you have Cari Ray & The Shaky Legs. With a unique blend of heart and grit, this power duo will have your heart breaking one minute and your hips shaking the next…all while wondering where they’re hiding the rest of band.
July 11th, The Sweet Potatoes
The Sweet Potatoes come out of Southern California to dish up their own unique blend of country, folk and homespun Americana. Featuring acoustic guitars, accordion and harmonica, their music has a back porch charm all its own.
Kelly Macleod (songwriter, guitar, and vocals) and Laura Hall (songwriter, guitar, accordion and vocals) and Rick Hall (bass, harmonica and vocals) have all been in show business in one way or another for years. Kelly cut her teeth singing in the band Private Life. Laura is best known as the pianist on the long running hit TV show, Whose Line Is It Anyway, while Rick's day job is as an actor on TV, doing everything from Centrum commercials, to NCIS. Kelly and Laura write write original songs rooted in the family ties that made them the women they are today; songs about finding and appreciating love, having faith, family and home.
Hayes Griffin and Nate Roberts
Guitarist Hayes Griffin and mandolinist Nate Roberts are leading the charge in West Michigan’s progressive acoustic music scene. With over 30 years of combined experience in the world of folk and traditional music, Hayes and Nate blend influences such as bluegrass, jazz, Irish, and classical to create a truly unique sound. Together, they take acoustic music to a new world of improvisation and virtuosity!
Nate Roberts is a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Westfield, NY. who earned his Masters degree in Jazz Performance and received a scholarship for Mandolin Performance for the Berklee College of Music. Hayes earned an MM in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory. Currently, Hayes teaches History of Rock and Roll at Grand Valley State University and runs Built to Last Music Notes, LLC, a transcription and music publishing service.
September 12th, Ivas John
A throwback and an innovator. A musician with local roots and worldly chops. A purist who can play the dirtiest blues. Ivas John is a musician’s musician. He has a style of effortless authenticity that is both a breath of fresh air and a link to days of yore, imbued with the same sense of timelessness as the shores of the Mississippi River he now calls home.
Born as a first generation Lithuanian American into a music-loving Chicago home, his earliest influences came from European folk dancing, melodies hammered out on the family piano, and playing trumpet in the school band. His working class father was a truck driver by day, and by night appeared in productions for the local opera company and was a regular fixture on the vibrant folk and blues scene in late 60’s Chicago. Ivas got hooked on blues guitar and studied the world of Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Doc Watson, The Delmore Brothers, and Balladeers like Tom Paxton and Gordon Lightfoot. His writing took on historical content, rural images, and simple country wisdom. With a warm baritone voice, distinct and believable, he began to traverse the vast musical landscape of his surroundings, bringing to life dusty, forgotten visions of the American past with elegant acuity.
October 10th, Noah Derksen
Born and raised in the heart of the Canadian prairies and maturing on the west coast of British Columbia, Noah Derksen writes with the groundedness of harsh Manitoba winters mixed with the optimism of British Columbia’s coastline. Ever seeking motion and progression, Noah has spent the past three years honing his live performance skills across Canada and the United States.
With a self-described genre of “contemplative folk”, Noah’s introspective nature is immediately apparent, felt through honest and poetic lyricism alongside aesthetic musical arrangements. He'll be joined by the very talented Elise on violin.
November 14th, Switchback Cancelled
Sally Weisenburg & Don Berbaum
Our originally scheduled performers, Switchback, had to be rescheduled after Brian Fitzgerald sustained a broken leg. Instead, we are proud to welcome award winning Blues/R&B artists Sally Weisenburg and Don Berbaum to the stage. Sally is a member of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Don is world class guitarist and harmonica player whose influences include Jimmy Reed, T Bone Walker and “all the Kings”; BB King, Albert King and Freddie King. Performing with soaring vocals on guitars, harmonica, and keyboard, Sally and Don are known for their sassy style and excellent musicianship presented in the tradition of the great blues divas of old.
December 12th, Ted Yoder
"Ted Yoder is the Bela Fleck of the hammered dulcimer."
Michael Johnathon- Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour
Ted Yoder is the perfect musician for the 21st century; his passionate playing style and easy-going personality make him a natural online star. But the roots of his talent and showmanship weren’t simply earned overnight; they’re steeped in an Appalachian musical tradition with origins which can be traced back to 300 BCE in Greece. Yoder’s played the dulcimer for decades winning the America’s National Hammered Dulcimer Championship in 2010. His performance style in popular songs including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” and classics such as “Amazing Grace” and “The Little Drummer Boy” has become known as “Yoderizing.” Why? Because until you hear Ted Yoder, it’s impossible to imagine that one wooden stringed instrument can sound like an entire rock band or a whole symphony orchestra all in one.