fest

Prez Fest 2010 Celebrating Art Blakey

During his life time, the legendary drummer Art Blakey performed at Saint Peter’s Church, ‘The Jazz Church,” many times. He was well known for his Jazz Messengers “school of jazz” which produced many legendary jazz musicians of today, including Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Lou Donaldson, Terrence Blanchard, Billy Harper, Brian Lynch, Donald Harrison, Reggie Workman, Bobby Watson and others.

The program starts at 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 14, 2010 in the Living Room of Saint Peter’s Church, “The Jazz Church” at 619 Lexington Avenue (54th Street) – Midtown – with several free events:   “The Legend Wall” - an Exhibit of Information about Art Blakey and a Panel Discussion about Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' enduring influence on jazz.  It will be moderated by a prominent jazz scholar and panelists will include several Jazz Messengers and an expert on Art Blakey and/or the “hard bop” era of Jazz.  A presentation about Art Blakey and his drumming techniques by a well-known drummer may also be included. At 5:00 PM, Jazz Vespers - also free- takes place in the Sanctuary with music led by one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

The Concert begins at 7:00 PM. with live performance of the music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.  Jazz Messengers’ bands preceded by a student band will perform the legendary compositions created by Art Blakey and the Messengers over the more than 30 years that various versions of the Messengers held forth.   Suggested ticket donation: $20 ($10 for students with ID).

Several other events are a part of Prez Fest 2010.  We will partner with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem that will highlight Art Blakey during the month of March 2010 including interviews of Jazz Messengers and an all-day seminar on Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers.  In addition, a special event is being planned for the 68 Jazz Messengers who are still performing.

PREZ FEST 2010
CELEBRATING
ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS
Saint Peter’s Church
619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street), New York City

Jazz Fest At Sea 2009

jazzatseaThe year 2009 marks the 100th birthday of jazz legend Benny Goodman. We are very proud to announce that clarinetist Allan Vache has been given permission by the Goodman Estate and Bill Hyland, its executor, to present "A Benny Goodman Centennial Tribute" show. In addition to the Tribute show, Banu Gibson and her New Orleans Hot Jazz band will be headlining our jazz cruise. And our special guests from the West Coast, BED will be on board for your listening pleasure. We will be departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to the Southern Caribbean on the MSC Poesia for 10-nights of jazz and fun. Not only will you have your choice of amazing performances each evening, but you are also invited to the afternoon sessions on days at sea. Take a look at the fantastic schedule! But remember, only those who book with Cruise & Vacation Depot will be allowed to participate!

Our JazzFest at Sea promises to be the Ultimate Jazz Cruise of the year for all Classic and Dixieland Jazz fans. Don't miss the boat! Our staterooms are in limited supply. Simply call 1-800-654-8090 or email JazzFest at Sea for more information.

The schedule is subject to change. Check back often or call us at 1-800-654-8090 for updates!

Monday - November 30

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
8:00 PM - Banu Gibson & The New Orleans Hot Jazz featuring Banu Gibson, Randy Reinhart, Marc Phaneuf, David Sager, David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate and Jeff Hamilton
9:00 PM - A Benny Goodman Centennial Tribute featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bill Allred, Matt Hoffmann, Mark Shane, Bob Leary, Charlie Silva, Ed Metz Jr. and Terry Blaine
10:00 PM - B.E.D. featuring Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes

Tuesday - December 1

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
1:00 PM - "Meet the Musicians" Cocktail Party
2:00 PM - Diva Duos featuring Rebecca Kilgore & Eddie Erickson, Terry Blaine & Mark Shane, Banu Gibson & David Boeddinghaus
8:00 PM - Dem Bones featuring Bill Allred, Dan Barrett, David Sager, Mark Shane, Joel Forbes, Bob Leary and Jeff Hamilton
9:00 PM - Allan Vaché's Swingtet featuring Allan Vaché, Randy Reinhart, Frank Tate, Matt Hoffmann, Eddie Erickson and Ed Metz Jr.
10:00 PM - Chicago Jazz featuring David Jones, Marc Phaneuf, Dan Barrett, David Boeddinghaus, Charlie Silva and Jeff Hamilton

Wednesday - December 2

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
1:00 PM - Musical Memories featuring Ed Clute on the piano playing your requests
2:00 PM - Allan Vaché's Big 4 featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bob Leary and Charlie Silva
3:00 PM - 3 Girls 3 featuring Terry Blaine, Banu Gibson, Rebecca Kilgore, Mark Shane, Eddie Erickson, Joel Forbes and Ed Metz Jr.
8:00 PM - B.E.D. featuring Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes
9:00 PM - Banu Gibson & The New Orleans Hot Jazz featuring Banu Gibson, Randy Reinhart, Marc Phaneuf, David Sager, David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate and Jeff Hamilton
10:00 PM - A Benny Goodman Centennial Tribute featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bill Allred, Matt Hoffmann, Mark Shane, Bob Leary, Charlie Silva, Ed Metz Jr. and Terry Blaine

Thursday - December 3

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
8:00 PM - Cornet Chop Suey featuring Randy Reinhart, Dan Barrett,David Jones, David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate amd Jeff Hamilton with guest Banu Gibson
9:00 PM  - With Benny in Mind featuring Allan Vaché, Matt Hoffman, Mark Shane, Bob Leary, Charlie Silva and Ed Metz Jr. with guest Terry Blaine
10:00 PM - Bill's Classic Jazz featuring Bill Allred, Randy Reinhart, Mark Phaneuf, Eddie Erikson, Joel Forbes and Ed Metz Jr. with guest Rebecca Kilgore

Friday - December 4

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
8:00 PM - A Benny Goodman Centennial Tribute featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bill Allred, Matt Hoffmann, Mark Shane, Bob Leary, Charlie Silva, Ed Metz Jr. and Terry Blaine  
9:00 PM - B.E.D. featuring Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes
10:00 PM - Mostly Mercer - A Johnny Mercer Centennial Tribute featuring Banu Gibson, Randy Reinhart, Marc Phaneuf, David Sager, David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate and Jeff Hamilton

Saturday - December 5

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
8:00 PM - The Matt Hoffmann Quartet featuring Matt Hoffmann, Mark Shane, Joel Forbes and Jeff Hamilton with guest Terry Blaine  
9:00 PM - Switch Hitters featuring Dan Barrett (cornet & trombone), Randy Reinhart (cornet & trombone), David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate,
Bob Leary and Ed Metz Jr. with guest Banu Gibson
10:00 PM - Dixieland USA featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bill Allred, Mark Phaneuf (saxophone), Mark Shane, Eddie Erikson (banjo), Charlie Silva and Jeff Hamilton with guest Rebecca Kilgore

Sunday - December 6

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
8:00 PM - B.E.D. featuring Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes
9:00 PM - Banu Gibson & The New Orleans Hot Jazz featuring Banu Gibson, Randy Reinhart, Marc Phaneuf, David Sager, David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate and Jeff Hamilton
10:00 PM - A Benny Goodman Centennial Tribute featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bill Allred, Matt Hoffmann, Mark Shane, Bob Leary, Charlie Silva, Ed Metz Jr. and Terry Blaine

Monday - December 7

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
8:00 PM - Reedmen featuring Allan Vaché, Mark Phaneuf, David Boeddinghaus, Joel Forbes, Eddie Erikson and Ed Metz Jr.
9:00 PM - Brass Masters featuring Randy Reinhart, Bill Allred, David Sager, Dan Barrett, David Jones, Mark Shane, Frank Tate and Jeff Hamilton
10:00 PM - Ladies Sing (and play) the Blues featuring Banu Gibson (banjo & vocal), Terry Blaine (flute & vocal) and Rebecca Kilgore (guitar & vocal) with guests Bob Leary, Charlie Silva and Ed Metz Jr.

Tuesday - December 8

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
1:00 PM - The Bob & Eddie Show featuring Bob Leary (banjo, guitar & vocal), Eddie Erikson (banjo, guitar & vocal), Charlie Silva and Jeff Hamilton
2:00 PM - The Piano Men featuring Mark Shane and David Boeddinghaus
3:00 PM - CD Signing and Autograph Session with personal photo opportunities
8:00 PM - Banu Gibson & The New Orleans Hot Jazz featuring Banu Gibson, Randy Reinhart, Marc Phaneuf, David Sager, David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate and Jeff Hamilton
9:00 PM - B.E.D. featuring Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes
10:00 PM - A Benny Goodman Centennial Tribute featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bill Allred, Matt Hoffmann, Mark Shane, Bob Leary, Charlie Silva, Ed Metz Jr. and Terry Blaine

Wednesday - December 9

Le Moulin Rouge (Pigalle) Lounge - Deck 7 Aft
8:00 PM - B.E.D. featuring Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes
9:00 PM - Final All-Star Jam Session featuring Allan Vaché, David Jones, Bill Allred, Matt Hoffmann, Mark Shane, Bob Leary, Charlie Silva, Ed Metz Jr., Terry Blaine, Banu Gibson, Randy Reinhart, Marc Phaneuf, David Sager, David Boeddinghaus, Frank Tate, Jeff Hamilton, Rebecca Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes (Bring your Ax if you want to join in!)

PREZ FEST 2009 CELEBRATING BILLY STRAYHORN

Legendary Composer, Arranger, Pianist March 14 and 15, 2009 At Saint Peter’s Church, 54th and Lexington, New York City

Billy Strayhorn… the biggest human being who ever lived, a man with the greatest courage, the most majestic stature, a highly skilled musician whose impeccable taste commanded the respect of all musicians and the admiration of all listeners. —Duke Ellington
 
Saturday, March 14

3:00 PM Two-hour listening session of Billy Strayhorn recordings
Free

Sunday, March 15

 

4:00 PM   David Hajdu, author of Lush Life, presents
                                             “Dancing Without Duke: Strayhorn’s Work Away from Ellington”
Free

5:00 PM Jazz Vespers with Junior Mance / Hide Tanaka Duo
Freewill Offering

7:00 PM CONCERT with Randy Weston, Billy Taylor, Jeb Patton, David Wong, Winard Harper, Valerie Capers, John Robinson, Earl Williams, Aaron Diehl, Gene Bertoncini, Sara Caswell, Alan Ferber, Dan Pratt, Nate Radley, Gary Wang, Jimmy Owens, Mike Howell, Mike Hashim, Ehud Asherie, Darius deHaas, 18-piece Jazz Band Classic directed by Chris Winans, The Ellington Legacy Band (with Edward Ellington, Norman Simmons, Virginia Mayhew, Nancy Reed, Jami Dauber, Paul Wells, Tom DiCarlo, Noah Bless) and Jimmy Owens will be the emcee
$20 Suggested Donation-- tickets at http://www.saintpeters.org/jazz

An exhibit of Billy Strayhorn memorabilia will be an important part of the tribute.

 
Produced by the Jazz Ministry at Saint Peter’s Church and The Duke Ellington Society, TDES, Inc.
More information at http://www.saintpeters.org/jazz or 212 935 2200
 
Take the “E” train to Lexington Avenue or “#6” to 51st Street

Old Man Winter Blues & Brew Fest Heats Up the Frozen North

After a month of 25 and 35 below temperatures, North Dakota was treated to a tropical warm up of monstrous musical proportions.  Last weekend, the Hub Entertainment Complex hosted an all day indoor festival on two stages: The intimate Cadillac Ranch stage and the bigger, more open Venue stage.

Prez Fest 2009 | Celebrating Billy Strayhorn | March 14 & 15

Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn- for the Grateful Web

Saint Peter's Church, known worldwide as the "Jazz Church," will present "Prez Fest 2009 — Celebrating Billy Strayhorn."  The festival begins with a listening session of Billy Strayhorn recordings on Saturday, March 14 at 3:00 PM and continues on Sunday with a lecture on Billy Strayhorn at 4:00 PM, Jazz Vespers at 5:00 PM and a Concert at 7:00 PM.  A variety of groups will perform the music of Billy Strayhorn.  Billy Strayhorn's piano was gifted to the church years ago and its refurbishing will be celebrated.

Billy Strayhorn (1915–1967), composer, arranger and pianist, was born in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in Hillsborough, N.C. and Pittsburgh, Pa. where he received his musical training.  He first met Duke Ellington in 1938 and worked in close collaboration with him for three decades.  Some of the world's great compositions were written by Billy Strayhorn:  Take the A Train, Lush Life, Chelsea Bridge, Something to Live For, Day Dream, Rain Check, Passion Flower, Midriff, Rain Check and Johnny Come Lately. In collaboration with Duke Ellington, he produced many concert works including: Perfume Suite, Such Sweet Thunder and A Drum is a Woman.

"Billy Strayhorn… the biggest human being who ever lived, a man with the greatest courage, the most majestic stature, a highly skilled musician whose impeccable taste commanded the respect of all musicians and the admiration of all listeners."  —Duke Ellington

David Hajdu, scholar and author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, will speak about Billy Strayhorn on Sunday at 4:00 PM with recorded music.  Junior Mance and Hide Tanako (piano/bass duo) will lead the music at Jazz Vespers at 5:00 PM.

Musicians who are already confirmed to perform at the Sunday evening concert include Randy Weston, Jimmy Heath, Billy Taylor, Jeb Patton, David Wong, Valerie Capers, John Robinson, Earl Williams, Aaron Diehl, Gene Bertoncini, Sara Caswell, Kenny Davis, Mike Howell, and The Ellington Legacy Band with Edward Ellington, Norman Simmons, Virginia Mayhew, Nancy Reed, Jami Dauber, Paul Wells, Tom DiCarlo, Noah Bless, and the Jazz Band Classic (18-pieces), and others.  Jimmy Owens will be the emcee and will also perform.
 
"Prez Fest" is a jazz festival created to celebrate the talents of jazz legends who are no longer with us and about whom people should learn more.  Last year Billie Holiday was honored.  In the future, the plan is to honor a different jazz legend each year.  The name "Prez Fest" has blossomed out of the "To Prez with Love," a tribute to Lester Young which had been held at Saint Peter's for over 30 years.  By using Prez in the name of the festival we continue to honor Lester Young and his music.

The Jazz Ministry of Saint Peter's Church is "a home for diverse individuals and communities which celebrates the dignity and vitality of Jazz, provides vibrant liturgy and pastoral care, and through intersecting partnerships, offers jazz programs, education and services."  An outreach program of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City, The Jazz Ministry was founded in 1965 by the late Reverend John Garcia Gensel who created Jazz Vespers, a worship service featuring a wide range of jazz musicians that is held each Sunday at 5:00 PM.  Our pastors include Amandus Derr, Jared Stahler, Bill Eschen and Héctor Ribone.  The Jazz Ministry thrives today with many events and programs such as All Nite Soul, Prez Fest, Jazz on the Plaza, Women in Jazz Festival, Seminars for Musicians, Midtown Jazz at Midday, memorials, tributes, concerts, and others yet to be developed, to serve the jazz community.

The Duke Ellington Society (TDES, Inc.) is an organization dedicated to celebrating the life, music and legacy of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.  TDES, Inc. was incorporated in 1992 as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization in the state of New York.  Founded during Duke's lifetime in 1959, it will observe its 50th anniversary in 2009 and it has grown to over 450 members representing 25 countries.  Members meet once a month, usually on the third Wednesday, at Saint Peter's Church for a variety of listening sessions, concerts, lectures and parties.  Meetings begin at 7:30 PM and all are welcome.

"Prez Fest 2009—Celebrating Billy Strayhorn" takes place on March 14 and 15, 2009 at Saint Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street).
Saturday, March 14: 3:00 PM  Two-hour listening session of well-known and rare Billy Strayhorn recordings. Free  
Sunday, March 15: 4:00 PM  Presentation by David Hajdu, author of Lush Life.  Free
5;00 PM: Jazz Vespers with Junior Mance / Hide Tanako Duo Free Will Offering
7:00 PM: Concert — $20 Suggested Donation — Tickets available at the door.
212 935 2200 ● "E" train to Lexington Avenue or "#6" to 51st Street

Music Doc "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" to Screen at Memphis Film Fest

- for the Grateful Web

Music documentary "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" will screen on March 29 as a part of the On Location: Memphis International Film Festival.

The film, directed by Todd Kwait, is a labor-of-love documentary focused on one of America's most beloved forms of folk music, the jug band.  Featuring a who's who of '60s folk artists like Rock and Roll Hall of Famers John Sebastian (Lovin' Spoonful) and Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), David Grisman, Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur and Jim Kweskin, "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" explores the history of jug band music and the influence it had on these legendary musicians.

Jug band music has deep roots in Memphis.  Two of the most famous early jug bands were from the city: Cannon's Jug Stompers, featuring Gus Cannon, and the Memphis Jug Band, featuring Memphis native and blues godfather Will Shade.  Both bands recorded and played in Memphis during the 1920s and 30s.  Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers were a popular Beale Street act into the 1930s. Three decades later, following the folk revival of jug band music in the early 1960s, Will Shade and Gus Cannon recorded an album for Memphis' Stax label.

Here's what the critics are saying:

"Delightful... it is the first word that came to mind when considering Chasin' Gus' Ghost... the end product happens to be the most enjoyable film anyone will see this year."  
DocumentaryFilms.net - Bryan Newbury

"An absorbing movie capable of inspiring a whole new generation of ghost-chasers."
AllAboutJazz.com - Sam Chell

What: "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" screening at Memphis International Film Festival
Where: Malco Theatre - Studio on the Square
When: Saturday, March 29th 12:30PM
Tickets: $8.50 at door, available online

Michael Franti Hosts 2007's Power to the People Fest

photos Copyright© GratefulWeb.net- for the Grateful Web

On Saturday, September 8th, renowned and outspoken musician and filmmaker Michael Franti and his group Spearhead – along with Guerrilla Management – present the 9th Annual "911 Power to the Peaceful Festival" at Speedway Meadow in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The free music and arts festival is dedicated to social justice, non violence, coexistence and environmental sustainability and aimed to educate, enrage, enlighten and inspire. It drew over 60,000 attendees in 2006.

Artists confirmed to appear alongside Anti- recording artists and headliners Michael Franti and Spearhead at the event include Indigo Girls, Lifesavas, and Hot Buttered Rum. The event will be hosted by Hard Knock Radio and broadcasted live on Pacifica station KPFA. Special guests and speakers will include journalist, author and Democracy Now! founder Amy Goodman, MOVE Member Mario Africa, and others.

In addition to the main stage of International Musical Artists and award-winning speakers, the PTTP Festival will also feature morning yoga, an open-air art gallery, a healing arts tent, vendors and food booths, an eco village, a bicycle coalition and social, environmental & political organizations tabling and forums. This year's DJ Tent will be headlined by DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid and Bassnectar.

A family-friendly kid's zone will boast arts and crafts with an amazing peace flag-making workshop with Daily Acts, live theater with the Big Tadoo Puppet Crew, games, story-telling, face-painting, organic "snack time," and an exhibit from the Museum of Children's Art and a mid-afternoon Kid's Parade. A favorite in the kid's zone is the sing-a-long with Michael Franti, where the festival founder visits and sings with the youth. An exciting addition to this year's festival will focus on Franti's new children's book, What I Be.

9th Annual Power to the Peaceful Music and Arts Festival  Saturday, September 8th
Speedway  Meadow, Golden Gate Park
Admission is FREE

9:00 AM PTTP COMMUNITY YOGA PRACTICE
11:00 AM HOT BUTTERED RUM
12:25 PM LIFESAVAS
1:40 PM INDIGO GIRLS
3:30 PM MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD

Power to the Peaceful After Party
Saturday, September 8th / 9 PM  Mic
hael Franti & Spearhead PTTP All Star Jam Session
Mezzanine (444 Jessie Street @ Mint)
w/ special guests Heavyweight Dub Champion
plus live DJ sets by Hoola, the Shamanic Cheerleaders
Tickets are $30.00 and available now at www.powertothepeaceful.org.

Sunday Yoga Jam at Speedway Meadow
Sunday, September 9th / 11 am SUNDAY YOGA JAM
w/ a special performance by Michael Franti
 
Speedway  Meadow, Golden Gate Park
Individual Classes: $45.00 / Three Class Card: $110.00
Tickets available now at www.powertothepeaceful.org.
11:00 AM doors and registration
Yoga Classes at 11:30 am /1:15 PM / and 3:45 PM

Since 1998, the free, outdoor "911 Power to the Peaceful Festival" has been a fun, educational, hip and diverse annual experience. The first event was held in a neighborhood park and drew 6,000 people. In recent years, it has grown to draw over 60,000 people to the spacious Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Past artists and speakers have included The String Cheese Incident, John Butler Trio, KRS-One, Digital Underground, Woody Harrelson, Angela Davis, Dennis Kucinich, Ram Das, Blackalicious, Alice Walker, Talib Kweli, The Coup, Saul Williams, Keller Williams, Lyrics Born and many others.

 

In a year that is shaping up to be his most active year yet in support of the peace movement, Michael Franti visited and performed for injured soldiers at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center this past April, before participating in a fundraiser for Iraq Veterans Against the War. In May 2007, Franti performed an extremely rare San Quentin Prison concert, extolling the virtues of peace in a performance before some 2,000 inmates.

The award winning filmmaker Franti - who is responsible for I Know I'm Not Alone, the heralded 2005 documentary about the Iraq War, and the subsequent 2006 Anti- debut Yell Fire!, which was inspired by his travels to the war-torn area - has been praised for his commitments to peace, tolerance and co-existence from journalists and formal and informal leaders throughout the globe.

Franti and Spearhead will celebrate the success of their breakthrough 2006 Anti- debut Yell Fire! by releasing a live, digital-only version of the acclaimed disc this October. In advance of its extensive U.S. autumn tour, the group is currently at work with producer Matt Wallace (The Replacements, Faith No More, John Hiatt) on its next album, due via Anti- in 2008.

Elana James Inks New Deal, Plays Fuji Rock Fest & Keeps Swingin' For Fences

Photo by Richard Dowdy, 2007- for the Grateful Web

The North Carolina-based music mavens at Redeye will be handling North American distribution of the eponymous solo debut disc by singer, violinist and songwriter Elana James beginning Tuesday, July 24. The move will make the ebullient, eclectic collection of town 'n' country swing available at most major nationwide chains-including Borders as well as in hundreds of discerning, independently-owned stores.

James began enchanting listeners in 1998 as co-leader (with Whit Smith) of the Austin-based Hot Club of Cowtown, a refreshing, nimble-fingered combo that merged the sophisticated, high-stepping sizzle of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's Quintet of the Hot Club of France with the driving energy of Western swing.

Buoyed by five critically-acclaimed discs and live shows imbued with an almost punk-rock energy, the Hot Club was on the verge of a popular breakthrough when, just after opening all of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson's ground breaking 2004 summer tour of American minor league ballparks, the group disbanded.

Still reeling from the breakup, the young musician had only begun weighing future options when the two musical godfathers whose very tour ushered the demise of the Hot Club stepped in with offers that could not be refused.

First, veteran producer Fred Foster called James with an invitation to play twin fiddle parts with the legendary Texas Playboy Johnny Gimble on Willie Nelson's next record. Almost immediately after that call came an invitation to play in Dylan's touring band.

"When I got that call," Elana remembers, "It was so incredible - I felt like God had reached down out of heaven and anointed me with a golden wand."

The Dylan slot ended up expanding to two full tours (one as the fiddle player for Dylan himself complete with prominent positioning in the shows), but James experienced a real revelation before the first tour was even complete:  Oddly enough, performing with arguably the greatest, most-revered songwriter of the last 50 years gave her the confidence to pursue a similar path leading her own band.

". . .He's peerless at what he does, and yet he's still doing exactly the same thing as everyone else," she notes. "And it made me realize that if I started my own thing, there's a lot of dignity in just doing it; you don't have to worry about who you're playing for, you don't have to worry about how it's received, you just have to do it."

Elana James began recording her self-titled debut album in 2005, but a second Dylan tour delayed completion of the recording until the summer of 2006, with assorted finishing details further setting back the release.

But by any measure, the elegant Elana James is more than worth the wait, presenting an artist brimming with talent, self-assurance and a strong musical vision that encompasses string-jazz and country roots as well as displaying - through a half-dozen artfully-drawn original tunes, Elana's rare gift for truly integrating lyrical content with melody and tone.

Through it all, James' clearwater, emotionally - transparent vocal delivery is the ideal vehicle for her uniquely personal world view, and her violin playing slips with a natural grace from bold, charismatic leads to empathetic ensemble playing and back again.

The legendary swing fiddler Johnny Gimble illuminates a pair of traditional Western Swing fiddle tunes, pairing his inimitable style with Elana's on his own arrangement of "Silver Bells" and using electric mandolin to spar with James' violin on an immaculate, up-to-date rendition of "Goodbye Liza Jane."

With knowing, soulful nods to Duke Ellington ("I Got It Band (And That Ain't Good)" and "I Don't Mind") and Eubie Blake (a luscious "Memories of You" ), Elana James - with and her fine, hand-picked cohorts - further extends her impressive musical palette and wide-ranging love-and command - of American music.

Willie Nelson lauds James as "a beautiful voice, a fantastic musician with the heart and soul of an angel."  He neglected to mention that she's smart and beautiful, too, but it's a sure bet he noticed.   

(Elana James is currently available through such online outlets as Amazon.com, CDBaby, Miles of Music, etc.).

 

ELANA JAMES AUGUST 2007 TOUR DATES

August 7 Starlight Concert Series, Evanston, IL

August 10 Great Lakes Festival, East Lansing, MI

August 11 Great Lakes Festival, East Lansing, MI

August 12 Great Lakes Festival, East Lansing, MI  

August 15 Continental Club Happy Hour, Austin, TX

August 18 Performing Arts Center Simsbury, CT

August 22 The Continental Club Happy Hour, Austin, TX      

August 29 The Continental Club Happy Hour, Austin, TX