Maria Dunn

MARIA DUNN

Saturday – May 18 – 7:30 pm

Mount Toby Friends Meeting, 194 Long Plain Rd. (Rt. 63), Leverett, MA

www.mariadunn.com

Mount Toby Concerts is pleased to announce the upcoming performance of an outstanding Canadian singer/songwriter of music for social change. A true preserver of the spirit of folk music, 2017 Juno nominee Maria Dunn is often compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women. Thirteen years as a volunteer DJ in community radio (1987-2000) encouraged Maria to listen widely to the master songwriters, singers and instrumentalists of folk and roots music. Discovering their recordings and becoming an avid fan and supporter of live music in her community, she absorbed the important messages of compassion and human struggle.

By the time she began writing her own music in the mid-90s, Maria was learning to draw deeply on the folk tradition of storytelling through song to honour the resilience and grace of “ordinary” people, past and present. In keeping with Pete Seeger’s words (1994), “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known”, her latest recording, Gathering (April 2016), highlights stories of love—not songs of romantic love, but songs of family, community, humanity and the love that fires our actions to make the world a better place. The songs range from historical and narrative to personal and immediate, inspired by social justice stories both global and local.

Stylistically, Maria continues to expand her musical palate from her original influences: North American folk/roots and the music of her Scottish-Irish heritage. She adds musical inflections and instrumentation to evoke the countries of origin and sets her songs in styles that complement the stories they tell.

• …remarkable singer-songwriter, think of her as a distaff Woody Guthrie. – Edmonton Sun

…this is history come alive. Her lyrics are sharp and poignant… – Sunday Edition, CBC Radio

She’s assured, strong, and her versatile voice carries her songs straight to the head and heart. – Sing Out!

Suggested donation: $10 to $20

For more info: https://mttobyconcerts.wordpress.com

CRYS MATTHEWS AND HEATHER MAE

Crys Matthews & Heather Mae

Saturday – April 20 – 7:30 pm

https://crysmatthews.com               https://www.heathermae.net

Ask any one about the new generation of social justice music-makers and they’ll mention either Crys Matthews or Heather Mae. Matthews is a powerful lyricist whose songs of compassionate dissent reflect her lived experience as what she lightheartedly calls “the poster-child for intersectionality”. Heather Mae, a powerhouse performer and earthshaking vocalist, has turned her personal struggle with mental health and body image into an empowering message of self-love, a universal light force that shines for every audience member.

CRYS MATTHEWS

2017 NewSong Music and Performance Competition grand prize winner Crys Matthews blends Americana, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass and funk in to a bold, complex performance steeped in traditional melodies and punctuated by honest, original lyrics. Her two newest releases, The Imagineers and an EP, Battle Hymn for an Army of Lovers showcase two sides of Matthews’ dynamic songwriting: The Imagineers is a selection of thoughtful songs about love and life; Battle Hymn for an Army of Lovers tackles social justice themes. Songs from both projects have already won her recognition and awards including: the opportunity to perform twice at Sundance Film Festival’s ASCAP Music Cafe in Park City, UT; the People Music Network’s Social Justice Songs contest at the 2017 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance; and an official showcase at Folk Alliance International 2018 to name a few. Equally at home in an acoustic listening room as she is on stage at large music festivals, as well as a prolific lyricist and composer, Matthews has found inspiration in her surroundings; from driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the compelling and heart-breaking love story of Richard and Mildred Loving. Thoughtful, realistic and emotional, Matthews’ songs speak to the voice of our generation and remind us why music indeed soothes the soul.

HEATHER MAE

Heather Mae writes music for the light seekers and the good-troublemakers. Delivered via explosive vocals over high energy rhythm-heavy piano, her performances are an empowering, on-fire, musical experience that bursts in the chest of every audience member, moved to their core by her passion and message of self-love and social justice. Her 2016 debut album, I AM ENOUGH, reached #58 on iTunes Pop Album charts without the help of a record label and was an announcement to the world: Mae is the next generation of social justice music. In September 2019 she is adding another title to her resume: mental health advocate. Mae has taken her personal struggle with Bipolar Disorder 2 and Depression and turned it into a record, entitled GLIMMER. With this new record and live show, Mae is a magnetic light force and every audience member is transformed with her anthemic message of hope.

Suggested donation: $25 to $30

Reservations at https://mttobyconcerts.wordpress.com

JOHN McCUTCHEON

SOLD OUT

JOHN McCUTCHEON

Thursday – March 7 – 7:30 pm

http://www.folkmusic.com

No one remembers when the neighbors started calling the McCutcheons to complain about the loud singing from young John’s bedroom. It didn’t seem to do much good, though. For, after a shaky, lopsided battle between piano lessons and baseball (he was a mediocre pianist and an all-star catcher), he had “found his voice” thanks to a cheap mail-order guitar and a used book of chords.

From such inauspicious beginnings, John McCutcheon has emerged as one of our most respected and loved folksingers. As an instrumentalist, he is a master of a dozen different traditional instruments, most notably the rare and beautiful hammer dulcimer. His songwriting has been hailed by critics and singers around the globe. His thirty recordings have garnered every imaginable honor including seven Grammy nominations. He has produced over twenty albums of other artists, from traditional fiddlers to contemporary singer-songwriters to educational and documentary works. His books and instructional materials have introduced budding players to the joys of their own musicality. And his commitment to grassroots political organizations has put him on the front lines of many of the issues important to communities and workers.

Even before graduating summa cum laude from Minnesota’s St. John’s University, this Wisconsin native literally “headed for the hills,” forgoing a college lecture hall for the classroom of the eastern Kentucky coal camps, union halls, country churches, and square dance halls. His apprenticeship to many of the legendary figures of Appalachian music imbedded a love of not only home-made music, but a sense of community and rootedness. The result is music…whether traditional or from his huge catalog of original songs…with the profound mark of place, family, and strength. It also created a storytelling style that has been compared to Will Rogers and Garrison Keillor.

The Washington Post described John as folk music’s “Rustic Renaissance Man,” a moniker flawed only by its understatement. “Calling John McCutcheon a ‘folksinger’ is like saying Deion Sanders is just a football player…” (Dallas Morning News). Besides his usual circuit of major concert halls and theaters, John is equally at home in an elementary school auditorium, a festival stage or at a farm rally. He is a whirlwind of energy packing five lifetimes into one. In the past few years alone he has headlined over a dozen different festivals in North America (including repeated performances at the National Storytelling Festival), recorded an original composition for Virginia Public Television involving over 500 musicians, toured Australia for the sixth time, toured Chile in support of a women’s health initiative, appeared in a Woody Guthrie tribute concert in New York City, gave a featured concert at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, taught performance art skills at a North Carolina college, given symphony pops concerts across America, served as President of the fastest-growing Local in the Musicians Union and performed a special concert at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This is all in his “spare time.” His “real job,” he’s quick to point out, is father to two grown sons.

But it is in live performance that John feels most at home. It is what has brought his music into the lives and homes of one of the broadest audiences any folk musician has ever enjoyed. People of every generation and background seem to feel at home in a concert hall when John McCutcheon takes the stage, with what critics describe as “little feats of magic,” “breathtaking in their ease and grace…,” and “like a conversation with an illuminating old friend.” Whether in print, on record, or on stage, few people communicate with the versatility, charm, wit or pure talent of John McCutcheon.

John McCutcheon is not only one of the best musicians in the USA, but also a great singer, songwriter, and song leader. And not just incidentally, he is committed to helping hard-working people everywhere to organize and push this world in a better direction.” — Pete Seeger

“The most impressive instrumentalist I’ve ever heard.” — Johnny Cash

Suggested donation: $25.00 to $30.00

It is highly recommended that you make reservations for this concert. Click on “Reservations” at the top of this page.

THE WHISPERING TREE

THE WHISPERING TREE

Saturday – February 16 – 7:30 pm


www.thewhisperingtree.com

This month, Mount Toby Concerts will present The Whispering Tree, a young and exceptionally talented Franco-American duo. Singer/songwriter Eleanor Kleiner and multi-instrumentalist Elie Brangbour craft richly immersive folk-rock brimming with evocative lyrics, nature imagery, perspectives from travel, and a panoramic musicality that encompasses traditional folk, indie rock, classic rock, and 1960s pop and rock n’ roll. The twosome has garnered favorable comparisons to Cowboy Junkies, Over the Rhine and Aimee Mann.

The pair’s debut, Go Call the Captain, was named “one of the year’s most luminous albums” by The Big Takeover Magazine, and NYC’s The Deli magazine called The Whispering Tree “one of the most talented duos to take stage in NYC.” Other marquee career moments include official showcases at the Northeast and Southwest Regional Folk Alliance Conferences; being Kerrville New Folk finalists and Philadelphia Songwriter’s Project winners and Eleanor and Elie having the honor to lend their voices to Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt’s album, A More Perfect Union.

Their latest album, Invisible Forces explores duality and the struggle for a sense of permanence in the face of inevitable change, inspired by the pair’s new home in the pastoral Hudson Valley. “I found myself taking photos of abandoned places, there’s a peaceful beauty in watching these great man made structures fall back to the earth,” Eleanor shares. Elie adds: “There is beauty in nature reclaiming this ground.” The idea of the transience of the house appears on the impressionistic “These Houses” and the blues-riff driven “This House Is Split in Half.” The latter tune represents fresh turf for The Whispering Tree as the duo integrates a touch of classic rock swagger within its elegant folk-pop. Interesting enough, this bedrock music of the 1960s and 1970s has always been an influence, and prior to the album, The Whispering Tree released several singles re-imagining classic rock tunes as plaintive, harmony driven folk songs.

Suggested donation $10 to $20

Windborne

WINDBORNE

Saturday – June 8 – 7:30 pm

www.windbornesingers.com

Stunningly powerful vocal harmony floods the room as the four Windborne singers present Song on the Times, their project of working class movements for peoples’ rights from the past 400 years, sung for today struggles. The group was catapulted to new heights when clip of them singing in protest outside Trump tower went viral, and their Indiegogo for the project raised 1,600% of its goal from 2,600 people in every State and 22 countries.

Aside from this new project, Windborne has collected and studied polyphonic vocal music for over 15 years from traditional singing masters from cultures around the world, Windborne is able to shift from radically different genres like no band you have ever heard, as comfortable with an improvised Corsican couplet song, as an English ballad.

Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Will Thomas Rowan, Lauren Breunig, and Jeremy Carter-Gordon share a vibrant energy onstage – their connection to each other and to the music clearly evident. They educate as they entertain, telling stories about the music and explaining the characteristics and stylistic elements of the traditions in which they sing.

“The best musical discovery of the year…Stunningly powerful vocal harmony…Windborne sets a new bar for folk harmony singing today” –Brian O’Donovan WGBH, National Public Radio

Links:  Facebook:   Facebook.com/WindborneSingers      Youtube: Youtube.com/WindborneMusic

Suggested donation: $10 to $30

MAGPIE

MAGPIE

Saturday – December 15 – 7:30 pm

With a career that has spanned forty years, Magpie has traveled the globe, bringing its unique sound and breathtaking versatility to audiences everywhere. Award-winning recording artists, songwriters, musical historians and social justice activists, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino always promise a presentation that is highly entertaining as well as provocative and deeply moving.

Magpie performs various folk music styles, including traditional, classic blues, country, jazz and Celtic, as well as songs by musical heroes and “sheroes” such as Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Jean Ritchie, Tom Paxton, Buffy St. Marie and more.

Magpie’s songs touch on historical, cultural and social interests with a large selection focusing on Civil Rights and the environment. Terry and Greg’s sound is that of two very strong voices, one female, one male, in powerful leads and two-part harmony, embellished by Terry’s guitar, harmonica, mandolin and dulcimer. Theirs is a powerful sound, full of passion and fire.

The duo has appeared in national and international demonstrations and protest marches and rallies, sung in jails, on picket lines and churches. Their songs are used today in modern Civil Rights and environmental protection movements, especially Give Light and We Belong to the Earth, which are included in the new group singing songbook, Rise Again, along with six other of their songs.

For more info on Magpie and their music, go to: www.magpiemusic.com
To listen to their songs:  http://magpiemusic.com/videos.html

Suggested donation $20 to $30

Paul Kaplan and Ben Tousley

Saturday – November 17 – 7:30 pm

www.bentousley.com

Ben Tousley is that rare breed of singer-songwriter who brings together the personal, spiritual and political in inspiring concerts with wry storytelling, love songs, incisive political commentary and stiriing anthems. For over 35 years, Ben has brought his lively, engaging programs of songs and stories to folk clubs, colleges, churches, schools and libraries. His seven recordings of original songs have received national ariplay and his programs for children received the Boston Beyond War award “for communicating a clear vision of our richly diverse human family through music.” Ben has toured widely across New England, the East Coast, the South and Midwest, has appeared at festivals such as Boston’s First Night and the Lawrence, Ma Bread and Roses Labor Festival, and numerous coffeehouses and colleges such as Princeton, Tufts, Brandeis and Guilford.

I admire the work of Ben Tousley tremendously.” –Pete Seeger

Ben Tousley’s music is full of heart. His beautiful voice, warm and genuine presence, and thoughtful songwriting, make his concerts a rare treat.” — Jody Kessler, Ecovillage Concert Series, Ithaca, NY


http://www.paulkaplanmusic.com

Musician and songwriter Paul Kaplan has been an enthusiastic participant in the folk music world since the late 1960s. Long associated with Broadside and Fast Folk magazines, Paul’s music is best known through his songs such as “I Had an Old Coat,” “Henry the Accountant,” and “Call Me the Whale”.  Pete Seeger said “I am a big fan of Paul Kaplan. I love his singing; I love his songs.”  Paul has been honored by the inclusion of his songs in two monumental collections produced by Smithsonian Folkways. One of his first songs, “Vietnam,” appears in the Grammy-nominated Best of Broadside. A second song, “King of Hearts,” is featured in Fast Folk—a Community of Singers & Songwriters. And in 2004 “Henry the Accountant” was included in Being Human–Readings from the President’s Council on Bioethics, along with works by Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickinson, Whitman, George Bernard Shaw, etc.

Paul Kaplan has a rare gift for writing and singing songs in the old troubadour tradition. His new CD “After the Fire” is reminiscent of the works of Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers, with beautiful melodies and strong narratives seamlessly crafted into one classic ballad after another. This is the work of a master. — David Massengill

Rod MacDonald

Rod MacDonald

with Mark Dann

Saturday – October 20 – 7:30 pm

http://www.rodmacdonald.net

Rod MacDonald was born in Connecticut and rose to prominence in NYC’s Greenwich Village clubs in the 1980s and 90s, co-founding the Greenwich Village Folk Festival and recording 21 songs now in the Smithsonian Folkways collection. He’s since made 11 solo cds, his songs covered by Shawn Colvin, Jonathan Edwards, Dave Van Ronk, Four Bitchin’ Babes and numerous other singers, and tours throughout North America and Europe. And his work keeps getting better: his 2014 CD, Later That Night, reached #3 on national Roots Music Folk charts in 2015, with the song “Raven” at #1, and his current release, Beginning Again (released June 2018 by Blue Flute Music) prompted WMNF’s DJ Craig Heugel to write “OMG!….This is a truly wonderful CD. Will be featuring it on next week’s show – 2 songs at each of the half hours. Just can’t decide which 4 to play. So many great songs on this.”

A tenor with a clear voice and wide range, MacDonald is often cited for both his musicality and the content of his songs about political and social events: “Rod MacDonald is a brilliant folk singer and composer. His melodic songs possess words that go straight into your heart and soul.” The Press Of Atlantic City … “A poet with a lot on his mind who has never allowed himself to make points at the expense of making music.” The Boston Globe … “True to the folk tradition, MacDonald is not afraid to get political, take chances, and perhaps shock some people….MacDonald’s place in the folk hall of fame is assured by his ‘A Sailor’s Prayer,’ a hymn-styled tune that many people have mistaken for a traditional song.” All-Music Guide.

In December 2014 MacDonald published his first novel, The Open Mike, “a music-driven novel for the ages and a great extension of MacDonald’s already prolific creative output.” …Jonathan Widran, Music Connection Magazine

Now living in south Florida, he’s been named one of “Ten Greatest South Florida Folksingers Of All Time” by New Times, and Fort Lauderdale’s Labyrinth Café—where MacDonald appears in concert each year –notes “his personal commitment to communicating events that have affected and shaped our world’s societies….Rod’s songs will stay in your heart and mind long after the music has ended.”

Mark Dann is the recording engineeer and principal lead guitarist for the Fast Folk Musical Magazine, and has played bass with many artists. He is also the co-producer of 11 of Rod’s CDs. Rod and Mark have been performing together for more than 40 years, including 40+ tours of Europe. 

More info and reservations at: https://mttobyconcerts.wordpress.com


Emma’s Revolution

emma’s revolution
Saturday – September 15 – 7:30 pm

For our first concert of the new season, the inimitable Pat Humphries and Sandy O of emma’s revolution will return to Mount Toby Friends Meeting. Definitely make reservations for this concert if you don’t want to miss it. Tickets are $25 to $30 and will also be available at the door and through PayPal in advance. (Link to PayPal will be posted soon)

Dancing on the edge of folk and pop, there’s a revolution: emma’s revolution. “Bold, profound, moving, hilarious and transformative.” The sound of passion in “deftly-turned phrases,” songs imbued with hope, warmth and the “power and drive” to turn tears into laughter, cynicism into action.

“Fervent and heartfelt” ~The New York Times. Emma’s Revolution is the dynamic, award-winning activist duo of Pat Humphries & Sandy O, whose songs have been sung for the Dalai Lama, praised by Pete Seeger, and covered by Holly Near. Emma’s Revolution has shared the stage with Pete Seeger, Holly Near, Rev Jesse Jackson, Amy Goodman, Indigo Girls, Joan Baez, Rev William Barber and Bill McKibben and have performed at concerts, peace & justice events and mass demonstrations across the country, including the Women’s March Oakland, the Poor People’s Campaign National Demonstration in Washington DC and the #FamiliesBelongTogether Day of Action in San Francisco. 

Emma’s Revolution’s latest CD, Revolution Now garnered top acclaim from radio stations across the country focusing on folk and acoustic music, including Top Artist #20 (just after Joan Baez), Top Album #24 (just after Bela Fleck) and Top Song #25 (just after Rhiannon Giddens) for their song, “Sing People Sing”, a loving tribute to the late Pete Seeger who was a friend and mentor to the duo. Winners of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize and the Phil Ochs Award, their songs have been sung at justice events around the world and their music has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and Pacifica’s “Democracy Now!” www.emmasrevolution.com