Saturday, September 24, 7:30 PM: ROBINSON & ROHE

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“Robinson and Rohe are musician’s musicians. They create a perfect duo – listening, waiting, complimenting each other and adding just what needs to be added to a song at just the right moment.” -Minnesota Public Radio

Robinson & Rohe is the duo of American songwriters Liam Robinson (banjo, accordion, vocals) & Jean Rohe (guitar, vocals). Since the release of their debut record, Hunger, in 2017, they have taken their music all over the US, Switzerland, UK, and Ireland, lighting up venerable folk venues and festivals from Club Passim to The Green Note and opening for Tom Paxton and Anaïs Mitchell along the way. In April 2021 they were the first act to welcome live audiences back to Caffe Lena since the pandemic began.

After a touring hiatus in 2019, during which Liam served as vocal arranger and music director of Anaïs Mitchell’s smash hit Broadway musical Hadestown and Jean released Sisterly, an award-winning record of her own, Robinson & Rohe are set to release a new collection of songs, Wait & See, in 2022, showcasing their skill as producers and arrangers. This record builds on the keen-eyed writing, detailed arrangements, impeccable duo singing, and modern American themes explored in Hunger but takes a new tack with the addition of drums, electric guitars, horn section, and vocal ensemble.

In addition to his central role in the success of Hadestown, Liam was an original cast member of Warhorse on Broadway and a long-time member of the Becca Stevens Band. Jean is a 2022 Brooklyn Arts Council grant recipient. Her record Sisterly won Best Adult Contemporary Album at the 2019 Independent Music Awards. She is perhaps best known for her video single, “National Anthem: Arise! Arise!” an unflinching alternative national anthem which has now been performed and recorded by scores of choirs and artists across the US.

Robinson & Rohe live in Brooklyn, NY.

Tickets: FRONT ROW: $25 in advance; $30 at the door; GENERAL ADMISSION: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Saturday, October 22, 7:30 PM: KEMP HARRIS

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Kemp Harris is a thief, a tease, and a heartbreaker.  He knows too much.  And it’s all right there when he sings. Beautifully there.  He’ll take your breath away.

– Tom Ashbrook, Host of NPR’s On Point

Kemp Harris defies categorization. He is a singer and songwriter, a master weaver of American musical styles. He’s an actor, activist, author, storyteller, and award-winning educator who has taught young public school students for more than 40 years.  

“It’s all about communication,” Kemp says. “Everything I do.”

Born in segregated Edenton, North Carolina, and transplanted to Massachusetts, where he bounced between relatives’ homes, Kemp learned to adapt to whatever world he found himself in – a talent that has come to define him as a person and an artist. He began writing songs at 14 and recording them in college, using a pair of old cassette players to track parts, and has been delighting music lovers ever since with his earthy, soulful creations.

Kemp honed his powerful, intimate performance style in Cambridge’s coffeehouses, developing into a magnetic frontman who has shared stages with artists such as Koko Taylor, Gil Scott-Heron, and Taj Mahal. He has composed original music for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, established a songwriting residency at Boston’s Wang Theater, and recently delivered a series of master classes at Berklee College of Music on the subject of Artists as Activists, alongside Chad Stokes of the band Dispatch and members of the dance troupe Urban Bush Women.

Kemp’s most recent album, Edenton, featuring vocals from the legendary Holmes Brothers, is a modern blues journey that fuses the personal and the political, the sacred and the profane, to haunting effect. Edenton’s title track, a bittersweet valentine to his birthplace, explores a simpler time in a racially-divided town with the clear-eyed grace that is a hallmark of Kemp’s work. Everything he makes is built on a foundation of social awareness and the desire to reflect the world as he sees and experiences it. Whether he’s performing a rousing soul tune backed by a 14-piece orchestra in a grand concert hall or a hushed meditation alone at his piano, Kemp speaks truth the only way he knows how: by baring his soul. Considering the state of the world, it is no wonder Kemp is back on the road playing to the biggest audiences of his life – selling out rooms from Northern New England to New York City and enjoying a wave of new fans who have discovered this seasoned Renaissance man via word of mouth.

“Nobody tries to pigeonhole me,” says a delighted Kemp, clearly thrilled to be taking his career to the next level. “My audience allows me to be myself and do it all.”

This resurgence spans all facets of Kemp’s creative life. On top of his busy concert and storytelling schedule, he recently landed acting roles in the feature film “Bleed for This” and the hit Showtime series “SMILF,” as well as a coveted slot in WGBH/PBS television’s storytelling series “Stories from the Stage.”

Kemp’s powers of observation, his unique gift for shining a light on the modern world and what it means to be alive, have only deepened over a lifetime devoted to the most basic and profound of pursuits: human connection. Whether he’s in the classroom, on a film set, leading a workshop, or performing on the concert stage, “at the end of the day,” Kemp says, “I’m an old black man telling stories and spreading the love.”

Tickets: FRONT ROW: $25 in advance; $30 at the door; GENERAL ADMISSION: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Saturday, November 19, 7:30 pm: BLUE CACTUS

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“If country music is often about familiarity and comfort, this is more like having the rug artfully pulled out from under you without even noticing it.” – CREATIVE LOAFING
“With a high lonesome twang, an Emmylou-like southern drawl, and blistering guitar techniques, Blue Cactus’ new record exercises the honky-tonk muscles to firmly bear the flag for a new generation of classic country practitioners.”-NEW COMMUTE

Blue Cactus, the North Carolina duo of Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez, make Cosmic Americana: a blend of grit, glitz, groove, and twang that evokes a celestial soundscape of mid-century heartbreak. Following their critically acclaimed 2017 debut and a string of singles in 2020 their evolution is made plain on their 2021 sophomore LP, Stranger Again, released on Sleepy Cat Records. The album has received enthusiastic attention from tastemakers including No Depression, American Songwriter, FLOOD Magazine, Talkhouse, and INDY Week among others. Stranger Again is a deep dive into Cosmic American music, with the band taking their sound into ambitious new planes, where country-rock meets light psychedelia as the soaring vocals meet twangy slide guitars and propulsive bass-lines. The otherworldliness of the music is a perfect contrast to their distinctly grounded, human storytelling lyrics. Throughout Stranger Again, they explore loss and longing, self-love and reckoning with personal, political and human struggles. Their finest work yet, Blue Cactus resuscitate a fleeting style of honest-to-goodness country music considered valueless to a “new” country music where songwriting is officiated by financial analysts and teams of marketing plutocrats instead of woebegone troubadours. With a high lonesome twang, an Emmylou-like southern drawl, and blistering guitar techniques, Blue Cactus’ new record Stranger Again exercises the honky-tonk muscles to firmly bear the flag for a new generation of classic country practitioners.

Tickets: FRONT ROW: $25 in advance; $30 at the door; GENERAL ADMISSION: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Saturday, January 21, 7:30 pm: PETER MULVEY

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“Peter Mulvey is one of the most accomplished guitarists you’re ever likely to hear … utterly original … it is nigh on impossible to explain him to the uninitiated … his intelligent and sometimes complex songs engage both hemispheres of the listener’s brain.” – The Irish Examiner

Peter Mulvey has been a songwriter, road-dog, raconteur, and almost-poet since before he can remember. Raised working-class Catholic on the Northwest side of Milwaukee, he took a semester in Ireland and immediately began cutting classes to busk on Grafton Street in Dublin and hitchhike through the country, finding whatever gigs he could. Back stateside, he spent a couple years gigging in the Midwest before lighting out for Boston, where he returned to busking (this time in the subway) and coffeehouses. Small shows led to larger shows, which eventually led to regional and then national and international touring. The wheels have not stopped since.

Nineteen records, an illustrated book, thousands of live performances, a TEDx talk, a decades-long association with the National Youth Science Camp, opening for luminaries such as Ani DiFranco, Emmylou Harris, and Chuck Prophet, appearances on NPR, an annual autumn tour by bicycle, emceeing festivals, hosting his own boutique festival (the Lamplighter Sessions, in Boston and Wisconsin)… Mulvey never stops. He has built his life’s work on collaboration and an instinct for the eclectic and the vital. He folds everything he encounters into his work: poetry, social justice, scientific literacy, & a deeply abiding humanism are all on plain display in his art.

Tickets: FRONT ROW: $25 in advance; $30 at the door; GENERAL ADMISSION: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Saturday, February 25, 7:30 pm: GOODNIGHT MOONSHINE

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Goodnight Moonshine pairs the intimacy and immediacy of the ’90s with the sonic explosion of the ’60s. Molly Venter (Red Molly) is a viscerally potent singer, à la Fiona Apple and Tracy Chapman, whose songwriting is redemptive and playful. Consummate musician and producer Eben Pariser (Roosevelt Dime), is a devotee of Ray Charles, Wes Montgomery, The Beatles, and The Band. Courageous unveiling and depth of experience make the collaboration between married couple Molly Venter and Eben Pariser addictively captivating.  

Molly Venter’s voice bends from a sweet moan to a gritty shout and back into a playful run in the space of a few bars and “it all goes down like silk,” writes American Songwriter Magazine – “few singers turn first-time listeners into eternal fanatics as effortlessly as Molly Venter.” The potency of her voice is surrounded and supported by a lush landscape of orchestration, and improvisation created by Eben. The couple uses the creative process to explore a healthy authentic relationship. Both wholesome and irreverent, songs of grief and joy in equal measure; Molly gives smooth delivery to Eben’s energy while Eben gives form and focus to Molly’s passion. 

This musical marriage encourages us to embrace opposing desires, to challenge and support each other through inspiration and dissolution- all while totally killing a live show. 

Venter’s voice has caught the ear of industry giants and has been prominently featured on FOX television, Apple Computers and in Warner Brothers films.  Molly and Eben’s Co-write “Willow Tree” was a #1 hit on the folk charts in 2014 and was featured in USA Today. Consummate performers, Molly and Eben have also appeared nationally and internationally, with their respective bands Red Molly and Roosevelt Dime.

Tickets: FRONT ROW: $25 in advance; $30 at the door; GENERAL ADMISSION: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.