Past Artists

November 17, 2012

"The Bal du Kor house concert here was fascinating and trance-inducing. The interplay between the percussionists with a full armament of foreign instruments was virtuosic and captivating.  The kora stole the show at times, with its harp-like sounds, in the hands of a master..."

—Robert Cowart,

(host of Hillside Concerts in Berkeley following the group's February 5th, 2011 performance)

Three veteran performers/composers/recording artists join forces to create an enchanting fusion of traditional and original West African melodies and rhythms.

The heart of this dynamic and captivating ensemble are the indigenous instruments balafon (marimba), dun-dun (talking drum), and kora (harp), uniquely combined with alto flute, ukulele, melodica, djembe, djun-djuns, shekere, bells, tambourine, and vocals.

The band's emotional range spans from the delicate and longing to the inspiring and ecstatic, while their collective cosmopolitan backgrounds give birth to unpredictable musical excursions. 

Bal du Kor are:

Michael Smolens: balafon, djun-djuns, shakers, bell, dumbek, tambourine, alto flute, melodica, vocals

Brian Rice: djembe, dun-dun, udu, shekere, bell, pandeiro, congas, cajon, dumbek, riqq, ocean drum, vocals

Daniel Berkman: kora, djembe, bell, tambourine, ukulele, vocals

January 27, 2013

"Pollyanna writes musically sophisticated and honest songs which she sings with an impossibly beautiful voice."

- Bonnie Hayes, Singer/Songwriter/Producer

It took two years of writing and nine months of production, but when Pollyanna Bush came out of the studio with her debut album, Dying to Be Born, she knew it was well worth it. "While in production, I had concerns that the songs were too different from each other, that they cut across too many genres. But each song had it's own personality, and insisted on having it's way with me and all the musicians. I'm glad we stayed true to our instincts, since everyone's saying they love that my CD is such an eclectic variety of sounds and emotional experiences."

And is it ever! From her first track, with the tale of two lovers being purified in the crucible of love, to her last, of discovering that all along she has been the lotus flower of perfection she has sought, Pollyanna's wisdom, passion, and sophisticated musical expression shines through.

Dying to be Born is a journey in the truest sense of the word. It is a tale of love and loss, redemption and joy. "Every moment in the album is both intensely personal and universal," Pollyanna says. "I'm always touched and amazed by the varying interpretations that I hear of my songs and feel that I have done my job as an artist when upon hearing the CD, listeners can make it their own personal journey, not just mine."


"Great message in a vivid, deftly expressed package…incredible live!"

-Rosalie Howarth, Acoustic Sunrise, KFOG FM

Mokai takes a deep knowledge of roots music and adds a dose of contemporary attitude. He's becoming known for his authentic folk-blues picking and eclectic originals. On his new studio album for 2012 "Any Distraction'll Do", he moves from playful to somber, working from a palette of musical and lyrical ideas. Mokai's bag of tricks includes character driven story-songs and Americana inspired originals. He rounds things out with guitar instrumentals, slide guitar and fresh interpretations of traditional folk-blues.

In 2012 he performed in many intimate listening spaces, including house concert series and art houses, such as The Subterranean Arthouse in Berkeley, and The Red Poppy and The Lost Church in San Francisco. His guitar style and technique was mentioned in the January 2013 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, in an article on Northern California guitarists, including Jackie Green, Garrin Benfield, James Nash and Nina Gerber.

His roots sound can best be compared to songwriters like John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, with an original guitar style that echoes his deep connection to the playing of seminal folk artist like Big Bill Broonzy and Dave Van Ronk.

Mokai's music is intended especially for acoustic music lovers.

March 16, 2013

"Michael Smolens is one of the premiere composer/arrangers in the Bay Area"

Doug Edwards (KPFA Airtime & BAJABA Showcase Host)

This trio features the most flexible string instrument of all, the cello. Yet, how many cellists can not only play gorgeous melodies, but also improvise bass lines, chords, overtones, slapping, and solo like a sax?  And how many are masters of live sampling that create rich, multi-layered textures and loops ? When you combine this stellar cellist with two other veteran multi-instrumentalists and composers, you've got an ensemble that effortlessly bridges the gap between jazz & classical styles, world music & free improvisation, acoustic & electronic sensibilities.

Michael Smolens—composer/arranger, piano, keyboard, melodica, alto flute,  West-African balafon (marimba), live sampling, voice

Brian Rice—congas, djembe, pandeiro, cymbals, cajon, dun-dun, ocean drum, bells, dumbek, shakere, voice

Sam Bass—cello, live sampling

Michael's West-African trio Bal du Kor was the inaugural group for this concert series.

Bill Evans presents The Banjo in America 

June 30, 2013

Tracing the banjo from its West African roots to the New World, Evans performs musical examples from the 1700’s to the present day on a variety of vintage instruments, ranging from an African ekonting to a mid-19th century minstrel banjo, a modern bluegrass banjo and even an electric banjo. From an 18th century African dance tune to the music of the Civil War, and from early 20th century ragtime to folk and bluegrass banjo styles to Bill’s own incredible original music, Bill’s performances illuminate as well as entertain, exposing audiences to over 250 years of American music.

Bill Evans is an internationally known five-string banjo life force. As a performer, teacher, writer, scholar and composer, he brings a deep knowledge, intense virtuosity and contagious passion to all things banjo, with thousands of music fans and banjo students from all over the world in a career that spans over thirty-five years.

Over a thirty-five year performing career, Bill has performed with David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Dry Branch Fire Squad and many others. He is the author of Banjo For Dummies, the most popular banjo book in the world. His latest CD In Good Company has topped international folk and bluegrass charts and was named to many “Best of 2012” lists. You can learn more about Bill by visiting or see video by visiting

August 11, 2013

 A special event for kids!

In their own words: We are... musicians and educators that all have lots of experience with children, alongside our musical careers. We decided to pool our talents and our puppets and created Octopretzel - an interactive, engaging, and super-fun experience for kids (and their parents too)!

We are five Bay Area musicians who all have extensive experience working with children. Four of us have kids of our own, and all of us are educators in an array of environments including schools, afterschool programs, private lessons, and group music classes. What we teach ranges from instrument instruction to childrens' theater, from puppet making to pre-natal bellydance, from drum classes to Jewish education, and more! We have been together since 2007, and have played extensively around the Bay Area. Our intention with Octopretzel is to create music that is truly enjoyable for families...not just kids.

Our music, comprised of original songs as well as tried and true traditional favorites, is whimsical and fun, and has an underlying sensitivity for nature, feelings and story. Best described as folk music, it crosses generations and genres, weaving together styles such as bluegrass, rock and roll, lullabies and even nursery rhymes. Our shows integrate elements of many cultures such as African drumming, klezmer fiddling, middle-eastern percussion and singing styles, and songs with words in Spanish, Hebrew and even Quechua. We perform regularly for Jewish organizations, events, and holidays, and have also done shows comprised entirely of Christmas carols. Our priority is to make our music accessible to all of our listeners.

August 22, 2013

The Onlies play original and traditional fiddle-driven music, with Celtic, old-time American, and Canadian roots. Members Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno, and Samantha Braman are Garfield High freshmen who’ve literally played together since birth. Singing and playing fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and piano, they have developed a strong fan base throughout the Pacific Northwest, performing concerts, square and contra dances, and pub gigs from Port Townsend to Portland, Ore. Since 2011 they have been thrilled to have RuthMabel Boytz, a fantastic string bass player, joining them for dances and other projects.

in their own words…

We hail from Seattle, playing gigs in places such as the ACT Theater,  Northwest Folklife, A Terrible Beauty, Lake City Contra Dance, and many other venues.

We sing original songs, play several different kinds of traditional fiddle music, write our own tunes, put new spins on tunes that need spinning, and keep it trad when the tune is fine on its own.

We have been a band since we were all were very young and although we all know each other’s moods and moves, there is no doubt in our minds that we will keep playing together long into the future.

We’ve just finished our first full-length album, “Setting Out to Sea.” The CD features six original songs and tunes, plus traditional and contemporary selections showing off each of their personal strengths and passions: Old-time for Riley, Irish for Leo, and Scottish/Cape Breton (Canada) for Samantha. We released an EP in 2011, “The Day That Never Was.”

Trio Lampejo

November 8, 2013

Trio Lampejo features a brilliant young musician, Almir Côrtes from Brazil on mandolin and guitar, and the Bay Area’s own, Ricardo Peixoto on guitar and Brian Rice on pandeiro and percussion, this concert will feature compositions by both Almir and Ricardo as well as some new arrangements of old favorites. Both Ricardo and Almir’s music is rooted in traditional Brazilian sounds, and both have a gift in stretching those boundaries. It was this idea that was the inspiration for creating Trio Lampejo. “What an honor to play with these two great players and composers and to see how they rework and reinterpret their music for this ensemble” says percussionist Brian Rice. “They both are coming from such interesting places compositionally. I really wanted to hear what happens when they get together.”

Almir Côrtes

Almir Côrtes, an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and educator from Bahia-Brazil plays mandolin, guitar, cavaquinho and viola caipira. Though he is a very well rounded player, Mr. Côrtes is a brilliant choro musician, and has shown promise as rising star of the style. Mr. Côrtes is on the faculty of the 2012 Mandolin Symposium. He received his undergraduate diploma in classical guitar from UFBA (Federal University of Bahia), and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in popular music performance from UNICAMP (State University of Campinas). He has been a visiting scholar at the Jazz Studies Department at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, and has played professionally and held workshops all over Brazil, In the United States and in Europe. Among his most important performances are the Latin Music and Culture Celebration (Berklee College of Music), XIV Festival de Música Instrumental da Bahia, The Mandolin Symposium 2011, Lotus World Music & Arts festival and Virada Cultural Paulista. Mr. Côrtes is currently a visiting scholar at San Francisco State University.

Ricardo Peixoto

Originally from Rio de Janeiro and based in the Bay Area, guitarist/composer Ricardo Peixoto is among the top representatives of Brazilian guitar in the US today. His fluid melodic style and keen compositional sense explore Brazil’s rich and diverse traditions, both in his original work as well as in arrangements of Brazilian classics. He has recorded, performed, and collaborated with, among others, Claudia Villela, Flora Purim and Airto, saxophonist Bud Shank, percussionist Dom Um Romão, Toots Thielemans, Dori Caymmi, Guinga, guitarist Carlos Oliveira, Marcos Silva and Terra Sul. He has performed throughout the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and Brazil.

Brian Rice

Brian Rice received his B.M. in Percussion and Ethnomusicology from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and is an acclaimed performer, educator and recording artist adept at numerous musical styles. Brian is known as one of the “go to” players of the Brazilian pandeiro. Brian's obsession with the pandeiro has led him to study with Luis Guello, Marcos Suzano, Airto, Claudio Bueno and Clarice Magalhaes, and his prowess on the instrument has led him to perform with numerous Brazilian artists including, Jovino Santos Neto, Paulo Sergio Santos, Danilo Brito, Dudu Maia, Alessandro Penezzi, and Jorge Alabe. It was studies with Marcos Suzano that inspired Brian to expand his use of the pandeiro outside the Brazilian music world and apply it to Balkan, Celtic, Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Cuban music with great effect. Brian teaches percussion and ukulele at Musically Minded Academy, and is a freelance percussionist in the Bay Area. Brian currently performs with Choro Famoso, Wake the Dead, the PickPocket Ensemble, Cascada de Flores, Earplay Jazz Quintet, Grupo Samba Rio, the Berkeley Choro Ensemble, and many others.

February 22, 2014

Over six albums the prolific, honey-voiced Brooklyn, NY singer-songwriter Clarence Bucaro has crafted an impressive canon of uplifting Americana, garnering comparisons to Jackson Browne and Van Morrison. With his new album “Dreaming From the Heart of New York” he returns to the musical grounds he began on. Once again teaming with Grammy winning New Orleans virtuoso Anders Osborne on the production reigns, Bucaro’s new album is a stripped down, back to the basics collection of songs about life, love, family and relationships. Featuring intimate lyrics and bare acoustic guitar picking Bucaro reflects on his arrival to New York City and raising children there on the standout title track as well as pondering the nature and meaning of love in the raw “Don’t Know Much About Love.” Other high points include the heartbroken homesick “Curtis Mayfield” and the beautiful “Summer Rain.”

The songwriter built his career on a robust 300-shows-per-year schedule sharing stages with such diverse and established artists as Aaron Neville, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, North Mississippi Allstars, and Fountains of Wayne. Born in Cleveland, Ohio Clarence left his hometown for New Orleans to follow his mentor, the Crescent City music icon Anders Osborne. From New Orleans he moved to LA before settling in Brooklyn. The stories in these journeys are documented from early critically acclaimed albums like his Anders Osborne-produced debut Sweet Corn and his Rounder Records sophomore album Sense Of Light to the National Geographic featured Walls Of The World. His musical journey has sought to capture the human condition in the folk-storytelling heritage with a panoramic view of humanity and love as captured on “Dreaming From the Heart of New York.”

Real Vocal String Quartet began with violinist Irene Sazer’s inspiration to combine her musical passions: chamber music, improvising, composing, and singing. With violinist Alisa Rose, violist Dina Maccabee, and cellist Jessica Ivry, Sazer’s vision sparked the creation of a truly collaborative ensemble that freely mixes and ultimately transcends genres.

RVSQ’s surprisingly broad repertoire embraces the diverse influences of all four players, from classical, jazz, and rock, to songs and styles from West Africa, Brazil, and rural America. Yet while four distinct voices can be heard, in seven years of performing together, the Quartet has achieved a true group sound.

Irene Sazer

Irene Sazer is an improvising violinist, composer, arranger, and singer whose unique style combines world and roots music with classical, jazz, and pop sensibilities. Known internationally as a founding member of the Turtle Island String Quartet, Sazer’s career has encompassed success as a concerto soloist, a concertmaster, an established recording artist, and a recognized educator of music and improvisation. She founded and directs the School of Strings and String Improvisation in Berkeley, California. Sazer’s own recording First Things First highlights her original voice as a singer and songwriter. An in-demand genre-hopping violinist, Irene has recorded and/or performed with Jai Uttal, Ali Akbar Khan, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, Smoky Robinson, David Grisman, Linda Rondstadt, Bjork, Maria Marquez, and Billy Joel. Passionate about combining her musical interests in new ways, Sazer continues to push boundaries, exploring the world with her violin, her voice, and her imagination.

Alisa Rose

A presence on the Bay Area’s classical, bluegrass, and creative music stages, Alisa Rose has performed with diverse artists including including with the Keisa Duo at Carnegie Hall, with A.J. Roach and the Strange Pilgrims on PBS’s Song of the Mountains, at TEDx Alcatraz with Bob Weir, and with Quartet San Francisco on NPR’s Weekend Edition, and with the bluegrass band 49 Special at the 2009 Rockygrass Festival where they took first prize in the band competition in 2008. Alisa was a member of Quartet San Francisco from 2008 – 2012 who were nominated for a Grammy in 2009. Alisa received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chamber Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied with Camilla Wicks and Bettina Mussumeli. Other performance highlights include appearances with Martha Katz, Bauhaus, Michelle Shocked, Anais Mitchell, Ana Egge, and Josh Ritter. Alisa has arranged or composed pieces for Quartet San Francisco, the Clubfoot Orchestra, 49 Special, and Strings Letter Publishing. Alisa teaches young violinists at the SF Friend’s School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music preparatory department.

Dina Maccabee

Dina Maccabee performs with some of the Bay Area’s most eclectic ensembles as a violist, violinist, and vocalist. Dina’s albums of original music include Who Do You Suppose You Are? (Antephonic, 2010) and three CDs with the collaborative duo Ramon and Jessica (Porto Franco, 2011). She has performed across the U.S., Russia and Europe with Beth Custer’s live film score project, My Grandmother, and songwriter Vienna Teng. In 2009 she was music director of Fire Throws for New York’s Ripe Time Theater and Jewlia Eisenberg’s Charming Hostess. Active on stage or in the studio with Wilco, Donovan, Sufjan Stevens, Tin Hat, Vetiver, The Cuts, Vienna Teng, Spencer Day, Morning Benders, Thao and Mirah, and Carla Bozulich, Dina has composed scores for Shotgun Players, Just Theater, and several San Francisco filmmakers. An alumna of the Henry Mancini Institute and University of Michigan School of Music, Dina teaches youth and adult string players in San Francisco. She was recently selected for a composer’s residency at Byrdcliffe Arts Colony.

Jessica Ivry

In addition to holding down the groove in Real Vocal String Quartet, cellist Jessica Ivry plays with avant-cabaret composer and singer Amy X Neuburg & the Cello ChiXtet. An instructor of music at College of Marin, Jessica has also toured with the Beth Custer Ensemble, singer-songwriter Vienna Teng, and Balkan women’s choir Kitka. For San Francisco company A Traveling Jewish Theatre, Jessica scored and performed original music for The Bright River, a hip-hop retelling of Dante’s Inferno (2005), and Death of a Salesman (2007). Jessica is featured on the Grammy nominated album Blueprint of a Lady by jazz vocalist Nneena Freelon. In summers 2008 and 2009, Jessica performed in Poland and Ukraine with The Ark Project, an ensemble of Bay Area and New York Klezmer and Balkan musicians that has been featured on Spark, KQED public television’s series highlighting independent Bay Area artists. Jessica holds degrees from Skidmore College and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Critically acclaimed guitarist Lee Waterman's Caliente Trio performs songs by the great Brazilian, Latin, and Jazz masters; including  Carlos Jobim, Tito Puente, Miles Davis and Sergio Mendes. Their playlist also encompasses Lee's original compositions and gems from Gershwin, Ellington & Cole Porter.

Lee Waterman - Guitar

Lee is a longtime Bay Area bandleader whose groups have performed for the San Francisco Symphony Gala at Davies Hall and the de Young Museum's "Friday Nights at the de Young" series.  Other Bay Area appearances include San Jose Jazz Festival, Yoshi's, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society. In addition he has recorded several solo albums and opened for Tito Puente, Pancho Sanchez, and Hermeto Pascoal among others.

Dan Foltz - Drums

Dan has played drums professionally for the past 18 years including tours and recordings with Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Linda Perry (former leader of multi-platinum rock group the 4 Non Blondes), and Black Lab. Dan also toured the US and Europe with Grammy winning artist Shelby Lynne as well as appearing on the Jools Holland show, and TFIF Friday in England. He's also worked with Alex Derassi, Jon Evans, Quique Cruz, Emily Bezar, Susie Suh and Noelle Hampton. In addition to Dan's considerable performing and recording credits he's an accomplished percussion and piano teacher; including several years at the SF Community Music Center and the Presidio Hill School. Dan also teaches private lessons and ensembles at his studio in Alameda CA.

Loren Linnard - Keyboards

Loren Linnard received his Bachelors in music composition from Indiana University - and has written an opera and several musicals.  He has performed with a number of Bay Area orchestras, including the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Napa Valley Symphony; and performs on keyboards, flute and vocals with a variety of pop, jazz, latin, and gospel groups.

August 24, 2014

Featuring Jeff Stein, John Storie and Perry Smith, New West has been making their mark as a fresh, cutting-edge guitar ensemble. Performing popular covers and original music, New West combines the acoustic and electric guitar to create their signature sound. Based in Los Angeles and New York, NW tours extensively throughout the United States giving concerts and masterclasses.

Praised as “sharp and refined” by the Seattle Times, New West Guitar Group infuses its latest disc "Big City" with its signature blend of laid-back virtuosity and expert arrangements that “sometimes verge on the orchestral” (All Music Guide).

Firmly rooted in classic jazz, the trio’s versatility as both players and composers has given them a reputation as pioneers in the realm of guitar ensemble repertoire. Acoustic Guitar Magazine has praised the group for its ability to shift seamlessly “from chamber-like elegance and fragile introspection to exhilarating swing and gritty blues.”

“The group’s creativity in not being afraid to stretch boundaries is helping to forge a new area of music...” Vintage Guitar

Friday, September 26, 2014

To listen to Jim Hurst is to be amazed by his tasteful and flawless performances. Perfect timing, tone and his unusual picking style has enchanted guitar players from the novice to his peers. His eclectic career has made him a remarkable performer, an experienced instructor and a highly sought after session musician.

The product of a musical family, Jim honed his musical style after being influenced by the likes of Tony Rice, Clarence White and Jerry Reed. Itching to play more bluegrass, Jim joined the Grammy-nominated Claire Lynch Front Porch String Band in 1995 where he teamed up with kindred spirit bassist Missy Raines. Later, Jim and Missy’s duo show earned them IBMA Guitar and Bass Player of the Year for 2001 and 2002.

With four solo works to his credit, Open Window, Second Son, A Box of Chocolates and Intrepid, Jim’s virtuosity shines AGAIN on his new CD, Looking Glass; deft finger work, melodic mastery and smooth vocals. Jim performs his solo show full time and teaches at guitar workshops and music camps in North America and Europe and as time allows, is a member of the David Grisman FolkJazz Trio.

“Jim Hurst has no problem being a one-man band. In my opinion, he’s one of the best ever. He doesn’t rely on gimmicks or tricks, just good old solid pickin’, heart-felt singin’ and wonderfully tasteful arrangements of engaging songs that you probably haven’t heard before... As a member of my FolkJazz Trio he provides everything this mandolin player needs from a guitarist and singer — whether soloing or accompanying.”  David Grisman,("Dawg"), June 2014

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Goodnight Moonshine is a collaboration of songwriters Molly Venter of the chart-topping Americana group Red Molly, and Eben Pariser of the explosive Brooklyn quintet Roosevelt Dime. Steeped in the 90's alternative music of their youth, Goodnight Moonshine plays modern folk music with brazen vocals and roots & blues guitar. Imagery-rich stories and bold melodies create a sound that is both celebratory and mournful, reminding the listener of what it felt like to fall in love with a band for the first time.

Molly Venter has been making music professionally since 2004, has released 4 solo albums and toured extensively. Her early music was featured on Warner Brothers ski movie "Impact", as well as promotional Jeep material (2005 &06).  Love Me Like You Mean it (2008) was distributed by Barnes & Noble and featured on over 400 listening stations across the country. Two songs from the album appear on all in-store Apple computers for listeners to peruse. Venter also co-wrote and performed the closing credits song in the 2012 indie-film "Audrey". Her songwriting has earned her placings in the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Contest and Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriter Showcase.

In the 18 months following the release of Love Me Like You Mean It, Venter spent many a night sleeping in her Honda Element and played over 300 shows. Among those shows were several opening spots for the female-Americana trio Red Molly. When the band asked her to join the line-up in 2010 Venter was positively thrilled.  Having lived in Idaho, California, Mexico, and Austin, TX for 7 years, Venter is now adjusting to life in Brooklyn. Her newest project- a duo with Eben Pariser of Roosevelt Dime, is called Good Night Moon Shine.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hiroya Tsukamoto is a guitarist and composer originally from Kyoto, Japan. He began playing banjo when he was thirteen years old. In 2000, he received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and came to the US. Since then, he has been performing internationally including several appearances with his group at Blue Note in New York and released five albums as a leader. Hiroya has developed unique acoustic music which is sometimes described as "Cinematic acoustic music" He recently performed on Japanese National Television.

"...chops, passion and warmth. Zealously recommended!"   -Jazz

“HiroyaTsukamoto plays with fluid mastery, pristine tone, and great warmth. " -Celine Keating (author / Acoustic Guitar Magazine / minor7th)

"HiroyaTsukamoto takes us to an impressionistic journey " -Boston Herald

Hiroya Tsukamoto is a one of a kind composer, guitarist and singer-songwriter from Kyoto, Japan. He began playing the five-string banjo when he was thirteen, and took up the guitar shortly after. In 1994, Hiroya entered The Osaka University and while at college in Japan, Hiroya was introduced to a musical and social movement in South America called Nueva Cancion headed by musical legends such as Victor Jara and Violeta Parra.

In 2000, Hiroya received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and came to the United States. He is also the recipient of the Professional Music Achievement Award. Hiroya completed a debut album entitiled "The Other Side of the World" with his band INTEROCEANICO and released in 2004. His composition entitled "El Otro Lado del Mundo" was nominated as the finalist of The USA Songwriting Competition 2004 and "Samba de Siempre" in 2005, also "Seventh Night" is the finalist of International Acoustic Music Award in 2006. Hiroya released his second album entitled "Confluencia" in 2006 and the third album"Where the River Shines" in 2008.

Hiroya has been leading concerts with his group including several appearances at Blue Note in New York and he performed with Esperanza Spalding, Marta Gomez, Kendrick Scott(The Crusadors), Pete Kennedy(The Kennedys) and Dave Maxwell(Muddy Waters Band).

Hiroya's recent album is "Heartland" which was released in August 2012 from 333discs. In October 2012, Hiroya did four days live performances on Japan Public TV(NHK) program "El Mundo". .

Saturday, December 3, 2016

While many an American jazz singer flirts with the Brazilian Songbook, San Francisco vocalist Sandy Cressman made a name for herself as a true devotee of the country’s greatest contemporary composers, interpreting songs by post-bossa masters like Milton Nascimento, Hermeto Pascoal, Gilberto Gil, and Filó Machado in Rio-accented Portuguese. The friendships forged with Brazilian musicians during her musical travels course through her captivating new album Entre Amigos, a project that marks a major new chapter for Cressman as a tunesmith. Entre Amigos features a gorgeous array of new songs created with a far-flung cast of collaborators, including the celebrated Pernambuco frevo composer/bandleader Spok, rising Brazilian-American guitarist Ian Faquini, pianist/composer Jovino Santos Neto, and pianist Antonio Adolfo, a Brazilian jazz master who got his start at the center of Rio’s early 1960s bossa nova scene.

January 11, 2017

San Diego based, Astra Kelly is a pure talent with a lyric-based, melodic sound and soaring vocals. Her performances are passionate, full of energy and a powerful expression of her art and sound. Eclectic in style and genre, her original music draws from her soulful Chicago roots fused with indie folk and americana. She’s toured the country extensively and has released seven records on her own label.

"Kelly’s return to her acoustic roots, following a string of full-band rock-oriented recordings, brings to the forefront her propensity for writing lyrics with substance and depth of life’s struggles and victories, while conveying some light-hearted and thought-provoking narratives throughout." - Wayne Riker, The San Diego Troubadour

"Astra is astralicious! Spooky astra-nomical-vocaology lovecicle raindrops." - Steve Poltz, San Diego Local Legend

Guitarist and composer Lee Waterman's Latin jazz ensemble, Jazz Caliente, percolates with infectious Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms. Lee founded the band in 1989 as a vehicle for his original compositions and his unique arrangements of songs by the great Jazz and Latin masters, including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Tito Puente, and Sergio Mendes.

Lee Waterman - Guitarist, Composer, Producer

Lee is originally from New York, where his early interest in music was nurtured by his grandmother, a locally prominent classical pianist. At the age of nine he studied drums and later played in the school band. In his late teens, Lee took up guitar and Latin percussion. For the next several years he studied jazz guitar and music theory with internationally known guitarist and author, Warren Nunes. This strong foundation in the classic jazz styles plus the multicultural influences of percussion studies forged his eclectic compositional style. Among his credits, Lee has led several Bay-Area based combos throughout the last two decades, has performed with sax great John Handy, and opened for many headliners, including Tito Puente and Pancho Sanchez

Alex Murzyn - Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute and Clarinet

Alex is a without doubt one of the finest reed men on the West Coast. He has appeared or recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Freddy Hubbard, Arturo Sandoval, Stanley Clarke, Huey Lewis and the News, Bobby Hutcherson, Sammy Davis Jr., Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, Ray Charles, The Temptaions, The Ojays, Johnny Mathis, Tito Puente, and Tommy Igoe.

Tommy Kesecker-Vibraphone and Percussion

Tommy graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and currently records and tours internationally with world renown group Zakir Hussain and the Rhythm Experience. Other recent projects include "the Different Drums and Percussion Group", which performs for and educates local children. Tommy has appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival and Russian River Jazz Festival as well as a variety of concert venues throughout the U.S. and beyond.

Bill Lanphier - Electric and Accoustic Bass

First a pianist and then a drummer, Bill Lanphier switched to bass at the age of 19. His playing has been heard on hundreds of international radio and TV commercials. Bill has recorded with the Rippingtons, Richard Carpenter, Harry Chapin, and Stephen Stills. He's performed live with Madonna (the 1985 Virgin Tour and Live Aid), Tom Scott, Kenny G, David Foster, Michael Bolton, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Art Garfunkle, Linda Ronstadt, and Rickie Lee Jones. Also a writer and educator, Bill's work has been published in Bass Player, Bass Guitar, Bassics, Bass Musician, World Book Encyclopedia, and Hal Leonard music publications. His playing and compositions are featured on the highly-acclaimed and top-selling instructional video, "The Slap Bass Program."

Bill Belasco - Drums

Bill's energetic and propulsive style is beautifully balanced by his impeccable sense of timing and sound color. After taking up drums at the age of three, He played in various school groups and orchestras, eventually going on the road with The Graduates, a brass rock band that toured throughout the U.S. and Canada. Bill eventually settled in the Bay Area. Over the years, his mastery of samba, bossa nova and baiao rhythms of Brazil, as well as many Afro-Cuban, jazz, and popular idioms, has made him one of the top drummers on the San Francisco music scene. He's performed with such diverse groups as Majestic Swing, The Sharmen Duran Trio, The Dave Miller Trio, the Pickle Family Circus, and the Mike Vax Big Band.

Michaelle Goerlitz - Percussion

Since her arrival in 1980 to San Francisco, Michaelle has been enjoying, absorbing and contributing to the Bay Area's musical richness. She has played, recorded and toured with a variety of artists including Soul Sauce, the Snake Trio, Lichi Fuentes, Rhiannon, Patrick Palomo, John Worley, Jami Sieber, Tammy Hall, Voz do Brasil, Novo Tempo and Bossa 5-0. She was also a founding member of Wild Mango.

The past few years she has also been involved in teaching percussion and drums at such schools as Elmhurst Middle School (Oakland), San Francisco School, San Francisco Friends School and Washington Elementary (Richmond), with children ages 8-14. She draws from her variety of percussive experiences (drumset, congas and other hand drums) to share and have fun with them!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"...beautiful rapport...judicious violin...Frechette and Thomsen maintain absolute harmony while jumping from genre to genre...fascinating undertones and range...phenomenal guitar playing...prodigious players (with) songwriting that sets them apart..."    

— Penguins Eggs

 Meeting via a chance YouTube sighting and fueled by their undeniable musical chemistry, eclectic Roots-Folk songwriters Dan Frechette, guitar/harmonica/vocals, and Laurel Thomsen, violin/vocals, prove that musical magic is not only possible, but “a match made in heaven” (Monterey Herald). Lyrically refreshing and musically diverse, since meeting in person in early 2013, this Canadian-American duo has been making up for lost time. Logging over 150 concerts per year throughout the U.S. and Canada since then, they have already released three radio charting albums of their diverse and uplifting original material. Dan and Laurel “take to the stage with exuberance”... and with “their energy, winsome personalities, and toe tapping rhythms, keep audiences engaged with every song” (Carlin Hall Newsletter, Tappen, British Columbia).

Dan Frechette, Canadian entertainer, multi-instrumentalist, uncanny impressionist, and prolific singer-songwriter, is a musical force. With over 1300 songs across a impressive range of acoustic genres, and including the The Duhks’ hit singles "The Mists of Down Below" and “You Don’t See It”, Dan was signed to EMI publishing at 17. Since then he has  released over 25 albums of original material, and has been performing high-energy, soulful concerts throughout North America and Europe since 1992. Dan’s prolific output, iconic voice, and under-the-radar career path have led many luminaries to sing his songs and share their stages. Dan has opened for the likes of Dar Williams, Richard Thompson, Ron Sexsmith, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, and Iian Matthews of Fairport Convention. “Dan Frechette has never written a song I don’t like” says Ismaila Alfa of CBC Radio. Dan has played most major folk festivals over the course of his career, including the Winnipeg, Edmonton, Trout Forest, Mariposa, and Stan Rogers Festivals, and the Suwanee Springfest. He is considered one of Canada's best performers on acoustic guitar and harmonica, inspiring the career paths of many up-and-coming singer-songwriters now touring internationally.

Laurel Thomsen, California born genre-bending violinist, composer, published author, and respected educator, has performed classically and with a variety of bands and artists since 1998. With a rich and expressive violin tone and an interpretive style that can both rock a solo or add backup texture and groove, Laurel is frequently sought for her ability to add depth and emotion to diverse styles of music. Penguin Eggs Magazine called her “a terrific violinist and accompanist.” Dubbed the “Hookmeister” by one Bay Area recording engineer, her knack for creating infectious melodies has saved more than one person’s song from the studio chopping block. Also an emerging songwriter and singer with a “remarkable singing voice” (Monterey Herald), Laurel enjoys exploring universal topics and life’s questions through song. Creator and host of the popular Violin Geek Podcast since 2010, the author of several multi-media string playing technique guides, a longtime Strings magazine contributor, and since 1996, a dedicated private, Skype, and workshop lessons instructor to violin, viola, and fiddle students around the world, Laurel is passionate about not only sharing her music on stage, but helping others find their musical expression.

Abbie Gardner / Jon Paul 

January 21, 2018

You may know her as the member of Red Molly who wears her guitar a little funny, but Abbie (and her dobro) will be on a solo tour with guitarist Jon Paul. The combination promises to be an evening ranging from mellow acoustic singer-songwriter to high powered blues and soul. 

Abbie Gardner, the fiery Dobro player with an infectious smile toured with Americana darlings Red Molly for eleven years. After gracing stages from Denver to Denmark, from Australia to Austin, the band took an indefinite hiatus in 2015, so Abbie is having a blast doing gigs with different bands, backing up her friends and stepping out into the spotlight for her own gigs!  No stranger to solo performing, she has three CDs to draw from, each with award-winning songs.  Tales of love and loss, both gritty and sweet, ride the back of her by-now familiar, formidable slide guitar licks. She channels Lucinda and Bonnie, but remains pure Abbie.  Her first songbook was published in December 2016 and shes looking forward to releasing a new solo CD in Jan 2018.

Jon Paul, a 2008 Berklee College of Music graduate, studied songwriting and guitar performance, but has been involved with music all of his life. Growing up with a severe stammer as a child, music was his only way to escape the trapped feeling of not being able to communicate what he wanted to say. Jon Paul has been pleasing audiences everywhere from all around the Northeast, Texas and England with his unique approach to songwriting. His debut EP is a launching pad for a musician that won't be going anywhere for a while, "music is one of the most important things in my life. As long as I'm alive, I'll still be playing and writing."

Saturday, February 3, 2018 

Melanie O'Reilly & Frank Martin have a wonderful duo fusing elements of Celtic and jazz styles--This show will be a real journey into world fusion, performed by two amazing first class players. 

Melanie, from Ireland, is an international figure in the world of Celtic music and jazz, having performed in venues including Lincoln Center, the Edinburgh International Festival, and the International Cork Jazz Festival.  Her unique style fuses traditional two great traditions - Celtic melodies & themes with jazz.  Her  original compositions are created through the inspiration of literary figures, such as James Joyce, and lyrics based on contemporary Irish poems, as well as stories of Ireland.

Frank Martin on piano is renowned both locally in the Bay Area and internationally with a formidable roster of performances and recordings with musicians in the jazz and pop worlds, including Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Turtle Island String Quartet, Stevie Wonder, and the world-class Brazilian band of Jose Neto.

In addition, Melanie and Frank's duo concert at the  National Concert Hall Dublin, was voted as one of the top jazz concerts of  2013 by Ireland by Ireland's top selling newspaper Sunday Independent, and later that year their concert in LA's Schoenburg Hall  represented Ireland at the International EU Jazz Festival.

"A thoroughly modern take on the jazz tradition.... utterly transformative".

 Ken Kubernik : Record Producer/Journalist Music Connection.

"Timeless & thoroughly modern,... songbird Melanie O'Reilly showcases Gaelic as an exciting jazz medium along with  innovative flights into French and American jazz standards. Her voice  soars to dynamic heights, drifts into sultriness and fuses with Frank Martin's masterful piano." 

Gianna Ranuzzi, Artistic Director /Berkeley World Music Festival

"The most exciting of the tracks (from Melanie's album "Ceol Ceantair" ) are "I Lose my Breath" and "I Am", both written by Melanie with Frank Martin and taken from their Joyce and Jazz Suite."

Grainne Farren/Sunday Independent

Saturday, February 17, 2018 

"Her trombone is world-class, but her singing voice is another thing entirely, an empathic entity that channels the ages. Cressman’s is a flawless act that can only get better with time and age. Yep, I smell a Grammy — someday." — Dave Good, San Diego Reader 

"Faquini is an uncannily masterful composer" — Paul de Barros, Seattle Times 

Trombonist and singer/songwriter Natalie Cressman and composer, guitarist, and singer Ian Faquini present their new duo project, drawing from impressionism, jazz, and the great Brazilian songwriting tradition to create a uniquely intimate collaboration. The duo’s global take on music is largely expressed through the distinct compositional voice of Faquini, with occasional lyrics penned by Cressman. Their original material features songs in three different languages and encompasses a vast spectrum of musical ground. With the warm instrumentation of acoustic guitar and trombone and two-part vocal harmonies hugging the Brazilian-accented Portuguese, Cressman & Faquini weave their musical voices together to create a fully orchestrated sound befitting a much larger ensemble. 

As described by writer Andy Gilbert in SF Classical Voice, “Faquini writes astonishingly sophisticated Brazilian pop music in the omnivorous tradition known as MPB (música popular brasileira), which often draws heavily on jazz. Born in Brasília and raised in Berkeley, Faquini is a protégé of Guinga, the revered Brazilian guitarist and songwriter whose tunes have been recorded by dozens of MPB stars...While his harmonic palette is unmistakably inspired by Guinga’s writing, Faquini often draws on styles from Brazil’s northeast.” Faquini was a member of the renowned Berkeley High School Jazz 

program before going on to study at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley and, immediately after graduating, joined the faculty there. He has performed throughout Europe, Japan, Brazil and the United States, including Montreux Jazz Festival, Enjoy Jazz Festival, Bimhuis (Amsterdam), Birdland (NYC), and The A Trane (Berlin) and has shared the stage and recording studio with such names as Guinga, Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Spok, Lee Konitz, Fleurine, among many others. 

In 2014, he released his debut album with flautist Rebecca Kleinmann,

entitled Brasiliense, which features all original compositions by Faquini and draws from a wide range of musical sources from the 20th century, from impressionism and jazz to the great Brazilian songwriting tradition. Faquini released his second album, Metal na Madeira, in 2016, this time in collaboration with acclaimed vocalist Paula Santoro, who hails from Minas Gerais. The image that ultimately emerges from Metal na Madeira is more than a portrait of two artists creating together. It also conjures the timeless landscape of the Brazilian Northeast, from which both artists draw immense inspiration. Into that space, Faquini and Santoro invite an all-star cast of collaborators, including Brazilian saxophone great Spok, leader of Recife’s Spok Frevo Orquestra; Bay Area multi- 

reedist Harvey Wainapel; trombonist Jeff Cressman; keyboardist and accordion player Vitor Gonçalves; bassist Scott Thompson; drummer/percussionist Rafael Barata; and pandeiro player Sergio Krakowski. 

Possessing a voice as cool and crystalline as an Alpine stream, Natalie Cressman draws inspiration from a vast array of deep and powerful musical currents. Steadily evolving in many directions, the 27-year-old Cressman has already put down deep roots in several overlapping scenes. A prodigiously talented New York City-based trombonist, she’s spent the past eight years touring the jam band circuit as a horn player and vocalist with Phish's Trey Anastasio, while also performing around NYC with jazz greats Wycliffe Gordon, Nicholas Payton, Anat Cohen, and Peter Apfelbaum. 

Deeply versed in Latin jazz, post-bop, pop, and Brazilian music, she has released 3 albums under her own name as well 2016’s Etchings in Amber, a gorgeous duo album with guitarist Mike Bono that introduced Cressman as a formidable musical force without her horn. When she’s not performing her own music, Cressman can be found collaborating with some of the most illustrious figures in rock, funk, jazz and beyond which have included Carlos Santana, Aaron Neville, Dave Matthews, Phish, Big Gigantic, Escort, The Motet, and Umphrey's McGee. In an epoch marked by infinite musical possibilities, Natalie Cressman is a singular force who draws from an improbable breadth of sonic realms. 

Claude Bourbon Medieval & Spanish Blues

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Saturday, February 15, 2020 

Ian and Natalie captivated us once again with their breadth of and depth of musical range.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

We relaunched our concert series with a return performance by Astra Kelly. Astra brought her wonderful spirit, guitar, and voice back to our home, and even a guest vocalist: local soul singer Tori Roze. It was a great evening for all and a perfect way to return from our pandemic-induced shutdown.

Lee Waterman Trio

Friday, August 4, 2023 

Local guitarist Lee Waterman was joined by Marc Levine (acoustic bass) and Ian Willson (tenor sax)The trio sampled the Great American Songbook with a nod to the late Tony Bennet -- and included pop quizes with grand prizes of cars and boats and other imaginary rewards! Needless to say a fun time was had by all.