Saturday, May 20, 2006

Strawberry artist capsules

Homespun Rowdy: Young Bay Area bluegrassers grew up on other genres but each found his or her way to the hardcore stuff. Their Thursday festival-opening set is a SMF debut for the Rowdies, but band members have attended previous Strawberrys.

Toubab Krewe: North Carolina world-rock quintet mixes West African rhythms and instrumentation with jam rock improvisation. Band is breaking out at major rock and roots festivals all summer long.

Misty River: All-female Seattle-area folk quartet in its second SMF appearance specializes in intricate four-part vocal harmonies on mix of originals, traditional tunes and covers.

Ryan Shupe & The Rubber Band: After eight years honing its original pleasant-pop sound, Utah-based band signed with a major Nashville label and is getting a push in the roots festival market with summer 2006 appearances at Strawberry and Telluride.

The Stairwell Sisters: The Bay Area entry in the all-girl stringband sweepstakes brings instrumental and vocal verve, clog- and square-dance calling, and snazzy old-time outfits to their SMF debut.

Adrienne Young & Little Sadie: Breakout folk traditionalist gained national notice with her sophomore album, The Art of Virtue, pushing self-sufficiency values with strong song-writing and lively presentation. This is her first SMF, but she brings solid roots festival credentials.

Terrence Simien & The Zydeco Experience: The accordian-playing ambassador of Creole culture brings powerful vocals and a lively six-piece band that invariably gets audiences dancing. The three-time Strawberry performer hasn't missed a New Orleans Jazz Fest for 18 years.

Laura Love Duo: Back for her fifth Strawberry appearance, bass-playing folk-funk diva Laura Love will perform in a duo configuration with Jen Todd on guitar and harmony vocals. The duo will likely feature some of the autobiographical material from Love's recent "You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes."

La Guitara: The touring version of the fascinating La Guitara Project, which featured 15 female guitar heroes, brings folk-rocker Patty Larkin, jazz stylist Mimi Fox and classical artist Muriel Anderson to the Strawberry stage. Expect the set to open and close with ensemble numbers, with each musician taking also taking a solo turn.

Los Lobos: Friday night closes with the third SMF appearance by the influential Los Angeles rock band, which fuses eclectic roots styles with traditional Spanish and Mexican influences. Lobos fans can expect to hear the band reprise its many hits from a 30-year career.

Martha Scanlan: Formerly of the highly regarded Reeltime Travelers, which played Strawberry in Fall 2003, Scanlan is now fronting her own band as an emerging singer-songwriter. She has not yet released a solo project, so we'll be hearing her new material for the first time.

Brother: The brothers Hamish and Angus Richardson are Aussies, but they are settled in LA with bandmate Dalbo purveying their brand of jam rock on the world-music circuit, featuring bagpipes, didgeridoo, guitars and lots of percussion.

Asleep At the Wheel: The best modern-day proponents of Western swing music, Ray Benson and company are back at Strawberry for their fourth appearance, with new member Elizabeth McQueen adding a female vocal dimension to Wheel's classic sound.

Assembly of Dust: The Saturday night show opens with one of the most-followed jam bands, who impart a country-rock Deadish flavor to its original material. AOD front man Reid Genauer, formerly of Strangefolk, rates first-name hero status among many jam band afficionados.

Ruthie Foster: The Texas-based folk-gospel-blues belter gets a return Strawberry engagement after her Spring 03 knockout performance. Her powerful vocal deliveries are sure to elicit more than a few amens both in the music meadow and in the Sunday Revival show.

John Hiatt & The North Mississippi Allstars: Critics' darling Hiatt brings his seasoned songwriting and performing talents to the Strawberry stage for the fourth time, this time accompanied by the youthful energy of the southern rock trio featured on the roots rocker's latest release.

Bearfoot Bluegrass: The next generation of bluegrass is well represented in this Strawberry debut by a fresh-faced bluegrass fivesome out of Anchorage, Alas., who combine fast picking and sweet harmony vocals on original and traditional material.

Austin Lounge Lizards: The masters of camp are back for the fifth time with their always entertaining mix of acoustic musicianship, multipart vocal arrangements and iconoclastic lyrics, bringing a new batch of satirical songs from their recent release Strange Noises in the Dark.

Willy Porter: The Milwaukee-based singer-songwriter is best known for his guitar chops and lyrical intimacy, both of which engage listeners during live performances. He has toured as an opening act for artists such as Tori Amos and Paul Simon, but is primed to break through as a headliner in his SMF debut.

the subdudes: After a seven-year break, three of the four original 'dudes reunited in 2003 to serve up a second helping of gumbo. Their newest CD, Behind the Levee, was recorded before but released after Katrina, which caused the band to cancel its scheduled Fall 05 showing, which would have been its second Strawberry appearance.

Patty Griffin: The Boston-area folk-pop chanteuse closes out her second Strawberry with her trademark sensitive lyrics and evocative vocals. Since her first release in the mid-'90s, Griffin has emerged as one of the leading lights among contemporary singer-songwriters.

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