Saturday March 19, 2016 7:30 PM
Rio Theatre – Santa Cruz CA
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Greg Brown‘s mother played electric guitar, his grandfather played banjo, and his father was a Holy Roller preacher in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, where the Gospel and music are a way of life. Brown’s first professional singing job came at age 18 in New York City, running hootenannies (folksinger get-togethers) at the legendary Gerdes Folk City. After a year, Brown moved west to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where he was a ghostwriter for Buck Ram, founder of the Platters. Tired of the fast-paced life, Brown traveled with a band for a few years, and even quit playing for a while before he moved back to Iowa and began writing songs and playing in midwestern clubs and coffeehouses.
Brown’s songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Shawn Colvin, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He has also recorded more than a dozen albums, including his 1986 release, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, when he put aside his own songwriting to set poems of William Blake to music. One Big Town, recorded in 1989, earned Brown three and a half stars in Rolling Stone, chart-topping status in AAA and The Gavin Report’s Americana rankings and Brown’s first Indie Award from NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors). The Poet Game, his 1994 CD, received another Indie award from NAIRD. His critically acclaimed 1996 release, Further In, was a finalist for the same award. Rolling Stone’s four-star review of Further In called Brown “a wickedly sharp observer of the human condition.” 1997’s Slant 6 Mind (Red House Records) earned Brown his second Grammy nomination. His latest CD is Hymns To What Is Left.
Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman (opening)
Grit and sensitivity. Percussion and groove. Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman are sinuous as two skaters gliding on ice as they play across soul, r&b, roots and world rhythms, conjuring a communion between audience and stage.
Karen Savoca pours her heart into a song the way a great actor throws herself into a role. Her songs draw you into a world of humor and compassion, shared with grace and ease, as though you’ve been invited to her table for supper. Born in northern NJ, the daughter of a big band singer, Karen’s baby diary reads “20 months, knows 6 songs.” At the age of eight she asked for piano lessons, and at thirteen began composing on a guitar she bought with saved birthday money. She attended Syracuse University, where she studied music and elementary education.
Pete Heitzman, a Syracuse native, was playing in clubs at the age of fifteen. He carved out a reputation as an ace guitarist capable of playing many styles, touring across the country with a variety of bands. He met Savoca during a return trip to his home town, invited out by friends to hear a new singer. They jammed the night away, and he joined her group the next day.
Winners of seven SAMMY Awards. Notable appearances include The Today Show, A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, Big Top Chautauqua, The Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Falcon Ridge, Kate Wolf, Stan Rogers & Winnipeg Folk Festivals, and many more.They are also independent record producers who have scored several feature films and documentaries. They are currently working on their ninth recording, due out in 2016.