Jon Brooks, with Fred Gillen, Jr.
- Common Ground Coffeehouse at the First Unitarian Society of Westchester, Hastings-on-Hudson NY
To listen to the music of Roosevelt Dime is to take a journey through American roots music. Inspired by Appalachian string bands, Memphis soul, New Orleans dixieland, and the musical melting pot of Brooklyn which they call home, the band has forged a sound they’ve come to call Steamboat Soul. After years of thrilling audiences at festivals and venues across the country, the band has fully captured the energy and musicianship of their live performance on Full Head of Steam (2014). Andrew Green (banjo, guitar) and Eben Pariser (electric bass, gutbucket bass) met at Oberlin College and continued their musical collaboration after settling in NYC. Tony Montalbano brought his distinctive drumming to the band shortly after, and Seth Paris (clarinet, saxophone) added his background in big band and west African brass music to fill out the diverse sound. The band developed by busking in the streets and subways, where they learned what it took to stop someone in their tracks, turn them from a stranger into a listener, from a listener into a sidewalk lindy-hopper. Roosevelt Dime has recently been featured in The Philadelphia Folk Fest, Musikfest, No Depression, On Your Radar with WFUV’s John Platt, and official showcases at the International Folk Alliance in Memphis 2011, and Toronto 2013.
From the Binghamton, New York music scene comes Driftwood, a band with a rock n’ roll soul and a folk art mind. Carving out a name for themselves with electrifying live performances, they bring one of the most unique, raw sounds to the Americana/roots music scene. Incorporating upright bass, banjo, acoustic guitar and violin, the ghost of traditional American folk music lives in their palette. But the melodies, the harmonies and the lyrics are something else entirely. “We started off playing rock in high school. Then studying jazz and classical music in college. Then we dove headfirst into folk and bluegrass. At some point I guess we kind of met in the middle”, says guitarist/songwriter Dan Forsyth. Drawing on aspects of everything from 0ld-time recordings to 1960’s R&B, the music is crafted to serve the songs. With fast-growing audiences singing along at live shows, it’s easy to tell the primary focus is on song. “We recognized early on that one of our strongest points was songwriting. The greatest songs transcend genre and time and this was one of the motivating ideas behind the band at the start”, says banjo player/songwriter Joe Kollar. Trading lead vocals between Forsyth, Kollar and violinist Claire Byrne, the group’s stage dynamics are as captivating as the songs. “I give so much of myself when I play because I deem it necessary in order to do the music justice”, says Byrne, whose violin-shredding performances galvanize fans. Songs or shredding, “There’s a reason people won’t let them off the stage”, says Jess Novak from The Syracuse New Times.
Common Ground Community Concerts is a grassroots music production and event planning organization based in Westchester County NY. For the past 13 years, Common Ground has produced its flagship Common Ground Coffeehouse series, sponsored by (and hosted by) The First Unitarian Society of Westchester, in Hastings-on-Hudson NY.