FOCAL POINT LIVESTREAM CONCERT SERIES
On Thursday November 12 we will start our Livestream Concert Series. Concerts will be broadcast live on the Focal Point’s Facebook page. These will occur most Thursdays at 7pm. Check Facebook and our website for current listings. The only people allowed inside the venue will be musicians and staff, so we will not charge to watch the livestream, but a suggested donation of $10-$15 will all go to the musicians. You can donate through Paypal or Venmo.
The Bottlesnakes are Ethan Leinwand on piano and Nick Pence on guitar. As a band they started out with 20s and 30s blues from St. Louis and beyond. They would then grow to perform original music which is a unique combination of styles and influences that has been thoroughly crafted over the years. A true folk product of the current times and the St. Louis environment with a sound that is timeless and internationally accessible.
St. Louis-based flute and whistle player Jennifer Kelly began playing in 1998 when her father, who hailed from a tiny village in West Clare, introduced her to traditional Irish music and dance. Jennifer holds several qualifications and group titles for the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, and has travelled around the world performing around the US, Ireland, and Italy (as a part of the ensemble that represented Ireland at the World Expo in Milan in 2015 as a musician and dancer). Currently, Jennifer is an instructor with St. Louis Irish Arts. Along with participating in multiple sessions in the St. Louis area, she is a part of FABA-a newly formed all-female traditional Irish group- as well as a duo with her sister Shannon Kelly, cleverly named The Kelly Sisters.
Tommy Martin was born in Dublin, Ireland and currently lives in the United States. He took his first uilleann pipes lesson from Dublin piper Mick O’Brien, a cousin, in 1984 at the age of 12. By 1988 with the great help of Mick’s tuition and guidance he won first place at the Annual Fleadh Cheoil nah Eireann in the 15-18 age group uilleann pipes competition and again in 1991 in the senior competition. His professional career started in 1996 when he took a job organizing and playing at Irish music nights in Irish pubs in Hong Kong. This led to more work in Asian cities such as Kuala Lumpur Jakarta Singapore and Tokyo over the following years. Back in Europe Tommy’s talent and experience took him to perform in almost every mainland country. Performances have varied from solo uilleann pipes performances to playing with 5 piece folk bands and have been as diverse as being an uilleann pipes tutor in New Zealand to performing with “Riverdance” in New York to performing with the Chicago Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra. Tommy was teacher of the advanced uilleann pipes class in Na Piobairi Uilleann Dublin up until he moved to St Louis, Missouri in 2003. His first solo CD Uilleann Piper was released in 2000 and Tommy can be also heard on 12 other albums as a guest musician. Tommy’s second album, Shady Woods came out in December 2005. Tommy also toured as a guest with traditional band Teada. Tommy now lives in St. Louis, where he now teaches fiddle flute and uilleann pipes. He also makes tin whistles and uilleann pipes.
Dan Lowery is originally from Dallas, Texas and has been playing Irish music for over twenty years. After learning on the tinwhistle at a young age, he began playing the wooden flute and became heavily involved in the Dallas Irish music scene, joining local bands Idle Road, the Lone Star Ceili Band and theTIMES Band & Session Players. He soon went on to play and compete around Ireland and the U.S., leading him to win first place at the 2001 Midwest Fleadh Cheoil. A subsequent tour with Surreel, a band of up-and-coming American Irish musicians, prompted him to move to New York City in 2002, where he played professionally for over a decade. After numerous stints playing in house bands at famed Irish music bars John D. McGurk’s and Raglan Road, he now plays and tours regularly with the Colin Farrell Band, the Bronx Boys and Pappy with a Hatchet.
Focal Point Friends of Old-time Music is happy to reschedule RiverBend Bluegrass, even though we have to move them to the internet!
Formed in 2015 in the heart of the Midwest, RiverBend is a Traditional Bluegrass band that is dedicated to the performance and preservation of the “High-Lonesome Sound.” With soaring tenor harmonies, driving instrumentation, and the classic bluegrass sound, this group recalls the voices of Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Vern Williams, Red Allen and more. If you are seeking an authentic “true grass” experience that harkens back to the founders of the genre, RiverBend is the group for you.
The Focal Point is excited to welcome back our old friends The Wee Heavies for their always greatly anticipated Annual Holliday Concert!
The Heavies started singing together in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis in 2013. The mostly a cappella band has won a following with their mix of Scottish, Irish, and American folk music that combines tradition with innovation and weaves together a unique take on the songs they sing. With their voices (and occasional instrumental accompaniment) the Heavies create a sound rich in harmony with unexpected twists and an energy that has their audiences clapping, stomping, and singing along. Between songs, the lads are just as entertaining through their humorous rapport and engaging storytelling.
-FYI, The Wee Heavies (pronounced “Wee” and then the plural of a thing that is heavy) are named after a variety of Scottish beer that they unanimously don’t recommend trying. It makes a great band name, though.
The Jake’s Leg annual appearance on our stage has become a Focal Point tradition. Spanning the generations, Jake’s Leg has been performing the music of The Grateful Dead for 45 years. (Thats only 11-ish years less than the Dead played Dead themselves!) As usual, this will be an acoustic performance. UNUSUALLY this will not be the no-holds-barred dance party that is typical of their Focal Point appearances, as we are in a pandemic. We encourage you to tune in, turn on and drop out of your typical cold December Saturday night and warm up at home with some timeless All-American folk-rock!
Ryan Koenig here again… 2020 has been quite a year. A year of sickness, a year of movement. Movement into sickness, and movement out of sickness. In many ways, hindsight has been 2020. This year has helped me to sort out who is good natured, who is trustworthy, and who I miss. Who I am committed to spending time with, and what I am committed to spending time on.
This won’t and can’t be my usual year end variety show. It’s just not safely possible. I need the whole world to safely hold all of my musical friends. What I will do is tell stories of the many friends I miss and the times we’ve had, and the times we hope to have again. I’ll play songs I’ve learned and loved this year.
P.S. In addition to my wife, Kellie Everett, I hope to have at least one more special guest…
You don’t learn much from staying in one place, and songwriter Jack Grelle has embodied this in both his approach to life and music. For years, Grelle hopped trains and hitchhiked across the US, soaking in stories and writing songs based on the people he met along his travels. His rambling spirit influenced his music which combines elements of traditional country, folk, and rock’n roll. “It was the traditional troubadour kind of thing,” he recalls. “I cut my teeth as a songwriter by traveling and performing in that fashion.” With his finger on the pulse of current issues, it’s no wonder that Rolling Stone claims Grelle is “a progressive honky-tonk hero arriving at just the right time in Trump’s America.” As we come out of “Trump’s America” and enter into a new era, Jack maintains his status as a veteran of excellent Focal Point performance. Still fresh off this year’s release of “If Not Forever”, this night should not be missed!
The Chimps are a trio of longtime St. Louis-area singer-songwriters made up of John Krane and Jesse Irwin on vocals and guitar, along with Dave Werner on vocals and bass. They specialize in close harmony singing at a low-volume, and songwriting unique to each member. The Chimps have performed several times at Focal Point, and we’re happy to get them on camera for the livestream!
*Presented by Focal Point Friends of Old-time Music
**Presented by Focal Point Friends of Traditional Jazz, Blues & Ragtime