Frank’s Picks: March


Natalie Merchant & Lúnasa

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 8pm

Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, New York

Hudson Valley’s own singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant is a beloved chanteuse, a Nonesuch recording artist, formerly with the 10,000 Maniacs. She has a delicate, sensuous languor, a mysterious stillness to her songs. Juxtapose that soft, tender voice against the ancient sadness of Lúnasa, with their haunting Irish uilleann pipes and low whistles, and there emerges an ethereal, emotive sound, so beautiful, yet so soulful and piercing of the heart. After she left the 10,000 Maniacs band, she recorded the seminal solo album Tigerlily, a staple in the music libraries of any serious Americana fan. For this show, Natalie Merchant starts off singing on her own, accompanied by Erik Della Penna on guitar. The second set will have her join the Irish band Lúnasa on six songs during their set Lúnasa is big among fans of traditional Irish music worldwide and the band is celebrating their 20-year anniversary milestone. Lúnasa features Kevin Crawford (flutes, low whistles and tin whistles), Trevor Hutchinson (double bass), Ed Boyd (guitar), Seán Smyth (fiddle and low whistle) and Cillian Vallely (uilleann pipes and low whistles). This promises to be a superb show, blending Irish music with the amazing voice and powerful songs of Natalie Merchant, one of the most beloved singer-songwriters in the land.



Del McCoury and David Grisman

Saturday, March 23, 2019, 8pm

Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, New York

This concert unites two giants of American roots string-music who have known each other for nearly 50 years. The word “legends” gets vastly overused by writers and publicists, but here it actually fits, as both of these superb instrumentalists deserve the accolade. The virtuosic bluegrass bandleader, guitarist and banjoist Del McCoury, who sings in high lonesome like many great Appalachian mountain singers, used to play with Bill Monroe. He’s part of the wonderful generation during the heyday of bluegrass when Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Lester Flatt formed one of America’s great string-music traditions. Del met mandolinist David “Dawg” Grisman at the first show Del ever played with Bill Monroe in 1963 at New York University in Greenwich Village. Three years later, Del & Dawg played their first gig together in Troy, NY at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Through the years they have shared the stage at venues and festivals across the country and in 2012 released “Hardcore Bluegrass”, a unique collection of bluegrass classics. Grisman is unquestionably one of the quintessential leaders of modern American string music, having played with Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice, Doc Watson, and many more. These two are truly among the best of our time.


Folk/Jug Band/Americana

Jim Kweskin and Samoa Wilson

Saturday, March 30, 2019, 7:30pm

729 Peekskill Hollow Road, Putnam Valley, New York

Tompkins Cultural Center

This is one of the best hidden local cultural venues in neighboring Putnam County, an easy hop from Westchester. The venue is small, operated as a community center in a church, complete with homemade baked goods and a real downhome, welcoming family vibe. The Tompkins Cultural Center has a great lineup in April, two amazing acoustic blues/roots musicians will perform Jerron Paxton (April 13) followed by Hubby Jenkins (April 27). On March 30, Jim Kweskin and Samoa Wilson will be in the house, and that’s a little amazing. Sometimes you see the most empyreal artists in small, intimate venues. Kweskin is a highly pleasant bard, a grand roots musician well known for his jug band with Maria and Geoff Muldaur. He is a sublime fingerpicking guitarist, a fine troubadour and a true master of multiple American roots genres. Samoa Wilson is a lovely singer. Well, the adjective “lovely” might not suffice. What’s a poor writer to say? She’s a nightingale, a warbler, a sweet songstress. Together they make beautiful music.

Be sure to look for Frank’s next music column in the April issue of ArtsNews, on news stands soon and online here.

Frank Matheis is an award-winning music journalist, author and radio producer with an eclectic musical taste that covers the gamut of music from Americana to Zydeco, from Jazz to World Music. He is a regular contributor to Living Blues magazine and other music publications, and the publisher of His radio documentaries have been heard on three continents in three languages.

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