From their website:
Husband and wife, Michael and Jennifer McLain, both grew up touring and performing in musical families, are both banjo players, and have been playing together since their first date. Together they have performed in 27 states from New York to California, Canada, and have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, Kentucky Educational Television, Iowa Public Television, The Nashville Network, Country Music Television, RFD Television, National Public Radio, and the PBS show, Song of the Mountains, which airs on over 180 Public Television outlets across the United States.
Growing up, Michael performed with his family, the McLain Family Band all across the United States in 49 states, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Brazil, including concerts at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and appearances on NBC’s Today Show and the CBS Morning News. For several years he toured and recorded as part of the Claire Lynch Band as well as with Dale Ann Bradley. He was featured on a CD with Claire Lynch that was nominated for a Grammy. For 13 years, he taught guitar, banjo, mandolin and bluegrass ensemble in the School of Music at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
In addition to recording for Big Pick Productions, Jennifer was an artist on Pinecastle Records and has recorded as a harmony vocalist for other major labels and demos in Nashville. She has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, was featured on PBS-TV’s Song of the Mountains, Kentucky Educational Television, Iowa Public Television, and at Busch Gardens – Williamsburg (banjo and saxophone!). She graduated from Elon University with a degree in music performance. She is a member of the Christ Church choir in Nashville, TN.
They are joined by Dan Kelly on fiddle. Starting at an early age, Dan became known for fluid, smooth playing. He earned state fiddle champion titles in seven states before he came to Nashville to win the Grand Masters Championship at the age of seventeen. While in Nashville, he met Roy Acuff and became part of Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys. Here Dan learned more about the essence of old-time country music as he performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the next eight years.
Beginning in the 1990’s, Dan toured in the bands of many major label country artists (Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Faith Hill, Steve Wariner, Lonestar and more). During this time, he performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Grammy, CMA & ACM award shows, the Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and Good Morning America. In the 2000’s, Dan also performed as part of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band all over the U.S.
Kris Kehr/vocals, electric guitar, 6 & 12-string acoustic guitar, resonator slide guitar, mandolin, banjolin & harmonica
Zak Achenbach/drums & percussion
Chris Kew/upright acoustic bass & electric bass
Cory Heller/piano & organ
Scott Murawski/electric guitar
Bob Coons/electric guitar
Ray Hoffman/electric bass
Zack Roth/electric guitar
Read more about Telectro at Kris Kehr’s website
Dann Pell is a guitarist, vocalist and percussionist based in Chester County, PA. His music embraces folk traditions; country-blues, jazz, chants/hymns/spirituals, and incorporates unique expansive rhythmic devices akin to those of Steve Reich, John Coltrane, Phillip Glass into the folk idiom. He spends most days singing hymns to the elderly or entertaining friends with new works of music, and on off days can most likely be found exploring exotic polyrhythm whilst drinking mate in the comfort of his Phoenixville home
Yvonne Hartman performs live in The Sound Room at WEEU, 830 AM in Reading, PA. Set includes “Great Adventure” at 0:00, “Never Letting Go” at 5:05, and “On You” at 9:27.
From Yvonne’s website:
Yvonne started her music ministry in 2006. She celebrates a decade of ministry and music in 2016.
Yvonne Hartman is a contemporary Christian singer/ songwriter based in Pennsylvania whose latest album, “Remade,” was released in August 2015. Her songs are described as “inspirational / situational,” pulling from experiences and everyday struggles, while providing encouragement for believers.
After singing all her life in church choir, school chorus, and musicals, Yvonne started writing her own original music and performing in 2006. After releasing several projects herself, she formed a band with her family called B9 Fate, through which she released one album, “BGTF.” She eventually started playing again under her own name, and released another project, “Send Me.” This led to the current album “Remade”. The first single, “Step Into The Light,” was released to radio on June 22nd, and features an acoustic guitar-driven performance matched with layered harmonies and haunting electric guitar.
The songs on Yvonne’s new album showcase her maturity as a singer / songwriter. She has truly found her voice as a Christian artist, and she is writing songs that are capturing new fans across the globe. “Remade” is produced by multi-platinum music producer Kevin McNoldy (http://cphonicmastering.com), who has worked with Dave Matthews, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Backstreet Boys, and many more.
The album is available on CD, via all online stores including iTunes and Amazon, and on all streaming services such as Spotify and the new Apple Music. Yvonne’s own independent record label / publishing imprint is handling the release.
Yvonne will be touring in support of “Remade” and the first single “Step Into The Light”.
From her website:
Tucked away in a town so tiny it isn’t found on most maps, singer-songwriter Emily Barnes can be found sitting on the stone steps of her 200 year old home stitching together the latest melody from the fabric of her mind. That is on the rare occasion she is home. For the past few years, Emily has been tirelessly trekking down the open road playing venues of all shapes and sizes stopping listeners dead in their tracks with a voice that cuts to the bone and songs that pull on the heart strings.
Now a nationally touring artist, Barnes continues to build a grassroots following from city to small town, one new believer at a time. Her Sophomore album ‘Let in the Light’ was released on March 10th 2017 and has been taking listeners through the nostalgia of finding oneself after the inevitable darkness seeps in. It is honest, it is raw, and as quirky as the show you are likely to experience. With an assortment of “found” instruments, lo-fi birds, pots and pans, this album paints a picture from start to finish.
The Little Leroys perform live in The Sound Room at WEEU, 830 AM in Reading, PA. Set includes “Go Baby Go” at 0:00, “Almost Love” at 2:47, and “My Baby’s Wrong” at 6:00.
From their Facebook page:
Once upon a time, a Little girl met a guy with a guitar that told a Big story. They made some music and decided they should probably record something for the grandkids.
Since then, Little Leroys has been in the business of creating new music with that old-time Rock and/or Roll feel. They’re also resurrecting your favorite Blues, Honky Tonk and Rockabilly hits. Every show is sure to be a good time for all.
For more information check out their website >>>
From his website:
Alex Meixner is a nationally acclaimed musician, performer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of polka music. Formally trained in classical, jazz and ethnic music, Alex has cross-pollinated his versatile playing styles through pop music, funk, jazz and polka. He is an active ambassador for polka music, revitalizing interest coast to coast resulting in sold out shows, renewed cultural interest, and growing mainstream acceptance. For Alex, it’s more than playing energetic shows; it is a mission to provide a much needed positive experience that pulls communities together to celebrate history, culture and genuinely good times.
Berks Country Fest: An Americana Jamboree is proud to present the James Supra Band featuring Sarah Ayers on vocals, June 8 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the beautiful Stone Terrace Tent at the Reading Public Museum, 500 Museum Rd, Reading, PA 19611 United States.
Harmonica or “harp” playing is well established with deep roots in the Americana music scene. Throwing back to its earliest use in countries like Germany, where it is also called the “mouth organ”, skilled players of the instrument can add grace notes, solos, blues notes, bends and twists like no other musician can. When you add fabulous vocals and superb playing on guitar and bass, you arrive at where we’re going with this show and you’re on the James Supra Band’s express train to concert fun.
Artists Sarah Ayers on vocals and James Supra on vocals and harmonica are joined by Lou Franco on acoustic guitars and vocals, and Mitch Shelly on acoustic upright bass. Sarah and James have been performing together unofficially some 10-plus years ago.
They continue to make great music and keep the crowds on their feet. In March of 2017, the James Supra Band was among the top nominees at the Lehigh Valley Music Awards, with nine nominations including Outstanding All-Around Performer, nominated both by fans and people who work in the music industry. He has won the top industry award two years in a row. James Supra also won Best Harmonica Player which made that the 18-consecutive time he won this award dating back to the award show’s inception in 1999.
The hallmark of a performance by the James Supra Band with Sarah Ayers on vocals is 100% professionalism and audience engagement. Long-established fans come to be at the party and newcomers find themselves in what instantly feels like a familial event where all are welcome to dig into the fabulous buffet of music that’s being served up by the band!
Tickets on sale online now at www.berkscountryfest.com
…or in person at:
- Meadowood Music, 8521 Allentown Pike, Blandon, PA
- Mail N’ Ship 4 U, 96 Commerce Drive, Wyomissing, PA
- Zeswitz, 100 Gibraltar Road, Exeter Township, PA
Sponsorships and licenses for Berks Country Fest: An Americana Jamboree can be obtained through Alicia Marinelli, firstname.lastname@example.org
Music as a source of reuniting and healing
By Don Botch
Make no mistake, the father-and-sons band the WizBangs have gone through some heavy stuff to get to where they are now, with the recent release of their new CD, “Life, Love and Other Mishaps.”
But you’d never know it listening in on the banter during a recent conference call with Jim Feenstra, who was riding out an ice storm in Green Bay, Wis., and brothers J.P. and Charles Feenstra, who dialed in from J.P.’s home in Manayunk.
They poked and jabbed, joshed and joked as they discussed recording their 11-song debut with Grammy-winning producer Will Russell at Electric Wilburland Studio in Newfield, N.Y., just south of Ithaca, where J.P. had worked on some previous projects.
The sons both came up through an outstanding music program at Gov. Mifflin and have been performing their whole lives.
J.P. brings drums, a producer’s ear and, yes, sarcasm to the band, according to the other two, who showed they can hold their own in the sarcasm department, as well. He has played in bands in Philadelphia and New York and as an on-call pit drummer for theaters up and down the East Coast.
Multi-instrumentalist Charles, meanwhile, brings the punk and so much more. The former Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra member attended prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been writing songs since age 6 and performing pretty much nonstop ever since.
But for bassist Jim, who relocated to the hometown of his beloved Packers a few years back after retiring from his job as a marketing executive for Penske Corp. in Reading, being in a band is all new. He said it all started when Charles finished a rehab stint and Jim took to writing lyrics — “it could have been therapy for me,” he said — and sharing them with his son.
Soon thereafter, Charles’ girlfriend became ill and they moved in with his parents in Green Bay during her recovery. That’s when, according to Jim, the songwriting took on a life of its own as they would hash out songs together on guitar or piano.
“The creative process was just really fulfilling for me,” he said. “And then, that joy was exponential when we got in the studio, and I’m sitting there singing songs with my two sons and friends. I would say that that’s a unique opportunity for a parent to do that.”
Charles, who lives in Reading, said writing songs, not to mention yoga and meditation — “and kale,” J.P. quipped — has helped him in his recovery. Some of his lyrics are frank depictions of the depths of despair he endured.
The second track, for instance, is called “2:56,” which relates to a moment in time that is etched in his mind when he was at Berklee and using marijuana to excess in the aftermath of a traumatic breakup.
“Literally, I was in my college dorm room and looking at the clock, and it was 2:56, but I was just feeling lonely,” he said.
That loneliness had consumed him, and his coping mechanism left him in what he described as “a constant haze.” He said he has since learned that many addicts struggle with loneliness.
“A lot of what we’re starting to understand just culturally is that the connection with other human beings is the No. 1 thing for happiness, the No. 1 thing for growth, for satisfaction,” Charles said. “So really getting to connect with my brother again, getting to connect with my dad after that kind of period of drug abuse and loneliness — really, it was terribly, terribly lonely — it was immensely helpful, and the songwriting process itself really helps kind of exorcise those demons.”
Coming from such different places musically makes for an interesting sonic landscape on the record. Charles recalled being immersed in classical music as a child and then discovering Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” in eighth grade and being blown away by the lyrics and pop sensibility, so he asked his big brother and father what else he had been missing out on.
Jim introduced him to ’60s rock, while J.P. took a more heavy-handed approach.
“What’s good music? Here’s Tool,” J.P. said, while reliving that moment. “Listen to this. I want a one-page dissertation on why this is good.”
“He gave me a Perfect Circle album,” Charles added, “and he goes, ‘This is like the light stuff.’ And I’m listening to it and going, ‘This is the light stuff? This is terrifying.’ ”
“I’m not wrong, though,” J.P. interjected.
“But I’d listened to Mozart my whole life,” Charles countered, laughing.
All of those influences and more come through on the CD. The mellow, acoustical “2:56,” for instance, leads into the jazzy, wordy “Let’s Get Medicated,” which yields to the crunchy, frenetic “Common Enemy,” in which Charles delivers a spoken-word rhyme culminating in the first of the album’s expletives, sandwiched between repetitive choruses of “You’re sick and you know it/You might as well own it.”
For the father, moments like this took him beyond his comfort zone, but he said he learned to embrace them after taking off his “dad hat” and accepting that his son needed to express himself.
“One thing that Charlie became through the entire process is very open about his feelings and what’s going on,” Jim said. “It’s not always comfortable, but it was very helpful in the process of creating the album. We actually have a stockpile of songs we haven’t even gotten to yet, so I think what you hear in some of this album is a little bit cathartic for the family.
“Hopefully I bring some happy songs to the album. But it’s been an interesting and wonderful journey as we, I guess, got serious as a family and friends to make this music happen.”
From their website:
Family bands have a longstanding history of success in the music industry, and that’s one tradition The WizBangs intend on following. This father/son group officially joined together in 2014, but father Jim Feenstra has enjoyed a lifetime of watching his sons flourish in music. He says, “I’ve enjoyed watching them play in bands and recitals. I always wanted to share music as part of a band, not a solo artist. Watching them perform and compose music over time, it was quite natural to join in.”
Jim’s parents were barbershop quartet singers, so he grew up listening to four-part harmonies as far back as he can remember. He picked up his first guitar when he was 9, and taught himself piano and vocals so he could perform in a church band, which he continued to do into adulthood. Between holding a position as a Chief Marketing Officer at an international company and raising a family, Jim’s passion for music was placed on the back burner. After twenty-plus years of work, he’s retired, and his greatest thrill yet has been making music with his sons. “Forgetting they’re my sons, it was intimidating to be the “newbie” with the group,” Jim says, “But I admit my eyes welled up when we listened to our first track in the studio.”
His oldest son, J.P., quickly realized that drums were his talent. Often taking on the producer role in the studio, J.P. is not only a great percussionist, but has a fantastic feel for how a song should sound. “We like so many styles and artists, it drives us to be creative…we live in different cities, so we might not see each other for months, but we get in the studio and in no time, it’s like we’ve never been apart.”
Younger brother, Charles, began playing the violin at age 9, and after a standing ovation at a school recital, he knew music was his destiny. He later picked up saxophone, guitar, and piano, which he plays with The Wizbangs. Charles attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston for Music Composition and brings his strong writing skills to the band. “We’re telling personal stories running the gamut of emotions,” Charles says, “It’s not hard to understand what I’m feeling in my songs.”
During the recording of their debut album, LIFE, LOVE AND OTHER MISHAPS, The WizBangs recruited other band mates that were a revolving team of very talented close friends who add their own style and voice to each song. “The majority of us have played together since I can remember,” says drummer J.P.
The album was produced by Grammy winner Will Russell at his studio Electric Wilburland in Upstate NY. Russell has worked with artists like Rusted Root, The Sim Redmond Band, and recorded a Grammy winning album for world musician Mamadou Diabate. Jim says, “Will gets us to the end game without adding more stress. Oh, and there’s a Grammy trophy in the room, so you know it’s time to focus on the task at hand!”
The WizBangs are focused on sharing their music online, recording videos for several songs and ultimately streaming live shows. Jim explains, “We’d rather do streaming shows to a wider audience. But if the demand is there to hit the road, we’ll load up a bus and go.” Taking full advantage of today’s social media technology, they look forward to reaching as may people as possible and inspiring with their own personal stories.
With plans for their second album already in the works, The WizBangs are simply a group of family and friends who love playing and creating together. “At the end of the day,” says Jim, “I’m making music with my sons. How cool is that?!”