John Smith–it’s a common name for an uncommon man. As one of 10 children growing up in a small midwest town (Dewitt, Iowa), he developed a strong sense of self-awareness, balanced with an equally strong sense of community-awareness. Needless to say, his music is personal and honest, which comes across in his heartwarming performances. John has been touring for more than 20 years, Has played the largest folk stages on the circuit, and his 4 releases of original music have received unanimous accolades from the major folk music publications.
Getting to know John was a real pleasure. His performance is very personal and filled with great stories about his family and experiences. After several trips to Ireland, he has some great tales about that experience as well. It seems that the best performers are great storytellers, and the stories all come from different places. It’s what they share that make the show, through their songs and stories.
This was Andrew McKnight’s third performance in Evansville. He was the first feature performer to play Penny Lane Coffeehouse during the first year of business, and then returned to play a Concert at the Cabin. As an environmentalist with a keen eye for details in the places he visits, Andrew writes songs that touch people from every walk of life. While staying at the cabin last year, he took a meandering drive through southern Illinois and found the inspiration for a song, “Hard Times in the Heartland”, which was then sketched and recorded for the first time around our kitchen table. We were thrilled to bring Andrew back to Evansville and to share his music once again.
John came to us on strong recommendation from our friend Vern Crawford at Cousin Andy’s Coffeehouse. Vern knows the folk scene better than most, as he is an annual fixture at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, a multi-week mecca for folk fans, performers and presenters.
John is one of the most gifted songwriters I’ve had the pleasure to meet, and an engaging conversationalist. It’s clear that John’s faith guides his creative work and the result is really incredible. It’s surprising that through most of his music career John has stuck close to home. Here is a quote from John’s website:
Ticket Magazine places John Flynn “at the near end of a long line of American poets, thinkers and folk artists, stretching from Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, all the way up to Kris Kristofferson”. And Kristofferson himself praises John’s songwriting: “The truth is in the details; the gifts are an ear for accurate dialogue, an eye for powerful imagery and anything funny, and a heart open to surprises and the possibilities of moving the emotions.” As a young father Flynn left a Nashville staff writing gig and began writing songs for his kids and for his life. These songs yielded CDs that are informed by the trademark humanity and humor that Flynn sees as the essential tools for parenthood and living. Recently the 46 year-old Delaware resident has turned his attention, and his songwriting, to the world his four children will one day inherit.
Orrin Star is a nationally recognized folk & bluegrass performer and teacher based in the Washington, DC area. Winner of the 1976 National Flatpicking Championship (the largest bluegrass guitar contest in the country), he plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, sings, and performs solo, duo and with his band Orrin Star & the Sultans of String.
His repertoire spans old-time, western swing, celtic and original songwriting in addition to more mainstream bluegrass and folk material. An accomplished storyteller and entertainer (he worked as a stand-up comic for five years in the Boston area) he has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and has three recordings on Flying Fish Records. He is the author of a popular guitar instruction book (“Hot Licks for Bluegrass Guitar”, Oak Publications) and a columnist for Flatpicking Guitar magazine.
We first ran into Paul at the National Folk Alliance conference two years ago, where he was performing to an enthralled audience in the elevator lobby. His highly percussive style is captivating, and his performance crosses the expanse from humorous to mesmerizing. Paul is a sort of American gypsy, taking to the road for long stretches, and packing in more performances than a presidential candidate during an election run. Last year, he demonstrated his skill in making music with almost anything, even a broken, out-of-tune banjo-mandolin that was hanging on the wall! This past year Paul has been touring and recording with the phenomenal harmonica player, Howard Levy.