Julie Last, SageArts Concert Director
Julie Last has been active in the music recording business for more than 30 years. Starting at New York City’s Record Plant Studios in the mid-1970’s, she became one of only a handful of women who earned their way into the control rooms of major recording studios. She worked on albums with seminal rock bands of the time and in 1980 was specially invited to assist in the recording of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Double Fantasy.” In New York City she worked on the albums of Aerosmith, Talking Heads, Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, The Clash and Brian Eno, among others. After a move to Los Angeles, she worked primarily with leading singer/songwriters, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Shawn Colvin, and in 1994 was a Grammy selection committee choice for Best Engineer for her recording of Rickie Lee Jones’ “Traffic From Paradise.” She co-engineered kirtan artist Krishna Das’ album “Live Ananda” which was nominated for a Grammy in 2012. She has also produced several major and indie label albums and has recorded her own music for CD and film.
As a singer/songwriter, Ms. Last has released her own CD and has had her music included in several independent films. She was also specially commissioned to write and record a song for the bestselling album Celtic Twilight Lullabies, and has sung background vocals on recordings by Talking Heads, Joni Mitchell, and numerous local musicians. Since moving from Los Angeles to Woodstock, Ms. Last has developed a strong and heartfelt connection to this unique community of artists.
Elly Wininger is a finger style acoustic and slide guitar player, award-winning songwriter, and member of the New York Blues Hall of Fame. Encouraged by her guitar teacher David Bromberg, Elly started playing blues and ragtime guitar in the basket houses of Greenwich Village in the 60s. She played opening night at CBGB and performed there regularly, as well as in other New York City venues such as Kenny’s Castaways, Dr. Generosity’s, Folk City, and The Bitter End. Elly says: “As I tour and host radio shows from my home base in Woodstock, I am always inspired by the beauty of the people and places around me. I have come to understand that the power of music comes from sharing and connecting. The quality of connection that can be created with music is what keeps me going.”
Elizabeth Clark-Jerez is the harpist/vocalist/songwriter for Mamalama, the Hudson Valley-based indie chamber orchestra. She has been steeped in the music of many different cultures through her world travels and apprenticeships, especially the music of modern and ancient Europe (sacred/early, renaissance, folk, classical), the traditional music of Native North and South American indigenous peoples (Algonquin/Cree, Andean), West African music, various American pop/folk/roots songwriters, and modern orchestral composers. Her formal studies include music composition at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music, and monastic music studies in “Contemplative Musicianship” with music-thanatology (music for the dying) pioneer Therese Shroeder-Sheker.
Songwriting became a beacon for Dave Kearney when he heard his first Hank Williams recording as a child. He started following the call of that muse right about the time he encountered his first recordings of Mickey Newbury and Roger Miller. He cut his teeth in the Chicago music scene of the ’60s, lived and pitched songs in Nashville, and played among legends in Woodstock, N.Y., where he now lives. He’s followed in the footsteps of his influences: Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Malcolm Holcombe. He’s played and sung his songs in every state south of the Canadian border and east of the Mississippi River. Now, after all these years, he’s still on that journey, guitar in hand and heart to the wind, mining his life and the life he sees around him, always listening for the next song.
Bonnie Meadow has solid training in music (School of Performing Arts, N.Y.C.; B.A. with High Honors in Music, Hofstra University, private instruction in N.Y.C. and Europe) and other theater arts. Her wide range of performing experiences have included: being composer and live musician for Theater in a Trunk, a children’s theater company; composing for and director of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation adult choir; musical direction; solo and ensemble performances; and writing music and lyrics for all the songs on her CD, In the Middle of Life.
Mark Brown has been writing, playing, and performing for the last 25 years—writing interesting, carefully-crafted songs that maintain a soulful integrity while never taking themselves too seriously. Combining a sharp eye with a sly sense of humor reminiscent of John Prine, Mark makes songs that hail from everywhere, incorporating ballads, cowboy songs, jigs, sideshow melodies, and field hollers. Mark’s new release Skin & Bone is produced by Grammy Award winning Dean Jones, and features Ken Mcgloin on guitar, John Parker on bass, Dean Sharp on drums, Guy Fishcetti on pedal steel, and the versatile Dean Jones on everything else. Mark also does occasional solo tours around Ireland, where his singing and songwriting skills are drawing notice.
Vickie Russell is an award-winning singer/songwriter originally from New York City who now resides in New Paltz, N.Y. She started out at age three, picking out melodies by ear on a relative’s piano under her grandmother’s tutelage, and begged her parents for piano lessons until finally they gave in. Vickie studied classical piano all through her school years. When she discovered Carol King and Elton John, she realized it was her calling in life to write and sing songs while accompanying herself. Vickie’s passion and purpose in life is to share her heart and humor through song. She has released three CDs of original songs on her own record label, Dance of the Dolphin. Vickie has shared the stage with Tuck and Patti, Christine Lavin, Donovan, Richie Havens, Rick Danko, and Leon Russell, to name a few. She’s played festivals, coffeehouses, libraries, colleges, clubs, and theaters all over the world. www.vickierussell.com.
Trained at the New England Conservatory of Music as a jazz singer, Heather Masse is steeped in the jazz tradition, which informs her distinct approach to singing folk, pop, and bluegrass. A member of the Billboard-charting folk group, The Wailin’ Jennys, she has performed at hundreds of venues across the world. She has been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, both as a solo performer and as a member of The Jennys. On the show, she has collaborated with artists such as Elvis Costello, Wynton Marsalis, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, and Emmylou Harris. Releasing her first full-length album in 2009, she delivered Bird Song, her solo debut on Red House Records. The Wailin Jenny’s newest recording, Bright Morning Stars, released February 2011, won a Canadian Juno and features original songs from all three members of the band. Heather’s newest release on Red House Records, Lock My Heart is an album of jazz standards and originals with the legendary pianist Dick Hyman. It has been on the Billboard charts since its release in February 2013.
Sarah Perrotta is a Hudson Valley based singer, songwriter, and pianist. Perrotta was the front woman of the indie-rock band Outloud Dreamer, whose debut album Drink The Sky was named best modern rock album of 2000 by WKZE Radio 98.1FM. Perrotta’s second album, The Well, was self-released in 2008, and features Tony Levin on bass and Garth Hudson on accordion. The album was mixed by Grammy Award winner Malcolm Burn. Her most recent record is entitled “Tonight” and released under her surname. Perrotta has toured nationally and internationally with Barenaked Ladies, Guster, Jason Collett, Sarah Harmer, Gaelic Storm, Kevin Hearn, and Garth Hudson.
Sarah Kramer-Harrison was born to sing. Growing up in the Woodstock of the rock renaissance, her childhood games were played among the giants of music. She made her first instrument at seven, began singing professionally at 14, and apprenticed as a recording engineer at 16 in one of the busiest studios in town. She studied classical cello for ten years and toured in youth theater as singer/dancer/actress. This evolution led logically to a dual degree from Berklee College of Music in Voice and Music Production/Sound Engineering. Kramer-Harrison writes and records original material, earning kudos from some of those giants she grew up among. Levon Helm tapped her to open a rare public show at the Woodstock Playhouse. She has shared the stage with Rick Danko, John Sebastian, Happy and Artie Traum, James Earl Jones, Tom Pacheco, Betty McDonald, Molly Mason and Jay Ungar, Willie Nile, and many more.
Winner of NPR’s prestigious Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, Kelleigh McKenzie (pronounced “Kelly”) plucks and thumps and sings to know herself and be with others. In 2009, her critically acclaimed debut album Chances was heard on radio stations across the country and her song “Gin” garnered the Independent Music Award for Best Americana Song. An accomplished banjoist, guitarist, and songwriter, curiosity and altruism have been Kelleigh’s guides since moving to the Hudson Valley 15 years ago. She has worked as a performing musician, educator, small business owner, political activist, community organizer, marketing consultant, and advocate in the New Economy movement.
Robert Burke Warren
Robert Burke Warren is a writer, performer, teacher, and musician. He’s the music editor for The Weekling, he’s ghostwritten for Gregg Allman, and his liner notes appear on the award-winning CD Live at Caffe Lena. He’s written for Salon, vulture.com, Paste, Texas Music, Brooklyn Parent, The Woodstock Times, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, The Bitter Southerner, Chronogram, and the Da Capo anthology The Show I’ll Never Forget. His songs appear on albums by Rosanne Cash and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson. The Roots used his tune “The Elephant in the Room” as John McCain’s entrance theme on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. One upon a time he performed the lead in the West End musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Prior to that he traveled the world as a bass player. You can find his songs, as RBW and as Uncle Rock, on cdbaby.com, Spotify, iTunes and rogue internet sites.
Tom Holland has been a drummer for 50 years and has played in rock bands from 1972 to the present. He started writing songs in early ‘60s and has played with great musicians and songwriters in various bands in Syracuse and Woodstock. He has performed with The Reverberators since 2001, and that band has produced two CDs. Tom’s 2010 CD release, “Dirt in the Bloodstream,” was produced by Ralph Legnini.
Tom says, “I work at the craft much like a sculptor. There are different ways of looking at tunes and lyrics, depending on where one stands, what one hears, and what one knows and remembers. Anyone can write them; I just happen to be in the right place at the right time, and the music comes out—it uses me to reach others, and I do it because I have no choice.”
Jude Roberts is a singer/songwriter who has been writing, performing, and touring for over ten years. From six months of age, Jude began to imitate Joan Baez songs he heard his mother playing on the guitar or on records. He was captivated by Lotte Lenya singing songs from “The Threepenny Opera” and would mimic her vocal inflection and phrasing. His father was a classical pianist of great talent, who began to teach him piano at age five. After two years of classical voice training at Boston Conservatory of Music, Jude went on to earn a degree in Studio Composition from SUNY Purchase in 1997. It was during the college years, listening to records like “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” and learning to Travis pick, that he felt a strong call to write music. This prompted his switch to composition. In Jude’s work one can hear influences of English, Irish, and Appalachian folk music. Listening deeper, one can find the influence of baroque and Romance era classical pieces, and the folk and pop songs of Italy and France, among other places.
SageArts Theatrical and Artistic Talent
Joanna Rotté, writer, actor, director, and teacher, is Professor Emeritus at Villanova University, where she sequentially served as Chair of the Theatre Department and Director of East Asian Studies. Her theatre books include Acting with Adler and Scene Change: Prague, Moscow, Leningrad. As a member of Actors Equity she’s performed on stage in Philadelphia and New York City. In the seminal years of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, she directed featured productions including her own plays Art Talk, Death of the Father, and Prajna (based on a script by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche). She is a senior meditation practitioner in the Shambhala tradition, and her voice may be heard as the reader of five Pema Chodron books.
Susan Togut, MFA, is a public and gallery artist, educator, therapeutic facilitator, and curator who has integrated her artistic evolution with the demands of diverse populations in the public realm. Over the past twenty years she orchestrated arts and wellness programs for those challenged by traumatic brain injuries, cancer, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses or disabilities. Her collaborative public projects include a contemplative Healing Arbor created with those touched by cancer in Kingston, N.Y., as well as gardens, pathways, murals, and stage sets.