Heather Styka (Chicago) Heather Styka is not afraid to go where others fear to tread. Beneath “sweet, soulful vocals” (Portland Press Herald) and “nimble fingerpicked guitar” (Dispatch Magazine) lie narratives of vulnerability, strength, and wanderlust. A Kerrville New Folk Finalist and award-winning writer with a #3 album on the FOLK-DJ charts, this young troubadour has performed for over a decade, released four full-length albums, and toured from coast to coast.
Ben Shannon (Pittsburgh)has been busy since his last BurghSong appearance, winning the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriter Showcase in 2015 and being named a finalist in the 2017 Kerrville Folk Festival New Song Contest, touring in both the Southeast and Southwest, and releasing his second recording, Farewell Mountain, a “rich and sometimes rocking Americana record” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Songs from that record, his debut Move On, and from his growing stock of new songs will be part of the program.
Jasmine Tate (Philadelphia) Jasmine Tate is a singer/songwriter based A former Pittsburgher who retains strong ties here, Jasmine draws comparisons to Tracy Chapman and Lauryn Hill. Her songs are raw, moving stories that provoke people to look inward. Unlike most emotionally demanding songs, Jasmine’s also provide hope in the midst of hard realities. Her well-received 2017 release has the self-explanatory title “Live at the Pittsburgh Winery.” She is a charismatic performer on stages across the country and at her home church, In the Light Philadelphia, where she is Creative Director.
Erika May (Dryfork, W.V.) To complete our Pittsburgh diaspora bill, E.May – the moniker for multi-disciplinary artist Erika May – is not afraid of much. She has jumped out of airplanes, lit her hula hoop on fire, skied down triple-black pistes, and regularly performs on stage in front of thousands of people. She puts her nose in beehives at her home in West Virginia and tours across North America. She has opened for 10,000 Maniacs, Toubabe Krewe, Rusted Root, Dar Williams, Loudon Wainwright III, Marcia Ball, The Black Lilies and Cabinet. She writes and performs equally on piano and guitar.
Korby Lenker (Nashville) Author and songwriter Korby Lenker started his latest album Thousand Springs in back-country Idaho and then drove to 7 states to enlist 30 fellow young folkies to collaborate. Korby’s unique approach to music is the mainstay of a career now tipping into its third decade. Along the way there have been numerous songwriting awards (including first place wins at the 2016 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriters Showcase) and festival appearances, (Sasquatch, Bumbershoot). Lenker has also shared the stage with such luminaries as Willie Nelson, Ray Lamontagne, Nickel Creek, Chris Isaak, to name a few.
Christopher Mark Jones (Pittsburgh) returns to BurghSong to share his Americana with a groove. A prolific writer, he will be showcasing material from his 2017 release Incantations, which “…uses the palate of American roots music to weave tales of families, lovers, workers, travel and hope.” (Robin Greenstein, songwriter) and bringing the newly published “Selected Lyrics 1977-2017” (Little Red Tree Press). He will appear in a quartet format with Vince Camut on pedal steel and guitar, Jim Spears on bass and Eric Kurtzrock on percussion.
Kipyn Martin (Washington D.C.) is an indie-folk singer-songwriter whose roots sink deep into the banks of the Shenandoah River. She currently plays festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses, and house concerts from New England to Texas. She celebrated several milestones in January 2017 including the release of Dance Across the Sky, a new solo project following up her debut Undercover Muse, and winning the coveted Gold Award in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest (Open category) for God is Love, her third MASC Gold adding to previous wins in 2013 and 2014.
Brad Yoder (Pittsburgh) is probably the first name mentioned when Pittsburgh folk music is the subject. With a long career performing, writing, recording and hosting touring artists in his Hospitality House concert series, he has made an indelible mark on our music scene. His most recent album as of these notes was 2010’s Excellent Trouble, which AcousticLive called “a heavyweight album from a major talent.” Keep your ears open for the new album scheduled to be released before this concert. He will perform with long-time collaborator Jason Rafalak on upright bass.
Tim Grimm (Indiana) is a bit of a Renaissance man in the performing arts world. He has for the past 15 years blended his love for songwriting, travel, and the storytelling of acting (theatre, film and television). His most recent recording, The Turning Point, produced the #1 song on Folk radio in 2014—King of the Folksingers. It was a particularly gratifying honor, given the song is a tribute to Tim’s friend and musical icon, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Tim’s songs are full of the rural rumblings that have shaped his life—rich with descriptive details, and sung with warmth and intimacy—recognizing the inextinguishable national romance with the idea of the family farm and the vanishing landscape of rural America.
Kayla Schureman (Pittsburgh) was born and raised in the San Fernando valley of California, but now calls Pittsburgh home. Her debut album Kiss The Ground was released in 2017, was a local focus on WYEP and got excellent reviews nationwide. The No Depression reviewer went all in, saying “I have found one of my favorite new voices in roots/folk music and quite possibly my favorite record of 2017.” The songs “showcase her confessional lyrics, pure country folk vocals and the band’s tender, melancholy touch.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
(Nashville) Mare was the child of an itinerant pastor, living in eight different places before she was ten. For Turkish-born Nomad, the journey led through the Istanbul Conservatory to Berklee College of Music. Together, they lead listeners through Arizona deserts, Oklahoma oil fields and Amsterdam canals. Journeys go inward too, exploring hope, heartbreak and barroom brawls. Story and song are woven together by Mare’s intimate delivery and Nomad’s exquisite piano and accordion.
Currently based in Nashville, the pair were 2016 and 2015 Kerrville NewFolk finalists and 2015 Falcon Ridge Emerging Artists.
Casey Hanner is the front woman for Pittsburgh-based indie pop band Donora, on Rostrum Records. She first picked up a guitar at age 15, painted it blue and silver, and started writing music. Casey’s solo performances showcase her range of songwriting styles from stripped-down Donora favorites, to 60’s girl group pop, to country break-up songs. Ms. Hanner’s influences in the country music world come from her father, famed Pittsburgh musician and country/rock songwriter, Dave Hanner, whose songs have been number one hits with country artists such as Don Williams and The Oak Ridge Boys. For her BurghSong appearance she will be joined by guitarist Ernie Francestine.