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Celebrating the 23rd Annual
RBA Concert Season

Another great selection of performers in a comfortable setting at reasonable prices

Individual show tickets: $20/advance, $25/door
(except May 2, which are: $25/advance, $30/door)
As always: Half-price for teens and all students, free for under-13 and music students.

Jamming starts at 5:00, Doors Open at 7:00, Showtime is 7:30

New for the 2014-15 Season we will have special host for a Slow Jam.

2014-2015 Season

February 7th
Keith Little and the Little Band
with special guest Blaine Sprouse

March 14th, 2015
Claire Lynch Band

April 11th, 2015
Crary, Evans and Spurgin

May 2nd, 2015
Della Mae

5 pm: Doors open for jamming
7 pm: Concert venue open
7:30 pm: Showtime

TICKETS: $20/advance, $25/door
(May 2 tickets are: $25/advance, $30/door)
Half-price for teens and all students; free for under-13 and music students

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Keith Little and the the Little Band

First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View, 1667 Miramonte Ave. (at Cuesta Dr.), Mountain View

Keith Little
and the the Little Band
with special guest
Blaine Sprouse

is a collaborative ensemble coming together to perform a diverse range of bluegrass-based music. Their combination of experienced and emerging musicians, all of the highest caliber, produces a sound that is both authentic and unique. Their Stanley Brothers tribute raised the RBA roof last year, and we look forward to all kinds of excitement with their return.

Keith Little (guitar) is a nationally-acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, teacher, and producer. Shortly after his first professional engagement in 1969, Keith met and began performing with local bluegrass legends Vern and Ray. This collaboration evolved into his tenure with Rose Maddox and the Vern Williams Band, in what has proven to be milestones in west coast country music. Keith has been an important member of many regional and national touring bands (Country Gentlemen, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Lonesome Standard Time, Frank Wakefield, High Country, Laurie Lewis, Kathy Kallick, duo with Jim Nunally), and performed on GRAMMY-award recordings of Dolly Parton and the Chieftains. Keith’s compositions have been recorded by Crystal Gayle, Longview, Claire Lynch, Tim O’Brien, Vern Williams, High Country, and the Whites (among others), and he is an honorary lifetime member of the California Bluegrass Association. An amazing vocalist, Keith is also currently a featured member of the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience and the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band.

Michael Witcher (dobro) grew up playing with his father Dennis and brother Gabe in their Los Angeles-based bluegrass band, The Witcher Brothers. A featured member of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Michael has also recorded or toured with a variety of musicians, including The Gibson Brothers, Dolly Parton, Dwight Yoakam, Joan Osborne, John Paul Jones, Laurie Lewis, and Sara Watkins.

Josh Tharp (banjo) is not only a great player of all the bluegrass instruments but also a masterful harmony vocalist, having grown up singing in church, the son of a pastor. Josh performed with regional Arizona groups until 2006, when he joined the long time Southern California band Lost Highway, and began making guitars, mandolins, banjos, and dobros; Josh performs with the LittleBand on a banjo of his own making.

Luke Abbott (fiddle, mandolin) began playing at bluegrass festivals at the age of eleven, simultaneously learning all the bluegrass instruments. Besides many years as the banjo player in his family's band, he has performed with other artists, including bluegrass greats Kathy Kallick and Frank Wakefield. Victory Music's review of his 2010 solo album: “Luke’s music completely blindsided me. He’s got a great, crackly voice and is a monster picker.”

Steve Swan (acoustic bass) might be best-known for the high quality basses and guitars he sells, but he’s previously played in several influential bands: The Dusty Road Boys (with Sandy Rothman and Ed Neff), High Country (with Butch Waller and Larry Cohea), and the Frank Wakefield Band (with David Nelson). Steve brings to the group a steady beat, a steady personality, and a team player's spirit.

Special Guest
Blaine Sprouse (fiddle) is originally from West Virginia, has been living in west Marin for the past few years, and is a member of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band. He was the fiddler in many notable bluegrass bands, including the Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse, Jimmy Martin, the Dreadful Snakes, and even Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, where he filled in for his primary inspiration, Kenny Baker.

He’s released several acclaimed solo recordings, and (in 1984) was the fiddler on Alabama’s hit, “If You Want to Live in Texas, You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band.” RBA audiences know Blaine is the Real Deal from his shows with Peter Rowan, James Reams, and, yes, Keith Little.

"Seeing Little play is pure delight (and) his ability to capture the 'high lonesome sound' of bluegrass vocals is apparent in his lead singing. He has the ability to blend vocally with other singers so his tenor harmony can add a rich tang to the sound that enhances the lead vocal. Appropriately, two-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Claire Lynch calls Little 'the blend-meister.’ Little says this new quintet plays rich acoustic music drawn from traditional and contemporary sources, with members contributing sterling instrumental chops and adding to the vibrant vocal harmony. There is real sustenance in excellent music and, says Little, 'this group can really serve it up.’”
- Kate Laddish, iPinion syndicate

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Claire Lynch Band

Different Location!
First Presbyterian Church, 1140 Cowper St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

“One of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.”
- Dolly Parton

Long recognized and praised as a creative force in acoustic music, Claire Lynch is a pioneer who continually pushes the boundaries of bluegrass, and a singer described in 2014 by the Digital Journal as “one of the 10 Best Angelic Voices of Our Time.”

Claire has been awarded IBMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year three times (2013, 2010, and 1997), and received a prestigious United States Artists Walker Fellowship in 2012. She’s also received two Grammy nominations, and won two 2014 IBMA Awards: Song of the Year ("Dear Sister," co-written with Louisa Branscomb) and Recorded Event of the Year (guest vocal appearance with Special Consensus on "Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver").

Claire Lynch began playing music in the mid-70s with the Alabama-based Front Porch String Band. When they went off the road in the early ‘80s, Claire began writing for others — her songs have been recorded by The Seldom Scene, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Cherryholmes, and The Whites — and pursuing a career as a session vocalist. She has since been a background singer with Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Pam Tillis, Alison Brown, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Ralph Stanley, Keith Little, Donna the Buffalo, Sara Watkins, the Gibson Brothers, Jonathan Edwards, and Jesse Winchester.

She formed the Claire Lynch Band in 2005, and has made powerful — and varied — music ever since. The current CLB is a powerful juggernaut, a quartet that has the innate ability to perfectly interpret the beauty, subtlety, and genre-defying sophistication of Claire’s music. The Claire Lynch Band features like-minded musicians blending tradition and innovation: two-time IBMA-winning bassist (and clawhammer banjo player-dancer-percussionist) Mark Schatz, soulful multi-instrumentalist Matt Wingate, and young string wizard Bryan McDowell, who at 18, had an unprecedented triple win (guitar, mandolin, AND fiddle) at the Winfield, Kansas Walnut Valley Festival.

“Listening to Claire Lynch sing is not something to be undertaken casually. Her songs and stage presence demand the listener’s rapt attention. She’s an intensely soulful singer, whose distinctive voice resonates with power and strength, yet retains an engaging innocence and crystalline purity. She’s also a songwriter of extraordinary ability who can bring listeners to their feet with her buoyant rhythms or to their knees with her sometimes almost unbearably poignant and insightful lyrics.”
- Dave Higgs, “Bluegrass Breakdown (WPLN/Nashville, WAMU/Washington, DC)


Holiday! (Thrill Hill/2014)
Dear Sister (Compass/2013)
Whatcha Gonna Do? (Rounder/2009)
Crowd Favorites (Rounder/2007)
New Day (Rounder/2006)
Lovelight (Rounder/2000)
Out In the Country (Copper Creek/2000)
Silver and Gold (Rounder/1997)
Moonlighter (Rounder/1995)
Friends For A Lifetime (Brentwood/1993 > Rounder/1998)
Breakin’ It (Ambush/1982)

Hills of Alabam (Rebel/2012)
Lines and Traces (Rebel/1991)
Front Porch String Band (Leather/1981 > Rebel/1992)
Country Rain (Lanark/1977)
Smilin’ At You (self/1977)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Crary, Evans and Spurgin

Different Location!
First Presbyterian Church, 1140 Cowper St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Dan Crary, Bill Evans, and Steve Spurgin, all of whom have deep roots in American music, are a new acoustic trio playing a combination of cutting edge bluegrass, folk, and Americana music.

Dan Crary, a native of Kansas City now living in Placerville, is a pioneer of flatpicking guitar solos in a bluegrass band. A founding member of the Bluegrass Alliance, and the “newgrass” approach, his 20+ year collaboration with Byron Berline and John Hickman (as BCH, Sundance, California) earned him numerous awards and accolades. A veteran of tours in more than thirty countries, Dan’s a stylist with an international reputation for taste and brilliance. His “racing licks sounded like the fretboard equivalent of Fred Astaire dancing up, then down a staircase.” (LA Times)

From Charlottesville, VA, longtime Bay Area resident Bill Evans is an internationally-respected five-string banjo life force. Whether it’s his one-man history performance, “The Banjo In America,” the annual “California Banjo Extravaganza”s, the monthly “Bangers & Grass” shows, extensive teaching and music camp presence, authorship of Banjo For Dummies, or guest appearances from the San Francisco Symphony to A Prairie Home Companion, Bill’s deep knowledge, intense virtuosity, and contagious passion for all things banjo is undeniable.

Texan Steve Spurgin is a former Nashville staff writer providing hits for the publishing companies of Gene Watson and Reba McEntire. His song, “A Walk In the Irish Rain,” has been recorded by a dozen artists, including Country Current (the US Navy Band) and Lily of the West. After performing with everyone from Byron Berline & Sundance to Freddy Fender, Steve won the “New Folk” award at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival, and has been an in-demand singer-songwriter ever since.

A Crary, Evans & Spurgin show includes new songs and old stories, blazing instrumental artistry, and deep-down, powerfully-felt musical moments. It’s whistling winds in the pines, rambling boys and tragic girls, joys and laughter from old times, furious and foot-tapping instrumental tunes, and a little touch of glory-to-God. And it’s the hovering ghosts of Jimmie Rogers and The Carter Family and Bill and Lester and Earl and Woody and all the greats who showed the way.

Crary, Evans & Spurgin: innovative, powerful & unforgettable.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Della Mae

First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View, 1667 Miramonte Ave. (at Cuesta Dr.), Mountain View

In a relatively short period of time, Della Mae has become a sensation in the acoustic music world. They’ve released only two albums (the second on Rounder), yet won the 2013 IBMA Emerging Artist Of the YearAward.

Commanding a powerful collective chemistry with vocal, instrumental, and songwriting talent to spare, the Boston (and Nashville)-based combo mines time-honored elements to create music that's unmistakably fresh and contemporary. These five multitalented young women are respectful of American musical tradition, but not restricted by it, combining centuries' worth of musical influences with an emotionally tough, undeniably modern songwriting sensibility.

Della Mae is …
Celia Woodsmith:
lead vocals, guitar

Jenni Lyn Gardner:
mandolin, vocals

Kimber Ludiker:

Courtney Hartman:
lead guitar, vocals


Q. If everyone in Della Mae is from a different state how did you all get together?

A: Kimber Ludiker (fiddle) had the idea of starting this band in Boston, MA. It started out as a joke under the name Big Spike Hammer. The idea was to dress in power suits and play “Mangrass” … whatever that means! After a few fun shows, Kimber decided the band had potential. The name changed to a more feminine Della Mae, and she began to assemble women from all over the country. Della Mae now has a release on Rounder Records and tours worldwide.

Q: Why Boston of all places?

A: There is an incredible community of musicians in Boston, not to mention several fine schools. The Boston scene is supportive, and burgeoning with inspirational songwriting and musicianship. While two band members still live and work out of Boston, the others have relocated to Nashville.

Q. Where does the name "Della Mae" come from?

A: The Osbourne Brothers song Big Spike Hammer: "Hey hey Della Mae, why do you treat me this way?"

Q. Why no banjo?

A: We do have a banjo!

"Bluegrass is edging towards both the experimental and the mainstream. Following the adventurous work of the Punch Brothers, here's an impressive and highly commercial blend of contemporary and traditional influences from the all-female quintet Della Mae. The ladies succeed because they are all fine instrumentalists, and have the ability to match upbeat bluegrass with country balladry and a dash of pop. So a reworked traditional song is matched against a new and slinky number, a sad-edged country waltz, and the charming closing track, featuring exquisite harmony vocals and a vintage 1933 guitar that was once played by June Carter.” (The Guardian)

“As soon as lead vocalist Celia Woodsmith launches in, it’s clear too that we’re in the presence of one hell of a singer. Her approach is relaxed, confident; Woodsmith is content to impress instead of dazzle … There are more standouts here than you can shake a stick at. What’s most impressive, though, is not that Della Mae has succeeded, but that the band has done it and made it seem so easy. There are no signs of the self-consciousness and strain that mar so many roots-based releases. Instead, this is the rarest kind of success: the past grounds it, sure, but so too does the present, and the result illuminates both.” (PopMatters)