AUBURN/LEWISTON – Singer Jess Tardy will perform at noon Tuesday, July 13, at Auburn’s Festival Plaza as part of L/A Arts’ Music in the Parks concert series. On Thursday, July 15, also at noon, the Grassholes, a six-piece traditional bluegrass ensemble, will play at Lewiston’s Courthouse Plaza.

Singing blues, jazz, and soul, and more, Tardy is an insightful new voice in the music scene. Tardy, who is from Palmyra in Somerset County, has been performing on stage since she was 4. By the time she entered college at Harvard, she had already performed twice at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, jammed at the North Sea Jazz Fest and been “discovered” as a vocalist by jazz great Clark Terry at a jazz camp at the University of Wisconsin.

Since then, she’s collaborated with the likes of bop diva Sheila Jordan and bass virtuoso Steve Swallow. She appeared in the Chicago Art Institute’s 1998 tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, which earned her rave reviews from Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich. He wrote, “With a sound so lush, phrasing so distinctive, and technique so assured … she’s something of a discovery.” Tardy also toured Ireland with The Late Money Band, as the soul band’s sax-wielding lead vocalist and has traveled the singer-songwriter circuit as well. She says, “As long as I’m spending my days and nights making music, I know I’ll be fine.”

A one-mike style

Bluegrass musician Carter Logan, of Jerks of Grass, used to host late-night jam sessions on his back porch in Virginia, where lots of visiting and local musicians would show up and be “grassholes” for the night. After moving to Maine, he used the name for a group of his students he cobbled together in 2000, thinking he’d found some like-minded musicians.

The name stuck, and the Grassholes have now been playing professionally for the past two years. The musicians – Gail Landry on stand-up bass, Merrill Marsh on rhythm guitar, Rob Neilson on mandolin, Sam Pfeifle on lead guitar, Field Rider on banjo and Emily Weiderkher on fiddle, play around one microphone in traditional bluegrass fashion with vocals from all of them.

For rain date rescheduling information, people can tune in to radio station CNN1240. Rain dates are always the following day at the same time and location, Wednesday for Auburn and Friday for Lewiston.

For more information about Music in the Parks and other L/A Arts events, people can contact L/A Arts at 782-7228 (1-800-639-2919) or see the Web site at www.laarts.org.

The summer Music in the Parks series is free.


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