Once a die-hard rocker, Don Conoscenti is one of the most respected musicians and critically acclaimed songwriters in acoustic music. His live performances are a soulful fusion of styles blended from his experience playing rock, jazz, blues, folk, funk and country. But his primary love is the landscape of story telling and songwriting. His "one man band" sound is driven by an unusual rhythmic sense and a finger style approach to guitar arrangement which is set apart by the use of partial and multiple capos. The performances are never canned. There are no set lists. Expect to go on an improvisational musical journey of unexpected segues, humorous reflections, stories and songs. Songs about lovers, outcasts, healing, loss, mystery, spirit, murder and redemption. In 1999, Conoscenti appeared in Boston as part of the first Inner Forest Concert presentations spearheaded by visual artist LSM Mukha Reyes and jazz drumming legend Rakalam Bob Moses. Conoscenti has met the direct descendents of native tribal leaders Crazy Horse and Geronimo and has been added to the Library of Congress archives as a Folk Revivalist. At seventeen Conoscenti set out across America, hitchhiking and traveling by truck, motorcycle, bus and the occasional freight train. He trekked to every one of the forty-eight contiguous states plus Hawaii, Jamaica, South America and Japan. While living in Vermont, scooping ice cream at a homemade shop in Burlington run by two guys named Ben and Jerry, he formed the first of dozens of bands comprised of virtuoso players from the rock and jazz worlds. After bouncing from north to south and coast to coast for several years he settled in Atlanta, rising up through the thriving acoustic music scene based out of Eddie's Attic in Decatur...a scene which has produced hit makers like Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins, SugarLand and John Mayer. It was at Eddie's Attic that he also befriended a young Ellis Paul and they've been close friends, collaborators and partners in crime since. After leaving Atlanta Conoscenti spent several years each in Texas, Oklahoma and the high desert of southern Colorado in the San Luis Valley. Conoscenti commands an array of instruments: acoustic and electric 6 & 12 string guitar, steel guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, percussion, flute, recorder, mandolin, banjo and didgeridoo. As an expert on the creative process and business essentials for the independent artist, he's been a regular on panels and as a teacher at facilities/events such as The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Song School (Planet Bluegrass / Lyons, CO), Lamb's Retreat for Songwriters (Harbor Springs, MI), The Americana Song Academy (Sisters, OR). He's made many friends in the Folk, Rock, Jazz, and Native American musical communities and they have lent their talents to his recordings and performances. The credits for his numerous CDs, released on his own Cogtone Records, read like a Who's Who of contemporary acoustic music. His 1999 release, Mysterious Light, climbed into the top 20 albums played by folk and acoustic DJ's worldwide. NPR, World Caf and Acoustic Caf have all spotlighted his music. Conoscenti's 2001 release, Paradox of Grace, featured the pivotal song, "The Other Side". Following the attacks of Sept 11, 2001 the song was played regularly on WFUV-FM in New York City and as a result he was invited to perform it on the nationally syndicated television program 'Crossing Over with John Edward'. Because of it's comforting effect the song continues to be used internationally in healing and hospice work and is played or performed at countless memorial services.
Caroline Spence is a singer and songwriter born and raised in Charlottesville, VA and currently residing in Nashville, TN. Caroline has opened Joshua James, Lucy Kaplanksy, Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart, Susan, Schuyler Fisk and Joshua Radin, Harper Blynn, and Susan Greenbaum in addition to headlining shows of her own. She has shared the stage at Writer's Nights with national artists such as Lucy Wainwright Roche and Rebecca Pronsky as well as with Charlottesville artists, namely, Carleigh Nesbit, Genna Matthew, and Carl Anderson.
A native of Maine, Connor Garvey is finding his resonance with song enthusiasts across the US. His "winsome way with melody brings to mind Paul Simon" through songs that "prove you can be optimistic and self-aware without being boring." Leaving audiences uplifted and inspired he carries with him the tradition of acoustic music which Vance Gilbert and David Wilcox both agree is in the right hands with Connor Garvey. He wins song competitions, he fills rooms, but most of all he moves people.
It takes a lot of life experience to craft engaging, universal song lyrics—and singer, songwriter and musician Mary Jennings has had more than a lion’s share. How’s this for a start: career stops as a teacher, aerobics instructor, clothing retailer, bartender, luggage saleswoman and paranormal researcher. Add to that the early loss of her mom , and there are plenty stories to share. With an enormous singing voice that transcends her small frame, an extraordinary rock sound full of robust piano hooks, and a one-of-a-kind storytelling ability drawn from a remarkable and emotional history, Mary has carved out her own unique niche in the industry by doing things her way. Born into a family with strong musical roots, she began playing piano at five and has fond memories of her paternal grandparents teaching her vocal harmonies at a young age – a skill that is very evident in her work today. Mary’s adolescent and teenage years were marked by her development on piano and the cultivation of her vocal ability through many school plays and musicals, but it was the sudden death of her mother in 2001 that prompted a seismic surge in her musical expression. “When people ask me why I’m a musician, I tell them that it’s largely because music is my therapy,” she says. “That entire notion really began with the death of my mom. My dad offered to help me record an album shortly after her death, and the experience of writing about what I was going through at the time went a long way towards helping me cope.” It was on that album that Mary established her creative foundation, writing music that immediately bonds her to the listener in a genuine way. That openness, and the raw emotion inherent in both her writing and voice, has been a cornerstone of her work ever since. “I share these emotions with others because I know so many have felt the same things. If I can create melodies and deliver words that express their feelings, I’ve done my job.” While the music alone makes Mary Jennings an artist that fans can easily relate to, her somewhat quirky personality and a diverse range of interests have also gone a long way towards building a bond with her fan base. An avid horror movie fan, she has more than 400 fright flicks in her own private collection and openly admits that being scared and thrilled is probably her biggest geek factor. Her love for thrifting and secondhand clothing, something she learned from her mother, is a major influence on her vintage style and the inspiration behind the enormously popular clothing swap shows that she has hosted in a number of U.S. cities. More recently, Mary has turned her unique style, love of thrifting, and drive to create into a new project, No Sass Creations, through which she makes and sells bolo ties. “I don’t want my fans thinking of me as just another musician asking them to come to shows or buy music,” she remarks. “It’s more important, and fun, to engage with them and shine a little light on my hobbies and personal life because at the end of the day, I’m really not much different from any of them.” Mary’s strong work ethic and commitment to her craft has paid off handsomely in recent years. A Casio-sponsored artist, she was featured in an online advertising campaign for the company’s new line of keyboards in 2011 and her song “The Darkness” was placed in the Lionsgate motion picture The Devil’s Seed (ironically, a horror film). In 2014, her song “Move” was featured during a final dance on Lifetime’s tv show “Dance Moms.” Mary has organized a number of extensive tours as well, opening for artists such as Jeffrey Gaines, Mike Doughty, Teddy Geiger, Ryan Cabrera, and Rachel Yamagata, and she has appeared at several major festivals including CMJ and South by Southwest. She often treats fans to a unique stage set-up when performing on her own, prominently featuring a loop pedal that she uses to effortlessly layer rhythmic beats and beautiful background harmonies over her unmistakably unique piano playing and vocals. Whether you experience Mary Jennings on stage or on one of the handful of albums she has released, you’re witnessing a very special artist who has confidently found her voice over the course of a long, and at time, heartbreaking journey.