River of Song: A Musical Celebration of California's Life-Giving Waters

River of Song: A Musical Celebration of California's Life-Giving Waters

Laurie Lewis, Thompsonia, Evie Ladin Band, Erik Pearson, Lisa Berman

Sunday, August 18th

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

$35 ADV / $40 DOOR (plus fees)

  • All tickets are subject to an additional $4 per ticket facility fee.

River of Song
On Sunday, August 18, Laurie Lewis will be joined by some of the East Bay’s finest acoustic musicians for the Third Annual “River of Song: A Musical Celebration of California’s Life-Giving Waters,” a special concert to benefit California river conservation.

California rivers have long been an integral part of Grammy-winning bluegrass musician Laurie Lewis’ world: “Our bodies are composed of about 60% water. And 90% of our Bay Area water comes from the high Sierra Nevada Mountains. For me, it has become a calling to try and do what I can to protect these free-flowing rivers and help insure that all beings, human and otherwise, have access to good drinking water.” For over 25 years, she has been sharing her love of rivers with others through her music and rafting trips. Lately, she has upped her involvement with rivers by attending the River Advocacy Training School, through Friends of the River.

Musicians performing in River of Song include Laurie Lewis, Eric & Suzy Thompson with Thompsonia and the Evie Ladin Band with Erik Pearson and Lisa Berman, featuring songs about water and rivers in styles ranging from bluegrass to folk to blues.

The “River of Song” benefit concert was initiated by Suzy Thompson, who performs with husband Eric and daughter Allegra under the name Thompsonia. “Up in the Sierras, there’s a spring-fed pond where we love to swim. Eric and I have gone there every summer for over 40 years to make music with friends and commune with nature. The way that pond changes from year to year, depending on rainfall, always drives home to me how precious our California water is. With Laurie’s deep love for California’s rivers, it was a natural to get her involved with putting together this benefit show.”

Proceeds from “River of Song” will benefit Friends of the River, which works to protect and restore rivers across the state, and the Foothill Conservancy, a Jackson-based, grassroots, nonprofit organization with a special focus on the Sierra Nevada’s upper Mokelumne River. The Mokelumne provides 90 percent of the water for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. The organizations will have representatives at the event to provide information about current threats to our state’s rivers as well as efforts to protect them.

“We were thrilled when Laurie contacted us about this concert,” said Foothill Conservancy President Katherine Evatt. “Our organization has worked for the Mokelumne River for nearly 30 years, and our efforts to protect the river help protect the East Bay’s water quality. We’re excited to have the opportunity to meet East Bay water consumers and talk about the wild and scenic river that sustains East Bay communities.”

Friends of the River Engagement Coordinator Toby Briggs adds, “River of Song is an exceptional evening that builds our community and awareness about the issues our state and federal rivers face in the coming year. Thank you to the musicians who are amplifying the message about protecting our rivers by sharing their talent!”
Laurie Lewis
Laurie Lewis
Not only has the International Bluegrass Music Association twice named Laurie Lewis the Female Vocalist of the Year – not only did she win a Grammy for her contribution to True Life Blues: the Songs of Bill Monroe – but she also graduated from Berkeley High. Since graduation, she’s recorded more than 20 albums – with the Good Ol’ Persons, Grant Street, Kathy Kallick, and her current band Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, as well as several solo projects – and is now working with many talented new artists, helping them find their way in the recording business.
Thompsonia combines Eric & Suzy Thompson’s deep devotion to southern roots music with daughter Allegra’s fresh perspective, creating feel-good music that richochets between the rowdy and the sentimental, with an abundance of groove and a bit of a quirky edge. They are celebrating the release of their second CD, “Nothing But Rain”, an old-time romp ranging from epic ballads to red-hot ragtime to topical songs of the Depression (all too apt for 2018!) to blues harmonies. Suzy and Allegra’s genetically-matched vocals (dubbed “The Everly Sisters sound” by Geoff Muldaur) are featured, along with stellar lead playing from Eric on mandolin and guitar and Suzy’s fiery fiddling. In addition to the Cajun, blues and old-time music for which Eric and Suzy have long been acclaimed, the trio also performs witty originals alongside obscurities in styles ranging from rockabilly to hokum to Americana.

“Thompsonia makes the listener feel like the guest of honor at a party!”
Joe Newberry

“Thompsonia sounds like Hazel and Alice had joined forces with Memphis Minnie and recorded with Sam Phillips at Sun Studio.”
Dave Alvin

"effortless-sounding instrumental virtuosity, buoyant ensemble playing, soulful singing, and a sense of humor desperately needed in these grim times”
Derk Richardson, Peghead Nation

"A beautiful and colorful trip through the Thompsons' vast musical world, with the sense of joy and humor that always bubbles under everything they play!"
Bruce Molsky
Evie Ladin Band
Evie Ladin Band
"Think Rhiannon Giddens with less publicity and you will not be far wrong..a truly original sound in new old-time Americana.” - fRoots

"The best example I have seen of a Neo-Trad band's sound being authentically anchored in old time music but extending it into new and entertaining directions." - Founder, Clifftop Stringband Contest

Tenacious, innovative string musicians/dancers, Evie Ladin, Keith Terry and Erik Pearson throw down an unusually entertaining live show with three-part harmony, instrumental chops and sonic surprises. In 2019 they release two CDs, celebrating both of their musical sides: one totally trad fiddle/banjo duets, and one adventurous covers and originals. Grounded in old-time repertoire, writing clever lyrics with mature arrangements, intermingling music and dance, the performance experience is a stand-out.

The polyrhythmic heat of Evie's clawhammer banjo has been heard from A Prairie Home Companion to Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Born and raised on Southern music, from inner city Baltimore to Oakland, she has taken home ribbons in folk song from Mt Airy, NC Fiddler’s Convention, and Neo-Trad Band from the Appalachian Stringband Festival, Clifftop, WV. “She can write, she can sing, and she pulls back from the saccharine brink with wit - a sharp intelligence,” Grant Alden, No Depression.

Evie has graced the Freight stage numerous times, with this band, the Stairwell Sisters, the International Body Music Festival, and many other projects. You can find her here many Tuesday nights when she’s not touring, leading the Clawhammer Banjo program since we opened at this site.

Keith Terry (bass, percussion, body music, vocals) is a renowned percussionist/rhythm dancer, and the founder of the International Body Music Festival. A pioneer in contemporary Body Music, Keith produces large-scale intercultural collaborations and educational outreach. Keith brings a cinematic ear to playing bass as tonal percussion, with bells, box, body and toys.

Erik Pearson (guitar, banjo, bass, vocals) is a musician's musician with the Crooked Jades, storyteller Diane Ferlatte, and his solo projects. His original banjo tune Fork & File was the soundtrack for a rapids rafting scene in Sean Penn's movie Into the Wild.
Erik Pearson
Erik Pearson
Erik Pearson has been immersed in music of all kinds since he was a child in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he studied classical flute and music theory, sung in choirs, and played in rock bands. In the late 1980’s at Oberlin College/Conservatory of Music he studied Music Composition and Cultural Anthropology, and was also drawn to Carnatic Music of Southern India and to his growing interest in the banjo and Old Time American Music, a passion which has remained a constant in his life.

Since moving to San Francisco in 1990 he has made over 30 records/CDs and performed with a multitude of bands including Mushroom, Sonya Hunter, Evie Ladin/Evil Diane, The Crooked Jades, Alice Bierhorst, The Billy Talbot Band, Daevid Allen’s University of Errors, Irene Sazer, Matt Lax and Nearly Beloved, The Stairwell Sisters, and his own Erik Pearson Band. He has composed music for San Francisco choreographers Chris Black, Erin Mei-Ling Stuart, and Jordan Fuchs, and written film and chamber music ranging from Creeping Dawn: Mountain & Shadow, a prize winning composition for 24 recorders performed in the 2007 season of the American Recorder Orchestra of the West, to “Fork & File”, a banjo composition on the Crooked Jades’ World’s on Fire CD which was included in the soundtrack for Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild.
Lisa Berman
Lisa Berman
Lisa Berman is a multi-instrumentalist (dobro/slide, banjo, guitar), vocalist, and songwriter in the old-time and folk vein. Her years of studying Congolese dance and drum also inform her music-making. Lisa performed and toured with The Stairwell Sisters (which included Evie Ladin, for 12 years), and continues to play and record with the genre-bending old-time string band, The Crooked Jades (going on 20+ years). She has performed around the world on stages, such as: A Prairie Home Companion, Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center, Strawberry Music Festival, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Lisa is also featured on Kenny Feinstein’s “Loveless: Hurts to Love” (an acoustic re-make of My Bloody Valentine’s album), and in “Bright Land” (a Crooked Jades + Kate Weare Co. collaboration—old-time music meets modern dance). Lisa grew up in a musical home with living room gatherings and was "dragged" to many bluegrass & old-time festivals as a child by her banjo-playing dad. Eventually, she couldn’t resist the call. By day, Lisa is an art-director/graphic designer/photographer.