Long to lead outreach events May 8-10 as part of the Performing Artist Engagement Program
Lanesboro Arts presents Larry Long’s American Roots Revue with Tonia Hughes, Daryl Boudreaux, George Parrish, Yohannes Tona, JD Steele and Billy Steele at the historic St. Mane Theatre in downtown Lanesboro on Friday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. The American Roots Revue will bring together several of Minnesota’s most gifted performers and arts educators for an extraordinary evening of artists sharing the stage and each other’s songs! Produced by award-winning singer-songwriter, Smithsonian Records recording artist and community builder Larry Long, the American Roots Revue mines the core of America’s richest musical traditions of First Nation, gospel, blues, folk, rock and R&B. The ensemble boasts the artistic range to salute iconic American musical heroes like Pete Seeger, Mahalia Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Billie Holiday, among others. American Roots Revue performs original works, as well, which honor the life stories of Minnesota elders long-established and newly arrived.
The American Roots Revue reinvents itself with a different line up and a unique performance at each stop it makes along the road as part of a Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Tour grant. In Lanesboro, Long will be joined by JD Steele (JD and his dynamic vocal siblings, “The Steeles,” have garnered nearly every major music award and accolade that Minnesota has to offer), Tonia Hughes (Tonia’s powerhouse vocal style is colored with melodic acrobats and elements of gospel, blues, jazz, R&B, rock and worship), Billy Steele (keyboard player and vocalist who is also another member of the dynamic Steele family and the producer of the Grammy Award-winning act Sounds of Blackness), Yohannes Tona (bass player, composer, session musician from Ethiopia with roots in Afro, Latin, funk, reggae and jazz), Daryl Boudreaux (percussionist for Sounds of Blackness, Sara Renner and T. Mychael Rambo) and George Parrish (guitarist for Alexander O’Neal, Eumir Deodato, Cherrell, Seals & Crofts, Robert Robinson and the Twin Cities Gospel Choir).
As part of the Performing Artist Engagement Program supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, Long will visit Lanesboro on May 8-10 for a series of community engagement events utilizing his songwriting curriculum to assist community members in the process of sharing local stories and turning that collective narrative into a song that celebrates commonalities across various groups. Long’s talents as a communicator and storyteller are sure to inspire and energize through a week-long series of outreach events leading up to the concert on May 17.
Long will be in Lanesboro on Wednesday, May 8, to get acclimated, collect stories informally and meet with several community groups and residents.
On Thursday, May 9, Long will give a mini-performance at Kenilworth Apartments, following SEMCAC Senior Dining.
A public music and storytelling circle at the High Court Loft will be on Thursday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m.
The regular open mic at High Court Pub is taking place on Thursday, May 9, following the workshop, and Long is planning to share some music and stories there.
Long will visit the classroom of Stena Lieb, art teacher at Lanesboro Public Schools, on Friday, May 10, to help lead artmaking projects while sharing his experience with students as a full-time working artist.
The Over the Back Fence Variety Show will feature Long as a musical guest, and Long will perform alongside community members in the show. Those interested in participating may attend rehearsals on Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. and on Friday, May 10, at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Mane Theatre. The variety show will take place on Friday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the St. Mane Theatre.
Long has made his life work the celebration of everyday heroes. Author, historian, actor, and broadcaster Studs Terkel called Long, “a true American troubadour.” Long has written and performed hundreds of ballads celebrating community and history makers. His work has taken him from rural Alabama to the Lakota communities in South Dakota as he has given musical voice to struggling Midwest farmers, embattled workers, veterans and marginalized communities. He assembled the first hometown tribute to Woody Guthrie in Okemah, Okla., which today has evolved into the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. Now a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist, Long has performed at major concerts and festivals throughout the United States and world, including Awesome Africa Festival (South Africa), Winnipeg Folk Festival (Canada), at the Hollywood Bowl with Kris Kristofferson, and at Madison Square Garden with Joan Baez and others for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration.
Twin Cities recording artist and actress Tonia Hughes is undoubtedly one of the best-kept secrets in the Midwest. Her vocal style is colored with melodic acrobats and elements of gospel, blues, jazz, R&B, rock and worship, the fusion of which produces a delivery that is authentic, incomparable and electrifying! Besides being a proud recipient of the 2017-2018 McKnight Fellowship for Musicians, Hughes has garnered critical acclaim for her leading roles in musical and theatrical productions. Her credits include “Caroline or Change” (2009), Guthrie Theater; “Loves Covers” (2010), Women’s Club of Minneapolis; “Mahalia” (2011), Fellowship Baptist Church; “Cinderella,” The Ordway Theater (2011); and “Black Nativity” (2003 to present), Penumbra Theater.
J.D. Steele, the eldest Steele sibling, was awarded a Bush Artist Composer Fellowship and is currently the director and founder of the MacPhail Community Youth Choir. When speaking of Steele’s gifts as a songwriter in the acclaimed Burial at Thebes at the Guthrie Theatre, the Star Tribune wrote “… Steele made the magic happen.” In 2005, he ventured to Nairobi Kenya and developed a youth choir called Shangilia Youth Ensemble, located in one of the largest slums in Africa. His three workshops enabled the choir to make its debut at the Zanzibar Film Festival in Tanzania and it has successfully finished a tour in the states. Finally, the choir made its way to the Twin Cities and was presented in concert in 2010 at the prestigious Ordway Theater in St. Paul. He has been commissioned on 10 original musicals including the collaboration with his sister, Jevetta, on “Two Queens, One Castle” at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis and “Snapshots; Life in The City” at the great American History Theatre in St. Paul. Steele continues to tour internationally with the musical productions of “Bagdad Cafe the Musical and the Gospel” at Colonus.
Billy Steele, the youngest of the Steele siblings, performs, writes, and produces for the Grammy Award-winning ensemble, the Sounds of Blackness, for which he is currently serving as assistant director. He is the co-recipient of three Grammy Awards via this talented ensemble. He continues to write and produce for various artists, including the Steeles. His voice has been heard on soundtracks with artists such as Rod Stewart, Luther Vandross and many more. Recently, he collaborated on the Disney soundtrack Legends, The John Henry Story, narrated by James Earl Jones.
Yohannes Tona is a renowned Ethiopian-born Minneapolis bassist. Tona was born and raised in Awassa, Ethiopia. His father was a church organist and his mother a vocalist. Tona came to the United States in 2000 to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He eventually settled in the Twin Cities as the music director at the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in St. Paul. His rich musical background influences his diverse sound from the Afro-beat to Latin-jazz, from neo-soul to funk and reggae. Tona leads a band under his name and has produced recordings of his own compositions as well as collaborations with Desdamona, Timotha Lanae, #MPLS, Stokley Williams, Larry Long, Foreign Motion, as well as international artists Benoit Delbecq, Nachito Herrera, Jef Lee Johnson, and Sounds of Blackness.
Popular percussionist Daryl Boudreaux has performed and recorded throughout the Twin Cities with a long list of artists, including Bruce Henry, Dennis Spears, Connie Evingson, Prudence Johnson, Dan Kusz, T. Mychal Rambo, Sounds of Blackness, The Steeles and the late Shirley Witherspoon. In addition to his skills on a variety of African percussion instruments, Boudreaux is also known for his hambone body percussion.
Originally from Baltimore, George Parrish is a guitarist, composer and producer with over 47 years’ experience in the music industry. Throughout his career, he has been in high demand touring and recording with various bands and national artists, such as Eumir Deodato, Cherrell, Heart of the Cities, Seals & Crofts, Sara Renner, Renaud and the Junction, Robert Robinson and the TCC Gospel Choir. He was musical director, tour and production manager for Alexander O’Neal for 21 years (1985-2006). Parrish moved to Minneapolis in 1985, where he currently resides, and runs his production company, Make It Loud Inc., and enjoys performing and recording with various Twin Cities musicians.
Tickets are $20 or $18 for Lanesboro Arts members and are sold online at www.lanesboroarts.org, at Lanesboro Arts Gallery by calling 507-467-2446, and at the St. Mane Theatre box office beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the night of the performance. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through an Arts Tour grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. The St. Mane Theatre is located at 206 Parkway Avenue North in Lanesboro, Minn.