DCCA News: Americana Quartet ‘Hey Mavis’ weaves a musical tapestry

By Marilyn Delk
GREENVILLE—To say that Americana music is diverse understates the variety of sounds included in this broad category. If you look up the meaning, you’ll find that Americana is “an amalgam of American music formed by the confluence of shared and varied traditions that make up the musical ethos of the United States, such as folk, gospel, blues, country, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock-and-roll, and bluegrass.” Even though it is a classic sound that is loved around our nation and beyond, apparently the only genre in which Americana does not fit is within the confines of “classical” music! However, when Americana quartet “Hey Mavis” takes the stage at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Saturday, November 12 as the second presentation in Darke County Center for the Arts 2022-2023 Artists Series, audiences are assured of hearing something they like, regardless of professed musical preferences.
“Hey Mavis” combines stellar musicianship, excellent songwriting, and inspired storytelling to create an intricate combination resulting in a tapestry of sound that has thrilled audiences throughout the eastern U.S. Based in their home town of Akron, the group has appeared on NPR and PBS, as well as at international jazz festivals, and was chosen by Melissa Etheridge to headline her music cruise. In their latest release, Silver Ribbon Dream—Songs and Stories of the Ohio and Erie Canal, “Hey Mavis” has teamed with nationally-acclaimed artist Leandra Drumm, to create another intricate combination of things, a book and CD of original songs and illustrations that is described as being “unconventionally beautiful.”
Seamlessly blending modern elements with old-timey traditions, “Hey Mavis” was formed by singer/banjo player Laurie Michelle Caner and her husband, fiddler/violinist Eddie Caner while they were artists-in-residence at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Eddie, labeled as “the most versatile musician on the planet” by one critic, amazes audiences with his tone and precision, skills honed while touring with the likes of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Smokey Robinson, Natalie Cole, and Luciano Pavarotti. Eddie’s versatility is revealed through his ability to move between the two identities of his instrument—the high energy rhythmic patterns of the fiddle, and the smooth singing of the violin. Laurie has been described as “a cross between Edgar Allen Poe and Garrison Keillor with a killer voice, a killer banjo, and a killer band.” Laurie’s smooth, sultry, soulful voice intoxicates audiences as she shares songs telling stories of life with all its beauty, disappointment, and joy, weaving a musical tapestry which encapsulates the full range of our human condition.
The “Hey Mavis” band also includes bassist Bryan Thomas, a versatile and nationally respected musician who studied Cuban music in Havana before touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra; his playing is accented by the “Chank-a-matic 6000,” a vintage, weathered tambourine affixed to a stand and pedal, which is said to often steal the show. Drummer Anthony Taddeo, who graduated with honors from The Newschool for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, has performed with a wide variety of artists from all musical genres.
Americana music layers a down-home vibe over rock rhythms, providing a wide range of tones, colors, and sounds. In their musically diverse and lyrically sophisticated performances, “Hey Mavis” simply relates stories rooted in the mournful Appalachian ballad tradition, but from a distinctly contemporary viewpoint. With its heartfelt vocals, honest songwriting, blazing instrumentals and an undeniable onstage musical chemistry, “Hey Mavis” defines great Americana music.
Do not miss your opportunity to partake of this delightful musical tapestry. Tickets for the concert by “Hey Mavis” cost $25 for adults; student tickets are half price; to purchase yours, contact DCCA on-line at www.DarkeCountyArts.org, by mail at P.O. Box 718, Greenville, Ohio 45331, by calling 937-547-0908, or by visiting DCCA’s office on the third floor of Greenville Public Library. Tickets will also be available at the door the night of the show which starts at 8 p.m.