“One of my favourite discoveries of recent years, it’s always a joy to watch the faces of audience members who haven’t seen Lisa Mills before. What a voice…If you like your Americana with some southern soul and blues, and a big, big voice, then this is the singer for you.”
–- Andrew Heaps, Maverick Magazine (UK)
Equally at home playing authentic Mississippi Blues, Gospel, or 1950’s Country covers, Singer/songwriter Lisa Mills promises to take the Franke Center’s audience on a tour of uniquely American music styles from the deep South. We are thrilled to have her performing in the Downstage Club for the first show in our newly named “Music On Tap” Series. This concert series highlights the intimacy and fine acoustics of the Downstage Club, and is a partnership with Weatherwax Hall in Jackson, Michigan.
Widely touring in Europe for the last several years, Lisa Mills is surprisingly off the radar screen of the American music scene. This is a show that should not be missed as she makes a rare tour through the upper Midwest. Her live shows have been critically acclaimed by numerous writers, and her full voice has been frequently described as “A female Otis Redding”, and “In the same league as Aretha Franklin”.
“Lisa Mills takes her audiences on a musical, and often humorous, emotional journey with charm and panache that is melodic, raw, unfettered and, most important, searingly honest: expect blues, country, gospel and soul influences.”
“The Mississippi-born; Mobile, Alabama-based Lisa Mills beautifully meshes country, gospel, blues, soul and more together…without doubt one of the finest female singers and performers around!”.(Blues in the Northwest, Grahame Rhodes, Jan 03, 2015).
Her defiance of description is what makes Lisa Mills a singular talent. She takes the best of blues, country, gospel and soul influences, whether self-penned or carefully chosen covers that speak to her in some way, and utterly transforms them. By taking all those ingredients and adding the occasional dollop of jazz inflection, Mills serves up her own savoury-sweet mix that goes beyond the expected. Her live performances, flying solo accompanied only by her faithful archtop guitar, quickly captivate the audience as she takes them on a musical journey influenced by personal aspects of her life, and her musical background. Franke Center Events Manager Dave Deppe said of Lisa “This is going to be an evening of music not to be missed – even if you have never heard of Lisa Mills, by the end of the evening you will feel that you know her. Her music is rich with her personal life experiences, and this promises to be an outstanding performance”.
Check out Lisa Mills Website.
“A younger version of Bonnie Raitt. Seldom do we hear such blues inflected rawness in female guitar players and it’s so refreshing to hear it done with such authenticity and assurance”.(Folk and Roots Magazine UK)
Bex Marshall’s unique style of guitar playing is a combined technique of slide, blues rock, ragtime and roots pickin’. Her voice is a powerful melting pot of old black woman’s heartache and rock diva soul. Bex is a writer of distinction and notability as she pushes the boundaries of blues. Her songs have been called “timeless” and “touches of genius” by music critics, and she is literally a musical tornado in her live perfomances. Bex Marshall was nominated to the top three in Best Solo/Acoustic Artist in the 2015 and 2016 European Blues Awards, and won the award for Best British Blues Vocalist and Album in 2013.
She grew up in a musical family, and became interested in performing at an early age. As a child at family gatherings, her uncles would always play and stand her on the table to sing, and at 11 years old she was given a 1963 Gibson Hummingbird by her Uncle David and started playing. She got hooked on instrumentals and classical guitar standards which stretched her fingers and gave her a great basis for her own music to develop, flamenco, ragtime, country chicken pickin’, rock and on to blues and roots where she is now in her element.
Many of today’s biggest Blues artists developed their musical roots while performing solo acoustic music, and Bex is no exception to this. As a special treat for The Franke Center audience, she will be starting the show with a solo acoustic set, followed by a full electric set with her band. This promises to be a great evening of music with one of Britain’s best and most celebrated young Blues artists, and should not be missed!TICKETS
Born and raised in Europe, brothers Jens and Uwe Kruger started singing and playing instruments at a very young age. The brothers were performing regularly by the time they were eleven and twelve years old, and they began their professional careers in 1979. Jens’ and Uwe’s first public performances were as a duo, and in just a few years they were busking on the streets of cities throughout eastern and western Europe. In 1995, the brothers teamed up with bass player Joel Landsberg, a native of New York City who also had a very extensive musical upbringing in classical and jazz music (studying with jazz great Milt Hinton), and the trio has been playing professionally together since then. Together, they established the incomparable sound that The Kruger Brothers are known for today. The trio moved to the United States in 2002 and is based in Wilkesboro, NC.
Since their formal introduction to American audiences in 1997, The Kruger Brothers’ remarkable discipline, creativity and their ability to infuse classical music into folk music has resulted in a unique sound that has made them a fixture within the world of acoustic music. The honesty of their writing has since become a hallmark of the trio’s work. Their original music is rich with influences from Americana, classical, folk, jazz, and bluegrass genres, and is crafted around their discerning taste, resulting in a unique sound that is unpretentious, cultivated, and delightfully fresh.
Through their numerous CD releases, radio and television performances, lectures, and collaborative efforts, The Kruger Brothers’ powerful artistic statement continues to inspire and enlighten audiences and musicians around the world. Highlights of their busy performance schedule have included frequent performances at MerleFest, an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and regular performances with select symphony orchestras and string quartets throughout the country. The group has recorded 19 albums since 1995, the most recent being the critically acclaimed “Roan Mountain Suite” in 2017. “The music they make is a tribute to the very idea that indeed America is a melting pot and the sounds that were birthed from the heartland find a universal touchstone.” (The Journal of Roots Music).TICKETS
After Laith’s sold out show last December at The Franke Center, we couldn’t resist having him back again for another night of Rock and Roll music to close out 2017! This time there will be two different shows the same night – each show will be approximately 90 minutes long, with the early show at 7:00 and the late show starting at 9:30. An additional attraction for the evening will be a VIP Meet and Greet session at 6:00 PM, giving Laith’s fans a chance to meet him face to face before the first show. These shows will feature Laith with his three piece band, and is sure to be a great night of Rock/Blues music in The Franke’s intimate concert setting.
After years of live performances on the local scene in Ann Arbor, Laith Al-Saadi won America’s hearts and a spot in the finale of the 2016 season of NBC’s The Voice. His love of classic Rock and searing guitar work brought a different genre of music and performance to the show which typically features modern pop music, featuring Blues/Rock classics such as “Born Under a Bad Sign”, “The Thrill Is Gone”, “White Room”, and the classic Dylan tune “All Along the Watchtower”. Laith is well known for his ability to make a Telecaster sing, filling every performance with stunning improvisations woven into a wide range of music including classic rock covers, jazz standards, soul, blues, and original compositions.
A graduate of the University of Michigan school of music with degrees in Jazz and Bass guitar, Laith spent years on local stages in Ann Arbor and across the country working with legends like Taj Mahal, Luther Allison, Buddy Guy, Son Seals, Gregg Allman and B.B. King. One of the hardest working musicians in Michigan, he played upwards of 300 gigs a year and endeared himself to legions of local fans. Entertainment Weekly called Laith Al-Saadi “a power performer who is so legitimate and memorable.”
Audiences have agreed, propelling Al-Saadi’s most recent release, “Real”, to the top of the blues chart for five weeks and the top 20 album chart for two weeks. Laith also had four singles in the top ten iTunes singles charts, and his albums In The Round and Long Time Coming spent time at the top of the rock and album charts.
Don’t miss this chance to see Laith Al-Saadi in the intimate surroundings and superb acoustics of The Franke’s 270 seat theater!