Singer-Songwriter Aimee Mann Headlines Caramoor’s American Roots Festival (June 23), Opening With Valerie June; Plus July Concerts from I’m With Her and Angélique Kidjo
Caramoor’s American Roots Music Festival, a family favorite all-day homegrown music event taking place in every corner and every venue of Caramoor’s idyllic campus, returns for its eighth season on Saturday, June 23. The whole of the summer’s programming highlights an outstanding roster of exceptional women from across the musical landscape, and the American Roots Festival is no exception. Legendary singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, a recent Grammy winner and one of NPR’s “10 Greatest Living Songwriters” for 2017, is the evening headliner in her Caramoor debut, along with “timeless” roots-rock singer Valerie June (Los Angeles Times) as the opening act. Daytime acts — taking place throughout the Caramoor grounds – include The Alexis P. Suter Band, Front Country, Anthony da Costa, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, Ryanhood, Night Tree, Amythyst Kiah, Ali Dineen, Feral Foster, and Lily Henley.
On July 7, three young veterans of the Americana scene, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan, return to Caramoor as the supergroup I’m With Her after a previous appearance in 2015. And Beninese singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo, named one of The Guardian’s “Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World” in 2011, makes her Caramoor debut on July 28.
Caramoor’s 73rd summer season, this year running from June 16 to July 29, comprises seven weeks of orchestral, chamber, jazz, American roots, and family concerts, as well as opera, multi-ethnic dance, young artist showcases, and sound art, all in a magnificent outdoor setting just one hour from Manhattan. With folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, old time, and a few folk fusion surprises thrown in, the eclectic American Roots Music Festival takes place throughout the day at multiple locations around the bucolic 90-acre Westchester estate, which is filled with historic gardens and architectural treasures. Concert ticket raffles, food and drink, and much more make the festival the ideal, kid-friendly opportunity for a family exploration of Caramoor with picnics packed and ears open.
American Roots Music Festival
With her singular musical vision and artistic integrity, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and 2018 Roots Festival headliner Aimee Mann has developed, over a 35-year-and-counting career, an enduring and increasingly cross-generational following of fans. After getting her start as the bassist and vocalist for the new wave band ‘Til Tuesday in the early 80s, Mann launched a solo career in 1990, and after the success of the single “Save Me,” written for the soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 film Magnolia and nominated for both an Oscar and a Grammy, she took another step toward guiding her own destiny by co-founding her own label, SuperEgo Records. Her nine critically lauded releases since setting out on her own have charted a unique trajectory of artistic development. Of the most recent, Mental Illness, released last year, Mann half-jokes about writing “the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record I could.” But Pitchfork had no reservations, raving about the album as “Aimee Mann’s quintessential statement, tempering the discord of life with elegant chamber folk.” The Recording Academy agreed: Mental Illness won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album, and Mann was named one of NPR’s “10 Greatest Living Songwriters” for 2017. Watch Mann playing “You Never Loved Me” from Mental Illness, live from Seattle’s public radio station KEXP.
Opening for Aimee Mann’s evening performance is rising star and multi-instrumentalist Valerie June, whose style is a unique blend of Appalachian tradition, gospel, and blues. The Los Angeles Times declares her to be “armed with a voice that can slip into the drawling, sandy-edged tributaries of Southern R&B or the creaky folk-blues of Karen Dalton, and her music defies easy categorization.” Halfway through last year, Rolling Stone declared her album The Order of Time to be among the best 50 albums of the year thus far, calling it “near perfect front to back.”
Daytime artists for the American Roots Music Festival run the gamut of roots music styles and hail from all over the country. As Elmore Magazine said of the frontwoman for Brooklyn blues and soul outfit The Alexis P. Suter Band: “her molasses contralto can whisper and purr, then swell into a pulsating wave of sound that radiates from the depths of her being.” Fretboard Journal raves about San Francisco roots/pop band Front Country: “They somehow strike that perfect blend of soaring vocals, impressive bluegrass playing and interesting song choices.” Nashville songwriter and guitarist Anthony da Costa is the youngest-ever winner of both the Falcon Ridge and Kerrville Folk Festival songwriting competitions and has toured in bands with both Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz; he returns after making his Caramoor debut last summer, both as a solo artist and in Jarosz’s trio. Other daytime acts include Seattle folk/blues fiddle and banjo duo Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons; two-man folk-rock outfit Ryanhood, named “Best Group/Duo” at the 2014 International Acoustic Music Awards; acoustic sextet Night Tree, which Boston’s WGBH calls “one of the most exciting roots-based music groups to emerge from the New England Conservatory in many years;” Southern Gothic alt-country blues singer and guitarist Amythyst Kiah; New York singer-songwriter Ali Dineen; Feral Foster, named the Village Voice’s “Best Folk Artist of 2014;” and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and fiddler Lily Henley.
I’m With Her
Formed after an impromptu show in 2014 at the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, Colorado, the three members of I’m With Her — Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan — toured the world together the following year, stopping along the way for a sold-out performance at Caramoor. They return to the Spanish Courtyard this summer on July 7. As described by The New York Times, their unique blend of instrumental interplay combined with indelible harmonies “could be sweetly ethereal, or as tightly in tandem as country sibling teams like the Everly Brothers, or as hearty as mountain gospel.” Their debut album, See You Around, was released this past February to rapturous reviews. The New York Times declared: “I’m With Her is no casual jam session or roundtable. Each song in the trio’s generous set was meticulously arranged to make the most of the many ways the musicians could blend. Serene understatement was the concert’s hallmark; at times, the music was so quiet I could hear the club’s floorboards creaking.” NPR added: “They know how to gather round a microphone and sing directly from their heart to yours. Purity is the brilliance behind I’m With Her.”
Sara Watkins spent most of her younger years, nearly two decades in all, as singer and fiddler for the Grammy-winning progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek, a trio she started performing in when she was a mere eight years old, alongside her guitarist brother, Sean, and mandolinist Chris Thile. (Thile was also eight at the time, and Sean was an elderly twelve.) In 2016 she won “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the Americana Music Honors and Awards, and that same year she and a new band anchored the afternoon sets at Caramoor’s 2016 Roots Festival. Sarah Jarosz first appeared with her trio at Caramoor in 2014, returning in 2017 for the Roots Festival soon after her song “House of Mercy” from the album Undercurrent won a Grammy Award for Best American Roots Performance, the album itself winning another Grammy for Best Folk Album as well as the International Folk Music Award for Album of the Year. Aoife O’Donovan is a founding member of the bluegrass band Crooked Still and the featured singer on 2013’s Grammy-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, recorded by Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile with bassist Edgar Meyer and fiddler Stuart Duncan. She had already played Caramoor three times before the first I’m With Her show: once with her band Crooked Still, again with the folk music group Ollabelle, and finally as a solo artist. Watch I’m With Her’s recent performance on the Jimmy Kimmel show.
Grammy-winning Beninese singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo makes her Caramoor debut in the Venetian Theater on July 28. Named one of The Guardian’s “Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World” in 2011, Kidjo has also collaborated with a roster of musicians that run the gamut from pop to jazz to contemporary classical including Dave Matthews, Peter Gabriel, Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, and Philip Glass. Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva,” and The New York Times raves: “Village traditions, cosmopolitan transformations, female solidarity, African pride and perpetual energy have been constants in Ms. Kidjo’s recording career.” NPR music adds: “The power of Kidjo’s unflappable voice, the range of her emotional expression, the stellar, genre-bending musicians who back her and the infectious, activist energy that courses through her songs all transcend any native tongue.” Watch a video of the dynamic Kidjo performing on Austin City Limits.
Food + Drink Offerings
On performance days during the summer, spread a blanket on the lawn, reminisce with family and friends over a glass of wine at a picnic table, or set up your own table and chairs for the day – Caramoor has plenty of space. The Food + Drink Offerings during the Summer Season feature a variety of delicious, organic, and locally-sourced snacks and beverages provided by Great Performances catering and events company. The Katchkie Food Truck offers the mouth-watering Caramoor Burger and Treble Dog, and the Tap Tent has a wide range of snacks, water, soda, local wine and beer, coffee and tea, not to mention Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Caramoor Members enjoy 10% off at the Food + Drink selections and certain events like festival days feature special menus. For maximum convenience and to avoid the lines, Great Performances also offers pre-ordered picnic boxes in a variety of menus. Additionally, on July 22 and 29, a relaxed Symphony Court dining experience with seats under a tented pavilion is offered. Each buffet menu includes unlimited wine, beer, and soda, or you are welcome to bring your own. Menus for the picnics and Symphony Court are available online, and you can either order online or call the Box Office at 914.232.1252. Order by Tuesday at 4:00pm for the upcoming week’s performance.
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Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds; tour the historic Rosen House, a stunning mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places; unwind with a pre-concert picnic or concessions with beer and wine; enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer season; and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and magnificent gardens. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. In the fall and winter, concerts are presented in the splendid Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the sound exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.
Getting to Caramoor
Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available.
By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour.
By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro-North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is always available and free shuttle service is available for most performances. For current information, check the Metro-North schedule.
Caramoor: American Roots, summer 2018
Saturday, June 23
American Roots Music Festival
11am grounds open, Music at noon
The Alexis P. Suter Band*
Anthony da Costa
Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons*
Evening performers: Aimee Mann*
With opening act Valerie June*
Saturday, July 7
I’m With Her
I’m With Her:
Saturday, July 28
Angélique Kidjo, vocalist
* Caramoor debut
All concerts made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with funds from the Westchester County Government.
All concerts made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The 2018 Summer Music Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.