Artists

Gil Parris

Gil ParrisGrammy-nominated guitar virtuoso Gil Parris is known for his special blend of blues, jazz, rock and smooth jazz. He has recorded and toured both as a solo artist and sideman with major artists like Dr.John, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Diane Schuur, David Mann, Billy Vera, Bobby Caldwell and Toni Braxton to name just a few. Some of Gil’s career highlights include:

  • Major Label Recording Artist, Gil’s self titled debut CD was released by RCA/BMG. “A smashing debut” – Guitar One “An impressive beginning” – Jazziz
  • Seen On NBC’s The Today Show, CBS, WPIX, FOX 5, RNN, BET’s Studio Jams, The YES Network, The Food Network and on the national DVD release, Masters of the Stratocaster
  • Has had #1 Songs on Music Choice
  • The Gil Parris Model Signature Guitar (Reverend) was named “One of the Coolest Artist Signature Guitars of All-Time” by Guitar Player Magazine
  • Has acclaimed DVD out now with Paul Shaffer, Bernie Williams, Randy Brecker, David Mann, and Carolyn Kepcher. “This DVD is a perfect introduction to one of the finest players around.” – Vintage Guitar

“You’ll be blown away by his mind-boggling blend of Jazz, Blues and Rock” – Guitar Player

“Parris is an absolute monster of the guitar- lyrically, technically, sensitively. His finesse bending tones and contouring the dynamics throughout his lines truly gave the sense that he is speaking thru the notes!” – Jazz Improv

“His solos are breathtaking, both in emotional expressiveness and technical command of the instrument. He’s one of those players you hear and can recognize right away, no mean feat in this day in age.” – Vintage Guitar

“Gil Parris is one of guitardom’s unsung heroes.” – Vintage Guitar


Bernie Williams

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Bernie Williams discovered his love for baseball and music at roughly the same time, when at the age of eight he fell in love with the sounds of a flamenco guitar his merchant-marine father brought home from Spain, and also felt the same exhilaration when he first picked up a baseball bat. The young student-athlete quickly excelled in both pursuits, going on to attend the special performance arts school Escuela Libre de Musica at the age of thirteen and becoming one of the most noted young athletes on the island, both as a track and field standout posting record times in the 400meters and one of Puerto Rico’s most sought after young baseball prospects. When Williams signed a contract with the New York Yankees at age 17, he brought his love of music with him – first to Albany for his development in AA and then on to the Bronx and the most famous field in sports when called up to join the Yankees in 1991.

In his 16 year career patrolling centerfield for the New York Yankees, Bernie Williams was a four-time World Series Champion and a five-time All Star. Williams has more post-season RBI’s to his credit than any other player in Major-league history and his resume also boasts four gold-glove awards, six American League pennants, the 1996 ALCS MVP award, and the 1998 American League batting title. Bernie is also among the Yankees all-time leaders in every major batting category, with his performance statistics often standing alongside such legends as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.

Throughout Williams’ years with The Yankees, his passion for music never waned, and the sound of a guitar would often be heard emanating from the clubhouse or during team flights. Whether acoustic or electric, a guitar was a constant presence in the star’s locker or equipment bag, and it was no surprise in 2003 when he demonstrated how serious his musical pursuit was with the release of his first album, The Journey Within. The record featured fusions of jazz, rock and the tropical rhythms of Williams’ heritage and was met with both strong critical praise and instant chart success- reaching #3 on Billboard’s “Contemporary Jazz Chart.”

Bernie Williams raised his musical game even further with the release of his second album Moving Forward. Featuring guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Secada, Dave Koz, and an All-Star cast of renowned studio musicians, Moving Forward debuted as Billboard’s #2 Contemporary Jazz album in the country, and continued to hold that chart position for five straight, and spawned two consecutive Billboard #1 singles, Go For It, and Ritmo de Otono. The album was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album in 2009.

Bernie also co-authored a book in 2011 published by Hal Leonard Books titled, Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Music and Athletic Performance. The book examines the symbiotic relationship between musical artistry and athletic performance through the eyes of a man who has mastered both.


Greg Koch & The Koch-Marshall Trio

Greg Koch and the Koch-Marshall Trio consist of American guitarist Greg Koch, his son Dylan Koch on drums and Hammond B3 specialist Toby Lee Marshall. At the heart of this organ trio is a blues sensibility – but Koch’s compositions are an amalgam of rock, funk, jazz and country served up with heavy grooves and dynamic improvisations delivered with no small dose of humor and occasional wild abandon.

Milwaukee native Greg Koch has forged a successful career as a guitar player’s guitarist. He has been called “fiendishly talented” by author and former editor- in-chief of Guitar Player Magazine Tom Wheeler and “scary good” by guitar phenom Joe Bonamassa. In addition to his 15 releases on multiple record labels which feature his unique take on a variety of American guitar styles and his versatile compositions, Koch is widely known for his lengthy tenure as an international ambassador for Fender Guitars which listed him in their “Top Ten Unsung Guitarists” on Fender.com. He is also a best-selling author and video instructor for music publisher Hal Leonard. Greg is a contributing columnist for a variety of guitar magazines including Guitar Player Magazine which listed Greg’s “Chief’s Blues” in their “40 Badass Blues Solos You Must Hear” and Premier Guitar. For the last few years Greg is renowned for his wildly popular internet videos (which number in the thousands with tens of millions of views) originating from the legendary Colorado guitar shop Wildwood Guitars. Furthermore, Koch is internationally known for his work with Fishman Transducers as a clinician and for his contributions to the development of the highly acclaimed Greg Koch Signature Gristletone Pickups for Telecaster guitar.

Dylan Koch gravitated to the drums early on in his life using kitchen utensils to play along with music as soon as he could walk. After digesting an early diet of Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell and John Bonham, Dylan was mentored by the legendary Tom Brechtlein (Chick Corea/Robben Ford). In high school Dylan participated in the Jazz Institute at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and furthered his studies at the McNally Smith School of Music in the Twin Cities. While still in his teens he performed with young guitar guns Tallan Noble Latz and Jared James Nichols and has performed alongside his father with such artists as Robben Ford, Little Feat’s Paul Barrere, Jon Cleary, David Grissom, Roscoe Beck and Malford Milligan. Dylan was recently nominated for drummer of the year by the Wisconsin Area Music Awards (WAMI).

Toby Lee Marshall’s screaming B3 is the perfect compliment to the musical stew that is the Koch songbook. Hailing from the Twin Cities area he came from a musical family, playing piano for years until falling under the spell of the sound of the organ while at a baseball game at age seven. His fascination for the Hammond B3 took hold after his Dad took him to see Steve Cherewan playing with Dr. Mambo’s Combo at their legendary residency at Bunker’s in Minneapolis. Steve mentored Toby in the ways of the B3 and he hit the ground running landing a gig with bluesman Lonnie Brooks while still a teen. He would go on to travel the world as a member of Bernard Allison’s band. After taking a hiatus to spend some family time, Toby is returning to music with a vehemence and the Koch-Marshall format gives him a long leash to let his freak flag fly, providing groovy bass lines, sinuous chordal work and incendiary solos.


Doyle Dykes

Although influenced by a wide variety of musical styles and musicians from the country of Chet Atkins to the rock and roll of Duane Eddy and the Beatles, Doyle Dykes has developed a distinct, recognizable sound that amazes audiences with skill while capturing hearts with sincerity and soul.

Doyle’s appreciation for various styles of music is reflected in his albums as they include signature compositions like “Jazz in the Box” and “Martha’s Kitchen” and hymns like the powerful “How Great Thou Art.” “Gitarre 2000″ was released by Windham Hill Records, and Doyle’s music has appeared on several of the label’s compilation albums like “Here, There, and Everywhere” (a tribute to the Beatles). In addition, Doyle’s music has been heard on United Airlines, Air Canada, NPR’s Morning News and All Things Considered, Disney’s California Adventure, and even the Space Shuttle Atlantis in September, 2000.

Doyle’s early years as a guitarist took him around the world as he toured with The Stamps Quartet and later with Grand Ole Opry Star, Grandpa Jones. Doyle has since returned to the Grand Ole Opry for numerous performances, many appearing live on national television.

Doyle performs in venues ranging from Theatres, Bluegrass festivals, and churches, to major Conventions, such as the NAMM Show (Anaheim, CA and Nashville, TN), the Musikmesse (largest music trade show in the world; Frankfurt, Germany), Music Live (UK), and the National Executive Institute, which is made up of honored FBI Agents, major city Police Chiefs, and Law Enforcement Officers from around the world. Internationally, Doyle attracts record audiences in many Continents around the world. Whether to a guitar player or music enthusiast, Doyle’s music will make a lasting impression on anyone given the opportunity to listen.


Todd Clouser

Todd Clouser doesn’t fit into any scene, and doesn’t want to” says NPR in describing the aesthetic of the young guitarist, vocalist and writer. A native of Minneapolis, Clouser currently resides in Mexico City, writing and performing in a prolific manner uncommon to, and often at odds with, today’s market sensibilities. Clouser comes with the tomorrow of creative music, descending from the lineage of 70’s rock heroics, song craft, and improvised musics. Todd Clouser released a trilogy of records with his group A Love Electric on Brooklyn label Royal Potato Family between February 2012 and 2013, earning praise from critics of jazz and rock alike, while working tirelessly as a published poet, writer of short fiction and community philanthropist in Mexico. “Blistering” says the Prague Post on Clouser, while NPR goes on to call him “fascinating …. ultimately illuminating”, with the Phildaelphia Inquirer pointing to Todd as “A Gem, Clouser spices the All American vibe of Bill Frisell with some Jimi Hendrix fire.”

Clouser’s 2013 solo offering  Man With No Country  (Sept 2013) comes on Amulet Records, the label of legendary drummer Billy Martin, who performs on a number of the albums tracks.  A record of 11 proper songs, biting lyricism, and blood churning sonic landscapes produced by another legend of New York City’s downtown scene, Golden Palominos founder Anton Fier. Man With No Country, a more vulnerable offering that anything we have seen from Todd stands to further propel Clouser into creative music conscience.

Clouser has toured extensively through the Unites States, Central America, western Europe, Argentina, Peru, and throughout his adopted home of Mexico. Whether with A Love Electric, solo, or next to heroes from Keb Mo to John Medeski, there is the sense when hearing Clouser that a new generation of ideas is arriving.

 


Mimi Fox

Mimi Fox

Internationally renowned guitarist/composer/recording artist Mimi Fox has been named a winner in six consecutive Downbeat Magazine international critics’ polls and has been recognized by writers and colleagues alike as one of the most eloquent jazz guitarists on today’s scene. In one of many feature stories, Guitar Player Magazine hailed Mimi as “a prodigious talent who has not only mastered the traditional forms but has managed to reinvigorate them.”

Mimi has performed/recorded with some of jazz’s most commanding players, including fellow guitarists Charlie Byrd, Stanley Jordan, Charlie Hunter, and Mundell Lowe, Grammy-nominated saxophonists Branford Marsalis, David Sanchez and Houston Person and the late Don Lanphere, vocalists Abbey Lincoln, Diana Krall, Kevin Mahogany and Janis Siegel (Manhattan Transfer), B3 organ masters Joey DeFrancesco, Barbara Denerlein and Dr. Lonnie Smith, and powerhouse drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. She has also performed outside of the jazz world with legends Stevie Wonder and John Sebastian and with Patty Larkin’s Vanguard Records-produced La Guitara project. Her YouTube videos have received hundreds of thousands of views.

Mimi has released 10 recordings as a leader including her most recent release, Standards, Old & New. The new CD has received universal praise: “Consummate mastery, each piece is a gem”…Grammy-nominated writer Jim Ferguson. “Mimi has mastered the art”…Jazz Guitar Society of Western Australia. “Beyond her passion and virtuosity, Fox plays with a profundity that only comes from a lifetime of devotion to ones art”…Guitar Player Magazine.

Mimi maintains a whirlwind touring schedule, playing major festivals from New York to Tokyo, including tours of the Caribbean, Japan, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. International festivals include the Montreal, Guinness Cork, Perth International, and Monterey Jazz Festivals. Stateside, she has headlined at elite venues such as The Blue Note, Merkin Concert Hall, and the Village Gate in New York City, The Regattabar and Scullers in Boston, The Kennedy Center and Blues Alley in Washington D.C., the Triple Door and Jazz Alley in Seattle, and Yoshi’s and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

As a composer, Mimi has written and performed original scores for orchestras, documentary films and dance projects while receiving grants from prestigious funders such as Meet the Composer and the California Arts Council. Mimi has received repeated grants from the William James Association/California Arts Council to give concerts and workshops in California prisons as part of the highly successful Arts In Correction program. She has also appeared on numerous television shows such as “BET on Jazz” and has been a guest on many radio shows, including Marian McPartland’s NPR program, “Piano Jazz”.

As a devoted educator and clinician, Mimi has taught master classes worldwide while serving as head of the guitar program at the Jazz School in Berkeley and Adjunct Professor at New York University. In 2005, Mimi received an award from the International Association Of Jazz Educators for outstanding service to jazz education. She has published several popular instructional books and interactive CD-Roms for Mel Bay Publications and True Fire.

 


John Paul Keith

A rootsy and clever singer/songwriter, John Paul Keith is a journeyman artist with a bent toward vintage Fender Telecaster-driven pop/rock twang. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Keith grew up singing in church, learned to play guitar around age ten, and inherited a love of classic rock and blues artists like Chuck Berry and B.B. King from his truck-driving father.

By his teens, Keith was a member of the alt-country ensemble the Viceroys, but left the band to pursue a solo career in Nashville. In 2009 he released his debut album, Spills and Thrills, which garnered significant critical praise — if not commercial success — for its mix of driving pop, country, and blues that drew comparisons ranging from Buddy Holly to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Booker T. & the MG’s.

A move to Memphis in his late twenties brought a renewed creative energy to Keith, who soon formed the expert bar band the One Four Fives with drummer John Argroves and bassist Mark E. Stuart. The group developed a loyal following in Memphis, and tours opening for acts like Lucero and Jack Oblivian drew yet more attention to Keith’s vintage rock sound. In 2011, John Paul Keith & the One Four Fives released the Bruce Watson-produced The Man That Time Forgot on Fat Possum. Memphis Circa 3AM, produced by Roland Janes, arrived from Fat Possum in the fall of 2013.


Zacc Harris

Guitarist and composer Zacc Harris is best known for his work with Atlantis Quartet, winners of the 2015 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians and City Pages Best Jazz Artist of 2011. He has toured throughout the US and UK, and released or performed on more than two dozen records.

With American Reverie, Harris sets out to explore songs that evoke the nostalgia of an America gone by, with modern jazz inflected interpretations of classic folk songs like Shenandoah and the Tennessee Waltz, along with music by Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Woody Guthrie and more. Joined by bassist Matt Peterson and drummer Lars-Erik Larson, Zacc Harris’ American Reverie brings the past and present together. Harris recently was named City Pages Jazz Artist of the Year for 2017 and released the eponymous debut album with American Reverie on Shifting Paradigm Records, with City Pages saying “It’s a collection of smart contemporary jazz interpretations of folk standards…Harris’ eloquent guitar work highlights pointed commentary with a deft array of melodic abstractions, tempo shifts and harmonic changes.”

 


Javier Trejo Trio

What does Javier Trejo’s music sound like? It depends on the audience. Whether playing ska and reggae for thousands of festival-goers or crooning country & western ballads to an after-work blue-collar crowd, Trejo’s sound is distinctive and original. He is a singers’ singer, and a songwriters’ songwriter. Javier Trejo embodies what it is to be a Mexican growing up in the Midwest. Javier Trejo’s music is Mexican/Americana.

Singer/songwriter Javier Trejo was born in Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico and raised on St. Paul, Minnesota’s west side. Trejo’s musical influences range from old-school country and Tejano music to R&B and Rock ‘n’ Roll. His self-titled album presents Bossa Pop original songs inspired by the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jerry Garcia, Manu Chao, Arto Lindsay, Flaming Lips, David Gray, and RL Burnside.  His songs transcend genres to create an intimate sound that seduces the listener.

Trejo is a five-time Minnesota Music Award winner in the catagory for “Best Reggae Band” for his work in the New Primitives. He has recorded three full length CDs, five EPs and a DVD. He has recorded on Molly Mahers’ “Balms of Gilead,” a Minnesota Music Award-winning Album, and White Iron Bands’ “Take it Off the Top.” Trejo has opened for such legendary acts as: Taj Mahal, The Wailers, The Neville Brothers, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Brother and the Holding Company, Particle, Karl Denson, Eyedea and Abilities, Trampled by Turtles, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Hot Buttered Rum, Raul Malo, Jesse Dayton, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Jason Aldean, Heidi Newfield, and Dale Watson.


Dakota Dave Hull

Hailed by everyone from Dave Van Ronk to Doc Watson, from the Washington Post to Downbeat, Dakota Dave Hull’s guitar style spans a wide musical geography to create an infectious, uniquely personal blend of jazz, ragtime, folk, blues, Western swing, and vintage pop. Dakota Dave is a restlessly curious, adventurous traveler along the broad highway of America’s music. In his playing the masters speak, but in a vocabulary that is Dave’s alone: alternatively mirthful and moving, always melodic.

A gifted composer as well as a strikingly original interpreter of older tunes, Dave calls what he does “classic American guitar.” Folk legend Van Ronk called Dave “one of the best guitarists in the world.”

Most of all, Dakota Dave’s music is great fun. As Douglas Green (Ranger Doug of Riders in the Sky) puts it, “There is an imp within Dave Hull that always expresses itself on the fretboard; a witty, intelligent yet respectful imp who frolics in his music, an imp Dakota Dave neither fights nor lets take control, but simply absorbs into the heart of his style.”

On stage or in the recording studio Dave has performed with Utah Phillips, Doc Watson, Robin and Linda Williams, Dave Van Ronk, John Renbourn, Paul Geremia, Spider John Koerner, Cam Waters, Sally Rogers, Butch Thompson, Peter Ostroushko, Garrison Keillor, and Norman Blake, and many others. His albums include three with early performing partner Sean Blackburn and six solo efforts (the acclaimed Hull’s Victory and Reunion Rag, both on Flying Fish) with four more, New Shirt, Sheridan Square Rag, The Loyalty Waltz and Time Machine on Arabica Records. Airship, a duo album with singer/guitarist/fiddler Pop Wagner was widely praised. His three albums with guitar and mandolin ace Kari Larson (Double Cappuccino, Moonbeams and The Goose is Getting Fat, also on Arabica) have become legendary. More recently, Dave recorded an album of mostly traditional music duets with the noted guitarist Duck Baker, When You Ask a Girl to Leave Her Happy Home. A book of original compositions, Ragtime Guitar in the Classic American Style came out in 2012 and a double CD, Under the North Star was released in 2013.

Dave is a recipient of a 2013 Traditional Arts grant from the Minnesota State Arts board.


Jack Knife and the Sharps

Jack Knife and the Sharps play roots-based American music — swing country, rockabilly style. The band has played three tours for US troops in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and Germany. The Sharps have entertained from Europe to Hawaii. The bad has also made eight appearances on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion.


Hannah von der Hoff

Minneapolis Native Hannah von der Hoff writes soulful music that is emotive, dynamic and takes a nod from the classics. Her work is a visceral amalgam of jazz, blues, soul, roots and rock. Her live show’s dynamics range from pin-drop vulnerability to aggressive belly moans. Think Jeff Buckley meets Fiona Apple and Cat Power.​ Then think Alabama Shakes meets Bonnie Raitt and rocks out with Jeff Buckley & Sade in a smoky speak easy at the end of a dirt road. Once a lead in the sweaty party band Sexcat, and a backup singer who toured with Caroline Smith, Hannah is now fully pursuing her own songs that she’s been incubating for years. Currently in preproduction stages for her debut, stay tuned for ways to be involved in pre-purchasing a record.

 



2017 LOWERTOWN GUITAR FESTIVAL©  •  SATURDAY, AUGUST 5  •  MEARS PARK • SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA