Belleville Roots Music Concert Series: Building Community through Music

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Belleville Roots Music Concert Series

The Belleville Stage
A unique, historic venue featuring award-winning artists

at Belleville Congregational Church
300 High Street, Newburyport, MA 01950
Phone: (978) 503-ROOTS (7668);

Upcoming Spring 2016 Concerts:


Friday, March 18th, 2016, 8PM

Picture of Dervish bandMusic from the West of Ireland with passionate vocals and dazzling instrumentals.

The Sligo Borough Council's decision to award Dervish the Freedom of the Borough of Sligo cemented the group's position as preeminent band in Ireland's wild west. It raised them into the exalted company of poet W.B. Yeats, who was the first person to be awarded the freedom of Sligo.

Built upon two sturdy pillars—the hauntingly charismatic vocals of Cathy Jordan and the dazzling virtuosity of award-winning instrumentalists like Tom Morrow on fiddle, Liam Kelly on flute, and Shane Mitchell on accordion—Dervish is a solid structure of a band, its foundation in legendary pub sessions, its shape the result of years of international touring. In the most recent of many honors, Dervish was recently chosen to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2005, just after the group toured China in the company of the Prime Minister, Ireland's premier music magazine Hot Press voted the band Best Traditional / Folk Group.

The solid rhythm playing of Brian McDonagh and Michael Holmes drives the band, whose concert performances are a myriad of tones and moods ranging from high energy tunes, played with fluidity and intuitiveness, to beautifully measured songs, from charming lyrics of life and love, to inspiring melodies that lift audiences from their seats. All the elements are drawn together by Cathy Jordan's masterful stage presence. Her stories to the songs and her interaction with the audience draws people into the music in a way very few performers can achieve. All this can be found in their fourth album Live in Palma, recorded before a captivated audience at Palma de Mallorca's "Teatre Principal". Other recordings include A Healing Heart (2005), Spirit (2003), the retrospective Decade (2001), Midsummer's Night (1999), At the End of the Day (1996), Playing with Fire (1995), and Harmony Hill (1993).

Now, more than twenty years since first coming together and with four of the original members still at the helm, Dervish are more in demand than ever. Their colorful career has taken them to every corner of the globe and has seen them share center stage with such names as James Brown, The Buena Vista Social Club, Oasis, Sting, REM, Beck and many more. Dervish is a band that both celebrates Irish music and has been instrumental in bringing it to a worldwide audience.

The Gibson Brothers:

Saturday, April 9th, 2016, 8PM

Picture of two Gibson brothersFor thousands of years, sailors navigated by the stars, trusting the constellations to keep them on the correct course. The same celestial bodies that led them away from home were the same ones that directed them back. Since childhood, Eric and Leigh Gibson's guiding stars have been songs recorded by music's greatest brother duos: the Monroes, the Louvins, and the Everlys, whose close harmonies have captivated listeners for decades.

On February 24, 2015, the two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainers of the Year will release Brotherhood, a salute to those influential groups.

"Making an album like this is something we've always talked about," explains Leigh Gibson. "At some point you have to stop talking and start doing."

Older brother Eric elaborates:

"We love that tradition of brothers singing together, and to pay tribute to that shows people where our hearts are."

For Brotherhood, Eric and Leigh chose fifteen songs from country, bluegrass, and early rock ‘n' roll brother acts. The track listing reflects nearly a century of American music history, from "The Eastbound Train," a parlor tune with roots that can be traced back to the 1890s, to "It'll Be Her," a Top 20 single released by Tompall and the Glaser Brothers in 1982. This is the music the Gibsons grew up with on the family dairy farm in Ellenburg Depot, a tiny town in upstate New York that was closer to the Canadian border than it was to a record store.

Brotherhood is the Gibsons' twelfth album since their 1993 debut, Underneath a Harvest Moon. 20 years on, Eric and Leigh have matured considerably as musicians, writers and performers, causing an ever-growing legion of bluegrass fans to take notice and garnering impressive amounts of critical acclaim: not only did the band win IBMA's Entertainer of the Year Award in 2012 and 2013, but the organization presented Eric with the prestigious Songwriter of the Year Award last year as well. The Gibson Brothers have come into their own, combining their wide-ranging influences—live shows are often peppered with a variety of covers ranging from Buck Owens to Tom Petty—into a unique style that honors tradition while still sounding refreshingly new.

The material is familiar, yet in some ways Brotherhood is an album of firsts. It's the Gibson Brothers' first album on Rounder Records, their first covers project, and it's also the first release that includes the newest member of the band, award-winning mandolin player and vocalist Jesse Brock, who joined the group in late 2012.

Though Brock has only been with the band for two years, the lineup has never sounded tighter. Fiddler Clayton Campbell has been with the band for a decade, and bassist Mike Barber has played with Leigh and Eric for so long that he's affectionately known as the third Gibson Brother. While their stunning harmonies capture most of the fan and critical attention, Eric and Leigh are also accomplished musicians, playing banjo and guitar, respectively.

While this impeccable five-man team is the heart of the record, which was largely recorded live in the studio, several guests appear on Brotherhood, giving the album a welcome dose of variety while still remaining true to the original songs and the Gibsons' own sound. Ronnie and Rob McCoury sing and play mandolin and banjo on a spellbinding version of "What a Wonderful Savior is He," a song that was recorded by The Four Brothers Quartet, a 1959 collaboration between Knoxville-area duos the Webster and Brewster Brothers. Ronnie Reno, a former Osborne Brothers sideman, lends harmony vocals to "Each Season Changes You" and one of the most beloved songs of the bluegrass canon, "How Mountain Girls Can Love." Russ Pahl (who's played on sessions for Don Williams, Kacey Musgraves, and dozens more) contributes aching pedal steel to the stunning version of the Everly Brothers' "Crying in the Rain" that closes out the album, while drummer Sam Zucchini, who appeared on several of the Gibsons' earlier releases, provides percussion.

Listeners will immediately recognize material released by familiar names like Phil and Don Everly ("Bye Bye Love" and "Crying in the Rain"), Charlie and Ira Louvin ("Seven Year Blues"), Jim and Jesse McReynolds ("Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes"), and Carter and Ralph Stanley ("How Mountain Girls Can Love"), but Brotherhood includes covers of songs recorded by some lesser-known acts as well, including The Blue Sky Boys ("The Sweetest Gift"), The York Brothers ("Long Gone"), and The Church Brothers ("Angel with Blue Eyes"). These are duos whose harmonies fit together so tightly that you can't tell where one voice stops and the other begins. The concept of families singing together is a tradition that stretches back through the history of folk music, and with 20 years of professional musicianship behind them, the Gibson Brothers, using those groups as a compass, have established themselves as proud keepers of that musical heritage.

"These are the acts that pointed us in our direction musically. After we got going, we went our own way for a while," explains Leigh. "But the process of making this record brought us back to the music we were listening to when we were just getting started. So many of these songs, when we sing them, I feel like I did when I was 15 years old, sitting in our living room in the farmhouse and learning how to play. This music is a part of our soul."

Cheryl Wheeler:

Saturday, May 14th, 2016, 8PM

Picture of Cheryl Wheeler looking proud with an acoustic guitarIt has always seemed as if there were two Cheryl Wheelers, with fans of the New England songwriter relishing watching the two tussle for control of the mic. There is poet-Cheryl, writer of some of the prettiest, most alluring and intelligent ballads on the modern folk scene. And there is her evil twin, comic-Cheryl, a militant trend defier and savagely funny social critic. The result is a delightful contrast between poet and comic.

Cheryl Wheeler has to be seen to be appreciated. Nothing you read and nothing you hear from her albums prepares you for how good a performer she is.

You may not be familiar with Cheryl, but you have probably heard her music. She is very respected as a songwriter by her peers, which can be seen by how many of them record her songs. Chery's songs have been covered by artists as diverse as Dan Seals, Peter Paul and Mary, Kenny Loggins, Garth Brooks, Suzy Boggus, Melanie, Bette Midler, Maura O'Connell, Sylvia, Kathy Mattea, and Holly Near. If they think she is great, then you owe it to yourself to learn more if you aren't familiar with her.

From her albums you can tell that she is a gifted songwriter with a beautiful voice. From other people's comments about her you can learn that she is a natural story teller with a fantastic sense of humor. But until you see her in person, you never really believe what you've been told about her. Besides, almost half of the songs she does during her shows haven't been recorded!

If you have never seen her do a live concert, then by all means do so! I get e-mail from people all the time thanking me for spreading the word about Cheryl. They go to the concert knowing they will enjoy it, and often find it even better than they had thought it would be. If she doesn't ever perform near you, then try to find a copy of her video or her live album and see what you are missing. You can find some clips of her on YouTube, but they are usually only the songs, and not the stories. If she ever performs near you, do what you can to attend. If you don't, you will kick yourself later for missing a great show.

Tickets for Sale:

Individual Tickets: $30 in advance; $35 day of show, $10 for ages 18 and under

Advance tickets are available at:

Belleville Congregational Church, 300 High Street, Newburyport

Dyno Records, 1 Middle Street, Newburyport

Online at:

Support the Series!

Belleville Roots:

Belleville Congregational Church has longstanding roots in the Newburyport community as a gathering place and supporter of local service organizations. The Roots Music Series, founded in December of 2010, has three important missions: First, the series brings a variety of high quality Roots Music concerts to the Newburyport area for all to enjoy. The series celebrates music ranging from a cappella to zydeco and includes a diverse range of blues, bluegrass, Cajun, Celtic, country, folk, gospel, Irish, jazz and world music. The second mission of the Roots Music Series is to raise funds to restore and maintain the historic 1867 Belleville Meeting House and adjacent Fiske Chapel complex at 300 High Street in Newburyport. Our objective is that the Meeting House and adjacent complex will continue to serve as a gathering place for many generations to come. The third mission is building community through music.

Roots Concert History:

2015-2016 Series:
2014-2015 Series:
2013-2014 Series:
2012-2013 Series:
2011-2012 Series:
2010-2011 Series:

Posters of all 2014-15 Concert Series Events

The Belleville Roots Music Concert Committee:

  • Joe Carper
  • Jennifer Collins
  • Diane Crofts
  • Bob Crofts
  • Donna Wilson Irwin
  • Ken Irwin
  • Shawna Kelley
  • Maria Niswonger
  • Marcia Samuelson
  • Sheila Taintor
  • Conrad Willeman
  • Ross Varney

Last updated on: November 10th, 2015.

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