Mo Kenney is a multi award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter known for her lyrical prowess, entrancing stage presence, and her powerhouse songs. Her biting and relatable lyrics stay true to Kenney’s mantra of unabashed honesty in creating music that connects. At 22, she listed in the iTunes “Best Singer Songwriters of 2012.”
Mo grew up in on alternative folk and rock in her Nova Scotia home. Canadian rocker Joel Plaskett discovered her at a songwriting workshop when she was still a schoolkid, and she tours and records with him frequently. She’s won Canadian Folk Music, ECMA, and Juno awards, and last year her 2014 CD In My Dreams was nominated for Adult Alternative Album of the Year in the JUNO Awards.
Mo is flying in from Halifax to play at the Myrna—her first Montana concert.
Why we invited her:
We saw her on stage and were stunned and delighted. We’ve moved heaven and earth to get her to Montana.
From Venezuela, to GlobalFest, to the Myrna Loy: Experience the passion, color, and contagious beats of the Afro-Venezuelan soul through traditional rhythms and dances of Betsayda Machada and La Parranda El Clavo—her village’s own multi-generational band.
Betsayda was born in El Clavo, Barlovento, a community of rich Afro-Venezuelan traditions. The people of Barlovento are descendants of African workers who once tilled the cocoa fields, exploited by local land owners. Nicknamed ‘The Black Voice of Barlovento,’ Betsayda has become the carrier of a long tradition of nearly extinguished genres of black music in Venezuela. She is celebrated as an icon of Afro-Venezuelan music.
La Parranda El Clavo is the local percussion and voice ensemble in El Clavo, population: 1500. For nearly 30 years they have been playing together at local festivities, funerals, new year celebrations and get-togethers. Betsayda and La Parranda recorded a series of albums and organized the first parranda tour that showcases Barlovento’s vibrant musical traditions. They wowed audiences at the 2016 Vancouver and Calgary folk festivals, and are here on a special U.S. tour supported by the Southern Exposure program of the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.
“The kind of group that world-music fans have always been thrilled to discover: vital, accomplished, local, unplugged, deeply rooted.” – Jon Pareles, The New York Times
Why we invited them:
Who else is going to bring an Afro-Venezuelan dance party to Helena? Only at the Myrna.
A secular gospel/roots/rock collective, now being called one of the most compelling new voices in North American roots music. Allison Russell (formerly with Canadian girl band Po’ Girl) and JT Nero (formerly with The Clouds) produce gritty, soulful, rock n’ roll psalms that simmer, burn, and satisfy.
Birds of Chicago has developed a fervent following, touring 200 nights a year since 2012. For these Birds, singing for a room full of new people, hearts wide open, keeps off the cold and chases off the shadows. 2017 finds the band in constant motion – from sea to sea and beyond.
Why we invited them:
Music this raw and soul-rich needs to be experienced live.
Montana pianist/composer Phil Aaberg and actor Michael McNeilly premiere a multi-media performance piece about water, longing, the radiant Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, and how they connect us all in magnificent ways.
Philip Aaberg has performed with the Boston Pops, Peter Gabriel, Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, and toured and recorded with Elvin Bishop’s Group during the height of its popularity. He incorporates classical, jazz, bluegrass, rock, and new music to create pieces that connect a global audience to the sweeping landscapes of the West.
Michael “Mokey” McNeilly spent 17 years as a professional actor in Hollywood, appearing in over 40 productions, with the Mark Taper Forum, the John Ford Theatre, the Kennedy Center and, the Theatre Exchange. He has appeared in movies, television, commercials and was a Mighty Carson Art Player with Johnny Carson. He writes, he sings, he directs, and for the last 15 summers he has guided fly fishers down the Smith River.
Why we commissioned this performance:
Montana grows artists—and rivers—worth celebrating. We brought these two artists together to create a work based on their passions: fishing, and Montana’s riverscapes.
You know her as a finalist on “The Voice,” as feature performer at the world-renowned Bluebird Café, and also from the globally broadcast “Music City Roots.” And you remember her stellar first appearance here last summer. Now back by popular demand, Sarah returns to Helena with her monster vocals that sound like Janis Joplin fired by the storytelling magic of Johnny Cash.
Why we invited her:
She has a huge voice and huge heart. You’ll want to say “I saw her at the Myrna Loy, before she went global.”
Eclectic Americana band with blistering 5-part harmonies, the juice of bluegrass on steroids, and a raucous Celtic heartbeat, stopping by the Myrna on their way from Calgary Folkfest. Parsonsfield is known for its high energy and sonic evolution.
Their 2016 album, “Blooming Through the Black,” was recorded (on vinyl, no less) in a shuttered axe factory in Collinsville, CT, “an island of old Americana amongst a vast ocean of suburbia.” This is a group that has survived its struggles and triumphs, and are turning that energy into the desire to find rebirth and create anew.
“A lot of string bands like to talk about how they are innovating, but Parsonsfield actually delivers on that promise…their sound kicks out the windows of what most people think of folk and bluegrass.” (Folk Alley)
Why we invited them:
Innovation, bravery, energy. We can’t stop listening to them, and you won’t be able to either.
Josh writes to his Myrna Loy fans:
I’ve been writing a lot of songs lately—they come in waves, and I seem to be riding one right now. I’m playing some special solo shows this summer to try them out. These shows will be mostly new songs, and a lot of me figuring stuff out along the way. It’ll be fun and weird and cool. So, if you wanna see some works in progress, come on down. Help me figure out just how sturdy these songs are.
Rock and Roll,
Why we invited him: These 2 nights are Ritter’s only Montana appearances on this “Works in Progress” solo tour, trying out new songs in some of his favorite places. (Listen for his new song, “Myrna Loy.”)