Another season of Tunes at Twilight opens tonight

Friday, May 11, 2012
Dennis Stroughmatt, center, led the crowd in clapping May 16, 2008, as Creole Stomp played for the first Tunes at Twilight of the year at the Common Pleas Courthouse gazebo in Cape Girardeau. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

Cape Girardeau will once again experience a variety of songwriters performing in an intimate setting with Tunes at Twilight, the weekly outdoor concert series.

The series is organized with the booking help of Larry Underberg of Underberg House Concerts. Tunes at Twilight includes two six-week slots of hour-long concerts each Friday. Concerts in the first series, which starts today, begin at 7 p.m.

Audiences are known to bring lawn chairs, blankets, children and picnic supplies to the concerts at the Common Pleas Courthouse gazebo. There is no charge for the shows, but people are encouraged to donate or purchase items from the artists. In bad weather, concerts held in Rose Theatre at Southeast Missouri State University. Old Town Cape will announce any change by 3 p.m. the day of the show.

The concerts feature mostly blues, folk and country. Here, SE Live gives you a brief guide to the artists of the first series this year, but you can find more information at

The Leslie Dysinger Band: tonight

Take Janis Joplin, add a cup of Patty Griffin and a tablespoon of Melissa Etheridge, and you have Leslie Dysinger. Although she grew up singing in church, Dysinger didn't begin her music career until 1992, when she decided to move to Memphis, Tenn. While in Memphis, Dysinger began writing about love, loss, lust and the challenges of everyday life. In 2005, she began focusing that creativity on songwriting, and met Andrew Mrosla, a transplant from Boston who had studied guitar at Boston College and graduated with top honors. The pair have since been writing and performing in Nashville, Tenn., Atlanta, Knoxville, Tenn., Huntsville, Ky., Memphis, Lexington, Ky., Louisville and lots of little towns all over the southern United States as an acoustic duo. In 2009, they formed their current lineup after teaming up with drummer Chris McLean and bassist Will Chandler to create a high-energy folk sound.

Kevin Danzig: May 18

Growing up in a musical family in Southern California, Danzig has been a performing songwriter nearly his entire life, and a professional since the age of 18. Danzig writes and performs modern folk and acoustic rock tunes, as well as selected cover songs. Always accompanied by acoustic guitar, ukulele and harmonica, he also tends to play tambourine with his foot. Originality is Danzig's hallmark with audiences; his lyrics are said to be invariably intelligent, and the instrumental arrangements are known to be in perfect sync and skillfully executed. He has recorded seven full-length original albums, and his most recent, "Loud and Clear," is a collection of spiritual songs along with a number of new songs cowritten with his wife, Freda.

The Cantrells: May 25

For an example of all the different kinds of music that have come to be known as "folk," look no further than the husband-and-wife duo of Al and Emily Cantrell. Since the early '80s, they have produced a blend of bluegrass, swing, jazz and old-timey folk music that has even won them fans in Hollywood. In the early '90s, as Robert Redford was preparing to produce and direct "A River Runs Through It," he met the Cantrells at a party. Redford was said to be so taken with their music that he included it on the film's soundtrack, and also cast them as extras in the "church social" scene (they're the musicians, naturally). In 2006 they called on their talented Nashville neighbors to help record "The Heart Wants What It Wants." The album features guests Bela Fleck, Mark Schatz, Rob Ickes and Jim Hurst.

John Latini: June 1

Latini personifies what music in the heartland has to offer: an honest, straight-ahead, no-nonsense commitment to real songs about real people. Latini believes that all the best American music comes from blues roots, and folk and blues go hand in hand in his music. In addition to being known as crafter of clever, literate songs, Latini is a purveyor of a slick, blues-soaked, hard-driving guitar style. He is also known as an intense, incandescent performer. A popular, well-established voice in Michigan, he's begun to build an enthusiastic fan base throughout the Midwest and beyond to Colorado and New York.

Kevin Gordon: June 8

Gordon, a musician and poet, moved to Nashville after graduating college in 1987, hoping to mix songwriting for others with his own music. Instead, he concentrated on making his own records, building up a small but loyal coterie of fans in Nashville and beyond with music that can be described as rockabilly. His successes include being covered by Keith Richards and having his music used on HBO's popular series "True Blood." On his recently released "Gloryland," Gordon tells Southern-based tales that have resonated with his listeners. The album is widely seen by critics as a perfect example of Americana songwriting.

Ivas John Band: June 15

Ivas almost needs no introduction in these parts. The Chicago-born John moved away from home to Carbondale, Ill., where he quickly earned his spurs backing local luminaries. Now, after playing extensively throughout the Midwest and sharing stages with top acts like Leon Russell, Guitar Shorty, Nick Moss, Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials and the Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings, the Ivas John Band is building a reputation as one of the region's most original and entertaining blues acts. The success of the band earned them a spot on PBS as part of nationally televised "American Roots," and new release "Doin' What's Natural" has garnered rave reviews. John strives hard to eschew blues stereotypes, and as such, fans will notice a variety in the blues styles he plays.


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