"Michael Smith is simply one of the best songwriters on the planet. He has a devoted following and has produced a remarkable body of work. He's written dozens of brilliant songs, from the heartbreaking to the hilarious, and created whole suites of songs for the theater. He composed the score and led the on-stage band, playing a great guitar, for Steppenwolf's Tony-winning production of The Grapes of Wrath." Tom McNamee, Chicago Sun Times.
Bassist and composer Larry Gray demonstrates an impressive versatility and an uncommon musical curiosity. Originally a jazz guitarist, Larry switched to the double bass and quickly developed a reputation as a first-call sideman. Within a short time, he began to work at Chicago’s premier jazz club, the Jazz Showcase, where he appeared with increasing frequency, often with drummer Wilbur Campbell and pianist Willie Pickens.
Throughout the years he has worked with such jazz greats as George Coleman, Lee Konitz, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Fortune, Ira Sullivan, Junior Mance, David "Fathead" Newman, Charles McPherson, Branford Marsalis, Benny Golson, Jackie McLean, Sonny Stitt, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Al Cohn, Eddie Harris and Les McCann.
In addition, he has collaborated with guitarists Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and Tal Farlow, as well as the drummers Ed Thigpen and Jack DeJohnette, and trumpeters Donald Byrd and Harry "Sweets" Edison, among others.
Anne Hills is one of the most beloved voices of the contemporary folk music scene, receiving awards and recognition for her live performances, her unique solo and collaborative recording projects, and her overall artistry and benefit work. Her song “Follow That Road” was the title cut of the Martha’s Vineyard Songwriter Retreat and has been a certified folk classic since the late 1990s. Whether she is singing her own songs, the words of six-year-old Opal Whiteley, or her song settings of the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley; accompanied with her guitar, banjo, or simply a Tibetan bell, she puts her whole heart and soul into the moment. You won’t want to miss a chance to hear her songs and stories in person. She tours extensively, winning over audiences with her warm, lively and humorous performances. The AllMusic Guide says, “A stunning soprano tone has made Anne Hills one of contemporary music’s premiere vocalists … Her knack for writing heartfelt songs [has] brought her to the upper echelon of her craft.” and Tom Paxton says, “Anne Hills is such an exquisite singer that it’s understandable that people might be swept up in the pure beauty of her voice and thereby overlook her writing. That would be a mistake. For me, Anne’s writing, in songs like ‘Follow That Road’ and many others, is as direct, melodic and deep as any work being done today. She is quite simply one of my absolute favorite songwriters.”
John and Julia are the founding members of the acclaimed Chicago band Dyed in the Wool. They have appeared at many festivals and concert venues around the Midwest, including Milwaukee Irish Fest, Chicago Celtic Fest, The Irish American Heritage Center Chicago, and have several appearances on Rick Kogan's WGN Radio Show. Sing Out! Magazine calls Juila a "Tour de Force on Flute!"