The Americana Showcase, a concert series that celebrates the musical heritage of the Midwest, will be returning to its roots when it kicks off its first concert of the spring season at the Rochester Civic Theatre.
The concert will draw its inspiration from Valentine’s Day, featuring a trio of guys and gals. Headlining the concert will be Michael McDermott and his wife, Heather Horton. Joining them will be Nashville-based Dana Cooper and Sally Barris and local duo The Dovetailers, Brandson Sampson and Heather Ritenour-Sampson.
The concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the theater, 20 Civic Center Drive SE.
Sampson said the first time he played in Nashville, it was with Cooper and Barris at the Bluebird Cafe. And it was that experience that gave birth to the Americana Showcase.
“From that experience seven years ago started this whole idea of bringing artists from Nashville to Rochester to showcase really talented A-list songwriters,” Sampson said. “So that’s exciting for me because it reminds me why we did this thing in the first place — with having them on stage with me.”
In fact, Cooper played at the very first Americana Showcase concert, helping to kick off what has become a seven-year tradition. And Barris has made a couple of concert appearances since then.
McDermott has been called “one of the best songwriters in the world and possibly the greatest undiscovered rock ‘n’ roll talent of the last 20 years,” according to the Washington Post.
Interestingly, one of McDermott’s biggest fans is horror and suspense author Stephen King, who writes the intros and prologues to McDermott’s albums.
“I know they’ve become good friends over the years, and Steven King really likes his approach and his art,” Sampson said.
Sampson said the first part of the concert will be in a songwriters-in-the-round format, featuring music and story-telling from Cooper, Barris, Sampson and Ritenour-Sampson. After a break, McDermott and Horton will take the stage for an hour of music.
February’s showcase concert will be the first of two themed musical events. On March 16, the focus will be on women-led bands and voices featuring the Chastity Brown Band, making its first appearance at the showcase as a band. Molly Maher and her Disbelievers will open the concert.
After Wednesday’s concert, Cooper, Barris, Sampson and Ritenour-Sampson will embark on three-concert mini-tour.
The quartet will play at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at Shattuck-Saint Mary’s School in Fairbault, and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota. They will round out the tour with private show in Owatonna the following night.