As producer David Way puts it, Jeni & Billy are “the most down-to-earth people making music just like that. Their roots run deep.” When you add Craig Eastman‘s deep roots to that soil, you’ve got a trio so in tune with each other that they are ready to dig deep and take their audience from the earth to the moon on a single shared note. This is our second time to have this trio with us and we are thrilled to be able to share their unique combination of authentic Appalachian-style story telling, song writing, flat-footing, and sheer talent and musicianship with you.
Jeni Hankins is often compared to “Hazel Dickens and aptly so,” Rob Weir of SingOut! magazine writes. “Though Hankins has a smoother, less nasal voice than Dickens, it has the same born-in-the-bone twang – the kind you don’t get by dressing up country and scouring songbooks. Hankins also grew up in the same contiguous coal mine region that spawned Dickens, and with the same sensibilities: an appreciation for the grace of ordinary people, mountain gospel music, support for miners’ unions, and a gift for finding beauty where less attuned people fail to see it.”
Billy Kemp‘s schooling in the traditions of mountain music took place in Ellicott City, Maryland among Appalachian migrants who had come to escape the mines and work in the mills, bringing their fiddles and banjos with them. Billy listened and learned and became a versatile instrumentalist who can soar in any style from Rockabilly to Indian ragas and whose chops as a side man took him right onto the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Billy has opened shows for dozens of folk and roots legends including Johnny Cash, Joe Ely, Merle Haggard, The Band, and he’s played with them, too, all the way to Tom Paxton.
After winning the New England Fiddle Contest at the age of 13 against career fiddlers in front of an audience of 60,000, Craig Eastman went on to work with a who’s who of artists on stage and in the studio, including Steve Martin, Jackson Browne, Elton John, Ray Charles, T Bone Burnett, and Lucinda Williams. Craig is a multi-instrumentalist and composer and his writing and playing have been featured on many blockbuster films including The Pirates of the Caribbean, Brokeback Mountain, Black Hawk Down, and Pearl Harbor. As John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band said, “If you are lucky enough to catch him, you will not forget you have seen one of the best…a special musician, Craig Eastman.” As part of Jeni & Billy’s Big Picnic Band, Craig brings humor and heart to their recordings and their show.
House Concert Details
SLO House Concerts are by invitation and reservation only. Please click here to contact us to request an invitation and indicate how many seats you would like to reserve. We will then send you an email with directions and other helpful information.
7:00pm show: Doors open at 6:30pm. Concert starts at 7:00pm.
Suggested donation: $20. ALL of the money goes to the performers.
Additional Sights and Sounds
Reckoning Day with Jeni on lead vocal, Billy on guitar, and Craig on fiddle:
Tazewell Beauty Queen: