The 1770 Mennonite Meetinghouse is a great space to gather for live music. Local alt-country singer-songwriter Dawn Hiatt (www.dawnhiattmusic.com) hosts featured performers for intimate, acoustic gatherings in the historic 1770 Germantown Mennonite Meetinghouse. March's music night will feature two regional artists - Ryan Tennis and Ben Kessler. Free admission - donations gratefully accepted About the Artists: RYAN TENNIS - http://www.ryantennismusic.com/ The charming authenticity of Ryan Tennis' sound has drawn comparisons to Paul Simon, Bill Withers and Ben Harper--surprising likenesses for an all-American college football player turned singer/songwriter. While his disarming lyrics and singable melodies display a rare sensitivity, the intensity of his live performances - solo or backed by the raucous Clubhouse Band - hint at his gridiron past. Shows swing as easily from pin-drop-silence-inducing acoustic ballads to deep-grooving funk jams and bumping roots reggae covers. Revealed in the varied whole is an artist devoted to honest songwriting and willing to follow his own expression to a place beyond easy categorization. Tennis' ability to connect with diverse audiences has endeared him to fans at home and abroad, and with a dogged DIY mentality the last two years have seen him orchestrate successful tours through Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Colombia, and Argentina. The coming year holds a return to Switzerland and Germany, and another tour in South America opening for his Colombian friends and collaborators, El Caribefunk . In the summer of 2014 the favor will be returned; a co-billed U.S. tour is already taking shape. Stateside, Tennis has an ever-expanding regional tour schedule revolving around his home city of Philadelphia. He has opened for Grammy Winners Kenny Loggins and Shawn Colvin, performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and Falcon Ridge’s “Emerging Artist Showcase,” and shared the stage with folk legends Ellis Paul and Jonatha Brook. He’s appeared on NBC’s The 10! Show and 6abc’s Tuned in, and has become a regular on Philadelphia independent radio. In 2010, Tennis emerged atop more than 600 entrants in the Philadelphia Songwriters Project Contest, and was nominated as Philadelphia’s singer/songwriter of the year by both Origivation Magazine and WSTW’s Hometown Heroes. BEN KESSLER: http://www.benkesslermusic.com/ “Ben Kessler is kind of like a musical superhero: normal high school student with dreams of college by day, soulful pop/folk songwriter making the rounds at progressively larger Philly venues by night. After being chosen as a winner of the Philadelphia Songwriters Project’s annual songwriting competition in May, the 15-year-old Kessler has been floating from show to show making friends, learning how to use his powers for good.” – Philadelphia City Paper, July 2014 In many ways, it all started for Ben Kessler at the Bitter End. Kessler made his debut at the tender age of 15 at New York’s oldest and arguably most venerable rock club in 2014. Kessler performed in front of the iconic brick stage backdrop and belted out songs from a stage in which Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Randy Newman honed their skills. Not bad for a high school junior from the Philadelphia suburbs. “It was awesome,” Kessler recalls. “It was surreal playing where so many artists I admire once played.” Barely a month later, Kessler found himself in a Philadelphia studio once inhabited by Teddy Pendergrass, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones, recording with a band whose credits include James Taylor, Amos Lee and John Legend. “It was nothing like recording by myself,” Kessler marvels. “With players that strong, interaction and trust are a huge part of the process.” The resulting album, So It Goes, is comprised of moving, hook-laden tunes, full of rich imagery that belies Kessler’s age. “A lot of the record is old-school rock’n’soul, very much a Philly thing,” says Jay Levin, who produced alongside renowned guitarist and songwriter Ross Bellenoit. “Ben’s songs are really deeply romantic, not at all sarcastic or shallow like you might expect from a teenager, and he’s growing as an artist at an incredible pace.” Kessler is a gifted guitarist who pens soulful, confessional tunes with the depth of early Fiona Apple and the rough-hewn neo-soul textures of John Mayer. His singing by turns evokes the indie vibe of Ben Folds and the searching colors of early Paul Simon records. While Kessler’s precocious musicianship invites comparisons to the teenage Steve Winwood, his homespun songwriting is more akin to Jackson Brown or Amos Lee, while his breezy R&B inflections recall Dave Mason or Eric Clapton’s early solo work. The engaging and imaginative entertainer has opened for David Wilcox, who analyzed Kessler’s songs and gives a ringing endorsement. Kessler has also talked music with Matt Nathanson and shared the stage with such singer-songwriters as David Poe and Robby Hecht. In August, Kessler was invited to appear at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, after showcasing at Bethlehem’s Musikfest just weeks before, all while crafting his first professional album at Turtle Studios in South Philly. He debuted the new record to a sold-out show at the end of the summer. At the moment, the pragmatic Kessler hopes to balance a career in music with college. “I don’t know if I want to go to a music school,” Kessler says. “I want to learn about business, but I’ll be compelled to still write and make music — I can’t just shut that off, it’s my passion. It’s there now, and it will be there in college and beyond.” *********** 'Like' the Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust page to receive invitations to future concerts, as well as other updates. Sharing about the series? Use #MeetinghouseMusic for photos and posts on social media. Third Thursday Music at the Meetinghouse is made possible by support from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Historic Germantown, as well as generous supporters. To make a donation to support Music at the Meetinghouse and Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust's ongoing work, go to http://tinyurl.com/supportGMHT.
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