1794 Meetinghouse

The Samirah Evans Project featuring Anand Nayak

Saturday, September 7 @ 7:30 pm

Evans’ assets -which once made her the toast of pre-Katrina New Orleans- include her sultry, sometimes silken, always smoking hot vocals and vibrant stage presence.

Owen McNally, WNPR Jazz Corridor
  • Samirah Evans — vocals
  • Anand Nayak — vocals, electric & acoustic guitars
  • Ben Kohn — piano
  • Tom Major — drums

Presenting a tasty assortment of traditional & contemporary roots, blues, jazz and R&B with a pinch of New Orleans’ spice. The concert will present a different side of Samirah with this lineup of musicians. The repertoire will include selections from Tom Waits, The Band, Leonard Cohen, Berry Gordy, Norah Jones, The Bee Gees, Joni Mitchell, and Ray Charles, plus unique arrangements of jazz standards as well as a few of Evans’ New Orleans style originals. The harmonies between Samirah and Anand are superb, and the rest of the band will join in on the fun by lending their vocals on a few songs as well.

Samirah Evans

Samirah Evans is known for her dynamic, soulful approach to jazz and blues, among other genres. Her style is also heavily influenced by the New Orleans sound where she was one of the city’s most in-demand singers.

Her 1990 debut at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival began a stint of 15 consecutive years performing there as a leader or featured vocalist, and she was a fixture in both clubs and concert venues throughout the Crescent City, including Snug Harbor, Tipitina’s and the House of Blues. During her career, she has toured North and South America, Europe and Asia, sharing stages with a multitude of New Orleans notables and legendary artists including James Brown, B.B. King, Dr. John, Levon Helm, Aaron Neville, Charles Neville, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Jr., Poncho Sanchez, Bob Dorough, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty & Sam Kininger, and Sheila Jordan.

Hurricane Katrina caused Samirah to relocate to her husband’s hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont. She assembled a band called Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils and developed notoriety throughout New England touring upon their 2011 CD release “Hot Club” Live at the Vermont Jazz Center, Evans’ 3rd release. Over the years Samirah has performed at prominent venues and festivals in the area including the Academy of Music, Iron Horse, Vermont Jazz Center, Colonial Theatre Keene, NH, Gateways City Arts, Next Stage, Latchis Theatre, Greenfield Festival, Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival, and the Mystic Blues Festival as well as 1794 Meetinghouse.

Evans dedicates time perpetuating indigenous American music. She was a long-time participant in the Blues Schoolhouse program sponsored by the International House of Blues Foundation. She also served as a volunteer show host on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage radio station, WWOZ, for over 10 years. In Brattleboro, she founded a musical mentoring concert program called “Sam’s Set and Shed,” bringing artists and their proteges into a jam session setting with area musicians. Samirah is also the founder of the NOLABratts, a classic New Orleans R&B choir originating from Brattleboro that performs under her direction. She is curator of “Ladies in Jazz”, a concert concept she founded to highlight collaboration between female singers and musicians. Samirah is currently an Artist Associate in Jazz Voice at Williams College. In addition, she conducts private vocal lessons in her home studio.

Samirah Evans is a skilled, energetic vocalist who fosters a magnetically charged relationship with her numerous fans. Perhaps that’s because she puts so much of herself into her art – she makes each song her own by probing its essence and then imbuing it with her own, authentic, heart-felt personality.

Eugene Uman, Vermont Jazz Center Artistic Director

Anand Nayak

Anand Nayak is a Grammy-nominated producer, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist living in Florence, Massachusetts. Immersed in music at an early age, Anand was a natural leader in youth choirs and theater productions. Building on years of classical piano, he turned to the guitar as a teenager, teaching himself to play anything and everything he could. An equal love for acoustic and electric music kept him stylistically open in those formative years, an openness that has become the foundation for a unique ability to play with and enhance the music of a wide variety of musicians.

Anand has been the guitarist for folk band Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem since 2000, performing all over North America on stages large and small. Additional artists he has toured with include, Polly Fiveash, Corey Laitman, May Erlewine, Jeffery Foucault Lui Collins, Alastair Moock Heather Maloney, Pamela Means, Jim Eagan, Wishbone Zoe, and PBS Kids host Steve Roslonek (aka Stevesongs) along with other acts from the Pioneer Valley.

It’s remarkable so much talent should be condensed in one person. Anand Nayak shines in every role.

Pamela Means

Benny Kohn

Benny Kohn, a Berkshire based pianist, is one of the most sought after pianists in the area. Ben plays with numerous groups and artists spanning a variety of genres and styles including electric blues, funk, R&B, jazz, gospel and New Orleans grooves. Ben is a regular with a number of bands including the Misty Blues band, Hot Sauce and The Greystone Quarted as well as leading his own piano based combos. At Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Kohn was the accompanist for the jazz choir as well as taught piano to private students for ten years. He established himself as a recording artist with his album of his own originals in 2016 entitled Fingers First.

Tom Major

Drummer/producer Tom Major has been passionate about playing drums his entire life. After studying at the Berklee College of Music he moved back to his native New York City and had a successful career touring, making TV appearances, and recording with many artists including South Side Johnny and the Jukes, Blood Sweat and Tears, Carly Simon and Chuck Berry. Tom was Bo Diddley’s drummer for 6 years and recorded his “40th Year in the business” star studded album A Man Amongst Men.

Tom founded “Entrain” on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1993 while still working with Bo Diddley. Mixing world influenced rhythm’s, pop song writing, and a positive upbeat vibe, Entrain was an instant hit and has been thrilling critics and fans of all ages. They won a “Boston Music Award” for Best Live Act, and Tom was nominated for Best Drummer that same year. The team of Brian Alex and Tom Major are responsible for writing and producing some of the best music of the entire Entrain 8 CD catalog. Tom is also the bandleader of the Rejuvenators, known for their funky Mardi Gras sounds.

Samirah Evans and her Handsome Devils performing “Hot Club” at 1794 Meetinghouse in 2019.

Adults: $25 | 13-17: $10 | 0-12: free
traditional & contemporary roots, blues, jazz and R&B