Howard Levy (left) and Chris Siebold perform. The pair are set to play a concert Sunday, Oct. 23 at the Unitarian Church of Evanston. Credit: Chuck Osgood

Howard Levy, the legendary jazz harmonica player, and Chris Siebold, masterful resonator guitarist, often came to radio listeners live from Lake Wobegon, but this weekend they’ll be playing live and in person in Evanston.

The pair will play a concert at the Unitarian Church of Evanston starting at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1330 Ridge Ave. They will perform music from their album Art & Adrenaline, along with new material. Levy “might break out a vocal or read a poem,” his website says.

Levy is a widely acknowledged master of the diatonic harmonica, and is also a superb pianist, innovative composer, recording artist, bandleader, teacher, producer and Evanston resident. Over his 40-plus year career, he has been featured on more than 300 recordings, won two Grammy awards and composed the first concerto for the diatonic harmonica. A founding member of the bluegrass fusion group Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, he was a frequent guest musician on NPR’s popular radio broadcast, A Prairie Home Companion, which went off the air in 2016.

Siebold was a member of the house band on Garrison Keillor’s radio show for several years. At the Gretsch.com music blog, Ron Denny wrote that Siebold “is one of the most versatile musicians working in the business today.”

“Pick a genre – be it rock, jazz, swing, blues, or even bluegrass – and Chris can play it with authority on his guitar or any number of other stringed instruments: mandolin, mandocello, hammer dulcimer, banjo, or even lap steel,” Denny wrote. “Oh, and he can also sing, produce, and is a highly gifted composer and arranger.”

Siebold, a Chicago resident, is an adjunct professor of music at Elmhurst University. He leads the group Psycles that he formed in 2010 with some of Chicago’s finest musicians, Levy among them. He also plays with The Unknown New, an instrumental folk group, and with Lennon’s Tuba, a two-man guitar bass duo.

Levy (left) and Siebold perform at SPACE in 2013. The two have recorded an album together, Art & Adrenaline. Credit: Chuck Osgood

Levy’s website says the two musical artists are “eagerly looking forward to their first performance in over two years, at this beautiful space.”

The Unitarian Church of Evanston, hosting the concert, is deeply involved in social justice efforts, including reparations funding, soup kitchens, overnight shelter for the homeless and many other programs.

“We are raising funds to keep living our mission: nurturing the human spirit for a world made whole,” said the Rev. Eileen Wiviott, senior minister of the church. “Our faith community, like all faith communities, is working to thrive post-pandemic and in the midst of rising inflation. We hope for support so that we can continue to sustain the spirits of those doing important work in the community, and that together we can continue to build the Beloved Community.”

Music events like this one help support activities and events, enabling UCE to provide a welcoming place for all, as well as opportunities for the congregation to serve the wider community.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door and are available at ucevanston.org. The entrance and parking lot is on Greenwood, between Ridge and Asbury avenues.

Gay Riseborough

Gay Riseborough is an artist, has served the City of Evanston for 11 years on arts committees, and is now an arts writer at the Evanston RoundTable.

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