Featured Artists at Smithfield Music’s 12th Annual Aiken & Friends Fest


Meet the artists who will be performing at the 12th Annual Aiken and Friends Fest coming up Friday and Saturday, September 29th and 30th at the Smithfield Little Theatre.

FRIDAY NIGHT, September 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Songwriters in the Round Concert 
Featuring Mike Aiken, Linda McRae and Ken Tizzard performing their original works and talking about their songwriting and what inspires them. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Admission: $25 (Weekend festival pass includes all events and concerts is $40)

Mike Aiken:
Mike AikenMike Aiken is a singer/songwriter known for his signature blend of Americana, country and roots music though his vast treasure chest of experiences and mastery of varied stringed instruments have contributed to a catalogue of music that cannot be defined by one genre or style. Originally from Western New York, he honed his skills playing in Blues, Southern Rock, and Country bands. He began his solo career as a songwriter and artist when he sailed out of the cold Great Lakes and eventually to the shores of coastal Virginia, where he resides on his sailboat today. A United States Coast Guard captain, he has sailed tens of thousands of offshore miles along with his wife Amy. Andwith five top 30 singles over the past four years in the U.S. and Europe, the songs he writes and the experiences he shares are rich with the stories of life, love and wanderlust. (From the artist’s website)

Linda McRae:
linda.jpgWith a voice equally warm and world-weary McRae tells tales of the lost, the lovesick and the loner. Stories are stand-alone gems sketching out solitary men as convincingly as forthright female romantics. Earning two-platinum and three gold records as a member of Spirit of the West Linda left the band to resume her solo career and has since released four critically acclaimed recordings. Recent performances include Plainsong Festival NE, Yukon Arts Centre, Vancouver Island Music Festival BC; South Country Fair AB; and New Folsom Prison, California’s infamous maximum-security prison where she performed in concert and facilitated writing workshops for the inmates. These workshops lead to the creation of her EXPRESS YOURSELF Writing Workshops currently being presented in detox centres, alternative schools, and youth and adult correctional facilities across North America. (From the artist’s website)

Ken Tizzard:
tizzardVery few Canadian musicians have had as fascinatingly diverse a career as Ken Tizzard. In over two decades as a professional musician, he has gone from plying his trade as the charismatic bassist in top Canadian rock bands The Watchmen and Thornley (he is featured on six gold and platinum records) to then emerging as an eloquent roots-based singer/songwriter and guitarist with a prolific solo career. Wearing his rock ‘n roll hat, Ken has toured internationally, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and played such major venues as The Air Canada Centre. (From the artist’s Facebook page)


Outdoor Festival and Tailgate Party begins at 2:30 p.m. featuring Songwriter, Indie Music and Guitar Workshops & Picker’s Tent
Admission: $10 (Weekend pass which includes all events and concerts: $40)
michael glassHosted by Michael Glass, the picker’s tent invites you to bring your instrument and pick away! This unplugged tent is the ideal place to socialize the picker’s way – by playing music. The workshops are open to all ages. Details are available on the event website. Bring a blanket or low-profile lawn chair for the outside stage. Also on site will be vendors featuring fine Virginia beer and wine and a variety of specialty food and merchandise.

Cottin’ Pickin’ Stage, Saturday, September 30 at 3:30 p.m. – Gratiot Lake Road 

GRATIOT LAKE ROADGratiot Lake Road is the modern folk music of husband and wife Ben and Emaleigh Jensen. Songwriter Emaleigh sings and plays melodies on a closed-back banjo and Ben sings harmonies while fingerpicking an acoustic guitar and stomping with ankle-percussion. Their songs vary from soft ballads to upbeat jams played in a style that has been described as haunting, bittersweet, and eerie. Since their 2009 inception while living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Gratiot Lake Road has released two albums and performed at festivals, art galleries, historic theaters, house shows, bars, and dives throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. (From the artist’s website.)

Cottin’ Pickin’ Stage, Saturday, September 30 at 4:30 p.m. – Susan Greenbaum 
aiken-12-greenbaum-3.jpgSusan draws big, enthusiastic audiences who delight in her lively, diverse and powerful performances. Thanks to the Internet, she has fans on every continent. She performs solo and with her band and has appeared at such venues as The Bottom Line and The Bitter End in NYC, The Birchmere, Bethlehem Musikfest, Floyd Fest and Rams Head Tavern. In addition to touring with Jewel, Susan’s credits include performing an acoustic set with Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley; sharing bills with Jill Sobule; and opening for Kenny Loggins, Patty Griffin, Dar Williams, Janis Ian, Jim Messina, Todd Snider, Tuck and Patti, Iris DeMent, Lucy Kaplansky, Lloyd Cole and Catie Curtis. Susan also endorses W.L Gore’s Elixir Strings. The most frequently heard comment at her gigs is, “Great songs–and how does all that big, beautiful sound come out of someone under five feet tall?” (From the artist’s website.)

Cottin’ Pickin’ Stage, Saturday, September 30 at 5:30 p.m. – Lewis McGehee 
LewisLewis McGehee began playing guitar at the very early age of 7. By age 11, he was already performing with many local bands as both a rhythm and lead guitarist. He has enjoyed a successful recording and performing career including extensive experience in the recording studio as a session guitarist and vocalist, as well as composing, producing and performing on many regional radio and television commercials. Portfolio Magazine’s Musician Poll voted McGehee the top acoustic act for three consecutive years and was recently voted “Best Musician” and Hampton Roads Magazine cited the Lewis McGehee Band as one of the top three area bands in 2001. In July of 1990, McGehee released a critically acclaimed recording of original songs on Headlight Records and Tapes. 1994 marked the debut of a CD entitled “The Famous Unknowns” featuring Lewis with two other Virginia songwriters Michael Lille and Robbin Thompson. McGehee’s aggressive approach to acoustic guitar has made him a prominent force in the Virginia music scene.

SATURDAY NIGHT, September 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Mike Aiken’s Tall Tales and Troubadours Show
Opening Act: Songwriter Winners
tall tales and troubadors 2017Tall Tales & Troubadours is a multi-media, energetic concert by Mike Aiken, a singer/songwriter known for his signature blend of Americana, country and roots music. Mike is a teller of tales whose music makes you feel like you instantly know him. With five top 30 singles over the past four years in the U.S. and Europe, the songs he writes and the experiences he shares are rich with the stories of life, love and wanderlust. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Admission: $25 (Weekend festival pass includes all events and concerts is $40)

MartinThanks to a very generous donation from a local supporter of Smithfield Music, you can enter to win a 1981 Martin D-28! The raffle will be held at Aiken & Friends Fest on September 30th. Tickets are a $5 donation to Smithfield Music. The guitar is on display at The Christmas Store (108 Main Street in downtown Smithfield). Tickets are available at The Christmas Store and at the Aiken Fest.

Smithfield Music presents top tier entertainment in partnership with the Smithfield Little Theatre ​and uses the proceeds from the concerts to promote music education in Isle of Wight County.