Mike Cortson and David Lahm return to The Box Factory for the Arts on Saturday, July 16th at 7:30PM to perform classic songs of Sinatra’s era. Cortson and Lahm started tapping the Frank Sinatra songbook a few years ago, it didn't take long to realize that they were onto something. "I noticed that the crowds kept getting bigger, in anticipation, I guess," Cortson says.
"The kids who came to open mics at the Acorn (Theater) high school students and (people) in their early 20s really enjoyed it. They appreciate it because these are real songs, with real chords, that are really hard to play."
What began as a fun collaboration will get a bigger platform at the Box Factory for the Arts on Saturday, where Cortson will sing while Lahm will play keyboards behind him. The show will feature a crosssection of such signature Sinatra titles such as "Fly Me To The Moon," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "My Way" which are featured on a performance clip that can be seen on Cortson's YouTube channel, cortsonlaw.
Cortson and Lahm will also dip into standards of the era, such as "As Time Goes By" and "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" whose lyrics were written by Lahm's mother, Dorothy Fields. "She wrote over 400 songs David grew up with that whole era, when songwriting was songwriting," Cortson says. "I just get a kick out of talking to David about it."
Born in 1915, Sinatra first rose to prominence during the swing era, in the 1940s, and enjoyed a film, TV and recording career that ran into the '90s. He died in 1998. Widely considered the first modern pop superstar, Sinatra became known for a vocal style that seemed to address the listener directly though one other quality also distinguishes his vast recorded output, according to Cortson.
"He's usually a half beat behind the band, and he breathes in odd places where you'd expect him to take a breath, he goes right through, and he can extend it (a song lyric) out," Cortson says. "It's really hard to do. I don't try to sound like him at all. I just do what I do."
Vocalist Anne Hills returns to the Box Factory for the Arts on July 31 at 2 pm with special guest Jay Ansill on the celtic harp, violin and mandolin. The duo will be performing a variety of songs from past albums and concerts. Highlights will include Jay Ansill’s new settings of Robert Graves poems for string quartet and voice, which the duo performed in Mallorca, Spain for the 2014 Robert Graves Conference. Hills and Ansill will also perform songs from her train inspired CD, “Tracks”. Most notably, Hills and Ansill will perform songs from their new album, “Fragile Gifts.” “Fragile Gifts” will be officially released on August 15th, but this album will be available for purchase at their performance at the Box Factory for the Arts on July 31st. Originally from Saint Joseph, Hills returns each year for a concert. We look forward to hearing her lovely voice again.
“Anne Hills is such an exquisite singer that it’s understandable that people might be swept up in the pure beauty of her voice and thereby overlook her writing. That would be a mistake. For me, Anne’s writing, in songs like ‘Follow That Road’ and many others, is as direct, melodic and deep as any work being done today. She is quite simply one of my absolute favorite songwriters.” — Tom Paxton
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