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Mike Zito

He may be one of the most lauded artists in the contemporary blues arena today, and rightfully so, but for Mike Zito, the thing that counts the most is maintaining his honesty, authenticity and integrity. Those are the qualities that have steered Zito’s career since the beginning and continue to define every effort he’s offered since.

​“I have nothing to hide; it seems my honesty is what people relate to most,” he once told Vintage Guitar magazine. “Anders (Osborne) told me early on, ‘If you don’t believe what you’re singing, you’ll never be a good singer.’ I try not to write fluff; I try to make every word count.”

​That point became convincingly clear with his last record 2018’s First Class Life, a collection of songs that detailed his journey from addiction to sobriety and the subsequent success he achieved through his award-winning body of work. A multiple award winner and nominee, Zito has built his career on an ability to tap into tradition while maintaining contemporary credence all at the same time.

K.J. Howe

Born in Toronto, Canada, KJ enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle during her early years, living in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean, which gave her an insider’s view into many different cultures. While abroad, she read every book she could find, which triggered in her a desire to create her own stories.

She attended Salzburg International Preparatory School, Neuchâtel Junior College, and Albert College before earning a Specialists Degree in Business from the University of Toronto. KJ found success in the corporate world, but her passion for travel, adventure, and stories drew her back to school where she earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She is a Thriller and Barry Award nominee, and she has won several writing awards, including three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellent in Mystery and Suspense.

While honing her fiction skills, KJ worked as a medical, health, and fitness writer. She then became involved with the International Thriller Writers as the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, the organization’s annual conference held every July in New York City.

Flow Tribe

Flow Tribe is an American funk rock band based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The group contains six members who are all natives of New Orleans. The band was founded in 2004, and was featured on Episode 11 of MTV’s The Real World: New Orleans, which aired September 8, 2010. Wikipedia

Snarky Puppy

After a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred/New York-based quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all three of the band’s Grammy® awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016 and 2017), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of the New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.” (website)

Snarky Puppy joins another Roaming the Arts favorite Mingo Fishtrap as a band formed out of the wonderful music program at the University of North Texas.

Postmodern Jukebox

Postmodern Jukebox, also widely known by the acronym PMJ, is a rotating musical collective founded by arranger and pianist Scott Bradlee in 2011. PMJ is known for reworking popular modern music into different vintage genres, especially early 20th century forms such as swing and jazz. Wikipedia

Breaking that down…PMJ takes songs you know, great singers and players, then performs them in an arrangement of an entirely different form than the original. Check out the PMJ YouTube channel for a wide range of illustrations.

Otto Penzler

Otto Penzler is the president and CEO of MysteriousPress.com.

He’s also the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and is regarded as the world’s foremost authority on crime, mystery and suspense fiction. 

Penzler founded The Mysterious Press in 1975, which he later sold to Warner Books (1989). He reacquired the imprint in 2010 and it now publishes original books as an imprint at Grove/Atlantic, and both original works and classic crime fiction through MysteriousPress.com, in partnership with Open Road Integrated Media.

Penzler has won two Edgar Awards, for Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection in 1977 and The Lineup in 2010. The Mystery Writers of America awarded him the prestigious Ellery Queen Award in 1994 and the Raven–the group’s highest non-writing award–in 2003.

Ben Folds

Ben Folds is widely regarded as one of the major music influencers of our generation.

He’s created an enormous body of genre-bending music that includes pop albums with Ben Folds Five, multiple solo albums, and numerous collaborative records. His last album was a blend of pop songs and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra that soared to #1 on both the Billboard classical and classical crossover charts.
For over a decade he’s performed with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, and currently serves as the first ever Artistic Advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.

In addition to solo rock and orchestral touring, Folds has recently written a critically-acclaimed memoir “A Dream About Lightning Bugs,” which debuted as a New York Times Best Seller, and is described as a collection of interrelated essays, anecdotes and lessons about art, life, and music.

See Ben perform at NPR Tiny Desk Concert

I’m With Her

I’m With Her is a band rooted in a rare alchemy: three celebrated songwriters coming together to create music that reveals entirely new possibilities in their distinct and deep-seated talents. Since forming in 2014, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan have imbued their songs with a sharply detailed lyricism, graceful musicianship, and—perhaps most powerfully—mesmerizing harmonies that endlessly reflect their extraordinary chemistry.

Check out their performance: NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Ron McLarty

Ronald William “Ron” McLarty is an American actor, playwright, narrator and novelist. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading audiobook narrators, having done over 100 titles and received many Audie Awards. McLarty has appeared in numerous television series, films and stage productions. Wikipedia

McLarty is quoted as calling himself “a writer who acted” rather than an actor who wrote.

Thomas Perry

Thomas Perry is the author of 25 novels including the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood MoneyRunner, Poison Flower, and String of Beads), Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel.  

He won the Edgar for The Butcher’s Boy, and Metzger’s Dog was a New York Times Notable Book. The Independent Mystery Booksellers’ Association included Vanishing Act in its “100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century,” and Nightlife was a New York Times bestseller.

Metzger’s Dog was voted one of NPR’s 100 Killer Thrillers–Best Thrillers Ever. Strip was chosen as a  New York Times Notable Crime Book for 2010, and The Informant was a New York Times Notable Crime Book for 2011 and won the Barry Award for Best Thriller, 2011. Poison Flower was chosen among Booklist’s Best Crime Novels of 2013

Watch for “The Old Man” coming to FX as a series.

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