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October 29, 2021 @ 7:30 pm-
October 29, 2021 @ 10:00 pm
Joel Mabus is a longtime fixture in the American folk music scene as well as a favorite of the Ten Pound Fiddle stage. He’s a songwriter with roots deep in tradition, and a risk-taking multi-instrumentalist with a well-travelled voice. He’s toured the major folk clubs and festivals all over North America but is firmly centered in the Midwest.
Joel was born in 1953 to a family of old-time country music performers, who had worked in the 1930’s in a traveling “Hillbilly” troupe for Chicago’s WLS, home of the famed “National Barn Dance” radio show — his father a champion fiddler, his mom a singer and banjo & accordion player. Widowed when Joel was 2 years old, mom raised her kids in a small Southern Illinois town on meagre social security survivor-benefit checks, plus income from accordion lessons and other odd jobs.
Joel started on the family mandolin at age 9 and played bluegrass with his older brother at home; he learned singing in a store-front Pentecostal church, and the old-time and bluegrass songs at home. Guitar, banjo & fiddle were soon in Joel’s mix. Despite the family’s poverty, he earned a National Merit Scholarship, and attended Michigan State University. Studying cultural anthropology and English Lit by day, he earned his spending money at night as a folk & blues performer in local haunts.
After college, Mabus made Michigan his home, while traveling the folk circuit, playing festivals and smaller concert venues. Beginning a recording career in 1978, Joel has since traveled all over America (and parts of Texas, he adds) performing for all the fabled folk clubs and festivals.
He has played on stage with many of his heroes: Tom Paxton, Doc Watson, Peggy Seeger, Jethro Burns, Sonny Terry, Buffy Saint Marie and many more. He has worked alongside many of his own generation: Greg Brown, John Gorka, Claudia Schmidt, Si Kahn, Christine Lavin, Jack Hardy, Susan Werner…and the list goes on.
He has 27 solo albums to his credit – some featuring songwriting, others focusing on traditional guitar or banjo, and some very eclectic. His latest album is Time & Truth in 2019.
“The dean of singer-songwriters”
Rich Warren, host of Chicago’s
Midnight Special on WFMT-FM
“Joel Mabus is the Joe DiMaggio of the folk music world – a virtuoso who can make the toughest plays appear effortless.”
Ron Olesko of WFDU-FM
(Fordham University, New York)